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Archonsod

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It's yet another inadvisable genre blending game from those crazy Russians. This time, it's by Deep Shadows who's previous insane affliction was Boiling Point. So it's bound to be good.

Couple of things to note here. I'm using the Gamer's Gate version. It ships in English, but it's not the same as Wesps patch. Both basically use the English files already in the game from a presumably aborted attempt at translation by the devs. Neither is perfect. Wesp is working through the dialogues in the game and correcting the text to read much better, however the in-game cinematics lack subtitles and are still in Russian. GG's version on the other hand leaves the spotty translation as is, but adds English voiceovers to the cinematics. Another issue with GG is they've ripped out the Russian dialogue, which leaves NPC's silent during conversation. It's also unpatched, though apparently you can use the retail patch and then apply Wesp's patch to that, though I haven't tested it yet.

Primarily this is a first person shooter / RPG hybrid, but you also get to cruise around space in a manner not unlike the average space sim. So it's a bit like Mass Effect got buggered by Deus Ex while FarCry 2 looked on and laughed.



Initially it seems to be a straightforward shooter. You start off after a starship crash on some tropical planet (if the tropics were mainly blue and purple) which seems to be not entirely unlike Catachan. While we're here, a quick tour of the interface. In the top left corner is the message log where people exclaim! broken! English! at you in the mistaken belief you both give a **** and are capable of making head or tails of their nonsense. "Time presses" is pretty tame, later on you'll meet police inspectors who threaten to touch your arse if you break the law. Although I'm not sure if that's garbled translation or whether you really are getting propositioned by some kind of gay vice squad.
In the upper right is a minimap / compass thing, which is needed because the planets are pretty damn big. You can get directions to any of the missions you currently have by selecting them in the log, and for several missions this will be the only means you have of knowing what the hell you're supposed to be doing because the actual briefing will talk about soapy mushrooms or something.
I'm looking down the iron sights of my rifle here, note the depth of field blur effect around the outside. Like Stalker, this also has the slightly irritating tunnel vision effect, which means anytime you're waving your gun in front of yourself, whether looking down the sights or reloading, the rest of the world becomes a vague, blurry mess. Presumably gun fetishism is common in Russia or something. Bottom left we have the essentials. The guy doing a crap plane impersonation is your health meter. Health has both a numeric value and as the figure suggests, you can take locational damage resulting in wounded or maimed limbs. Damaged body parts will affect you in adverse ways until you can heal them, though thankfully they'll heal up to 80% on their own over time. The little blue bar on the left of the circle is stamina, which affects how far you can run. Next to it is your ammo for the currently equipped weapon. There's numerous weapons and ammunition types to play with, but I'll ***** about the combat later.

Anyway, literally three seconds after surviving your spaceship crash the game decides to set the ground rules and remind you it's Russian by wiping out your two fellow survivors. With plants.



That's the plant bastard. There's a couple of these which aren't too much of a threat, but we immediately hit a problem. Enemies are pretty much bullet sinks. See the ammo counter on the bottom? The mag holds thirty bullets. I've emptied almost half a clip into this vegetable ****er and it's not even flinching. And these are the second easiest things to kill in the game. It's not helped by the utter non-responsiveness of enemies when hit. These plants are actually one of the few enemies which react to getting hit, most of the time at least. Others you can empty entire clips into and they won't so much as blink, and then suddenly keel over dead. What's particularly galling is they went to the trouble of having bullets affect the environment; get into a fight amongst the trees and you'll see plants and branches wobble as bullets fly past, or even branches being shot off, yet hitting a living being will result in no reaction whatsoever. And the bastards seem to drink bullets.

Thankfully, the only other fight of note are some easily exploded insects. It's a short trek forwards before you get a rocket launcher, which is handy because some buggers in armour start trying to shoot you up. Again, empty three clips into them with the rifle to drop them, or a single grenade to the balls. Once you get to the end of this short section it turns out it's not actually real, you're in some kind of simulation. Cue another cutscene in which flat sounding voice actors attempt to convey some plot via the medium of surreal poetry.

You pass some kind of test, and get sent to the planet Goldyn, which is where the game proper starts. The interesting thing about Goldyn is your father who appears to have died in some bizarre spacesuit de pressurisation accident used to serve there, presumably back when it was moonlighting in another sci fi series as a hive of scum and villainy



That's the main market on Mos Eisley Goldyn. Oh, and that freaky looking thing with an eye in my hand? That's my knife. No idea what it actually is as the description in the inventory talks about the mating practices of some alien or other, I decided not to pry further. Talking of inventories



This is me pretending I'm going to buy something. All the inventory objects have this stylised icon and a description in varying degrees of broken English. You're limited by weight, though it did remind me of Deus Ex for some reason. Note the tabs to sort at the top, I suspect "scenario" really means "Quest items".

You can wander this little backwater to your hearts content. In theory I'm supposed to report to some captain or other. In practice I explore a bit, swipe everything not nailed down and pick up a fair few quests. Conversations as I said are made strange by the lack of voice and the often confusing translation, but it's a standard system of them waffling on at you and you getting to select a response from a numbered list



There's a few interesting things to see while exploring the dock before heading into the town proper, ranging from illegal immigrants who you can opt to turn in or not to a mysterious science team here to study something. The actual locations are really well done. What isn't immediately apparent from the screenshots is how much life is in the place. People wander around, insects and small animals scuttle about while weird alien beasts of burden moo in the shadows.
Anyway, before long I have enough XP to level. Levelling is essentially a matter of picking a perk:



What you can add at any time depends on other perks and your level. One really neat thing is a given perk line isn't as simple as just sticking to one group, some of the combat skills require you have skills from the survival group too. While on the subject of the RPG bits



This is the final part of the character sheet, showing your XP and how far you are off the next level, your addiction if any (one of the few RPG's where you can roleplay an alcoholic!) and over on the right is a list of factions I can piss off or make buddies with over the course of the game.



Another nice thing is there's seamless transitions between environments. I can walk off the street and into a bar without a single loading screen; furthermore, I can walk out of the town gate and off into the desert without one too.

And the Russian's quirky sense of humour is alive and well. Take this guy for example:



Ignoring the probably unintentional irony there, he's a member of a cult who don't believe they exist. In fact, they believe the whole universe is simply a videogame, and are searching for the one controlled by an entity known as The Player in order to encourage him not to complete the game as it will end their universe. Comedy and an oblique way of providing metagame info to the player in one fell swoop!

After finishing off the quests collected thus far that I am able to do, I'm finally left with no choice but to head out into the desert.



Yup, armed with nothing more than my weird knife and a crappy pistol (with infinite ammo!) I'm off to conquer the world. Or stick up posters, one of the two. Coming next episode - Some guy forces me to go get his car back, I shoot a lot of animals abd then get eaten by a swarm of midges and possibly more amusing mistranslations.
 

BattleOfValmy

Looks fun. And almost seems worth it for the hilarious translations.

Too bad I still have no money.
 
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**** it. Between the Cheap Games thread and this type of thing, Archonsod is responsible for half my unplayed PC game list. I have Blue Coins I need to use before Feb 1 and this was the only thing I really fancied on GG anyway. Looking forward to the next update.
 

Archonsod

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Starpoint Gemini is worth a look; it's a space sim style game but it's more focused on capital ship style combat rather than dogfighting so it's all about manoeuvre and bringing firing arcs to bear. For bonus points, they also swiped the plot straight from Andromeda, complete with a main character named Hunt.

I've got Wesp's patch working with the GG version so the translation should be somewhat better. Had to restart for it to take effect though so I'll need to get back to the desert which shan't take long.
 

Familyguy1

Sergeant Knight
NW
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From what I can tell from the GG screenies, it looks quite impressive.

I may have to give it a go then.
 

Swadius 2.0

Grandmaster Knight
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I always find myself a few dollars short by the end of the week every time I see one of these threads.
 

Radalan

Count
WB
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I played their earlier game "White Gold: War in Paradise" which was a horrible piece of crap.
 

Elenmmare

Looks great. I know my brother would ejaculate hard to the news of a space/FPS/RPG.

So I'll tell him over the internet.
 

Archonsod

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Rebelknight said:
Can you pilot a ship?
Yes, eventually. There's a comic moment when you find out what happened to your father and receive some things he left you, including a ship. Unfortunately it being old and obsolete there's some hard to get parts needed to repair it which are currently in the custody of some nefarious bandit types. I'll get to that eventually.

Anyway, on to my road trip into the desert.



Yup, it's that game preacher. I suspect he's onto me. I've collected a couple of quests in town which will necessitate me leaving the relative safety of the village and striking off into the bandit and beastie infested desert. Before I leave however I bump into a rather shady character in an alley offering all kinds of implants and upgrades, so I use some of my hard earned cash to buy a power mod for my pistol.
Without the requisite perk my odds on successfully applying a weapon mod is 20%, which is horribly low. Luckily, there's a few technicians, gunsmiths etc about the town who will happily perform the upgrade for me, for a price. So, packing my slightly more powerful pistol I head out into the desert.

A quick aside to deal with the mission list:


The list is divided into two. The book icon shows the key story missions, the cash icon gives you the side quests. This is the sidequest list. In the minimap you have two pointers, the green one points to the location of the story quest, while the red one points towards your currently selected sidequest.

The currently selected quest was one I got immediately after exiting the town by a guy stood next to the road. Turns out a friend of his has carjacked him and he'd quite like me to get his car back.  The car isn't too far away, I just follow the road a short distance dodging the occasional maniac driver and the odd Tago (weird dog like things, more on them in a minute). I eventually find the culprit along with the car at the side of the road



It's not hard to get it back. I could simply shoot the guy, I could try picking the lock and stealing it myself or I can see if he's willing to give it to me. While he initially refuses, when I point out the car is a piece of crap he decides I'm right and hands it over, warning me things have a habit of falling off. Erm, not sure I actually want to drive this thing now.

It's even quicker to drive back. I hand the keys over to the rightful owner and he financially compensates me for my efforts. He then proceeds to wander back into the town without even locking up the buggy. So I decide to borrow it, hey I'm a busy space pilot and I've got a lot of ground to cover



Unfortunately it's not the hottest set of wheels in the desert. At the bottom you have the vehicle health, which is at 81, the amount of ammo for the twin machine guns mounted on the front and the fuel. Fuel, as you can see, is pretty low. I can buy fuel in town to refill her, but I figure I may as well finish a couple of sidequests first. Big mistake.

I've got a couple of sidequests to do. The simplest one looks to be to recover the ship part for a guy I met in the spaceport, which should be somewhere near his crashed ship, so I'll opt to do that one. On the way I see a pack of Tago's and decide to leave the vehicle (always a mistake) to grab some meat for the hunter sidequest.



Those hunters are sat next to a hive of strange flying insects. Oops. There's various beasties in this desert to watch out for. The combat AI is pretty well done, the Tago aren't too dangerous by themselves, but being canine like hunt in packs, and will try and flank or work around to jump you in the back if you're not careful. My upgraded pistol makes short work of them. The flying buggers are more annoying though, they keep spawning from that hive and swoop down to attack. The hive is easily dealt with via a couple of grenades but the insects are more annoying. Not only are they irritating to shoot down, but they're poisonous to boot. I do manage to kill them, but they take me down to 50% health. I pop a stim to get back up to the seventy mark, which increases my addiction too. And what else do we see



Those three things are known as corpse eaters. They're big, tough and nasty. On the plus side, they're not too bothered about flanking or the like, they'll come straight at you. On the negative side, they're worse than gorilla's. I plink away at the nearest one with my pistol, which does little more than irritate it. One pounce later and I'm flattened. Thank **** for the quicksave.

I need to kill five of these for the hunter quest. Evidently, my laser pistol simply isn't going to cut the mustard. I head back to the buggy and bring the twin machine guns into play, which makes short work of two of them while the other decides to cut it's losses and run. Score one for the hunter.

And on to the crash site. On the way I'm attacked by raiders, which are a hostile faction of no-good thieves who run around here. Again, the AI is quite smart, these guys deploy a little deflector shield in front of them and duck behind it to shoot, and if you're running around in a buggy as I was they'll hurl grenades too. Unfortunately for this particular raider he's alone and the remaining ammo in the buggy cuts through his shield and his body fairly quickly. Which means I get to loot his corpse



Oh yeah, poppa's got a brand new submachine gun. Unfortunately it's not in the best of conditions, which means it will misfire frequently. Thankfully a misfire simply means it doesn't shoot. I find the crash site nearby surrounded by bandits, who aren't immediately hostile.



Just over the hill is what appears to be the leader of these bandits. He claims the ship is theirs on account of them both finding it first and having me surrounded by men with lots of guns. I agree, and ask if perhaps I could take just one part of it. He tells me he'll sell me the required part, but since I want it it must be valuable so he demands the princely sum of 300 credits. For reference, I have 3000 credits at this point. So it's a no-brainer, he stands smirking with his friends over this foreign lunatic who's just forked out 300 credits for a broken ship part, and I wander back to my buggy chuckling at this redneck hick who thinks 300 credits is in any way a large sum.

Mission done, I decide to head out towards the prison. There's a big sandworm thing in the area and a scientist would like me to deploy some beacons to study it. In addition, I have some wanted posters I'll get paid to put up near the prison. I catch a couple of glimpses of the sand worm as I drive along; why do I get the feeling I'm going to end up fighting that?

Anyway, travel to the prison goes without incident, but my buggy is out of fuel. Luckily, after sticking up the beacon and poster I find the prison guards have handily left an open buggy parked up. Hey, it's dark and I reckon I'm on a military mission so I probably outrank them or something, right?



Not much fuel in this one either, but never mind. My next stop is the caves. Now, I was warned they were inhabited by some nasty beasties, and it was right. More corpse eaters. I launch off a dune and land the buggy on top of the first, which ensures it'll simply be a corpse from now on. Guns blazing I take out another two. Simples. Except in this case, they had two more friends who aren't particularly happy about this whole thing and jump the buggy from behind. Ordinarily the wildlife in the desert either runs away or becomes roadkill, but these big bastards throw my buggy around like it's a kid's toy. Eeep. I abandon the buggy and manage to finish them off with the submachine gun, but not before they tear me a new one and leave the buggy a smoking junkpile. I shoot back another couple of stims while I assess the damage. The buggy is down to 15 health, I'm developing a serious stim addiction and have no idea how far away these caves are. I decide to cut my losses and head back to town, which is when I find out another fun thing about this game.
Once a vehicle is damaged to the point it's a smoking, burning wreck, it doesn't mysteriously remain fine while the engine burns. Oh no, health continues to decrease as you drive it around. I'm heading back to town when I notice the health has dropped to a mere five points. Four points. Three .. I bail



Shame really, she was a trusty iron horse. Not sure how I'm going to explain this one to the prison guards either. I'm also encumbered due to carrying far too much crap, but thankfully the town is in sight so it shouldn't be too hard a slog



And here is where it gets fun. I make it most of the way without incident, but a trio of raiders crest the dune just as I'm coming up on the town gate. Figuring discretion is the better part of valour I simply sprint through the gate, town security should deal with them right?
Wrong

The inhabitants duck, cower and if they're sensible run as the bandits start shooting at me in the town. The lone gate guard tries his best, but he's quickly overwhelmed. One of the townsfolk is gunned down in front of me. The defence droids manage to drop one of the raiders, but his buddy makes short work of them with an EMP grenade.
But it gives me the break I need to flank him and take him out from around the side of his shield. The third one is more cautious and remains on the hill, I exchange fire for a while, but he has a shield and I'm using the gate as cover so there's little damage to either side. He eventually retreats behind the hill.
Thankfully nobody crucial has been injured, a generic passer-by was killed, the gateguard is down and a few security bots. Or as I see it, free loot. I hobble back to the spaceport to turn in that quest, then decide to head to the only store in the town (there are plenty of street traders, but the storyline mission requires me to talk to the store owner anyway). There's a funny beggar outside

Now comes the fun part of inventory juggling. I definitely want some armour before I return to the desert, so I plump for the heaviest they have. I figure a buggy repair kit and some spare fuel will come in handy should I manage to 'acquire' a new set of wheels too. Unfortunately, this puts me well over my weight limit. So I flog most of the non-essential stuff, including the shotgun. While I'm there I get a repair kit and magazine upgrade for the rifle, this time I intend to be out till I've finished all the sidequests.
I head to the gunsmith to apply the upgrades and repair the rifle. Near the bar there's a former doctor who'll treat my injuries and addiction for free too thanks for helping her with a late rent payment.

Hopefully by the next update I'll have made it into space. Assuming I don't get lifted for grand theft auto anyway.
 

Selothi

Baron
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Sounds fairly good and zany, actually.

Compared to STALKER, how buggy is it and how generic is the setting ?
 

Archonsod

Marquis
M&BWBWF&S
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Selothi said:
Compared to STALKER, how buggy is it and how generic is the setting ?
I've yet to encounter any bugs. As I mentioned earlier the audio is sketchy, with the environmental audio sometimes cutting in and out (particularly in the desert) and some locations being completely silent, but from what I gather this is a result of GG's hack to remove the Russian sound files, so presumably wouldn't be an issue if you had the Russian version + Wesp's patch.

EDIT - And in fact the clever guys over at the DS forums already have a fix for that.

Setting wise I'll reserve judgement till I've seen more of the game. Thus far I've been stuck on a single planet. There's a whole universe out there.

Anyway, in todays update I finally get into space. Twice.



Back into the desert and I find this small village, along with a wealth of quests from the inhabitants. Like the wheels? I finally decided to buy my own buggy from a garage out in the desert. What's particularly useful with it is the boot, like Boiling Point it becomes my main means of carrying excessive loot, along with spare tires (they can be shot out, which affects handling), repair kits and extra fuel.
Finish off my sidequests and start on the main questline. Which brings me to my first excursion to space, or at least another planet. Seems my commander was expecting a package from a mining colony on one of the moons

A quick shuttle hop and I'm there. They've got a problem with Tago's (those dog like things I mentioned) which has disrupted their spice mining operation. Clearly the spice must flow, and since I'm in the area I offer to deal with it while I retrieve the package
On Goldyn Tago's aren't much of a danger. They're not particularly nasty so for the most part they're just target practice. In environments like this however

They're a nightmare. You'll be ambushed regularly and forced to fend them off when they're almost on top of you. I barely pull through by the skin of my teeth. Returning to Goldyn the commander is happy with the shipment since the "spice" is actually erm, spice, and he had a steak he wanted frying ...
Cutting a long story short eventually I have to go root out those bandits to recover my missing ship part. The bandits have made their base in a cave out in the desert

It doesn't take too long to power through, I'm getting good at combat and thanks to the various sidequests and unfortunate bandits I ran over on the way have amassed a sizeable amount of AP rounds which makes short work of those bandits. Returning to the town I've got a small drug smuggling ring to take care of and then I get my ship. Ain't she a beauty


Oh, and before I leave Goldyn, some holiday snaps of the more bizarre parts of the desert:

A floating rubrik's cube? There's a quest attached to this whereby you must defend an artist from raiders while he absorbs the beauty of the piece so he can recreate it in his paintings. They're all mad I tells ya.

No idea what this is, I bumped into it while wandering the desert. It spins rapidly, and there's a "naive gawper" NPC nearby.

A meteorite. There's an amusing conversation with one of the various religious figures about this, and a nifty sidequest.

A statue. Again, just another thing I randomly found while driving around. No idea what it's there for.

Ghosts! These are in an archaeological excavation at a ruined town, and are quite friendly. This bloke introduces himself as "ghost of the desert" and claims he deserved his fate.

Remember the worm the scientist wanted to study? Say hello. It's huge, the screen shakes whenever it's around though it hasn't attacked me. Yet.

This is someone who finished their flight school training the same time I did, called Aira. I suspect she might be important later.
Another neat thing about the game is that you don't simply hop in your ship and fly off. The ship interiors are actually detailed:



The hologram in the first picture is A-Z, the ship AI and sometime sarky commentator on world events. The second photo is my bridge. Another fun fact - should you opt to board vessels in space, you'll be needing to fight through their interiors too. Does this game kick arse or what?

Anyway, doesn't take long to find the ignition


And we're in space


Again, plenty to do up here. You can hail passing merchants and trade with them, or hijack, extort or plain old pirate them. There's numerous sectors owned by the different factions, who'll respond to you according to your reputation with them. Not to mention asteroid mining, anomaly scanning and plain old trading. In short, everything you expect from a space adventure style game and it's here as a means of getting from one planet to the next.
Anyway, my mission is to dock at a nearby station to find out what the Elder (he's a bit like the Pope) wants me to do next. A-Z suggests I try an escort mission for ****s and giggles, and since there's a passing trader I do so



The funny effect is hyperspeed, or the main means of accelerating time when travelling in system. A bunch of pirates attack, four or five fighters and a corvette, but I make short work of them. The damage modelling on the bigger ships is excellent, you can destroy individual subsystems, as well as pound part of the deck etc. I get a measly 800 credits for getting this bird where she wants to go, and I incur damage to my ship approximating 800 credits to repair. I think I might need to upgrade this ship before I can become a profitable space security force.
Anyway, job done it's off to the station




I dock and wander onto the station's deck. I pay the engineer for repairs, browse the ship upgrades trader's wares and also catch up on the local news via the trade consoles. There's also the option of buying crates of goods to trade, but since I don't know what the market's like I'll not bother.
I also meet this happy chap who turns out to be from the Democratic Union and offers a selection of personal sidearms, upgrades and similar for the young mercenary about town.



Say hi.

Interesting thing is, there's several sidequests I didn't bother with on Goldyn and still areas I didn't explore. If every planet has that amount of content this thing is going to be huge. I could of course fly back and do those, but I'm interested to see where this space adventure will take me next. Tallyho!
 

Elenmmare

Stuck in the warehouse. Apparently I've killed Bush, cleared the place of bandits and my quest log says I have the key... Only I don't. It's not in my inventory and the door isn't opening.
 

BattleOfValmy

I scrounged up some cash and bought it, yay.

Now, what's this fix for the GG version over at "DS forums"?