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Game Info:

Space Pirates and Zombies 2
Developed By: Min Max Games
Published By: Min Max Games
Released: May 17, 2016 (Early Access)
Available On: Windows (Steam)
Genre: Action; Adventure; RPG; Simulation; Strategy
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: 1 offline
Price: $19.99 new (Steam)

In the beginning a developer created Space Pirates and Zombies (SPAZ).  A 2D game set in space with pirates and zombies and it was good.  After a time, the developer said "let there be a sequel".  And it was so. It was also set in space, added 3D graphics in a 2D universe but empty.  And the developer said "let there be life". And it was so.  The game universe was populated with captains of space ships, whom could do anything the player could do and would venture around the universe. And the developer saw it was good.  And the developer said "let there be chaos". And it was so.  Captains acted like pirates; while the zombie apocalypse appeared infecting those whom ventured too close to their borders, expanding their territory, consuming the game universe and it was fun!

There are two game modes; Storyline and Sandbox.  Storyline provides a path for you to follow at your leisure and opens up the story via dialogue, which is currently presented by text-to-speech, which works nice though the full release will have actual voice actors.  Sandbox is the same game, stripping out all the story dialogue and missions that you would otherwise encounter.  In both game modes the zombie menace eventually appears and starts infecting captains and taking over the starmap sector by sector.  Destroy this zombie threat, by taking down its home base, and you win the game.

You start out in the world map view, broken down into sectors with each sector having its own station and a mix of potential resources that can be scavenged.  From there, you follow a tutorial which introduces you to the game mechanics, learning your surroundings and figuring out how to upgrade your meagre mothership before you become easy prey to more powerful captains.  In the world map view you navigate via the mouse, clicking where you want to go and on whatever you wish to interact with, be that resources, other captains or stations, and so on.

Working through the tutorial you are introduced to the resources used, how to get more and how to upgrade your mothership.  The resources are: Rez, Goons and Scrap.  Each has their own specific use and needs; i.e. Rez is used as fuel for your mothership, Goons for crew and to make repairs and Scrap used for trading and building stations.

Space Pirates and Zombies 2
Highlights:

Strong Points: Highly engaging, easy to pickup and play, open world gameplay
Weak Points: Annoying AI behaviour, storyline dialogue interrupts too frequently
Moral Warnings: Lots of opportunities to steal, intimidate, harass and destroy other captains in the game universe, casual swearing

Rez and Goons can be harvested from the starmap view, from resources nodes littered across the universe.  There is a limited supply but they slowly build up over time.  Scrap can be salvaged from battles, along with spare parts to equip on your mothership.  As you harvest and salvage you need to be considerate of whom these resources belong to as they will have a negative effect on your standings with other captains and is a sure way to make enemies quickly.

Fighting another captain will put you in a combat zone.  Here you control your mothership using mouse and keyboard (SPAZ 2 also has gamepad support).  Combat is fairly simple, if you want it to be, using the Battlewagon mode.  Just steer your ship and manage your speed and shields, and the mothership will automatically shoot at any hostile targets.  You can override this and take manual control of the aiming and shooting if you want, but given it’s all about DPS, it’s generally better to keep Battlewagon mode active as it is more efficient at how it deals damage.

How is it more efficient at dealing damage? Well, your weapons can cause damage to shields, armour and hull.  Each weapon can have varying degrees of damage.  There is no point in firing a weapon which only does hull and armour damage when the target has its shields up.  Battlewagon mode will choose the most effective weapons to cause the most damage.

Combat is extremely satisfying, when you are not outgunned.  You can destroy ship parts, which will fall off the ship, with satisfying explosion sounds and weapon effects.  Drop the enemy’s shields and you can ram them to cause significant damage.  The combat zone is littered with debris and hazards that you can use to your advantage.  You also have a tractor beam which you can use to hurl debris at the enemy to cause additional damage.

Space Pirates and Zombies 2
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 67%
Violence - 5/10
Language - 5/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 3.5/10

At the end of battle, assuming you were victorious, you can salvage your ill gotten gains left behind by your victim.  Your rewards range from resources to ship parts which you can swap or add to your mothership.  You can also use your scrap to purchase new ship parts to upgrade your mothership with different and more powerful types of weapons.

As fun as it is, the early game can be frustratingly slow and boring as you slowly upgrade your ship by scavenging what little resources you can find.  You are also an easy target to some captains who will happily attack you with vastly superior firepower.  Bribing your way out and retreating is an option but a costly setback.  The AI in combat is challenging, yet does have its flaws.  The main annoyances of the AI are: hugging a space station that is about to explode and flying straight into hazards from area of effect weapons, causing major damage.  Some of the original fan base has also been disappointed in how different the core mechanics are to the original game.

Given the open nature of the universe you can act in a good or evil manner towards its inhabitants, with the developers stating the game is meant to be played towards the latter.  Funnily enough, the developers also commented that most players played more of the former.  Swearing and blasphemy is present in the game (i.e. “fuck”, “hell”, “Bastard”, “Jesus Christ”, etc.) and occurs regularly.  While captains automatically eject on death, Goons are lost and are also killed when making repairs to your ship and are effectively treated as the lowest form of society.

After spending about a dozen hours with SPAZ 2, I was surprised it was released as an Early Access title.  Even though it may not have everything the developers want in the game it’s an extremely polished and fun experience.  Since release, the developers have been listening to user feedback and have been consistently improving the core experience and adding new gameplay elements.  If you enjoy your sci-fi and/or space games I’d say it’s an essential purchase, even while it’s still in Early Access.  For everyone else, I’d recommend it if you are not overly concerned by the violent language and nature of the game.

Daniel Woods (@themudpig)

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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