Space Pirates and Zombies 2 Review (HTC Vive)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
Space Pirates and Zombies 2 has been released after around a six-year gap from when the original one was released. This time round it is playable in two formats… your standard PC format or via VR on the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. For the VR section of this hands-on I have been playing the HTC Vive version.
Space Pirates and Zombies 2 is a full 3D game, I believe the first was top-down. The game is hard to label under a specific genre, as it takes so many ideas and melds them into one. I think the best way I could explain it as under the heading of Space Action/Sandbox game.
The game comes with a campaign that mode, that will tell you a story – this is given to you via conversations with your crew mates. The story doesn’t flesh out much, and for me seemed more a learning tool, for taking on and getting most out of the sandbox mode. However, what I like about it is the high standard of the voice acting, which helps the story element of the game – because I personally feel that if it wasn’t you would likely skip over the campaign mode. I don’t think I really need to explain what the sandbox mode is, but this is where you will find yourself spending the main part of your gaming in.
When it comes to down the gameplay, as I aforementioned the game seems to take lots of different styles and bring them together in one pot. The games main focus comes into the ship combat though, this is made to be experienced in third person, but you can switch it to be played in a top-down view. To aid you in combat the game does offer a decent customization section. You are in control of a mothership in the fleet, and you will be able to remove and add different types of core modules to get it to your liking. Changing up these modules with affect your ships main stats like health, speed and shields – so you must take what these changes are doing to your ship into account.
The games map is quite the size in the sandbox mode, and time will only pass when travelling by the starmap to your next destination. This bring in the management aspect of the game. You can travel around the galaxy fighting off bandits and other factions, while stopping and mining materials from resource nodes – this opens the game up to a large number of activities. As you put more and more time into the game, you will start to build up your own star base and be recruiting captains within your faction, which in turn will see you taking other factions resources and even territories. Really adding up to what you would come the expect in a game like this – giving you a reason to keep playing. All the time while doing this you will also be levelling in the game, which you can then spend on perks that can increase many elements of your mothership like increasing your armour, or if you don’t want to do that you can modify your star base doing things like increasing the hangar space for your strike crafts.
The biggest reason you will keep playing with the game is the customization options, and building the perfect mothership for how you want to play – this can take a lot of experimenting and chopping and changing. The reason it can take a lot of experimenting is the game includes a system where if you have set nodes/modules connected together it can offer a bonus, which could be the difference in a battle. Outside of you ship customization, you can also create different sets of strike crafts, these are AI controlled ships which are a lot smaller than yours, but can be a massive assistance in you engagements.
The game brings with it multiple control options, as is now the norm with PC games. You can play the PC version of the game with keyboard/mouse, or with a controller. I found myself most comfortable with the controller option in the game, but, this could have been down to my past with console gaming. But, in saying that I did use a the keyboard/mouse for some of my time spent with the game and it did feel comfortable and natural – so if this is your preference it will be easily accessible for you. If you are playing the game in VR, you can use either the tracked motion controllers or a controller. I really couldn’t get the controls down using the Vive controllers, and found myself using the controller for this mode as well. I think with time with the Vive controllers you could probably pick up the control system – but, I thought why when the controller (Xbox One), is much more comfortable to hold for longer periods and less fiddly.
When it comes to the VR element of the game, it is the exact same game, and still played in a third person perspective – its just like you are sat in the galaxy watching the battles. It does take make full use of the 360 view field as you look around and does bring some immersion to the game. However, I personally think being in control from inside the mothership would have been a better use of the VR, sort of what Elite is doing on the Oculus Rift. I am hoping that it does eventually do more with the VR element, the reason for this being that I found most of my time with the game has been spent in non-VR. When playing in VR, you are informed it is to played seated, as the game is made to be played for long sessions and not as a title you put on for a short period – they also give warnings to take breaks if you feeling the effects from VR gaming.
Space Pirates and Zombies 2 is a game that will certainly appeal to players who love the space exploration sandbox games, however, if this is not your thing it might be worth avoiding. The customization options brings with it many reasons to go back the game, as you try and build a mothership that is perfect for you and how you play. However with the additional little extras that need taking into account, it might not be as easy as you hoped – but, the experimenting is all part of the fun. Where the game offers a VR mode that can add some immersion, it just doesn’t do as much as it could have in this medium, meaning you might find yourself not really using this option often.
Also available on Oculus Rift
Developer: MinMax Games Ltd.