Who would have thought that millions of years from now, there might be a galactic space opera where one determined four-headed space lizard would be brokering trade routes and managing the political stage of the solar system.
Fortunately The Last Federation lets you do just that, as you assume control of the last living Hydral. A great war breaks out and you are forced to spend a millennia trapped on a technologically inferior planet. That is until the savage citizens finally manage to produce a spaceship, crafted in part from the designs of your own crashed ship. Being the underhanded quadruple-headed reptile that you are, the opportunity to blast free from the shackles of this world were too great, and so you ‘liberate’ them of their hard work and sail towards the stars. Your journey commences, and first on the ‘to-do’ list is making a unified galactic federation of planets.
After escaping, the game hands the reins over and lets you do your own thing. Do you want to be a peaceful Hydral dignitary, carefully brokering trade deals and negotiating peaceful terms between hive-mind insectoids and subversive boar folk? Perhaps causing a pandemic amongst the owl people is more your style, forcing them to join with you out of desperation for the medicine they sorely need before the space flu wipes them out entirely. The choice is entirely yours, although not everything turns out the way you plan.
Take my first game in which I chose to ally with the bloodthirsty Burlust, a savage war-like race of soldiers and chieftains. After challenging and defeating the head chieftain, I had earned their respect. I was a proven warrior, and the next in line to the Burlust seat of power had come to respect me. They were my allies now, and forever. This was a mistake.
Cast forward one or two space years, and I had put the Burlust to the back of my mind. I had won them over, and it was time to convince the rest of the races to join up with me. My only issue was that every time I tried to make nice with one of the seven races, my dearly beloved Burlust friends would march on in and murder their faces off. This particular game ended with a federation of two races: The Burlust – who numbered into the billions and had spread across the known solar system like an epidemic of axes and hellfire – and one solitude four-headed lizard coated in the dried blood of several races.
The game isn’t just about clicking on menu options and watching the events unfold. Alongside the tactical diplomacy that you manage via the overworld solar map, there will be occasions when talking just won’t cut it. Luckily you still have your nifty stolen spaceship and a complete arsenal of laser beams to point at those you wish to get rid of.
Combat is handled in a semi turn-based fashion. You spawn into a miniature space arena and are given control of a single ship, yours. After picking out your combat stance, ranging from auto attack to direct control over the target, you plot your course and then the actions are carried out in real time. A few seconds pass and you take your next turn, simultaneously with every other unit on the map.
It’s a great addition to help mix things up for a game that heavily focuses on reading through scores of menu dialogue, and for the most part the combat does alleviate the pressure on your eyes. However, a few hours into the game and you’ll start to notice the flaws in the enemy AI. You’re given three bars to control the amount of power going your weapons, your shield, and your engines, and whilst this at first seemed like an interesting way to make the combat more dynamic, I found nearly all situations could be handled by simply forgetting about the engine power and pouring everything into shields and weapons. After two or three turns, the opposing forces were usually dead and my shields would barely have been depleted. Tougher enemies were scarcely seen, and dealing with them was simply a case of turning the engine power to match their speed, then using your long range rounds to pelt them as they foolishly chased you.
The Last Federation is a game with a very specific focus. It doesn’t get lost in a sprawling procedural sandbox world; it doesn’t assume that you want to be trawling across the stars in search of something to do. Instead it gives you one goal, and asks you how you would like to achieve it. Using that as a starting point the game then builds several paths for you to take, each one boasting something unique or interesting.
That’s not to say that everyone will enjoy the game though. There is a heavy focus on tactics and diplomacy, and a general amount of intelligent thought is required throughout if you want to win. If you like blowing things up and soaring through the skies as a top gun maverick, this probably isn’t the game for you. If, however, you enjoy weaving a sordid plan of conspiracy and subterfuge as you set a war-mongering race of savages against a helpless bunch of owl people, then this game is probably going to appeal to your inner politician.
This game was reviewed using a copy provided by the developer for that purpose.
© 2014, The Indie Mine. All rights reserved.