While I'm a bit late into the game of reviewing SPAZ, writing it anyway couldn't hurt. Space Pirates and Zombies is a action-strategy space shooter with elements of random generation. While you have some control over how random it is, it only serves to increase or decrease the difficulty in the long run.
Gameplay: The gameplay is pretty solid. You pilot your ship around with WASD keys, and shooting your weaponry with the mouse. What makes it special if that you don't point and shoot, but the direction of your ship controls where your shots are. If you place a weapon on the front of your ship, expect it to shoot forward until the higher class ships which have rotating turret mounts that do just that. Even then, anything other than lasers will still need to lead the target, as nothing is hitscan. This makes shooting more skill based.
At the same time, you have to pilot your ship to avoid incoming shots from enemy ships. This ends up leading to dog fight type scenarios where you and your opponent are dodging around each other trying to get a shot in. This is where a lot of the enjoyment of the game is, since a lot of battles will be decided on whether or not you can out-maneuver the AI, especially on higher difficulties when the enemies become too strong to kill in a head-on fight.
As you kill enemies, you can pick up orbs of Data to level up and gain research points. The tech tree is nothing complex, since it is mostly just a direct % increase in damage and other stats for each weapon or ship subsystem. This is however needed, since more powerful versions of equipment are unusable until you level up that system. But before you can even equip something, you must acquire the blueprints of each item. Naturally, higher level equipment requires more blueprints, which can be obtained by the faction bases. Either buy from them, or blow it up and loot the charred remains of the base, if you can.
The Bounty Hunter system adds in some extra challenge to the mix, if you choose to allow them to spawn. Killing enemies within their territory increases the bounty on your head. Eventually, if left unchecked, the hunters will come after you in an attempt to collect that bounty. The higher your bounty, the higher the chance. You also have the chance to be extorted on the way out of one of their systems. Failure to pay and you'll need to fight them off. You'd think this would increase your bounty further, but instead gives you respect, which lowers the bounty. If the bounty falls into the negative, you start to gain respect points. This acts as a buffer before you will start accumulating a bounty, and ensures you won't be attacked until you drain all of your respect.
Another way to gain respect, as well as money and Data, is to fight in arena matches set up by the hunters. As you progress, harder challenges are unlocked, each with 3 difficulties. If you want to avoid ambushes every are or two, you may want to take advantages of these arena matches. They can even be repeated for a lesser reward if you are out of fresh fights. And if you really have no other option, you can pay your bounty off yourself. As a whole, this system adds more challenge to the game, which is welcome when not playing on the highest difficulty.
There's much more to gameplay, but I don't wish to drag on. So I'll end with one major flaw I found, and that mostly comes with the late game. If you fail to kill one of the smallest ships but weakened it to critical health, it will flee. For several thousand feet. If you don't switch to a small ship of your own that is just as fast, it will get away, and you'll spend minutes at a time waiting for it to come back. This becomes a huge pace breaker, and sometimes even causes you to be put in more difficult situations in the late game, when enemies can spawn just by you staying in an area for long. Maybe if they would retreat from battle, leaving the area entirely, this wouldn't be an issue.
Story: The setting is that of a far future, and space travel has advanced to that of colonizing other star systems. This is mostly thanks to the currency of the game, Rez. This subtance is mined from deposits floating in space to craft vessels. In order to become rich, many set off to mining colonies to gather as much Rez as they can. Legend also has it, there is a grand deposit in the center of the universe. This deposit is what our protagonists are looking for. The only problem is getting there. Warp gates between star systems are guarded by the UTA, the police space force, essentially. Not only this, but the grand warp gates to the planets near the center are locked down tight. A nice twist comes in the zombie part of the title, which you discover upon finally reaching these center systems. I'd elaborate, but I don't wish to spoil it.
Graphics: I care very little for graphics as long as they are serviceable. Meanwhile, SPAZ has great graphics. Each ship looks nice, if simple at times, and the lighting is bright and colorful.
Sound: The music of the game mostly boils down to ambient noise, but there are a few tracks here or there that are enjoyable. Cutscenes are also narrated by TotalBiscuit, who does a fine enough job. Though even he says he did terribly, and it is clear enough that he could have done better if he tried. The sound effects are all well and good, meanwhile. Each weapon has its own shot sound effects, and the sounds of another ship being hit are clear to hear. But after awhile, hearing the pew pew pews of the game gets old.
Overall, the game is a terrific time. It serves as a challenge when it needs to, and is just pure fun to shoot stuff in space. I'd recommend this to anyone who thinks they might enjoy this when shown any gameplay.