Having said I was only going to play one of these episodes a night, I ended up doubling that yesterday. They are either getting easier or I’m getting better at flying them (probably the latter). I played through the second episode in little over half an hour without having to repeat a single mission.
Episode 3 starts with a some alien capships destroying one of ours.
We are straight into action protecting a ship called the Shy Meadows.
After we save their bacon they want us to escort them for a bit. There is a long negotiation – we need their supplies and they don’t want to give them to us but we talk them over (mainly by virtue of us having the guns).
We are escorting the Cerberus to Talos station in mission 2.
I fail it the first time. The key to all these missions seems to be to take out the biggest ships first. As long as I ignore the Morays and go for nothing but Manta’s then I seem to breeze through these missions.
I have my first look at the killboard since I started this game. This is looking absurdly one sided. It kind of ego inflating to be this much better than everyone else but ideally I’d prefer it if the AI was a bit better.
Mission 3 is a patrol with some Excaliburs.
My fellow pilots might not be keeping up with me in kills but there are plenty of them. The battles in this game just keep getting bigger and there are about 10 of us in this wing. A few Excaliburs don’t make it but the mission is routine otherwise.
Mission 4 is escorting the civilian craft to the Sol jump point.
The usual routine of taking out the bombers works here. This is definitely the trick of playing Secret Ops. Once you have this figured out you can just breeze through these missions.
We get to take out a capship in our final mission.
With this complete we jump out of the system and I get another password for Episode 4. There isn’t much pertinent information in the text for this next episode. Zero’s Dad supplies us with some of the details of the threat of contamination from these alien artifacts that are being looted. I learn that the Cygnus system is full of civvies and tourists and that we are here to try to split the attacking alien forces.
Episode 4 starts off with some sort of giant cruise ship being attacked by a destroyer.
Mission 1 is designated as a routine patrol.
We pick up a distress call from somewhere but don’t manage to locate it on our patrol.
Once we get back to the Cerberus, its straight back out again to try to find that distress signals source.
We find it this time but we are on the late side and the ship is a mess.
There are some life signs on the ship. Zero docks while I go off to carry on the patrol.
When I get back Zero has recovered two people but they are in bad shape. I escort them back to the Cerberus.
We are nearing the real bug infestation now in this system and this mission is our first attempt to make start wiping it out. In effect this is just another patrol.
I see my first Manta in Secret Ops in this mission. It’s strange that some of the ship types have been held back for so long – I’ve been fighting 95% Manta’s and Morays with just a few others thrown in every now and then.
We encounter another cruise ship on this mission and have to protect it from attack.
We succeed with this and escort it to the station from here.
This ship agrees to transport our 2 injured survivors from Mission 2.
For this next mission we go out looking for a capship to destroy.
We fly our route but there is no sign of any capships.
The final mission is to escort the Cerberus out of system as ever.
As a little added complication we run into the erroneous capship we didn’t find last time out. This is the best mission of the game so far as I get to see the two capships blasting each other, something that has been missing entirely from both Secret Ops and WCP. In fact, I’d say this episode was the best of the lot so far. I liked the big cruise ships and the way that the mission requirements kept changing each time, and we got a nice battle between the Cerberus and a Destroyer to finish up.
I get my password for the next mission and that concludes episode 4.
Its slow going but I’d say that these missions do appear to be getting better as the game goes on with a large improvement in the last episode. I hope this continues for the last 3 episodes as its looking promising that after a slow start Secret Ops might just build to a decent climax. I’ve read the text for Episode 5 already and it talks about the aliens having a blockade here and us punching through it – this sounds interesting and there is definitely a feeling that the game is gaining momemtum. There is also a reference to the WEC (from Crusader) from a guy who says we haven’t seen this sort of oppression since those days. I do like these links between games even when they are minor like this – Origin should have done more of it.
Aside from playing these 2 episodes, I had a quick look at Standoff last night after being pointed towards it by Natreg. It’s a mod for Secret Ops – I don’t know a lot about it and would prefer to keep it that way until I’ve played though it. I won’t start it properly until I’m done with the real Origin games so I only tried the first mission but I’m seriously impressed. Its set a bit earlier than WCP and it did have a retro feel with WC2 music and more primitive ships but far nicer graphics than WCP itself. It even felt like flying one of the ships in WC2. A combination of WC2 gameplay and better-than-WCP graphics sounds like a winning formula to me. I’m really looking forward to playing this mod now. How well the story stacks up I don’t know, but I’m sure there will be more to it than Secret Ops. My only quibble would be that I’m not sure about the voice acting for the main character yet – this is getting really picky with a fan made game though and its good enough that it will probably grow on me.
There are a stack of mods and Origin related games out there. Looking at something like this, I really like the idea of working my way through some of them after I finish U9. Right now on the list I’ve got Lazarus, the U6 Project (finished in April I gather?), Standoff & System Shock 2. There were a couple of recreations of Ultima 4 in the Neverwinter Nights engine which are worth a look and plenty of Wing Commander inspired games to try, such as Gemini Gold. There is also the Ultima parody that came out a few weeks back. Thats enough to keep me going but I’m sure there are more if I have a look around the web. If there is anything else anyone thinks I should try let me know and I’ll add it to the list. I’m prepared to try anything, although I can’t guarantee I’ll finish it.