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Space Pirates and Zombies (SPAZ) BETA Review (version 0.9.0005)

By on May 29th, 2011 1:53 am

On May 13th, 2011 SPAZ was released on Impulse as a Beta pre-order.  On first glance some have dismissed the game as another casual indie game vaporware.  I mean how ridiculous is having Zombies in a Space game?  Once you get past the name, you will find an excellent sci-fi 2d plat-former with strategic, and tactical elements added on top.

The story revolves around a special resource nick named REZ, and the two main factions trying to control it.  The militaristic UTA, and  the civilian population that has expanded so fast it is beyond manageable.

You are an aspiring Space Pirate that is also in search of rich REZ deposits, which happen to be located in the Core of the Galaxy you create, which can be between 150 stars to 300 stars.  As you travel towards the core you have the choice in each system to side with the Civilians or UTA, and these decisions do not carry over to the next system.

Depending on which side you join, you can dock at their Starbases to purchase that last blue print piece you need to start building that large cruiser you sorely need.  You will not be able to dock if your relations are too low, so you can run missions on their side to improve them.

While doing missions, and some storyline elements, you notice that the UTA has been dumping toxic chemicals in the environment.  This is where the Zombie element comes into play, as these toxins are causing ships to be infected.  There is no way for you to cleanse them, and must be left behind.

As far as indie titles go, the graphics and effects are well done.  The development team of three put this game together using Torque, which custom scripts that numbered more than 50,000.  They have notified me that they are currently working on transforming the script to code, which will optimize the game even further.  However, it is simply amazing what they have achieved from an off the shelf game engine and scripting.

The combat mechanics are well balanced, and actually make learning the game a challenge.  This is the fun part, in trying to configure your fleet to specific situations.  You have to manage two main resources which are REZ, and Goons (Crew).

REZ allows you to purchase blueprints, more ships once they are destroyed, and goons. Goons are required to crew your ships, and having a fuller crew gives your ships a bonus to it’s performance.  Goons can also be traded for faction standing improvement, or for REZ.  Some have complained that obtaining Goons is hard, and this has been addressed in the latest patch which will increase the chance of a Goon joining your crew.

When you destroy another ship, crew pods are ejected to safety.  That is until you either shoot the pods, or pick them up.  When you pick up a pod, you make the “Walk the Plank” or join your crew.  If they choose “Walk the Plank” (So to say), you see a nice animation of them being ejected out of your airlock into the harshness of open vacuum.  It is the attention to detail that make this game rise above the rest, which background radio chatter, and signs posting a speed limit of say “54,000” m.p.h.

The depth added to game comes from the tactical and strategic decisions a player can make while attempting to reach the core.  You have a Mothership that is upgraded by unlocking the storyline, and a line-up of ships to unlock by picking up pieces of blueprints from destroying that type.

This was a challenge for me to acquire the blue prints to build my first Large Hull “Right Hook”, because you have to take it down with ships that are outclassed.  I accomplished this by acquiring maxed out resources of Credits and Goons, and spamming rebuilds into the mission, eventually collecting enough blueprints to build my own “Right Hook”.

This element of the game can feel grindy, as you have to sometimes fall back into a safer mining system and configure a mining fleet and collect REZ for the next mission.  Or you have to go on “Hotel” missions and intercept Goon drop offs at Space Hotels, and impress the crew into a life of Piracy or show them “The Air Lock”.

When taking into context that SPAZ is an Indie game made by three people, and is priced at a discount for the Beta at around $15, I would recommend this game to fans of the genre.  While I have personally made comparisons to Star Control II, SPAZ has certainly earned its own place among this type of games.

Space Pirates and Zombies Space Pirates and Zombies (v1.0)
(Buy from GamersGate)
Space Sector score: 8.5

(about the score system)

The Good:
– Many issues at launch have been fixed with recent patch
– Developers implemented many of the fixes from Forum feedback (Ie. Data Decays)
– Indie Priced
– Tactical Pause screen you can issue orders in
– Great graphics and sound
– Fun combat mechanics
– Customizable Ships and Fleets
The Bad:
– Can be a bit grindy sometimes
– May be challenging for people with no Twitch skills
– BETA status, so it may change for worse or better
– Replay value is limited, because story line is tied in with Mothership progression

Kyle Rees “Lordxorn” has been a Space Sector contributor since May 2011. Kyle is a credited tester on games like Distant Worlds: Return of the Shakturi, and Panzer Corps, and an avid World of Tanks player. See all Kyle’s posts here.

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  1. Zachary says:

    Nice review. I haven’t actually played the FULL game yet, but I tried out the demo. It’s pretty fun and reminds me of Space Rangers 2 (albeit, less unique and in realtime). As you mentioned though, it seemed to have the tendency to become repetitive (given the huge galaxy).

  2. Angus says:

    plat-former? Is this some other definition of platform of which I am not aware?

    Great game but definitely not a platformer. Where the hell do you get that?

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Post category: Game Reviews