by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
Last one standing
I like the Thoraxians. Theyíre simple. They donít have complex governments and hierarchies, they just have a Hive Queen who controls the legions of scary creatures. Her decisions are solely based on what mood sheís in at the time. The Last Federation is a game about politics, warfare and money, so I decided to try and form an alliance with the faction that probably didnít care much about those things. That way it would be easy to get them on my side. Also I watched an episode of Star Trek recently which featured the Borg, and they are pretty cool.
In The Last Federation you play as the last surviving Hydral, a dominating race which dictated the happenings in the solar system. You betrayed your people in order to bring spacefaring technology to the other races in the system and atone for the atrocities your race had committed, and nearly all of them got wiped out in the process. Heavy stuff, and itís a shame all this has to be explained via text, as it would lend itself well to a nice cutscene with voiceover. Your goal is to form a federation of planets. Kind of like the Franklin D Roosevelt of interplanetary, multi-headed space monsters.
Mixture of styles
Thereís a mixture of styles. On the one hand you have got grand strategy. A large scale solar system map is laid out for you to explore. You can go to any of the planets and perform actions there. At the start, no one really has any distinct feelings towards you. However if you help them out by giving them the ability to launch spaceships, they might warm up to you. Of course, not everyone in the system is friendly towards you, nor are they necessarily friendly towards each other. The Acutians didnít take kindly to my alliance with the Thoraxians, and started sending armadas to blockade their home planet. I decided to step in.
This is where the next section of the game comes in: turn based combat. In each turn you choose which of the three weapons to use based on what youíre fighting, whether to adjust the power to weapons, shields or engines, decide whether to use one of the special abilities, all the while trying to choose the best route to take so you donít get hit by incoming fire. Itís not as complicated in practice as it sounds, however there is a lot going on. You will be fighting any number of large ships, accompanied by smaller fighters, stationary turret platforms, spy probes and so on. There might even be multiple factions taking part in one fight. I was helping my buddies the Thoraxians out with a pirate problem, but a Skylaxian ship happened to get caught up in the mix as well.
Before each turn in combat is the calm before the storm. The action pauses and you make your decisions, but you can still see all the enemy ships, and incoming projectiles suspended in the air. Predicting where enemy fire will go and adjusting your route accordingly using waypoints is fun in itself. Mousing over enemy ships gives you detailed information such as hull and shield strength, but most importantly you will be shown which weapon will be the most effective. For example, against bigger, shielded ships, the Energy Blaster is good initially, followed up by the Gravity Lance to deal massive damage to the hull. Meanwhile the minigun is good for taking down small fighter ships and weapons platforms.
Good mix of grand strategy and turn based combat.
Lacking presentational polish, very complex at the outset.