S.P.A.Z. – Space Pirates and Zombies. The name really says it all and convinced me from the start that the game would be amazing. How could you go wrong with space pirates and zombies? I don’t think you can, but MinMax Games capitalized on this idea and made a brilliant game.
I picked up S.P.A.Z. with the Humble Indie Bundle 6. Thanks to the name, it was the first game I played and my initial play through can be found here. The game starts out with you and your crew on Earth, just after you’ve finished building a giant mother ship that you’re planning on taking to the core of the solar system. Why? Because money, duh. You’re SPACE PIRATES. There’s just one teensy problem, the pathway between you and the core is blocked by gates that are guarded by the UAD. The UAD are basically the government, if you consider a group that is based solely in the system it’s in and at war with civilians a government. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who they are, they stand between you and payday and you ARE a pirate. So, like any good pirate, you get your space ship and go out and take what you need.
Since S.P.A.Z. is a top down, space combat game based around skill, battles against anyone standing in your way are pretty intense. You against the UAD or the Civilians pits whatever ship you’ve cobbled together with your limited resources against wave after wave of enemies that, frankly, can aim a whole hell of a lot better than you. Thankfully, the full physics simulation makes every successful battle a glorious explosion. This, along with the new hulls that drop every time you destroy a certain number of ship types, convinced me to fight more and only make friends to get new blue prints. After all, who needs friends when you can fly every type of ship?
Fear not my less blood thirsty gamers (*cough* freaks), space battles aren’t the only way to get past the UAD. I chose the “blast every thing and every one to hell” approach, but if you want to make friends you can just bribe them with rez – the currency in S.P.A.Z. – to let you through the gate. Making friends isn’t a bad approach either, as each faction – Civilians, UAD, and the mysterious Bounty Hunters (because space pirates and zombies were just not cool enough) – has item upgrades to sell you or will offer you trades.
Using the three useful commodities, rez, goons and data, you can quickly gather what you want and get rid of what you don’t. Data is the information dropped by ships when they explode that helps with research, i.e. the experience behind the game’s leveling system. Goons are the people on ships who eject in escape pods when you blow them up (or get blown up yourself). During or after a battle, you can pick up these pods up and forceably recruit them to work for you. Yeah, civilization has devolved so much that the people actively participate in slavery and, to be very non-politically correct, it’s hilarious. Your pirates are constantly throwing the goons out of air locks when they refuse to work for you and you can run over/shoot their corpses after.
For me, there was plenty to do with rez so I tended to hoard that commodity. Rez is the special mineral that is used to build your ships (after they’re destroyed or upgraded) and purchase plans for better items from the different factions. So despite my hoarding, I was always feeling a little short. Thanks to the extra currencies, I didn’t have to trade my data for more rez, but used all my excess goons to do just that and to accelerate my leveling. Tack on being a slaver to being a pirate for me, but now that I had all the nifty upgrades I needed to blast my enemies to pieces while forcing the goons on my ships to repair any damage I was taking, I wasn’t fussed over such uncivilized ways. In other words, the leveling system is robust enough to satisfy any style of play, because combat is in no way completely unavoidable, and I was using it to the fullest extent I could.
While I haven’t finished the game (thanks MoP), I recommend S.P.A.Z. to anyone and everyone. MinMax has created a game that is amazingly fun and not “just for an indie game”. This is definitely one of my favorite games of the year, so strap on your lazer beams and cannons, ready your whips and collars, ’cause we’re out to make some rez! And don’t forget to listen to/read all the dialogue, you’ll be missing out on comedy genius.
Cannibalism is bad! Say no to zombies!