A serviceable Space Shooter that doesn't raise itself above other games in the genre, let alone compare to the classics.
Total Playtime: 9 hours on hard (all achievements unlocked)
Going in the first thing I've noticed is how strange the control is compared to conventional aerial shooter. AD are used for tilting while x-axis mouse movement are for turning, which felt quite strange but it's not impossible to get used to. While the controls are responsive, the actually game mechanic leaves much to be desired. There's little to no momentum and the acceleration is way too fast for my taste. Adding into the mix the fact that your auto-fire's range is ridiculously long and we have a game with little to no finesse when it comes to aerial combat. The game also went for a approach of quantity over quality when it comes to enemy and enemy AI are near non-existent. If you expect to have epic dog fight while pulling off complicated menuever then sadly this game will disappoint you.
Moving onto the graphic, the game looks almost nice but the lack of attention to detail holds the game back in the end. While the particles and background are great, the models and textures show the game for the low budget small team project it is. For veteran of the Space Shooter genre, it looks nice enough to satisfy but not to impress.
Sound is definitely the best part about this game. There're a fair number of memerable tracks and while it never really goes into full blood boiling epic mode like the Ace Combat games, the score has enough high and lows to convey the right type of atmosphere and emotion for each situation. The distinct Eastern vibe also really make the soundtrack standout. Plasma blast and explosion all have enough kick to keep the tension up and the improved voice over is much appreciated.
Story is a bit cliche but the plot is generally straight forward with clear-cut goals that the players won't feel lost or confused by it and doesn't get in the way of the gameplay. While there're moments where things don't make a lot of sense such as sneaking up on a space station through a Nebula when you can just warp right next to it it never really get to the point where it'd make the audience cringe. I really wish they'd have given Control a bit more personality and have her relationship with the player build a bit more, but considering the length of the game, it's probably too much to ask.
With three levels of difficulty and online leaderboard there's significant room for replay. The fact that the developer put so many different models of space crafts and Strike Suits with distinctly different playstyle in also work in the game's favor. Playing a level with a Generation 1 Strike Suit and a Raptor felt very different and while the combat itself is rather uninspired, it's still very statisfying to blow ♥♥♥♥ up with big guns and bigger explosions.
In conclusion, SSZ Director's Cut is the definitive version to get and while it has some good moments, it never really pull itself out of mediocrity. However, with so few Space Shooter around, it's definitely worth a look at if you're fan of the genre and can be entertaining if played in moderation. However, I'd recommend waiting for a discount due to the low production value and how quickly the game become repetition due to the shallowness of the gameplay.
Overall: Recommended for fans of the genre but don't get your expectation too high, best to buy at a discount.