Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Last Federation

Let me state my bias immediately: I like Chris Park. He makes games at an unbelievable rate, and they're incredibly ambitious. Plus, they're huge games with an unbelievable amount of content.

Seriously, who has ever followed up an "RTS that plays like a 4X" (AI Wars) with a puzzle game (Tidalis)? Followed by a survivalist sidescroller (A Valley Without Wind and AVWW2). Followed by a god game (Skyward Collapse).

That's genre breadth that is nothing short of incredible.

To be honest, I've sometimes appreciated the idea behind the games more than the games themselves. Park is unbelievably prolific, but sometimes his far-reaching ambitions have not been reflected in fully-engaging gameplay.

This is a bad thing, because guys like Chris Park need to survive. His creativity and ambition are hugely important.

Park's latest game was just released last month, and I'm happy to say that his survival should no longer be in question. The game is a majestic space opera titled "The Last Federation", and it's brilliant. It's absolutely massive, but it's also fantastically accessible, and I think it's the best game that Arcen Games has ever released.

Your objective? Form a unified federation in your solar system. Not a huge goal or anything, since there are eight planets and dozens of layers of events and information going on around you. So it's not just turn-based space combat that you require--it's also diplomacy and espionage and all kinds of political intrigue.

Oh, and you don't control a planet, or a race. It's just you.

The game is huge beyond anything I can describe, and it really does feel like a vibrant, populous solar system. Actually, there's one word that describes this game extremely well: grand. I don't think I've ever used that as a descriptor before, but this game deserves the word.

Surprisingly, given its size and scope, I also find The Last Federation remarkably accessible. There's a tutorial that gives you the basics, then a graduated system of help that pops up as events warrant. Plus, I've never seen a game with better tooltips--you can hover over almost anything (and there are a LOT of "things" in this game) and get a detailed description of what it means.

Plus, Park (as always) is incredibly committed to the game. Just have a look at the post-release change notes. They're staggering, and he's adding content and features at a stunning rate.

I've played the game for almost three hours at this point, and I'm quite sure I will play it for three hundred eventually. For such a massive game, it's quite intimately crafted, but it's also quite playable. So in addition to a remarkable intellectual achievement, it's also a remarkable gaming experience.

Here's the webpage: The Last Federation. It should be purchased immediately.

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