Saturday, June 27, 2020

Flames of Freedom: Agoraphobia

With E.S.S a bust and Galactic Empire continuing to confound me, its time to take another look at Midwinter. Flames of Freedom is the sequel, but you wouldn't know that by looking at the title. At first glance, this is less a strategy game and more a straight combat game. The introduction tells me that Midwinter found a kindred spirit in the nearby island of Verde and formed The Atlantic Federation. Midwinter disappeared beneath the sea and Verde changed their name into Agora. There are more islands, controlled by the Saharan Empire. The islands provide slaves, and the Empire is looking to expand its territory. My job, as the top agent of Cobra, AF's spy agency, is to incite revolt among the people of the other islands. They're not to happy to be part of the Empire. Naturally the Empire can't know I'm doing this, as that means they'll attack sooner, rather than later.
Dunno why they'd kill off the island from the last game, but what do I know?
As I start up the game, I am assaulted by screen after screen of gorgeous pixel art. Looks like Alone in the Dark. Ah, what a shame it isn't. Right, now unlike the original, I make my own character, and if I'm not mistaken, this is the first time I've done such a thing in a game I've played here. A surprisingly customizable character. A lot of facial features. Changing the head without changing the features results in someone who looks like they were putting on blackface, but forgot to finish the task.
Sunglasses and mustaches, how very '70s
I make someone that doesn't look like complete crap. It is scarily easy to make someone look weird with just one wrong piece. It seems like the pieces are divided into white pieces and black pieces, if you have a black piece on a white figure, it looks like they're coal miners, vice versa, the half-blackface thing. Now, its time to train. The game offers practice modes of every part of the game. And there's like six modes. This is quite impressive. Strategy, escape, land, sea, air, amphibious and firefight. The game's manual tells me that I can't just coast like in the first game. Not in words, but in the implication of the end-game...and the mid-game. Hopefully the fighting improves to compensate.
Strategy is just a theoretical look at what your actions will accomplish. The gist of it is go after the strongholds, which are dark green. Its really just a planner for the main game, unless they were clever and had it not give you the actual result. After all, such simulations are the first thing to go out the window when reality arrives.
Prison. It appears that the in-game characters use the customization system. Interesting. I quickly discover that my character can't beat his way out, but can romance his way out. Okay, workable. I could try bribing, but I don't plan on wasting money on such rabble.
Land, wonder how...oh...good. Six modes. A jeep sounds good...and as soon as the game starts up every goes south fast. The opening midi was pretty sweet, now it is a horrible high-pitch whine I believe is engine noise. The driving controls don't make much sense and my camera angle seems to not follow my vehicle at all. With a curious speed that didn't seem to make much sense. Checking the manual, and sneaking past the part where they tell me what I need to do to capture an island, I eventually make it to the controls section. Its like the base game at first. Speed up/down and turning are controlled with the obvious mouse axis, but looking up and down? Left and right mouse buttons. Esc is get out of vehicle, space is shoot, and F1 is the actions menu. I didn't find those last keys in the manual, it only tells you movement. The reference card lets me know all the important stuff, weapon selection, that every freaking F key up to F10 is used.
So, continuing, the shrieking sound continues, but if you go in and out of the 3D mode, it seems to get better...although I'm pretty sure now my speaker is just putting out a pitch my ears can't hear. Changing sound to pc speaker solves this, although now I have to contend with a bad rendition of the theme. I still don't understand driving yet. Changing weapons doesn't seem to work. However, as I wander around, I come across another person. You'd think there'd be something to explain this kind of stuff, but oh well. Rowana agrees to help me and gives me the blimp in her pocket. No joke, she has a blimp in her pocket. This is going to be a bit weird, but oh, well.
Air is like A-10 Tank Killer, the original version, if the controls were difficult to operate. I'm pretty sure there's some difference between modern mice speed and DOS mice speed. Plus after a certain height you stop seeing the ground. Which makes things a bit more terrifying, to say the least. I'm sure I'm going to have as much fun as I did with the original flying vehicles. I say that, and as soon as I start operating the helicopter, the pain disappears. There's also the jetpack, which is even more terrifying.
Water...well, I don't seem to be able to properly do water. When I do the speedboat, the logical starting choice, it automatically crashes. When I get out, I end up swimming...on land. With all the twisting turns you'd expect. When I swim on the ocean proper...well, that's just terrible and I doubt I'd be able to get far. I feel like this is a pretty good way to get someone seasick...or confront their fears about being seasick. I question the usefulness of sea vehicles at this point, but I'm sure I'll come around later.
The amphibious vehicles are fine. As fine as they can be considering the hours of terror that are about to arrive.
Fighting. As mentioned previously, I can't just scoop up some explosives and drive over to the Saharan Empire's HQ. I have to fight. When the fighting starts, the game makes it clear this isn't going to be fun. It might be, if the game didn't stick me in a flying sub and force me to use that. Did nobody think during testing that a new player might want to drive a tank, walk around, or heaven forbid, use a vehicle that I can probably find? I feel like this game's going to have a bit of quality issues. That's not getting into minor things, like how everything feels like vaguely European islands, with trains, buses, and green grass.

This Session: 2 hours

No comments:

Post a Comment