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Video Game / Nexus: The Jupiter Incident

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Nexus: The Jupiter Incident is an RTS for PC, released in 2004 by the Hungary-based Mithis Entertainment. The game spent most of its life in Development Hell. It started as Imperium Galactica III: Genesis, being developed by Digital Reality. However, the publisher GT Interactive went bankrupt, and the title was "borrowed" by Philos Laboratories. When their lease expired, the project was renamed to Galaxy Andromeda. Then Philos Laboratories went bankrupt, and Mithis Entertainment picked up the development, resulting in Nexus: The Jupiter Incident. While the game in its current state has nothing to do with the Imperium Galactica series, its storyline remained largely unchanged from the original project, becoming the unofficial prequel to the series.

The game is notable for its unique approach to space combat, as well as its remarkable graphics for the time and attention to detail. Unfortunately, various bugs and extremely difficult Stealth Based Missions marred the otherwise interesting gameplay.

During the campaign, the player controls a small flotilla of ships (can range from 1 to 10), with one ship (Stiletto or Angelwing) being the main one. If that ship is destroyed or damaged beyond repair, the game is over. The game allows the player two main forms of controlling movement: direct Homeworld-style orders and simply issuing various orders and selecting targets from the list. In practice, the first method is usually ignored by most players, as gameplay dynamics make it a must to give control of most of the movement to the computer. The player is left managing tactics, weapons, energy distribution, and repair, which usually turns out to be a handful during heated battles. In-between missions, the player is given a certain number of points to spend on repairing and upgrading the flotilla. There usually aren't enough points to spend on all the "goodies", so the player is required to carefully manage his or her spending (unspent points don't carry over to the next mission). Also, the mission briefings do not always give the best idea of what awaits the player, so a playthrough may be required to determine the best loadout.

During battles, the player can select the ships' general behavior towards a single target. For example, the Angelwing may be ordered to conduct a "Shield Attack" on an enemy cruiser, which will cause the ship to close in and engage the cruiser with its energy shells only, maneuvering to bring the necessary weapons to bear, as well as conducting evasive maneuvers to dodge enemy shots. Once that task is done, the ship will automatically determine the next task/target, depending on the "level of freedom" assigned to the ship by the player. While the ships' maneuvering is focused on one ship, the player can manually assign various targets to the ship's other weapons. This means that a ship can simultaneously engage several enemy ships.

Weapons are divided into several groups: anti-armor (railguns, effective at destroying the hull; largely ineffective against shields), energy shells (overload enemy Deflector Shields; no effect on armor), lasers (anti-hardpoint weapons; damage specific devices; very little hull/shield damage), flak (automated anti-fighter and anti-missile laser grid), missiles/torpedoes (limited-supply guided area-effect weapons), and special (various unique weapons). Ships can also carry wings of fighters/bombers, although they generally prove to be nothing more than a nuisance, especially if the enemy is equipped with an advanced flak grid or has his own fighter complement. Shuttles can be used to capture ships, although the enemy flak systems need to be disabled first and fighters destroyed. Other systems include power generators (main and weapons), engines (main, secondary, and combat), sensors, interplanetary drives (used to exit the mission), and special devices.

For a summary of the game's plot (warning: unmarked spoilers), see here. For a work-in-progress character sheet, see here.

The game contains examples of the following tropes:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: AI Wars are the reason AIs are outlawed in the Solar System. Also, the Mechanoids are AIs created by an alien race who have gone rogue.
    • Ironically subverted by the game itself: it's smarter to focus on the smaller details and let the game handle maneuvering.
  • Artificial Gravity: Sol System humans are only able to generate pseudo-gravity with revolving sections, which is especially necessary since it routinely takes weeks or months to get anywhere. The Vardrags, the Gorgs, and Noah colonists (courtesy of the Vardrags), and the Angelwing can generate artificial gravity fields that not only make living aboard a ship easier but also allows ships to perform crazy maneuvers without breaking apart or killing the crew.
  • The Battlestar: Most warships are able to launch at least one wing of fighters/bombers. However, their main strength still lies with their own weapons.
    • Averted late in the game, when bombers (whose torpedoes pass through shields) can pummel even battleships to death in sufficient numbers.
  • Beam Spam: The automated flak laser grids give off this feeling, firing fast-pulsing thin criss-crossing beams if fighters, bombers, shuttles, missiles/torpedoes, or escape pods are in range.
    • The Ghosts are armed exclusively with powerful lasers, capable of not only Subsystem Damage but shield and hull damage as well.
  • Camera Abuse/Screen Shake: Destroyed ships, mines and larger projectiles explode in a blazing flash that actually shakes the screen if the camera is close enough.
  • Chewing the Scenery: The Gorgs especially almost always talk very loudly in that manner.
  • Colony Ship: The Noah's Ark held 500 settlers in stasis, plus also kept a million-strong gene pool in order to add genetic variety. The ship becomes the basis for the Noah station and is later turned into a museum.
  • Cool Ship: The Angelwing is capable of single-handedly taking on an enemy battleship, despite being a cruiser. This does require a proper loadout, however.
    • The giant Vardrag city-ships also qualify, as do the three alien ships capable of teleporting during battle.
    • Prior to the Angelwing, the Stiletto certain fits the part, being highly reminiscent of Babylon 5 human ships. Despite being only a corvette, she can punch well above her weight class and can even take on heavy frigates. She also has the distinction of being the lead ship of her highly successful class, which comprises 47 ships.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Both played straight and averted. Subsystem Damage is possible in the game, although this is only done with lasers. Normal weapon strikes don't damage subsystems. However, a ship that has suffered more than 50% hull damage will have Red Alert klaxons announcing critical damage. Suffering over 75% hull damage will result in the ship being abandoned. If at least half of the Escape Pods are picked up by friendly ships, the crew of the identical ship given in the next mission will retain their experience. If most of the pods are destroyed or if the ship is finished off before the crew is able to escape, you will get a ship full of rookies instead.
  • Deflector Shields: Most ships (with the exception of Earth ships and the mysterious "White Cruisers") have these. Fort shields can be generated by Space Stations, Vardrag city-ships, and specially-equipped supply ships. These generate a huge bubble that keeps enemy ships out but allows friendly ships to pass in and out at will, as well as to fire at enemy ships from within the shield. On the downside, if an enemy ship is already within the fort shield, it can be very dangerous, as normal shields don't work inside the bubble. The only thing that can take down a fort shield is a siege laser.
    • The "White Cruisers" are also known for being able to shoot through shields, dealing devastating hull damage.
  • The Empire: The Gorg Empire and the Vardrag Confederacy.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Earth is taken over by the Mechanoids and remade to suit their needs.
  • Energy Weapon:
    • Energy shells, lasers (offensive and flak), and energy skeeters.
    • Lasers are used both to disable/destroy enemy ship systems and to defend against fighters and missiles. Shown as bright beams of varying colors and thickness. Travel instantly to target. Also see Wave-Motion Gun.
  • Escape Pod: A critically-damaged ship will launch escape pods that will then travel to the nearest friendly ship to be picked up. Due to the nature of automated flak grids, Sink The Life Boats is in full effect. If least 50% of critically-damaged ship's crew survive the battle, the brand-new ship of the same class that you get for the next mission will still have the same crew experience (but none of the same equipment). Otherwise, it will be a ship full of rookies.
  • Everything Sensor: Ships can be equipped with these, and scout destroyers already come equipped with one that cannot be removed. Using one takes time and requires that the ship drop shields and remain motionless relative to the object being scanned, which can be a bit problematic during a battle.
  • Fantastic Ship Prefix: Some governments and companies use these and some don't. For example, the ISA uses either ISF or FSF (the former is stated, and the latter could be a typo). OSEC uses OSF, and Kissaki Syndicate uses KSK. SpaceTech and the Noah colonists don't use prefixes.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Wormholes are the basis for interstellar civilization, and the collapse of the Wormhole Network is the source of most of the conflict between sapient races in the setting. Starships are also equipped with 'IP Drives' which allow interplanetary travel at relativistic speeds; the IP Drive used by the Angelwing allows it to travel between Jupiter and Pluto in just a few weeks.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: Averted, for the most part, since most weapons tend to be turreted and placed all over the hull (thus necessitating frequent turns and rotations to bring them to bear). Played straight with the Siege Laser.
  • Guide Dang It!: The mission briefings don't usually give a good idea on the best loadout for the mission, requiring either at least one playthrough or reading a walkthrough. Additionally, the poorly done Stealth Based Missions require precise actions and timing, which are almost impossible without prior knowledge of the events.
    • A particular example is the first mission where Mechanoid Angel becomes available. The game doesn't tell you until after you've started the mission that it will take ridiculous amounts of energy (way more than the Angelwing's standard loadout) to power the device.
  • The Hero: Richard and Marcus Cromwell.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: The Locust.
  • Humans Are Warriors: The Vardrag allied with the Noah colony in exchange for their superior war-making skills.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Noah colonists incorporate Vardrag technology into their ships. Also, Kissaki Syndicate managed to reverse-engineer several Angelwing systems and sell them as their own inventions.
  • I Owe You My Life: If the player managed to save Chief Zatuk from his clan's dissenters, he will appear in the second last mission with his Gorg battleship. His ship has a siege laser which can be useful.
  • ISO Standard Human Spaceship: Non-Noah human ships lack advanced technology such as Deflector Shields, FTL Travel, and Artificial Gravity. They are grey or black and highly reminiscent of Babylon 5 human ships, including spinning sections to provide pseudo-gravity.
  • Kill Sat: Defence platforms.
  • Large Ham: The Gorg seem to be even more hammy than Klingons.
  • Limit Break: Mechanoid Angel. Capable of all but trashing a battleship in a single salvo, but hope you weren't planning on doing anything else with the Angelwing's power reserve since launching it eats the lot.
  • Mega-Corp: Most of the Solar System is run by various corporations that maintain their own corporate fleets. In fact, three of them fought and won a war against the Earth government for the right to live by their own rules. The key corporations are SpaceTech (responsible for most shipbuilding), Kissaki Syndicate (youngest and most advanced), OSEC (formerly Outer Space Exploration Community), AeroSpace, and Orbital Limited.
  • Mighty Glacier: Battleships and the Vardrag city-ships.
  • More Dakka: Vice Admiral Norbank's strategy of choice involves this, Hollywood Tactics, and Bigger Is Better: get the biggest ships the Noah Defense Forces have, pick the biggest one as his personal flagship, outfit them with the biggest, most powerful weapons available, personally lead his ships into battle, and unleash all manner of death upon the enemy. Unfortunately for the Vice Admiral, all three tropes are often averted (see below). Fortunately for him, though, he's an Iron Butt Monkey who just won't die.
    • When faced with demolishing a den of rogue Raptors, both of Norbank's ships are quickly demolished by untrackable, shield-piercing missiles, and his escape pod is seemingly destroyed in the wake of their destruction.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Don't shoot Mechanoids. They'll absorb the energy and get stronger. Do shoot Mechanoids with energy-draining weapons, though.
  • Nuke 'em: Some missiles/torpedoes are nuclear-tipped.
  • Organic Technology: The Locust, and possibly the Ghosts.
  • Portal Network: The wormholes.
  • Precursors: The Creators made the Mechanoids and were all but wiped out. Several made it to the Solar System and set up a base near Pluto. They carefully guided human development to allow the creation of AIs compatible with their own.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Gorg are a whole race of these with warfare between clans being their favorite pastime.
  • Real-Time with Pause: The game is played in real-time, but single-player missions allow you to pause give orders to your ships or re-allocate power usage.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Chief Zatuk is the de jure ruler of the Gorg Empire. However, being Proud Warrior Race Guys, the Gorg spend much of their time fighting amongst themselves, with the various clans vying for power, territory, and glory. Zatuk has to constantly fend off assassination attempts by both rival clans and his own dissatisfied clansmen. He does seem willing to broker a peace treaty with the Vardrags and the Noah colony in order to focus on the more pressing threat and will even personally show up in his flagship the Warcry to help you in the next-to-last mission (if you help him survive the latest assassination attempt).
  • Robot War: The Mechanoids are AIs which use robotic spaceborne shapes for transportation.
  • Sink The Life Boats: Every ship equipped with a flak system does this if escape pods are in range. This even includes the "good guys", unless you specifically shut down the flak defenses of each of your ships (thereby leaving your ships open to missile/torpedo or fighter/bomber attacks).
  • Space Navy: The Noah colony and the Gorgs have a full complement of warships of various classes.
  • Space People: While Vardrags have a number of colonies, a sizable percentage of their population lives on enormous platforms orbiting their homeworld as well as aboard their massive city-ships.
    • The majority of the Noah colonists still live aboard their space station, with the rest living in the only city on the habitable planet below.
  • Space Whale: The Locust queen. It's also somewhat ambiguous whether the Ghosts use Organic Technology or the Living Ships that we see in-game are the Ghost.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To Homeworld. Compared to it letting you gather and spend resources to mass-produce a fleet, Nexus: The Jupiter Incident instead takes out unit production and only gives you preset units. This would, in-turn, give the various ships their own unique identities and thus reasons for you to care for them, compared to Homeworld's units just being a bunch of disposable Mook Mobiles.
  • Stealth in Space: The Ghosts are masters at this, and they later lend their cloaking device to the Angelwing along with Commander Sweetwater. It's later revealed that the device is just an amplifier of the Ghosts' natural Psychic Powers; Sweetwater is able to operate it because she herself is a psychic trained by the Ghosts. Naturally, they are necessary for Stealth Based Missions. However, they are not perfect, and the ship can still be detected if near an enemy. As expected, they're also a huge drain on power reserves.
  • Technical Pacifist: The Vardrag have no stomach for war. However, their weapons are extremely powerful, and they will not hesitate to use them for defense.
  • That's No Moon: When the Mechanoids attack in force, they usually bring a moon-sized construct that is made up of a huge number of Mechanoids.
  • Timed Mission: Certain Stealth Based Missions are timed.
  • The Virus: The Mechanoids, a hybrid of computer virus and something like the Replicators.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The Siege Laser requires the combined energy of no less than three ships placed in specific order to fire. However, it is capable of penetrating any shields and quickly taking down any ship at huge range.