The Let's Play Archive

Freespace 2

by Psion, BloodWulfe, & Gasket Basket

Part 34: Clash of the Titans II

Clash of the Titans II

Briefing Video / Mirror (9,220.1KB)
Briefing Audio / Mirror (1,606.8KB)


The GTD Bastion, loaded with Meson warheads, is now en route to the Epsilon Pegasi jump node. The Bastion will be detonated inside the node to create a subspace cataclysm that will seal off the Capella system. If the Bastion fails to achieve this objective, the Shivans will swarm into our adjacent systems.
The task force defending the Bastion has been decimated. Three ships remain: the Templar, the Malta, and the Ertanax. All are Aeolus-class cruisers. The Shivans continue to send wave after wave of fighters and bombers. Only a handful of the Bastion's original fighter complement have survived the onslaught.
Alpha, Delta, and Beta wings will fly heavy intercept. Your mission is to take out enemy bombers before they close within targeting distance. You'll be armed with the Trebuchet missile, which has an effective range of four kilometers. Gamma wing will fly the Perseus. Their role will be to engage enemy fighters. .
The majority of the fleet is fending off a massive attack at the Vega node. Thousands of civilians await evacuation and the enemy continues to flood in from Gamma Draconis. We will not get a second chance to pull this off. If we fail here, we unleash the Second Shivan War. We must get the Bastion through at any cost.

Do or die time, simple as that.
If you thought Dunkerque was bad for Shivan fighter and bomber swarms, you haven't played this mission yet. At least this time you get some Aeolus support. You'll need it.
Make sure you go to ship selection and customize every ship loadout. Prioritize (in this order) Alpha, Gamma, Beta 1, and Beta 4. No, you don't care about Beta 2 or 3. Trust me. Kaysers, Trebuchets, Tornados, Interceptors - whatever. You need a missile boat and full Trebs; it's really not even an option on this mission. I happen to LIKE being a missile boat, so this works out, but this is one where my preferences aren't so much mine as they are required by the mission.

The mission starts with Beta wing - already damaged from previously defending the Bastion - and Beta 2 checking over his damaged craft:
Beta 2: They hit me hard. Diagnostic says I've got a core breach, but containment readings are normal. Does anyone see a problem with my engines back there?
Before anyone can react:
Beta 2: I'm going down! I'm going down!

Beta 3: We lost Beta 2! Looks like I took some shrapnel. Minor damage to stabilizers. All systems green. This is a tough old boat!
Beta 3: Noooooooooo!

Great. You know it's a good sign when the mission's not even 20 seconds old and you've lost two wingmen.

Beta 1: Good thing you made it, Alpha. We're not doing so well. I thought Command forgot about us!
Alpha 2: What's your status?
Beta 1: We're hurting, sir. They've sent in every damn fighter and bomber in the Shivan armada!
Alpha 2: What class of bombers, Beta?
Beta 1: Nephilim. Seraphim. Nahemas. You name it.


As you can see, the Bastion's pointed at the node (It goes right for the node even though it looks like it's 'shooting high' here. The waypoints work, at any rate) and the three heavily damaged Aeolus cruisers arrayed like points of a triangle; one to the port, one to starboard, and one above and slightly ahead.
While you have a minute, order Alpha to protect the unguarded Aeolus cruiser.
Beta (what's left of it) is guarding the Ertenax, Delta's guarding the Malta, and Gamma's guarding the Bastion herself, so you should order Alpha to defend the Templar. You, on the other hand, should be running like a madman after every single Shivan you can to take as many out as possible so the Bastion can actually make it through - still, with the support you actually get this mission, my kill total was lower than Dunkerque, where I was pretty much doing the entire mission myself.

Beta 4: We've got ten minutes before the Bastion enters the node. The next Shivan wave should hit any second now.
And Beta 4 is right:

Here's your first sign things are going to be a little harder: Cancer wing is six Scorpion fighters, arrowing in to destroy the damaged Ertenax. The Aeolus puts up a good show for herself, smashing the Shivan formation, but taking a couple hits. As soon as the first six go, another six Scorpions from Cancer try it again.

This time around, I'm in missile range - though they get some cannon hits on the Ertenax, dropping it down into single-digit hull strength, it survives. I immediately turn around and afterburn towards the Bastion - it's a standard Shivan trick to hit you from one side of a formation and then back to the other.

Alpha 4: We held them off! We held them off!
Alpha 2: Don't smoke em yet, Alpha 4. They're just getting started.

Sure enough, just as we're finishing off Cancer, and Alpha 4 makes his unfortunately premature assessment, in comes Scorpio wing - 4 Nahema bombers.

You'll be seeing this a lot. I know, it's not very exciting, but your wingmen point out, with good reason, why you'll see a lot of tiny dots in the distance and dual Trebuchets flying their way.
Command: They're targeting the Aeolus cruisers! Once we lose that escort, the Bastion will be defenseless!
Alpha 2: Hit them at long range. Those Trebuchets will take 'em out at four klicks.
Alpha 3: If that doesn't work, go for the warheads. You've flown intercept before.

Oh and Alpha 3's point stands too. These Shivan fighters and bombers - aside from being two AI classes above what you're used to (there are 5 AI gradations and 2 special-case AIs - you usually fight guys on AI level 2. These guys are AI level 4. 5 is the highest) they also pack Helios torpedos - don't screw around with these. Shoot them down, and do it from range - a close-quarters Helios explosion is bad news. Of course, it means if you can get the bomb right as the Shivan bomber fires it, it does just as nasty things to them as it would have to you.

So right - long-range Trebuchet shots. Want to know why you'll be seeing them? Look at my objectives window on the left here.

Yes, that does mean there are thirteen Shivan fighters and bombers (in this case, 4 Nephilim bombers from Scorpio, 5 Maras from Libra, and 4 more Nephilims from Aquarius) in-system at once. This isn't unusual whatsoever.

Low hull strength maybe, but Aeolus cruisers still beat the crap out of Shivans no matter what. They're awesome like that. This poor Mara just disintigrated under the flak barrage, it was really pretty awesome with how sudden it went from alive to OH GOD FLAK and dead.

Even as I'm taking out the Nahemas from Aquarius, four Seraphims from Leo are coming in on another vector. I have to take out these bombs though, so it slows me down a bit and the Seraphims pelt my cruisers with cannon fire.

My wingmen and I get the first four from Leo, but then four more Seraphims jump in:

We're ready for them this time, but they try AGAIN - that's twelve Seraphims from this wing alone now:

Alpha 3: My grandfather served on the Bastion in the Great War. He died in Sirius, fighting the SC Tantalus.
Alpha 2: Thanks for the family history, Alpha 3. Now focus on your mission.

A note about this conversation: This mission is called Clash of the Titans II, and you'll note the briefings make specific note of the Bastion being a Great War-era destroyer.
For those of you who haven't played Freespace 1, you'll just think "huh, old destroyer, whatever," -- but for those of you who have, this chatter is a double-whammy. Not only did you serve on the Bastion for the latter half of the Freespace 1 campaign, but the first Clash of the Titans mission?
You flew with the Bastion (it was present and fighting during this mission), and ended up fighting a Demon-class destroyer. If you guessed that Demon was named Tantalus, give yourself a prize.
Moreover, the original Clash of the Titans took place two missions from the end of the FS1 campaign; the similarities are actually quite striking. Continuity! Cool, huh?
(Even better, if I may slightly foreshadow the next mission, both the next mission in FS1 and FS2 involve getting to a jump node in a set time limit (the SAME time limit, no less) -- though under radically different circumstances.)

You can see why I'm serious about protecting the Aeolus cruisers - they're invaluable at catching the Shivans who make it past you (and make no mistake, Shivans will make it past you).
We take out the last of Leo's bombers, and Command gives us an update on the Bastion.
Command: The Bastion is 4500 meters from the jump node. ETA five minutes.

Pisces sends in 3 Nephilim bombers next, as I'm in the middle of reloading my Trebuchets. "No problem," you think. Only 3 bombers?

Of course, maybe a second later, Taurus and Virgo wings come in, 4 Nahema bombers and 3 Dragon interceptors. Those Dragons are going to be ... tricky. Best bet is to keep your fighters close to the Aeolus cruisers (they already should be) so the Dragons have to walk into a flak and beam barrage to get at them.

As we're taking out Taurus, Command updates us again:
Command: The Bastion has closed to 3000 meters. We're almost there! Contact in three minutes!
Next time Command puts together a cracked-up scheme to use meson bombs (let's all remember how brutally incompetent Command's been when it comes to using Meson bombs before) they REALLY need to strap on some rocket booster packs or something to their sacrificial destroyer. Just a thought!

We keep killing them - by now the GTVA's hit their stride, as it were - with the Aeolus cruisers pulling up near the node itself and forming a more solid perimeter, the Shivans find themselves bouncing off the wall of flak and beams even harder.

Command: We have an ETA of 60 seconds.

Command: 1000 meters to go! Thirty seconds and counting!

The Bastion begins to jump into subspace, and without warning you're kicked straight into a cutscene:
GTD Bastion at the Capella-Epsilon Pegasi node / Mirror(16269KB High Quality)
Low-Quality Youtube / Backup

(In case anyone wonders, since you don't get a debrief for this mission, I wrote a breakdown of every Shivan craft that comes at you, read it here.)