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Liberty Bartender: To your good fortune in Liberty, sir.
Trent: Well, it can't get any worse.
Freelancer is a game created by Microsoft Games and Digital Anvil, specifically by Chris Roberts, and is the Spiritual Successor to Privateer, a spinoff of his previous franchise Wing Commander, as well as a sequel to Starlancer. The game itself is... well, probably the best way to catalog this game is as a "space shooter RPG".
In the 23rd century, Humanity was caught in an apparently endless war between two factions within the Solar System: The Alliance and the Coalition. After more than 100 years of uninterrupted war, the Alliance, on the verge of massive defeat, is so goddamn hell-bent on not surrendering before the Coalition, it spends massive resources as its last hope for survival: sending five huge spaceships filled with Human Popsicles to the Sirius system, far away from the conflict that separated Humankind for all these years.
Eight hundred years later, Humanity is thriving in the far-away Sirius system, divided into four countries or "houses", each named after the spaceships that brought them there: Liberty (USA), Bretonia (United Kingdom), Rheinland (Germany) and Kusari (Japan); the fifth ship, the Hispania (Spain and Mexico), was lost. A couple of conflicts have managed to erupt, but overall, the whole system is in peace. Enter young pilot Edison Trent, a mechanician apprentice from Planet Leeds who, enthralled by all the massive wealth found on the Border Worlds, leaves his repair shop and goes out on a journey for "the deal of his lifetime". After a couple of months of hardships, he finally manages to score a deal for 1 million credits for a ton of boron. But guess what? Just when Trent managed to close the deal at the Freeport 7 station, two mysterious spaceships suddenly appear out of thin space and destroy the station. Trent barely manages to make it to an escape pod, which leaves him drifting in outer space. He is rescued and taken to Planet Manhattan. From there, he manages to land a job at the Liberty Security Forces.
However, things are starting to get really, really weird. Alien Artifacts, previously nothing but highly expensive pieces of ancient art, are suddenly banned on Liberty. Survivors of the Freeport 7 attack and those connected to them start to go missing, the Rheinlandic chancellor is suddenly getting very reckless in his diplomatic relationships with the other houses even as Rheinland is found to be involved in many strange activities, and Trent and his friends are completely sure an enormous conspiracy is going on. Will Trent manage to expose the mystery before it's too late?
The general concept of Freelancer is a Wide Open Sandbox combined with a space shooter and an RPG. You can take any sort of job you want with any faction you want, you can just sit down and gather a lot of valuable resources, you can buy low and sell high at many stations, or you can raid corporate convoys and steal their stuff. There's also a main storyline, which leaves you with a highly powerful ship after clearing it (not to mention all the intrigue involved), but there's also a multiplayer mode where you can take missions along with anyone on the server. So, it's a game that can be finished quickly, or take a really long time, and even has a game time counter that shows how long the game's been played total.
Technically and gameplay-wise speaking, Freelancer is the best showcase of why Acceptable Breaks From Reality are acceptable, being the most glaringly obvious the way the outer space is presented. The game takes place in a 2-D Space, and the sense of scale is enormously distorted, but trust me, when you sit down and play the real thing, the game is, all in all, good enough to just make you not think about that. It also manages to make space feel huge and epic while remaining surprisingly compact.
Freelancer is also notable for using a very friendly control scheme, which lets you fly around your ship with the mouse, a couple of basic commands, and an easy-to-use HUD. As for the graphics, they're a little bit dated, but the game quickly makes up for it thanks to its beautiful nebulous backgrounds, its aesthetics and its camera effects. Freelancer is itself a very fun, very entertaining game, and with its apparently immortal aesthetics, its natural and straightforward control scheme and its excellently written storyline, and even despite its Vaporware development cycle, it still stands today as a living example of excellent game design. Rumor has it that the original design was far more detailed than the final product, including six different endings.
- Absent Aliens: There are aliens, the most common being a microorganism that can metabolize some elements into carbon dioxide and oxygen. Also, there are a plethora of species native to Sirius. Planet Gaia, this game's equivalent to a planetary Garden of Eden, has more alien species than any other planet in the game.
- As for sentient alien species, ancient artifacts constructed by long-dead aliens are extremely valuable, but governments have recently started to crack down on them. Said long-dead aliens have also left behind a legacy that is very much alive in the form of the Nomads.
- Acceptable Breaks From Reality: Blatant enough to make you realize that ultimate realism doesn't fit well in a video game. Transit times are already a bit of a pain. Realistic scale would be orders of magnitude worse. And good gravy, if hitting asteroids and space junk were handled realistically, you'd have to be a dodging master to even play.
- Action Girl: Liberty President Jacobi blasts a Nomad that's about to try to take over Trent during one of the single-player campaign's last few missions. She also handles being tortured pretty well, apparently.
- Juni, just Juni. She's a high-rank LSF officer with a ship you can't find anywhere else and knows how to kick ass and take names.
- Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Averted, especially when you gain access to Order equipment.
- And then played straight. If your reputation with the owners of the station is bad, they won't sell anything besides the crappier equipment. In this case, Adam Smith literally hates your guts.
- Alliance Meter: Provides the trope picture. A hostile faction will attack on sight and deny you landing permission on their bases; a neutral faction will ignore you in space but might assist allies who hate you, and will let you land but might not sell you their best stuff or offer you missions; and a friendly faction will assist you in combat against anyone they're not allied with, sell you their best stuff and offer you more rewarding missions. In addition, being friendly to a pirate faction stops them from demanding cargo from you.
- All Planets Are Earthlike: Planet Manhattan, Planet Gaia and Planet Cambridge are but three good examples. Many of the other planets fall into Single Biome Planet territory.
- This trope is averted on a few occasions. The Outcasts landed on what they thought was an Earth-like planet, but in reality it was a world so saturated with a narcotic that leaving without being drugged up on it killed them. Another planet in the same system looks very Earthlike, but is completely inundated, right down to the last organism, with an atmosphere that is toxic to humans. No relation whatsoever to this, though.
- Amazon Brigade: The Golden Chrysanthemums, not so surprisingly a terrorist organization and Straw Feminists to a small extent.
- Anti-Grinding: Up until level 20, you must complete a storyline mission to level up beyond odd levels.
- And then you must gain a level before you're given the next storyline mission.
- Artificial Atmospheric Actions: Played with (painfully) scripted NPC dialog as well as (well done) NPC ships going back and forth, leaving from a base and then docking somewhere else while constantly chattering over the radio.
- Asteroid Thicket: Many of them, some of them mineable. A rather sizeable proportion of asteroid thickets in this game are massive junk fields, which can be mined for scrap metal and serve as hiding places for criminals. Also, bouncing off an asteroid is a valid strategy for escaping missiles, as the sharp turn causes them to lose their lock on you.
- Badass: Casper Orillion. He founded The Order, which ultimately saved everyone in the Sirius Sector from being cleansed by the Nomads and stole the Battleship Osiris from Liberty's highest-security shipyards. He makes King, the self-proclaimed badass (in the Bonus DVD's character vignettes), look like a wuss.
- He's good, make no mistake about that, but he isn't Trent.
- Von freaking Claussen. He's a veteren Rheinland pilot who's flown many successful missions without losing a single wingman. At least, that's what Trent says in his log.
- Badass Boast: Ozu makes one during the single-player campaign. See the Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner example below for more generic examples.
Ozu: The Blood Dragons are small in number, Jun'ko, but they are the best fighter pilots in the colonies.
- Badass Grandpa: Given his age, his status as Prefect of the Honshu System, and his numerous contacts within Kusari, Rheinland, the Blood Dragons and The Order, Lord Hakkera can arguably qualify as this.
- Tobias might be this as well. He's a retired Bretonia Armed Forces pilot who made a humble living as the owener of the Leeds Equipment Dealer and had apprenticed Trent prior to the story. When he comes to your rescue when you have to flee Bretonia, it looks like his piloting skills haven't changed a bit.
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Orillion.
- Bald of Awesome: King, Dr. Quintaine, and Orillion
- Battleship Raid: Three missions in which you have to knock out a large base's shield generators. One of them even has you fly inside.
- The Battlestar: All battleships in the game serve as both powerful space cannons and fighter-launching platforms. However, it is slightly justified in that fighters in this game are practically independent, so landing on a battleship is apparently only for storage between battles and/or maintenance (which is what the player uses those battleships for, most of the time).
- Beehive Barrier: The Class 9 and 10 shields have this for the visual effect when the ships using them are hit.
- BFG: The Liberty Cruiser mounts a ridiculously large forward cannon that delivers heavy damage to anything it hits. Even a battleship approximately double in size and thrice as strong will start to buckle after about half a minute of continuous fire from it.
- Big Bad: Rheinland Chancellor Niemann is not this but about as close as you get to one in spite of having what amounts to a walk-on role in person and being dead for quite some time by then, as "he" is the main face behind both the supposed enemy, Rheinland, and the real enemy, the Nomads.
- Big Damn Heroes: Lots of them. Among others, Trent, Juni, King and Walker arrive just in time to save President Jacobi from being taken over by an alien. Then Jacobi stops it from taking over Trent by shooting it with a BFG.
- Navy Cruiser Captain Marcus Walker. You work with him early on to crack down on the pirates, and he goes missing shortly after he has actually gone into hiding with the rest of his group. He also intervenes and saves you and Juni during the initial flight from Liberty. See also Gunship Rescue.
- Big No: Herr von Claussen does this once, right after Klaus Botzler's Heroic Sacrifice. The occasional NPC also does this when their ship disintegrates.
- Juni gets at least two while witnessing her friends die.
- Black and Gray Morality: Most of the factions have some sort of just cause or justification for their actions (even if only they perceive it as such) and are at the same time committing some sort of injustice against one or more other factions. For instance, the Mollys fight for independence from an exploitative Bretonia, but are doing so by attacking and killing practically anyone flying around Bretonian space. Even the Corsairs have some justification for their actions—they got screwed over when their colony ship went to pieces, and don't have much choice but to steal whatever other factions are producing. A few factions are completely corrupt (such as Hogosha and Samura, though Samura has employees who are basically innocent). This of course only pertains to everything outside the campaign storyline (see below).
- Black and White Morality: In the campaign storyline, where morality issues are eventually put aside because mankind is on the verge of annihilation anyway, there's a more clear line between who's "right" and who's "wrong", but for the most part the ones who are wrong are simply under the control of aliens seeking to destroy mankind...
- Bounty Hunter: They have a whole organization of these guys. It's called the Bounty Hunters Guild.
- Breakable Weapons: Once your shields are depleted, enemy shots will impact your ship directly. Radiation damage will also do likewise, except that it completely bypasses shields. If a portion of your ship, such as the fins of a Titan, or even a weapon or the countermeasure dropper you mount, takes sufficient damage, it will break away and disintegrate into nothing. Bad call if there's a Class-10 CERBERUS mounted there, because you will permanently lose that weapon. The upside to this is that computer ships aren't spared from this either, so if you hit them hard enough, they may lose a fin with a weapon or component attached, thus reducing their offensive and/or defensive capabilities. The disadvantage of this, however, is that you might be less likely to get weapon drops.
- Broken Bridge: Played by not giving you the access codes to the inter-system Jump Gates at the beginning. There's also a few jump holes that become phase-aligned only after completing missions during the single-player campaign. At the other end of the spectrum, the jump holes and gates to mission systems like Tohoku and Alaska go dead after you complete the storyline. Taking this to a head is an area of the Omicron Beta system visited during the storyline, which does not exist in the actual system.
- Although the Omicron Major and Minor Jump Holes are said to be in Omicron Beta, that Omicron Beta is only visited in the story, and cannot be found in the true Omicron Beta.
- But Thou Must!: One mission describes the task as a "suicide mission". This is one of a handful of dialogue boxes where there is only an "Accept" button....
King (after the mission): Next time, listen to your old pal King and say no.
- Butt Monkey: The Xenos. Nobody likes them, nobody takes them quite seriously and they use the weakest ships and equipment in the game.
- Trent himself has shades of this. Over the course of the game he's been shot at, hit by a stun baton, falsly accused of numerous crimes...hell, he's taken more abuse than any other character in the game! All he wants is the million credits his "friend" owes him and a good drink, both of which he never gets.
- The Call Knows Where You Work: Trent gets dragged into the main plot kicking and screaming by this. There's the obvious attack on Freeport 7 that starts the whole shebang, sure, but there's also the fact that he is effectively shanghaied into the LSF in order to escape being stranded on Manhattan, which in turn results in he and Juni being identified as troublesome and targeted for elimination by the Pro-Rheinland/Nomad-infected conspiracy via being framed.
- Capital City: Each of the four capital planets in the Houses: Manhattan, New London, New Tokyo and New Berlin.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: the NPC versions of the flyable ships have infinite energy, so they can shoot forever. They are also equipped with a thruster that can be used for as long as it takes for Hell to freeze over. Also compare the Improbable Aiming Skills example somewhere below. Finally, if you take into consideration the single-player campaign, the following also count:
- Stock ships flown by NPCs are capable of mounting weapons with classes far higher than what the ships are able to mount. The biggest offenders are the Nomad-controlled Liberty light fighter pilots, who mount Class-7 Nomad Laser weapons on ships that can only mount up to Class-3 guns.
- Juni's ship is a modified Liberty heavy fighter that you cannot purchase. She switches to an Order heavy fighter—the same one that you can purchase from Battleship Osiris and Planet Toledo—once you do likewise, however.
- Every Blood Dragon member, excluding Cobo and Lord Hakkera, flies a recolored Kusari heavy fighter that you cannot purchase.
- See the Plot Armor example below.
- The only compensation the game provides for all of the above is that computer pilots are given shields with virtually no recharge rate, shield batteries and nanobots that they only use once in a blue moon, and A Team-ish accuracy. As an additional note, several mods for Freelancer remove the privileges and disadvantages the AI has over the player, thus averting this trope completely.
- Cosmic Horror Story: While it doesn't have a lot of the atmosphere that much of this genre has, the shades are clear enough if you stop to think about it for very long, namely that a race of Alien shapeshifters of nigh-incalculable age and possibly power are slowly plotting to destroy humanity by body-jacking various humans- a process that said humans * hopefully* don't survive- within the houses and pitting them against each other, and who might be responsible for the destruction of pretty much the entire Sol System. And that's just the Nomads. Now imagine what their creators, the Daam K'Vosh, might be like...
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Some corporations are run by these guys.
- Deadly Decadent Court: Everybody has this to some (usually minor) degree, but Kusari has this in spades.
- Deadpan Snarker: A few, but mostly Juni.
"And from such humble beginnings, your head grew to its present size?"
- Decoy Big Bad: The Order, Governor Tekagi, Chancellor Niemann ... pretty much everybody except the Nomads.
- Derelict Graveyard: There are a number of debris fields, some of which contain rotting hulks of old stations or ships.
- Destroyable Items: Loot from destroyed ships can be blasted (although there's no real reason to do so), or destroyed by being rammed too many times. Even the few mission-critical ones like Ashcroft's lifepod.
- Distant Prologue: The opening video happens 800 years before the game, picking up where StarLancer left.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Rheinland are first to be compromised by the evil aliens, soon followed by the Kusari.
- Some of the descendants of the Hispania blame the Americans for sabotaging their ship, although there is no proof of that whatsoever. Others blame the other faction from the Hispania for it, again with no evidence.
- The "Mollys" fight Bretonia to free the Dublin system.
- The Gaians are pretty much a radical Darker and Edgier Greenpeace ... IN SPACE.
- The Corsairs are Spanish pirates/privateers (with a dash of Ottoman/Barbary corsair thrown in for flavor) while the Outcasts are South American drug lords.
- The Blood Dragons are the former royal guards and advisors of the previous ruling shogun who was dethroned and Driven to Suicide by some Corrupt Corporate Executives. Perhaps reminding you of The Last Samurai.
- The Hogosha is well, you know, an old and well-respected legitimate institution.
- The old Rheinland Empire suffered a crushing military defeat that plunged the house headfirst into a democracy it did not particularly want, coupled with abject chaos, political violence, and economic collapse which eventually gave way to a new, militaristic, and expansionist order which now threatens to destabilize Sirius.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Even after you pretty much single-handedly saved the Verse from the Nomads, you still have enemies in every sector, and are still considered an acceptable piracy target. At least the jobs you're given aren't too demeaning (indeed, being asked to take out an entire Corsair base all by your lonesome could actually be considered a compliment to your One-Man Army status).
- You actually get an example of this from yourself. Your journal speaks in awe of Herr von Claussen, an ace who has scored over 500 kills and never lost a wingman. By that point a typical player's kill count is in the mid-400s, and due to Gameplay Ally Immortality you've never lost a wingman either!
- Dug Too Deep: It all starts about three months before the destruction of Freeport Seven, with Rheinland explorers setting down on the wrong planet.
- Also, the asteroid fields in New London were formerly mined but were hastily abandoned when the mining operations released pockets of explosive gas.
- Durable Deathtrap: The entire Nomad species was created by the Dom'Kavosh as a colossal deathtrap for anyone attempting to colonize the Sirius sector.
- Eldritch Location: By the end-game, you're so used to the scale of the various planets that the Nomad Dyson Sphere just seems impossibly huge and alien, especially given that you pass another planet on the way in!
- Eldritch Abomination: More or less what the Nomads and likely the Dom'Ka'Vosh are according to Word of God.
- The Empire: Rheinland flirted with this in the backstory, and by the game's time has graduated right to it. Though that's not entirely their fault.
- Enemy Chatter: So much of it. Here are some examples of combat chatter:
"Scanner's showing new enemy targets. Engage! Engage!"
"I'm engaging <faction> <letter> <number>."
"I've got a visual on the enemy. Target is primed and I'm ready."
"This jerk is actually engaging me!"
"What the Hell? I just lost one of my men!"
"Picking up some fool on my six."
"Got a visual on bogey, dropping the hammer!"
"Bandit has me in his sights, he's hitting me!"
"I hear something ... ... ... COOLANT LEA- *STATIC*"
"All systems have failed! Losing power!"
"I'M BLOOOOOWING UP-"
- Enemy Mine: The Lane Hackers. Specifically, the enemies of Liberty are their friends.
- To a smaller extent, nearly all factions think very slightly more favorably of you if you hurt their enemies (for instance, the Bounty Hunters' Guild softens up to you just a little bit when you take out criminals).
- If two opposing factions share a common enemy, and all three factions so happen to be in the same place at the same time, the opposing factions will team up to destroy their common enemy before settling their own differences. This can lead to some humorous incidents in Game Mods such as Discovery where, for instance, The Order would team up with the Nomads to destroy a Bounty Hunter ship.
- Escort Mission: Many of the single-player campaign missions involve you escorting a transport or individual from point A to point B.
- Executive Meddling: Many of Digital Anvil's projects were killed when they were bought by Microsoft, because MS wanted them to focus more exclusively on Freelancer. The original opening trailer was also significantly altered, removing the scene in which the Nomads blow up Sol some time after the Alliance's Colony Ships warped to Sirius.
- Fantastic Drug: Cardamine. Incredibly addictive but without a tolerance build-up, it modifies users' genes over long-term use, which grants them a longer lifespan, sharply reduced reproduction rate and the inability to survive without it; Outcasts landed on the planet where the chemical was in almost everything, and so all of them have this dependence, which is why they wear breathers in a normal atmosphere. Since it's basically a means for Space Pirates to control those who get hooked on it, it is contraband in the Houses (but that doesn't stop the corporations from trying to come up with a synthetic version, possibly in an attempt to deprive the Outcasts of their primary source of income and feed those who are already affected).
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Averted, as they are actually descended from modern Earth nations. Liberty is the USA, Bretonia is the UK, Rheinland is Germany, Kusari is Japan, and the Corsairs and Outcasts seem to be Spain and Latin America.
- The Federation: All the houses, to some extent, but especially Liberty.
- Except for possibly Rheinland during the story mode. Though The Nomads made them do it, and they get better after.
- Fight Magnet: If you enter an area within scanner range of a battle between a faction you are hostile to and a faction they are hostile to, expect the furball to advance gradually in your general direction.
- Forgotten Phlebotinum: Portable warp-engines for fighters and capital ships? What are those? What do you mean they were widely used for tactical purposes during the Coalition/Alliance war? I never heard of what you're talking about.
- Foreshadowing: Oh so very, very much. Certain bar conversations in particular are fairly upfront, but special mention must go to one of the logs Trent has when the game starts, where he mentions the other Freeport 7 survivors talking about who could be behind it. Literally every theory they have about everyone except The Order is dead true.
- During game installation, a little slideshow will play, telling the player-to-be about various planets presented in the game's universe, with Rheinland's space theme playing in the background.
- Future Food Is Artificial: The Synth Food Paste; although nobody says it's nasty or disgusting, it did managed to sprout several farmer rebellions fighting for their right to grow their own organic crops.
- The rebellion in Rheinland is more related to the methods of the company that produces Synth Food. A Rheinlander NPC accuses the company of crippling the economic livelihoods of farmers by taking down food costs and dumping chemicals into the soil and atmosphere, all as a means to cripple the survivors of Rheinland's economic collapse. The rebellion in Kusari, on the other hand, is just a front for the Hogosha.
- Game Mod: Plenty of them, some quite good. A few more notable examples include:
- Discovery: One of the biggest mods, which focuses mostly on multiplayer and roleplaying. It advances the main storyline with every new update and of course adds more ships, weapons, factions and systems.
- Crossfire: A mod that adds many new ships and features.
- Freeworlds: A Star Wars total conversion.
- Gameplay Ally Immortality: Important allies (at least the ones you know, like Juni, King and Herr von Claussen) can lose all shields and up to 90% hull integrity, but they cannot die.
- Gondor Calls for Aid: What the merry band of heroes are usually forced to do.
- Gratuitous Japanese: Kusari is full of this. The Japanese written on the signs often makes little sense, "Tekagi" is often pronounced "Takagi", some NPC's greet Trent as a "gaijeen", and the Japanese "r" sound is usually just missing, among other things. The Gratuitous German in Rheinland is only a little more passable.
- The Group: The Order. Subverted, as they're actually good guys fighting off an alien invasion in the shadows.
- Guns Akimbo: While shooting the Chancellor Trent does this because the Nomad controlling the former was centimetres away from taking control of Liberty President Jacobi. That, combined with Rule of Cool and the mission being a life-or-death one.
- Gunship Rescue: Captain Marcus Walker flies in on a cruiser to save you and Juni during the initial flight from Liberty. This is overshadowed in the later stages of the single-player campaign by the Battleship Osiris de-cloaking right in the middle of two separate firefights and single-handedly blasting the stuffing out of everything attacking you and your allies while you dock with it.
- Hammerspace Police Force
- Heroic Sacrifice: Can be read on the occasional report in the Colony News Service. Also happens several times during the single-player campaign.
- High-Speed Missile Dodge: Missiles can be evaded if the target uses afterburners and kills engines. Averted with cruise missiles, however, as they travel much faster than cruise speed, which is the maximum possible velocity any ship in the game can reach.
- Hundred-Percent Heroism Rating: A faction with which you are Friendly will aid you in fights against factions they are Neutral towards, and won't attack you if you pick a fight with their allies.
- Of course, if you pick too many fights with their allies, they will eventually stop being Friendly.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Your cargo bay, ammo, nanobots and shield batteries are strictly limited, but you have infinite storage for spare weapons and extra equipment.
- From how small the areas around the docking ports of stations are, the docking bays must have to partially exist in Hammerspace to accommodate all of the fighters and transports that dock with them.
- Hyperspace Lanes: The trade lanes.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: The AI knows how to shoot missiles, and that speaks volumes in a game that makes it difficult for the player to use any missile, save cruise disruptors, effectively.
- Infinity+1 Sword: The Class-10 CODENAME guns and the Paralyser Missile Launcher. You can't buy them; you can only loot them from hidden wrecks typically found in the most dangerous parts of the Sirius Sector, such as the incredibly radioactive Von Rohe Belt in Omega-11, or the Nomad-infested portion of the Siniestre Cloud in Omicron Alpha.
- Infinity-1 Sword: Class-8 and 9 guns, because they can be bought from some planets and stations, unlike Class-10 guns, which can only be looted from wrecks found in dangerous places. Also pulse cannons in general, because they do more shield damage than other gun types.
- Invisible Aliens: There are alien artifacts, and the game's storyline is orchestrated by sentient parasitic aliens believed to be created by the aliens who created said artifacts to protect Sirius from unauthorized trespassing.
- It's Up to You: NPC's you escort insist on docking with trade lanes, etc. after you. In the single-player mode, enemy fire tends to concentrate more on you (which is for the better, considering the numerous Escort Missions).
- Just a Stupid Accent: People in Rheinland and Kusari seem to speak English, respectively, with a strong German and Japanese accent.
- Large Ham: Tobias seems to monopolize pork products among major characters in this game.
- Law Enforcement, Inc.: The Liberty Police are a private corporation who fund their operations with consumer goods produced by prison labor.
- Level-Locked Loot: Ship, shield and weapon purchases are level-locked, and the shields and weapons can only be mounted on ships with hardpoints that can accommodate the same class number or higher.
- Linked-List Clue Methodology: Pretty much the entire plot.
- A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away: The opening movie makes it clear that Humanity comes from the Earth, the place names refer to actual locations on Earth, etc. Yet, Planet Earth is never mentioned in the entire game. A cut version of the intro shows that the original storyline had the Earth destroyed by aliens.
- MacGuffin: The alien artifact. For 90% of the game, what it is or does has no real bearing on the plot.
- The Missing Faction: House Hispania, better known as the Outcasts and the Corsairs.
- Mission Control: Literally. You'll be dealing with them quite a lot when doing certain mission types.
- Mordor/PollutedWasteland: Planet Leeds is an industrial hell, while Planet Houston is a penal colony.
- And it doesn't stop there. Planet Chisos, one of many planets you can't land on, is a world of burning days and freezing nights, which has what looks like volcanic fissures. Planet Schutz is a volcanic world that is being melted by the dying red giant it orbits.
- More Dakka: All of the Liberty Rogue guns sacrifice damage and energy efficiency for extremely high refire rates. To a smaller extent, Liberty, Kusari, the Blood Dragons, The Order and the Bounty Hunters Guild also manufacture such weapons, although they also make heavier and slower-firing weapons in tandem.
- Mugging the Monster: Crooks keep ambushing you or demanding that you drop your cargo even when your kill count is in the thousands and their ship is the wimpiest in the game. Also, there's a place in the Corsair home system where young pilots go for the final trial. This area contains Nomads, who enter through a Jump Hole from the Unknown systems. It's called the Graveyard of the Innocents.
- Nanomachines: The Nanobots that instantly repair your hull in case it gets wrecked. They don't do anything for you, though.
- Narm: Klaus Botzler's Facing the Bullets One-Liner ... which in turn is followed by Herr von Claussen's Big No.
- NGO Superpower: The GMG fought an eighty-year-long war with Rheinland and won with some assistance from Kusari and utilising their knowledge of the Crow Nebula to their advantage, causing Rheinland to lose more ships to the nebula than to them.
- The Corsairs and the Outcasts are subversions. Both are massive forces of pirates and privateers engaged in all manner of illegal activity and skirmishes with lawful authorities ... when they're in the colonies. They both have governments and entire home planets back in the remote Omicron systems, of which they are fiercely protective. While no House will recognize them as legitimate for obvious reasons, their governments do exist.
- Ninja Butterfly: Juni. "We have to go faster!"
- Even funnier if you're actually outrunning her.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: The plot makes it very clear that Trent and Juni will always be just friends.
- No OSHA Compliance: The launch pads of many bases and planets seem to be somewhat lacking in safety barriers. Kusari and Bretonian battleships are examples of the few aversions to this trope, whereas Liberty-constructed battleships are examples of the game taking this trope Up to Eleven.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Trent is ostensibly Bretonian, and his father-figure Tobias has a rather prominent British accent, but Trent himself sounds American.
- Many NPCs don't really speak in the accent of the place they're from. This is only strange because some of them do.
- Herr von Claussen. He speaks with a distinctly French accent, despite that fact that (a) he's from Rheinland, (b) his only real foreign contact is Lord Hakkera from Kusari, and (c) France was utterly annihilated in the Coalition-Alliance war.
- Old School Dogfighting: Forced by making the missiles highly avoidable and thus pretty much useless.
- On the other hand, there is nothing quite more satisfying like scoring a one-two punch with an EMP/anti-shield missile followed by an anti-hull missile.
- The AI appears to use them much better, though.
- Missiles can be formidable weapons when "jousting" if one knows how to use them. The likelihood of a missile hitting the target is almost guaranteed if you fire it at short distances from the enemy during a head-on pass. It's also a viable tactic with torpedoes; just don't get caught inside the blast radius.
- Of course, you can just hit the afterburner before firing, to give your missiles a speed boost, don't do it after launching a torpedo however, you'll likely get yourself killed.
- One-Man Army: Herr von Klaussen has 500 kills to his name ... and by the time you meet him, you should be somewhere near his kill count as well, with at least one additional battleship kill to your name.
- One World Order: To some degree; there are no "planet countries", but there are "planet towns", and these states are part of a "system state", which is in turn part of a system-spanning country.
- Outrun the Fireball: In the single player campaign, any station Trent sets foot on has roughly a two-thirds chance of being blown up within two minutes, so he becomes a professional at this.
- Then again, one station had the courtesy of not exploding until the player decided to take off, giving plenty of time to repair, purchase some gear (despite the station being abandoned), save the game or even take a short break.
- Here a list of the places that blew up after Trent set foot on it: Freeport 7, Benford Research Station, the Planet Sprague dig site and Docking Ring, Baxter Research Station, Tekagi's Arch and Planet Toledo. Crikey.
- Pass Through the Rings: The race with Dexter Hovis.
- Planetville: The planets are even named after cities or regions.
- Plot Armor: The more prominent NPCs, such as Juni, King, Cobo and Lord Hakkera, usually become invincible once the hull rating of their ship drops to 10% during a mission.
- Portal Network: Jump gates and jump holes allow any ship that activates them to travel across entire star systems within a few seconds.
- Port Town: A lot of staging areas within missions.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: Trent not so much, but the enemies in non-storyline missions occasionally break these out. It's almost, but not quite, intimidating.
"When I'm done with you there won't be anything left to ID!"
"I'm going to use what's left of you to grease my ship!"
"Mess with the viper, and you'll get the fangs!"
- Herr Von Claussen also does this. Twice, and the second time to the Nomads.
"And still he attacks! Rheinlander, don't you see? Today you will die."
"For every spirit there's a proper place in Hell!"
- Puppeteer Parasite: The Nomads
- Ramming Always Works: Averted, since most collisions only do Scratch Damage. However, apparently Klaus Botzler had a epic success with this as he took out an entire fleet of Nomad Battleships in drydock.
- Randomly Drops: Everything. Metal debris, consumables, thrusters, fuel, ammunition, cargo, and even weapons. In fact, weapons tractored in from enemy wreckage might make up a combat-based player's entire arsenal. Averted with shield generators, as the ones that NPC use are scaled-down versions of what the player can buy and is expected to use.
- Red Herring: You get bad intelligence more than once in the single-player campaign, which imposes some feeling of urgency (an element good to have in a game where you can take your jolly time lolly-gagging around between most of the missions). On the other hand, intelligence tends to be pretty accurate as long as they harp about you possibly encountering enemies.
- And in some missions, you don't even get intel from the get-go. That being justified because at those points there is no intel to rely on because you're not with an organization to provide any.
- La Résistance: Most prominently, The Blood Dragons and the Order, although there are several other groups in the game which fit the description, such as the Bundschuh in Rheinland and possibly the Lane Hackers in Liberty.
- Scavenger World: The Junkers, while the House armies and police don't care about them (or in fact they like them since they do their clean ups), Strangely, they are hated by some corporations.
- To support the example, the reason they are hated is because they set up bases that are safe havens for criminals, thus causing them to deal with more pirates.
- Scenery Porn: The gorgeous backgrounds more than make up for the otherwise lackluster graphics.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: If you really think about it, the planets (even gas giants and moons) all seem to be about 5 km across, and space stations can exceed one km. Also, the suns are smaller than the planets, and the solar systems seem to be about 100 to 150 km across. The excuse that the units of measurement are clearly resized only gets you so far.
- Secret Level: There are two 'Unknown' jumpholes, one in Omicron Alpha and one in Omicron Gamma. They each lead to systems where you are besieged by endless waves of Nomads. The one connecting to Omicron Alpha is heavily radioactive, features a background that could fit Scenery Porn and a dust ring around the single star but is other devoid of any objects. The other system, connecting to Omicron Gamma, features a background that resembles a warp tunnel, a star that you can fly into without getting killed and two planets that you can dock with.
- Also try hanging around in the debris field and shooting up some more pirates in the very first singleplayer mission, after King and the transports leave via Trade Lane. When you get back to King, he praises you for doing well and gives you a bit more cash for doing so.
- Single Biome Planet: Many of the planets in the game are like this, with what is basically a single hue defining their habitat types. Planet Leeds, for instance, or Planet Junyo. Most of the others are fairly Earthlike, exemplified above.
- Space Compression: And how!
- Space Flecks
- Sorting Algorithm Of Ship Effectiveness: The various ships in Freelancer are usable at certain player levels. The individual ships get stronger and capable of carrying more (and better) equipment as the player's level increases, which corresponds roughly to the order in which the story focuses on various colonies (Liberty, Bretonia, Kusari, Rheinland, with Civilian/Border World/Pirate-built ships scaling all the way to the top tier).
- This leads to some serious Fridge Logic when one realizes that Liberty military ships are some of the weakest in the entire game and the Liberty-made end-game civilian fighters (like the Eagle) hopelessly outclass them in every way.
- Space Clouds: There are numerous nebulas that the player can travel through. One system even has a light blue nebula enveloping the entire system, looking like a bright, sunny day on Earth.
- Space Friction: You have a top speed for engines, a top speed for afterburners, and a top speed for cruising. Inertia somehow remains nearly constant (though a little Space Friction creeps on it) when you kill your engines, though. You are not expected to understand this.
- Space Is an Ocean
- Space Pirates: All over the place. Some are more piratey, and some are more radical than criminal.
- The Lane Hackers and Liberty Rogues are your standard western style highwaymen.
- The Corsairs are something like Spanish privateers.
- The Xenos, are more of xenophobic terrorists than pirates.
- The Outcasts are technically smugglers, though they do some piracy once in a while.
- The Bundschuh, Blood Dragons, Golden Chrysanthemum, and Mollys are rebels to their respective governments and not so much pirates, and thus appropriately labelled as Terrorists.
- The Red Hessians and Farmer's Alliance are not so much pirates as really viciously competitive.
- Space Police: Each house has its own law enforcement forces, and there's also the Liberty Security Forces, kinda like the Space FBI.
- Sprint Meter: The afterburners. Sometimes the only thing between you and a quick and painful death. Their momentum can be abused in different ways, including making your missiles move faster.
- Stealth in Space: Mostly used by Rheinland's ships.
- Stop Helping Me!: In addition to the Ninja Butterfly example above, allied ships have a tendency to fly into your sights during a heated battle, hence causing several unnecessary friendly fire incidents that can turn them, as well as their allies, against you if they are hit hard enough. This is more common in Liberty space, especially in the New York System, where most NPC fighters cannot survive more than three hits from the most powerful weapons in the game.
- Sucking In Particles: Cruise engines do this when they are charging. One of the first tell-tale signs that the ship's pilot is about to wing it.
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The Dom'Kavosh are explicitly identified as this by Word of God.
- Suicidal Overconfidence: Enemy ships will attempt to flee, with appropriate Enemy Chatter (Nomads excluded), if your cash-based level and equipment is vastly higher than theirs, they are outnumbered by about five to one, they have no more weapons, and/or they have their armor rating reduced to 1%. Most of the time, however, they will fight to the death.
"I'm not engaging. They're just too tough right now."
"Breaking off attack. They've got too much going for them."
"I'm out of here. My weapons are all gone!"
- Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: Shield types versus gun types. There are three shield types and seven gun types. Each shield type will reduce damage from two or three different gun types, while increasing damage from two or three of the other gun types. None of the shield types share a common resistance or weakness. The eighth gun type, consisting of the NPC-restricted Nomad Laser, as well as Nomad Energy Blasters and Nomad Energy Cannons salvaged from Nomads loitering in Omicron Alpha, Omicron Gamma and the two Unknown systems, are the only weapons that avert this trope completely.
- Take Your Time: Invoked whenever a single-player mission dialog has a "Decline" button.
- A Tankard of Moose Urine: Liberty Ale. Rumor has it it's made from H-fuel byproducts.
- Timed Mission: The Nomad power core mission
- Theme Naming: Most planets and locations are named after actual locations on Earth.
- Truce Zone: The Freeports
- In a minor example, Junker bases, though they only apply to criminals (except for the Xenos).
- This does not, however, prevent rival factions from opening fire on each other (and you) outside the base.
- 2-D Space: Everything, and that is everything, is within the same plane.
- Except one star in one of the Tau systems and another in one of the Unknown systems.
- Universal Pilot's License: Flying a freighter is undoubtedly very different from flying a Heavy Fighter, and the different houses probably have different control schemes for their ships, but Trent has no problem flying anything you buy for him.
- Used Future: Very.
- Vaporware: Freelancer was released 4 years after being announced for the first time, with many of the hyped-up features missing. However, the resulting game was still good enough to be enjoyable.
- Variable Mix: If you hear a faster-paced version of the normal BGM, better ready your guns, or you'll get smoked!
- Warp Whistle: The Trade Lanes, the Jump Gates and the Jump Holes. They even make a whistling noise as you go through.
- The War Sequence: Pretty much the entire second half of the storyline. A notable instance is Trent, Juni, and three Outcast pilots up against an entire Rheinland fleet at the mid-point of the game.
- Wham! Line: Right in the middle of a losing battle with some Bounty Hunters during the single-player campaign.
- You Shall Not Pass: Quite a few times during the single-player campaign, and whenever this trope is invoked, a Heroic Sacrifice usually follows. For instance, Lambda 4 and Lambda 5 drawing fire from West Point Military Academy and its reinforcements during your flight from Liberty. Neither survived.
- ↑ Except for pulse cannons, which are designed specifically to take down shields and are so very, very good at it that the shield type doesn't matter