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Nexus: The Jupiter Incident is a Real Time Tactics, developed in 2004 by the Hungary-based Mithis Entertainment. The game spent most of its life in Development Hell. It started as Imperium Galactica III: Genesis, being developed by Digital Reality. However, the publisher GT Interactive went bankrupt, and the title was "borrowed" by Philos Laboratories. When their lease expired, the project was renamed to Galaxy Andromeda. Then Philos Laboratories went bankrupt, and Mithis Entertainment picked up the development, resulting in Nexus: The Jupiter Incident. While the game in its current state has nothing to do with the Imperium Galactica series, its storyline remained largely unchanged from the original project, becoming the unofficial prequel to the series.
The game is notable for its unique approach to space combat, as well as its remarkable graphics for the time and attention to detail. Unfortunately, various bugs and extremely difficult Stealth Based Missions marred the otherwise interesting gameplay.
During the campaign, the player controls a small flotilla of ships (can range from 1 to 10), with one ship (Stiletto or Angelwing) being the main one. If that ship is destroyed or damaged beyond repair, the game is over. The game allows the player two main forms of controlling movement: direct Homeworld-style orders and simply issuing various orders and selecting targets from the list. In practice, the first method is usually ignored by most players, as gameplay dynamics make it a must to give control of most of the movement to the computer. The player is left managing tactics, weapons, energy distribution, and repair, which usually turns out to be a handful during heated battles. In-between missions, the player is given a certain number of points to spend on repairing and upgrading the flotilla. There usually aren't enough points to spend on all the "goodies", so the player is required to carefully manage his or her spending (unspent points don't carry over to the next mission). Also, the mission briefings do not always give the best idea of what awaits the player, so a playthrough may be required to determine the best loadout.
During battles, the player can select the ships' general behavior towards a single target. For example, the Angelwing may be ordered to conduct a "Shield Attack" on an enemy cruiser, which will cause the ship to close in and engage the cruiser with its energy shells only, maneuvering to bring the necessary weapons to bear, as well as conducting evasive maneuvers to dodge enemy shots. Once that task is done, the ship will automatically determine the next task/target, depending on the "level of freedom" assigned to the ship by the player. While the ships' maneuvering is focused on one ship, the player can manually assign various targets to the ship's other weapons. This means that a ship can simultaneously engage several enemy ships.
Weapons are divided into several groups: anti-armor (railguns, effective at destroying the hull; largely ineffective against shields), energy shells (overload enemy Deflector Shields; no effect on armor), lasers (anti-hardpoint weapons; damage specific devices; very little hull/shield damage), flak (automated anti-fighter and anti-missile laser grid), missiles/torpedoes (limited-supply guided area-effect weapons), and special (various unique weapons). Ships can also carry wings of fighters/bombers, although they generally prove to be nothing more than a nuisance, especially if the enemy is equipped with an advanced flak grid or has his own fighter complement. Shuttles can be used to capture ships, although the enemy flak systems need to be disabled first and fighters destroyed. Other systems include power generators (main and weapons), engines (main, secondary, and combat), sensors, interplanetary drives (used to exit the mission), and special devices.
The intro describes the major events that led to the current situation in the Solar System. Shortly before the 22nd century, humanity suffered several catastrophes, the major one being the AI Wars. As a result, all AI development has been banned by the ISA with the exception of a single AI controlling interplanetary shipping. Not long after that, a wormhole was located near Mars. Ten years later, the ISA sends a massive colony ship, the Noah's Ark, through the wormhole, almost immediately losing contact with the ship. The wormhole collapses, and the Ark is presumed lost with all hands. By 2080, ISA has been engaging in a constant legal battle with the megacorporations, who seek more freedom in exploring/exploiting other planets. Realizing that the corporations are winning, ISA forms the Confederate Fleet to maintain order throughout the system. A little less than a decade later, full-scale war breaks out between ISA and the megacorporations with the megacorporations emerging victorious. ISA retreats to Earth, enforcing its laws only as far as the Moon, leaving the rest to corporations.
The game's main character, Marcus Cromwell, is the son of Richard Cromwell, the first human born in space and the captain of the ill-fated Noah's Ark. His ISA ship is shot down by corporate forces near Phobos and is left drifting for nearly ten years as a Human Popsicle. After the war, he is found, revived, and hailed as a war hero, despite his side losing. He receives an offer from SpaceTech to take command of one of their corvettes, the Stiletto. His first mission takes him to Jupiter, where he saves an old ISA friend from OSEC (a rival corporation) forces. Later, Cromwell is ordered to intercept a freighter belonging to Kissaki Syndicate. During the encounter, the Stiletto crew witnesses a large ship of alien design meeting with the freighter. After locating and infiltrating the major Kissaki research center, an asteroid-based station named Shukenja, Cromwell finds the alien cruiser seen before inside the base. After commandeering the Angelwing (name of the cruiser), SpaceTech scientists discover the location of another base near Pluto. Since the Stiletto would take years to reach Pluto, Cromwell takes command of the Angelwing and uses its advanced interplanetary drive to reach the base in just several weeks. While scanning the base, an illegal AI uploads itself to the Angelwing and urges Cromwell to take the ship through a nearby wormhole in order to escape a malevolent alien entity attacking the ship.
On the other side of the wormhole, Cromwell discovers a thriving human colony, settled by the Noah's Ark. The inhabitants of the Noah colony serve as soldiers for a highly-advanced race of Technical Pacifists called Vardrags, who have discovered that Humans Are Warriors and are using them to fight a war against the Reptilian Gorgs, all of whom are Proud Warrior Race Guys. In return, the Vardrags share some of their technology. From Angel (the AI that uploaded itself to the Angelwing), the humans find out about the Mechanoids, a race of alien AIs who have destroyed their creators and are in the process of restructuring the very fabric of reality for their own benefit (wormholes are a side effect of this). The Vardrags lock down the wormhole to the Solar System, forcing Cromwell to remain. He decides to join the fight against the Gorgs and leads several successful attacks against them. Eventually, the two sides agree to a ceasefire in order to focus their attention on the Mechanoids, who have taken over the Vardrag homeworld. Unfortunately, the Mechanoids are largely immune to traditional weapons.
After encountering a Horde of Alien Locusts whose energy-draining weapons appear to be effective against Mechanoids, Cromwell kills the ship-sized queen, and the Noah researchers use her to create the Energy Skeeter, capable of disabling Mechanoids, and later, the Anti-Mechanoid Shield, which destroys them within a large radius. Armed with these weapons, Cromwell leads a fleet back to Earth to free it from Mechanoid control, leading to the most intense battle in the game against several large Mechanoid-controlled fleets. Then Angel takes the Angelwing through a wormhole to a Negative Space Wedgie known as the titular Nexus. In order to destroy the Nexus, Cromwell has to close all wormholes leading to it, while dodging attacks by a Mechanoid-controlled Vardrag city-ship. Angel then leaves the ship and attacks the Nexus itself, destroying all Mechanoids within. The ending cutscene shows Cromwell back on liberated Earth meeting the godlike Angel at Stonehenge, who is departing to destroy all remaining Mechanoids.
The game contains examples of the following tropes:
- AI Is a Crapshoot: AI Wars are the reason AIs are outlawed in the Solar System. Also, the Mechanoids are AIs created by an alien race who have gone rogue.
- Ironically subverted by the game itself: it's smarter to focus on the smaller details and let the game handle maneuvering.
- Battlestar, The: Most warships are able to launch at least one wing of fighters/bombers. However, their main strength still lies with their own weapons.
- Big Damn Heroes: Richard and Marcus Cromwell are considered to be heroes.
- Chewing the Scenery: The Gorgs especially almost always talk very loudly in that manner.
- Cool Ship: The Angelwing is capable of single-handedly taking on an enemy battleship, despite being a cruiser. This does require a proper loadout, however.
- The giant Vardrag city-ships also qualify, as do the three alien ships capable of teleporting during battle.
- Deflector Shields: Most ships (with the exception of Earth ships) have these.
- Earthshattering Kaboom: Destroyed ships explode in a blazing flash. If camera is zoomed into the explosion, the screen shakes.
- Empire, The: The Gorg Empire and the Vardrag Confederacy.
- End of the World as We Know It, The: Earth is taken over by the Mechanoids and remade to suit their needs.
- Energy Weapon: Energy shells, lasers (offensive and flak), and energy skeeters.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: Lasers are used both to disable/destroy enemy ship systems and to defend against fighters and missiles. Shown as bright beams of varying colors and thickness. Travel instantly to target. Also see Wave Motion Gun.
- Guide Dang It: The mission briefings don't usually give a good idea on the best loadout for the mission, requiring either at least one playthrough or reading a walkthrough. Additionally, the poorly done Stealth Based Missions require precise actions and timing, which are almost impossible without prior knowledge of the events.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: The Locust.
- Humans Are Warriors: The Vardrag allied with the Noah colony in exchange for their superior war-making skills.
- Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Noah colonists incorporate Vardrag technology into their ships. Also, Kissaki Syndicate managed to reverse-engineer several Angelwing systems and sell them as their own inventions.
- I Owe You My Life: If the player managed to save Chief Zatuk from his clan's dissenters, he will appear in the second last mission with his Gorg battleship. His ship has a siege laser which can be useful.
- Iron Butt Monkey: Vice Admiral Norbank. While his tactics almost fail every time, he seemingly able to shrug off anything. Survived from being blown up by the Raptors' Cataclysm missiles while seemingly the escape pods are caught in the blast, took a hit from a Gorg Siege Laser in the face, and even survived after the mechanoids taken over his ship.
- ISO Standard Human Spaceship: Non-Noah human ships lack advanced technology such as Deflector Shields, FTL Travel, and Artificial Gravity. They are grey or black and highly reminiscent of Babylon 5 human ships, including spinning sections to provide pseudo-gravity.
- Kill Sat: Defence platforms.
- Mighty Glacier: Battleships and the Vardrag city-ships.
- Nigh Invulnerability: Don't shoot Mechanoids. They'll absorb the energy and get stronger.
- Nuke'Em: Some missiles/torpedoes are nuclear-tipped.
- Organic Technology: The Locust.
- The Ghost use organic ships.
- Peace Through Superior Firepower: The Vardrag's way of life.
- Portal Network: The wormholes.
- Precursors: The Creators made the Mechanoids and were all but wiped out. Several made it to the Solar System and set up a base near Pluto. They carefully guided human development to allow the creation of AIs compatible with their own.
- Robot War: The Mechanoids are AIs which use robotic spaceborne shapes for transportation.
- Space Navy: The Noah colony and the Gorgs have a full complement of warships of various classes.
- Space Whale: The Locust queen.
- Technical Pacifist: The Vardrag have no stomach for war. However, their weapons are extremely powerful, and they will not hesitate to use them for defense.
- Timed Mission: Certain Stealth Based Missions are timed.
- That One Level: The stealth mission, and the mission after it which also requires some stealth.
- The Virus: The Mechanoids, a hybrid of computer virus and something like the Replicators.
- Wave Motion Gun: The Siege Laser requires the combined energy of up to four ships to fire. However, it is capable of quickly taking down any known shield.