It's always been a little odd to me that an idea as freaking cool as mecha has be so minimally explored in games.
I guess the easy answer for that would be because making a quality mecha game is a lot harder than it sounds, which Strike Suit Zero exemplifies even as it comes possibly closer than anyone to pulling it off. In the same breath it also attempts to revitalize space combat shooters, again succeeding to a commendable degree yet still failing to shake the nagging issues that quickly present themselves. Strike Suit Zero's potential and ambition never wanes, but that doesn't stop its aspirations to come crashing down when they collide with reality.
Strike Suit Zero as stated before, is a merging of large scale space fighter-pilot combat and screen filling mecha insanity, by way of the titular Strike Suit which can transform between a fast, maneuverable ship and the extremely power mecha form. The dynamic of swooping around picking off stray fighters and then switching forms to annihilate larger enemies is strategic but also just super cool, making you feel like the all-powerful terror your enemies supposedly see you as and gives developer Born Ready Games an excuse to blow the particle effects out during massive space battles that if nothing else are incredible to look at.
There's a weight to your ship that feels powerful, but without the limited mobility that often comes with higher firepower. It's balanced by requiring you to charge up your ship by killing enemies before you can transformed, and this limited fuel makes combat fast and frantic, as you chain together attacks to keep your meter full while trying to keep track of the situation. Strike Suit Zero excels at making you feel like just one small part of the giant battles going on around you, but still one capable of destroying giant cruisers and chasing down fighters.
Unfortunately Born Ready Games has flown a little too close to the sun as the scale of the game quickly seems to get away from them, and the experience as a whole suffers quite a bit for it. Pacing is on of Strike Suit Zero's biggest opponents, and a concept it's fairly unconcerned with. Early missions are plodding, slow excursions as stiff bombing ships before you're given the Strike Suit, but even after missions have a tendency to stretch on and on as they continue to pile on new objectives which look very much like the last. Mission variety is virtually nonexistent, giving you largely the exact same scenarios each mission but ratcheting up the difficulty to uncomfortable levels.
These difficulty spikes and the unequaled number of checkpoints intensifies the lack of mission variation, which may have gone unnoticed for awhile but becomes hard to ignore when you already had to complete said objective dozens of times do to some untimely deaths. The vagueness with which objectives are explains only makes things worse, often overwhelming me with different tasks to where I didn't even know how to start or simply saying one thing while expecting me to infer the actual objective myself, usually by watching my ship explode and then reloading to hopefully get it the second time. Or the third. Or the forth. That's if I'm lucky.
Much of this difficulty could likely be the result of having missed upgrades the game expected me to have, as each is tied to a specific optional mission objective which are typically much harder to achieve than the original scenario. You can likely see the problem with a system like this, as it rewards skilled play but leaves everyone else in a state of incapable inferiority. The only option then is to replay old missions attempting to unlock the necessary upgrade or pray you can somehow scrape through anyway, which in my case usually involved copious amounts of perseverance and luck.
If not for the constant interruption of a cutscene I'd have likely forgotten there was a narrative here at all, one note and vague on details, delivered with monotone voiceovers telling of events you don't care about and characters you can't remember. There's the basis of something really interesting here, but it waits until the last moment to tell you any of it and by then it's too late to salvage much of anything from a story which for all intents and purposes is just you blowing up countless enemies that for some reason hate your guts.
The moments when Strike Suit Zero opens up, when the pieces click into place and its firing on all cylinders, are amazing and what kept me playing despite them being perpetuated with frustration and monotony. Born Ready Games has so entirely nailed the feel of the game they wanted to create, if only the scenarios you were placed in could keep up or give you any reason to want to continue on with them.