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Fate of the World Review

By Tom Dann

Fate of the World presents a unique spin on the Grand Strategy genre. Rather than conquering the World, here you must save it. The process is pretty similar: you’ll have various tools and researches at your disposal, as well as limited resources, so you must choose their use wisely. Your adversaries? Climate Change, Energy Crises, Humanitarian Crises and Natural Disasters will all try their best to derail your mission. The game places you as President of the Global Environmental Organisation (GEO), and as such it’s your decisions that will affect the Fate of the World.

The process of saving the World is pretty simple to pick up. You are able to assign “Agents” to each region under your control (twelve regions, six agents in each). Each Agent opens up a slot to play a card, and each card represents a piece of research, project, technology or policy that can be applied to the selected region. Each card has an equivalent dollar value, as well as the length of time it takes to come into effect, from five years to permanent. Once you’ve played your cards, you end the turn, time skips forward five years and you do it all over again.

The cards you can play are broken down into six categories: Projects, Environmental, Technology, Resources, Society and Political. Environmental cards include Organic Farming, Biochar or even defences against natural disasters, while Technology provides advances in several areas. Resources allows you to manage energy production, Society deals with human welfare (healthcare, education) and Political deals with regional stability. Certain cards can only be unlocked once prerequisite cards have been played – for example each category requires an Office card to be played first.

Projects are the most interesting cards, though the opportunities to play these are rare once your well laid plans inevitably start falling apart. Examples include implementing electric cars, vegetarianism, saving forests or committing to Nuclear power. Most cards have downsides as well as upsides, so a lot of decisions won’t be easy.

While playing the cards a simple procedure, Fate of the World has many complexities. There are numerous problems each region can face; for example some Countries are more prone to forest fires or flooding, and this increases as a game goes on (the aim is to last until the year 2200), unless you can keep your emissions and global temperature right down. Of course, if you focus all your resources on the environment, then something else will suffer – probably the human population: it’s a very fine balance that’s difficult to strike, and takes practice. If you do a particularly bad job of keeping a regional population happy, they may start killing off Agents. If you let the discontent continue, a region can withdraw from your organisation completely. Loss of too much support will lose you the game.

You’ll be appraised of the global situation via detailed statistics, news bulletins and reports. The statistics are pretty complex, and take a fair bit of time to get used to. The news and reports are the most helpful here, keeping you up to date on what problems each region faces, be it civil unrest, pollution or water shortages. Unfortunately, relying on these is a reactionary approach that just won’t cut it: you’ll always be one step behind. Fate of the World requires a keen mind, and you’ll have to keep thinking ahead. Luckily, there’s an in-game encyclopaedia of various technologies, so it’s a good idea to read this to give yourself an advantage.

The game ships with three campaigns. One of these acts as a tutorial, and sees you lead Africa through it’s varied troubles. Fuel Crisis and Three Degrees have remarkably similar objectives, unfortunately, involving you making it to a designated year with minimal Global Warming. There will be an extra campaign, Dr. Apocalypse, which sounds most interesting, tasking you with causing maximum Global damage. Morbid, but it should be a nice change of pace.

The biggest problem with Fate of the World is that there’s no real emotional resonance. Considering it’s dealing with real problems that face the World (an admiral endeavour), the game is so utilitarian in its form that it’s difficult to really feel anything (though, I’ll admit, when I caused the extinction of the Sumatran Orang-Utan I felt pretty guilty). The over-enthusiastic soundtrack doesn’t really help matters, coming off as corny rather than emotional. I suppose I should just be thankful that the game isn’t too preachy about being green.

Fate of the World is a game that’s simple to play, but has more than it’s fair share of complexity for those who like to examine the statistics under the hood. The smooth interface means you’ll be saving the world effortlessly in no time, but Red Redemption are under no illusion that the World will be saved if we all just build Wind Turbines. You must think carefully about where to invest your resources, as you have to balance plenty of spinning plates that are more than inclined to bump into each other in ways you might not expect. Fun and addictive, with a fair bit of replay value from trying different approaches, Fate of the World is good if not revolutionary, even if it does provoke a little more thought than your normal game.

Copyright Tom Dann 2011

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