Video game corner: FTL: Faster Than Light

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By Kristofer Hammer

FTL: Faster Than Light is one of those rare, independently developed games that provides a truly unique experience while harkening back to nostalgic childhood fantasies. It was developed by Sunset Games and released on Sept. 14, 2012.

For every Star Wars and Star Trek fan, there is a child who has dreamed of piloting his or her own spaceship or exploring the vastness of space. Several video game critics have noticed these similarities as well, generally praising the game for its approach to gameplay. FTL: Faster Than Light takes the essence of these immensely popular franchises and capitalizes on this experience in order to provide players with an ever-changing personal space opera.

The premise of the gameplay in FTL: Faster Than Light is a hectic, time-based combat system in which the spaceships encounter one-on-one battles with the enemy. The spaceships all come equipped with a variety of weapons as well as drones that  can provide special help in combat.

What makes the combat in FTL: Faster Than Light especially interesting is that the enemy has these exact same abilities as well, therefore creating a more complex and hectic game, so players should expect plenty of deaths.

In addition, this game has a permanent-death design, meaning that players are forced to restart from the beginning if they are killed at any point in FTL: Faster Than Light.

Luckily for players struggling to stay alive, the story is not a particularly important component of the game, so having to restart the game from the beginning is not much of a detriment. There is no  especially compelling plot line in the game.

What really makes this game stand out is the vast amount of detail that goes into conducting basic combat. Each crew is specialized into categories, such as steering, weapons or engines, meaning that these members should work in these specific categories.

Individual skills can improve with each successful encounter, and each crew member can work in the other positions as well, though not as effectively as they can in his or her own area of expertise.

The fights are highly graphic and visceral. Not only are dangers posed by environmental damage, but also by fire damage. This is significant because players are responsible for every aspect of their ships.

This means that if either of these two are destroyed, players can lose complete control of the battle, which often occurs, while still needing to focus on the enemy.

The amount of skill required, then, to navigate an encounter is extraordinarily high, creating an extremely satisfactory feeling after any and all victories over the enemy.

Additionally, each portion of the ship requires energy which can be shifted mid-battle to power up the shields or to power down the engines, in order to gain a hopeful advantage in battle. While there is not an emphasis on diplomacy, there are non-lethal encounters that can have a lasting impact on future expeditions, depending on how players approach them.

FTL: Faster Than Light is an amazing contained experience that effectively creates the fantasy from which it draws its inspiration.

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