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Fate of the World


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Rating: 4.1/5 (28 votes)
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Fate of the World

DoraSave the world. It's easy, right? After all, we're not talking about a robot uprising or an alien invasion here... all we need is someone to fix the environment and get everyone working together for the greater good. You could handle that, couldn't you? If you've ever caught yourself thinking, "We could solve poverty/famine/disease/dwindling resources if we would just... " then Red Redemption's strategy simulation game, Fate of the World, the sequel to 2007's Climate Challenge, just might be for you. You have just been named head of the newly formed GEO (Global Environmental Organization) and granted the political clout you need to save the world from itself. Witness real science and research at play as the world reacts to your every choice in every country, from solving an energy crisis in Japan to struggling to instigate a health care program in South Africa while the country suffers from crippling riots amid poor living and working conditions. You can handle that, right? After all, if only the people in charge would "just" make the right decisions, decisions which are of course very obvious, the world would be a better, more stable place... right?

Fate of the WorldIn each stage, you're given an objective to complete within a certain time frame, and very little help as to how to go about achieving it. (Although the game will tell you how you can fail.) Gameplay is turn-based, with each turn representing five years. During each turn, you can do as much as you have the money and manpower for; actions are represented with different cards that you can play in a country, such as starting an education program or opening an office to further technological advancement. All of these are important, since your actions unlock new cards with different advancements that can be of use to you. Every choice and action you take has an affect on the country you're working with, and with so many countries clamouring for your help, you'll have a hard time keeping your most important resources (money and manpower) out of the red. At the end of each turn, time advances five years, and you'll be presented with a summary of how things have changed, from the global temperature to the attitudes of the countries you've been working with.

Of course, humans aren't the only critters nibbling away at the planet. Forgetting to spare a thought for conservation in different countries can mean the extinction of entire species... at the end of the day, will you be able to say those loses were worth it? That there was nothing more you could have done? Remember, in the end the solution to a problem is not only to throw money at it. Take the time to review the issues in each particular country when selecting your cards; while adding more security and technological development might be nice, what they might need is a cleaner environment or better medical care. How will you handle things? Will you be willing to ignore the needs of a few countries so that the rest will flourish? Or will you strain to make everyone happy and risk spreading yourself too thin and not accomplishing as much as you could have?

Fate of the WorldAnalysis: All right, let's get this out of the way right now; even if you don't have any interest in the statements this game is trying to make, or the things it wants you to think about, Fate of the World is still mechanically simply an awesome game. This isn't a title that's coasting by on the ideas behind it; it really looks and plays very, very well, and gamers who enjoy deep, meaty strategic gameplay will find it serves their needs quite well. It's not surprising considering the talent of the team behind it. Is Fate of the World edutainment? Well, sure. But it's an incredibly well made piece of it; just give that soundtrack from Richard Jacques a listen. If his name sounds familiar, it's because you might have heard his work on a little-known video-game called Mass Effect. It's super obscure, you've probably never even heard the name before, I'm sure.

When you're just getting the hang of things, the sheer volume of problems facing the world, typically different in every country, is more than a little frightening. Everyone is clamouring for your attention, and everyone is going to blame you and you alone when things don't go right for them, whether it's a tsunami they feel you could have done more to help fortify them against, or the pollutants put out by the factory you installed to further fuel production. Since you're juggling so many different countries and problems at once, progress can feel like it's slowed to a crawl. In order to really succeed, you need to spend more than ten seconds thinking about how to play your cards in each turn, and in some cases that can take a long time if you really analyze every situation and read up on all the card possibilities. Fate of the World is an incredibly important game, no doubt about that, but there are times when it can feel a bit like a second job everyone is ready to lynch you for performing poorly at.

Fate of the WorldAs a gamer, that's a bitter pill to swallow. On a lot of stages, you can meet the winning conditions and still feel like you've lost because so many things can go wrong. While that does mean the successes and advancements are that much more satisfying, it does mean that many players will find it discouraging and quit before they really get the hang of things. While I can say that playing Climate Challenge will probably give you a decent indication as to whether you'll enjoy Fate of the World, it still makes me wish there was a demo available for you to really get your feet wet with, preferably consisting of the first two stages since the difficulty and scope spikes significantly after the first level. While it might have made the game a bit easier, it does feel like implicating some sort of advisor system (dream team: Gregory House, Anthony Bourdain, and Doctor Who) would have gone a long way towards making you feel like the game wasn't 75% research and might have made it more accessible to a wider audience.

This is definitely not an easy game, and it will never, ever be called a simple one. There's no law governing how you play a game, of course, and whether you choose to simply enjoy it as entertainment or take it as a call to action is entirely your choice. Fate of the World is brutal and sobering, sure, but it's also intelligent, optimistic, and exceptionally deep. For fans of strategy sims it comes highly recommended. For residents of a certain big blue ball, it might also be some important food for thought.

Please note that while this game is currently only available for Windows, a Mac release is scheduled for April 2011.

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9 Comments

Looks like I've got the first comment.

I actually happened to play Climate Crisis just a couple months ago, and I liked it quite a bit, in spite its very strong lean toward environmental issues--I didn't feel it focused enough on the many other kinds of problems and situations faced by so many people and countries nowadays. Hopefully this game will remedy that to some extent. I'm seriously considering buying this, though I have some other stuff on my plate at the moment. It doesn't sound like Red Redemption has updated the engine very much though. I remember playing Shadow President and Balance of Power, both ~20 years old, a few years back. It was nice that those games gave you advisers, but the sheer quantity of micromanagement, and things that you could do in those games--coupled with the inability to do some other, rather important things that I wanted to--basically made me give up on them. I would hope that's not the case with Fate of the World. Without advisers though, I fear that may be so.

On a related note, just to Jay and the Jayisgames staff, if this is to a great extent a bigger, more fleshed out version of Climate Challenge, can it really still be called a casual game? I've thought about this before with some of the other games you've featured on here. Have you ever considered splitting up Jayisgames into two separate sites--giving it a sister site that features bigger, more hardcore games? You could call it "Jayisnotsocasualgames." :) Jayisgames seems to me to be more about smaller indie games than casual games necessarily, since some of the games I've seen featured on here could easily consume dozens of hours and require a lot of micromanagement, grinding, or what not. At any rate, I think it'd be interesting to see how things would turn out with a sister site focused on some deeper, more expansive indie games. Just wondering if anyone has given this any thought.
Iconian

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Anonymous March 13, 2011 8:37 PM

After doing some research, I went ahead and bought the game. Sadly, I can't tell you anything about it, because even though I've bought it I can't download it. Apparently I've got to wait "2-4 business days" for my order to be confirmed, then I can download it.

Sigh.

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Interesting concept. I'm liking what I see so far.
But for the love of my life, I can't figure out how to complete the bonus objective for water scarcity management on Rise of Africa mission!

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No Demo :(

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This definitely sounds like quite a fun game. I've always enjoyed games that require a lot of information analysis to really play well--but they can also get really fatiguing after a while. I'm hoping that someday there will be a sort of quantum leap forward in AI, at least to where you can assign leaders over individual planets or countries or territories or whatever the game uses, who could analyze the information and make decisions on it based on their own individual AI's. As it is right now, most of these sort of games have enemy AI's to play against, and they rule certain territory and make decisions according to their AI. So, why not give the player the ability to assign these sorts of AI's to specific spheres of influence within your own holdings? I think that would be something that would really open up the strategy/simulator/4X games up to a more casual crowd. You could assign the AI governors or ministers or whatever certain quotas on production and what not, and give them some general types of behavior they should follow, and they could handle all the micromanagement involved, except where you personally want to get involved in something.

Back to casual gaming again,

Like you said Dora, I think that casual gaming is probably one of the many things on which there really can't be too much of an exact definition, so it does come down to one's personal view of it. For instance, you brought up Team Fortress 2, and that was actually one of perfect examples I was thinking of for casual gaming. You can join a server, play for an hour, and pretty much that whole time you're probably going to be active and have some fun. There's not much focus on gathering information or making important decisions. There's not really a whole lot of pressure in the long term. You're just there for a while, and during that time you want to rack up a high score, but you're mostly there to have fun.

I myself enjoy TF2 and other more casual games, but there are also times when I like to sink my teeth into something meatier. Oblivion would probably be a good example of one of those sorts of games. You could spend hundreds of hours exploring, adventuring, fighting, etc. I guess to me the main difference is more a lack of pressure. The dictionary actually says of casual:

3.
seeming or tending to be indifferent to what is happening; apathetic; unconcerned: a casual, nonchalant air.

Ultimately, I think it does come down to what sort of games the players are going for. I remember for instance playing a game called Singularity from here a few years ago. I remember it as being quite involving and rather time-consuming, and a more intense experience than probably most of the other games on the site.

I guess I just feel that if this site were split in two, with another site devoted to meatier, longer, and more involving games, players could find what they're looking for a little more easily. What would qualify to be on such a site would have to be a matter of personal judgement on the part of the reviewers, but it might go a ways toward helping people find the sort of games they're looking for more easily. And I guess part of it is, I imagine that there are actually a fair number of gamers who would be put off Jayisgames simply because it bills itself as "Casual Gameplay." And yet if they played some of the bigger games that have been featured here--a few of my favorites have been somewhat older games like Stormwinds, Iji, Caravaneer, and the Battalion series--they'd find there are some games they could enjoy too.

Anyway, I've just been thinking about this for a while, and with this game thought I should bring it up. It might be something for Jay to consider anyway--or maybe even just have a feature devoted to it, like "Not So Casual Friday?" ;) Either way, I actually don't think it's a huge issue, though it might be a good way to get more people aware of the site, if that's something Jay is interested in. I've enjoyed reading about and playing games featured here over the years, and truth be told, I can usually tell from the pictures and reading the review whether I'm going to like something. It might just be nice to have some wing of the site to go to for when I'm in the mood for something a bit bigger and more involving, and don't want to go searching through the archives for a few such games.

Iconian

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I really like the look of this game. However, I'm wondering whether it has improved certain aspects of Climate Challenge.

The resources in Climate Challenge just didn't make sense. If I'm taxing the people, I'll get money each turn, right? Or if I build organic farms I should get food each turn. But Climate Challenge didn't work like that. By the end, I didn't want to invest in intense farming, but I was getting food shortages due to not having any food, despite the fact that I'd invested in low intensity and organic farming earlier.

So as long as Fate of the World has improved their 'one-shot' resource system to a turn-by-turn income method, I'll probably buy it.

Pe-ads

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Joseph Lieberman March 15, 2011 4:49 PM

I spent a couple days playing through Fate of the World. Here's my counter review.

First, I love the idea behind global economic games; especially when environment is the key variable preventing growth! I am very glad this game is building awareness of several key crisis that are affecting our world that- for some reason - people are ignoring. Probably because it's too terrifying to face.

That said, Fate of the World is NOT a good game. It delivers a strong message, but in the end, I felt like I was simply gaming a system, not reacting to an ever-changing world.

Basically, there isn't any randomness and the game does not operate on a strong neural network (Where one variable has super-visible impact on all other variables). In the end, I felt like I was looking for some abstract solution that the developers wanted me to find than coming up with my own solution to the global energy crisis.

It is very difficult to see the impact of your actions, which is annoying. There's a lot of data available, but in the end, figuring out what the cards you played actually DID is alarmingly difficult. Sure, focusing on renewable energy increased 1,300tWhts in 5 years. How did that influence CO2 emissions? Did it impact jobs and economic factors? Who knows!

And the most annoying part is that technology is BADLY represented here. I feel like in order for them to deliver their shocking doom and gloom message (which I believe is accurate) they sacrificed some realism.

Some of the examples: Coal - While coal is a major pollutant, it is pretty easy to run out of Coal in one scenario by about 2100. Unrealistic. There's enough Coal on earth to last hundreds of years at our current burn rate.

4th Generation Breeder Reactor - Even worse, developing a nuclear tech of this magnitude did practically nothing for me. As I understand it (and I am not a scientist), there's enough fissionable material to last for THOUSANDS of years if we had this technology. The stuff is as plentiful as tin. Strangely on TOP of that is it causes weapon grade nuclear proliferation... which as I understand it has almost nothing to do with energy generating. You can give all the uranium we use to generate power to every terrorist in the world, they can't build a bomb out of it.

I guess in the end, the game economy doesn't seem to match reality very well. Oil runs out. Fine. I can accept that it would cripple the world economy if you aren't ready for it. But 5-10 years later (if you don't do anything) the industries don't adapt on their own? They just sit there without oil? Give me a break.

So, great to get the message out, but it's no Shadow President.

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Bob Gregory April 3, 2011 9:19 AM

Actually, at our current burn rate, coal ought to last about 150 years. It's fairly trivial to concoct a scenario where expansion of coal-burning industry leads to us running out of economically viable coal supplies by 2100.

Likewise, you claim that there's enough fissionable uranium to last THOUSANDS of years, but again you're wrong. Known deposits of uranium will last us several decades, certainly, but no longer. That's why the Chinese have been buying up uranium as fast as they can.

Thorium looks like a better long-term bet for nuclear, but LFTR tech doesn't seem to be an option in the game.

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