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!

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