REVIEW: THE LAST FEDERATION / DEVELOPER: ARCEN GAMES / PUBLISHER: ARCEN GAMES / PLATFORM: PC, MAC, LINUX / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Best known for their work in AI War: Fleet Command and its expansions, Arcen Games are no stranger to high concept science fiction titles. The Last Federation sees a similarly bold move on the part of the developers, and they hit it out of the park.
You play as the last of your race, the Hydrals, who were wiped out in a conflict with another planet. In command of a powerful warship, you must prevent history repeating itself. Your task is to unite the various warring races of this solar system, build alliances and construct a lasting Federation. It’s effectively Andromeda the video game.
The concept behind the game is obviously brilliant and the programmers take full advantage of the options available to the player. Every race has a different political standing, from a robotic autocracy to a warrior race who only respect martial honour and usually can only be won over by killing their ruler in combat.
You do not command each world so much as direct and coerce them and every action results in new developments from anti-Federation insurgents to massive political shifts. Atop of this there is no sure-fire method to success, with different factors thrown in each time, some generated by your starting choices, others purely at random. These elements alone would make the title fantastic, but it is backed by a great combat system.
Spaceborne combat is something truly bizarre but innovative, playing out almost like a turn-based Bullet Hell. Yeah, there’s a combination no one would ever expect to see. You choose which actions to make, which direction your ship will fly in and what commands to follow, and the game plays out for a few seconds before pausing for new actions. It’s an astoundingly effective system, allowing you to control power levels FTL-style while simultaneously manoeuvring to avoid attacks.
Unfortunately the game does have a number of notable problems, even in the basic concept. Despite every race already knowing one another and having engaged in an interplanetary war, none have access to space flight at the start. This would be fine but other choices arise which are very curious. Everyone will turn on you for putting slaves on the market, but turn a hostile planet’s world into an inhospitable radioactive hellhole? No one bats an eye. It also has this nasty habit of chugging when there is too much going on, a common issue in many late game scenarios.
Despite these minor issues, this is a fantastic addition to the strategy genre which anyone remotely interested should buy. With great combat, choices and an outstanding visual design, it’s a true masterpiece to behold.