Blue Planet is a series of fan-made expansion packs for the video game FreeSpace 2. It is set eighteen years after the original game and details the Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance returning to Sol and the aftermath. The Blue Planet saga will eventually consist of three parts, but so far only the first two have been unveiled.Blue Planet: Age of Aquarius (2007) follows the 14th Battlegroup of the Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance as they cross the newly-constructed Sol Gate into the solar system for the first time. The player takes the role of Samuel Bei, an experienced veteran of the Second Great War from the original game. The fleet ends up lost in an Alternate Universe where the Shivans won the Great War and humanity is reduced to a handful of scavengers on the run from the Shivan armada. Samuel Bei ends up playing a pivotal role in discovering the nature of this strange dimension and how they got there, finding his own destiny, and finding a way for the 14th Battlegroup to return to their own universe. Age of Aquarius won much acclaim for its richly realized story and excellent characters, especially Samuel Bei and his father, who havesomeissues, and its excellent and innovative mission design that featured a scale far larger than most previous campaigns.Blue Planet: War in Heaven (2010/2013) is set a year and a half after Age of Aquarius. The 14th Battlegroup returned to their home dimension to find the United Earth Federation as the current government of the Sol system. Their standing orders: crush the Federation and forcibly assimilate it into the GTVA. Samuel Bei, his father, and several other members of the 14th Battlegroup defected to the UEF, leaving the blitzkrieg assault the GTVA was hoping for in tatters. However, the GTVA were quick to regroup, and are now slowly grinding the UEF's miltary into dust. The player character this time is Noemi Laporte, a newly commissioned pilot in the UEF navy. Noemi has...issues, most notably a history of mental instability, aggression, and hearing voices which are actually Sufficiently Advanced Aliens speaking to her through her Psychic Powers. She must face both her own personal demons as well as the forces of the Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance, who outnumber, outgun, and generally outclass the UEF's. Currently only the first three-fifths of War in Heaven has been released, and the remaining two-fifths is currently in closed beta status. War in Heaven was hyped extensively prior to release, and so far the general impression has been overwhelmingly positive of the released first part. More than one player has declared it the best FreeSpace campaign ever released.
This game includes examples of:
Ace Pilot: Plenty of them. On both sides. One mission is literally two small teams of Ace Pilot's going up against each other. two of them happen to be Xinny and Zero, two of the pilots that made up the four SOC-man team that ventured beyond the second Knossos portal in FreeSpace 2 (including you, the player, and fan-favorite Snipes). Unusually for the trope, it's possible to lose (by getting shot down), in which case you (barely) survive by virtue of your fighter getting disabled but not blown up, and Xinny and Zero survive to complete their mission, which is to retrieve (or rescue) a character from the first game in the Blue Planet series...though the cruiser they boarded gets practically blown up in the chaos, killing her entire crew.
Action Girl: Noemi Laporte and Lorna Simms. Taylor in Age of Aquarius, along with many others. Heck, it'd be easier to find women that aren't examples.
Adaptive Ability: The Shivans' strategy when they're fighting someone. They attack randomly and use what works, refining their combat strategies and ship designs, narrowing it down until they have the perfect attack pattern for their opponent. The process can take a very long time... but the Shivans are willing to wait and lose a few wars if it will ultimately, maybe thousands of years down the line, end in their victory.
A Father to His Men: Admiral Lopez`s command style is based around this. Unfortunately for her, this ends up being the cause of her eventual downfall.
All There in the Manual: The "intelligence" section of the tech room and various parts of the mod website have vast amounts of information on the setting.
And This Is for...: In Her Finest Hour, Laporte say this for each of the enemy corvettes destroyed, naming the captains of the destroyed ships in Delenda Est.
Apologetic Attacker: Most UEF pilots will say something like 'May they find peace in death' should they kill an enemy. UEF's First Fleet (comprised largely of people from Earth) even mourns the people who died fighting against them as a cultural tradition.
Attack Pattern Alpha: The UEF has a set of attack plans with codenames to use depending on the situation in Delenda Est. However, these plans and their execution are actually specified.
Badass Crew: The Wargods are absolute terrors on the battlefield, to the point that Admiral Steele is forced to plan and execute a series of strategies specifically to wipe them out. It works.
Back-to-Back Badasses: The Katana and Altan Orde in the optional single-mission campaign named The Blade Itself. Two humble UEFg Karunas and half a dozen fighters wipe the floor with a pair of Deimos-class Corvettes and numerous other Tev ships long enough to evacuate some of the civilians, deny the station to the Tevs, and finally escape from a Meson Bomb attack. All of this despite a surprise attack and the Katana's dock being sabotaged, forcing her to depart without her full crew complement!
The Battlestar: Pretty much every destroyer class ship in the game falls into this category.
Beam Spam: The favored anti-capital ship tactic of the GTVA, Shivans, and Vishnans. Any engagement that involves multiple warships belonging to these factions will quickly devolve into a veritable light show since most warships have not only multiple beam cannons, but also multiple anti-fighter beams for point defense purposes.
Big Damn Heroes: Samuel Bei leads a Vishnan fleet to save his father's battlegroup from being destroyed by the Shivans. The victory party didn't last long...
Black and Gray Morality: This is present in the conflict between the Shivans and the Vishnans. The former are... well, the Shivans, but the latter may not be benevolent, no matter how they choose to present themselves when talking to Terrans. Of course, there's an Alternative Character Interpretation that the Vishans are the Black and the Shivans are Gray.
Blind Jump: Crash-jumping, which involves not setting a destination jump point and/or forcing the ship in question to engage its subspace drives before they fully recharge. So far, in Blue Planet, the after-effects of crash-jumping have always hit the ship that does it quite badly: the Duke wrecked its engines in a remote part of the N362 system, the Ranvir and Akula were scattered and besieged by GTVA forces shortly after, and the Indus disabled its engines, navigations systems and escape pod launch system, destroyed its hangar bay, severely compromised its radiation shielding and long-range communications and put it into a descent towards the sun.
Bonus Material: Several single missions that come with the campaign, one of which is basically "What would happen if we stuck every single named capital ship in the story together and had them shoot at each other?" There is also a Racing Minigame with UEF interceptors. One (good) mission even has you commanding a capital ship during the battle that the opening cutscene of War In Heaven depicts, complete with its own HUD and coding.
Both Sides Have a Point: While the UEF definitely has the moral high ground, the GTVA has very understandable reasons for invading Sol. You REALLY need to read the supplementary material in the Tech Room database to understand why. Mainly, the GTVA is (legitimately) terrified that the UEF's Ubuntu philosophy and loose-Federation government style will catch like wildfire in the rest of the GTVA, given the cultural, social, political, and economic situation in (at least the Terran portion) of the GTVA. It is very strongly implied (and readily apparent) throughout War In Heaven, and to a lesser extent in the series as a whole, that neither the GTVA nor the UEF can survive as they currently are, and they need to reach peace and incorporate the best elements of the other in order to avoid the crippling weaknesses of both. Not that accomplishing that will be in any way easy...
Some of the supplementary material also suggests that some parts of the UEF—especially its Council of Elders—is under the influence of or is being manipulated by some alien power (implied to be the Vishnans, who are apparently less benevolent than they appeared to be in Age of Aquarius, or even the Shivans), of which the GTVA are utterly terrified.
Brown Note: The Great Darkness in War In Heaven's Universal Truth.
The Cameo: The Transcendant from the Sync series of fan-campaigns can make brief appearances in Laporte's Nagari-dream, and it implies that the Nagari connection is the "outside the universe" place where the Transcendant turned Eldritch.
Ships from Vassago's Dirge appears as well (GTA Argus and GTC Ascendant), the GTC Cretheus techroom description also described it as such.
In War in Heaven, the only moments where it isn't a Hope Spot are when the Indus prepares for a final stand against the Atreus, two Narayanas showed up and drives it away and the Toutatis assaulting the GTD Hood in Aristeia and sending her running.
Amusingly enough, this is frequently subverted for both the protagonists and antagonists, and in one case it's even Double Subverted. In War In Heaven, the Valarie and Medea, both Diomedes-class corvettes, jump in to ravage the UEF forces, but get jumped themselves or brought down by reinforcements. In 'What Binds Us', this trope is twisted to a hilarious degree—a Vasudan logistics vessel falls under attack from the Gaian Effort. Hearing the distress call and wanting to improve relations with the Vasudans, the UEF sends the Indus to save the logistics vessel, which she does. Shortly after, a Tev corvette jumps in to the logistics vessel's aid, but finds the Gefs already dealt with. From there, they agree to a temporary cease-fire on the spot so that they can cooperate to save the damaged logistics vessel and the lives of her crew, succeeding. Then a Narayana-class heavy frigate shows up, guns blazing, shattering the cease-fire, blowing up the Tev corvette, all too quickly for the situation to be salvaged. The Big Damn Heroes in this case had no way of knowing that their rescue was not only unneeded, but exactly the opposite of what they wanted. And, of course, one must mention Delenda Est, where this trope is the key point in the mission, played straight in epic fashion...for the other side. The best part is that, if you were to play from the Tev point of view, this is a strong case of the trope played straight in a heroic manner.
Chastity Couple: Noemi Laporte and Lorna Simms, at least on-screen. It's justified because they're both in the military, both serving in the same unit, and have different ranks; openly showing romantic affection to someone above or below you in the chain of command is a big no-no.
Chekhov's Gun: The transmission from the Vasudan logistics ship contains specs for a miniature quantum pulse transceiver, which is the means of communication for the Shivans. It's used in the end of Act 3 as part of the means through which Laporte enters the Nagari 'network'.
Cliff Hanger: The first part of War in Heaven ends on a massive one: The Wargods have been effectively annihilated by the GTVA, the Indus is disabled, 80% of the crew is incapacitated due to radiation poisoning, your character's girlfriend is in the infirmary and you don't know whether she's alive or dead, and the Fedayeen show up in a last-minute rescue to retrieve your character for a secret mission ... and then the credits roll.
Colony Drop: The Gaian Effort attempt one in War in Heaven. The Fedayeen deploy in order to stop it.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Ships given the BALLS OF STEELE, or BOS, AI-class. BOS was required to keep some of the most experienced players in the community from Script Breaking some of the missions and give the player competent wingmen without the need of having a large number of them as well as giving the feel that you are really in a squadron of ace pilots instead of red shirts.
Cool Ship: The United Earth Federation's Solaris-class destroyer is the biggest example, both in the literal and metaphorical sense. But on the whole, nearly every ship introduced in the Blue Planet series, both on a fighter and capital ship level, are this. Special mentions go to the Vishnan Perserver and Shivan Dante, who both surpass Juggernaut classification by five-fold, and hammer away at each other with weapons that could oneshot any other ship in the game for several minutes, yet never drop below 75% hull integrity. Unique mention goes to the GTD Carthage, an FS2 veteran destroyer that was built near the end of the Great War (FS1), heavily retrofitted and equipped with experimental technology, and now presents a totally unique and very powerful threat to any battle-group. To give you an idea, this ship would have likely wiped the floor with FS1's ultimate Cool Ship, the SD Lucifer.
One of the corvettes in the prologue is named 'Snipes', though this one is hard to see since the player can't change the camera angle.
Remember the player character of the first game? That one freaked-out pilot in the Nebula in the second game? Lieutenant Ash from the first game's opening cutscene?All were Nagari-sensitive, and connecting with either the Shivans or Vishnans.
There are even cross-continuity nods: the GTVA was apparently motivated at least partially by the events of "Vassago's Dirge", another fan-campaign. See also The Cameo entry.
Cosmic Horror Story: Between the Vishnans, Shivans, and Whatever you see in War In Heaven's Universal Truth should you turn around, one shouldn't be surprised.
Crazy-Prepared: Admiral Steele has contingencies for the contingencies. He, and often the SOC as well, often do things that are disadvantageous, but can potentially end up as crucial elements in setting up a gambit in the future. In other words, they'll take a small loss to set up something that, for the foreseeable future, has no use whatsoever, just because at some point it might be very useful in whatever gambit they come up with down the line. This allows them to pull off plans with alarming frequency. Thankfully, the UEF officers aren't slouches, either.
Death Seeker: Captain Gennady of the Katana, in the extra mission included you see why he choose to stand back and hold the line to allow the Indus and Yangtze to escape.
Defensive Feint Trap: Used in the climax of War in Heaven Act 2 by the GTVA. The Wargods fight a desperate battle to destroy the GTD Carthage which is hunkering down above the rings of Saturn. After a difficult battle the Wargods get within spitting distance of victory...only for a destroyer that UEF intelligence said was out of the system to jump in and wipe the floor with the Wargods' already damaged ships.
Designated Heroinvoked: The UEF, because Blue Planet runs on moral ambiguity.
Despair Event Horizon: The UEF seems to be hovering right on the edge of it. And Kassim ultimately, he was not ready to see so many people die.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: If you destroy the GTD Carthage in Delenda Est - which is only feasible by cheating - Mr. Cuddles, a Sathanas Juggernaut, will show up to attack you. If you can destroy Mr. Cuddles too, you even get a debriefing specifically made for such an occasion!
It is also impossible to stop the corvettes warning the GTD Carthage during the initial trap for it, period. Even if you disable every single subsystem, they still manage to jury-rig a transmitter to warn the Carthage to retreat. You cannot stop this without losing the mission, as the corvette(s) must survive.
Dialogue Tree: One mission involves Noemi having to talk Captain Simms out of a depression through Epiphany Therapy using these. It's surprisingly tricky.
Not exactly an Epiphany Therapy, though, as Simms is more on the verge of a specific Despair Event Horizon, rather than actually being depressed or traumatized. The epiphany isn't some new information, it's reminding Simms of a perspective that Simms herself once had, and simultaneously providing reassurance and credibility that that perspective has merit. That, and The Power of Friendship and The Power of Love. Simms doesn't "snap out of it" even then, though, as its a gradual process (but the very fact that Simms takes even a step in the other direction is very noticeable to everyone else and a huge relief.
Difficult, But Awesome: The Slammer area-suppression missile is very difficult to master and you don't get very many, but with proper positioning and timing one of them can take down an entire squadron of fighters before they get anywhere near you.
Downer Beginning: War in Heaven opens with an in-game cutscene of the UEF military installation at Jupiter being overrun, and a frigate captain ordering his battlegroup into a suicidal attack to buy time for more civilians to escape.
False Flag Operation: Used by both the UEF and the GTVA. The GTVA colluded with the Gefs to ambush a Vasudan destroyer during a diplomatic meeting, and announce that they were doing it under orders from the UEF. Later, the UEF uses captured Gefs to attack Vasudan logistical ships so that the GTVA thinks the Gefs are trying to play both sides.
Fantastic Slurs: The GTVA call the UEF "Feds", the UEF call the GTVA "Tevs", everyone calls the Gaian Effort "Gefs", and Gaians call the UEF "Buntus".
Notably, though, the 'Tev' moniker is actually rather pragmatic, as only the Terran half of the GTVA is at war with the UEF—the Vasudans are largely neutral/uninvolved. Since the UEF doesn't want to piss off the Vasudans and does want to improve relations with them, the UEF uses 'Tev' as a way to distinguish the entity that they're at war with from the entity that they'd like to be friends with (but is officially friends with the enemy entity).
Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: UEF Warships use multiple mass-driver cannons attached to the bow of their ships to deal out severe pain. The main purpose of the Narayana class in particular revolves around the artillery potential of it's forward guns. Also the GTVA's Chimera and Bellerophon class corvettes and Titan class destroyers.
Four-Star Badass: Admiral Calder on the UEF side, and Admiral Steele, Admiral Lopez, and even Admiral Severanti on the GTVA side. Admirals Netreba and Byrne, of the UEF's 1st and 2nd Fleets, are certainly smart and competent in their own right, but time will tell if they have a badass streak or not.
Gameplay and Story Integration: A retroactive example. In the first game, there were the "Ancient Monologue" cutscenes that would appear every so often. Blue Planet implies that these weren't cutscenes for the benefit of the player, but that the player characters was actually seeing them through a Nagari contact.
He has some sort of grand master plan ("Project Shambhala") that will evidently require all of Earth's surviving military industrial capacity, virtually all of First Fleet, all of the captured and defected GTVA ships at the UEF's disposal, and substantial additional resources, but it's never explained what the plan entails, and it still hasn't been put into effect yet.
Glass Cannon: Appears to be the main functions of the new Chimera and Bellerophon corvettes, they are powerful, but are completely helpless should an enemy capital ship get close or approach them from a blindside.
This is because they're intentionally imitating the blitz tactics of the Shivans - drop out of subspace on your enemy's flank and hit them so hard they never get up again. It should come as no surprise that they do not perform as well during prolonged engagements.
Gratuitous Spanish: Gratuitous Catalan actually, "Desperta Ferro!" (literally: "Awake Iron!"), which was the battle cry of the Almogavars,a famed group of mercenaries from the medieval kingdom of Aragon, today a part of Spain.
Grey and Gray Morality: Each side has a cause they believe in and does some very shady things (though the UEF is notably A Lighter Shade of Grey in most respects, but under the circumstances makes them—and possibly the rest of the GTVA—extremely vulnerable to a Shivan invasion).
Hazy Feel Turn: Half the 14th Battlegroup's personnel, and three of their ships, defect to the UEF at the end of Age of Aquarius.
Hello, Insert Name Here: Averted. Unlike the original games, the player characters in Blue Planet are defined characters with their own names, personalities, and life stories.
He Who Fights Monsters: Noemi muses that as the war drags on, the United Earth Federation seem to be slowly losing their "Ubuntu" nature and becoming more like the GTVA. For instance, in the beginning, protecting civilians was the UEF's top priority. Near the end of War in Heaven Act II, some have become focused in fighting the GTVA that they considered the civilian caught in between to be "Necessary Losses".
Act III shows that Laporte is dangerously close to the line after the events of Delenda Est. However, in toeing the line, some others call her "the Ubuntu ideal".
The GTVA themselves has started to copy Shivan technology and tactics, and even making them several times more effective that they are on the way of becoming the new destroyers.
Hindu Mythology: The story of Blue Planet is quite obviously influenced by elements of Hindu myths and beliefs.
His Name Is...The elder you are escorting is killed by GTVA assassins right before he explains the transmission from the Vasudan logistics ship.
Then in act 3, there's a complete reversal of the situation where you're the assassin piloting a stealth fighter and tasked with killing a traitorous elder before she reveals important info to Steele.
Hopeless War: The UEF are completely outmatched by the GTVA.
Most of the reason they're losing so badly is they are fighting a completely defensive war, rarely if ever performing offensive missions or counterattacks. Word of God is that if the UEF was making the most of their resources, they'd stand a good chance of defeating the GTVA... or at least of driving them out of Sol.
Maybe of draining the GTVA's political will, but not of "winning" in terms of military superiority. The overwhelming power of the GTVA's military is one of the reasons why the Elders are so keen on diplomacy rather than force.
Hopeless Boss Fight: The second mission of War in Heaven, when the Serkr team jumped in and destroyed the Ranvir that you have been trying so hard to defend.
Hope Spot: War in Heaven likes to toss these out before brutally crushing them.
Heroic BSOD: Seemingly happen to Kassim in War in Heaven, early on after his first real combat sorties, he frequently strays from his path during missions, and midway he apparently freaked out, may or may not be Go Mad from the Revelation, could be just trauma of war or having visions similar to Laporte. The same thing happened with Lorna Simms shortly after the Rheza Station battle until Laporte beat some sense into her, and again after Delenda Est.
100% Completion: Most people will try at some stage, such as making sure almost every friendly capital ships survive, and ensuring the destruction of every single non-plot critical enemy ships.
Humans Are the Real MonstersandHumans Are Good, with the clash between the two clearly reinforcing that Humans Are Flawed. However, this is far more important than it might initially seem: the Vishnans and Shivans seem to be debating which of the two humanity will turn out to be, or if it's already decided.
Humans Are Special: Averted. Though the two human protagonists of the series are able to achieve a form of communication with the Shivans and/or Vishnans due to their Nagari sensitivity, it is also apparent that the Vasudans also have N-sensitive individuals as evidenced by the Jester. The Vishnans also state in Age of Aquarius that both races (Humans and Vasudans) exhibited potential, though what this means is not yet clear.
Hyperspeed Ambush: Used frequently by both the GTVA and UEF. In fact most of the newer GTVA warships are designed specifically with this tactic in mind.
Icarus Allusion: The name of the first mission (and song) of Act 3, which is an in-game cutscene showing the Wargods being annihilated completely and utterly on the cusp of what was to be their greatest victory.
Interface Screw: The UEF's favourite tactics to compensate for their lack of brute force is to jam the enemy's beams.
It Gets Easier: Laporte starts the War in Heaven campaign and her first battle worrying about this very concept. Judging by her actions and personality later on in the campaign, especially act 3, her worries were justified.
It's Up to You: Averted. Unlike in the original games, trying to do everything yourself instead of using your wingmen tends to end badly.
Keystone Army: The Vishnan Sacred Keeper functions as a keystone. Killing a Keeper is not easy, but should one manage it, it will shut down an entire Vishnan fleet instantly.
Knight Templar: The Wargods as well as those on the Toutatis have become like this near the end, forgetting their Ubuntu principles, especially when hunting the GTD Carthage: not only is Admiral Lopez not exactly a bad person, but they are willing to sacrifice hundreds of civilians in doing so and label them collateral damage.
Last Stand: Many, The UEFg Yangtze, after its subspace drive is shot out leaving it unable to retreat, turns back towards the GTVA fleet in a desperate, suicidal attack.Age of Aquarius features at least half a dozen of these, with the player alternating between being the Big Damn Heroes or one of the people going down with a fight.Delenda Est, the final mission of the first chapter of War In Heaven is notable for feeling like this for both sides of the battle, simultaneously and throughout. It even features "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner's on both sides at the beginning, middle, and end.
Late Arrival Spoiler: The fact that the GTVA is attacking Sol was originally a massive Twist Ending to Age of Aquarius. However, it's almost completely impossible to talk about War in Heaven without mentioning this.
Lethal Joke Weapon: TAG missiles were known for having a small niche where they were actually more than novelties. But in War In Heaven, where jamming beam weapons' accuracy and coherency is often the only thing preventing UEF ships from getting gutted in short order, getting hit by a TAG missile—which can allow GTVA ships to accurately target UEF ships with their beams—is one of the ultimate Oh Crap moments. This comes into FULL effect in Delenda Est, whereupon one of your ships realizes with dawning horror—too late—that they've been hit with a TAG missile, and is promptly obliterated in a single shot. That ship was your AWACS ship.
Lightning Bruiser: The Lao Tze advanced fighter used by the White Guard. The Durga bombers may also count seeing how fast they tear through unfortunate GTVA corvettes that are not fast enough to run.
Macross Missile Massacre + More Dakka: The UEF fighting doctrine, unlike the GTVA which uses powerful beam weapons, involves dakka-venting the enemy ships with multiple railguns and spamming loads of torpedoes at the enemy (hopefully also knocking out several weapons and subsystems).
They are still outranged and outgunned by GTVA warships of comparable size. Many UEF tactics revolve around deception and electronic warfare to throw off the GTVA beam cannons' aim and catch GTVA warships in disadvantageous positions. For a UEF ship to fight a "Tev" ship on equal terms is to give the GTVA an almost certain victory.
The range of the railguns have been significantly increased before release. A Narayana can actually fight off two Deimos at the same time.
The Solaris is the pinnacle of this of course, with 12 torpedo launchers (each fires 4 Apocalypse torpedoes each salvo) and the railguns are mounted on turrets allowing it to engage enemies in any direction. In addition, its numerous burst flaks and PDS will send any enemy bombers that comes close into a Bullet Hell nightmare (just see how many torpedoes the Toutatis unloaded on the Hood).
Made of Indestructium: The Vishnan Preserver and the Shivan Dante hammer away at each other with ridiculously powerful, "can kill any other ship in one shot", Wave Motion Guns throughout "Universal Truth", but it's unlikely either will be down below three-quarters health by the end of the mission.
Magnetic Weapons: The secondary armament of most UEF capital ships (the main armament being the torpedoes).
Manipulative Bastard: Laporte comes to believe the Vishnans are just using humanity for their own ends, and do not have humanity's best interests in mind. This is also, coincidentally, the position GTVA High Command is taking.
Meaningful Name: Many, but the one that arguably takes the cake is the second-to-last mission of War in Heaven's second chapter, titled "Delenda Est", and the primary objective in that mission is to destroy the GTD Carthage. In the Roman Republic, the Latin phrase "Carthago delenda est", translated as "Carthage must be destroyed", was very popular during the war against Carthage, an ancient city in current-day Tunisia.
The phrase was apparently uttered at the end of almost every single speech by some speakers, even if the topic of the speech was completely unrelated to the war against Carthage. This could say a lot about the UEF's motivations at this point.
Mental World: War in Heaven Act III shows examples of this in both the Fedayeen dreamscape and the Nagari network.
Mind Hive: Ken, who is an amalgamation of the captured crew of the Iceni and some Shivan influence. Al-Da'wa is revealed to be something similar: the combined psyche of the Fedayeen.
Mind Screw: Pretty much anytime someone is contacted via the Nagari phenomenon. Best displayed in the final mission of War in Heaven Act III.
Modern Stasis: Or a distinct lack thereof. The GTVA has actually bothered to get off its arse to design and build some new warships and strikecraft after the end of the original campaign. They are also statistically superior to their predecessors. Fortunately the UEF hasn't been slacking off either.
Necessarily Evil: "Nothing is true; everything is permitted", the creed of the Fedayeen. Their reason for existence is to ensure humanity's survival... through any means necessary. If it means teaming up with terrorist organizations, slaughtering members of your own side, attacking innocents, or committing war crimes, then so be it.
Humanity's survival or the UEF?
They believe humanity's survival requires the UEF... so both.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The UEF manage to get Admiral Severanti, who was in charge of the invasion, removed from command by making him look like an idiot ... only to see him replaced by Admiral Steele.
Steele was already there, he just took over completely when Severanti was pulled back.
No Endor Holocaust: Averted. The story mentions Earth having to deal with huge amounts of falling debris from orbital battles. The effects of radiation from the megatons of ordinance going off in almost every major battle are also mentioned.
Not So Different: A running theme in Blue Planet so far is that, in defeating the Shivans, the GTVA are starting to dangerously resemble them in a lot of ways. This is most apparent in their new ship designs, which use reverse-engineered Shivan weapons and are quite obviously heavily inspired by Shivan warship designs, and in their new battle tactics, which emulate observed Shivan fleet behavior almost exactly. It's also rather telling that, on the few occasions in Blue Planet that GTVA and Shivan forces meet each other in a straight-up, even fight, the humans almost always win - which means that they may well be on the way to becoming the new Destroyers.
Think about the war between the GTVA and UEF as a conflict between the Shivan-influenced and Vishnan-Influenced branches of humanity. How much of that reflects the conflict between the Shivans and Vishnans themselves?
Oh Crap: Pretty much any time a big Shivan capship shows up in Age of Aquarius, and the surprise entrance of the GTD Imperieuse in War in Heaven.
"Trebuchet strike incoming!"
— Status message shown when any warship (usually friendly and on your escort list) is hit by a TAG-C in War in Heaven.
Ominous Latin Chanting: Numerous missions, most notably the end of Delenda Estwhen the GTD Imperieuse shows up.
The Dreamscape music contains an Arabic chant, which turns out to be a prayer praising God as creator of all things.
Another one is near the end of Her Finest Hour
Playing the Heart Strings: The ending of Delenda Estas the Yangtze decides to face the Imperieuse head on after being rendered unable to escape, and promptly gets disintegrated by the Imperieuse's forward beam cannons as its remaining fighters get picked off one by one, all the while a rearranged version of "Still Reprise" from the Black Hawk Down soundtrack plays in the background just to make sure the scene is appropriately sad enough.
Point Defenseless: Refreshingly, the UEF ships actually have fairly (relatively speaking) competent point defense systems compared to the GTA's flak.
So thoroughly averted that attacking UEF and GTVA cruisers, corvettes, and frigates is going to get you ripped to shreds if you linger more than a short time inside their range. The second mission of War In Heaven starts with you just inside the point-defense range of a GTVA cruiser, and if you don't hit your burners and run away at top speed immediately, it's almost likely for you to die right then and there. It does a nice job of establishing just how averted this trope is.
Praetorian Guard: The Knights of the White Brotherhood, also known as the White Guard.
Precursors: The Vishnans are eons old, and are advanced enough to stand up directly to the Shivans on more or less even terms. And they had Precursors named the Brahmans, who are extinct. The Shivans themselves claim to predate even the Brahmans.
Psychic Powers: The "Nagari" phenomenon that is the source of both player characters' visions.
Reason You Suck Speech: The Vishnans deliver a fairly epic one to the Shivans (of all people) at the end of Age of Aquarius, essentially telling them that they've screwed up big-time and then to get the hell out of this sector of space.
Red Baron: Lorna Simms and Karen Ngmei have earned quite a reputation among GTVA pilots, giving them bounties in their heads of unspeakable amount which nobody dares to collect. Laporte also earned one (The Butcher of Rheza) after Darkest Hour.
Actually, depending on player this can either be played straight or averted, since it is (technically) possible to pass the mission with your whole squad alive. Saving Nehru will be noted in the de-briefing, but does not result in any further branching - Lt. Nehru is never seen or heard of afterwards, and the popular consensus is that if he survives he suffers from nervous breakdown and is confined to the sickbay for the remainder of Age of Aquarius.
Scenery Porn: Go play any of the Earth Missions in War in Heaven. The view of Earth is beautiful. That is of course, after you may have been a bit weary if you saw the consequences of failing Good Luck in FreeSpace 1 during Age of Aquarius...
The dev team actually had some proper voice acting recordings for his death. However, Nehru happened to be the very last minor character to be voice acted, possibly delaying the release by some time. Hilariously, they decided to use the Wilhelm scream instead of the voice acted lines (the originals were the somewhat more dignified "Not like this...").
Straight Gay: Noemi Laporte, the Player Character of War in Heaven, as well as her love interest/commanding officer Lorna Simms - two tough, competent, disciplined fighter pilots who just happen to be attracted to their own gender, a fact which is treated as entirely normal and never commented on.
Survivor Guilt: Laporte definitely shows signs of this after the Wargods' destruction. The final mission of act 3 gives Laporte the option to stay within the memory of Delenda Est until her mind deteriorates beyond repair, due in large part to her anguish over the events of that mission.
Sword of Damocles: Admiral Byrne has this in mind for his flagship, the Solaris, which also happens to be the lead ship of the Federation's biggest Cool Ship. His other colleagues do not share the same strategy.
Talking in Your Dreams: The Fedayeen Dreamscape uses the Nagari phenomenon to allow its members to share experiences and thoughts while asleep.
Techno Babble: What Laporte gets when she manages to access the Shivan thought-network. It is meaningful, but good luck puzzling it out:
Victorious Chorus / One-Woman Wail: The ending of Aristeia in which the Toutatis has just curb-stomped the Hood and the Wargods have captured a GTVA logistics ship, delaying the Alliance attack on Earth by about a few months and scoring the Federation it's biggest victory in the war so far. What follows is this musical piece as Admiral Calder announces his intention to take the fight back to Steele.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can take a hostage in the mission For All the Wrong Reasons in War in Heaven and threaten or even murder her.
Or if you are such a bloodthirsty bastard, make sure you equip some anti-subsystem weapons and use them to destroy the engines of enemy ships (most of the time, they just let them go) to ensure their destruction.
Act 3 cranks this up to eleven. In the first mission alone you can detonate some hostage pilots you're using for a strike after they outlive their usefulness, and destroy your own UEF fighters who's only crime was stumbling into your black ops mission and seeing too much.
Another one, you can choose to destroy the GTD Carthage after Admiral Lopez surrendered.
Voice of the Legion: The Vishnans and, as of War in Heaven Act 3, the Shivans too. It has the effect of making them sound impressive and awe-inspiring rather than sinister.
War Is Hell: War In Heaven features this trope in abundance. However, it is done in unusual ways: it's so much worse, because both sides are full of good people who are in no way evil, forced to kill each other in droves. Little tastes of peace make the war so much more horrific and tragic. Both sides want the war over as soon as possible, but both sides have good reasons for not wanting to be on the losing side when the dust settles.
The War Sequence: Universal Truth from Age of Aquarius, and Aristeia, Delenda Est, and Her Finest Hour from War in Heaven.
"Well Done, Son!" Guy: Samuel Bei was never forgiven by his father for failing to protect his mother from being killed by the Shivans.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Based on what little has been revealed of Shivan and Vishnan objectives, they may fall under this trope. Both of them have plans to avert some kind of looming cataclysm. They appear to be currently flip-flopping on whether humanity's continued existence is beneficial or detrimental to those plans. Ironically, it's the Vishnans that appear to be leaning towards wiping out humanity, whereas the Shivans want to preserve humanity.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The sleeper ship Sanctuary, along with its entire crew, simply disappears between the events of Age of Aquarius and War in Heaven, and is never mentioned again. So are the fellow GTVA defectors in GTL Solace, GTCv Labouchere, and GTC Duke who decided to follow Admiral Bei.
The GTL Solace is actually mentioned by Netreba after you capture the Agincourt in Aristea. The Solace (and now presumably the Agincourt) is being used in some capacity for Byrne's project.
GTVA beam cannons are, however, far more powerful and generally more accurate than railguns, and the nukes can be shot down. The UEF rely on jamming systems to confuse GTVA sensors and prevent them from using their beams effectively.
While less powerful, railguns are usually more accurate than beams weapons. In fact the gauss cannons mounted on UEF ships do impressive damage to subsystems and turrets and are quite adept at disarming enemy ships.
You Shall Not Pass: Four White Guard fighters facing down a huge horde of Gaian Effort raiders in Deals in Shadows. The Gefs are ... less than impressed by their dramatic speech.
"Hahaha! Listen to these dogs! Don't let them close, or they might break a lance on your hull!"
In Delenda Est, the vast majority of the Wargods attempt this to allow the Indus and Yangtze to escape when the GTD Imperieuse shows up. It is a spectacular (and tear jerking) failure, as the Imperieuse wipes the floor with them with no effort at all.
Zerg Rush: The preferred way the Gaian Effort deal with their enemies, such as on mission 5 (3 of you versus about 15-20 of them) and mission 13 (2 veteran pilots and 4 elite guards against endless wave of them).