Friday 27 July 2007

A pile of sand is all I see and in the distance, Mos Eisley

Back to my Commando in the Star Wars Galaxies trial, and I quickly finished off all the quests I could find in the starting space station and told Han I was ready to go. Off to Mos Eisley we flew, and I emerged, blinking in the sunlight, in The Game Proper.

The first thing I was greeted by was a babble of speech bubbles filling up the screen and chat window, all spam for credit selling websites. Marvellous. I like to think they weren't just being pointless spammers, merely roleplaying to ensure that Mos Eisley spaceport really is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, but either way I took a minute to find the "ignore" command.

Just outside the spaceport, I got sent to a contact to start the Legacy Quest. As I understand it, this was introduced with the NGE, and rather than pitch you onto a planet and saying "there y'go, do whatever you want!", the Legacy Quest is a lengthy series of missions that takes you around the galaxy (though you can still wander off and do whatever you want, I don't think it's mandatory). The missions start off with standard fare; the mayor needs your help! The town is beset by (smugglers/pirates/tuskan raiders)! Please help by defeating 10 (smugglers/pirates/tuskan raiders)! Well done, [player name], you really showed those (smugglers/pirates/tuskan raiders), now defeat 10 (more nefarious smugglers/more fearsome pirates/more tuskan-y raiders)! That said, they were quite nicely implemented. Rather than running back to the questgiver after every part of the mission, they'd pop up on the comlink to direct you to the more nefarious/fearsome/tuskan-y mobs you were after. You also get given a landspeeder right off the bat, so travel isn't too onerous.

After cutting a swathe through the local villainy came a much more interesting mission, sending me to a courier company to try and trace a package. This necessitated use of several computer terminals to initially track the package, then investigate the company and its employees. The security guards didn't seem keen on my investigative journalism, so a little grenade-based persuasion was needed to get access to some of the terminals, and at a couple of points passwords were required from named employees (once again, grenade-based persuasion did the trick, backed up with laser carbine reasoning). With a couple of other players in the area, I had to wait for one of the named mobs to respawn, so I dread to think what it might have been like initially, but on a mature server there don't seem to be too many other low level players around, so hopefully mob camping won't be too much of an issue. A lovely touch, I thought, was that while rummaging through personnel and payroll records to find out who was behind the whole business, I got to transfer over the contents of the bank account of one of the named mobs. Muahaha, I love ill gotten gains. Opponents, naturally, get progressively tougher as you go along, so where the Commando abilities like grenades made tutorial missions trivially easy, they're a lifesaver when you get cornered by a bunch of security guards (maybe "lifesaver" is the wrong word for massive blasts of death, but hey).

Shortly after that, I got the choice of whether to work for the Rebels or Imperials, and went with the Rebels. Well, you have to really, I couldn't sign up with Captain Evil and his Evil Chums, even if they do get the sexy armour. That's about as far as I've got in the Legacy Quest, as I keep flying off into space to shoot more TIE fighters (and there's Heroes to watch on the BBC now, and City of Heroes Issue 10...)

The Rebel Pilot Trainer on Tatooine gave me a few missions, and then some additional training that allowed the use of more advanced equipment. I've upgraded ship a couple of times, firstly from the Space Moped you're given in the tutorial to a Z95 (an X-Wing without the X wings... more a Hyphen-Wing), and recently, after tinkering around with the auction/vendor searching system to find the right set of blueprints, to a Y-Wing; the only slight disappointment with that is it turns out a second set of guns you can add to it are for its turret, which has to be manned by a second player. Still, could be a giggle if I can find someone to ride my six (as it were). After the additional training, there only seem to be two "Duty" missions on offer: escort transports (*yawn*), or patrol for TIE fighters (now we're talking!) I haven't bothered trying the escort; the patrol is basically flying from waypoint to waypoint, being attacked by ever increasing numbers of TIE fighters as you go, with a particularly miffed Imperial trainer in a slightly tougher fighter turning up every couple of waves. This carries on until you get bored and land back on the planet, as far as I can make out. As well as gaining Space Experience Points to boost your piloting abilities, space kills net you ground XP, so I've gained a couple of Commando levels from piloting, credits (always handy), and sometimes ship components to either upgrade your ship, or flog for further profit.

All in all, it's been fun, especially the space combat. Its a funny old beast, is Star Wars Galaxies, I'll try and assemble my thoughts into a general verdict...

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