Freelancer – Part 5

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My first goal is to head for Leeds to meet up with Tobias, who is a Bretonian ship dealer who raised me as his own. This does beg the question where I got the American accent but I’ll let it pass. Getting to him is problematic with a load of bounty hunters out to get me but I struggle there in the end making a stop on the way.

Tobias, who is unmistakably voiced by John Rhys Davies, gives me some good advice which is to get another ship so I’m not recognised. He even throws some money my way and tells me to head for the ship dealer on New London which I immediately do. I’m not exactly overwhelmed with choice on ships when I get there and choose the Cavalier sticking to the fighting rather than trading route. On a side note, the architecture on all these worlds is really distinctive with this system bringing some of the best so far.

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My new ship is a clear improvement and allows for an extra gun which can never be a bad thing. After flying several missions, Juni invites me over to Cambridge where we pose as potential donors to Professor Quintaine’s research. He’s not an easy guy to fund as no one knows where he is but we do get a lead to an ex-colleague who is doing research in the middle of nowhere. At the last minute we learn that the Rheinlanders were also wanting to make a donation today…

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We quickly fly off to the planet in the middle of nowhere and when we get there some Rheinland ships come out of cloak just early enough to not surprise us. They also stay out of cloak for the entire fight which is losing a trick if you ask me and they are just like any other ship in combat. I always liked fighting Strakha which were more liberal with their use of cloak and I’m surprised not to see it used here. As it is, we soon clear the skies and search around on the planet for the dig site where we expect to find Quintaine’s colleague.

It’s hard not to notice that the plot in this game has definite overtones of other Wing Commander games with newly discovered cloaking technology being one of them. We’ve had some nameless traitors within the LSF but we ought to get someone more high profile before the end of the story if it’s going to be true to form.

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Maybe it will be our new associate although she doesn’t seem the most likely. She is a scientist who has been doing research into the long missing aliens and claims to be close to understanding their language. She is also the one who found our purple egg artefact in the first place but doesn’t seem to know any more about it than we do.

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About this time, more Rheinlanders show up and start bombing the base. We escape in the nick of time and run away to the nearest nebula.

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It may be in a nebula but this next base doesn’t prove to be any safer, which shouldn’t have come as a shock being all of 30 seconds flight away from the planet. We launch once more in the nick of time, this time staying to fight rather than running away. After another successful fracas, we decide to try to get back to Tobias in Leeds which is several systems away. On the route we find a pair of turncoat Rheinlanders who refused to fire on a civilian transport and want to defect. While we have been chasing around looking for alien egg experts, war is slowly breaking out in the system with the apparent cause being our artefact. All exits from the system are allegedly blocked which is why the ex-Rheinlanders need our help but they know of a lightly guarded little known jump point.

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When we get to the jump point, the Rheinland military have already thrown their proverbial towel over it and a battleship is in the way. Our new wingmen may not want to take out civilians but downing one of their own battleships poses no such problem. They cloak, fly to point blank range and then take it out with torpedoes leaving us with just a handful of fighters to deal with. We all make it safely to Leeds where we split up once again pursuing individual leads while I’m left to be the breadwinner.

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This means yet more combat missions which do at last start to vary slightly. The first involves taking out a station which admittedly just means shooting it a lot at close range but it’s not a fighter at least. Another mission throws some weapons platforms into the mix, which are kind of like large missile launching mines. It all seems a little basic compared to fighting some of the capships in older games I could mention but there may be bigger and better waiting for later.

Another 10,000 credits or so later, Juni sends me off to the Dublin system to track down someone she thinks may be able to help. She expects him to be on a particular battleship which I fly to and will see if I can find him in the bar next time.

I’m definitely hooked on this game at this point although I’m not sure how long that would last without the story campaign driving me on. The freelancing missions are in dire need of more variety and I’ve only had the barest signs of it coming 8 hours and counting into my playthrough. When it’s only 2 or 3 of these freelancing missions at a time, this isn’t an issue though. The mouse combat has grown on me, and there is a decent level of challenge to the gameplay now without it being too hard. The controls are so radically different from a typical space sim, it has almost changed the genre to something closer to FPS but I’m always up for something a little different as long as it’s still fun. I’m very glad that Star Citizen will have joystick controls though.

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