Alright, alright, alright ... I am through.
And you will have an enthusastic and rining endorsement form me.
Thank you, Spoon. This has been great and well worth all the anticipation.
First off the technical critique:
While Episode 1&2 might be not be flawless, it is very good and polished almost like fine marble.
You kinda have to seperate yourself from the usual Freespace flight model and learn to rely on Glide and directional thrust, but once you do you are having your fun.
I won't say more about internal balancing because I quickly converged on a favorite configuration (in the end it was VK-03N Cannon, VK-03N Energized and two HLP-1 on Ray III-W) and thus didn't play with enough options to truely pass judgement - suffice it say there is an abundance of choice and when I strayed from my comfy Ray III I found every weapon useful in a way.
The mission design is varied but also laser focussed, as already mentioned here, the story was outsourced to the Visual Novel interludes, which are a technical highlight (on the story, a bit more below).
I've have a few technical glitches:
- In the fight against the Contravention, I frequently blew Orphelia up by accident, despite my best intentions to spare her. Splash damage from some explosions I guess (I used the Nuke).
- In "Spirit Quest" I was run over by a wave of ships warping out.
- In "Search and Destroy" the multiple Resupply Drones kept tripping each other up.
- In "Broodwars" some enemy reinforcement reverted to basic AI behavior at great distance and thus did not impact the mission.
There a few quality of life issues that could be resolved better:
- As "Solo Recon" transitions via Red Alert, you can cancel the subspace jump at the end, as usual, but the transition to the next mission will continue away. It was annoying when you fail to catch the message about the bonus objective in time.
- Before "Mining Operation" there is no way to go back to Engineering and build a "shopping list" for yourself once you are through with the Visiual Novel Briefing - a quick "back to menu" step would have been nice.
- I found the descriptor "Ore Status" in the mission specific HUD element confusing. How about something like "Ore Collected"?
- I might have missed it, but is there a ammo counter for weapons in the Loadout menu?
- A HUD indicator that you are in Glide-capable ship would be nice, esspecially in a mission like "Broodwars" where I went every two minutes "right, can't glide".
There is a particular perferencial point I would like to make regarding the use of the MarkBox script. I, at times, found the number of marked ships distracting, esspecially since I was using the HLP-1 and my own targeting groups on top of that (I mean, in my own stuff the HUD now looks quite like this
on a not that busy day). It's very much my fault for sticking to my habits, but might serve as food for thought.
The story is ... there is no simple way to summarize how I see the story.
On the one hand, it is accessible and easy to follow. The plotting of both episodes is very much focused on keeping things moving than weaving an intricate yarn. It's is nice in a fashion and really a very good palete cleanser as compared to some stuff that is taking itself too serious.
That's all a compliment - just so you know.
Now I already dropped the refrence to Rosenkranz and Guldenstern Are Dead
, and now that I have seen the conclusion of Episode 2, I still think it is still a valid point to bring up - although the urgency I felt earlier is not there anymore.
Let me explain that one: One of the claims to fame Rosenkranz and Guldenstern Are Dead
has is it commentary on the Shakespear's Halmet
. The play reimagines the events of the original Shakespear tragedy through the eyes of two minor character, and by stripping out most of what is played for just for the benefit of the audience in Halmet
and so unknown to characters in the play. This turns the intricately plotted and complex series of events into something incomprehensible and seemingly random (as befitting a tragedy that leaves all its principal characters dead by the time final curtain falls).
To me it feels like something similar is afoot here, as a lot of information is only kept between the Audience, Dawn and first one than two characters - which side note, is not helped by the last two segments of expostions racing past a "show not tell"-sign. And everytime a piece of information spills over to the rest, it does so unquestioned quite a number of times (I was quite suprised that one character in particular doesn't seem to display at least a professional curiosity when her original job-title on the GA would suggests it). This now may sound like I was the story rewritten into a tale of suspicion, intriuge and shifting loyalities - I don't, I think it is fine as is, esspecially since the narrative does exist in a sphere of suspended plausiblity through its light hearted tone and "kinetic" pace (which is good). However it leaves me concered that might eventually leave everything at an impass at a future date (which would be sad; but is all hypothetical at present).
(Now please scroll back to the top and remember that all that doesn't negate what I said on the outset.)ps. You did not fanservice yourself out the cold stop that the Combat Simulations represent BTW