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Tachyon: The Fringe is a computer game developed and published in 2000 by the company Novalogic. It features the voice acting of Bruce Campbell as main character Jake Logan in a 3-D space simulator. Tachyon was developed by Randy Casey, who had previously written two other titles for Novalogic: F-22 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor.
The story of Tachyon: The Fringe is set in the 26th century, where mankind has left Earth to colonize the far reaches of space, and has many characteristics of a space opera. The Sol system is a place of relative peace, which is kept by the police force called Star Patrol. Conflict inside the Solar system is heavily regulated; however, quarrels between rivaling megacorporations, who maintain private militias and compete for control over markets and resources, often breaks out into open conflict. Sometimes banished pirates, terrorists or other disruptive entities make waves, but inter-corporate conflict is the primary theme. This is not the primary focus of the game however.
The majority of the game takes place in the vast area called the Fringe, which consists of all space outside the direct jurisdiction of Sol. Except for an outpost in the Hub region, Star Patrol has virtually no presence in these areas. Because of this, power struggles are constantly raging between the game's corporations, pirate clans, Bora colonists, and the so-called "Asteroid Barons".
In the game, transportation over long distances is accomplished through the use of Internal Tachyon Coil Generator drives on large spacecraft, and stationary Tachyon Coil Generator (TCG) Gates which service smaller vessels. These gates, which according to game lore are placed at intersections of Tachyon emissions, are used to propel matter to above the speed of light and direct said matter to a given vector in space. This process is instantaneous for in-game purposes, but displays a sort of worm-hole graphic while the next area loads.
Larger Tachyon gates, referred to as "Mega-gates" enable travel between the wider portions of space, subdivisions of the in-game universe called regions. They cannot be accessed by simply flying through them however, as they are usually closed. So, in order to travel to another region, the player picks up a special "mission", selectable inside local Starbases, which will transfer the player to the region of their choosing.
According to game-lore, Tachyon gates require a material from the Ripstar phenomena to power them. Ripstars are very small in size, but they have an immense gravitational field that "sucks in" any ship that comes too close to it, as can be seen while flying through the Ripstar Fields.
One of the newscasts at the end of the game indicates a successful experiment with Tachyon Wave Generators, which might eventually allow ships to travel faster and farther than before. This appears to be the only hint to a possible sequel in the game.
The Fringe is divided into six regions, which are accessed through Tachyon Mega-Gates. The player will gain access to more regions as they complete missions.
The two major factions in Tachyon: The Fringe are the Bora and the Galactic Spanning Corporation.
The Bora are colonists that settled parts of the Fringe decades prior to the arrival of the main character. These colonists have significant holdings in the space, including multiple space stations. However, when they first began colonizing, they did not obtain charters or permits, as an act of defiance. This has led them into conflict with many corporations, most notably GalSpan, which have a new interest in expansion into the Bora's space.
The Galactic Spanning Corp, referred to as Galspan for short, is a large Sol-based corporation that is leading the expansion into the Fringe. Using a favorable ruling by a Sol-based court, which dictated that the Bora do not possess any claim to 'squatter's rights', Galspan has launched itself into an extrasolar venture in previously Bora space. Mainly a mining corporation, Galspan also has a formidable PMC force, which it uses to reinforce its legal rights.
Star Patrol is the peacekeeping force in the Tachyon galaxy. They are often tough opponents in-game and often act swiftly against any law-breaking inside their jurisdiction.
Pirates in the game are the same as the Terran-based variants, save they have rather superior technology. Operating in raids, hostage-taking, or even extortion and racketeering, the pirate clans are a constant threat to security in all Fringe space. One of the two main clans is The Blood Pirate Clan, led by the fierce (and somewhat quirky) pirate captain Redship Rory, with whom the player has direct contact. The second major clan is referred to as the Scav Pirates, which are loosely allied with the Bora.
Asteroid barons are multi-millionaires that have set up and rule their own pockets of Fringe space. These warlords have both money and formidable arsenals and often are the subject of in-game missions.
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Tachyon: the fringe is a first-person space-flight simulator. Among several features, (such as power and shield management), one unique function in the game is that of 'Sliding', where the player can maintain a constant velocity while having free control over the orientation of their space-craft. This allows an ease-of-motion where the player can strafe, fly backwards and otherwise maintain a higher level of control over their aircraft with a simpler, more intuitive tool.
There are two main types of starbases in the Tachyon universe. Starbases serve as re-arm and repair outposts in the vastness of the Fringe (which contains a few starbases owned by numerous factions). The player can also earn credits by selling certain items found during missions at Space stations, which do not improve the player's ship. The player is informed when a space station is interested in an item in the protagonist's inventory. The player can either enter in their hangar ports (in Starbases) or dock with their landing platforms (on space stations)
The space stations in Tachyon are designed with an accurate sense of scale, and are, by far, the largest and most heavily armed structures in the game. It is impossible for the player to destroy a starbase. They are only destroyed in specific events triggered during missions.
There are several different kinds of weaponry available that can be purchased in starbases and equipped to any ships in possession. The two main factions in the game, the Galactic Spanning Corporation and the Bora Colonies provide different weapon systems.
There are also a variety of ships to choose from, from slow and heavily laden bombers to space superiority fighters. Each fighter can be upgraded with two types of equipment. The first type consists of weapons for the player's starfighter. These vary from lasers to tractor beams and missiles. The second type consists of hardware on the player's ship. Hardware can be upgraded to improve performance. Examples of hardware upgrades are Smart Shields, thrust boosters and the Fog Radar. The large variety of both weapons and hardware upgrades, coupled with the many different ships give Tachyon an open ended feel to gameplay.
In story mode, the player chooses missions from the Job Board. Some missions are offered by neutral parties and do not drive the main storyline (though they do occasionally affect the TNS News bulletins). Eventually, the story will reach a point where it becomes necessary for the player to ally with either the Bora Colonies or the Galactic Spanning Corporation. The Bora missions are usually higher in difficulty and less rewarding monetarily. GalSpan pays well and often has missions in tandem with other pilots. Since the two factions offer different fighters and different weapons, they encourage different play styles, as well as different storylines.
These NPCs are available for hire in different missions. In return for a fee and a percentage of the player's earnings, they will make their services as a pilot available. Pilots have different ships, weapons, fees, levels of ability, and personalities. More expensive pilots tend to have better ships, weapons, abilities, and personalities.