Sunday, December 26, 2010

‘Speedy Escape Strategy’

The preceding story mission was: 'Ore Smuggling'
The following story mission is: 'Interplanetary Travel'
 
Still in tutorial mode, cuddly Uncle Bill takes you on a Blueprint hunting trip. You've upgraded before but then the Hangar had the gear all ready and you were buying off the shelf. This time you have to kill and loot if you want to step up a division.

Discovered - Another reason to kill Mantis


You follow Bill Darius down to the surface of Kalabesh and he leads you to an area where he looted an Afterburner blueprint a few weeks earlier. All you have to do is kill a few Mantis Scouts and wait for a Blueprint to drop. After 3 or 4 kills the Blueprint appears and you collect it. Then you just have to fly to orbit, enter the Starbase Hangar and have it fitted. The cost is 32 crystals and you earn 35 crystals by completing the mission. Why anyone would give you cryonite for doing this is beyond me, but smile nicely and take it.

We must be near the end of these tutorials by now surely? Next we learn to fly between planets, or at least explore the route. Lead on McDuff.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Highest Graphics - Merry Christmas

I was going to put Laura Croft here but girls read this too
For Christmas I have a new PC to play Pirate Galaxy on.

My old machine was only 5 or 6 years old but just had onboard graphics. When I played this game for the first time the graphics had a real wow! factor, the best I'd had on my desktop. My new computer has an ATI 1 Gig video card and is fresh out of the box. To simulate how I used to experience PG, change the graphics setting to lowest and check it out.

Now I've fallen in love with Pirate Galaxy all over again. Looks aren't everything but I'm as shallow as anyone when it comes to in-game graphics. I've sat and stared at a rock wall in Technatoria impressed by the texture and colour, it actually looks like blasted rock now. The paint jobs on my ships Marie II and Kara III look like they've been applied by an artist rather than an enthusiastic 6-year-old. Best of all, no crashes.

My old system crashed regularly, especially if I was in the middle of a Harvester cull. Any more then three Interceptors and my PC screamed in anguish. It would flee the field taking me with it, leaving Kara III drifting as the Mantis kicked her all the way to pod town. Tragic.

Well no more. I feel a serious killing session at Prosperous coming on. Time to bring the pain and enjoy the spectacle. May your own presents be just as satisfying. Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

‘Ore Smuggling’

The preceding story mission was: 'Mine Mystery.
The following story mission is: ‘Speedy Escape Strategy’
Serves him right for having such a girly name



Jake Rattenbury gets in touch and tells you Bill Darius has recommended you for a proper smuggling mission. It's time to decide which side of the law you're on. If you decide to be an upstanding, law-abiding citizen then you'd better find another game. This is called Pirate Galaxy after all. Besides this is still the only option open so take it on or be doomed to fly the surface of Kalabesh, beating up Mantis drones for all eternity.

When you get to the surface you're told to watch out for Colonial Guards who are enforcing a strict rationing policy. Then you're given the location of the first of three ore cannistyers which you have to collect. After the first you're into territory unexplored in the previous missions and so might find yourself having to double back on yourself here or there.

(Idea! Why not have a planet where the surface rearranges itself every now and then? Maybe when the system reaches full planetary alignment the gravitational pull causes earthquakes on the central planet. Maybe the planet surface is made of ice drifts which move over time. That would keep things fresh. )

Anyway after collecting the second cannister look out for the fearsomely named Officer Rosebud of the Colonial Guard. He swoops in riding a mean looking Harrier-style ship ordering you to surrender. Don't worry, despite being level 10 against your (probable) level 3 it's a fairly simple kill. Just keep blasting and he'll soon be whimpering in his pod that you're now an enemy of the Colonial Administration. Cool!

After that just collect the last of the ore pods and get into orbit. Piece of cake.

It would be nice if there were an option to not return fire, but join the Guards and work for them undercover in the smuggling community. That could take you down a different set of adventures. Still PG has never claimed to be a Role Playing Game so you can't blame them for being so linear.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Achievements

I’ve had a moan about one aspect of the new Pirate Galaxy release, so time to talk about something that I like.

Each pilot now has an ‘Achievements’ tab, which tracks how you’re doing against pre-set targets. These targets are split into categories such as PVP (player versus player), PVE (player versus enemy), Economy or Clan. The game keeps track of how you’re doing and updates your progress. For example if you kill 4 Parasites on Commerce Central then your Commerce Central Parasite Slayer entry goes up by a count of 4. Get 250 and you’re a slayer. Completing an achievement gives you a score, measured in what looks like gold coins but are probably medals. These range from 10 to 25. This score helps you move up the Hall of Fame, another new feature.

When you start the game, many of the achievements are locked out so you can’t even see what they are. There are still plenty to keep you occupied, and make you wonder how the hell you’re going to collect 10,000 crystals, let alone 100,000. When I first logged on after this feature had been introduced I had 30 achievement points. 10 for Vega story complete, 10 for the Antares story and 10 for collecting all of the blueprints in Vega. Although I had long ago gained access to the Antares and Gemini Stargates those explorer achievements didn’t show up. As soon as I visited these Stargates then they were awarded.

There have been a few other bugs. My crystals were not being tracked in the economy Achievements for example but that has been fixed along with others.

Achievements suit my style of play perfectly and I think they’re a good addition to the game. I like to finish all of the white missions and have a full compliment of Blueprints. Now I get a little badge as a reward for being so anal. If you have no interest in ticking every box or killing a certain number of Avengers on Terasa then you can just ignore Achievements. I can’t see an argument as to how they are detrimental.

There’s another good thing about Achievements. It shows that Split Screen sees what its players like and is prepared to carry out significant game changes in response. V1-Hyper came up with the True System Finaliser which is the ancestor of Achievements. Now Split Screen has built it into the game. All credit to them and V1-Hyper, the creator of the excellent The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Pirate Galaxy.

If you're interested in filling out your achievement tab then you can adjust your game to suit. If you need to grind for crystal in the Gemini system then you may as well go to Technatoria and kill Rocketeers. While doing this you're progressing towards 'No Longer Poor' and 'Rich Pirate', 'Technatoria Rocketeer Slayer', and you may of course find a Rare Blue Print which would help towards several of the Ship achievements.

The wiki is building a page on these so click here to have a look. It wasn't complete at the time of posting but I'm sure those sterling chaps and chapesses will complete it soon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

'Project Detonation'


The preceding story mission was: 'Turret Threat'
The following story mission is: 'Operation Liberation'

Ouch!
This one's a real sod. It took me 15 attempts to beat this blighter. Of course I hated it while I was failing, but now I look back with fondness.

First the story. Isaak is waiting at the landing zone on Technatoria in his battle ship The Vendetta. He's keen to start breaking open the cages and rescue the prisoners within, believing that his beloved Sara is among them. However the Mantis have 12 turrets spread across the shattered remains of Technatoria which need to be destroyed first. You located them in 'Turret Threat', but they're not easy to get rid of. Luckily our favourite scavenger has constructed just enough Anti-Matter bombs to blow them all to kingdom-come. All you've got to do is fly up to a turret, place the bomb, and then scan it to make it detonate.

There are a few difficulties to overcome
  1. The turrets have reasonable rocket fire power and defend themselves.
  2. Each turret has a group of tough sentry ships, mostly level 33 Marauders.
  3. You have to get very close to the turret to place the A.M. bombs.
  4. Apart from at the first turret you get no notification that the A.M. Bomb is placed.
  5. You've only got 25 minutes to blow them all.
  6. All the usual Technatoria hazards still exist, such as Death Squads (DSs).
The first time I tried this I was in a squadron, with players I didn't know. We got 5 of the turrets but ran out of time and got podded a lot along the way. After that I tried it solo, as it isn't a squad mission and Technatoria is probably the most deserted planet in the game Pirate-wise.

I tried my Storm ship Kara III at first, but after a few attempts I realised that I just wasn't strong enough to fight off the sentries with the turrets' providing supporting fire. Even if you can survive the fight it eats up both time and energy. So I switched to Marie II my Engineer and changed tactics.

The way I finally succeeded was to use hit and run. I'd fly towards the turrets (watching out for DSs) and turn on my Protector at the last minute. I'd stop virtually on top of the turret, wait for about three seconds soaking up the fire while the bomb is placed, then turn and Afterburn away. Once I'd got clear of any pursuit and hid myself in an empty area, I'd use the 'End' key to cycle through targets. You have to keep changing heading while you're doing this of course or you'll end up flying into trouble. Eventually the A.M bomb is selected, at which point you scan it. The bomb goes Ka-Blooey and takes the turret with it. One down.

The key things with this tactic are timing and planning. Stay at the turret too long and you're toast, leave too soon and the bomb won't drop. You also have to plan your escape route and hiding place after the bomb drop. It's easy to burn away and end up in the middle of a spawning ground by mistake.

A tank would be the best ship for this one, at least when using my tactics. Don't get podded as you can't afford the time or resurrect energy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pink Cryonite

So Draconis is unlocked, and the ultimate pirates have poured into the latest playground of battle, blasters and frustration. It all seems very quiet in the backwaters of Gemini now the big boys and girls have somewhere new to play. I’m a country mile away from Draconis, but have heard that it’s tougher than tough. My clan Admiral, Chaosrising, is getting intimately reacquainted with the interior of his pod. The new system had to be difficult otherwise the top pilots would complete it in 24 hours and be complaining that it was too easy. If it challenges them and keeps them playing then Splipstream SplitScreen has done a good job. I’ll probably be able to pass an opinion in about two years time.

More important to me and many other players are the game changes and additions that came along with Draconis. Most of them I like or haven’t even noticed, but there was one I did not appreciate at all. The increase in the amount of Cryonite I lost when podded. At first I didn’t notice, not really paying much attention to my crystal total at the time. I’d get podded in the story mission I was wrestling with, but as usual not get stressed about collecting the crystals I’d left behind. It was only ever a small amount and hardly worth the diversion. However the next time I got blasted I noticed that I hadn’t dropped any crystals at all, because I hadn’t got any left. Now I started paying attention and realised that I was losing 300 crystals per podding. 300? WTF? That’s almost half the reward for completing a story mission, and far more than any of the white missions paid. At that rate I’d be spending half my career harvesting Interceptors, certainly not chancing my arm on a tough mission if I had a reasonable chance of being destroyed.

The change that created my impoverished state was the fact that your Cryonite drop is now dependant on pilot level rather than ship level. The thinking behind it was to discourage higher level players taking part in low system conquests and avoid exploitation of the new pirate mode 2.0. However this penalises those of us who like to take their time and enjoy the journey, rather than race through the story as quickly as possible. If you like to complete all white missions, collect all Blue Prints, and attempt story missions solo again and again rather than rely on others to fast track you, then you will be high level compared to the system and your ship. Why should you be penalised for a completist style of play?

Luckily Slipstream SplitScreen has listened to the anguished cries of potless pirates and has modified their formula. I’ve gone from losing 300 cryonite to just 150. That’s still a hit to the pocket but I can work with it. I suppose if I was not bothering to fly back and pick up half of what I’d dropped then you could argue it probably wasn’t enough.

The new system penalises you for gaining a level and encourages you to race through the game rather than explore and persevere on your own. Slipsteam’s SplitScreen's concerns over the old system could be addressed by implementing the new pilot level method when you are in pirate mode only. If you’re not red then you should lose Cryonite based upon the ship level.

I’m all for change and improvement, game balancing and keeping things fresh. Overall the Draconis release has made the game better and given me even more to get my teeth into. However the Cryonite drop by pilot level is a mistake and I hope Slipstream SplitScreen think again.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

‘Mine Mystery’

The preceding story mission was: ‘Component Upgrades’
The following story mission is: ‘Ore Smuggling’

Gorgeous
Now this is a proper story mission. Characters to meet, a mystery to solve and a multi-ship dog fight. Lovely.

Before I started this mission I went back to the surface of Kalabesh and filled up on Energy (E). Even though you should be about level 3 by now, your cap is still 1,000 E. You could fly around the surface and explore, or kill defenceless drones before you accept this mission, but that’s just boring. There are still no white missions, so get in there and find out what Cassius Rock wants.

Cassius is the mine manager and he wants you to find out why his ore transporters have a habit of vanishing. You, along with Bill Darius, accompany some ore ships as they move across the surface of the planet. As you do, the pilots let drop some interesting titbits of information. The miners don’t like the Colonial Guards and the Star Gate’s not working. Interesting, already there’s more of a story than the original Vega system had. Another benefit of this mission is that you get to explore some of the planet and fill out your map, which is always satisfying.

After tying up with the second ore carrier, things start to get hairy. From out of the heavens comes a big nasty looking ship, with three smaller escorts. You and Bill naturally take a few shots at the big guy but he’s too tough. What you have to do is frag the escort, which are a new type of ship called Eliminators. It’s a pity because they’re lovely to look at, however they don’t fancy you much so best to start shooting.

One problem you might encounter here for the first time is targeting the right ship. While all seven of you spin and dance about, finding and clicking on one of the Eliminators can be tricky, especially when you get to the last one. This where you learn the value of the ‘End’ Hot Key. Pressing the ‘End’ key selects the nearest target, which could be Darius, the ore ship or the big enemy ship. If it is then press ‘End’ again and the next target is selected. Keep pressing ‘End’ until you get an Eliminator, blast him and move onto the next. The ‘End’ shortcut is one you must get comfortable with. I wish I’d known about it at the start of my pirate career, it would have made everything so much easier. It selects targets quicker than a mouse click, and your victim does not have to be in view.

Ugly
While there may be a chance of getting blown back to the hangar in this fight, you’ll probably kill the Eliminators with Darius’s help. As soon as you’ve done this the pilot of the big enemy ship reveals himself to be Vicius the Mutilator, a Mantis who’s not happy with your interference. He sulks off into the above and beyond leaving you and Darius to chaperone the ore carrier home. Cassius speaks ominously about the Mantis threat while you nod wisely and pocket the 45 crystals.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kill Missions

I put 'Kill Mission' in Google Images
and this came up. Perfect.
A few nights ago I had an enjoyable hour or so catching up on Commerce Central kill missions. These are the white missions with names such as 'Nullify Tough Marauders' or 'Crush Weak Menders'.

Your task is to destroy a set number of specific Mantis types within a time limit. At the start of the mission you are told the Mantis type and level that you have to kill, for example Level 29 Marauders. Once you reach the surface you get a countdown to the end of the mission. This is typically around 8 minutes, but for patrol ships like Menders it can be 15 minutes.

Next you are shown a location on the map where the cannon fodder can be found. Getting there may take up a significant chunk of your allowed time, especially on planets like CC where there is only one long and winding road to get to the killing ground. Don't be shy about using your afterburner to get there.

Once you reach the destination, which should be well populated with your prey, start killing. Once the first is destroyed you get a 'percentage complete' message. With a quick bit of mental arithmetic you should be able to work out how many you need to destroy. For example, if you kill one and 'mission 12% completed' comes up, then you have to chalk up 8 in total. The mission ends once you've killed enough or time runs out. If you get destroyed the mission continues, but you'd have to Resurrect as it takes too long to get from the Hangar to your planet, then back to the killing area.

They are very straight forward missions but I find them great fun. There are a few obvious hints and tips I can share though you'll figure them out yourself early on.
  • Make sure you're full of Energy (E) before starting the mission. You don't have time to fill up on the way and there's nothing worse than being one kill short, a victim in your sights, but no pop in your gun.
  • A Storm ship is made for this mission. The Aim Computer, Rockets and Perforators (for some targets) give it a clear advantage.
  • Keep an eye out for Death Squads (DS). They may patrol through the target area and catch you unawares.
  • Stick to the specified targets. Killing level 27 Parasites does no good if you're after level 29s.
You may be tempted to ignore these missions as you go through the game but there are three good reasons for completing them, apart from the sheer pleasure that destruction brings.
  1. You quickly accumulate Cryonitye, not just from completing the mission but also from your victims.
  2. It's a good way to pick up Blueprints as you kill all Mantis at all levels.
  3. Unless you are too high a level, the old experience bar can move quite quickly during these missions.
The hardest are the Harvesters and Commander missions. The targets themselves are fairly easy, but it's dealing with their bodyguards that eats up the time and energy.

Now then, go forth and destroy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

'Component Upgrades'

A one-eyed three-fingered mechanic.
He should be more careful with the
power tools.
Stolen from Pirate Galaxy Wiki.
The preceding story mission was: 'Baiting Sentinels'
The following story mission is: 'Mine Mystery'

I’m embarrassed to call this a story mission but that’s what it is. I prefer my first introduction to the hangar, back in the Beta test days. The hangar became unlocked after reaching a certain level and a few tool tips showed you how to use it. To make it a mission in itself is a bit of a joke I feel, but hardly enough to warrant the storming of Slipstream towers I suppose.

After you’ve selected the mission the navcomp lets you access the hangar, so you get to enjoy that lovely brief scene of your ship peeling off towards the starbase for the first time. Why don’t they tell you about the F7 hot key? None of the hot keys get explained in these tutorials that I can see, which is a baffling omission.

Your task is to upgrade your Blaster from Sub-Standard Ion to Standard Ion at a cost of 30 crystals, and install a Repair Droid, otherwise known (by me anyway) as an R2 unit, for 17 crystals.  Once you find yourself in the hangar you’re shown how to open the side panel. There’s a hint showing you how to upgrade your Blaster and you have to figure the rest out yourself. If you struggle then you’re probably having trouble reading this so I won’t bother explaining.

While I was there I upgraded my collector but in hindsight that may not have been the cleverest thing to do. Is having a Standard rather than Sub-Standard Collector going to make the difference between success and failure this early in the game. I think not. It is only 24 crystals but you may as well save them for later. You’ll probably be able to leap-frog the standard to a better model.

One thing that is worth doing is getting a respray. You can repaint your trusty AnIn-1300 with the Wings and Back pattern for free. Have a play and try out the different colour combinations. For later ships it costs crystal to change the paint job so enjoy the freedom while you can.

As soon as your Blaster and R2 unit are upgraded you can leave the hangar (F5) and go back into orbit around Kalabesh, and you’re done. Easy isn’t it? What’s more you get 25 crystals for completing this gruelling mission. Crystal for old rope if you ask me.

If you want to see the walk-through then you need to get out more, but if you must then you can find it here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Frustration, anticipation and achievement

I’m going through one of those challenging times in Pirate Galaxy at the moment. I’m trying to beat Project Detonation and coming up short. My next attempt will be the 10th.

On top of that life conspires to keep me away from the game and this blog. I’ve got story missions to write up, opinions to post and aliens to kill. Yet work, family and sleep keep me from my hobby. Poor, poor me, lumbered with blessings that so many long for. Ignore me. If I suddenly got the time to play as much as I wanted then life would have taken a very poor turn indeed.

Draconis sounds good. Not the system, but the game additions. If you haven’t read them then have a look on the forum here. I like the idea of a pirate mode you can only leave by getting blasted. Kill or be killed while the bounty on your head climbs higher and higher. Cool. Even I might be tempted to go red now and then.

Even better is the medal board or trophy cabinet. I’m dying to see what they might be, and how many I might already have achieved. I’m guessing some of these will be the True System Finaliser as created by V1-Hyper, but there’s so many you could create. Some could be easier such as clearing all white missions in a system or planet. There could be awards for taking part in a certain number of conquests, or podding so many pirates. A little badge for killing 1,000 mantis, or collecting 1,000,000 crystals even if you’ve spent them all. A 6 month tour of duty medal? A year? As long as new players get a sniff of some low awards early on, I think it will be a real temptation to keep you playing on.

Of course the test game is open, so why not go and get a sneak preview as well as contribute to the testing of the game. I have tried but I can’t get on for some reason. Plus when I do get an opportunity to play I keep going onto Askone, because this might be the time that I finally beat Project Detonation. Draconis and its temptations will come soon enough. Meanwhile Marie II needs a Fusion Power Protector.

So that’s frustration and anticipation. The achievement? Small but welcome. I recently reached level 37. That gives me a power cap of 3,850 which will help in Project Detonation, an energy draining challenge. I’m also getting closer to beating it. In my 9th attempt I got the closest yet, 7 of the 12 turrets destroyed before I ran out of time. I’ll get it you’ll see, no need to call for the clan, not just yet.

Friday, November 5, 2010

‘Baiting Sentinels’

The preceding story mission was: ‘Blaster Practice’
The following story mission is: ‘Component Upgrades’

So again this qualifies as a story mission, though we’re still effectively in tutorial mode. There’s little choice but to take this mission as there are still no white missions available. Presumably you could go back down to the surface of Kalabesh and fly about killing a few mantis, but as of yet you’ve no repair droid and haven’t been to the Hangar so any damage couldn’t be repaired. I wonder what would happen if you did manage to get yourself podded at this point? Perhaps the game won’t let you lose your ship and the mantis keep ‘missing’ you once you’re down to your last bar of hull integrity. Maybe you go the Hangar and are left to figure it out via tooltips etc. I must try it one day.

Of course most pilots are eager to get on at this point and won’t waste time wondering about such nonsense. Once you accept the mission and return to the surface of Kalabesh you meet up with uncle Darius again. It seems some other rookie pirate is getting his backside kicked by the mantis and together you have to fly to his rescue. You’re told to hurry of course, but there’s no rush. The other pilot evaded destruction while I tootled along checking out the scenery.

Just like in all the best films, you and Darius arrive like the 9th cavalry and save the terrified pilot from the alien filth. You could probably just hover nearby while Darius takes care of the sentinels that are attacking the rookie, but where’s the fun in that? Enjoy the carnage and reap the experience.

After he’s been saved, the young pilot delivers the moral of the story. He declares that he’s learned his lesson, and never again will he take on an enemy that shoots back without a repair droid fitted to his ship. You can picture Darius sitting in his cockpit nodding and smiling sagely, Bill Cosby-like, knowing that you will learn from the mistake of this week’s guest star.

When I got to orbit after this mission I was made up to level 3 and thus gained 50 lovely bars of gold. If you get the same, resist the urge to rush to the shop and blow it on today’s special offer. Gold is accumulated via real-world money and level advancement, plus very occasionally as compensation for customer service lapses. There are times in the game when it will be invaluable and I prefer to save the gold for then. 50 gold won’t buy you much anyway, especially while you’re still flying tutorials. Leave it in the bank and rush to your next mission. It’s time to upgrade your ship.

Check out the video of this mission on YouTube. Bloody marvellous what you can do these days.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Ghost Warriors

I’m a member of The Ghost Warriors clan, which is led by Chaosrising. I’ve been with them for perhaps a month now and it’s a friendly group.

I was invited to join by an old buddy Saxon, who recently left. Since then I’ve been helped in one or two sticky story missions and I’ve been to the aid of some pilots back in the Vega system. That’s why I join a clan, to help and be helped, plus some friendly chat while you’re journeying between planets. I suppose my ideal clan is a loose cooperative of pilots banding together for mutual protection and assistance.

Of course that’s not really the idea. The conquest planets exist solely to provoke inter-clan warfare, and the ladders rate them against each other to generate competition. Excellent stuff and I completely understand why players get into conquests and war scores so passionately. If you’ve completed the storyline then it gives you a reason to keep playing, otherwise PG would get quite dull unless you set yourself the target of becoming a True System Finaliser.

The Ghost Warriors has recently taken a turn for the war-like. Acha is the war leader, ably assisted by Bodica. All members are now expected to play regularly and work hard to progress through the ranks and increase the power of the clan. We haven’t started to take part in conquests yet but it won’t be long. We’ll see if I can maintain my clan membership, or if I get booted in favour of some more aggressive pilots. If I do there’ll be no hard feelings as the clan has been clear and up front about what they want to do. Conquests are fun but I never seem to be on line at the right time and I’d rather be trying a story mission to be honest.

For know I’m a loyal and contented member of The Ghost Warriors, long may it continue.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

'Turret Threat'

The preceding story mission was: 'Rise of Vendetta'
The following story mission is: 'Project Detonation'

The Vendetta has reached Technatoria, and its pilot Isaak Handal is planning the rescue of his beloved Sara. Your task here is to locate 12 turrets (floating missile platforms) within 25 minutes. The turrets will be an effective defence against The Vendetta so it's important to learn their location. If you don't find them in the time allowed then the mantis will move the turrets.

This story mission was enjoyable, challenging without being frustrating. I got it done at the fourth attempt. It follows on from Rise Of Vendetta, and precedes 'Project Detonation', which is proving to be a bugger.

My first two attempts were in Marie II my Engineer. My thinking was that I didn't need to kill anything, just stay alive as I tracked the turrets down. It's a good theory, but I went back to my Storm ship Kara III for the final two runs. Two reasons, blowing the enemy up is always a good defensive tactic, and Kara III just happens to have a much better afterburner at the moment.

You have to scan each turret, but you don't have to destroy them. Each is protected by a Paralyzor and 2 Pyros. You can see and scan the turrets from a long way off, but you have to get past them to find the rest. There's little chance of manoeuvring around within the time allowed, so I scanned from a distance, then burned past killing any Pyros who came after me.

I'm not going to tell you where the turrets are because that would be cheating. I'm happy to help and to hint, but there are limits. However if you are really stuck, or are totally comfortable with low behaviour, you can get the locations via The Hitchiker's Guide To Pirate Galaxy, which should be a favourite in your browser 'cause it's brilliant. What I will tell you is that if you follow your nose you'll find the turrets easy enough.

One thing to be careful of here is energy. If you get destroyed then you do have time to hyperjump back to Technatoria at least twice, but at 486e for each hyperjump from the starbase to Technatoria you will run out.

Each time you play you will probably get further through the mission, so keep at it and this one shouldn't prove too much of a problem.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Resurrection

So what do you make of the new Resurrection feature then? When podded you are given the option to resurrect your ship at 25% health. The cost is energy (E) totalling 75% of your cap, so if your energy cap was 4,000 it will cost you 3,000 to come back to life.

Well Resurrection is purely optional and nothing is taken away from the player in return so you are not losing out. You could argue that it makes the game easier, which is true, but it’s not as big an advantage as you might first think.

I can see four drawbacks that counter-weigh the advantage of Resurrection. Things you should consider before clicking on the Lazarus button.
  1. The energy cost, of course.
  2. You only come back at 25% health, as clearly explained.
  3. Your equipment is not automatically ready when you resurrect.
  4. The enemy that blew you away is most likely still there.

1 – Energy cost. You may have the E available to resurrect, but most of the time you won’t. If you filled up at the start of the mission or journey, and were unlucky enough to be cornered by a Death Squad after sneaking your way deep into the map, there’s a good chance you’ll have enough left. If you don’t want to have to start the journey again, are very close to mission completion, or there’s a safe energy field close by, then the E may be well spent. The cunning part of the whole Resurrect option is that if you don’t have the required E but still click on the button, you are taken immediately to the shop. There you can use your gold to buy enough E to rise from the dead. Ker-ching! I hope that whoever at SplitScreen thought of this feature gets a bonus ‘cause it’s genius for generating income.

2 – 25% Health. The game is totally up front about this but in the heat of the moment it can be easy to forget it. Before pressing the button, take a breath and consider how weak you will be when you come back, especially in conjunction with Drawback numbers 3 & 4.

3 – Cooling Equipment. If you Resurrect then you don’t automatically come back with all of your equipment ready to use. Chances are your Repair Droid will still be cooling down, so you’ll be at 25% health for a while longer. This goes for your other gear as well, so Afterburning your way out of trouble may not be an immediate option. Luckily while you are sitting in your pod the equipment is cooling so if you just sit tight for a while you’ll soon have all the ship’s tools at your disposal if you do press the button.

4 – Waiting Enemies. The usual 10 second count down is still there, but most Mantis hang around for longer than that. Use your scanner and see who’s about. It’s not too clever to Resurrect yourself right in the middle of a cluster of Parasites who wasted you 10 seconds ago. (Yes I did just that, without considering points 2 and 3 above. My miraculous born-again life was very short.) While you’re waiting for your equipment to cool a lot of the Mantis may fly off back to their usual patrol route or swarming location. Some do seem to be attracted to life pods so expect one or two to hover nearby. There seems to be no time limit on using the Resurrect option so you could sit there for quite a while waiting for the area to clear.

Bear the above in mind, stop and think because there’s no rush, and the Lazarus button will be a useful addition to your toolkit.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

'Blaster Practice'


The following story mission is: ‘Baiting Sentinels’

Once you have created a new account for one of the Pirate Galaxy partners you go to the Starbase Tutorial which is nice and easy. If you are just creating a pilot on a new server within the same account, then you start here.
A whole new game to explore

You are welcomed by Bill Darius who looks like a middle-aged Wolverine, sort of the ultimate in cool uncles. He leads you off to find some Mantis Drones and invites you to start blasting. It takes about three shots to finish one off, and after killing 4 or 5 you go up to level 2. ‘Fantastic, this game is easy’ you think. Now you get access to the Tactical Map. I love how these early levels open new gadgets for you to play with.

After hitting level 2 you get invited to follow Bill to another area where you can kill a few scouts. You could stay and keep killing drones if you want, which earns you experience but your mission % does not increase. After blasting 3 or 4 scouts Bill decides you’ve done enough and leads you back to mine central. Presumably you could stay and keep killing if you want to, clocking up experience.

Back at mine central you are now told how to select orbit on the nav-comp. You’d think they would introduce you to the hot keys as they go along (F6 to get to orbit) and I don’t know why they don’t. So then you’re up into orbit and get to see the first of Pirate Galaxy’s beautiful orbital views. When I first played PG the orbital views were one of the things that impressed me most about the game. They’d make a great screen saver now I think about it.

The mission is over but in orbit you still get instruction on how to open the mission bulletin board. There are no white missions available, only the story mission ‘Baiting Sentinels’. You can’t visit the hangar yet or access interplanetary travel so you may as well accept and get on with it. As you don’t have a repair droid yet it would be a bad idea to try anything more hazardous at the moment.

As I said, this is really a tutorial but it eases you into combat while also introducing you to the mission structure of the game, nicely done.

If you want a step-by-step walkthrough of this mission, visit the official wiki.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Comments

I've just changed the settings on the blog to make it easier for people to comment. As of now anyone can comment and I've turned off word verification. I'm hoping that this will encourage you all to start chipping in rather than simply listening to me pontificate.

Of course this may mean that I get swamped by spam and sweary children but I'll risk it. If things get too unpleasant I can always start to tighten things up again, but for now there's no excuse for not letting me know that I missed the obvious trick to completing Isaak's Story or that Pirate Galaxy is better than X but not as good as Y etc.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

‘Rise of Vendetta’

The preceding story mission was: 'Enraged Engineer'
The following story mission is: 'Turret Threat'
The Vendetta

Now things are getting interesting in the Gemini system. Isaak has used the tech you brought him to kit out the Vendetta as a battleship, ready to travel to Technatoria and rescue his beloved Sara and the rest of the human prisoners. The next thing to do is get the beast up into orbit around Commerce Central.

Sounds simple doesn’t it. Well it would be if the Vendetta didn’t need a large open space in order to take off. A logical and elegant rationale to set up the first and most difficult part of this story mission, escort the Vendetta to just such an area.

The need for a run up also explains why the hypno-ship in the earlier mission Open Warfare didn’t just take off once you start shooting at it, which was one of the things I moaned about. (I withdraw my criticism. However I think that SlipStream should give the hypno-ship the same sound as the Futurama hypno-toad.)

The first time I tried this mission I was in my Storm ship the Kara III. I got to Isaak’s hideout and spent a few minutes trying to get a good screenshot of the Vendetta for this blog. That wasn’t very clever, as we were suddenly bushwhacked  by five or six Mantis while I tried to get him to pose.

Where the old duffer really messes up though is that he decides to follow you to the take-off point. This means that if you get in a dogfight with the attackers then Vendetta effectively keeps spinning on the spot as it tracks you. This bit makes little sense in the story. Isaak must know CC better than anyone, as he and his wife have lived there as scavengers for ages. Fair enough he wants an escort, but once the shooting starts he would have enough sense to keep on track, leaving you to partner the Mantis in a quickstep of destruction.

The upshot of Isaak’s following me about was that the parasites from the nearby area found us and he was overwhelmed through sheer weight of numbers. This was the only time in my attempts at this mission that Vendetta got destroyed before me.

In each of my next 5 attempts I got blown up and failed the mission, as Isaak then gets destroyed before you can return from the hangar. I tried my Engineer Marie II as well as the Storm but kept running afoul of Death Squads. Eventually I twigged that Vendetta was doing a lot better at surviving than me. The first priority in this mission is to keep yourself alive, as Freddie Mercury sang.

So in my 7th, final and ultimately successful attempt, I led the Vendetta to the take-off point in my Engineer. I kept on course and used my protector and repair droid to keep myself in one piece. We did get hit by a Death Squad, but I basically took my kicking and ignored them. If you keep going without returning fire then they soon fly off. You do fly through other swarms of Mantis on the way but they don’t like to travel far and so also leave you eventually.

There were the Mantis that drop out of orbit to attack Vendetta, but Isaak takes care of them quite effectively. I did right click (so my heading didn’t change) on them one at a time and add my blaster to the fight. You can cope with a single attacker in a decent Engineer and it draws one away from Vendetta. I also used my repair field to top up Isaak, but he has shields and the ship is quite tough so he probably could have managed without it.

So we made it to the take-off point fairly simply after all and Vendetta makes it into orbit. I expected the mission to end there but no, still more work to do. The next step in the mission is to escort Vendetta to Terasa in the Antares system. It seems Isaak wants some Gravitons to create a new form of weapon. It isn’t far, just a quick trip through the Stargate and it turns out to be a fairly simple task.

Once you land on Terasa, Vendetta appears and follows you to the Graviton refinery. You should take the direct route straight through a major Mantis spawning ground. It is very therapeutic to have dozens of them throwing themselves at you while you happily blow them apart with one or two blaster shots. Vendetta weighs in too so they have no chance. The only difficult thing is to stop yourself shouting, “Remember me? Not so tough now are you? Oh you want some too? Die, die, die…” etc.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Once you get to the refinery then the mission is completed. You can go straight to Technatoria, which is presumably what Isaak does, where the next story mission starts. Or you could stay on Terasa and murder Mantis for just a little while longer. Go on, indulge yourself.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Multi-Playing

One marvellous but not immediately apparent facility of Pirate Galaxy is the ability to play unrelated campaigns on its different servers. Pilot characters are unaffected if you create one on another server, so you lose nothing in doing this other than splitting your online time between campaigns. You can be a level 50 player on Solaria, but log on to Askone for the first time and you have a rookie pilot to manage. Once again you’re in a tin-pot ship with a pop-gun blaster, and a collector just strong enough to pick up the lighter varieties of dust. Log back onto Solaria and your grizzled veteran doesn’t even know you’ve been away.

For those who don’t know, the Vega system was overhauled a while ago. The reason given for this was to raise quality to that of the later systems, improving players’ first experiences of Pirate Galaxy. The story line was rewritten and the planets got proper names and a face-lift. I was a Beta-tester so only knew the original Vega. I could of course just fly back there and have a look around but that’d no fun at all. The best option is to start the whole adventure again on a different server.

My main game is on the Askone server, which is set up for English speaking Europeans. During the early days Askone was sometimes not available, so on those occasions I logged onto the German server Korell. The servers have become steadily more reliable so I visited Korell less and less, leaving my substitute pilot languishing on Vega 3. After the face-lift I logged back on and found myself half-way through an unfamiliar storyline on a planet I didn’t recognise. I hate not seeing anything right from the start, just like Woody Allen at the pictures in Annie Hall.

I chose to start from scratch on Solaria, one of the North American servers, as it has the advantage of players mostly speaking English. I speak a little German but not enough to try and coordinate hit-and-run tactics mid-battle. The conquests are all scheduled for convenient North American times but I rarely if ever take part in conquests so that’s not a problem for me.

If you’re getting bored with your pilot, fed up of Mizar, or just want a break from your current grind, create a pilot on a separate server. See everything from the factory-fresh cockpit of an AnIn-1300 Light Transport one more time.  Just be prepared for “Noob!” jibes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Anniversary Paint Job


Isn't she lovely? - The Marie II
 As a way of demonstrating undying love for my wife I decided to let her customise my GC-3 Fusion Engineer. She's an artist so I expected her to do something a bit different. She used the maze pattern, with a sort of rose and lime green as the colours. It looks a lot better than it sounds, and is sure to make me stand out amongst all the other pirates at Prosperous orbit get-togethers.

171 crystals to rename your ship is too much, a bit steep for a paint job too. So of course I christened the ship properly while I was at it. It is now the Marie II.

Happy anniversary my love.

Friday, October 8, 2010

'Enraged Engineer'

The preceding story mission was: 'Daring Rescue'
The following story mission is: 'Rise Of Vendetta'

This is the story mission following on from Daring Rescue. Isaak is not happy that the Mantis still have his wife locked up in a floating cage on Technatoria, so asks you to scavenge tech pods so he can build a killer rescue ship, named Vendetta.
Picture stolen from V1-Hyper. Go visit
The Hitchhiker's Guide to Pirate Galaxy
and apologise for me.

This is one of those 'go here, find and collect the pod, repeat' missions. There are five pods spread across Commerce Central and it does take a while to journey through the CC maze.

What makes this mission strange is that it doesn't seem to matter if you get podded. After I collected the first two tech pods I got destroyed, after trying to grab the third (Deluvian Graphite) without clearing the area of mantis first. I was expecting to have to start again but the mission allowed me to continue, I could just go back and try to get the third tech pod again. I suppose if your ship can be beamed back to the hangar with all its equipment intact then it's reasonable that the tech pods would survive too. It does make the mission very easy and I suspect that it's a mistake. Cash in quick before they fix it.

You have the option to return to Isaak in his hide-out after collecting each tech pod but I didn't, and it makes no sense to do so. It would just add a lot of time and risk to the mission. If I was designing this, I'd treat a return to Isaak as a 'save'. In other words if you get fragged then all the tech pods you were carrying are lost. If you already took them back to Isaak then you don't have to repeat the collection. I'm convinced that was the intention of the mission designer, but I've done it now and have the 789 crystals to prove it.

Other things about the mission make me suspect an error. There is no % completed status change as you collect each pod. Maybe if I'd took them back to Isaak as I went along it would have showed. Also when I returned with all the tech pods at the end of the mission he appeared briefly saying thanks but go and get the rest. Never mind.

One last thing. Once you've collected the last of the tech pods go to orbit, then land and travel to Isaak's hideout. It cuts out a lot of the winding and dangerous maze.

Next mission, 'Rise of Vendetta'.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Level Up

A week or two ago I got to level 36 in the middle of a fire fight. It's always nice to feel that you're progressing but it's hardly the thrill it was in my early Vega days.

When you start, features of the game get unlocked at each level. I loved that and couldn't wait to see what was next when I got to level 4, 5 or 6. Obviously that can't continue, but player ships do require you to have a certain level so there is still a strong incentive. For example when I achieved level 35 I became eligible for Mizar class ships, once I reach that system.

With my slow but steady style, going up a level doesn't matter much to me. By the time I've reached a system and earned the crystals, I'm easily at the minimum level for a ship. I'm not suggesting the minimum levels be raised as I am not a typical player. It might be nice to have some other reward or incentive for level increase but that might straight jacket people into a style of play or rate of progression that didn't suit them.



Energy Charge
 
You do get 50 Gold for each level of course which is a very small amount. However that's the main revenue stream for the game so they can't just give it away too cheaply. Personally the only thing I've ever spent gold on is a Support Energy Charge, and then only when I've run out of E in the middle of a crucial mission and don't want to start again.

That is a good feature of the game and could be rationalised as a bribe to one of the hangar staff to send you extra energy in tricky situations. If they're sitting there waiting to beam your damaged ship aboard then surely they can 'reverse the polarity of the neutron flow' and send you a little power for a few bars of gold.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

'Daring Rescue'

The preceding story mission was: 'Payment In Kind'
The following story mission is: 'Enraged Engineer'

This is the story mission following on from Payment In Kind. Sara and Isaak have been kidnapped by the Mantis and the task is to rescue them. I enjoyed this mission, and managed to do it solo at the sixth attempt. If I finish a mission at the first attempt I usually feel a little cheated.


Needle in a Haystack

You pick the mission orbiting Commerce Central, then have to fly to Technatoria where the old love birds are being held. Fair enough, but if you get destroyed at Technatoria you have to fly to CC to start the mission again, which is daft. The end of Payment In Kind should tell you to travel to Technatoria and you should collect the mission there. Much more logical and saves lots of annoying inter-planetary travel.

At Technatoria you get told to search for Sara and Isaak in successive areas. The marked areas are so large that it's hard to see the map and your own ship marker. Still I managed in each mission to get to the final area. I chose to keep out of trouble through the mission and it was fairly simple to avoid the Death Squads, Pyros etc. It gets difficult when you arrive at the last area.

This shattered piece of the planet is filled with cages which are guarded by half-a-dozen strong Pyros. One of the cages holds Isaak. The idea is that you have to blast the cage and collect the escape pod within 3 minutes of finding him otherwise Isaak suffocates. The three minute countdown starts once you find the cage. What he was breathing before you found him I don't know. It would make more sense if the oxygen started to run out once he was in the escape pod.

The Pyros cremated me most of the times I took this mission. There is also a Death Squad patrolling the area so watch out for them. Once I tried the mission in an Engineer, aiming to use the shield to withstand the thermoblasts while I blasted and collected. It didn't work, too many Pyros. The rest of the time I used my Storm ship, trying to kill the Pyros first. That worked better, but I still fell short. One problem is that when hitting the 'End' key to select the next target I kept finding the cage I was after, which starts the countdown and costs you a second to re-select. The cage position was different each time, sometimes deep in the interior, sometimes near the entrance which is much easier.

The way I managed to beat this mission was to hit-and-run. First I waited outside for the Death Squad patrol to pass, so I had some time alone with the Pyros. Then I flew in and luckily Isaak's cage was near the entrance. It was also the first time I noticed that his cage had a flashing light on it. I watched the Pyros until they were circling away from the cage, then zoomed in and blasted it until Isaak was in his pod. Next I burned away, escaping the attacking Pyros. This starts the timer of course, but I hung around far enough away until my afterburner was cool again. Next I flew in and started to collect Isaak. The Pyros took a few seconds to catch on that I was back, and I started the R2 unit once the first ones lit me up. Once the pod was on board my trusty afterburner got me out of there and into orbit. Magic. The fly in the ointment is that Sara was not in the pod, so she has to be left behind.

There was the formality of taking Isaak back home to CC, which of course turns out to be not that simple. While travelling across the surface of CC back to Isaak's hideout, I got jumped by three or four Pyros, I didn't stop to count them. Afterburner to the rescue again. Unfortunately I went the wrong way which was embarrassing as well as dangerous, I had to stop and come back. Luckily the Pyros seemed confused by my stupidity and were sitting there looking at each other. I burned past them with no trouble and got Isaak back to his hideout.

Nice mission, challenging but do-able on your own. You could probably manage it in Tank, a Shock might be best. An Engineer might do it with the right tactics. Good luck.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Good Guys

You can meet the nicest people playing Pirate Galaxy. A few nights ago my ageing PC was struggling with the demands placed upon it and the client crashed. I was grinding on Prosperous at the time, and was lucky that when I logged back in no mantis had taken the opportunity to blow me away. I suspect someone may have taken out an incoming Interceptor, either for my sake or their own, but in effect I got away with it.

So I carried on killing, and as well as the Cryonite I was after I also struck Gold. I’m now the proud owner of a Gemini Afterburner blueprint. The next job is to scrape together the 2,590 crystals I need to install it. Of the 151 blueprints I’ve collected, 2 have been rare. I think that’s a fair frequency.

After this I went to swap ships and get my Engineer to Commerce Central (CC) for a second attempt at Daring Rescue. I had ten minutes before I planned to log off, so decided to take my Engineer on a white mission to collect an Aggro-beacon. I don’t need the beacon but I like to clear the white missions. Plus you sometimes collect a surprising amount of crystals looking for a blueprint.

Annoyingly I got stuck behind a Death Squad on my way to the marked area. If I’d been in my Shock Kara III I’d have taken them on, but instead I decided to burn past them. That was a mistake. If they’re coming towards you, using the Afterburner is very effective as you are long gone before they can turn. However from behind, if your timing is wrong, the Custodian Commander can quickly reel you in with his Afterburner and Stun Charge, which is exactly what happened to me. I’d also decided not to use my protector as I tried to shoot past which was my second mistake.

So there I was, stunned, in an Engineer, with a full Death Squad bearing down on me. Still if I could just get my protector working and then take out the Commander I’d be able to get away. That’s when my PC crashed for the second time.

Well that was a bit of a downer to say the least. After a little light swearing I logged back on so that I could get my Engineer back from the hangar to CC, but was astounded to find that I was still on the surface and relatively intact. Hovering next to me was the pilot Falcon-Of-Honour in his Unreasonably Large Kill-O-Zap Sol Behemoth (or whatever it’s called.) Turns out that he was in the area and saw me suddenly go adrift while being happy slapped by the Death Squad. He guessed I’d lost my PC and came to my rescue.
I’d never met Falcon-Of-Honour before so we weren’t buddies or anything, he was just happy to help a fellow player in trouble. He was even generous enough to let me pick up all the Cryonite that the detonators in the area dropped when we (mostly he) vaped them. So Falcon-Of-Honour, I pay tribute to you and officially label you as A Great Bloke. Thanks mate.

I’d love to be able to return the favour sometime in the future. However looking at his ship, and discovering that his mom and dad are the leaders of the Guardians Of Asgard clan, namely Rainbow Dragon and Old Viking, I don’t think he’s likely to need my help. Maybe like the mouse in Aesop’s fable, someday I’ll get my chance.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

'Payment in Kind'

The preceding story mission was: 'Open Warfare'
The following story mission is: 'Daring Rescue'

Typical, you spend hours struggling with a killer mission, and then as soon as you’ve cracked it you blast through the next three without breaking sweat. I completed Payment in Kind at only the second attempt. The first time I tried my Shock ship, the second my partially equipped Engineer.

The task given to you is to collect trade goods from each of the three colonies on Prosperous and deliver them to Isaak and Sara on Commerce Central (CC). I like the way the story missions in the Gemini System link into each other. It does feel like an ongoing story rather than a collection of ‘protect the flag’ or ‘kill the boss’ missions.

The sequence of the colonies is the same as usual, so you can plan out your route in advance. At the first colony you collect the goods, and learn that one of the colonists wants to join you on your journey in his upgraded village ship. That’s what makes the mission more interesting/challenging/a pain in the neck; you have to make sure that the villager ships survive as you visit each colony.

In both of my attempts I managed to get to the second colony with the villager ship only lightly damaged. It then comes as no surprise when a villager from the second colony wants to tag along too. The ships are quite tough, with shields and a decent blaster, so they are not helpless and they do work as an effective back up. Unfortunately on my first attempt I got surprised by a Death Squad (DS) whilst trying to clear some Avengers, and one of the colonists bought it.

On my second attempt I used my Engineer’s Protector to shield the villagers as we travelled. We managed to dodge most of the DSs, but then we got into spot of bother in the corridor across the middle right of the map. Things were not going well, one colonist ship was belching smoke and I was down to my last few bars of hull integrity. So I decided it was time to abort the mission, hit the afterburner and hope the mantis would be more interested in killing the villagers than chasing my cowardly backside. I didn’t want to lose any Cryonite and have to make the long dull journey back to reclaim it. This is ‘Pirate’ not ‘Hero’ Galaxy after all.

I managed to get to the third colony in one piece, and was surprised when I didn’t get the ‘mission failed’ notice. Amazingly first one, then the other, villager ship cruised into the colony behind me. I wouldn’t advise relying on that tactic, but these colonist chaps do know how to look after themselves.

Once you collect the third pod of trade goods you have to get to CC, and again the villagers, including the last colony’s representative, want to come along too. It’s a great shame that you don’t see the three of them flying behind you as you journey between the planets, or in orbit around CC.

Luckily once you get to the surface of CC you see that the villagers have repaired their ships, otherwise getting them to Isaak and Sara’s place would be tricky. Why the blighters couldn’t repair themselves while you’re battling across the surface of Prosperous I don’t know. These little gaps in story logic do annoy me, even if they are beneficial.

Your final task (so you think) is to deliver the goods to Isaak and Sara at their usual location. There’s only one area with a significant mantis population along the way and the three villagers are strong enough to get there safely. However when I reached the marked destination I discovered an unexpected twist rather than the expected conclusion. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you what it is, but as you’ve read this far you either know already or are comfortable with cheating, so I will continue.

Isaak and Sara are not there and you have to go and find them. The villagers leave for Prosperous at this point as Natassia decides it’s too dangerous for them to help. Who’s chicken now eh? Still it means you just have to protect yourself from now on. A destination is marked deep into CC which you can get to in your own time. As I was in my Engineer this wasn’t difficult, using the afterburner and protector to keep myself out of trouble. I’d guess that if you are destroyed here you can just carry on from the hangar but best not to test that theory.

As you reach the destination you get a message from Isaak and Sara. They’ve been podded and a mystery ship is about to collect them. By the time you’ve read this the mantis has them and is breaking for orbit. Curses! The mantis have taken them to Technatoria, and the next mission is to rescue the scavenging senior citizens.

A fun mission with a good storyline, best done in an Engineer or perhaps a Tank. To the rescue!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

'Open Warfare'

Feel the power of my hammer!
The preceding story mission was: 'Weapons Delivery'
The following story mission is: 'Payment In Kind'

The next story mission after Weapons Delivery is Open Warfare on Prosperous. You have just delivered the ship tech to the colonists, but then get a message that they have started fighting amongst themselves. At the surface you have to reach a map location where you’ll find two upgraded village ships going at it. One gets podded, who I collected but got no benefit from saving him. Then there’s another fight at a different location you have to reach. There’s no time limit on this so I’m not sure if it’s possible to fail at this stage. Perhaps if you get destroyed then the mission might end, but often in other missions you can simply carry on from the hangar.


As an aside, perhaps missions like this should have a timer running. The lovely Natassia Ivanova tells you to be quick as they are trying to kill each other, but unless I see a timer I never rush. You can stop and fill up on E, have a cup of tea, go to the hangar to change ships etc with no penalty.

Anyway, after reaching the second fight you get sent back to the site of the first. There you find a large mantis hypno-ship that is forcing the colonists to behave like they’re three hours into a scrumpy bender. The mission is then to destroy the ship before it escapes. It’s a big ship, but not as tough as the dreadnoughts you come across in other missions. I was in my Storm ship and it didn’t take too long to bring it down as it slowly flew off. If you just had a blaster and no rockets or aim computer then it would take quite a bit longer. Why the hypno-ship doesn’t just go to orbit as soon as you appear is not explained, which irks me a little. I assume that if the ship reaches a certain location it will escape. For this reason I’d recommend a Storm ship for this mission, if you’re lucky enough to have a choice.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

'Weapons Delivery'

The preceding story mission was: 'Isaak's Story'
The following story mission is: 'Open Warfare'

After collecting the tech pods on Commerce Central in Isaak’s Story you now have to deliver the technology to the three colonies on Prosperous, in the story mission Weapons Delivery. I completed this mission first time, which was a nice change, and the low Cryonite payout reflects the relative simplicity of the mission.

You collect the mission at Commerce Central before you fly to Prosperous. All you have to do there is get to the three colonies in order, without podding. The briefing does tell you to beware of ambush so I kept my eye on the scanner.

The first colony to visit is the one in the bottom left quadrant, the second the one in the top left corner. After that drop I chose to go to orbit, then immediately return to the landing zone (LZ). This avoids a lot of dangerous territory. On my way from the LZ to colony 3, as I was flying down the corridor on the middle right of the map, I saw roughly 8 triangles converging on me in the scanner. Luckily my Afterburner was cool so I just punched it and got the hell out of dodge. Whatever those mantis units were they didn’t catch me, and I reached the last colony with no more unwanted attention.

It may be possible to fight the ambushers off and it’s a pity you can’t replay a successful mission, as I would have liked to try it. Still never mind. Gemini story mission 13 of 23 completed and 302 crystals in the bank towards my new Engineer.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

'Isaak’s Story' completed

The preceding story mission was: 'Taking Up Arms'
The following story mission is: 'Weapons Delivery'

I've previously posted about this Story Mission here.

Thanks to help from my clan The Ghost Warriors, specifically my mate Saxon, I’ve now completed 'Isaak’s Story'. As Saxon was in a Sol Engineer we couldn’t squad up, so he covered me as I escorted Isaak and collected the tech pods. It was quite relaxing to coast along behind Isaak while the blue dot in the scanner made the bad triangles vanish, especially when his magic green light made my ouchies disappear.

The only problem was that as Saxon wasn’t part of the mission he couldn’t heal Isaak. This wasn’t a problem at first as the mantis couldn’t get near him thanks to our guardian angel. Near the end though Isaak was carrying a bit of damage so it wasn’t completely plain sailing.

After you collect the last pod you have to escort Isaak back to his base. Up to that point you just had to click on him and follow, but on the return leg he follows you. I didn’t realise this at first, so he and I span in circles chasing each other while Saxon wondered why I was dancing with an NPC (Non Player Character). Once I caught on that I had to take the lead, we managed to fly the long journey back.

This is a tough mission. My ship Kara III is a storm ship with almost the top compliment of Gemini equipment and I couldn’t do it solo. I’d love to try this mission again in an Engineer or Tank which would be better suited to the task. Still that’s why we join clans.

When Saxon showed up it was like having your big brother arrive at school and dangle the bullies by their ankles. Very satisfying and a big relief, but you can’t help feeling slightly emasculated because you couldn’t handle it yourself. In order to make myself feel better I flew to Lustra and cut a bloody swathe through its Harvesters. Set the buggers alight with a Thermo-blast and vape the Interceptors with a single shot. I am Serig, killer of Mantis! Whenever you feel frustrated with this game, fly back a system and bully the locals.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Attack ships on fire

Kara III presenting the latest look - on fire
One of my favourite recent changes to the game is that damaged ships now burn. It used to be that you could be one underpowered blaster shot from the pod yet your ship still looked showroom fresh. Apart from the coolness of being last man standing in a flaming wreck, trailing smoke as you limp into orbit, there is a game advantage too.


Before you had to select a ship to see how damaged it was. Now if you see that your ally is smoking (as in hit, not hot) you know he’s in trouble. Also if there are three Rocketeers and one’s sparking at the rear, you know there’s an opportunity to even the odds fast.

It’s a pity there’s no animation of a tiny R2 unit crawling over your ship when you press 4. No game advantage but it’d make

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

'Isaak’s Story'

The story mission I’m currently struggling with is Isaak’s Story. It’s set on Commerce Central in the Gemini system. It’s not described as a squadron mission (where the game advises that you need a squadron to stand a chance of completing it), but it is a bugger. I’ve tried it solo in my GC-1 Kara III five or six times but without success. Saturday night I teamed up with an engineer (sorry mate but I didn’t take note of your name) and still came up short, twice.


The premise is that you team up with Isaak, who lives a scavenging lifestyle on Commerce Central with his wife. You have to protect him while collecting three pieces of technology that will be used to equip the Prosperous colonist ships. Isaak finds the pods and you have to collect them, keeping his ship in one piece at the same time. He has a tough vessel with a shield, afterburner and blaster. However he has no repair droid which is annoying for the player, but the mission would be too easy if he did. I suppose the justification would be that he just hasn’t managed to scavenge a repair droid yet.

My tactics are to stock up on E first, as the one time I did get to see the third and last tech pod I was running low. There’s no time limit and Isaak is safe until you get to him so you can fill up near the Landing Zone (LZ). Next, get to the meeting point and follow Isaak’s ship. He takes the same route every time, and the tech pods are in the same general areas each time too. You can get through the first clutch of Marauders without being shot at as long as you ignore them and don’t hang about. Next is a pack of Parasites with a Resurrector back up, these will attack. As I’m in a storm ship I fly ahead and take them on. Usually I wipe them out, with Isaak either unmarked or lightly damaged.

Next you get to a few Rocketeers, and nine times out of ten a Death Squad arrives at the same time. After this Isaak’s ship is usually looking a bit sorry for itself. You soon fly through an energy field and I often stock up while my equipment resets. Then Isaak tells you there’s a pod nearby. A large area is marked on the map and somewhere within it is the first pod. You have to find and collect it. There are of course lots of mantis hanging around, so you have to decide whether to kill them all then collect before reinforcements arrive, or soak up the damage then scram. I’ve tried both ways and prefer to attack first, as when you take off the mantis follow you and usually find Isaak.

When I try this mission Isaak doesn’t make it to the second pod most of the time. Despite this being a tough mission, I do like it. You have a chance of success, and every time you try it you learn more and slowly get further. Having said that I’m more than ready to move on. If you see me at Commerce Central I’d be glad of some help.

Update
I have now managed to complete this mission with the help of a clan mate and Pirate Galaxy big brother Saxon. See the post later in the blog or click here Isaak's Story Completed

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Welcome

So I'd best start off by saying hello and showing you around. I play under the name of Serig. I'm at rank 35 and am adventuring in the Gemini system. I play three or four times a week for an hour or so, so I'm regular but not obsessive.

Just at the top of the page is a brief description of this blog and what it's about. It's aimed at existing fans of the online game Pirate Galaxy, and consists of my own opinions and experience. I like playing Pirate Galaxy and I like blogging, so it makes sense to combine the two.

Below the description are some links.
  • The first link is the official game web site, which I'm sure you already have book marked.
  • The second is to the wikipedia-like database, which has great potential but is only partially complete. I won't complain since I've never contributed.
  • The third is to The Hitchhiker's Guide to Pirate Galaxy. This is a great one page site well designed and kept up to date by V1-Hyper. Go here first if you want to look something up.
  • The fourth is a link to the official forum. I don't bother myself but it is the official mouth piece of the game so I shoudl really visit more often.
  • The fifth and final link is to a page reporting the status of the servers, which is useful if you can't get online and want to know if it's you or them.
Thanks for visiting, and I'll see you in the game.