FTL: Advanced Edition Review: As if this game wasn't already great enough
The more I play FTL: Faster Than Light, the more I think it may just be one of the greatest games of all time. I hadn't touched the game in two years after playing when it originally launched back in 2012, but in the past week it's been all I've played. The beefed-up FTL: Advanced Edition delivers the exact same experience that developer Subset Games was awesome enough to bestow upon us two years ago, and it adds a few more elements that don't necessarily make the game any better but certainly add to its awesomeness.
In case you've never played FTL before, the game wears several proverbial hats. It's a mix of strategy, space sim, management, text adventure, and roguelike — yes, it's all of those things, and enough attention is put on each to make the whole experience substantially worthwhile. You travel across the daunting darkness of space, engaging in intense battles, stocking up on ammo and fuel, equipping crazy gadgets, and even doing a little bartering. It's a complex collection of systems, but once you get the hang of everything, it all becomes second nature.
Before reading about the new additions found in Advanced Edition, check out my review from 2012 if you want a more in-depth explanation of what FTL is all about.
The first big change present is the addition of new events. Because FTL plays a lot like a text adventure, you're tasked with making different decisions in between levels. Sometimes you have to choose whether you want to ignore a potential threat. Other times you have to decide if it's worth investigating an enemy ship that's minding its own business. There are moments when you have to make a choice between helping a friendly ship that's being raided by space pirates or stay out of it for a cut of the profit. Advanced Edition gives you more choices to make, diversifying the experience further.
New systems are also included. The Mind Control System allows you to take control of enemies, forcing them to cause damage to their own ships or repair yours if they thought they could get the jump on you by boarding your carrier. The Hacking System (which I found to be one of the most useful) is great for making your enemies' shield and weapons systems go haywire. The Clone Bay replaces the MedBay and allows you to spawn clones of your crew if your characters fall in battle.
Other new features in FTL include the addition of more weapons that have different effects when used (such as stunning enemy crew members), the new Lanius race that can drain oxygen from any ship rooms it visits, and a new sector geared specifically around the Lanius. The new backup battery subsystem is also introduced in Advanced Edition, and it boosts your reactor (which is used to power all of your other systems) for a limited time, giving you more of a fighting chance. Then there's the inclusion of a new Hard difficulty option, which is for the truly masochistic.
It's possible to get through FTL in about an hour or two, but it's almost never likely. There are so many active systems, dynamic scenarios, and unpredictable factors to take into account that you never have the same experience twice. Even if you get to the final boss during one play session, you're not guaranteed to get there the next just because you play a damn good strategic game. That's the beauty of FTL, though: It's so unpredictable and insane and challenging that every time you venture out into space, you're guaranteed to have a different story to tell.
Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.