Review of Wazzal by Ken Suguro

Having played through Wazzal a couple of times, I am just surprised of the sheer quality of this FREEWARE game. The game is a variation of the ever so traditional "space trade" type game where you kill enemies, gain resources, and sell resources at different planets for money. It may sound simple when written that way, so let me elaborate.

In Wazzal, you're a pirate. A pirate's life in Wazzal is quite simple. You cruise around, you stop by planets to trade your goods. When you see a ship that you want? You attack it. Or when someone comes looking for trouble? You blast it. Then, after you have disabled the enemy ship, you go in and take your loot. After you get your loot, you go back to cruising around and trading. Isn't life simple?

Quite simple it is. This is the 3 mode of gameplay in Wazzal. The cruising mode is where you explore the galaxy, directed by a very friendly navigation system. Any planet that you have business on is indicated in red. Without hassle, you get to your destination, and you trade. Keep in mind though, that different planets have different trade rates. An extra light-year may get you a better deal.

But a life of trade is a life of a businessman. A pirate fights! While cruising around the galaxy, you will often run into other ships. Yes, ships with lots of goods.. not to mension the ships themselves. So naturally, as a pirate you will attack it. This is the battle mode of the gameplay. Your ship and the enemy ship(s) is entered into a concealed battleground, where you bout untill the death. Becareful not to vaporize the enemy ship though. You'd only want to disable it so that you can loot the ship.

The ship is now disabled, and you go in to take your loot... but what do you find? You have company! The ship's owner greets you with a squad of lazer gunmen. Throughout the game, the situation is always the same. 3 of your men against 6 or 7 of theirs. Of the 3, 2 are controlled by the computer and can only take out a few enemy gunmen at best. The rest is up to your marksmanship. Do not worry though, because you can strauf, and the enemy does not. But despite this obvious advantage, being outnumbered always is a challenge. And because you may or may not get the enemy ship depending on this, you will most likely find yourself sweating in the palms.

As you gain ships and get to know your way around the galaxy, you are pulled into the central storyline of the game. The event structure is somewhat like a role playing game in that it consists of a basic storyline and an unlimited set of subquests that can be obtained at any planet's mission machines. But most of the story is based around battles and you will find yourself trying to find the best combination of ships and the number of ships to overcome such challenges.

Which brings us to the topic of game ballance. The ballancing between the ships that appear in Wazzal are superb. Of course the handling, speed, and weaponry are all considerably different, but what makes things interesting is the combination of the ships. A troop of the best ship can be beat by a troop of a mixture of ships. Most of the times, it is easier that way. And while managing what kind of ships your troop if made of, you have to think about how many ships you want. Because in Wazzal, the amount of enemies you have to blast depend on how many ships you have. For example, with 5 ships in your troop, you will probably go against a fleet of 7-8 enemy ships while with 3 ships, you'd go against only 2 ships. Playing battle after battle, experimenting with different combinations of ships and numbers, you'll realize that the game balance is very perfected and fair.

Another aspect of Wazzal that seems perfected is the graphics. And oh am I serious here! This is no where within the range of most freeware games. We're talkin' 3D and particle systems! Wazzal's games are all top down type views, but all objects are rendered in 3D, composited over sprites. Explosions, missile trails, jet exhausts are all done with particles which gives it a much more dynamic impression. The graphics are seriously good enough to compete with published commercial games.

The music and sound effects have an original feel to it that is sort of reminiscent of the mod tracker music days. A very creative reuse of samples keeps the download size to a surprising 5mb, despite its many patterns of music and sound effects. I wouldn't say it's the most proffessionally written score I've ever heard, but it does serve it's purpose in creating the atmosphere quite well. I especially liked the creative use of a sample of a barking dog. Heck, it works in the music.

After finishing the game, I felt that Wazzal was a bit short. And that's simply because it made me want to play it some more. If I were to add anything to this game, it would be a weapon upgrade system, and perhaps a bigger galaxy. The gameplay, story, and precisely high production values of this game makes it a perfect game for those 20 minute free times... Looking for a freeware game that kicks ass? This one kicks galactic ass!