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Tachyon: The Fringe (Windows)

Published by
Developed by
Released
Platform
79
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Zovni (9384)
Written on  :  Mar 23, 2002
Rating  :  4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars

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Summary

A genre-defining space shooter from Novalogic??? Damn right!!

The Good

Superb gameplay.

That is what Tachyon is all about, sure it excells on other areas too, but where it really shines is in the gameplay department. Tachyon is yet another one of those "sci-fi" space simulators, where you fly starships that handle in space like F-22s but the game manages to make the whole experience feel fresh with a simple yet functional interface, furious action, and the finest mission design I have ever seen in a game of this type. Unlike other space shooters where every mission can be summed up under "fly to navpoint A and shoot the enemies, then go to B and do the same, etc." Tachyon takes a unique aproach and delivers a different and completely original experience with each mission, a feat which is accomplished via the premise of the game as well as it's design. The story casts you as a Han Solo-like mercenary pilot who gets framed for murder by the company he's working for and gets exiled to the fringe of known space where law almost has no reach, and where a different set of factions make the rules. Fighting for control of the region are the Bora and Galspan factions, or the typical "Rebel colonist" and "Corporate giant" sides. These two factions provide the main game plot, as you may join one of them and restore your reputation through one of the two possible endings as well as earn cash by completing their missions and acquiring better equipment in a light version of Privateer.

However aside from the main plot a whole set of organizations populate the fringe and they include everything from pirate groups to casino giants, research outposts and a trio of "barons" who hold a mafia-like grip on each of their sectors. All of these groups provide their own set of missions on different bases and they all contribute to make the whole gaming world a much richer environment (as well as enabling you to get extra cash and get that nice new ship you have your eye on). You can be called upon to kidnap the son of an influential baroness in a certain mission, or how about journeying to an unexplored nebula in order to find a unique mineral for an eccentric art collector??

Furthermore, the missions don't make the mistake of going the puzzle-route like in I-War, so you actually get to enjoy them!! Even the "classic" missions of the genre are revamped with ingenious twists, for instance, a typical assault mission gets a makeover when you become a part of a posse of mercenaries hired to take out a group of pirates and in the middle of the fight bets start to get made as to who can take out more enemies faster! Or how about an escort mission where you have to escort a barge carrying the roof of the Sistine Chapel and prevent it from being destroyed??!! (and yes, you get to see it from your ship!). The game even has an arena where you can compete in standard bare-bones dogfights for cash! Genius I say!

Moving on to the more technical aspects, the game boasts an impressive 3D engine, which though unable to deliver the kind of detail that say, Starlancer does, still delivers a lot of detail, cool effects, and massive capital ships and starbases, as well as a LOT of ships around at the same time making for some truly massive battles.

Sound is also top notch, with lots of cool 3D effects, and a great soundtrack. Of course, the real star in the sound department, is the voice acting. Namely that of Mr. Bruce "Da Chin" Campbell, whose contribution to the game I was prepared to see as nothing more than a marketing gimmick, but was surprised to find out it adds a lot of color to the experience. Ever since Evil Dead, Bruce has proved he is the ultimate goofy-yet-good-hearted hero, and his characterization is dead on for the role of struggling mercenary Jake Logan.

I should also mention that the gameplay is not only innovative on the single player area, Novalogic also went the extra mile in the multiplayer arena, and provided not only a typical deathmatch mode, but a completely original "Base Wars" mode, which pits teams against each other in massive space battles in order to collect resources and increase the power of their bases to the point where they have enough weapondry to obliterate the other one. Genius again!! If you are a fan of team-based action then you just can't let this one pass!!

The Bad

Well the only big gripe I have is that the Privateer touch was too light for my taste. If they had fleshed the whole mercenary/economy aspect a little more, then this would have been a certified classic. As it stands, you just don't have enough freedom to go around exploring space as you want. Which is a shame considering how rich the gameworld is.

Oh yeah, there's also the fact that the game sports a slightly annoying save-game system, which forces you to exit to the title screen if you want to make backup copies, thankfully the game has pretty fast load times so it's not too much of a hassle, but on the name of objectivity I think I should mention it.

The Bottom Line

To put it simply this game is for those who love a good game. If you want the drop-dead-gorgeous graphics, the space-opera arrogance, and the incredible production values then you should go for games like Starlancer. If you on the other hand, want to have the time of your life (and no, I am NOT talking about mindless entertainment) then welcome to Tachyon. This game is a small humble star that nonetheless shines with the force of a supernova and is one of the genre's finest titles.