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


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


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


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.