The printed manual does a great job of outlining the universe of Terminus
, and goes through what you'll need to build a good ship, control performance through fuel, energy and weapons choice, all the while getting the most out of playing. The one thing I really wanted that isn't there is a pull-out showing keyboard shortcuts and controls. The hardest, and most fun, part of Terminus
is flying your ship while managing navigation, weapons and engineering. Once you get past the 'Arcade' settings, Terminus
becomes a very believable space flight-sim.
The controls will seem very similar to those found on any flight-sim, but the implications of flying without air friction have been addressed masterfully in Terminus. In lower-realism settings, the computer makes corrections to align your trajectory with the ship's bow-stern axis; without the computer helping, your ship relies entirely on thrusters for motion. It takes getting used to, but once you're accustomed to the different type of motion, things get fun. Outfitting the ship is about optimizing performance. Smaller ships loaded down with heavy weapons will be sluggish, and big ships can either be good transports or deadly weapons, depending on your inclination. Terminus lets you manage everything from standard fuel and ammo to how much energy devices are soaking up and how stealthy they are. It's a dream for engineering types who want to manage all this stuff, but you can also buy a pre-outfitted ship and just play.
Other technical aspects beyond flying the ship are Navigation and Communication. Terminus has a great interface for navigation that lets you lock onto anything from a ship to an asteroid and see what's happening around you by way of radar and sensor input. One of the cooler features is a 'command line' that lets you type in '/navlock _____' and immediately set your computer to target an object. The Communication Screen works similarly, but is also a place to see input on your current mission and responses from NPCs. Once you've established reputation, you can broadcast instructions to fellow pilots and even request ships to jettison their cargo. Once you accept a mission, you'll be assigned a sensor/comm. frequency that you input to manage progress. A time limit and objective is always part of a contract, and if you come through, expect a nice monetary reward at the end. This money buys upgrades, new parts or cargo. The economy system lets you make the most of buying low and selling high, or you can just identify a juicy transport and hijack its cargo.
The depth of options is amazing in Terminus, and I'm guessing that every player will find a different way to build reputation. Even in Story Mode, there are times you will float around for hours, taking on contracts and just exploring.
At the end of the day, I would recommend this to any Mac owner. There aren't that many games of this quality for Mac, and if you're a space geek like me, Terminus is totally addictive. If you want pure action, try Pod Racing, but for realism and immersion, you can't beat Terminus.
Installation: Terminus presented some problems out of the box. It all went fine until I was ready to start up the game, at which point I experienced total meltdown. With the patch to version 1.4, Terminus ran like a dream, with no changes to Mac OS 9.0 default settings.