I think I noticed one thing.
You can try to run FSO without buying it using my idea:
First of all ,download standalone mod from this thread:http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php/topic,48480.0.html
It's old ,most likely dead TC ,but the important thing is it have all the
interface needed to run (though only in 1024-712 resolution).
Weapons ,Ships and tables you can get from some old retail mod ,here:http://www.sectorgame.com/f2s/
you can find a lot of them (there was no tbms in retail ,so the only way to add
new ships was modifying main table).
Sound table can be extracted from Terran-Vasudan War Project ,it's most difficult part because I'm unsure if there are only slightly modified Sound tables ,you can try with TVWP one ,but I'm unsure about it.
You can get weapon sounds from InfR1 ,some may be missing from Apocalypse III ,but again ,they are not the same sounds as in retail ,and I don't know if they are original sound available.
So put Mediavps into Apocalypse III folder and then ,put tables into data/tables directory in mediavps folder.
Put sounds into data/sounds and then try to run the game.
I don't know if this solution will work ,and if it will have no bugs ,but I'm certain about few things:
All models are in mediavps.
All needed effects are either in mediavps or in Apocalypse.
All interface is in Apocalypse
FS Port changes so many things that it should run under those condintions.
You will need to extract some vps if you want to use my proposition and this surely requires lot of work.
In my opinion it's better than paying for it ,but it's my opinion and I have some modding experience.
I have all that is needed ,so I will test it on my computer ,trying to run FSO without any files from retail can be intresting experience. Now hopefully somebody will correct me if I messed something up.