General game information
Game name: Space Pirates And Zombies 2
Release date: 17 May, 2016 (Early Access) Full release in 2017
Price: US$ 19.99 for the Early Access version (the price may increase once the game is fully released)
Available on: Steam
Genre: Open world space combat and trading RPG
Developer: MinMax Games
Space Pirates and Zombies 2 is 2D/3D space combat and trading videogame with light strategy and RPG elements. Since the game is a sequel to the original Space Pirates and Zombies, the action takes place in the same universe, a weird place that relies on an almost magical resource called Rez, which has some less than desired side effects (bringing the titular Zombies to life, for instance)
Controlling the captain of a fully customizable mothership, players must choose their battles carefully, fighting bandits and scavenging for supplies in order to survive. As the story mode progresses, gamers may join factions, and even create their own. Every action influences the greater scheme of things in some way, and the game’s universe is populated by a number of AI captains that can do the same things as the player.
The playable mothership can be reconfigured through a simple drag and drop interface, and players may pick up new parts from junkyards or destroyed starships. This system has a few issues, as there are two particular mothership designs that trump all others (or at least that was my experience) but gamers should have a fun time crafting their own perfect ship nonetheless.
Combat may seem like a simple affair, presented in a 3D environment in which ships can move in a 2D plane as if they were seafaring vessels, but it’s actually quite clever and strategic. Aside from the usual broadside combat, Space Pirates and Zombies 2 lets players ram enemy starships, and successful captains will have to manage their energy levels carefully in order to survive most fights.
SPAZ 2′s starships are quite unique, as they can be disassembled even during a fight, letting gamers repair their hull with parts of other vessels, or pick up a destroyed enemy’s weapons and installing them on their own mothership. Every starship has three different stats which must be taken into account when engaging in a fight. The first one is the shields, which can regenerate and may be boosted in order to survive different kinds of attack. A spaceship with its shields down is vulnerable to ramming and its cores may be exposed to enemy fire. The second stat is armor, a numeric value that comes from every non core starship piece. Once a ship part loses its armor, it may be destroyed or it can fall off (and the enemy may pick it up) The third and most important stat is hull health. If this number is reduced to zero, the affected ship’s core explodes and the vessel dies. Thanks to these systems, every combat engagement plays out differently, as players may choose to go after the enemy’s weapons in order to install them on their own ship, or go for a quick ramming kill, etc.
Interestingly, the game’s most important events play out on a 2D map instead of the 3D combat view. There, AI controlled starship captains go about their business, scavenging for supplies, battling other captains, raiding enemy settlements and creating their own. Players may stumble upon long forgotten battlegrounds and install parts left behind after AI conflicts, something that helps to create the sensation of a living universe. The game doesn’t revolve around the player, and other captains won’t be sitting silently in the shadows and waiting for their turn to get in the action.
The meat of the game is in its Sandbox mode, though most players may want to try the campaign first, which acts as a long tutorial mode. Currently, the campaign mode features a main cast of synthesized voices which may or may not change depending on Early Access feedback. A multiplayer mode is in the cards, but the developer says that gamers should not buy the current Early Access version if they only want to play multiplayer, as it’s not part of the game’s feature set currently.
Overall, Space Pirates and Zombies 2 is a game tailor made for space sandbox enthusiasts. Every run feels different and the AI captains act like human opponents. Gamers looking for a good space RPG should definitely consider picking up this one.