I’ve talked about Space Pirates and Zombies (SPAZ) many times before, including a preview at my other blog and a few game diary entries over at one of my favorite game websites, Quarter to Three. I put maybe twenty to twenty-five hours into the beta, and after writing those game diaries, I decided to take a little break. Now, with the final version 1.0 arriving today, it’s time to revisit this excellent game and see what’s changed and how it’s improved (which it has, quite a bit).
First off, if you’re unaware, SPAZ is a top-down, real-time action-adventure game set in a randomly-generated universe with up to hundreds of star systems, most with two factions, Civilians and the militaristic UTC. Gameplay is much like Star Control, in which you control one of your ships from a top-down view, although this time your mouse controls the rotation of your ship while the keyboard controls thrust and strafing. You also have a mothership from which to build new ships and repair current ones. Destroying ships nets you two of three of SPAZ’s resources, Data (experience points) and Goons (crewmembers), both of which are very important, while destroying asteroids and crates gets you Rez (currency). One must keep all of these flowing in order to maintain a well-functioning fleet.
Rez allows you the opportunity to build ships and buy items off the black market from space stations. Goons crew your ships, fight off boarders and help with repairs. Data helps you gain experience and blueprints for other ships. Whenever you level up with enough data, you are granted research points to spend however you like in things like shields, engines and so on. Each system has many missions that also reward you with these resources, as well as tip the scales of power toward one faction or the other (as well as their demeanor toward you). The game also has an over-reaching plot that you can follow or ignore at your leisure. This is a game that has depth and longevity along with its action-based gameplay, as well as quite a bit of humor.
As posted a few days ago, I posted a copy of the change list for SPAZ 1.0, which was finally released today, and boy it is a doozy. There are dozens and dozens of changes and improvements to the game, and rather than go into more detail about how the game plays or how much fun it is — since I’ve already spoken on that quite a bit — I thought I’d go into how different the game feels after playing several hours of the new 1.0 final version after several hours of the beta.
The first thing I noticed about 1.0 is how much speedier it loaded than the beta. I don’t have a new or speedy computer, and any speed boost is welcome. The game is also more detailed about what it’s doing while it’s loading, which I appreciate. Something else I also appreciated was that, when I got my Steam key for the game, I uninstalled the game’s beta from Impulse so there wouldn’t be any issues, thinking my previous game has been lost. Thankfully, upon loading 1.0 from Steam, it recognized my save games and loaded them perfectly, which was a nice touch. See the lovely big ships?
Figuring that most folks would start the game itself at 1.0, however, I decided to jump into a new game and start from the beginning, and noticed the option to skip the tutorial in the map screen, which I of course availed myself of, and generated a new map:
In skipping the tutorial, I noticed that I had a nice cache of resources to start with, which makes up for not getting it myself during the tutorial. Again, a nice touch. Since I’ve not played the game in a while, I read the ship’s log and figured out where to go next. Apparently I had to visit one of the main character’s buddies in a nearby base.
Off I went to fight some baddies in order to secure some part from some ship in order to fix my mothership. In killing a bunch of Turtleheads, I was able to gather enough data to build them myself. Yay! I do so love Turtleheads.
After I kill the baddies, I shoot up the space rock and discover…OH $%^&, SPACE MONSTER!
After I slayed the beast, I decided to fly around and, spend some time trading with space stations, using research points I had forgotten to use before and just flying around causing trouble. I noticed the enemies put up a better fight than my previous play through with the beta, and the A.I. of my own wingmen had also improved (i.e. they did what I told ’em more often), so overall the A.I. seems to have been improved. Weapons also seem to handle differently, as stated in the change log, which took me some time to get used to. Overall, the changes I was able to notice in SPAZ after some play time with 1.0 are all an improvement, which really shows how much care the developers put into the game, and also that they listen to their fans.
Overall, I spent several hours with the new version of SPAZ, and really enjoyed it. It’s a great mix of space action, some light role-playing and plenty of randomness to keep things fresh. Future patches will bring things like bounty hunters, arenas, specialists and side quests, just to name a few. I can easily and highly recommend SPAZ for someone who wants a lot of space action with some longevity and depth as well.
Please enjoy the rest of the screenie shot thingies: