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