Monday, January 14, 2013

Saving the Galaxy!

Ever want to command a starship? Ever want to order an elite crew raise shields, arm weapons, or get you a badass sandwich? Sounds fun, huh?

I give you FTL: Faster Than Light.


Okay, so there are no sandwiches involved and maybe not an elite crew...but the rest was accurate. In FTL: Faster Than Light (we'll just call it "FTL" from here on out) you are in control of a Federation starship with important information needed to defeat the rebels. You must jump from point to point, from sector to sector, racing the rebels until you reach your allies.

Okay, so it is not an extremely inspiring plot. There are no cute puppies, mystic swords, ninjas, pirates, giant robots, super soldiers or, again, sandwiches involved. And the game is rather simple but the execution is actually rather complex.

You start out (without having unlocked anything) with a basic ship and three crew members. The ship is armed, has shields, and everything else a starship has. No, wait...there is no bathroom so I don't know how your crew gets around that aspect. They're probably too busy rerouting power from the dilithium crystal chamber into the...yeah, I digress.

So while you are running from the rebels and you will encounter stuff...things like asteroid fields, solar flares and, oh yeah, hostile ships of all kinds. How each fight goes is up to you. You can aim your weapons at any of the enemy's systems (weapons, shields, engine etc) and you can route power as you see fit. Even if you max out your ship's power, you will never have enough power to send juice to everything so you must decide.

Along the way you will acquire scrap. Yes, you will and you will like it or so help me...anyway, scrap is used to buy things like weapons, fuel, or other items from a space store (yes, that's what I am calling them) or ship upgrades.

Again, all of this sounds rather simple and, in theory, it really is. But once you have played the game for just a few minutes you will quickly figure out that there are all kinds of intricate strategies and details hidden within.

I often found myself yelling "Scotty! Raise the shields!" And then I'd give some lame excuse as to why Scotty couldn't raise them like "Ah'm doin' tha best I can, Captain!" or "Ah'm sorry, Captain, but ah fell out the gaping hole in the hull!"

You can rename your starting crew, though I never actually renamed them after Star Trek characters. Instead, I named them stunningly original names like "Engines", "Pilot", and "Weapons". I did this just so I could figure out who was supposed to do what job since they get better in their repetitive tasks--if they don't suffocate, die in a fire, or get blasted to bits by an alien with a raygun.

Oh, also, they can be pummeled to death.

You can play on two difficulties: "Easy" and "Normal" which, as a friend pointed out, should be called "Normal" and "**** You". I won't lie. This game is tough. The good news is, it's cheap. I've beaten it once and I still go back and play it (on **** You mode, of course). It's not graphically intensive which is fine because graphics aren't the point.

So there you go.