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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Novalogic

Bruce Campbell, excellent multiplayer game, nice graphics

Downs:  Seen it before.

System Reqs: P200, 3D card, 64 MB RAM, 4x CD ROM

Through the darkness of space comes a cry for help.  Raiders have attacked a defenseless freighter in an effort to capture the ship,and her cargo.  The small fighter escort accompanying the freighter to Star Base 1437 is quickly overwhelmed, leaving the freighter an easy target.  As its shields are about to fail, there is a burst of brilliant white light nearby.  A lone fighter has burst through a nearby jump port.  The fighter quickly engages the hostile raiders.  Caught unawares, the first few fall before they knew what hit them.  Surprise is, after all, a powerful ally.  The remaining half dozen raiders try to engage the lone fighter, but their ships are far outclassed.  They can not match its speed or its firepower.  One by one they fall, silent explosions in the nothingness of space.  After a few moments the two remaining space pirates make a run for it, escaping into the darkness.

Welcome to Tachyon: The Fringe.  It’s one of several new space simulators taking gamers back into the cold, dark, void of space.  And Tachyon contains the makings of a great space sim.  It combines a good story with good graphics and good play control.  And who better to star in a space sim than a reluctant, big-mouthed, wise-cracking character named Jake Logan.  Bruce Campbell, star of the Evil Dead flicks, would seem an obvious choice for such a role, and what do you know… but he got it too. Campbell's Logan is a funny character and his commentary and humor serve to help keep things exciting.

Jake Logan was a well-respected star pilot who was framed for a crime that he didn’t commit.  For his “crime” he is sent off to the Fringe where he uses his finely honed skills as a “hired gun”  (if you're searching for an accurate mental picture just imagine Bruce Campbell as Han Solo… minus the cool Millennium Falcon).

The game is well designed.  The available missions are set forth, you select the missions that you want to complete and in what order.  The story changes depending on the selection and outcomes of your missions, and of course this does wonders for the game's replayability.  Training missions are good for getting your bank account bulked up, but they are certainly monotonous and get to be a little old after a while.  If you have ever played a space simulator, and you took a few minutes to flip through the instruction manual to review your keyboard controls, you probably don’t need to spend much time in training.  Thankfully you don’t have to do them if you don’t want.  You can jump into the real missions anytime.

Tachyon plays like a cross between Freespace II and Wing Commander.  Like Freespace, It has beautiful graphics and the details are quite good on the fighters and capital ships but the story and cut-scenes remind me of Wing Commander.  As far as realism goes--well, it is a space sim--but Tachyon does seem to be lacking in one noticeable area.  It could just be that I'm picky, but for some reason when you drop in behind a freighter or capital ship to destroy their engines so that they can’t escape, you don’t take any damage from their engines.  You can fly up, park right in their engine wash and not take a single point of damage to your shields or hull.  

There's a wide variety of ships, too.  There are 11 ships for both teams (GalSpan and Bora).  As your skill and loot increase, so will your garage of space fighters.  You can select from any of the 11 ships and fully customize each to your particular preferences-- so long as you can afford all the cool toys.  While you're under the hood of your favorite space 'vette, be sure that you're thinking ahead about what you want your craft to do.  Nothing will kill you faster than fixing up your craft for the wrong type of mission.  So choose carefully, and fly smart.

Where Tachyon really shines is its multiplayer setup.  When you get online and in-game you will be placed on one of several teams.  Each team playing has their own starbase where you can outfit your ship with weapons, repair damage, etc.  Once your ship is ready to go you can make your way to the surrounding jump gates.  By entering these gates you will be taken to an enemy base where you and your forces can wreak havoc on those that would oppose you.  Obviously, if you're playing on a team with some organization it’s quite a bit more fun to plan out some semblance of strategy before you head off to do battle, but then again a good chaotic melee is entertaining as well.  The communication setup is also quite good.  Be sure that you learn how to use it before you start playing online.

Play control is pretty decent.  I highly recommend using a good flight stick, and  Force Feedback adds a great deal of realism to your gaming experience.  It adds a healthy dose of realism to the game when you can “feel” the ship fighting you for control when you try to take high energy turns or engage the afterburners.  Tachyon supports all of the FFP (Force Feedback Pro) options and controls; just be sure that you enable all of them in the options when you set up the game.

Tachyon: The Fringe is an excellent pick to add to your space sim/combat collection.  While replayability is good, the multi-player aspect of the game is excellent.  Be sure all of your friends get this one as well so that you can form your own space armada and defend your own private sector of space.

--Ben Moore