|Guess what option I chose?|
When I last posted on Captive, I was in the space station where Trill was being held, but I had run out of ammunition and all my melee weapons had broken, leaving me with nothing but bare fists. Since the nasty creatures in the base require hundreds of bare-fisted blows to perish, techniques like ladder-scumming and the old side-step-turn tactic were out of the question. I had announced my intention to reload from the previous base and stock up on more ammo before attempting the space station again.
Well, I didn't do that. It was probably the best idea, but I just couldn't bring myself to cover all the territory again. Instead, I settled in for a long process of killing enemies with electric bolts. I tried to master the art of luring the station's behemoths one-by-one to a 4x4 area with a power outlet, then dispatching them via the side-step-turn method. Electric bolts significantly under-perform even the weakest guns, so each enemy took 5-10 minutes to die--assuming I didn't make a mistake during the process, which was rare. I'm not very good at anything requiring manual dexterity, and inevitably I'd turn when I meant to side-step or vice versa. This would lead to a period of momentary confusion in which I'd try to figure out what happened, during which the enemy inevitably shot my droids to rubble.
|The last base made me kill what felt like a hundred of these damned things.|
I was also able to employ the "friendly fire" method in a few places, lining up enemies behind closed doors and letting them blast each other. There were a few areas where I could shoot at foes across obstacles, like fire.
|Of course, they were shooting at me, too.|
Avoiding areas with pressure plates that closed the walls behind me, I slowly penetrated the station. When I finally found a shop, it was like finding an oasis in the Sahara. Although the shop didn't sell any of the "cannons" that would make use of that skill, it did sell refills for my handguns and laser guns. I also bought a large supply of mines.
|The damaged, empty-handed droids encounter the most welcome sight in the world.|
With a healthy stockpile of ammo, the base became much easier, though it never became "easy." There were an absurd number of enemies, almost all capable of killing at least one droid in one shot, shield or no shield. I'd push a wall and open up an area with dozens of them. I'd have to let them come to me one at a time and fight battles of firing retreats. I'd finally clear them out, open up another door, and face dozens more. All told, the space station took almost 8 hours to complete.
|Finally healed, and loaded up with guns and ammo.|
The station ended up being indistinguishable from any other base. It had a generator room, for instance, even though blowing up the station presumably kills Trill and ends the game. It had a computer that delivered a probe even though I didn't need any more for this mission.
|The presence of the generators is a mystery. I assume the procedural method used to create each base insists on putting a generator room in every one.|
I never did find a shop that sold cannons, but I did eventually find one that sold lasers, so I outfitted my entire party with laser guns and plenty of ammo, dumping the handguns and melee weapons that had filled non-laser slots until then. Though not the best weapons in the game, they worked well enough.
After an endless series of combinations, doors, passwords, button puzzles, and pattern puzzles, I finally found a combination door like those at the entrances to the bases. Since I knew I wasn't at the entrance, I figured Trill must be behind it, and I was right.
|Trill rises from his chair as I enter his cell.|
At first, I decided to just kill Trill and see what happened. He died in a single shot and the game immediately ended with the note that "Droid's are to be wasted!" which I don't know what it means. I assume something similar happens if you blow up the station's generators, but I didn't try it.
If you walk up to him instead of killing him, you get the end game message: "Amendment to the legend of Trill: A small party of four droids brutally outwitted the entire federation force, and succeeded in freeing the Creator of Evil.."
If this is supposed to be a twist of some sort, the game really doesn't offer enough information for it to sink in. Granted, Trill's crimes were unspecified in the game's back story. All we know is that he was hoping for community service and got sentenced to 250 years in suspended animation. That seems harsh for most crimes but somewhat mild for being the Creator of Evil, whatever that means.
|Trill is transferred to another facility.|
At this point, the player has the option to "Call it a Day" or "Let Battle Commence," the latter of which sees Trill re-captured by one of the station's behemoths and stuck on a new space station. The droids end up back in space in "Mission 2" with a new set of 10 bases to explore and blow up. If you beat Mission 2, from what I understand you get the same options and can continue on to Mission 3. Eventually, a bug breaks the game in Mission 2315, and in the DOS version, it loops back to Mission 1 after Mission 256. It's impossible for me to imagine any player getting up to either of these numbers. I'm curious what the highest documented mission actually is.
I naturally chose to call it a day, but I can see the appeal of continuing if you actually like the game. When I ended, I had only just received the "Sprayguns" skill and didn't have the chance to use the "Cannon" skill at all. There were several orders of better droid parts that I never purchased. There was, in short, lots of room for continued character development, although at some point the challenge must plateau and descend, once the droids have the best parts and all skills at 24.
I never did find myself really "liking" Captive. It had moments of exhilaration, sure, when tough enemies finally burst into sprays of blood, or when I came upon a much-needed store or power outlet when I was just about to give up all hope. But these are "rewards" in the same way a bully "rewards" you when he stops beating you, or the same way a piece of bread is a "reward" when you're about to die of hunger. You may appreciate them, but it's much better not to be in those situations in the first place. In that sense, I feel less like I "won" Captive and more like I just got paroled from it.
A short post for a long gameplay session. GIMLET coming up.