Based on the research of Prof. Myles Allen at Oxford University, Fate of the World simulates the real social and environmental impact of global climate change over the next 200 years. The science, the politics, the destruction — it’s all real, and it’s scary.
Your mission: Solve the crisis. But, like life, it won’t be easy. You’ll have to work through natural disasters, foreign diplomacy, clandestine operations, technological breakthroughs, and somehow satisfy the food and energy needs of a growing world population. Will you help the planet or become an agent of destruction?
At the start of the game, the player is informed that he or she has been appointed president of the Global Environmental Organization (GEO), and is presented with a view of the globe, overlaid with a control interface that allows recruitment of ‘GEO’ agents in selected world regions, and allocation of resources to those agents to allow them to deploy a number of policies within their designated regions. These policies are represented by a deck of cards – something that I found to be an odd choice of mechanism, though it does lead to the idea that ‘you need to play your cards right to win,’ an analogy that many people would, I think, find familiar.
The mechanics are simple and mostly easy to learn, yet the depth and breadth of the content provides a challenging game. The implementation is clean and polished, with a few fairly minor irritations. For instance, I found manipulating the cards more cumbersome than perhaps it needs to be; the background music sounds as though it comes from a vinyl record with some scratches on it. And when I achieved victory in the ‘Rise of Africa’ scenario, the reports simultaneously congratulated me for being the saviour of Africa and admonished me for having failed to achieve my objectives (I think I just barely scraped by, and the program ‘got confused’ by a rounding error). The version I
have is 1.02, which suggests that there may at some point be a 1.03. :)
One aspect of ‘Fate of the World’ that I find particularly appealing is that it serves as both a toy and, at the same time, an educational tool. The player cannot fail to learn, while playing an enjoyable game, not just about climate change, but about geography and politics too. The game includes a knowledgebase that can be consulted at any time during play for more information. This calls itself a ‘wiki,’ though it isn’t – but if it were, this would be a great enhancement.
Game play is a balancing act, forcing the player to constantly make decisions in applying a small budget in an attempt to counter a plethora of real-world challenges. You’re kept on your toes deciding whether it’s worth investing in, for instance, flood defences (when you know that the investment may be counteracted in the longer term by advancing climate change). My impression is that every single one of the problems faced could be dealt with, were the ‘president of the GEO’ to be allowed a large enough budget. This suggests to me that the solutions to the problems we do face in the real world exist already; all we lack is the political will to implement them.
The price is exceptionally reasonable – it’s just 9.99, and, somewhat bizarrely, is the same number whether that’s euros, dollars or pounds. This is perhaps a little odd, but I think it’s very good value nonetheless for ‘just a tenner’. Multiple keys are available on request. You can also buy gift copies for others, which helps further the cause of education in the field of climate change. There doesn’t seem to be a ‘hard’ copy available – your order is filled by digital download. A nice touch, I think, saving both trees and oil!
Check out http://fateoftheworld.net/gift/ for more information.
Update 18Mar2011: Version 1.0.3, containing numerous bug-fixes has just been released. The page on fateoftheworld.net detailing the changes also lists numerous ‘known issues’ – so perhaps we can look forward to a version 1.0.4 in the future.