With billions of defenseless Federation citizens behind you and a horde of barbarian starships in front of you, Patrol Zone O/K 2.7345-9.02 is your OK Corral. Instead of a Colt 45 Peacemaker, your weapon is the FSS Demona, perhaps the best starship in the depleted Federation fleet.
The Demona has shields, hyperspace drive, and deadly lasers which can blast a barbarian raider out of existence with a single shot. Their hits, by contrast, will just scratch her shields, which you can easily reinforce with more energy. Energy is the catch, though. Every shot and hyperspace jump consumes an appreciable amount, while life support drains the ship as steadily as a clock ticks. More than their lasers, the barbarians' maneuverability is their deadliest weapon. Get a little too eager with your rapid-fire lasers and you'll have nothing left for that pesky life support system. Take too long to destroy all the enemies in your patrol zone, and they'll slip through to lay waste to the Federation's most populous planets.
A single supply ship exists, which you can visit as often as you need. Just make sure you don't run out of gas getting there or lining up with its fuel pod. Hyperspace jumps also take a certain deftness. While dogfights within a sector range across unlimited three-dimensional space, hyperspace is flat and there'll be no jumping with the Demona's nose pointing off the galactic plane. Heading and azimuth are on the main screen, which is dominated by a view of the starry void, complete with crosshairs. When you do jump successfully, those stars disappear, then slowly expand from a thin, horizontal line as you enter the new sector. Energy, shields, and sensor readings are packed into the main screen, too. Separately, a map is available showing enemy presence in the sectors you have scanned, along with the location of that vital supply ship.
Dogfights rest on interpreting the trajectory of the barbarian raiders in order to draw them into your crosshairs and meet them there with a slightly anticipatory laser blast. Fifteen levels of difficulty are available; at higher levels an occasional second raider in the sector can make their shots a genuine hazard. Nonetheless, the primary challenge of higher difficulty is life support's rate of energy consumption. With the energy level ticking down faster, each dogfight becomes a race to target the enemy raider and return to the supply ship while there's still air in your lungs.
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This entry was contributed by me3D31337 (36822)