Space Pirates and Zombies (or SPAZ for short) is, in this day and age, a strange sight. It is a hybrid action-RPG-strategy game set in space and played mostly in 2D top-down perspective. Influenced by elements from such old school titles like Star Control and Mechwarrior, it offers a mix of some venerable gameplay elements. Combat is very much a modernized larger scale version of Star Control series while RPG and story elements remind me of several different games from the same era.
Story sets the player in co 2211 mmand of a small band of space pirates, determined to reach the core of the galaxy and the untold riches that supposedly lie there. However, there are multiple obstacles on the way, including the fact that stargates between every star system are controlled by UTA; a pirate mothership would either have to resort to bribes or apply some live ammo to pass through.
With hundreds of stars systems and opposition that gets tougher the closer you get to the core, it is no Sunday drive to the beach. You also need to upgrade your mothership to get through the special gates controlling access to the core systems and scour the galaxy for blueprints that unlock new ship hulls and equipment to survive. Then there are the zombies... ah, but that would be spoilers. Well, okay, you'll eventually find your hands full also with space zombies so better take the time to equip your little pirate fleet well. Weak ships will just get boarded and zombified on the spot. In space nobody will hear if your brains are being eaten raw and all that.
To Infinity and Beyond!
Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge... plenty of hull classes and types, all customizable with modules.
Additional ship hulls are unlocked by collecting bits of blueprints that drop from the corresponding ship type. This is not a big deal with ship types that are similar in size to your current ships - just blow up some opposition and loot up the blueprints as you go, unlocking new hulls after a handful of kills. In order to move to larger hulls you need larger hangars on your mothership through story-driven upgrades and corresponding ship blueprints - which means tackling some bigger ships that can seriously outgun you. SPAZ is fairly "organic" in that you can decide yourself when you think you can take on harder opponents - just break a higher level blockade and move to a higher level system and the opposition gets tougher and fields larger ships.
It also requires you to do so - story driven missions do not hold your hand and it is up to you to figure out what you need to tackle each story mission. This often means turning to "grinding" - collecting data and blueprints in order to unlock and build better hardware.
Story itself is carried mainly with text and small character images, with a few voiceovers (voiced by TotalBiscuit) spicing key events. Spartan, low production value, but works for me. The story itself is fine and leaves plenty of room for your imagination to fill in the gory visuals that just aren't there. Beats poorly animated and directed "cinematic sequences", at least in my books, but does require you to do some light reading rather than just skipping everything that looks like a piece of text.
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