Shivans, Wizards, and Meta Knights

Originally posted at GameSpot on March 19, 2008

A few notes on what’s going on in my world of gaming:

 Freespace 2: Still plugging away, and getting closer all the time. A couple highlights have really kept me in it; namely destroying the Sathanas. After taking out all the beam cannons of the Sathanas in the previous mission, this mission (“High Noon”) was a piece of cake. The GTVA Colossus just wailed away with its beam cannons while I watched from a safe distance. All this was, of course, followed by a huge, satisfying explosion.

The next mission, “Return to Babel,” started off fast and furious; two squadrons shooting a whole slew of missiles at the Shivan cruisers, and they respond by promptly blowing up. I have to say these recent missions are really showing off the game – saving the best for last, so to speak.

After the discovery of another (or several, I couldn’t see in the nebula) Sathanas juggernaut located around a newly-discovered Knossos portal in the next mission (Mission 33: “Straight, No Chaser”), the enemy toasted the GVD Psamtik and I was jumping out of the nebula. This brings me to Mission 34: “Argonautica,” where I’m trying to save the good ol’ GTD Aquitaine.

Will I be able to do it? Is it possible that I will finish a game that has owned me for nearly ten years? Stay tuned!

– Puzzle Quest: Level seven with my wizard. My wife is currently on the highest level possible (fifty), and I can only hope that by the time our kids have graduated from college that I will have caught up.

I’m stuck on a vampire bat, a bat which my wife’s knight could kill just by looking at it. Whatever level you’re at, the game is fun.

 Super Smash Bros. Brawl: A friend came over last night and brought the Brawl. We had a good time, but let’s just say I have to get used to the idea that winning isn’t everything.

Post tenebras lux


Chipping away at the Sathanas

Originally posted at GameSpot on March 11, 2008

And the beat goes on – I continue to plug away at Freespace 2. Currently on Mission 30, “Bearbaiting.” I can’t be 100% sure, but I’m pretty positive that the mission after this one is where I stopped playing the game previously.

In “Bearbaiting,” you have to destroy the beam turrets of the Shivan juggernaut Sathanas – and how many you take out has direct bearing on how difficult the next mission is. When I stopped playing the game years ago, I only destroyed two beam cannons (the bare minimum you need to pass the mission). This meant that the following mission was next to impossible, and I gave up on it after many futile attempts.

So, here I am – almost as close to where I stopped before. I can’t give up now! I’ve got to destroy at least three cannons this time, or I know I’ll be right back where I was before. And yes, I am giving myself a pep talk here.

Still, I have been enjoying the game – I don’t remember everything about the story, so as the plot unfolds I am still surprised from time to time (i.e., when the Knossos portal explodes). And what is Admiral Aken Bosch up to? What is the ETAK project I found about on my stealth operations run? I think it had something to do with communicating with Shivans, but I can’t remember.

Another enjoyment: the GTW-66 Maxim Cannon. The recoil and power of this gun is something you can really feel; it reminds you you’re in a very powerful ship flying in space.

I’ll finish this thing – and hopefully soon.

Post tenebras lux

My other ride is the GTVA Colossus

Originally posted at GameSpot on March 5, 2008

I haven’t played it since last December, but two nights ago I hooked up Freespace 2 again and actually made some progress. Last night I made it to the mission “Rebels & and Renegades,” having decided to take the assignment offered to me by the special operations.

Naturally, I failed the first time through and was executed. NTF policies are harsh, but what can you do?

And now, some random thoughts on the game:

– According to various game guides, this Special Operations story loop is three missions long, so I hope to complete it soon and get back to the main campaign. This “side quest” will be interesting, but I hope I don’t get bogged down on a tough mission – something like that could make me put the game away for another few months (or years), and then I’ll never finish this thing.

– Whatever the outcome, I’m glad to be out of the nebula – graphically, it works very well…but it still gets monotonous. Not to mention flying blind! Give me the cold expanse of wide open space any day.

– I’ll have to go back in the mission simulator and play the previous level, “Feint! Perry! Riposte!” when I have a chance. The NTD Repulse jets in and collides with the GTVA Colossus, resulting in a huge explosion. Unfortunately, it was an explosion I never got to see. There is so much going on with fighters after me, beam weapons firing, just trying to stay alive, etc., I sometimes miss some of the better scenes the game has to offer.

– The GTVA Colossus is huge. No, I mean huge. That thing flies in and takes up half the screen. Again, this game still has what it takes even after nearly nine years.

– The game really does a good job of making you feel like you’re a part of a futuristic military unit, from the first rate briefings to the in-game chatter. Hats off to whoever made that happen.

Post tenebras lux

A Tale of Two Space-Sims

Originally posted at GameSpot on December 13, 2007

So here I am, back in the saddle again. That saddle is placed squarely in the cockpit of X-Wing: Alliance and Freespace 2. I’ve put many hours into both of these games before, and I’ve got the itch again to try and see them through yet one more time.

In Freespace 2, I’ve started the game completely over for at least the second time. Each time a took a break from the game, it turned out to be a long break – long enough that I didn’t remember anything in the game. When I found the time to get back into it, I felt like I’m wasn’t getting the full experience if I just picked up where I had left off. There is so much going on each mission – Intel from wingmen chatter, mission briefing updates, etc. If I’m going to play the game again I want the best time I can get – which means starting over and getting the whole story from the first mission.

I’m currently on Mission 9: “A Lion at the Door.” Having just left the 53rd Hammerheads, I’m now a proud member of the 107th Ravens. In this mission I have to destroy a lot of pesky Shivans; so far, I’m 0/1 on attempts. I know I’ve previously been much farther in the game, but like I said – I want the most I can get.

All the things I love about the game are coming back to me, from the engaging story to the brooding music. And the game still looks incredible, even being almost nine years old. Did I mention the explosions and huge capital ships with beam weapons? Everything looks great and sounds better.

For X-Wing: Alliance, I’ve been able to pick up right where I left off- for two reasons: 1.) Thanks to my trusty Corellian YT-2000 transport Ortana, all my heirlooms from previous missions are safe and sound. By looking over those, I can remember what the story is about. 2.) Since it’s Star Wars, I was already grounded in the story and characters before I even started the game. It’s a simple formula – Rebels: good, Empire: bad. When I came to Alliance, I already knew half the story -which is not a bad thing in this case.

I’m stuck on Battle 4, Mission 1. For the life of me, I cannot keep my transports alive! I want my X-wing back. The family freighter is great and all, but after literally years of being stuck on this mission I’m ready to move on.

I think Ace Azzameen would agree with me.

Post tenebras lux