Privateer 2 Feature – Gamesmaster

This is another excerpt from UK TV series Gamesmaster. It’s a short feature on Privateer 2 this time, from about a month before it’s UK release. It isn’t as much fun as the Wing Commander 4 feature from the other day. This is mostly clips from the game + a few seconds of interviews with John Hurt and Clive Owen.

Day 183

My first port of call today is Sinners where I get my metal container opened up. The container was packed with enough explosive to take out the whole port.

It does contain the memory solid. It’s not hugely useful – there is mention of Larn Regis who was Malachite as well as Vell Ricaud and Ricaud Interplanetary neither of whom are in the database. There are a load of financial codes too. None of this is all that helpful and I’ve hit a dead end so I go back to flying cargo runs for a while.

After a bit, I get an email from a friend of my fathers who wants me to meet him near Leviatha.

He’s gone when I get there and I now have to go all the way to Petra.

I decide its time for a new ship before I fly all the way there and blow all my remaining money on a Crius 2 – this cost about 140,000. I can’t really say its all that big an improvement. The shields are a bit better and the extra laser turret takes ships out ludicrously quickly but you are better off spending money on extras in this game rather than the new ships.

I get to Petra and he’s gone again! I don’t even get another lead this time. On the bright side this place has really cheap minerals so I fill up and go back to my standard cargo run.

Another email arrives from David Hassan who wants to see me.

The CIS have captured the guy who has been emailing me. They thought it was Malachite but it can’t be since hes dead. I ask to see him but Hassan discovers some fake orders have been sent and he is already being transferred. We fly out to protect the transfer ship.

This is an epic battle with loads of Kindred fighters and a couple of cruisers thrown in. My new ship is easily up to the fighters – the real problem are the cruisers. The only way I can take them out is with loads of short attack runs and then breaking off before I get hit too much. With the last one down our prisoner is safe and Hassan asks me to meet him at the prison.

This is the best scene of the game. The prisoner is played by David Warner who can play the evil villain better than pretty much anyone. He comes across as being in complete control of the situation despite being the prisoner here. He is another of Kronos lieutenants and in return for a protection deal from the CIS fills in the backstory of the game. Kronos’s real name was Vel Ricaud – I am Vel Ricaud II. My father founded Ricaud Interplanetary which later became the Kindred. I have a twin brother Saar, who was born second who has taken over the Kindred since my fathers death. He has been using anti-aging drugs which in the end make you age faster and turn the brain to jelly which is whats happening to my brother. When I got ill 20 years ago, I was frozen by my father. With Saar running the company into the ground Malachite was sent to revive me and put me in charge instead (with me being the older twin). Saar got wind of this which is why the Canera was shot down. The first two guys in the hospital were sent to fetch me (they were not supposed to shoot up the place). The two women were sent by Saar to kill me. My father was wise enough to seal all the company account codes with me in the pod which is what the information is in the memory solid. At the end of the meeting he tells us that Saar is attacking the CIS head and we have to run out to try to save him.

This final mission is another big battle but it’s easier than the previous one with no cruisers to take out and I finish the mission in a couple of minutes with no difficulty at all.

I fly in and dock with Kronos’s ship. My memory is back by now and I intend to take over the company. Since my fathers death Saar has taken our fathers name and is pretending to be him by taking his name. The ship in a mess and everyone is leaving. My brother is even more of a mess and the makeup is less than convincing. In a fairly gruesome scene we struggle with a ludicrously sized gun, my brother is shot and I finish him off by standing on some sort of internal organ that seems to be hanging out of him. I get to take over the company now and be Kronos myself. I don’t especially like the way this scene was done and it’s not an entirely satisfactory ending to the game. It’s certainly strange and in keeping with everything else in that sense but its poor compared to the scene before it.

The endgame has been surprisingly brief and the final missions are a lot easier than I was expecting. I’d have been wasting my time getting the best ship. There is still some FMV in this game that I’ve not seen which I expect I’d get to see by being offered new missions in my email if I kept playing the game. I never even got to meet Brian Blessed. All the scenes are available in better quality on though. I’ve just been looking through them. It’s strange how the better quality video actually shows up the cheap sets, poor fx and bad camerawork and if anything the scenes come across better in the game. There is no point in wasting money on stuff you can’t appreciate in the game so I don’t have a problem with that especially but the difference with WC4 is apparent where the DVD version really brings out the quality of the FMV. A DVD version of P2 would have been a really bad idea from the looks of those clips.

I have enjoyed playing this in the end. Take away the FMV and what’s left wouldn’t be great but the plot provides enough drive to make it all worthwhile. Privateer 2 is a very quirky game and it should have been so much better than it ended up. It’s so nearly a great sequel but Privateer is undoubtedly the better game of the two. Where Privateer 2 has the edge is the way that the story is woven into the privateering part of the game and not just an extra after you get the best ship and this makes it still worth a look despite the flaws.

Next: AH-64D Longbow

Day 182

I head to Hades to meet up with David Hassan. Hades is the military/prison planet in the system although the military don’t seem too keen on taking prisoners. Hassan is played by Christopher Walken who was in the credits with a starring role but isn’t in the game for much longer than anyone else. He tells me that the Kindred are looking for me. The name of the Kindreds leader, Kronos, seems to spark some sort of memory in me (signified by a grasping hand?) but I don’t know why for now. Hassan wants to use me to capture one of Kronos’s lieutenants called Malachite since he is the one looking for me. For now, he tells me to look into a company called Blessed Aquawine.

I check them out on the database.

And get led to seek out a guy called Hugo Carmichael on Bex.

Before I get there I get an email from a guy in distress and fly out to help.

He wants me to meet him at the Sinners Inn after I rescue him.

I’m rewarded for my efforts by a free set of Mark IV lasers – the best weapon in the game. These are also available to buy now in the booths.

While I’m in here, I notice Melissa hanging around.

She has sorted her problems out and we get a brief chat. Thats the last we’ll be seeing of her in this game – most of the acting parts in this are really short actually. They are the sort of thing the actor could come in and do in an afternoon which may have been the key to getting such a famous cast.

I head for Bex next taking out a few bad guys on the way. I’ve bought myself a full set of the new lasers by now and they do take things out a bit quicker than the old ones. There isn’t quite as much difference as you would expect but I wasn’t exactly struggling before.

In the bar on Bex there is a woman waiting to see me.

She must have been here a while as I have to put CD 1 back in to see her cutscene. She has come into some money and wants to leave the planet. Someone doesn’t want her to go so she needs me to fly her to Hephastus. It only pays 3000 but I agree to do it.

I head to meet up with Carmichael. He is packing and in a big hurry to get off the planet. He tells me that Malachite is dead and went down on the Canera! That’s as much as I get out of him for now. He is also flying to Hephaestus and I offer my services as a wingman in return for more info when I get back.

On the flight there we are ambushed by a serious number of fighters. Hugo runs off leaving me to it. My new lasers help out here and I survive without too much trouble. I go looking for him at his hotel when I land, but find Hugo dead and some bald guy searching his body. A quick firefight later and I take some strange metal container off the bald bloke. There was talk of a memory solid which should have been on the pod going missing, maybe this is it?

I head for the bar here and collect my 3000 for the other mission. I do like the way all the bars and worlds in the game look so different – a lot of effort must have gone into the sets and costumes. It’s a shame that we don’t see more of them. We have a good cast and loads of real sets but just pass through them all quickly.

I take the metal thing to Joe to see if he knows how to open it. He puts me in touch with a guy called Dimitri who will do the job but only for 30,000 which I don’t have. On the bright side, I’d remembered this as being 50,000 so its cheaper than I was expecting. Time to go and earn some money.

Right on cue I get an email with a job offer before I’ve even left the bar.

The job is for a Lord Vonx who wants me to destroy a gun shipment for the mutant war. There is a certain irony in that my first mission of the game was escorting guns to the same place for Xavier. It pays 8000.

This is a difficult mission. When I get to the nav point there must be about 8 ships defending the transports and there are 3 transports taking potshots at me. The transports are worse than the fighters in this game – when I fly escort for one a monolith freighter it’s not clear who is escorting who as these things have several giant guns on them. To make things worse here, I can’t just fly in and kill them all – I have to identify which of the 3 is carrying guns and only blow that one up. This means flying near to it while all 3 are shooting at me.

I get the mission done in the end with liberal use of afterburners but it was more trouble than it was worth money wise.

I go to work flying cargo again to raise cash and get distracted once more by a pilot in trouble. Where do they all get my email address from? I fly out and save her and she wants me to meet her in the bar on Crius.

I meet her at the bar and wish I hadn’t bothered. The pink flight suit is enough and I beat a hasty retreat.

I spend a good amount of time from this point flying cargo between Anhur and Hermes. They are just 3 points apart but I can make good money by taking minerals from one and technological/building goods to the other. The tech goods especially earn a lot of money although they are expensive so I need about 40,000 spare to make the trip in the first place.

I soon trade my way up to 260,000 total wealth (including my ship). I underestimated how much I’d need for the best ship. I’ve got all the best extras on the one I’m using and that adds up to 150,000 on its own. I’m looking at another 200,000 for the best ship and that can carry more gear than the one I’m using. Its looking like around 400,000 to 450,000 for the perfect ship on that basis. I expect there will be a rock hard mission or two near the end of the game but I’m not having any real trouble yet with the ship I’ve got so I may just go for a smaller upgrade rather than trying to get the best ship before I pick the plot up again.

I’m offered another job by Xavier and go to meet him on Crius.

He wants me to guard his mining base while he is occupied out of system for 5000.

The moneys not great but since its a video mission I accept and head off. I get an email on the way telling me that he’s under attack and I need to go and rescue him which I do.

He’s grateful enough to double my pay for being saved despite the original mission being scrubbed. That gets me up to 270,000 credits.

I’ve had a lot less technical trouble with P2 today and have found myself enjoying the game more because of it. All the issues I’ve mentioned before still apply but P2 can be quite good fun for all of these when its behaving itself. It’s a game that either needs a true Dos machine or a faster PC to run Dosbox on.

I’m onto the 3rd and final CD now with the main plot FMV so I’m not all that far off the end. There seems to be a lot less video per CD than there was in WC4 and with half the number of CD’s that means you get through them quickly. It’s not a short game for all that, I’ve spent plenty of time on it this weekend. The FMV is well spread out and I never go too long without a new one but I still get to do my own thing for long enough that I’m not being continually pulled off to carry out these missions. P2 is well paced in this respect, with the plot missions and general privateering mixing together well. I’ve got enough money now that I can easily afford to get my metal thing opened up and have money left over for trading. I’m split between whether to try to get enough money for the best ship or just to stick with what I’ve got and carry on with the plot. With all the extras I’ve got, I have a feeling I could possibly complete the game in the ship I’m in even though it is one of the cheap ones so I’ll probably plough on with the plot.