After the successful funding of its Kickstarter, Strike Suit Zero was deployed to mixed reviews. Three months later, developer Born Ready Games has released Strike Suit Infinity, which, contrary to the “Infinity” in its name, cuts out a lot of the content from the original to provide a barebones experience. While the score-based combat goes well with the emphasis on trying to top the leader boards, it was simply not a compelling enough reason for me to keep playing when I realized that I just wasn’t having any fun.
One of the features that were cut in the transition to Infinity was the inclusion of anything related to a story mode. Many who have played Zero would state that we’re not missing much or even that the game is all the better for it without the fluff, but I personally like a narrative which helps to set the stage for the battles to come. What’s left here is a series of rounds, each more devious than the last. The only objective is to get as far as one can and try to place in the leader boards. Luckily, even though the objective is singular, the ultimate goal of getting that top score requires skill and planning.
The ship the player pilots is special in that it has two modes, which was reminiscent of the ships from the classic anime series, “Macross”. The pursuit form is a traditional ship which excels in getting from point A to B swiftly. The suit form is an offensive mode where missiles can lock onto multiple enemies and can annihilate even the quickest of them in seconds. The second form is accessed through the act of building up a flux meter which increases as more enemies are destroyed. When the player chooses to switch, and how each mode is used to complement each other will determine not only the score the player is able to achieve, but also their very survival.
The load out of weapons adds another layer of strategy as many of them serve entirely different purposes. Given the player is briefed between rounds on what they’re going to fight, it’s possible to pick the weapons that will be best suited for the battle to come. However, it’s unfortunate that all unlocks are tied to destroying a particular type of ship during the rounds, which seems arbitrary to the overall design.
There are various other ways to increase the score outside of just destroying enemy ships. First, there is a certain amount of time allotted for each section of the round, and time left over when the waves are destroyed is carried over in the form of multipliers. Then, there are combos in which if an enemy is destroyed in short intervals of each other, a multiplier stacks up to what they’re worth in points. Along with those two methods, there are extra ships to destroy, many of which take quite the pounding to kill and bonus rounds where there is an infinite amount of Strike Suit meter to use to try to get an insane combo bonus.
A perfect round of Strike Suit Infinity would be one where the enemies are killed as quickly as possible without letting the counter drop in between, but that is a lot harder than it seems at first. The enemies spawn in different locations and, given the nature of space combat, it’s often difficult to get a bearing on just exactly where one should engage to have the best chance at continuing the combo. As the rounds progresses, the enemies become more and more numerous and increasingly difficult to kill. While I don’t mind something being challenging, I find that making the enemies be massive bullet (laser/missile in this case) sponges is a lazy way to make it seem difficult. Luckily, in between rounds, there is an option to summon reinforcements of varying efficiency, the credits needed to summon them are limited, and any time one of the allied ships takes out an enemy the score received is significantly lower, making me not want to use them at all.
Still, the biggest problem I had with Strike Suit Infinity was a rather simple, but ultimately damning one. I just did not have fun playing this game. The lack of a narrative and the repetitive nature of the combat were partially to blame, but in all honesty, it was a fundamental issue with the combat engine. Locate the enemy, fly towards them and shoot when they get in range. Over and over again until I was able to fill up the flux meter to get a bunch of enemies in range at once, so I can go into suit form to get as many combos before it ran out. Since Infinity is all about getting the best score possible, it naturally deterred me from using the suit form in any other way than that for the sake of efficiency.
Also, I strongly feel that the game would’ve benefited from some quick turn maneuvers like in Star Fox, where players are able to make a quick 180 degree turn, or even the fabled barrel roll instead of the slow rolling and turning that’s present. The time required to turn around, find the target and re-engage is simply too long. It’s an arduous process that’s frequently required and while natively to the genre; makes the whole thing feel like a chore. It was even worse when I had to make more than a dozen passes at a capital-type ship in order to destroy it just to see another one warp in.
As I mentioned previously, the game puts a strong focus on the point of trying to get the best score and yet presents a barebones leader board which only includes all-time scores for round/total of a singular global region. This simply means that this is a list of names of the most hardcore players preserved for posterity. Another recent release, “Monaco” has shown that breaking up the leader boards to regions along with adding things like daily lists goes a long way to motivate even the average player into beating their best score, but none of that is present here.
Lastly, I must mention that I ran into over a half dozen freezes and crashes in between rounds during the course of a few hours. In fact, I think I only ended the game of my own free will once and the rest of the time I simply stopped playing after a crash. One particular incident even cost me my best score that would’ve ranked highly as I managed to get a 45+ combo, and suffice to say, to lose progress like that was rather unfortunate.
The developers at Born Ready have informed us that the crash issues have been fixed since this was written.
After some time with the game, I can’t help but feel that Infinity would’ve been better served as a free patch or a cheap DLC to Zero instead of a standalone release. Considering the many failings of the game due to its repetitive and dull combat, or by its game ending flaws of crashes/freezes, I have a hard time recommending this game to anyone in particular; even at its bargain bin price point. This is one spaceship that would’ve been better left stationed in the far corner of the universe until it was properly prepped and ready for action.
Fun Tidbit: I consider Zone of Enders 2 the best space combat game I’ve played and recommend it to everyone who has a means to play it.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.