Itano Circus is a fast paced amalgamation of Freespace, Ace Combat, and Macross. From Freespace I take the general gun layout and the way the guns behave...
Itano Circus is a fast paced amalgamation of Freespace, Ace Combat, and Macross. From Freespace I take the general gun layout and the way the guns behave in general. From Ace Combat I take the excellent missile-based gameplay, as well as numerous Ace Combat inspired special effects improvements. And from Macross I get the beautiful ambience of the battle with the ambient explosions, flak, and last but not least, the micro-missile.
Right off the bat as soon as you undock from Manhattan, you see a world that is much more lively than before. Many more ships buzz around minding their own business, and the universe is not the quiet place it was before. No more travelling long stretches with nothing happening. Capital ships have been added into the game as non playable ships. They now fly around like any other ship and are a sight to behold. Their combat tactics and weapons have been completely redone from the ground up to create amazing cinematic dogfights. It is not uncommon for the player and their fighter to be dogfighting alongside and against other AI fighters in the crossfire of two enormous capital ships duking it out, twisting and turning to get the best firing solution.
Many special effects improvements have been made. All missile related effects have been redone, as well as a good portion of the sound engine. Explosions in particular receive a facelift. When a capital ship is about to go you'll know it, and hear it. When it finally explodes it unleashes a shower of debris that looks simply fantastic. Battles are visible in the distance. Punctuated by explosions, missile trails, and the swirling cloud of engine trails from which the mod gets its name.
General Changelog (Not 100% comprehensive, but this is the difference from vanilla at a glance)
- Missiles are very important now. Every ship carries exactly 2 guns and 2 missiles. (Freighters are the exception, they carry 3-4 guns.) Missiles are divided into 3 classes.
- All equipment classes eliminated. This means that the lower level ships such as Liberty ships are competitive in the end game. However their power supplies stink and thus will have to rely more heavily on missiles than the higher ships. In general though, the lower the ship, the more maneuverable it is.
- Standard missiles are long range general purpose missiles. Their tracking isn't so great, but they have a 5km range, plentiful ammo, and the most damage per missile. It is recommended to have at least one of these at all times.
- Homing missiles have only a range of 1km, and a slightly reduced payload, however they have terrific tracking and make excellent dogfight missiles to complement the standard missiles.
- Micro-missiles are new. They are small payload, and are terribly inefficient when it comes to ammo consumption. However they can do significant damage in a short amount of time, especially when used alongside standard or homing missiles.
- Fighters are all around more maneuverable and speed is doubled. Strafe Up/Down has been added and they will be your new best friends. If you have ever seen the High Speed Missile Dodge that is so common in Macross, that is basically how you have to fly. No exaggeration.
- There are no more shield batteries or nanobots. If your shield goes down, praying and swearing will commence. To compensate for this, shields are much stronger now. They have an especially quick recharge rate.
- Torpedoes are carried in pairs now and have been rebalanced to take down the capital ships you will see. Sunslayer Torpedoes are sold more commonly now, and a new torpedo the Reaction Torpedo has been added. It is essentially a wide area effect weapon capable of killing an entire squadron of unshielded fighters. If used in pairs, it is a "one hit kill."
- Capital ship encounters added. The capitals appear in all house systems and have been tweaked to provide a very cinematic experience.
- Bloom shader is added
- All missiles and torpedo effects redone in an Ace Combat style. Of particular note is that the standard missile and micro missile have about a half second delay between launch and motor ignition. Really neat effect never before seen in Freelancer. (To my knowledge.)
- Majority of explosions have been redone. Capital ships especially have climatic and dramatic deaths that end in an enormous fireball showering the battlefield with debris. Also the first time you use a pair of Reaction missiles to wipe out an entire squadron, your jaw will drop.
- All ships leave very long and visible trails. Adds to the ambience of battle.
- "Ambient explosions are present in large battles. They have no purpose other than the Rule of Cool. The more ships involved in a battle, the more ambient explosions you will see. If a capital ship gets involved in the fight, you will start to see ambient flak shells exploding throughout the battle as well.
- Credit chip drops added. Because battles out of missions are very tough, they are now a legitimate form of money making due to the credit chip drops. (This is directly borrowed from 88 Flak, thanks foxUnit01!)
- AI behavior tweaked to be more cinematic in a dogfight. They will also spawn and engage at ranges that the new missiles grant them.
Last but certainly not least. I have to give a huge thanks to foxUnit01 and his mod 88 Flak. It sounds cheesy, but they have both had a profound influence in my "Freelancer carrer". Simply put, this mod would not exist without them, and I would never have become a Freelancer modder. Both him and his mod have also been invaluable resource in the creation of this mod as many features of Itano Circus are derivative of the incredible and innovate features of 88 Flak, particularly AI behavior and spawning.