From the creators of the acclaimed AI War: Fleet Command comes the latest in their arcade aim and shoot series; The Last Federation.
Pitting you as the last of a dead race – the Hydral, the game centres around a survivalist galaxy at war scenario with the goal of forming a galactic federation. That’s essentially it; but don’t let that put you off. The Last Federation may well have the price of an arcade game, but presents the scope and replayability similar to its pricier brethren.
Sporting a basic point-and-click system, the player directs a singular ship through a series of turn-based actions with the computer acting simultaneously in a manner that reminisces Civilization more than it does Risk.
Over the course of never-ending missions, the Hydral fights and allies its way to the ultimate goal of the federation. Who you choose to ally and destroy though is purely dependent on circumstance. Often other races will hate you for seemingly no reason, whilst the remainder worship you like a deity as you defend their planet from attackers.
Whilst its basic combat and errancies may bore some, players will be satisfied with the depth of choice. With 8 unique races to influence, the game has a surprisingly complex relationship system that gives your every move a consequence on galactic events.That being said, at times the game can leave you questioning what exactly you’ve got to do, and just how the hell are you ever going to form this mythical ‘federation’. The game provides guidelines, but they’re dull and frequently complicate rather than aid you.
Where the game does best is its simulation. As you dance around the idea of unity with the other races, the game constantly simulates the culture and society of the galaxy’s billions of inhabitants. Everything from their economy and shipbuilding abilities, down to the minor stuff like whether your people are starving.
It’s clear from the start that the game borrows heavily from various other science-fiction texts, mainly to its advantage. The influence and alliance system is reminiscent of Sins of a Solar Empire, along with the ship designs and vibrant colour pallet. The so-termed Federation itself screams Star Trek, and even a number of symbols seem to find their routes in Mass Effect and Space Invaders. But that intertexuality throughout is part of the quirk. Fans of hardcore sci-fi might hold some bitterness to the tongue-in-cheek style, but most will see the humour and realise the fun and nostalgia it brings.
Often battles can be long and tedious, and it won’t be too long before you have to take a break. It’s an eclectic mix of addition and distaste for a game that both pleases your senses and irritates them.
For a small team, Arcen Games have produced a thoroughly fun and satisfying game. Though often conflicts and can be long and tedious, a series of perfect manoeuvres give a deep sense of satisfaction as you face down up to 5 other races in a single battle. However, I’m left questioning whether desktops are the perfect format for such a basic interface. The vibrancy and simplicity are a perfect match for any tablet and even mobile phone on the market today.
Therein lies the problem with The Last Federation. A quirky, basic game with a lot of replayability, though it sits in an odd situation: Not quite an indie game. Not quite a full game due to its lack of story and direction. It’s narrative and longevity suggest the same, and I’m sure from the price point at $15, that Arcen Games aren’t quite sure what it is either.