Tuesday, September 18, 2012

FTL: Faster Than Light

The clock ticks to 1 AM as my download finishes. I should be asleep, sure it's a Saturday night, but honestly, I'm tired. But pure interest has drawn me to simply try a single game. One run. An hour later, I've gone through at least four ships as I crawl off to bed.

FTL: Faster Than Light is a bit hard to describe for me, and to those who asked me, I described it like this: You know how on shows like Star Trek they constantly say "ALL POWER TO THE SHIELDS!" and the like? Imagine someone made a game out of that.

And it would appear someone did. FTL: Faster Than Light isn't a game I would say is simple in concept. You're balancing power systems, while dealing with a crew, while dealing with an enemy ship. You need to watch your shields, the enemy's shields, your crew's health, your systems, your weapons, and that's just the beginning. Once you actually start to layer strategy onto there? It just sounds a bit...Cluttered.

In execution, the game plays nearly seamlessly. Your 1-4 keys are assigned to your weapons, keeping them at your fingers at all time, your crew is easy to control, a few clicks and their off to where they need to be, and with a press of the spacebar you can pause the game and give yourself time to think.

You start with a small crew, and a ship, you're given a map with a few stars you can travel to, and given the goal of trying to move through eight systems to get vital information to the Federation at the end of the eighth. In between you'll run across pirates, slavers, and slugs. I showed the game to a friend, who said it was a bit like The Oregan Trail, and in a way, he is right.

The game also has a few roguelike qualities. If you die, you start over, and every map is randomally generated. This keeps it feeling fresh, and honestly, I've yet to beat it. Perhaps that's just a bunch of bad luck, or perhaps it just means I need to get better.

A few of my complaints, though, are that there's very little control of what's going to happen to you. This leaves a sense of exploration, but there were so many times that I went through half the game without seeing a new crew member, or a decent weapon just floating in the black, that I almost felt a bit cheated when I reached the end of the game, still using the starting weapons. I could've invested in a few from one of the many stores you'll run across, but I almost always preferred leveling up my systems over this. That's just my preference.

There's also not much here, story wise, the random events are well written, but there just needs to be more of them, and I'm sure there's a chance of that in an update.

But the main game? I didn't really go into detail, but it's worth it. You'll be balancing your shields, mainly, around your weapons, and your engine which allows you to dodge a bit. Other systems include oxygen, which allows you to breath, and your medbay, where you'll be healing your crew members if they get close to biting it. If the idea of captaining a ship for a more personal experience in a dogfight, look this one up.

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