I’ve been playing a lot of FTL lately, just like everyone else I guess. Good game, mostly only minor criticisms. I wish that the encounters had some sort of face associated with them like Star Control 2 conversations. I feel like that might slow the game down a bit, which isn’t good, but it would make it much more personable and enjoyable, which isn’t bad. I also wish the game were more aware of certain situations like when you’ve got an away crew on an enemy ship when your ship gets destroyed, you should be able to, if your away crew wins, keep playing with that enemy ship, maybe even avoiding encounters because they think you’re one of them. These are minor complaints, tho.
My real gripe about the game is the leveling system. Lots of games have them, lots of games have had them for a long time. The idea is the more a character does a particular task the better they get at it. In and of itself this isn’t a bad idea. It’s true to life, I guess. The only problem with it is what it promotes game play wise.
The first game I remember having a leveling system was X-Com. The result of this leveling system was making characters with high stats so invaluable that you couldn’t bear to lose them. So when I played I employed the game’s save system like some sort of time travel device, rewinding individual moves until I got the outcome I liked. Was this true to the spirit of the game? If it were you’d have a “time rewind” object like Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. But it’s the way we played because our characters had levels we didn’t want to lose.
After that I discovered jRPGs and while I never really got into them very much I quickly learned about “farming”. This is exactly the problem FTL falls to. In FTL if you find a battle against an opponent that can’t penetrate your shields and wont run away you simply power down your weapons and let them pound on you. Rotate who’s on shields, engines and helm and let your characters slowly level up those abilities. Of course this could take hours so be sure you’ve got a good book on hand.
Leveling is a broken mechanic that breaks a games ability to really draw you in. It encourages cheating and breaking the game. To be sure any game where you can collect things does this, but if it weren’t for this one little aspect, FTL managed keep the game moving well. You don’t have enemies that pop up at random, so there’s no point in retreading where you’ve been. In fact that encroaching army insures that you’re going to balance meandering for loot and moving towards the exit. It’s brilliant except for this one little thing. Do we really need to level up our characters? We already level up our ships individual systems in the game.Can’t that be enough?gainst an encroaching army that is gaining territory while you wait. Except when you’re in battle, so you don’t worry about them. The game’s sense of urgency goes up in smoke because you’re farming.
If you haven’t tried it out FTL is definitely worth your time. What’s on the screen may look simple, but you quickly realize that it doesn’t do justice to the sweeping epic star ship combat that you’re engaged in. Soon your mind is filling in the blanks and you’re in a combat as epic as anything you’ve seen in movies and TV. And a game that can spark the imagination like that is a good game.