Saturday, April 2, 2011

‘Tutorial: Find and Install Ion Shield’

Ooh that's new!

The preceding story mission was: ‘Tutorial: Buy New Spaceship’

The following story mission is: ‘Smuggler’s Revenge’

Now this is classed as a tutorial, but it’s really a tasty story mission. It only unlocks if you complete ‘Tutorial: Buy New Spaceship’ and you can complete the Vega storyline without touching it. However it introduces you to a new Mantis, the Marauder, and gets you a new piece of equipment to play with.

Jake Rattenbury explains that the empty ‘5’ slot in your Heads Up Display (HUD) is for a shield. Mantis Marauders use shields, and smugglers have spotted some on the surface of Axiom. You need to go and loot a Shield Blueprint (BP) to fully equip your new AnIn-1450. You can fly the 1450 without a shield installed, so if the rest of the equipment is up to snuff then you should fly it. It does have tougher armour than the 1400.

You know the drill by now, get to the surface and fly to the marked spot. Jake tells you to take on only one Marauder at a time which is good advice. The Marauders are level 9, and I completed this mission first time in my AnIn-1400 at level 8. However I’m an experienced pilot starting the game over again, so don’t feel bad if you find this mission tough. It’s good training for later missions, and things have been pretty easy up to now.

When you first approach the Marauders they are unlikely to have their shield up and you can usually get one or two shots in first. However very soon after engaging them you’ll hear a ‘thrummm’ sound, and the alien ship becomes encased in an oscillating bubble of energy. You’ll see that the damage bar of the shielded ship splits into two uneven columns. The thinner of the columns is the shield strength. When you blast a shielded ship the shield strength drops, just as ship armour does. Once the thinner column is depleted then the shield collapses and you can start to damage the ship itself. Shields can be re-raised but there is a cool down period, just as there is for all other equipment. They also only last for a set time, like your Afterburner or Repair Droid. You could try and avoid a Marauder until its shield deactivates, and then attack before it can be raised again. However I wouldn’t recommend it as you are bound to run into other Mantis and become outnumbered, plus it doesn’t take too long to knock the shield down and running soon becomes boring.

In my case the first Marauder I killed dropped a shield BP, maybe that happens every time but I don’t know. Once you have the right BP then you can Afterburn away and get into orbit. Next enter the hangar (don’t forget F7) and fit the shield as you would do other equipment. Jake then rants about how he’s going to make the Colonials fear him while you go back to orbit which completes the mission.

I don’t see how Splitscreen can call this mission a Tutorial. I talked about why they did this in 'Hostage Negotiation'. It's still an untidy solution. Splitscreen should explore and expand this non-linear approach to the storyline rather than have this sticking plaster solution.

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