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Fate of the World: Tipping Point Review

No Fate But What We Make

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Fate of the World: Tipping Point Review
Image © Red Redemption Ltd.

Fate of the World: Tipping Point is an enhanced version of 2011’s strategy-simulation game, Fate of the World, offering additional content previously available as paid downloadable add-ons as well as a number of refinements.

The game involves trying to tackle specific environmental problems as leader of the GEO, short for Global Environment Organization, which is created in the year 2020 as a means of dealing with issues associated with climate change.

The focus of Fate of the World: Tipping Point is choosing the right types of policies in an attempt to avert global crises. Policies are implemented by playing one or more cards on your turn, with each card deducting a certain amount of money from your available funds. Some cards are played for the short term benefits, while others are designed to affect change over the long term.

A gorgeously rendered 3D global view of Earth is front and center of your display, though most of the game involves reading cards, charts, and news reports that will give you an overview of the data you’ll need to make decisions.

The underlying simulation model is designed to accurately reflect climate change, so you’ll have to keep a watchful eye on resource consumption, the Earth’s temperature, and the Human Development Index while trying to complete your objective – which typically involves playing (surviving?) until a specific year in the distant future.

Image © Red Redemption Ltd.

The first thing you’ll realize while playing Tipping Point for the first time is that you are largely on your own. Even in the first tutorial scenario, which focuses solely on North and South Africa, you’ll likely have trouble trying to complete your mission objectives.

That’s because Fate of the World is a difficult game to get into, at least initially. It's not that the interface is confusing, or the presentation lacks flair, it's just that it doesn't do a great job at teaching you everything you need to know to make informed decisions.

If you were to suddenly assume the role of President of the United States, you wouldn't be expected to know every policy detail the moment after you take the oath of office. You would have a Cabinet. In Fate of the World, you don't have any policy advisors, scientists or other specialists to give you recommendations.

So in order to make decisions based on how to reduce emissions or increase stability in a region, you have to choose certain cards to play on your turn that may or may not be helpful. You will initially be taking shots in the dark trying to determine what affects what, without really knowing if what you did actually "worked" or why it did or didn’t.

In turn-based card games like Magic the Gathering or Pokémon, you are given enough information and statistics on each card that when you play it, you know precisely what's going to happen to the opponent.

In Fate of the World, you aren't competing against a single entity, other than yourself, but the cards themselves only offer a basic description of what they are instead of specific numbers that hardcore strategists crave. Of course, life doesn’t exactly have statistics placed on every decision you make, so it was probably an intentional design decision to keep the cards simple in their description.

After a few failed attempts at the early scenarios, you’ll start to pick up on some of the effective approaches and, more importantly, learn quite a bit about some of the terms you’ve likely heard on the news (such as biochar, clathrates, or cap and trade). An in-game dictionary helps explain many of the policy terms, yet a little more assistance would have gone a long way to acclimate new players.

Once you get past the steep learning curve, you’ll appreciate the amount of depth that went into the simulation aspects. Fate of the World: Tipping Point doesn’t reward one blanket strategy, but rather shows players that each decision they make has consequences, some of which are immediate, while others may not be evident until much later in the game. It is deceptively simple in its execution, but deviously challenging to master.

There are no easy decisions in Fate of the World: Tipping Point. Simple moves that you attempt to affect long-term change can be met with hostility and anger with a population that wants their needs met now and with haste. You can be kicked out of regions, and you can use ruthless tactics of your own to accomplish your objectives. While the original Fate of the World only had four scenarios to complete, Tipping Point has seven, including the humorous "Dr. Apocalypse" challenge, where you’ll attempt to raise the world’s temperature to dangerous levels.

This is not a casual strategy game, but it’s an utterly absorbing one if you are patient and have any interest in the potential real-world effects of climate change. Needless to say, this would be a highly recommended game for educators to include in classrooms, as lesson plans could go into greater detail on some of the included policies and science behind the game, with students taking what they have learned and applying it to the game’s simulation model.

Fate of the World: Tipping Point may not have the universal appeal that it could have, but its unique approach to a serious subject matter should be commended. Strategy-simulation fans with an interest in politics and the alluring power to make decisions on a global scale will find Tipping Point too irresistible a game to ignore.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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