As a note of explanation for this topic, I've been going back and re-playing the Port over the past week or so, and last night I finished up with Silent Threat. As I was working through it, and in light of the fact that it will eventually receive one hell of an upgrade, I came up with a few random thoughts, observations, and general comments. I don't know if anyone will have any interest in reading these, but I figure they might spur a bit of discussion.
--First of all, I completely agree that the campaign desperately needs some major work. There are only two or three missions that expound upon any sort of real plot, whether in the briefings or in-mission; the rest are pretty much generic affairs that could fit into almost any campaign without much trouble. This isn't to say that the missions are inherently bad, but in a 12-mission campaign, there definitely isn't room for this many. (As a side note, I've always felt that FS1 had a few more missions of this nature than FS2 did, but neither holds a candle to ST.)
--Even when ST did bring the plot in, it was done rather half-heartedly. You don't find out anything about the one Einstein escape pod that was captured by the illustrious "GTD" (or, for that matter, about the Einstein itself) until much later. After Admiral Scott goes down with the Krios, you hear a touching speech by the captain of the Soyukaze about his loyalty and devotion, which is all well and good...except for the fact that Admiral Scott had done little to nothing to endear himself to you.
It's just as bad during the final three missions, too; when you finally get to go back to Ross128, where the Shivans first invaded, all you wind up doing is cleaning up a Shivan/GTI skirmish and taking out a Shivan convoy.
--Maybe it's because of the balance differences between FS1 and FS2, but I found the mission where you escort the Fenris and two Poseidons into the middle of an asteroid field to be somewhat more difficult than I had remembered. The fighters/bombers that jump in weren't really doing anything at all, but those rocks were really slamming on them, particularly the Fenris. In fact, after I successfully completed the mission, the Fenris wound up getting taken out by a random asteroid passing through the "safe zone." As a result, the debriefing wound up playing both the "successful" and "somewhat successful" text strings. What I found most amusing was the recommendation to "let my wingmates handle the asteroids and watch out for bombers," a course of action that would have swiftly killed all three ships.
--Speaking of differences in balance, perhaps those were the cause, perhaps it was because of tweaks you guys may or may not have made, or perhaps it was because I've just gotten better over the years, but I actually found Secrets Revealed to be surprisingly easy, and even...dare I say it...fun
. I elected to fly an Ursa fully loaded with Harbingers, so maybe that was the difference-maker, but I soon found the Jotunheim installation going up in flames with the majority of my wingmen still alive. (As a side note, the decision to load out Beta's Ursas with nothing more powerful than Tsunamis is typical Command.) And then, when we moved on to the Hades, with the help of the two six-ship Ursa wings that jump in...well, it was nothing short of a pummeling. The bombers actually managed to stay alive the whole time, and I was able to snipe Lokis like there was no tomorrow with that sidearm Prometheus setup. I think the whole mission took only ten minutes or so, and one of those was spent chasing down two escape pods that were sitting still several kilometers away after the Hades went up.
(As a side note, this was the first time I can remember that the Orff managed to survive throughout the course of the mission, mainly because my wingmen surprisingly didn't suck. I was feeling all good about saving the old girl as the Hades went up...and then a chunk of debris twice the size of the Orff slammed into it and took it out instantly. I guess some things are just meant to be.
--The ST edition of Exodus still gets my vote as the most fatally flawed mission I've ever played in either game, both canon and fan-made. I don't exactly know the details of the bug that screws with your loadout, but when you wind up in a Herc with Banshees, 24 Hornets, and a load of Phoenix Vs, and half of your wingmen are dead before the mission starts, there's something seriously wrong.
If I were in a Valkyrie, or even a Ulysses, I think I'd stand a chance of saving at least a few of the pods, but there was no chance at all in that get-up. Needless to say, a bit of ~+SHIFT+I was a flat-out necessity to get through it. (As a side note, Leviathans don't fare too well against that spiffy SSLBeam.
--In terms of employing strategy in missions, The Return to Ross 128 is one of the better examples I've seen. Sure, you can jump right into the fight and face off against a bunch of Terran and Shivan fighters, two Leviathans, and a Lilith, all while you're flying two wings of Ulysses, but if you think for a second, you quickly realize that cooling your heels for a little while is the best option. Sit back, enjoy the show, and then go in to mop up a few damaged Shivan fighters and a Lilith. Sounds good to me.
--Last but not least, I think the mission where you have to escort a series of Chronos freighters as they pick up weapons prototypes, while simultaneously fending off Shivan and pirate attacks, is definitely my personal favorite of the campaign. The dynamic of having to scan the incoming freighters to determine which are pirates in disguise (or, at the very least, to scan the ones you remember as being pirates) adds an interesting twist to things. Even this mission wasn't without its quirks, though; during the second wave of freighters, both pirates wound up in a bit of a "tug-of-war" with the GTA ships. Both freighters wound up going for each cargo container at the same time, leading to both of them doing nothing but grinding against each other. Makes for an easy mop-up job, though.
I think that just about does it. I really can't wait to see what you guys come up with for this campaign's rebirth; while I don't know that I'm legally able to extend to you the sacrosanct level of "canon," I'll definitely consider your rendition as the "true" Silent Threat.