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The Continuing Adventures of Team Rater
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Author:LuckyNewbie:P
IP:67.176.1XXXX
Date: 08/02/04 04:08
Game Type: Other
Labels:Image Heavy(1), Famous Reporter(1), Rare game(1)
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Report Rating: 8.6, # of Ratings: 5, Max: 9, Min: 8
Lifetime Rating for LuckyNewbie:P: 8.4737

Note: This game is a Freelancer report, and best viewed at 1024x768 resolution. Freelancer, for those who haven't read |]agomar's earlier reports, is best described as a multiplayer Escape Velocity: Nova game, but in 3d and without storylines. I will explain relevant game concepts as they come up. Oh, and if you want to play the game, we were on the server "ICM Freelancer." The first part of this report is a filler between Dag's report and mine. Thank you, that is all.

Greetings and welcome to the next installment of 'Team Raters' inter-reporter love triangle with continuity. Our space faring trio was last seen in combat throughout the Liberty Empire, fighting against all figures of law and order, hoping to curry favor with the criminal underworld.

But you probably didn't know that much yet, because our love affair has yet to span more than two reports. Therefore, in an effort to devote too many cooks to this broth, Dagomar will be briefing you in from where Team Rater last left off: somewhat alive, somewhat shaken, and far from home in Houston. We had just survived an Outcast ambush in the tradelanes, and called it a night.

#

Hello, hello, it's |]agomar here intercutting a Lucky br for the sole purpose of introducing you to the action.

Let me start by explaining a couple key facts.

Thankfully, my section will contain only a barebones description of what must have been at least six hours worth of game time. That's because Freelancer, while tremendously enjoyable at times, also contains long lapses in servers which contain fewer than five people most of the time. Although you can obtain some of the best ships in the game in a couple hours if you know what you're doing, in this case all three of us were quite clueless about the whole multiplayer way of doing things. That's why, frankly, Lucky got unlucky. While he's covering some fun material, it pales in comparison to the stuff I get to write about in my next report, in which we finally choose a server involving dozens of people.

And that's about as close to a plug or explanation I'm get to deliver. I earned it, dammitall, by not having my name in the author section!

Let's get on with it, already.

Alright, well, when we left off I'd bought myself a freighter, Lucky and Mehdi had purchased new fighters and we were all set to make some decent money. The goal for the next few hours was simple: I'd mindlessly haul about eighty tons worth of goods from one base to the next, until I'd finally procurred enough credits to get myself - prepare yourself for this - a better freighter! Meanwhile, my comrades in arms would get a little financial kick in the pants courtesy of yours truly, and we'd have a fleet to reckon with.

I should probably remind you of the fact that it's possible to get the best ship in the game in under three hours. There. Had to throw that in again. It's also rather funny that a better fighter than Dan and Mehdi's StarTracker is available on any Liberty system battleship for a fraction of the cost they paid!

In any case, our plan was to head over to Brettonia to make our fortune pirating from hapless transports. That's the thing in Freelancer: raiding tradelanes is probably more profitable and certainly quicker than dragging commodities over the countless lightyears between star systems. All you have to do is hit one of the titanic transports ( usually carrying several thousand tons of lucrative goods ) lumbering through space in their cargo holds - large pods strapped on to the metallic "ribs" jutting out from their sides. I'm not sure why we went to Brettonia to do it - doesn't make much sense really. Since we were all pretty much clueless at the time I assume it was to buy some better ships, though I know now that there's a great freighter at a hidden base not far from New York ( which is where we were at the time ). Not to mention the fact that Brettonian ships can't hold a candle to the Kusari ( or Japanese ) ships found further North, which in turn can't compare to the Rheinland ( German ) and especially Pirate vessels found deep into the South.

Nevertheless, we make it to Brettonia with few interruptions. By few I mean about a dozen, a couple of which almost claim my life. We also lose Mehdi for a little while at Magellan - a rough system close to NY - but we manage to get him back with a couple bumps and bruises. Along the way, Dan happens across a sprawling bounty hunter outpost and finds a fighter that's a whole lot better at, well, fighting than his current hunk of scrap metal. You'll see its vertical design - somewhat reminiscent of that bounty hunter ship in Star Wars - a whole lot more in my report, rest assured.

Manchestor is the next system on the long road to New London, and it's the first you can officially call Brettonian. It's also where we get horribly jumped, on a scale far larger than what you've read about before. During a brief lull Mehdi expresses his relief at having defeated the pesky pirates whirling all around us. Sadly, he's badly mistaken, as I quickly let him know.

A few mintues later his ship was blown to a thousand bits and pieces, and he was sitting pretty back in the New York system. When you die in multiplayer you automatically respawn at your last docking point, losing any cargo or undocked equipment you had onboard ( by "undocked" I mean that you can pick up powerful bits of equipment by destroying fighters, raiding dormant wrecks scattered about dangerous systems, or pirating hapless pubbies. That equipment stays in your cargo hold until you dock and equip, or "dock" it to your vessel's hardpoints ).

Dan and I were now alone out in the boonies, fighting more pirates than we knew how to deal with. We make it through at last, thanks to our Iranian midget friend ( yeah, that's mehdi ) and finally make it to New London. While there I find a great, big, hulking freighter in the shipyard - the Clysdale, nicknamed the "Beast" by the denizans of Brettonia. It's bulbous, ugly, and quite fragile when compared to the type of craft we'd have later on, but it's worth a shot. I load it up with some half-decent weaponry and lift off, feeling incredibly badass.

Now it's time to head on back to New York. Mehdi's been hot on the case of us becoming pirates, and has devised a rough plan. We're going to kill as many police as we possibly can, and, in so doing, become more friendly with the rogues, outcasts, and the dozen or so other illegal organizations in Freelancer. When all that's done we're going to head on over to the closest pirate base - in this case, Rochestor or Buffalo stations in the badlands of the New York system - and take a couple missions. Then, at last, we'll be cool enough to be called "pirates" in full.

The trip back is hazardous, of course, made all the more so by pieces of choice commentary ritocheting between Dan and I:

We make it back, eventually, and meet with Mehdi in orbit around planet Houston, capital of the Texas system. There we duel with police for about half an hour while trying to better our reputation with the Liberty underworld. The fighting is harsh at times, and I can't count the number of occassions where I'm forced to flee before wading back into the fray. However, this Clysdale freighter is a whole lot tougher than my Rhino, and before long I'm all good with the Rogues ( common criminals ), the Junkers ( also petty thieves who raid the spacelanes for debris ) and the Outcasts ( anything but petty thieves, I'll explain more in my report ).

Alright, well, that's all for my section. I'm quite happy I didn't end up reporting the material I just covered - it would have been awful! Have fun reading Dan's br - it's very good - and stay tuned for mine, coming up in about a week or two.

#

Now that we have that out of the way, we can start over again. Ahem.

Greetings and welcome to the next installment of 'Team Raters' inter-reporter love triangle with continuity. Our space faring trio was last seen in combat throughout the Liberty Empire, fighting against all figures of law and order, hoping to curry favor with the criminal underworld.

Second Lt. Dagomar, leading the SS Rhino to battle, was still laying waste to the Liberty Police in the Texas system, orbitting the Houston colony.

Flight Officer Mehdi, aka Keanu_Reaver, was last seen scouting the New York system for the nefarious Liberty Rogue's hidden pirate base, having earned their tolerance (if not yet respect).

Me, LuckyNewbie, your omnipotent freelancer and omniscient reporter, was stealing Dagomar's kills before heading off to find the Rogue's base as well, finally spotting it in the badlands outside of the abandoned Ithaca research station.

Together we made up Team Rater, whose powers and exploits are to be remembered forever in battlereport form.

For the less literate among us, here is a map of our current locations and exploits:

The lines dotted running from around the system are what are called trade lanes, the highways of freelancer. Docking with a trade lane brings your ship to enormous speeds, meaning interplanetary travel can be accomplished within seconds. The bad news is that these lanes can be disrupted by pirates to catch unwary folks. Think back to "AMBUSH!" in Dagomar's battlereport.

At the bottom of this map you can see this is just the New York system, one of about forty systems in the freelancer universe. The systems are connected by Jump Gates and Jump Holes, worm holes that allow instantaneous travel to places thousands of light years away. It's a small universe after all. Jump holes are used by the pirates mostly, and jump gates by the traders and the governments of the universe.

It was not long until our escapades would continue, for this universe would continue without us. With that in mind, Mehdi wasn't on at the time and me and Dag decided to try and play catch-up. Mehdi was the first of us to finally curry enough favor with the Rogue's to the point that they no longer attacked us on sight. I was a distant second, but was nonetheless able to log off at the Pirate base the night before. Dag, however, needed to gain more favor. This involved engaging the enemies of the Rogues at every opprotunity, always unprovoked.

Favor is a very relevant item in the freelancer universe. All NPC's in the game belong to a faction. Factions can be as big as the Four Houses, to as small as the numerous pirate groups native to each system. Your character in the game has a reputation with every faction he [it's always a he] has encountered. You start off the game as an enemy of the pirates and an ally to the Police, Traders, and Navy. The Pirates will attack you on sight, but the good guys will come to your aid.

There are also a number of factions indifferent to you. The bounty hunters, a guild of ex-criminals after the bad guys for money, is a good example. Some of the border world factions and pirates could care less about your reputation. Really, the only way you can antagonize them is to befriend their enemies or attack their allies. In order to improve our reputation with the Rogues, we must attack their enemies. We can't be friendly to everybody, you know.

Among the prime enemies of the Rogues, and for that matter, all pirate groups, was the Liberty Police. Attacking the Liberty Police is not easy. They can be found at the end of tradelanes, and orbitting the colonies. These areas are also prime spots for the trading companies, such as Deep Space Engineering, Republican Transportation, etc..., all of which are allies of the Liberty police. Attack one and you will have to fight them all. Normally patrolling zones of "safe space" for smugglers and pirates, a few shots can quickly stir up a hornets nest. Because Team Rater had been equiped with all manners of space weaponry, the hornets were quickly swatted out of the sky, and soon Dagomar advances his reputation with Liberty's rogues as well.

Having earned their tolerance, me and Dagomar meet at the West Point military academy in the New York system. We decide that shooting the sheriff and his 57 deputies has changed our plans a little bit. No longer antagonized by any faction, we are free to wander space quite freely, only harassed by the occasional clueless mugger. We could do pretty much anything we want at this point in the game.

Of course being a pirate is what we really wanted to be from day one. Pirates are quite a wise lot. Whereas the trader would fly through system after system on the trade route, ambushed quite frequently, the pirate would simply hang out at the drop off point and claim the cargo his. Morally and ethically a nightmare, but morals and ethics weren't riding shotgun.

Of course, and probably most important, the profit a trader makes is the selling price minus the price they bought it for. Say they are ferrying consumer goods they bought in the Colorado system for $10 a ton to the New York system to sell at $58 a ton. They only make a $48 a ton profit. The pirate, on the other hand, will make the full $58 a ton profit. It's an unbeatable system. Whats the catch?

The problem is that repeated attacks on traders will eventually antagonize them to the point they open fire on sight. And that's not the worst part. The worst part is that everybody in the immediate vicinity -- the transport's escorts, the police, the security forces, fellow traders and truckers, the bounty hunters, EVERYBODY -- suddenly becomes your worst enemy. This is a universe where doom is defined as a fifty laser cannon gauntlet of crisscrossing fire from every manner of spacecraft. If it can pack a weapon, it's firing it, and it's aiming for you. To kill you.

Fortunately for us, the good guys don't attack us on sight. Yet. They still will fight back if we start shooting, and this throws a wrench in the gears of our carefully constructed money making piracy machine. In order to make money on the loot we steal, we have to be able to pick up the loot. This means carefully selecting a target first. Our ships have the capacity to scan cargo holds for goods. A typical level 1 transport in the Liberty system stores a LOT of cargo, usually around 100,000 tons of it. The ships we attack aren't usually carrying valuable supplies, mainly water, fuel, medicine, etc... these only sell at high prices in outposts and the border worlds. If we are to make a profit fast, we must scoop up a large amount of this and sell it on the spot.

Fortunately for us, we have the perfect tool, the SS Rhino. [Okay, it wasn't really a level 1 rhino, but a level 2 Clydsdale transport, but Rhino has a certain dutch quality to it.] Yes, Dagomar's lovely ship, the pride of the Bretonian merchant marine, will soon be committing heinous crimes on the high... space... seas. His Freighter's main selling point (other than its affordability) is it's cargo capacity. Whereas a fighter craft can carry typically 15-30 tons, A Freighter carries about ten times as much. Dagomar will be the one scooping up the loot as soon as it comes out.

I, quite prepared for the pirate lifestyle, have taken to flying the pirate vessel that had been ambushing us and causing such trouble for the past two episodes: the Outcast Dagger.

The Dagger is a wonderfully crafted light fighter, made exactly for the missions we have in mind. It can pack five guns, has solid shields and armor, and it's energy core can keep my weapons pumping for quite a while. I quickly modifty its loadout to include a very fast engine, weapons that exchange more firepower for a slower refire rate, and buy as many shield batteries as it'll carry.

From this loadout our tactics should be fairly obvious. I am the striker, stalking the prey that will dares come through the trade lanes. I shall decide our target, and at the opprotune moment, strike. I shall be swift, keeping the dirty stuff to a minimum, and get out before the convoy's escorts can punish me for the horrible things I've done to theirescorting reputation.

My selection and my careful aiming are paramount to our success. I must be sure to attack only transports carrying valuable cargo, and I must destroy it as quickly as I can. I then must hit the cruise engines and get the hell out of dodge before no amount of shield batteries can protect me from the wrath of a combined vigilante fleet.

Once the escorts have taken chase, Dagomar will take over and tractor the goods onboard. We still have no idea how they will react to seeing the SS Rhino finish what this brazen pilot has already started. Whether they will come after him as well, or whether they will simply ignore him completely, is anybody's guess.

After showing Dagomar the Rogue's hidden Buffalo base in the Badlands, we depart to West Point. West point will be our rally point. We stick to the trade lanes, as we have nothing to fear from pirates attacking us. During our trip through these highways of the New York system, we discuss our plan like jittery teenage girls.

Hopping out of the trade lane, we are greeted with a great Earthen sphere that is Planet Manhatten, our starting point in the game, and the Capitol of the Liberty Empire. On this planet there orbits a number of stations catering to space-faring folk such as ourselves. To the right lies Trenton outpost, a trader pit-stop on the way to Fort Bush. To the left Lies Newark Shipyards, a... shipyard. Directly orbitting the planet is the docking ring and the mooring fixture for Manhattan. This is where we must be.

All planets have docking rings, two ports which allow you to "dock" with the planet, so to speak. Planets are exactly like space stations, with the exception that crashing into them will mean burning through the atmosphere. Also, planets generally belong to the government and the traders, whereas stations are usually run and frequented by the other factions, such as the corporations, bounty hunters, outlaws, or even coalitions of such interests that operate the Freeport outposts lying in between the five major empires.

A mooring fixture is the only place larger transports and capital class ships can dock. It is the beginning and ending of a trade route, and a lucrative spot to pirate.

Dagomar in formation, I proceed to wait upon the mooring fixture for the next transport.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Where the hell is everybody? A good two minutes pass, an eternity for such a man of action, and I begin patrolling between the various stations, on the lookout for unsuspecting (and so far, nonexisting) traders. I punch my cruise engines and go flying all over the place. I fly meters away from a collision with Newark station, showing off my l33t pilot skillz. Dagomar was apparently locked "in formation" the entire time and ended up flying smack into the station I was flying through, putting a dent in his shields.

I go back to Manhattan and decide to quit fooling around. Not seeing any potential victims, Dagomar goes AFK for a second.

Just then my sensors find a contact larger than a freighter. A much larger transport than I had expected, a pair of Kishiro Transports heading right past Manhattan!! It is on cruise engines, and I have little time to think. Should I attack? Should I scan? Should I wait for Dagomar? The only way to get these is to fire a cruise distrupter missile, and kill them as fast as possible.

Cruise engines are a step above afterburners, and a step below travelling through the trade lanes. They do exactly what they say they do, they cruise. They take about five seconds to start up, and once they are up they accelerate to 300 "units" of speed, with 80 being the top non-afterburn speed, and 200 the top afterburner speed. The drawback to cruise engines, other than their charging time, is that you cannot shoot weapons while they are charging or while they are engaged.

For first level enemies, cruise engines are a great way of getting out of a tight spot. However, after level one, almost all enemies will carry the Wasp Cruise Disrupter missile. The Wasp never misses, has a very good range, and when it hits, brings the offending craft out of cruise flight and back to combat. I am currently carrying 10 Wasps, which can knock a transport out of Cruise flight and prevent it's recharging for about five seconds.

I elect not to fire on the Kishiro transports, and just as they pass by Dagomar announces he has returned. We wait some more. Nobody shows up for another minute... and then my scanner picks up a lone Republican Transport: The RSS Schonebeck, 12 o'clock, 952m away, closing fast. It is headed for the Manhattan mooring station, and the best part is, it is carrying cargo.

"INCOMING!" I quickly announce, preparing to engage. There is another Republican transport and two escorting fighters some two kilometers distant, and a number of police vessels in the vicinity. Normally I would pass this up for more vulnerable quarry, but after waiting five minutes for a target I'll take all I can get. Punching the afterburners, I close the distance rapidly.

I take a good firing position beneath the RSS Schonebeck and let loose with all four cannons. The otherwise peaceful view of the universe soon becomes a fantastic display of colors as the Transport takes hit after hit. The captain of the Schonebeck demands to know what the hell I think I'm doing, please check your fire! Playing it off as an accident, I keep the fire up until the Schonebeck has fires across all decks. The numberous "white" contacts on my scanner list soon turn red, and soon fire is heading in my direction. I duck behind the Schonebeck, so it is soon taking hits from both me and the police and vigilantes trying to save her. The damage, however, has been done, and soon a spectacular explosion can be seen above the skies of Manhattan. The front and rear parts of the Schonebeck are still intact, drifting aimlessly, hurled clear of the damage.

There is no time to check for survivors, as the crisscrossing fire is soon becoming murderous. I charge my cruise engines while strafing as quickly as I can, trying to find cover in the Schonebeck's debris. Fortunately for me, the Rogues sell quite a sturdy ship, and the shields are able to take most of the damage before I am heading out to the nearest trade lane at 300 meters per second.

Fire comes from all directions, but it's too late. My jinxing moves and high speeds over a rapidly increasing distance means almost all shots miss their mark, and I take a sigh of relief. I just reach the trade lane, and safety, when Dagomar has great news:

Water is perhaps the cheapest commodity being traded. In the New York system, it can be bought for $5 at the lowest and $6 at the highest. It is the worst thing to pirate. I am frustrated by this failure when I take a look at my contact list and notice some suspicious non-hostile targets:

Synth Foods! Not content to only steal water headed to the border worlds, I must also raid their food supply. Not exactly Robin Hood to steal milk headed to the Orphanage, but I don't exactly have much selection to work with here. I make a U-ie and find a couple of unhappy escorts between me and this new target. This time I scan the contents of my quarry's cargo hold:

H-fuel, unlike Water, is actually worth something. Plus I don't have to feel guilty about stealing sandwiches from little Timmy. This is good news. Terribly good news. I punch the afterburners and dodge the incoming fire from the escorts. Soon the transports realize what the hell is going on and open fire as well. They don't even succeed in scaring me off. I turn on the gun camera, and go to work.

I like to think that I'm a good shot, that my guns can wither any target, especially such a slow moving, prostate target such as a transport, quite easily. I turned on fraps video capture at this point however, easily bringing my framerate down from a steady 60 to a sporadic 20-something. Perhaps it is this, or my undiagnosed fright of having to perform, that explains why this transport took at least 20 seconds to go down. My shields fail twice, and I have to keep punching the "f" key to keep them at full strength.

Fire is pouring in from all sides. I try to adjust my speed and direction constantly, but they succeed in my shots missing their mark rather than those aimed at me. I decide to weather it out and keep on pouring it out. A Universal faction freighter bravely and selflessly attempted to stop me by ramming me with her huge hull, which dizzies me up a bit but ultimately fails.

I am now directly underneath the SFS Nome's belly, firing into the cargo containers. One finally explodes as the transports health bar reaches zero, once again knocking me off target and forcing me to re-orient myself. During this time I am constantly being hit by laser fire, and I am relieved when the transport, already aflame, explodes spectacularly. From the surface of planet Manhattan, a wisp of energy quickly dissipates in the noon sky.



For a video of the great action in freelancer (and why Johnny is going to kill me), right click and select "save as..."

I have no time to observe such an explosion as my shields are rapidly withering to laser blast after last blast. I turn on my cruise engines, jinxing through the debris of the SFS Nome, and once again I make it to the trade lane headed to West Point in one piece. I breathe a sigh of relief as the lane accepts me and I am soon headed away from Manhattan and all the angry escorts at an amazing speed.

Not content to let me be happy for even one second, Dagomar explains to me that he couldn't tractor any of the loot in! Furthermore, he goes on to say that he is going to go ahead and fire on the transports, something we agreed he should not do in any case. Pissed off, and calling him very bad names, I enter the same trade lane I just came out of as soon as it drops me off.

Yeah, he was just kidding.

I come out of the tradelane again at Manhattan, greeted by a thousand angry hornets I thought I left for good. This time the police have showed up in force, bringing about half a dozen patriot light fighters to the table. I turn on the cruise engines and proceed to be top gun, flying through their gauntlet of fire unscathed, and capturing it all on video.

So how profitable was our pirating expedition? Dagomar was able to scoop up our loot and sells it at the closest port, Newark Station, at a comfortable price. The amount of loot, however, was apparently nominal, and we only made $14,000 for the two transports killed. Nevertheless, it is more profitable than running the route ourselves, and pays a lot more than simply doing missions we picked up at the bar in part 1.

As soon as Dagomar comes out of Newark Station, we fly out through the trade lane once more, headed to West Point and the security of obscurity from an ambivalent police force.

When I dock at West Point, Dagomar happens to be flying out of the same docking port I happen to be docking in. He is surprised and shaken by this near collision, which would have been fatal to 10% of his shields. It seems he forgot about his little "i'm shooting them" incident?

At this point in the game we can still do pretty much anything we want to. Do we pirate? Do we freelance? Do we explore?

That's right, smuggling. Not just any type of smuggling, though, smuggling the drug Cardamine, DNA altering side-effects and all, from Buffalo Base to Planet Manhattan. Not only that, but we're going to do it in a freighter. It has quite a profit margin too, 300 dollars per ton, and the trade run is done entirely in the same system. All in all it's a killer trade route for those friendly with the rogues. The only catch is that the police are EVERYWHERE through the trade lanes, and always scanning cargo holds looking for the nefarious criminal traders such as Team Rater.

However, there is demand for the stuff on Manhattan, and not wanting to let the market go dry, we decide that for the common good we must bring the stuff ourselves. It was entirely selfless, you see. Not for a profit. Not for the easy money and high risk. No sir. For the common good.

Now that we have our motivations out of the way, we decide on a plan. Dagomar has the freighter, so obviously he will be doing the smuggling. He will be the first one through the gates and trade lanes, as he needs to be the fastest one. The less time spent idling around, the less chance of being scanned.

We start at the pirate asteroid Buffalo Base, hitting a few rocks, and making our way to Ithaca. We hit the trade lanes from there, with only two potential places to be scanned: one is at West Point, a government station very likely to scan us, and in orbit of Manhattan herself, the home base of the Liberty Police.

We scream through the four kilometer gap at West Point, hoping not to be scanned and risk losing all our pirated money. We make it to the gate safely and dock, heading for the great blue sphere of Manhattan.

So far, so good. It's a bit tense but everything's gone okay so far. SOon we are at Manhattan, and Dag punches his engines to make the last leg. 2.0 km... 1.5 km... 1000m... 500m... 100m... and he makes it! Fortunately there is no queue of fighters waiting to dock at Manhattan, which I would have to shoot in order to make room for my dutch captain. I breathe a sigh of relief as Dagomar's vessel drifts beneath the atmosphere. Right after he disappears, a total of six police fighters arrive, for the purpose of catching smugglers like us. But it's too late, we have already made our profit. From all fifteen tons Dag could buy. I forgot to mention, cardamine is flippin' expensive:

Want to do the math on that? 15 tons times 270 per ton equals not a lot. We only made 4k on this daring run. Piracy was more profitable, and far more exciting.

On that note we resume pirating. Dagomar, in true pirate fashion, was eating a hot dog and talking to his mom. "That's alright," I say, "time's a factor for me, not you." I punch on the cruise engines, friendly to everybody in orbit at the moment, and fly to Newark Station to put on a fifth cannon to my ship. Somehow this escaped me the first time I equipped my ship.

Upon exiting Newark's airlocks I run into two transports. I mean literally run into them. I was reading my map and they plowed into me. No serious damage. Not being so anxious to get kills this time, I scan their cargo holds first and find them empty. Rats. I hail the two ships, the GWS Aberdeen and GWS Orlando, and find out that they are going to pick up cargo at Newark Station. Dag and I follow them there, and patiently wait for them to pick up their cargo. After they depart, I scan their cargo holds again.

Apparently being the wiser to my fascade of curiousity, the GWS duo prepares to engage cruise engines and flee. I, however, decide that their insolence must be punished. Letting off a battle cry, I bring up my ship beside the Orlando, where I proceed to decimate her with my newly acquired cannons. As the Orlando rapidly explodes and my radar contacts turn red, I manuever below the Aberdeen and repeat until she too spectacularly explodes.

No longer afraid of the puny fire heading my way, I cruise around a bit, flying through Newark station, and eventually flying to the far side of Planet Manhattan. Why, I don't know, it was just impulse. Dagomar doesn't mind my delaying tactics, as he is preoccupied with concerns in the real world."eating that hot dog"

In the minute or so it takes to orbit the planet, I find two Kishiro transports and their escorts in cruise mode on the far side. I immedietly fire my cruise disruptors without scanning their cargo, and proceed to destroy these ships as well. These were on the first leg of their route as well, so once again I am left with nothing to tractor in as mementos. I engage their puny escorts, and the little bastards are very nice at avoiding my fire. I kill one of them when the police that have been chasing me finally show up, and I decide to punch it once more. I proceed around the planet and hop back in the trade lane to West Point, where Dagomar, finally back from AFK-land, sums up my efforts in killing four transports quite succinctly:

I dock at West Point again, the police having forgotten about me, and return to Manhattan. We aren't making much progress as pirates, but we are doing wonders to our reputation with both the Rogues and the Liberty Police. We have a few more convoys wander into our sights, a pair from Republican and another pair from Deep Space Engineering. All four ships have empty cargo bays, but the DSE ship informs me they are headed to pick up their load at Fort Bush, only one jump away. Here is a map of the system and where we've been so far:

Dag and I have yet to go to Fort Bush, so we decide to tag along. It's only one tradelane away... we should be there in about 15 seconds, right? We both enter formation with the giant transports, and before long we are headed to Fort Bush at incalculable speeds...

Trade Lane Disrupted

We've heard this many times during our travels. In Dagomar's report this was synonymous with "AMBUSH!", meaning that some evil pirates have disabled a ring in the trade lane and hope to catch any unlucky wanderers and any cargo they may be caring. We remain in formation with the transports, as their escorts go off to dog fight with the offending party. This goes on for about a minute, with neither side gaining an advantage and the transports apparently refusing to get to safety without their escorts. Me and Dag could have ended this fairly quickly by blasting the Rogues away from our transports, but we cannot afford to antagonize them further, so we leave each other alone. Getting bored with this newbish display of fireworks, I break formation and head to Fort Bush by myself. If there are other transports, fine, but if there aren't we can wait for these boys.

While cruising towards Fort Bush, I get a phone call, and displaying the multitasking pirates are famous for, I engage a transport carrying pharmaceuticals at the same time. This transport goes down very quickly, and I am soon speeding away back to Planet Manhattan before I get killed or something. Dagomar, having trouble locating the transport I just killed, and wondering where the hell I am, announces he is going to fire on the transports. I don't fall for it this time, and proceed to dock at west point.

Dag grabs the pharms still floating around [all 24 tons] and sells them at a nice profit. I myself scooped up 35 tons and sold it at planet Pittsburgh.

At this point we part ways around the system. I scout for pirate bases and jump holes, while Dagomar hangs around Fort Bush and shoots transports on his own. He has found that after shooting a transport, he can simply rejoin the server and the escorts won't fire on him. Yes, he is a hacker.

This change in tactics works fine for him, but he too is new at the whole pirating business. As I learned the hard way, to take out the transport and get the most of its cargo, you must target the cargo containers and destroy those first. Dagomar learns this attacking an H-fuel transport around Fort Bush, and only tractoring in 9 tons of fuel. Apparently he couldn't get it done fast enough, or the vigilantes were just too quick, because he barely escaped with his life.

Perhaps this is the moment where we decided that perhaps piracy wasn't working out too well for us, at least in the New York system. I believe Dag's exact words were "fuckdufkcufkcufkuckck." We had improved our reputations with the rogues, given, but we had also angered the Liberty Navy quite a bit, to the point where they would no longer openly support us in battle. After dropping off my loot in Pittsburge, I head around in search of the other Pirate bases in the system.

Pirate bases aren't very well known in the Freelancer universe, at least to the newbie. They are near the trade lanes, for the purposes of pirating from them, but not in the way Planets are. Finding a pirate base (or a jump hole, a pirate version of the jump gate) means looking on the map under "patrols" and seeing where the patrol lanes intersect. If there is a lot of patrol paths convering on a space, a pirate base could be there. This information is priceless in higher levels of the game.

Looking through the patrol path map, I find a couple of locations to scout out, all in badlands or junkyards throughout the system. Sticking to the trade lanes to get there as fast as possible before heading off on cruise weapons, I am once again immersed in various transports. To pass the time, other than chatting with Dagomar, I scan their cargo holds. One had Luxury Consumer Goods, quite a pricey item, and I couldn't help in blowing that one up.

After a bit of searching I come across Rochester Base, hidden between Fort Bush and Planet Manhattan. They sell nothing of particular interest, other than Artifacts at a ridiculously large price. For all the time it took to find this place however, I have a feeling it may very well be worth it. Visiting new planets is the first part in setting up elaborate trade routes, the best of which are the quickest way to make money. With Dag still being our freighter, and with nobody openly attacking us, we are quite prepared for this. No action happened here, really, so I'll just throw in a random picture below.

The server we played this game on, ICM Freelancer, was quite a desolate one, with fewer than half a dozen people on at any given time. Populated servers usually run into the 30's and 40's. However, we were greeted by 'milOtis,' whose first experience with the game happens to be talking to us right after he launches off of Manhattan.

Probably not being familiar with any game mechanics, he starts asking me and Dag, very cordially and very formally, to "please stop killing" him. Once he finds out that the offending spacecraft belong not to me and Dag but the thousands of NPC's in the universe, begins asking how to have fun.

Well, milOtis, I wish I made this report earlier. This is how you have fun.

Yeah, it took a little work to get here too. I chat with Dag and milOtis for a while before logging off. I've played a bit too much. We'll do more later tonight.

This report brought to you by HIDDEN TEXT!!!
#
luckynewb: you hear johnny's plan, "free games for brs"
luckynewb: that would be freaking awesome. I could hold up a sign: "Will report for games"
DagomarDeg: lol no kidding
DagomarDeg: I should get like 30 copies of BW
luckynewb: like da blizz needs any help
luckynewb: it would probably be shitty games though
luckynewb: still, the entire concept is cool
DagomarDeg: thats for sure
DagomarDeg: PANTYRAIDER FOR FREE
DagomarDeg: OWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
luckynewb: i am so getting report #6000
luckynewb: i mean that is MINE
luckynewb: i claim it
luckynewb: i will write three brs and keep them on my hardrive
luckynewb: then release them one after one at #5997
luckynewb: report #6000 is MINE
#

Later that night Mehdi came on and we all started planning out our next moves. We would head to Japan, buy a nice fighter and a nice freighter, and do whatever. By whatever I mean running the trade routes we know so far, because those can be quite lucrative. Well, lucrative but not fun. We begin our twenty minute trek to Kushiba or Kushiro or whatever, the Japan system, where we meet the ugliest ship ever conceived, buy Dag a sweet fighter and Mehdi a sweet freighter, and begin our trade route.

Mehdi is quite the fellow in planning this stuff out, as he's done the run before. Dagomar has all the money of us, doing runs in his freighter with moderate success. With a loan from Dag, Mehdi gets a freighter and stocks it up with engine components, which we will run to freeport 4. Dag has to be distracted, as he is "fetishing over" the newfound weaponry on his fighter.

Loaded up with engine parts, we begin the long trip back to Liberty space and the Colorado system and onto Freeport 4, which takes about half an hour. This has to be the low point of the entire trip. I am following Mehdi the entire time however, so I don't have to steer my ship at all. Selling the parts on Denver, I get 40,000 more credits. Quite a sum, but quite a trip. I'm abbreviating it all here for your pleasure. Suffice to say that I was able to read through the majority of PCGamer without interruption. Perhaps all those ambushes spiced it up last time, eh?

After completing the Freeport 4 trade run, I've had enough. Ugly ships aside, It's been a good wasted hour on the game, and nothing that I'd really like to share. Except what I did on the way out.

At Freeport 4 I decided I'd find a pirate base to log off onto while Dag and Mehdi continued their trade runs or did more piracy or whatever, it was about midnight by then. I found Mactan base, a Lane Hackers hidden pirate base disguised as an asteroid in an ice field. They sell a nice ship there, a freighter with enormous capacity. I'm not interested in the freighter, but I noticed that you can't purchase certain weapons without the faction's favor being in the green. Curious, I go to the ship dealer and ask to buy it. By some sort of lag bump, or act of god, or jittery midnight fingers, or maybe some combination of all the above, I somehow bypassed the "confirm purchase" screen and heard a cold female voice utter "Ship purchase complete." I now had a bigass 18-wheeler, when all I wanted to ever have was a little motocross bike.

In the words of Dag, "gg me."

And with that, I exited the server for what was ironically to be the last time.

The day after, the server was down, and Dagomar was very happy about it. Instead of waiting he picked another server, a more reliable one, where the admin doesn't randomly hand out money. On this one the adventures of Team Rater shall continue, so please stay tuned.

#

Well, there you have it, my first report of 2004 and my first since becoming a rater. I've got a lot on the table, and a lot to say about this game as well. While it was very entertaining to shoot and pirate and smuggle and everything, the game gets very monotonous the higher you want to go. Like any mmorpg, this game is less focused on the action and more on character development. Yet unlike an MMO game, this is based on local servers rather than a master one, so the character's continuity is contingent upon the locally hosted server.

All in all, if you're like Dag you might love it, but if you're like me you might loath it. Strange that I pressured him into buying it in the first place only to give up playing.

Still, it wasn't that bad. Pirating was very fun, and as you will recall from my last report, MMO's arent necessarily bad. Time consuming, yes, but they can be very fun. You just have to make it fun, and if that involves piracy, then pirate away.

What's more to add? Be sure to leave a comment. I judge my self worth on them. Maybe the next report I have might have some hidden text. Go back and search it all, I dare you.

As always,


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