Space Pirates and Zombies 2 - PC Review

Space Pirates and Zombies 2, or colloquially known as "S.P.A.Z. 2" is the follow-up to 2011's runaway hit Space Pirates and Zombies. Evolving beyond its predecessor's more simplistic top-down action-oriented tactical space title, S.P.A.Z. 2 brings the lovable group of misfits out for another adventure, this time with its own 12-16 hour long introductory campaign. After years of development and about 18 months of Early Access, MinMax Games brings Space Pirates and Zombies 2 to full release and it. Is. Glorious.

The original S.P.A.Z. had a unique top-down 2D art style that really truly worked. In a gaming genre that is dominated by the likes of the ultra-realistic, hyper gorgeous games like Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, and EVE: Online, seeing this more simplistic approach was refreshing as it denoted a dedication to gameplay. That is not to say those others are not excellent games, they are, but some developers do tend to focus more on photo-realism and less on substance.

With S.P.A.Z. 2, MinMax games has matured a bit, providing a fully 3D universe (with the camera "behind and above" the starship) for the tactical action sequences and a simple if elegant overworld strategic map. The new 3D maps and models are suitably flashy, goofy, and retain every ounce of charm found in the first game. Performance was spot on too; only a few times in some end-campaign battles where there were 5 or 6 ships plus asteroids / rubble on-screen debris, did I see a bit of a drop in framerate, though I am not entirely positive that was the game's fault.

Where S.P.A.Z. 1 was sandbox only with some colorful characters and a basic, overarching concept where you are in a heavily populated yet nigh-lawless corner of space and are on the hunt for uber-element Rez (Rezin) that is used in everything from starship propulsion to creation of food. Space Pirates and Zombies 2 continues and elaborates on that central theme, but this time offers a campaign that serves as an introduction to the larger game as a whole. A 10-15 hour long tutorial if you will. I know what you are thinking "10 to 15 hours for a tutorial!?" but be at peace as the campaign is wonderfully paced, if a bit predictable.

A few faces from the first game return, largely the spunky Elsa Young and the enigmatic "doctor", Carl will accompany you on your quest to establish yourself in a this sector of space and to take on the zombie menace plaguing the galaxy. I know … I have said time and time again that I HATE zombies. They are so over done (it is hard to find a shooter that does not include zombies) but rarely do you find them in space like this, so I am okay with it. In fact, I sort of welcome the change from marauding aliens or hyper-aggressive mega-conglomerates.

The hybrid approach that S.P.A.Z. 2 takes, alternating between a pseudo-grand strategy / 4X title and a ship-based tactical 3rd person shooter is brilliant. The majority of your time will be spent in a starmap mode where you travel between outposts, lore points, salvage areas and Rez clouds. It is also where you will declare war on your lessers (or betters), trade, enter the Arena, a space where you can fight with pre-designed ship for Goons, Credits, and Experience points. Once you establish a starbase (or many starbases) you will then be able to participate in and defend against Raids not to mention sway other pilots to your faction.

As you continue to gain experience and level your ship up, you will also gain oodles of credits that you can then purchase a wide array of ship parts that you can then attach to build your own custom-looking ship. Some of them can be abysmal looking, since you are literally piling junk together to get it space-worthy. It is splendid. As I gained more credits and bought more parts I found I was playing around with the near-endless possibilities of ship combinations so much that I was spending hours doing just that.

Even after a few dozen hours into Space Pirates and Zombies 2 I still happen across something that makes me chuckle at its silliness (puns and references to other media are abundant) or sweat with concern for my meticulously crafted ship. Unlike most grand strategy or 4X games, a medium to large game in S.P.A.Z. 2 can be relatively quick and is almost always enjoyable. Minus a few spelling errors and some hokey voice acting (at times), Space Pirates and Zombies 2 is amongst the better space-based titles to come out in years and is a refreshing take on a large and often complex genre.

Game Information

MinMax Games Ltd.
MinMax Games Ltd.
Single Playyer
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Article by Robert