As enjoyable as FTL is, it was a little too simple and Space Pirates And Zombies, or SPAZ as it’s better known, was quickly installed to try and satisfy the need for a little more meat from a space SIM.
The developers describe the game in a nutshell as:
The game opens thanking you for the purchase and explaining it’s been developed by a team of 2 who couldn’t find this type of game anymore. Firstly, they must be congratulated on what has to be an impressively polished game for just 2 people. In a similar manner to the Sins series they’ve built a random universe generator allowing for multiple plays, added loads of different ship types and crafted some brilliant graphics. The only real tell tail sign of 2-person development is in some of the voice acting, but this doesn’t detract from the gaming experience.
A top down action game with RPG elements, SPAZ puts you in control of a small fleet of ships as you travel across the universe. The graphics are excellent and the physics system works really well in game; controls are handled via keyboard and mouse and it only takes a moment to pick up.
The short tutorial gives you all the information you need to get going, it helps you design your first ship, mine your first resources and first your first space battle. After that you’re on your own, travelling the galaxy and taking on missions as you see fit to advance further. Unlike a lot of in ship SIMs technology advancements come at a steady pace, but not so fast you don’t have something to work for. In the short time playing the engine, shields and amour had all been updated once, but there were a number of levels about this.
The main part of the game sees you control one of the ships in your fleet. If this ship is destroyed you can take control of a different ship (which could be the same type or could be a totally different design with different weapons, entirely up to you). As you take on and destroy enemies you pick up data and occasionally blue prints. Both of these are key to unlocking new ships and researching further technology upgrades.
You send you little fleet of ships off to carry out missions, the result of which impacts your relationship with local factions. Fortunately they’re a forgiving lot, and if you need to get back in their good books you just need to carry out a mission or that has a positive impact on that faction to become liked once more.
In the short time playing (approx 2 – 3 hours) there was a lot to keep me playing, and a lot left to do. However, it did begin to feel a little repetitive with only a little variation of mission type (escort this, blow up that, take out these ships). The problem with including a limited number of structured missions is that once played a couple of times it all becomes vary familiar, they lack the random nature of something like Sins which keeps you coming back again and again for a different experience. This potentially could change as I progress further, and I hope as I venture deeper into the universe I’ll be presented with more varied mission types.
There is a lot to like about this game and it’s clearly been a labour of love for the small team, with that hard work shining out of the finished game. For the low price tag this is well worth setting aside a weekend to play to remind you (or if you’re too young, introduce you to) a style of game that would’ve been very popular circa Amiga 500/1200.
SPAZ is available from Steam now: http://store.steampowered.com/app/107200/
Or via a range of other services as listed on the developers website: http://spacepiratesandzombies.com/buyGame.html