At its core, Space Pirates and Zombies is an action based, skill oriented, top down space combat game. It’s similar to the ones we knew and loved in years past, but now using full physics simulation and modern graphics for those oh so pretty explosions. But as you dig deeper, SPAZ becomes much more.
What We Think
At first glance, SPAZ is reminiscent of those good old highly addictive Flash-based strategy games but the ship development elements and graphics elevate this game beyond its predecessors.
Relax, England…It’s an Acronym
Ever heard of a sci-fi space RPG with both space ships AND zombies? Well, you have now. The zombies are well represented in SPAZ, and make a great addition to an already overcrowded game sub-type. I would not describe SPAZ as original, but it certainly does make a good stand against the other games in this genre.
Even the title screen is a feast for the eyes. The background displays a space battle with various ships flying in and out of the screen, shooting at each other. The tutorial turned out to be very basic, but useful, since some things were just things that I couldn’t have thought of myself. I felt that the dialogues were too long, but they did provide some background information. It is revealed that groups of people were trying to get to the core of the galaxy, where the most fuel (known as REZ) can be found.
The complex upgrade system and the mining system are both amazing, if not wholly unique. After a few hours of play, I had become familiar with the other challenging systems. These allow you to create, fly and destroy spaceships. For players familiar with strategy games, these processes won’t take long to learn.
What really sets SPAZ apart from other similar games is the graphics. Older games of this type often had dull, unoriginal and often blurry sprites. SPAZ’s graphics are amazing, and a really refreshing alternative to the lesser titles in this genre. However, some of the zombie vessel designs are just…disturbing. They’re oftentimes a stack of useless components that can be found in an old tool kit, but covered in purple vomit. But, I guess, that that’s the point of zombie ships: to frighten you.
I’s The B’y That Builds The Boat
The further in the game the player travels, the more enemy space ships are encountered. By destroying a space ship, the player acquires a blueprint of it, or a piece of the blueprint. For lower class ships, it takes only one blueprint to be able to build the ship, but the larger ships can take several blueprints to construct.
In the ship hangars, which can be accessed at all times during the game, you can change the load-out of your vessels, as well as their type. There is a list that allows you to select a spaceship to use in a certain slot in your fleet. Each slot represents one ship, so unlocking more slots means having the ability to deploy more ships at once.
It’s possible, and highly recommended, to buy upgrades for armor plates, reactors, engines, shield and different types of weapons from the Black Markets that appear on certain planets and the United Terran Alliance bases. These upgrades can make your ship faster, stronger and will add more firepower to your arsenal.
Besides these purchasable upgrades, there is also an upgrades menu. This allows the player to spend the upgrade points earned by completing missions and destroying enemy vessels. These modifications affect the various aspects of your fleet, like beam weapon power, launcher power, crew capacity, hull and shield strength.
Don’t Forget the Zombies!
At the start of the game, the player is tasked with a mission to retrieve an old science vessel from inside an asteroid (achieved by simply by shooting at it a couple of times). Once the ship is freed, it’s clear that there are things crawling all over the ship; zombie things! It’s as if the ship itself was somehow zombified. Some manage to attach the hull of the player ship, but the fleet ships can easily shoot them off. It isn’t till many hours later that more zombie parts are discovered.
After a few hours of game play, the magnitude of the zombie apocalypse starts to become clear. One reason for the long delay is due to all galaxies being randomly generated at the start of the game. The zombie infestation spreads according to its own, again, randomly generated path, through a four-stage bio and evolution system. That aspect sets SPAZ apart from the run-of-the-mill zombie game.
The Last few things:
After completing SPAZ, I looked at the notes I made whilst playing, including the one saying that it could take 25 hours to play through the entire game. I clocked in at 14 hours, so I might have skipped a few things? I did get a good impression of the game, however. I found that in the beginning, you could easily get severely outgunned when trying to clear a Gate. Later on in the game, as with most things, I found that I enjoyed the initial challenge. It forces the player to not directly set course to the core of the galaxy and explore the stars at the outer edges at first.
This method eventually led to a huge technological advantage for me, in the form of superior upgrade components. They enemy still still had one tier higher ships almost all the time. It was close to the last gate that I finally obtained all blueprints of a huge vessel. Immediately afterwards, I had to fight 5 of that ship at once, so that joy did not last long.
Brain and Kidney Pie
If you’re a trekkie, or a fan of shows like Battle Star Galactica,
Babylon 5, etc, then SPAZ may well hold your interest. Even players who don’t care for any of the above, this game offers a lot to those craving a good strategic game loaded with oh-so-weird voiceovers.
I found myself in the situation that I had to choose between SPAZ and pie (true story). Ultimately, pie lost out, so that demonstrates how much I like this game. Having almost finished the game, I give SPAZ a rating of 3.5, for the well-balanced mix of graphics, strategic elements and the overall enjoyable experience.
The people at MinMax Games where kind enough to put up a public demo at: http://spacepiratesandzombies.com/spazdemo/SpazDemoInstaller_v1.0.exe
So if you want to test SPAZ out yourself before buying it (it’s just €13,99 so most people should be able to just buy it), I recommend downloading the demo and checking it out.
Also available on Desura, Gamersgate and more.