Alright, some thoughts... Take this all with a grain of salt; I'm a pretty blunt critic, and also not the greatest player out there.
Right from the get-go, I started noticing grammatical and tonal mistakes. Now, missing a comma or using the wrong "there" isn't the worst thing in the world, but I recommend anyone without a very
solid command of English mechanics get a proofreader. I'm emphasizing this because it was a major issue throughout every briefing, debriefing, mission, and the
tech room entry
, and also because it's relatively easy to fix. The briefings were generally serviceable at getting the gameplay across, but as a result of the aforementioned issues, they didn't contribute anything to the campaign's tone.
Right, individual missions...
The first mission felt disorganized. I think it was supposed to feel chaotic, but between the lack of dialogue and long stretches with nothing in particular going on, it fell flat. For example, the player's first objective is to escort Delta as they try to penetrate the Lucifer's shields. It's a neat idea, and should have emphasized Command's desperation regarding the Lucifer, but the player ends up shooting at some random Shivan fighters while Delta sits there going pew pew for a bit. The player's actions are too decoupled from the interesting part. Putting Delta under more direct pressure and adding status messages would have gone a long way towards making it work; the former re-couples the gameplay with Delta's survival, while the latter helps them feel connected while also adding to the chaotic feeling.
The part with the cruisers was better. I actually want to talk about the bombers gauge a bit here, since it was a nice quality of life improvement, but also because it went a ways towards rectifying the decoupling problem. Why do we care about that destroyer wot's sitting there, not actively messing with our objectives? 'Cos it's spewing bombers, of course! Unfortunately, the cruisers fell victim to the same lack-of-messaging issue, which made it difficult to prioritize targets in the heat of battle; at the same time, however, the Shivan attack never felt organized enough to make me really care. The briefing emphasized how I'd have to make tactical decisions, but in the actual battle, it felt like repetitive, mindless bomber-killing. Also, I'm pretty sure that a Hemsut was referred to as a cruiser, which threw me off for a bit.
The part with the escape pods was probably the mission's strong point. Defending a bunch of small ships while bombers and cruisers duke it out is pretty challenging, for obvious reasons, especially with my wings messed up by the previous cruiser action. The gimmick with the beacon was cool, but I'm pretty sure the correct solution is always "fly away from the destroyer a bit".
The actual Legion's demise was something of a let-down. It just happened too quickly, and the hulk afterword looked weirdly intact. Once again, more dialogue would have saved the day. (In fairness, my comm system was in the low 20s here, so it's possible that I missed a message.) My playthrough ended with me timeskipping while a single Osiris solo'd a disabled Demon for several minutes, which is probably worth having some sort of contingency for. (What if a player disabled the Demon only to find all their bombers down? Would the mission continue indefinitely?)
Mission 2 is where the campaign redeems itself. The gameplay was pretty standard stuff, and honestly, that's a good thing. After the disorganization of the first mission, a simple escort mission was welcome. The story elements, however, were very well-done. The implications for ST:R and Blue Planet are both neat, Iota 1 became an intriguing character out of nowhere, I really want to know what the deal with the phasing node is, etc., etc. I do want to point out, though, that if the player follows Intelligence 3 too closely, and turns back immediately when ordered, they'll miss the phasing node message. That's pretty suboptimal.
I don't want to sound like too much of a broken record, but mission 2 needs more dialogue. In particular, Theta 1's message about the Idun jamming sensors should really have been followed up on. Also, "some kind/sort of" is an extraordinarily weak phrase; repeating it in so many messages is a tonal disaster. The gimmick where the jamming doesn't shut off properly had me rolling my eyes - yes, I can understand why intel spooks would have that ability, but implementing it so badly strains plausibility to the breaking point. That said, the jamming does do a lot for the mission's intrigue, so I can see where that's coming from.
Well, that's my review, such as it is. Try not to take it too harshly - there's definitely
potential, and I absolutely admire
the story, especially in the second mission. Oh, and just out of curiosity,
is there any deeper significance to the HOL freighters
EDIT: As for the support ship in mission 2... You can detect a support ship dying with when-argument, if that helps.
( any-of "Support 1" "Support 2" "Support 3" "Support 4" "Support 5" )
( is-destroyed-delay "<argument>" 0 )
( invalidate-argument "<argument>" )
( set-support-ship <appropriate arguments to disable further support ships> )
( send-message "#Command" "support dead oh noes" )