Part 3: Process of EliminationPart 3: Process of Elimination
OK, new game. Last time we cleared out this sector and flew south. That didn't end well. Let's just fly straight east this time. Sorry, home sector, you're on your own for a bit.
We have to fly through a minefield to go east, but we can manage that without any great difficulty.
We're trapped in a little nook in this new sector, but we can see a new encounter type off on the other side:
Meanwhile, there is a Zylon planet here. We've fought off a raid, so let's go return the favor, shall we? We couldn't reach the last one we saw.
These look a lot like repelling raiders from Federation homeworlds...
But there are waving dudes on the ground here. These are hostages, and we're supposed to pick them all up.
Load-bearing hostages. After we rescue them the entire planet explodes. This scores us a healthy chunk of points and also gives us an extra life.
That's really all we can do over here, so let's go back to the Blue Sector and try heading West this time. We'll blast our way through some Star Pirates to get there, and then...
... well. It looks like this map isn't simply a grid, is it. At least we're in a solid position to clear away the fleets threatening the Federation world here.
I stop to refuel partway through that, though, and something interesting happens:
After I finish refueling, there are some enemy ships that I engage before returning to the scanner. I haven't seen this happen before, I don't think, and I'm not sure what causes it. No invasion was in progress, and the closest fleet was two sectors away.
Once we've finished taking out the trash, we can go check out the Corridor.
These start out like any other planet, but with these tank-like enemies called Guardians. According to the manual, they're actually neutral and will leave you alone unless you fire upon them. Unfortunately for them, they are in our way and worth points.
We can then find a docking bay, but going into it doesn't refuel us, and instead...
We enter the Corridor. Corridors are probably the most high-tension parts of the game to play, but the raw mechanics are pretty close to planetary combat, still. You're flying over the surface fighting Guardians but you are doing it much, much faster than usual.
There's one other detail, too.
There are force fields that block us, and we're supposed to pick up these keys to get through them. The keys have an annoying tendency to swerve at the last minute, and if you don't swerve in sync with it...
... it doesn't end well for your ship. This does, however, get you through the force field just fine, and once you've made it through the corridor, the whole planet explodes and you get a big whack of points.
Seriously, what is up with this Galaxy. Planets around here blow up at the slightest provocation. At least we've marked down two more planets as Definitely Not The Lost Planet Solaris.
To finish systematically checking Blue Sector, we need to go north. We head up, and...
That is a ton of dudes. Worse, we have a new symbol here, and the bad news is, it's not an enemy:
This is a wormhole. Warping here will take us somewhere entirely different in the same Quadrant.
Wormholes also block your transit, so it's cutting us off from the Federation world and the fleet threatening it. And since wormholes aren't enemies, they can't be destroyed. We're just going to turn this ship right back around.
Once we get back, it turns out enemies have started actually gotten close enough to threaten the first Federation world. We clear out the rest of that first sector and head south. There was some stuff we hadn't actually engaged down there in the previous game. Let's go check them out too.
I'm actually surprised this planet is OK; enemies move even when you aren't in the sector, but they don't seem to be consistent. These guys were apparently slacking. We clean out the immediate threats, and then move in to the final enemy type: The Cobra Fleet.
These guys are the absolute most dangerous enemies in the game:
They weave, they shoot a lot, and they aim when they do.
I manage to defeat them without dying, but I'm not exactly unscathed:
I pick up a quick refuel and repair.
That's a Raider on the horizon thereonce again, we see a post-repair half-raid. I even miss one this time but nothing bad seems to happen. The rest of the sector's threats fall without incident. Well, I get my ship destroyed once, but we got an extra one from blowing up that Zylon planet, so that doesn't really count.
Let's go west from here! Let's start filling out that map.
It would appear that going South and West takes us to the same quadrant as going North. On the other hand, that also puts us in a part of the map that isn't accessible from the just-go-north route.
I'm beginning to understand how it is Solaris became Lost in the first place.
Also, that enemy fleet is a whole lot closer to the Federation world than the last time we were in this sector. Let's get over there. First, we'll have to clear out this minefield that's in the way.
Unfortunately for us, the attack begins while we're navigating it. We have made a crucial error here, too. Once we clear out that minefield...
... it takes us back to our previous quadrant, because that was an exit sector.
We warp back, but it's too late. The Federation system has been destroyed, and not only can we no longer refuel or repair here, it has become a Red Zone:
In addition to looking hideous, there are also constant flashes of lightning and your controls are reversed. You really don't want Red Zones.
We could try to murder that task force in retaliation, but I'm not feeling incredibly confident in that so let's see where the wormhole goes.
Off into the corner on the other side. Okay then. Let's clean up this sector.
That ends about as well as you'd expect. Still, that's a decent score and if I were doing score attacks this would have counted as a pretty solid run.
VIDEOS: Here is the full playthrough, but it's over ten minutes long. That gets tedious pretty fast, so I've also created a highlight reel which shows just the new mission types and the Red Zones.
Also, at this point we've really seen all the gameplay that this game has to offer. If you're just interested in racking up points, or killing a little time and a lot of aliens, these first three posts have shown you everything you need to know.
But, our secret orders to the contrary, we aren't in this just to kill a lot of aliens.
NEXT TIME: We begin our search for Solaris in earnest.