I went back for another go at the arch, this time following the advice to fly up through the middle of the asteroid in my approach. I have no idea why, but when doing this all the fighters completely ignore me leaving me to pick off the shield generators one at a time. I do have to run away several times to recover due to a battleship taking shots at me but the shield is soon down and I dock my ship.
I find the Tome only to get immediately gassed and captured. This does mean we get to meet our adversary who in true supervillain style sends his lackeys off so he can talk to us alone.
I foolishly point out that this means there is nothing to stop us going for him, and he decides to even the odds flinging a sword he has hidden up his sleeve for these occasions through my colleague. At this point his eyes start to glow, which I have to say I didn’t see coming. Hakkera choses this moment to fly in for the umpteenth last minute rescue so far and I jump into his ship to barely escape.
He fills me in on the plot at long last. Some aliens called Nomads are inhabiting the bodies of high level people throughout the galaxy. This started with Rheinland but has since spread. These aliens are trying to weaken humanity in an attempt to take over and want my artefact for some unknown reason. The Order, far from being a terrorist group, was set up to stop them. It’s about this point that the pace starts to pick up and it’s plot missions all the way from here on.
My next task is to fly to Rheinland of all places to retrieve an informant called Von Claussen. General opinion seems to be that I should be relatively safe as a Bretonnian despite my most wanted status. We run into a large Rheinland fleet on the way but only have to take out some fighters before they lose interest and I can run for the jump point. I make it to New Berlin and have an extremely odd encounter with this pair in the bar but they do tell me where to fly next to find Von Claussen.
I notice the ship dealer here has some really fancy equipment none of which I’m allowed to buy yet. I’m not a fan of this artificial boundary to buying things. If I want to run a really expensive ship with only one gun or the worst shields, etc.. I should be allowed to do it. I could well be back here later anyway but I have to leave them for now.
Von Claussen is a short flight away and is glad to come with me straight away. He says he has the plans to a new fighter which is decidedly alien in appearance. Here’s hoping I get to fly it before I’m done but first we have a mission involving destroying the shipyards where new forces are amassing.
To get there we have to fly through the middle of an extremely dense minefield. To make this worse there is so much radiation, my ship is getting hammered the whole time. On the other side are some extremely different looking alien ships which are semi-transparent and glowing.
There are a whole lot of them to have to take out. I park myself on top of the nearest and keep firing until some time later it blows up. The fighters left me alone but most of my wingmen have bought it by now and common sense prevails and we retreat to warn others of this fleet. This means another trip through the radiation. My ship is barely holding on when I dock at the end of this mission.
When I get there it’s like a big reunion party as nearly all of my colleagues from earlier in the game show up. We also get introduced to the leader of The Order who looks to have been heavily influenced by Laurence Fishburne in the Matrix. My Freelancing days appear to be behind me now as he immediately orders me on a suicidal mission to rescue the President from the Liberty maximum security prison.
The first port of call is a navy spy satellite which needs blowing up to allow our capship to follow behind cloaked. We meet up with more old friends in the shape of Walker and his cruiser on the way. We then run the blockade to the prison which is seriously well guarded, including fighter ships with new alien weaponry that pack a mean punch. The really bad news is that it’s in a one way system so we will have to get out the way we came in which can only be harder. The prison looks extremely borg-like and menacing on approach when I finally make it there.
It’s looking grimmer still inside for the President who is about to be converted to the Nomad cause. I get to carry out a last minute rescue of my own when we burst in through the door in the nick of time and drag her to safety.
The trip out of the system proves to be as difficult as expected. The jump point is blocked off and after fighting waves of alien fighters, Walker goes Kamikaze on us taking out the two ships blocking the gate. We jump through where another fleet is waiting. The Order show up fairly quickly but docking in the middle of this battle must have taken me 4 or 5 attempts before I made it without being blown up.
You would think that I’d get my ship repairs paid for now I’ve gone full time but no such luck. I’m rewarded instead with another mission which will be extracting an alien power cell from one of their structures which we can then use with my artefact. Sounds like fun but I’ll have to save it for another day.
The plot all went a bit Star Trek today, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but stories like this are often more fun before the mystery is revealed. The in-game cutscenes keep on coming and while they are great for 2003, so many of them are just the characters walking in a room unconvincingly and standing around delivering lines. How this was progress from FMV I’ll never know but I’m clearly in the minority with that opinion. They still do their job well anyway and there is an impressive amount of game packed onto a single CD here.
The plot appears to be approaching a conclusion and I’m dying to find out what the artefact does after all this time. Expect all to be revealed in part 9.