Monday, June 13, 2011

Tachyon: the Fringe

Most folks probably don't remember the game. It was notable mostly for having Bruce Campbell voicing the main character.

No, I didn't just finish it -- I'm not that far behind the curve. Bought the game new (wow. eleven years ago according to the copyright date on the disc case), and went Galspan on the first playthrough. Once that was finished, I attempted to play through the Bora side; but the game developed some weird issue that caused it to crash whenever I entered the Ripstar region... which made the campaign uncompletable.

Plagued by some rather severe boredom this last week, I reinstalled it to try giving the heretofore unseen campaign a go. It worked for once, and I finished it up last night.

I believe my impression of the Bora campaign can be summed up in two words:

That's it?!

Now, when you finish the Galspan side it's all neatly tied up. You've made yourself so valuable to the corporation that they turn the whole of their legal department to your aid, and soundly overturn the main character's exile from Sol; allowing him to go home when he wants. Which of course he doesn't for more than a visit in deference to the obscene amount of money they're throwing at him to stay.

Bora ending? "I could have stayed on, but I needed a vacation with a cute blonde... *credits roll*".

Gods, it's worse than Fallout 3...

We won't even talk about what a clusterfuck the final Bora mission is. In the end, it was just me against the Hephaestus platform -- my wingman and every friendly fighter in the area had gotten themselves killed off. I had taken out the enemy fighters; and destroyed the platform's weapons powerplant... so it basically consisted of me sitting next to the platform for fifteen minutes, trying to destroy it with a heavy mining laser. Took forever.

On the whole, my impression from 2000 remains unchanged: an otherwise unremarkable space sim made enjoyable mostly because of the personality and acting talents of the good Mr. Campbell.

Speaking of, we haven't had a good space sim lately, have we? What was the last? The last one I played was Freelancer, I think. I miss those. Where is the modern Descent: Freespace? The Wing Commander?

They're not really making much these days other than MODERN COMBAT SO REAL YOU'LL GET PTSD!, survival horror, and fantasy MMOs.


  1. sadly, space sims didn't sell well, so there was no interest in making any more of them. I'd kill for another Wing Commander: Privateer (but not the second one, it was trash) or more importantly another Descent game - I rocked at that :D

  2. The only thing I recognized out of all that was Wing Commander and Descent. Not trying to be a wise-ass there; I actually never even played any of the Wing Commander games but seem to recall Mark Hamill's picture on it. But this is likely due to the fact that in those days owning my own PC felt about as realistic a goal as owning my own space shuttle. I had a Playstation though, and thus owned every Doom and Descent title for it; at both of those I too rocked. Hearing Type O Negative in a shooter was so cool.

    Being a fan of shooty games, I miss Descent. I should see if I can find the PC versions...

  3. Pah. Kids today.

    What happened to wanting the games that let you vicariously experience exploring the vastness of space.

    But no. Now it's all zombies and elves and tagging tangos or whatever the buzzphrase of the week is.

    Philistine dogs, I say!

  4. @Herculine:

    The one with Mark Hamill would be Wing Commander: Prophesy. The last one, as I recall. It was great.

    Not only had a good soundtrack, but all the movies and comms were full motion video. It was more like an interactive movie than a game.

    Descent I never got into. The Freespace games were good, but the original Descents I didn't much care for. I'm not really a fan of flying through mining tunnels.

  5. I recently bought Descent 1+2, Freespace 2 and Wing Commander: Privateer (missing the expansion though) from and really need to get off my arse and set them up. Especially since the Descents and Freespace 2 have source ports and graphics updates :)

    First space sim I had was the original Elite which I played for ages (Eek, now I'm dating myself >_< ). There's an open source remake called Oolite that I should look into too.

    BTW, if you like older games be wary of GoG, you'll buy far too many :)

  6. There are Descent sourceports?

    Gotta have it!

    Initiating Google search...

  7. There's actually two, DXX-Rebirth and D2X-XL. I haven't tried them yet but from what I've read, Rebirth sticks close to the original and D2X-XL adds lots of new stuff.

    I really need to try them both :P

  8. Oh, I forgot to add, GoGs forums tend to have stickies with links to sourceports, mods and unofficial patches for their games, though the versions they sell don't come with them as standard.

    Bah humbug at blogspot not allowing comment editing :P

  9. Any Ego soft game

  10. Hey Herculine, has anyone ever told you that if you ever decide to use your powers for good, you could knock out cold fusion in about a week and a half?

    Not that I have much room to talk, mind you. If I was willing to put the effort into academia that I have my mental ballistic database I could've aced the SAT...

  11. Amusingly, only yesterday produced this relevant masterpiece:

    "We hope you like looking down gunsights" indeed...

  12. Don't be silly. I'm FAR too selfish to use my powers for good...

    ...but at least I don't fit into the evil category either...

    ...nope, just the ME category...

  13. Having played Descent again for a bit I can suggest one reason why space sims are no longer popular; controlling a 6dof spacecraft with keyboard+mouse or game controller is really, really annoying.

    It's got me looking into getting a pair of 3-axis analogue joysticks or a 6dof space controller.

  14. I tend to stay away from the space sims. I discovered playing the Playstation Battlestar Galactica game that I absolutely suck as a pilot, lol.

    @Herculine: Mostly Evil?

  15. @Herculine: You are quasi-evil. The diet-coke of evil. Now where did I leave my sharks with frickin' laser beams on their heads...

    @Kirtai: You've just learned one of the greatest secrets of gaming. Game. Pads. Suck. Get yourself a proper joystick. It really does make all the difference. I'm using an old Saitek Cyborg 3D (purchased around 2001). I really need to replace it -- it's got an annoying dead zone in the center, and over the years I've worn most of the paint off the main stick body. That Z axis is so handy, though. I miss my old Thrustmaster Flight Control System.

  16. I actually had a Cyborg 3D but lost it in a move many, many years ago (unless it's sitting in a storage box somewhere, I should have a look for it).

    I do however, have a digital joystick for the Amiga games I used to play, a Speedlink Competition Pro in classic black and red. Great for emulators :)

    But yeah, I really need to get an analogue stick, gamepads do suck something fierce and I've never been fond of them (the only one I ever liked was for the N64)

  17. Having started out in the console realm, when I first started PC-gaming I dreaded the mouse+keyboard, but eventually I adapted and realized they are much more accurate and efficient than most gamepads. I have a Logitech knockoff of a PlayStation controller that I only use for games that I only ever knew in their console incarnations (like when I get the irrational urge to play Super Metroid or Super Mario World on the emulator) but it's sounding like when I do get around to looking up Descent I'm going to need to dust it off. I had forgotten exactly how many buttons it requires until you all just reminded me.

    As for my evilness, it is impossible to measure because it is a unique evilness. It is the evilness of the Troll Dolls with the frizzy hair. It is the evilness of the Sailor Moon theme song that gets stuck in your head. It is the evilness of tiny Japanese schoolgirls with giant mallets. It is the evilness of-- what's that? I have to go now; Dragon Ball Z is on...

  18. I have a Logitech Wingman gamepad around someplace...

    Bought it for playing SNES and Genesis ROMs. Not really a fan, but it's better than the stopgap keyboard implementation most emulators use.

    Plus, since I originally played the games in question on their respective consoles, I have a bit of muscle memory left over for them with a pad.

    Tried playing Halo on an Xbox once, though. I lack the eloquence to convey the level of suck involved in that endeavor.

  19. Well, if you ask me, Halo on the XBox sucked anyway, mostly due to the fact that unless you're a crack shot you have to play the thing like all day before you can get to a point where you can save your game and actually turn the machine off rather than those useless checkpoints that don't count if the power is turned off.

    Now, on the PC using the mouse+keyboard and actually being able to save my progress, that was easy.

  20. Checkpoints and savepoints, there are no words to describe my loathing of them...