Tachyon: The FringeTachyon: The Fringe...I remember spending a heap of my time playing this wonderful game. Though it is classified as a space combat game, I would prefer to call it a mix between an RPG and an FPS. I'll start by saying one thing: I despise RPG games. Therefore, this game really surpassed expectations, and once again, I found myself enjoying a game made back in 2000 more than other games from today. So let's delve deep in to the insanity that is my mind to find out why!
First off, one of the most important aspects of any game, as far as I'm concerned: Storyline. Tachyon tells the story of Jake Logan, a pilot-for-hire who works for the corporations. Several missions in to the game, a turn of events occurs, and you are eventually faced with two options: Side with the Bora, a freedom fighter group known by some as terrorists, or the corporations. Tachyon's storyline is rather linear. Were it not for the choice to side with a certain faction, it would be completely linear. The game progresses with the player choosing jobs from a job board. Many jobs exist to push the story along, but many others exist as side missions that can be completely optional. It's amazing to think that by creating a fork in the road, so to speak, and ending up with two different linear storylines, the gameplay becomes more in-depth, and it has the perfect amount of repetitiveness that keeps you playing, without boring you.
Gameplay is another major plus in this game. As mentioned at the beginning, this is both FPS and RPG. the FPS element is evident. You pilot the ship with the keyboard, mouse, or joystick, and blow stuff up. Oversimplified explanation of course, but it needs no further detail. The RPG element is what I find interesting. Throughout the game, you have can pilot 11 different ships. Initially, you are restricted to two types of ships, which then becomes one type, but after you choose which faction to side with, each side will offer you 5 unique ships each, specialising in their own different areas. Of course, it doesnt stop there. Each ship has a different number of weapon and hardware loadouts, so the player uses the money he or she earns from missions to customise these loadouts. lasers, missiles, rockets, EMP devices and hardware that enhances functionality and performance, all make for a heavily customisable ship, offering the player complete freedom to choose how to take on each mission.
Gameplay doesn't stop there, either. The controls are straightforward, allowing the player to fly freely in 3D, and roll the ship as necessary, along with a rather handy control, known as slide, which maintains your velocity, but allows you to turn your ship and fire sideways, or behind you. I found this to be a major point, as it allowed the game to stay true to something in space physics that seems to be nonexistent in almost every single other space based game. The weapons systems have in game settings that allow the player to fire different weapons simultaneously. The recharge rate of weapon energy, afterburner energy, and shield energy can be customised in game as well, as the engine power (and therefore, top speed) is used to power those systems. Perhaps one of the most important factors is the availability of an autopilot. In areas where no hostile ships are detected, you can activate the autopilot to travel across sections of space, so that you dont have to fly manually, or even wait to get to your destination. I find this to be a major plus, because it removes what would otherwise be a major element to the game that would create boredom, and quickly lose the player's interest.
Sound effects, music, and voice acting are always important to creating a believable game, or one with a good atmosphere. For such an old game, all three of these elements were exceptional. The voice acting didn't feel forced, and I especially liked the static effect on radio transmissions. The music always felt appropriate for a battle situation, or one of tension or mystery, but it was not overpowering to the point where you focus too much on the music, rather than the game.
A minor point was the light touch of humor from your chacter, which is evident through what he says to himself and to others, and again, I feel it was executed quite well, as it wasn't over the top with ridiculous catch phrases or witty comebacks. Perhaps the most hilarious responses come from him talking directly to you if you input a cheat code.
Moving on to the multiplayer, sadly, there are no more online games, but it is still possible to host a LAN game. A few modes are available, and it is essentially similar to single player styles of games, but...well, with other human players. Victory can come from destroying your opponents, or by destroying their starbases with multiple attack runs on them. As with single player, ships, weapons, and equipment are all customisable, but to obtain them, you need to earn the money by destroying other ships, or by harvesting crystals in certain areas. The latter of course is a much slower method.
All in all, this is a great game, and I really can't think of any drawbacks to it. I could say that the graphics are lacking, but come on, for a game made in 2000, which can run on even the worst performing computers, I think it would be a silly point to bring up. If you ever find this game somewhere for a few bucks, buy it. You won't regret it.