Stand-out iPad ti­tle with great re­play value

Bray People - - ENTERTAINMENT - WITH CHRIS HAYES

POS­SI­BLY THE cru­elest time-waster ever con­ceived, FTL: Ad­vanced Edi­tion is nev­er­the­less one of the stand-out iPad ti­tles in re­cent times. It isn't of­ten that a mo­bile game gets re­viewed here but this one truly war­rants the word space. With re­play value by the bucket, I can see this game hang­ing around for a long time to come.

One of the joys of FTL is that you can never feel safe. Nes­tled within the cutesy pixel art and tiny an­i­ma­tions is a bru­tally clever game­play en­gine with so many per­mu­ta­tions that it makes the enigma code look more like morse code. It may seem rudi­men­tary at first glance, but the enor­mous va­ri­ety of of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive op­tions means that ten­sion is kept to a sur­pris­ingly ex­hil­er­at­ing high.

The many ways in which mul­ti­ple ver­sions of blasters, beams, flak, mis­siles, ion blasts, tele­ported bombs, at­tack drones, board­ing par­ties with six dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent races, and mind con­trol in­ter­act with shields, cloak­ing de­vices, de­fen­sive drones, en­gine speed, med­i­cal bays and cloning fa­cil­i­ties, re­in­forced doors, and more is end­lessly in­ter­est­ing.

Many choices sur­roud ev­ery key de­ci­sion in FTL, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to an as­sault with the en­emy. This leaves you won­der­ing. Do you weaken their shields first, or take out their weapon sys­tems? Or do you send over a board­ing party and take them head-on? You could use mind con­trol to at­tempt to turn the en­e­mey crew against each other. You could even try power up your FTL drive and high-tail it out of there.

You'll even make some very poor choices, such as send­ing your board­ing party over to an un­manned drone in or­der to dis­able its weapon sys­tems. Only to re­alise that it's an un­manned drone and doesn't con­tain any air.

Each time you jump around the map it forces even more choices. You can try ex­plor­ing as much as you can, up­grad­ing your ship be­fore reach­ing key bat­tles. Some­times this can back­fire, though, and you can meet big pirate ves­sels that are just dy­ing to take ad­van­tage of your mo­ment of weak­ness. You're also just as likely to run into in­ter­est­ing lit­tle text ad­ven­tures that are al­ways well-writ­ten and choc-full of some sur­pris­ingly pro­found moral de­ci­sions.

This is an ab­so­lutely ter­rific ti­tle, and one that re­ally takes the cake as far as mo­bile ti­tles go. Also avail­able on PC, this is a sure ti­tle for king of the time wast­ing games. Each run through pro­vides a dif­fer­ent story, and a dif­fer­ent sense of re­ward. Even the ones that leave your en­tire crew dead.

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