It is the 26th Century. Peace prevails in the Earth's solar system. Tachyon gates allow us to travel tremendous distances in mere seconds. This is the Golden Age of space exploration... But there is trouble on the fringe of civilized space: Large corporations, desperate for new resources, threaten to overtake distant colonies. The colonists, fearing for their independence, respond with violence... Life is anything but peaceful in the Fringe.
Tachyon: The Fringe is a Space Flight Simulator made by NovaLogic in the year 2000, developed by Randy Casey (the maker of F-22 Lightning II). It follows the story of a 26th-century expert pilot Jake Logan, who lived a great contractor's career in our Solar System, flying freelance and fighting other people's fights.That was of course, until something goes horribly wrong. An emergency escort mission goes south as a hospital gets destroyed, and Jake ends up being the fall guy. He is subsequently exiled from Sol (with a very short trial) to a colonized region of space called the Fringe. Eventually, Jake gets a new life together, and the player controlling him has to pick a side, which is either the Galactic Spanning Corporation, or the Bora Mining Guilds, who are in a war of territorial claims. One does it all for the sake of money, the other does it to protect their territorial rights.Tachyon is unique, not like the other games by NovaLogic, because it takes place in space, does not have a sequel, and is the only game that does not have to do with anything by the United States Military. Not to mention a definitive storyline.There is a remake of this game in progress, based on the FreeSpace 2 Open Source Project. (Don't get your hopes up; as with most such hobby projects, it's been going on for a while and the implementers don't seem to have any time to spend on it.) Fortunately, unlike a certain other space dog-fighting game, you won't have much trouble installing the real thing anyhow.
Tachyon: The Fringe contains examples of the following tropes:
Withdraw From or Taking Away Independence. GalSpan initiates the takeover. One pilot said that "The Independence Base is now the legal property of the Galactic Spanning Corporation. You will surrender your ships immediately."
In the Bora mission The Attack, GalSpan launches an onslaught on Bora space, and manages to destroy an EW Station and take over some shipyards. Jake is immediately sent to prevent any further damage.
Animal Theme Naming: A lot of independent ship designs use the names of predatory fish (e.g. Mako, Piranha).
Asteroid Thicket: Present in several sectors, some of which have lost cargo hidden in an asteroid. You can get a small reward for returning it, although it's usually not worth the time spent looking for it.
Attack Its Weak Point: Capital ships have destroyable subsystems. Take out the powerplant, it can't move. Destroy the weapons generator, it can't shoot. Blow up the shield generator, and its deflector shields won't regenerate. There are occasions where time constraints make this mode of attack inadvisable, but they're rare.
Big "NO!": Dr. Randall Cassitor in Final Retribution, when Demon Pirates start to destroy his station, thanks to Jake and a pilot that was recovered from the Twilight by the League of Scientists.
Bounty Hunter: Jake in the mission to capture Redship Rory. Although, to be fair, Jake is working with Star Patrol on this one. It doesn't help when Rory's crew jams Jake's transmissions to Star Patrol, forcing him to go alone.
Brick Joke / InvertedChekhov's News: During the Justified Tutorial (see below), a group of target drones go haywire and attack you. After your exile, the news reports that the flight instructor you evaluated saves her students from a similar encounter.
Cool, but Inefficient: The railgun seems wonderful on paper. A ton of damage delivered via Hit Scan - which is a boon in the Tachyon world, where every other weapon has painfully slow projectiles that require lots of leading. But the firing rate is very slow, and most importantly every shot eats a ton of energy, so it's impossible to resort to railguns as your only weapon. And even using them with other guns, it doesn't take long before you figure out you'd almost always do more damage by shooting continuously with something else instead of waiting for the railgun(s) to recharge.
The Bora Pulsar Laser is a lot of fun and will chew up a target with ease. Unfortunately, it drains your reactor's energy like no one's business...energy you need to share with your shields or engines.
The Helios Rocket. Big boom. Nice explosive radius. Slower than molasses and expensive to boot...it is also an anti-capital-ship weapon, but there are better choices for both factions.
Except for multiplayer, where it's the only weapon capable of taking out a starbase.
The Corona Device that temporarily turns your ship into a Blast Torpedo and deals damage to any ship in immediate vicinity, while also draining your shields. Unfortunately, most of the time the enemy will be too far away for the device to be of much use. And if someone's firing at you, the last thing you want is to have your shields drain.
Cool Ship: The Deliverance. Too bad it gets blown away by a single volley from the Zeus.
Corporate Warfare: Each Mega Corp. maintains a private Navy, ostensibly to protect their supply chains from piracy. They're also sometimes put to use in inter-company squabbles, which generally isn't a good idea because it makes Star Patrol grumpy.
Deadpan Snarker: Logan gets a lot of this, but the queen of snark in this game is Baroness Onrald. One of her voice-overs layers the sarcasm on so thickly that Baron Hajod doesn't realize that he's been insulted until she lets the other shoe drop.
Defeat Means Friendship: Averted with Straw Feminist Lakita Ramos. The only reason she's available as a wingman is because her supervisor told her to be, and she never forgives you for being male or, more to the point, for showing her up.
Determinator: The Bora are portrayed as this in both timelines, best summed up in the final battle when the frigate Courageous is going to explode.
Courageous's captain: "We can't hold the Courageous together, she's gonna break up! Don't let us die for nothing!"
Foreshadowing: What Jake says before being thrown past the gate to the Hub: The Fringe is a lawless region, controlled by corrupt corporations, fanatical colonials, pirates... and well, madmen.Corresponds to GalSpan, Bora, any of the Frontier pirate groups, and take any insane person, such as Baron Hajod, Randall Cassitor or the Demon Pirates.
The Exile: Jake Logan. Depending on the player's choice, he finds a new home amongst the Bora or is allowed to return to the Sol system.
Game-Breaking Bug: Normally, mega-gates cannot be targeted and, therefore, opened using a cheat code. There is one, however, near Neptune that is selectable (and openable) but will deposit the player in empty space without stars, planets, or a way out. The gate was used in the exile cutscene.
Game Mod: The "Bloodstar Mod" would add a bunch of 3rd party ships to multiplayer, at the cost of replacing all the Bora or Galspan ships and breaking the single-player campaign.
Grey and Grey Morality: On the surface this looks like a typical 'evil corporation' plot, but after playing through both sides you find that either faction has their share of evils. In one of the GalSpan escort missions you learn that the Bora commonly raid GalSpan shipping, even if it's not war-related, as well as preying on GalSpan-related civilian shipping. GalSpan destroy several non-military starbases in Bora space as well as associating with the criminal Barons and blow up the Haley medical station in Sol, causing Jake's exile. Bora actively deal with terrorists and madmen. Both sides have valid reasons for fighting; GalSpan has legitimate claim to the territory the Bora occupies, and the Bora of course are fighting for their homes. Unfortunately, it is also stated in a news broadcast that should GalSpan fall, the huge redundancies that will follow will wreck the entire Fringe economy, making you, as the destroyer of GalSpan...
Guide Dang It: There's a bunch of extra opportunities to make money that you'll only find by wandering around the regions. This FAQ lists most of them.
Hit Scan: The railgun. Every other weapon has moving projectiles, but the railgun is instant-hit.
Hub Level: Not exactly, but after Jake gets banished from Sol, this is where he can access multiple regions via megagates after choosing a career.
Justified Tutorial: And a pretty clever one at that. Since Jake Logan is already supposed to be an established fighter pilot, Novalogic framed the tutorial as an evaluation of a newly hired flight instructor.
Killed Mid-Sentence: In the Bora mission The Attack, the lead technician from the New Dawn EW Station ends up with this.
La Résistance: Bora's hat. They started as a political group after the formation of One World Order and decided to leave the Sol sector through a one-way gate. Obviously, they didn't bother to get permission to settle a region of space far from Sol from a government they hated.
Large Ham: Damn it all Hajod, even your Narm Charmin the Sistine Chapel scene (Recovery in good faith) makes this even more rich.
Need remembering?I will not turn over this pretty ceiling, it is mine now! MINE MINE MINE! You will die for such a flagrant intrusion!
This is particularly notable because his voice actor manages to out-ham Bruce Campbell himself, a man whose chin overacts. Sadly, Hajod's voice actor only ever did work on Tachyon and does not appear to have surfaced in any other projects.
Logan himself only seems to alternate between making snarky asides to himself and loudly taking up the entire communication channel in response to the rest of the cast.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: One newscast mentions that Saturn's NovaWorld Arena is expanding. NovaWorld is the game's multiplayer hosting service.
Left Hanging: The only clue we had for a possible sequel was in a news report later in the game that implied there was a faster-than-Tachyon travel system possible. But seeing as Nova pulled the plug on this game, well...
MacGuffin: The five core components for the Hephaestus Module or Project Deliverance.
Mad Scientist: Dr. Randall Cassitor, because of his acts of human experimentation (which got him banned from the League of Scientists). All because he claimed it was For Science! and the betterment of humanity.
Meaningful Name: The game is full of those, especially the names of ships for GalSpan.
Zeus: Director Atkins' flagship and the most powerful ship in GalSpan fleet, since it blew up Bora's latest ship with a single salvo.
Olympus: Atkins' headquarters.
Orpheus: "ripped apart" by Bora.
Persephone: captured and held in Rory's "underworld".
Hephaestus: GalSpan's enormous forge.
Mega Corp.: GalSpan is the biggest example, but pretty much every company in the game.
Mission Control: Anna Highfall (Bora) and Tricia Bales (GalSpan). If you take the Bora path, Jake and Anna will eventually become an item. If you take the GalSpan path, Jake will attempt to flirt with Tricia (including calling her "Trish"), but she will shut him down and demand that their relationship be strictly professional.
Whichever side you join, the opposition will end up leaving the Fringe and whichever home Jake goes to in the end is determined by his allegiance.
In the GalSpan ending, the corporation "discovers" evidence that can clear Jake's name of the Halley bombing and submits it to the court of appeals for review. They also give Jake a generous retirement package for the role he played in the GalSpan/Bora war so that he no longer has to work ever again. The Bora are forced out of the Fringe and Jake returns home to Mars after his long exile.
In the Bora ending, GalSpan is forced to leave the Fringe since the war has become too costly and ends up financially ruining the corporation. Many of its CEOs, especially Regional Director Gustav Atkins, are fired and rivals state their interest in buying it out. Because of this, the evidence that could have cleared Jake's name is lost forever and he will always be known in Sol for his role in the Halley bombing. However, he has found a new home among the Bora, who have secured their place in the Fringe and wins the affections of Anna Highfall.
Police Are Useless: In the Hub region at least. The local Star Patrol commander explicitly states he doesn't give a damn about the GalSpan/Bora war, only that they "keep it off my front porch". It takes quite a bit of trouble to get him off his ass, though it does happen (ignoring a "cease and desist" order is a good start).
Subverted in the Sol region, though; just as a fight against heavily-armed pirates seems to go badly for you, Star Patrol Enforcers pour out of the local TCG and utterly rip the pirate Shrikes to bits. Throughout the game, if you ever see Enforcer starfighters in red (hostile), run. Divert all energy to afterburners and do not look back. (Conversely, if you get on Star Patrol's good side and see them in green (allied) in certain missions...)
Portal Network: The Tachyon Coil Generator Gates, although each gate only links to one other gate. Standard gates can only move a ship (small craft) to a location within a sector (i.e. system). Mega-gates allow movement between sectors, although this is usually done by the game automatically. There are also one-way gates. Capital ships are unable to use the gates due to their size. Instead, they are equipped with portable Tachyon Coil Generators, allowing them to independently enter hyperspace. It is, however, implied that they still use gates as beacons for calculating jumps.
Shoot the Messenger: One mission has you deliver a message from Baroness Onrald to Baron Hajod. The message is a very thorough insult, and Hajod orders his slaves to kill you. You have to evade gunfire from his station's defense platforms (and a bunch of fighters that come from the only gate out of his sector) to escape, and it ain't easy.
The easiest way out? Before you land to deliver the message, fly up to each defense platform and destroy its power generator.
Space Clouds: The Twilight Region, which is a giant nebula that obscures most sensors. In fact, you need special sensors and radiation screens just to survive there. The "fog" is even seeping inside the Deep Fringe Array station. It also drives people insane after prolonged exposure, although the radiation may have something to do with it. Scientists in the game agree that the fog is unnatural and try to study it.
Space Friction: Mostly played straight, sometimes to ridiculous extent with disabled vessels coasting to a stop. Slightly averted with the use of the "Slide" maneuver, whose activation cuts your engines and lets your ship coast at its current velocity for as long as you hold down the 'slide' mode switch. Can be used to go beyond normal "top speed", if you activate 'slide' mode while at afterburner; this is extremely useful in some missions where one objective is to get to such-and-so point before someone else does.
Much more importantly, 'slide' mode allows you to fire off-axis — that is, to rotate your ship's nose away from your line of travel so that you can fire perpendicular (or at any angle) to the direction in which you're moving. Consider this capability in the context of, say, an attack on a capital ship, and you'll begin to understand why, in spite of its actually being closer to what "real space combat" might be like than most games bother to offer, some folks consider 'slide' mode a Game Breaker.
This plays an important role in one particular mission where you go to save a frigate which has its controls disabled and the engine is plowing it into Asteroid Thicket. After blowing up some of the asteroids in the way, Jake gets the idea to destroy the engine's power plant and that causes the frigate to slow down and stop.
Space Pirates: Skavs, Void Runners, Blood Clan, Demon Pirates (only in name, as they don't care about capturing ships or cargo; they just kill all who enter the Twilight Fog), Cinder Station Mercenaries (only associated with pirates).
Space Western: Eventually a mission called 'The Posse' will become available at New Vegas starbase in the Frontier region, featuring lots of dialogue alluding to this ("Let me just strap on my old six-shooter!").
Straw Feminist: Lakita Ramos, a wingman you can hire early in the GalSpan plotline, treats you like an idiot because you're a man.
The Reveal: Warning: This is the most important part of the story. Read at own risk. In the Bora mission Weasel in the Coop, Gray Weasel tells Jake that GalSpan was behind the destruction of Halley Medical Station. They accidentally released a contagion on Halley, and when BioLith (a hazmat company) tries to help and finds out that GalSpan was somehow involved, they decided to replace an AGT Medical Shuttle (the real Argoso 914) with their "clean slate solution" (a shuttle with scan-proof explosives). And Jake ends up as the fall guy, naturally.
Units Not to Scale: Subverted. The game is known for its more-or-less realistic scale, with capital ships being much larger than fighters and space stations being truly humongous. Since planets always stay in the background, you are never sure how close you are to them.
Videogame Cruelty Potential: In one early mission, Jake runs into an old friend from Mars (Samantha Crawley, after you finish your contract in Investigate Minefield) who is on routine patrol with no enemies around. It would be a shame if something happened to her...
Videogame Cruelty Punishment: Averted. You can fire and destroy all the friendly ships you want and they never turn on you, nor does it ever affect the missions (unless you end up destroy some plot-critical element, of course).
What the Hell, Hero?: Several instances of this trope occur. Especially on your first mission in the Hub (well duh, you blew up a hospital, framed or not, they still call you out on that).
A mild example if you start shooting at freighters near a base. The freighter crew will yell at station control, who in return will yell at you.
What Could Have Been: A whole lot of fans for this game would have expected Nova to make a sequel for this, as they do for their most successful games. Sadly, this was not the case. Most of the online support died when Nova relocated their servers from San Francisco to Los Angeles.