Tuesday, September 25, 2012

FTL: WTFs at the speed of light

Alright, another long gap between this post and the last one. I haven't really been playing any new or exciting games, so that's the reason for that. Recently, however, I ended up buying FTL: Faster Than Light on Steam. Let me just start off by saying this; if you are the kind of person who does not enjoy difficult games with lots of randomized encounters, this game is not for you. It will be incredibly rage inducing. Trust me on this one.

Anyways, on to talking about the game. The game itself is relatively simple in concept as well as in mechanics. The premise of the game is that you are a star ship crew trying to get to your base to deliver some vital intel, all the while being chased by the rebels. To progress through the game, you go through various sectors, with each sector containing a randomized map of locations that you can travel to. Each of those locations can themselves have a randomized encounter, dealing from rebel scout ships, to shops, to friendly bases that will provide you with supplies.

Speaking of supplies, everything in the game depends on a single currency; scrap. Scrap is required for pretty much anything you need to do in the game, from upgrading your ship, to buying weapons, ammo and repairs at shops, as well as purchasing new crew members (your initial starting crew consists of three people). The main way of getting scrap is by encountering other ships and killing them, or if you have the proper equipment, boarding the ship itself and killing off the crew, which will net you a larger reward. Other methods of gaining scrap are by randomly encountering a friendly vessel which might happen to provide you with scrap, or selling unwanted weapons at shops.

On to the ships. Initially you start out with a basic ship with a crew of humans and a few weapons. As you progress through the game, you have the potential to unlock additional ships if you manage to meet the proper conditions for it. The ships themselves have various room layouts, some of which contain your engine room, shields, weapons, cockpit, and so forth. You are able to man some of these systems with your crew to gain some small boosts, depending on what system it is. For example, having someone man your weapons room will have your weapons recharge at a slightly faster rate. Having a pilot in the cockpit will give your ship a better chance at dodging incoming fire. Some of the rooms will be empty, to allow for addition systems to be added if you so desire. Each room is connected to another by a door. Why is this important? It is important due to the fact you are able to open and close each door individually, allowing for several things to happen. If you upgrade your doors to blast doors, you can isolate an enemy boarding crew and open the connecting rooms to the vacuum of space, eventually suffocating the intruders. This can also be used to deprive any fires that may start of oxygen, thus putting them out without endangering your crew members.

Over all, this game is very much about micro-management and strategic thinking. You need to be constantly making decisions and thinking about any potential consequences of your decisions. One small slip is all it takes in this game for your journey to be over. Decide your routes and your gameplay carefully, as you can very easily find yourself at a disadvantage, either through coming across an enemy that you weren't prepared for, or by running across a dead-end route and needing to backtrack, potentially running into the rebel fleet that will slowly make its way across the sector. I must say, that even though this game has many WTF moments, some of which will possibly make you say, 'Fuck you FTL', it is still an enjoyable experience, especially for those who really want a challenge in their gameplay.