Welcome to the UNN. If you think this guy is a bad sign, you should see the greeters at Walmartotron.
When playing older video games, often one has to remember that Health & Safety rules for virtual players hadn’t advanced as far as they have today, resulting in some things that one often takes for granted nowadays. For starters, I can’t remember the last time I was crushed by an elevator until today. In this case, the game allows you to ride from one floor to another via elevated platform, activated by a button just inside the shaft. You can jump back down via another route (taking a little fall damage), which I did. I then went and pressed the call button to go back up, the natural position for doing so being right in front of the button, which is inside the elevator shaft. Ow.
Anyway, you start out (as many Cyberpunk games do) with an outfit that’s supposed to be a militarized U.N. of some kind. They have a spaceship that’s going somewhere into deep space, and you’ll be on board as a space marine, space psychic, space hacker, or combination of the three. You sign on and spend three years in training. That is, each year, you pick a corridor with a voice-over about the training you’ll get, go to the end, see a shuttlecraft cutscene, and this determines your beginning stats. I tried for a kind of psychic hacker, which may or may not have been the wisest move. I favored hacking because I always enjoy being a sneak, turning automated weapons systems loose on my foes, and the fact that this was written in a more innocent age when “cyber” didn’t mean that I had a skill which allowed me to be indecent to machines.
Naturally, once on board the ship, things go rather badly. You’re awakened out of hypersleep to find the area you’re in is about to decompress, and there’s a dead body with a handy smashy-wrench nearby. It turns out this was going to be my go-to weapon for a while since I had no training in guns. This game is very strict about who it trusts with firearms. I can carry them around in my inventory, but until I’ve spent points to figure out which end points where, all I can do is take the ammo out of them. If any authorities stop me in the halls, they’ll think I’m a traveling bullet salesman.
I’m advised and slightly admonished by a Dr. Janice Polito along the way. She sounds a lot like the Administrator from Team Fortress 2, only not as much of a people person. Something has gotten on board the ship, and any crewmates that aren’t dead (and lootable, which is the best kind of dead crewmate) are running around fused with something that could be Borg-like or John Carpenter’s The Thing-like. It’s hard to tell at this point because of the texture files. In either case, they don’t like you much and will attempt to club you to death.
The whole point of the opening area is to find a power cell, charge it, and use it to open a door to a deeper part of the medical wing. As a psychic hacker, this took a lot of save scumming, as my combat skills aren’t exactly the greatest. I’ve got this cryo-attack that, while pretty good (three shots and most things go down) is draining on whatever runs my brain, and refill injections are kind of pricy. So I end up using a wrench a lot, which takes timing and practice, since my opponents’ maneuverability and attacks often vary in speed. I find that I can choose to allocate my cybernetic plugins towards hacking, which opens crates, doors and (eventually) vending machines, or I can choose weapon-oriented skills. I can afford a score of 2 in either by the end of this session, and I go with hackin’, since that’s kind of my skill area and most of the crates and computer panels won’t even talk to me unless I’m above 1.
I’m enjoying it thus far, as it kind of reenforces a lot of old gaming behaviors that most modern-day games want me to ignore. I don’t have quest markers, for example, so if I’m told to go to the Med Bay, I have to look out for signs that read “Med Bay.” The other way this game’s age kind of shows is that it puts you in an intentionally isolated (that is, monster-overrun) area so it doesn’t have to create the illusion of a believable population. The opening does this fairly well for a game of this vintage, with people behind closed-off areas you can observe going about their lives, but don’t expect crowd scenes unless everyone present no longer has a pulse.
So I’ve managed to bleed my way to getting the energy cell, charging it, and going further into the ship. My reward is more goons who want to hurt me, but now they’ve got shotguns (who puts shotguns on a starship?!), which look a lot like the clubs the others are carrying. Luckily, I don’t have to get too close to notice the difference. Will I survive? Stay tuned…