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Yager

Platform(s): PC, Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: THQ / DreamCatcher
Developer: Yager

About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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Kemco Brings 'Yager' (PC/Xbox) To North America

by Rainier on June 15, 2004 @ 9:54 a.m. PDT

Yager captures your imagination as you battle for your life in tomorrow’s hostile skies. But is all what it seems…? Keep your wits about you, and use what you learn, as your struggle evolves to become the fight against constitutional power, conspiracy and control. Yager features a of 3D action-adventure and air combat, coupled with the highly motivating storyline and nail-biting campaigns.

Original, provoking and rich in storyline. Yager captures your imagination as you battle for your life in tomorrow's hostile skies. But is it all what it seems...? Keep your wits about you, and use what you learn, as your struggle evolves to become the fight against constitutional power, conspiracy and control. With the genre-busting mix of 3D action-adventure and air combat, coupled with the highly motivating storyline and nail-biting campaigns, Yager is next generation gaming at its finest.

In single-player-mode widely varied missions deriving from the context of a thrilling plot, breathtaking 3D-action and elements of adventure will create a unique atmosphere you can hardly escape. You'll become the key figure in a complex science fiction story. The storyline evolves as you advance, letting the characters you meet respond to your actions and behaviour.

You play as Magnus Tide, fighter pilot. Your mission is to survive. Win life-threatening dogfights against top aces, infiltrate enemy hiding places, race at speed through the skies against outlaws in their highly tuned machines, dive and attack your enemies... There are furious battles to be fought. You will need skill, stealth and sheer guts. Have you got what it takes? Do you accept the challenge?

Setting: Earth towards the end of the 21st century.

Powerful, independent Mega Corporations have taken over major sections of the civilised world by using their economic power. Former national government and administrative structures no longer play a fundamental role; their military and police forces have been reduced to relative pawns of the public order, or have disappeared completely. Instead, those mega firms have installed their own social regimes, and rule their respective territories according to their individual corporate codex and bias, may it be progressive, bureaucratic, totalitarian or militaristic.

There are also people who are not willing to conform to any strict regime or company. Freetraders and other folks populate the power between the Mega Corporations´ territories. There are freelancers who work for the highest bidding of either party, and there are also pirates raiding ships and places.

Recently, something stirred up the Proteus Company, one of the more progressive of the Mega Corps. One of their communication satellites has crashed, and the latest report indicates that it had been hit by something strange. Soon after, some of Proteus' ships and transports crashed as well, the pilots' story was that they suddenly lost control of their craft. There are reports of increased pirate activity from the free trade zone bordering Proteus' waters. And the DST, the dark corporation that rules the northern territory, has been dubiously quiet for some time. Something must be going on – high time for Proteus to engage someone to dig up the dirt.

Setting: The overall theme is sci-fi, 50-100 years in the future. Technology has shifted almost all traffic into the air – you'll find lots of flying craft in Yager, from single-manned vehicles to large civil freighters, to huge battleships hovering over the landscape. But the action takes place fairly close to the ground – the features of the landscape play an important role.

In the course of the game, the plot takes the player to a number of settings. These differ from one another not only in terms of graphics and sound, but also in terms of behaviour of characters and opponents who will be met there. These also reflect in the backgrounds, each of which comprises several areas and missions.

The Proteus base, homebase of the player, is set on idyllic islands in the sea. Proteus' comparatively progressive bias and their cultural background are apparent from their architectural style, buildings resembling antique Greece, science facilities etc.

The Free Trade Zone behind the nearby continent coast resembles today's image of the Caribbean, with the rich green landscape and relax at the famous, local "Jane's bar".

The Pirate Fjords neighbouring the free trade zone, with their labyrinth of rivers and canyons, the perfect hiding place for the fierce hoards of pirates, and a dangerous trap for enemies.

Bitterfeld, set in a barely populated corner of former Russia, is a wasteland of run-down installations - defence robots still doggedly guarding long abandoned industrial plants and it's deteriorated landscape criss-crossed by leaking pipelines and dotted by chemical tanks which can suddenly explode.

The DST outpost has a northern ice setting, with its malicious base towers, mighty defences and the prison castle which fits perfectly with the hostile nature of the area, forming a demonic scene for the culminating story and the final battle of the game.

GAMEPLAY

Action is the main part of the basic gameplay. Most of the time, the player will be seated in the cockpit of his craft; Lobos Robotics´ latest creation: capable of hovering and flying like a jet. Its flexible manoeuvrability is a key feature - this allows for a wide variety of tactics (you can fly sky-high to shoot down on the enemy base like an eagle, or you can quietly sneak up on them, taking advantage of the landscape for cover). Throughout the game you have ample of opportunities to upgrade your ship, giving the player all the manoeuvrability and fighting powers he needs to face the challenges that await him.
However, mindless shooting is not the way to success. In the course of the missions, the player will be confronted with a wide variety of challenging situations, tasks, and enemies. But, the situation can change suddenly. After a quick briefing, the player is left in charge and distinctive "environments" demand him to find out what is going on before he can reach his goals.

The action takes place fairly close to the ground, allowing a great variety of gameplay and letting landscape features play an important role. This is achieved by applying an appropriate maximum altitude, making it an advantageous tactic. This way, exploration of the areas (being able to proceed with caution when in Hovermode) as well as certain combat behaviour (particularly in Hovermode, where you can side-strafe, circle-strafe etc.) resembles the close-to-the-action feel and immersive. At the same time, flying low enhances the immediate feeling of the speed and dynamics of the action.

So do the controls: although capable of quite complex manoeuvres, the craft handles easily, making gameplay straightforward and fun.

There will be pickups: Ammunition and weapons to some extent; plus certain items, which play an important part in the respective missions.

At certain places/times, the player can land his craft: Allows the player to save and gain points at appropriate times let him to move on to the respective mission. Landing at specific locations play a key role for the mission.

The plot of the single player episode will unfold in approximately 25 levels or missions, but the design aims at the experience of a continuous story. An event or mission that seems unrelated at first will let you discover the connection later on.

The plot is to structure the missions. Mission objectives change in accordance with the actions the player is involved with. Sometimes, long-term goals can only be reached if alternative solutions are chosen. An example: In the abandoned, industrial-like lunar landscape of Bitterfeld, some invincible, automatic sentries block Magnus' path. While the player is doing recon in this dangerous area, he meets some of its inhabitants, which he hopes are willing to help him. They offer to show him a way out of the area if, in turn, he destroys a tank station manned by old battle druids that went haywire long ago. After having done that, the inhabitants want to help him, but they have lost their only ship when the tank station blew up. Now, the player has to help them build a new ship so they can get him out of the area.
Just like in this example, the player will constantly meet characters that have different impact on the completion of objectives. Some are friends, some want to cheat him, and some want to kill him. The relationship to Magnus´ female COMMS officer develops throughout the game in accordance to the player's actions.

In the course of the plot, some missions put the player in another place: In the cockpit of other ships including enemy craft or in control of big guns, e.g. The player has to always think about what's going on around him and not just when it comes to dealing with other characters. The different locations need to be explored in great depth as the story has a couple of surprising twists. The main character Magnus, controlled by the player, has a certain amount of artificial intelligence when he is communicating with others, commenting on the events, earning respect and rank in the eyes of the other characters, and the game world itself.

In the single player episode, there will be various sorts of enemies that you will encounter throughout the settings. Depending on their origin, they will have distinctive behaviours: Pirates may tease and huff you when they attack like a pack of hyenas with their re-armed booty ships, while enemy armies or police forces would attack in a more organised manner using equipment ranging from small fighter ships to huge carriers and battleships. In the Bitterfeld setting, a gone-mad, unpredictable industrial war-robot may block your way - if you're lucky, it will shoot the bush instead of your ship...!

Scoring/Rewarding: While side quests and multiple ways to reach objectives within a mission provide rewards like special weapons upgrade (e.g. offered by someone the player has helped in a side quest). Secret missions can result from choosing an alternate way to solve the current mission as well as varied starting conditions of the next mission (e.g. assistance of someone the player has rescued before), and the like. General behaviour of the player influences dialogues, especially in regards to relationship with the female COMMS officer (the parallel "love story" can result in three different endings).
MULTIPLAYER (PC ONLY): Scoring system considering frags, time durations, bonuses when conquering base/destroying battleship etc.

SOUND & GRAPHIC DETAIL

The game will be presented in real-time 3D. The player´s craft will fly above a detailed and richly textured landscape with all kinds of topographic features, and lots of objects like buildings, bridges, tunnels, vegetation etc., which are all nicely integrated. The goal is for the player to experience being in a living world, so aside the main action there will be lots of animations and movement like flying freighters unloading their cargo, radar antennas rotating, civilian craft hovering around in the free trade zone, birds etc. The objects are crafted in great detail with high polygon counts and hi-res textures so that the player can enjoy taking a closer look, as well as discover other things needed for the game.

Animations of game objects, like the hangar gate of Proteus´ drop-ship opening and the landing ramp unfolding, or the huge DST flying battleships opening their hatches to expose their mighty guns, are not just eye-candy, but also enhance the atmosphere with the impression of a consistent, functioning environment, as well as serve gameplay purposes by indicating things that are about to happen.

The characters, appearing on COMMs screens during gameplay and in full motion in the sequences all of which are in great detail. Hand-made animations ensure expressive movements that underline the respective situation, be it the relief and jubilation of the free traders when Magnus saves the bar from destruction by the DST, or Pjotr Karpov´s excitement when Magnus shows him a picture of the lost Ural-B plant which Karpov has spent years searching Bitterfeld for. Appropriate camera work in those sequences enhances the story.

Effects like fire, smoke, explosions, muzzle fire, flashes etc. make the action gameplay a firsthand experience. Done with a sophisticated particle engine, the 3D effects integrate perfectly into the environment, each explosion looking different, no spotable "loops" in fire and smoke etc. Other effects include shining engine jets, moving searchlights, coronas around lamps, reflecting metal, animated water surfaces reflecting the environment, real-time shadows etc.

Sound effects and music complement the immersive experience the graphics provide. They play an important role in making the action even more believable.
Object-related sounds support the individual way and function of a given object (a civilian ship sounding harmless as opposed to a dangerous enemy craft; an openly attacking pirate ship sounding fierce as opposed to one lurking in a dark corner; the player's engine sounding damped down in Hovermode as opposed to the afterburner roaring in Jetmode). Ambient sounds enhance the atmosphere of a given scenario (hear the wind howl through groaning, deserted, old installations in Bitterfeld, while birds may sing among the trees in the free trade zone, at least until the place gets devastated).

The overall 3D sound boosts immersion, as the player can differentiate between the sounds around the ship (not to mention left vs. right). The sound reflects the environment as well, such as a jet sounding different when racing through a narrow canyon vs. when flying in an open valley.

The music fits the overall theme of the respective mission as well as adapts to the actual gameplay situation, supporting on a subtle level the dramatic effect of suspense and release, defeat and triumph, foreshadowing a dangerous situation at one point, or lulling the player for the effect of surprise at another.

The different settings reflect both the respective graphics and sound. The rotten, haywire and unpredictable nature of the Bitterfeld droids can, apart from their behaviour, already be told from their visual appearance, with metal chunks ripped off the dented, poorly riveted hulls and thick black smoke, mixed with irregular bursts of fire, puffing out of their broken pipes, as well as from the stammering sound of the wrecked engines.

In contrast, Proteus´ ships are clearly shaped, regularly colored and reflect the company's image in their modern, rather non-marital outlook, supported by the dimmed humming of their modern engines.


CAST

Magnus Tide, 28 years of age, freelance fighter pilot and main character
"For the last 5 years Magnus has kept himself alive by freelancing for Proteus, specialising in high-risk job which equals high-pay. Last summer Magnus took on a small delivery job. "Nothing serious", he was told. The phrase haunted him all the time he swam ashore as the remains of his ship sank behind him. Bloody pirates! After he'd dried off, his boss at Proteus denied hiring him and told him Proteus couldn't be seen associating with freelancers carrying contraband. Then he got a broken nose, and Magnus got no more work. At least until the message came in... A new boss had taken over, and he was to be given one last chance. It must be a big one he thought, otherwise why me. The pay was good, that's why he sold everything he had, cashed in all his credits, dug up all his gold, and sold his last living relation. He was down to his last shirt when he finally had enough money to buy the new ship."

In the game, the player assumes the role of Magnus. But that doesn't reduce Magnus to a puppet – he comments on the game situation, engages in communications with other characters by himself, and is seen acting in the sequences.

Sarah, 25 years of age, 1st Lieutenant for Proteus Communication Corps.
"Sarah was once a Communications Captain, 1st Grade. That was before she met up with Magnus Tide. When he crashed and burned he took her career with him. Sure, the bosses denied all knowledge of the operation but someone at base had to carry the can, and Sarah found herself at the short end of the stick, the end with the mess on it. When all the fuss died down, she was quietly reinstated, but at a lower grade. Right now she's not a happy bunny. She hates the world in general and her lot in particular. She hates men, flowers, children, small furry puppies, she hates communications, Proteus, Wing Commander Xavier Moondrake, the Readers Digest, but most of all she hates Magnus Tide."

Sarah is the responsible Proteus Comms Officer, who tells Magnus/the player what to do at the beginning of a mission. Magnus´ attempt to win back Sarah's sympathy is one layer of the game's plot. The player is motivated to pursue this, as Sarah is quite attractive, yet hard towards Magnus, with signs of possible improvements.

Aldo, a mysterious undercover agent
From time to time, this character appears. He obviously has information unknown to Magnus, and is in some obscured way related to the things that seem to happen in the gameworld. Magnus gets this information from him, and has to support him at certain points to reach his own goals, but it is only in the end that it strikes Magnus that this guy is no other than his own boss at Proteus!

Dr. Austin Valeri, Proteus´chief scientist
A typical boffin, average height and build, high forehead, and strange haircut. Being part of the company, he's loyal to Proteus. He leads the examinations of the "controller" that Magnus finds in Bitterfeld and that holds the secret key to the backgrounds of the events happening in the gameworld.

During a mission Magnus rescues Austin Valeri, Austin shows his appreciation by giving clues to backgrounds, which integrate into the plot and motivate Magnus/the player's further actions.

The Barman of Jane's, the famous bar in the free trade zone
This character knows what's going on in the free zone, as all kinds of people visit his place. Many of them are agents: "Now in order to run such a place a man has to be discreet, and discreet means keeping your eyes and ears open and not asking questions. That way you get to keep your customers, your bar, and your life."
Winning this guy's confidence, would be key for Magnus.

Cheek Lu, the pirate leader
Cheek Lu has a secret and appears masked, talking through a vocoder that distorts the voice making it sound deep and mechanical. Up to a certain point the player, like all the characters in the game, must assume that Cheek Lu is male, but only Magnus/the player is to see how Cheek Lu looks and sounds when revealed to be an attractive woman!
In the beginning, the pirates appear as the evil army in the game, and Cheek Lu as their leader is one of Magnus´ main opponents, coming with a ship and skill comparable to the player´s own. Later, she will change sides.

Boris Stepaschin and Pjotr Karpov, inhabitants of Bitterfeld
Two of the Privodniks that Magnus meets in Bitterfeld, are old mechanics / engineers that live on a platform built on top of a broken pier. Boris Stepaschin lost his hand in an accident and wears custom tools instead, mostly a spoon. So he stays at the platform and guards it against the mad-gone droids and crazy killing automates that haunt the Bitterfeld wasteland, unlike Pjotr Karpov, who searches the area for usable things and the lost Ural-B plant, which, if found, could be used to make goods to improve the Privodniks´ life's.

The two Privodniks are of great help for Magnus/the player, as they offer him shelter and a chance to continue his mission in Bitterfeld, in exchange for a little "errand".

Gunther van Berg, DST Battleship Captain
Captain van Berg is every inch a Prussian officer of World War One. He speaks in a very clipped, military style German accent. The duelling scar on one cheek fits his appearance. Van Berg is the prototype of the totalitarian, militaristic DST party pursuing dark plans.

Magnus is confronted by him at several points in the game, his goals being the exact opposite of Magnus´, with Magnus/the player controlling his single-manned fightership vs. van Berg commanding huge Battleships, out-powering Magnus and looking down on him like an annoying insect. To win this confrontation in the end is a great triumph.

SPECIAL TECHNICAL FEATURES

  • 3D engine to visualise huge landscapes and detailed objects
  • Full support of Xbox graphics hardware including Vertex- and Pixelshaders effects
  • Realistic lighting including multi-coloured light sources and shadows
  • Effects like water, fog, explosions, lens flares, smoke etc.
  • Animations of textures, objects
  • 3D sound - interactive music
  • Realistic physics
  • Global physical conditions (e.g. gravitation, wind, etc.)
  • Highly flexible particle systems allowing for debris, trails, explosions, smoke, fire etc.
  • Flexible control of objects by special AI
  • Fully scriptable game engine

SUMMARY OF FEATURES

  • Captivating storyline, evolving throughout the game
  • Strong player character, with attitude
  • Straightforward, close-to-the-action gameplay
  • Immersive 3D environment
  • Rich and alive Gameworld
  • Easy-to-handle, yet very capable player ship
  • Cool Weapons
  • Great range of ships: From quick fighter ships to huge battleships and carriers
  • Great variety of mission themes
  • Many interesting characters
  • Lots of animations
  • Realistic lighting
  • Stunning real-time effects
  • Environmental Audio and interactive music for immersive sound
  • Sophisticated AI
  • Realistic physics engine

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