Space Interceptor: Project Freedom is an arcade-like space combat game, featuring a single-player campaign of 21 levels about a fighter pilot rising through the ranks in a 26th century mega-corporation.
The game was first announced in March 2003 as Project Earth 2, following up on the RTS Project Earth released a year earlier; it was planned to reduce the complexity of the original, with a plot specifically not revolving around threats from an alien race, but a group of exiles trying to prove their innocence. Initially expected to release in Q4 2003, it was first delayed until Q1 2004 – by then with a working title of merely P2 – with a press release touting a 'living space environment', crew personalisation, multiple playable spacecraft, fleets, multiple planets and solar systems, pirates and hireable mercenaries. The game eventually released in November 2004 as a budget title, sharing very little resemblance to the earlier press releases.
A press announcement celebrating its release suggested a sequel was then being considered, with a chance for a fan to appear as a character in it.
Project Freedom features arcade-realism space combat in 3D open areas. The game supports mouse/keyboard control only, and can be played with a small disadvantage using the mouse alone. The player does not have fully-free movement – their ship always moves in the direction they are facing and can never stop moving entirely, with aiming limited to a narrow area in the forward direction; additionally, while they can strafe 'sideways' and roll, the ship will auto-orient to the horizon when in straight flight, and automatically turns when approaching the invisible walls at the edge of maps (AI ships can fly slightly further than the player). The player’s ship will also attempt to avoid collisions with terrain, but not other structures or vehicles.
Spacecraft in the game consist of small fighters and bombers and larger command ships and freighters. Small AI ships always have a recharging shield and armor; larger ships only have armor, but consist of multiple modules that must all be individually destroyed to take them out. Ground targets – including laser emplacements, missile launchers, hovertanks and mechs – do not have forcefields, with the exception of building-sized shields that are impenetrable and require nearby generators to be destroyed. The campaign involves several factions, most with unique ship designs and color theme.
There are three camera views – cockpit (complete with visible panels and windowpanes), bumper cam (a 'computer' view with faint green scanlines) and chase cam. The HUD is constant regardless of camera view or whether its sections have been enabled through upgrades and shows health, shield level and boost charge, and secondary weapon selection, reload progress and remaining ammunition. Icons are also displayed for hostile targets and objectives, as well as overall counts of friendly and hostile ships remaining. When secondary weapons are used an optional picture-in-picture window tracks them and shows the impact, if any. Finally, when people speak in missions and some cutscenes a static avatar is displayed, including the player’s character.
The player’s fighter, an experimental Epsilon fighter, is capable of upgrades, gaining one through 'research' after completing each mission. The upgrades are split into three categories – Attack, Defence & Speed – with a linear upgrade path within each, and each upgrade improving only one item. The number of upgrades is less than the number of missions, and hence the fighter is always fully upgraded by the final few missions. With the exception of Mission 17 (which provides the previously-inaccessible Deus laser cannon), the player can choose freely between incomplete categories. The ship’s appearance changes slightly with upgrades (e.g. larger engines or small repair drones).
Upgrades unlock or improve various ship weapons. Weapons are rated on power (damage), reload speed and (projectile) speed. The ship always has one primary weapon – the laser cannon – and a variety of secondary weapons, which have limited ammunition replenished at the start of each mission, with a quantity high enough that running out is unlikely in any case. Secondary weapons can be guided or unguided, with guided targets requiring the player to aim directly at the target before firing, but will track their target aftwards regardless of the player’s aim. The laser cannon features a small amount of auto-aiming at least at lower difficulty levels, but the game does not feature a ‘lead reticle’ showing where to aim based on the target’s movement.
Laser cannon Mk.1
The "basic Epsilon fighter weapon", a rapid-fire very-low-damage energy weapon with infinite ammunition.
Air-to-air missile Mk.1
"Guided anti-ship missile with a small warhead"; each attack launches 8 small low-damage missiles that are capable of tight turns if locked onto a target before firing. Despite their name they work equally well in space and atmosphere.
Laser cannon Mk.2
Increase in damage (reload and speed already maxed).
Air-to-surface missile Mk.1
A single guided missile, more powerful than the A2A missiles, but with minimal ability to adjust to fast mobile targets.
Air-to-air missile Mk.2
Increase in all stats.
Plasma cannon Mk.1
"Condensed plasma projectile", a high-damage unguided projectile with slow movement and reload speed.
Air-to-air missile Mk.3
Moderate increase in all stats.
Air-to-surface missile Mk.2
Increase in all stats.
Air-to-surface missile Mk.3
Moderate increase in all stats.
Plasma cannon Mk.2
Increase in all stats.
A maximum-damage unguided missile with extremely slow reload and projectile speeds.
Plasma cannon Mk.3
Small increase in all stats.
Deus laser cannon
Alien version of laser cannon with higher damage.
Upgrades improve the ship’s damage resistance.
75% 'armor' rating
100% 'armor' rating
50% 'power' rating. The shield takes all incoming damage until depleted, but quickly recharges if not further damaged for a short time.
Enhanced energy shield
100% 'power' rating.
A system presumably meant to reduce hull damage that is either very slow or broken in-game.
Upgrades supposedly improve top speed, acceleration and maneuverability.
Moderate 'speed' rating.
High 'speed' rating.
Maximum 'speed' rating.
Moderate 'reload' rating. The afterburner temporarily boosts the ship to a speed above its normal maximum, expending itself entirely each time before recharging.
Maximum 'reload' rating.
Background information is given in an introductory narrated cutscene. The game takes place "halfway through the third millennium", with the Earth ruled by almost-lawless megacorporations who are now expanding outward to colonize the solar system. Meanwhile, the player’s character has recently gained his spacecraft license and a dream job with the mostly-reputable megacorp Project Freedom. The player’s character remains unnamed, but does have a specific appearance and voice, with mission synopses and in-game conversations also fully voiced.
Starting a new campaign allows the player to choose a name for the purposes of save files, with a default of 'ORTIS', and a difficulty level (easy, medium, or hard). The difference between difficulties is not made explicit but appears to be altering damage amounts and possibly auto-aim intensity.
Although the player's wingmates often talk about bonuses and pay, missions are not scored in any way and result only in failure or success, with the latter automatically progressing to the next mission. The player also has no control of the behavior of their AI allies.
A short, separate training mission set in a virtual environment teaches basic maneuvering of the "experimental fighter Epsilon" by flying through rings, followed by combat using various weapons with air and ground targets.
Mission 1: Data Recovery (Ida surface)
The player begins as a Cadet in "Tango Fox" wing, with the callsign Tango Fox Six. Their very first mission after joining Project Freedom is to assist in the escort of a rescue ship to PF Freighter Diana which crashed during an emergency landing on the asteroid Ida while carrying a stolen data module from the HQ of rival corporation Galactic Enterprises. The mission begins at the crash site. A small number of GE fighters eventually arrive but are easily fought off, and the evacuation is soon complete with the freighter’s passengers and cargo secured.
Discussion between wingmates suggests the freighter was shot down by GE fighters – the third in a month – but a cutscene before the mission shows the freighter simply being damaged after colliding with a meteoroid.
Mission 2: Space Trucking (near Jupiter)
PF Freighter Copernicus, the pride of Project Freedom's transport fleet, is about to leave Jupiter base on a secret mission, and Tango Fox are sent to escort it to the navigation buoy where it will jump to its destination. The other more-experienced members of Tango Fox continue to gently mock the player. A number of fighters & bombers from GE launched from a nearby command ship attempt to intervene but soon retreat, and the Copernicus jumps safely.
The enemy command ship is an 'optional' objective – the UI treats it as a normal target, but the Copernicus leaves once the smaller hostile ships are dealt with. There is no bonus or penalty for its status at the end of the mission. A similar situation occurs in several later missions.
Mission 3: Lunar Strike (Moon surface)
Data retrieved from the stolen data module reveals a hidden GE base on the “dark side” of the moon, used to monitor and attack near-earth convoys. With the location and layout of the base identified, Tango Fox are sent to put it out of action. TF3 & TF4 focus on ground fire sources, TF2 targets hostile fighters, and TF6 – the player – is ordered to carry out much of the actual destruction: a cyclotron/”cyclotrone”, the spaceport, and the local HQ complex. (The orders are part of the voiced conversation, but the AI wingmates don't appear to be appropriately selective with their targets, and are generally ineffectual anyway.)
The base also contains a large number of other buildings, vehicles and structures that can be destroyed but are irrelevant to the mission’s outcome. This is the case for most ground-based missions.
Mission 4: The Brotherhood Connection (near Mars)
Project Freedom signs a lucrative contract with Solar Brotherhood (the last of the three megacorps that appear in the game), allowing them to mine in the Marineris Valley on Mars. SB originated as a pirate organisation and one of the members of Tango Fox is annoyed at having to 'nursemaid' them when his father received a medal for fighting them, but they are ordered to ensure safe passage of three Brotherhood freighters carrying personnel and materials. The convoy, codenamed ‘Black Joe’, comes under attack from several waves of GE attacks, up to and including an armed hostile freighter.
Each corporation’s freighters has various text on its sides, mostly slogans; the Solar Brotherhood freighters include the text "Ordo Fratri Solaris" which is evidently a Latin version of their corporation’s name.
Mission 5: Mars Patrol (Mars surface)
The Solar Brotherhood freighters reach Mars, but an observation post detects a large fleet of GE ships heading for their landing site. Tango Fox defends the convoy from a number of attacks; the freighters have now separated on the surface, and the player’s wingmates chat about various topics while travelling between them.
Mission 6: Watching Space (Ida Surface)
PF Executive are concerned about irregularities in ship monitoring in the asteroid belt, and decide to expand their observations there; two freighters are sent to Ida to set up a post. During the process Ida is covered by an ‘electronic blanket’, preventing communication in or out, and Tango Fox assist in ensuring any enemy ships that discover the transports cannot escape to report their discovery. A small number of enemies stumble upon them but are easily destroyed, and soon the freighters are able to set up more permanent ground emplacements, just in time to defend from a larger wave of enemies.
The leader of the mission is codenamed ‘Top Dog’. As usual, there is no change if only one of the two freighters survive the mission. Additionally, the early enemy ships will make no attempt to escape, but simply attack various targets in standard AI behaviour.
Mission 7: Cosmic Surprise (Asteroid belt)
The player is promoted from Cadet to Pilot, and their callsign becomes Tango Fox Four (promotions have no in-game effect). Results from the new observation post have identified unknown spacecraft conducting reconnaissance flights nearby, and Tango Fox attempt to find and if necessary engage them. With backup from a Project Freedom command ship, they soon come across GE fighters and a freighter and command ship. Mid-battle, several more ships are detected with unknown signatures, and radio communications are interrupted. The new ships are followed by a large battleship of similar but unknown design; when the player approaches the new ship to attack, it jumps out of the system and they are transported with it.
Mission 8: Bullseye (Extrasolar – Aldebaran)
The player finds themselves in the midst of a dense asteroid field. The ship’s “Navicom 206” navigation computer, speaking aloud for the first time and with a polite female voice, plots a waypoint safely out of the field and performs diagnostics – the ship is unharmed, but star charts place it in the vicinity of the star Aldebaran approximately 60 light years from Earth. The ship warns the player of several “self-propelled flying objects”, soon identifying them as enemies, and the battleship. The player eventually manages to defeat them.
The Aldebarani battleships that appear in missions, as well as several of the megacorp command ships, are static (at least in the Steam version of the game) and never move or attack the player. Conversely, their fighters are a noticeable upgrade over the megacorp ships and in particular the player’s A2A missiles are effectively useless against them. The aliens also do not speak, so their appearance is never revealed.
A cutscene between Missions 8 & 9 shows the player's character lost and adrift in the distant system, with the narrator urging them not to lose hope.
Mission 9: A Friend In Need (Extrasolar – Aldebaran)
The player continues coming under attacks from small groups of alien fighters. The Navicom picks up a strong signature from an unidentified object in the direction of the local star, towards a gigantic half-built structure. As the player heads in that direction they pick up a radio conversation from a Solar Brotherhood freighter trying to hide amidst the star's radiation. The player speaks with them (revealing their face and voice in-game for the first time) and aggressively questions the freighter’s captain; eventually the freighter's pilot suggests it may be possible to return by entering hyperspace at the exact point they arrived in the system. The player escorts the freighter as it slowly travels back, defending from a few waves of alien fighters. Arriving at the waypoint, the freighter jumps, and both ships successfully travel back to Sol.
Mission 10: Allied Lies (near Jupiter)
PF Executive is concerned about the player’s report – possibly more about the presence of the SB freighter than the aliens – and is dispatching a delegation to question Solar Brotherhood; Tango Fox and other ships are to protect from expected GE attacks until the halfway point, where SB forces will take over escort duties. GE electronic countermeasures are detected and attacks soon follow. Eventually the delegation shuttle contacts ‘Yellow Wolf’, the SB escort command ship – but the Solar Brotherhood forces doublecross Project Freedom and begin attacking the delegation as well. Tango Fox manages to defeat the remaining combined forces.
There are two delegation shuttles, a modified shorter version of the PF command ship. If both are destroyed the mission is failed, but one can survive and finish successfully (mentioning that they collected the escape pod from the destroyed shuttle). The player is also warned if they fly too far from the shuttles, though this never directly results in failure.
Mission 11: Blood Valley (Mars surface)
The player is promoted to Senior Pilot and presumably callsign Tango Fox 3. With Solar Brotherhood’s mining contract revoked, Tango Fox travels to Blood Valley to shut down the operation permanently. The player is sent ahead alone, flying through a series of narrow canyons to destroy four force field generators and several other targets including radio towers, with ‘Golf Zulu’ joining him for the final attack on the hangars, spaceports, power generator and mine itself are also destroyed.
The map consists of a linear canyon system with occasional wider sections; an invisible wall at the top of the canyon prevents the player from flying out of it.
Mission 12: Winning Freedom (Io surface)
The war with Solar Brotherhood escalates and they raid Project Freedom mines, capturing personnel and holding them on a labour camp on Io. Tango Fox joins the forces escorting the ship sent to rescue them, and travels ahead to take down local defences but being careful not to damage the prison. The rescue ship arrives but discovers the prisoners have already been evacuated to the base spaceport and are being loaded onto a transport, so Tango Fox provides safe passage for the rescue ship there. The personnel are retrieved safely and the rescue ship departs but they report that another group remains at a nearby mine, and Tango Fox again clears the area of defenses before a second rescue ship arrives to collect the remaining personnel.
The mine includes an elevated railway between several parts of the level map, notable for appearing only once in the game and being perhaps the only indestructible manmade structure.
Mission 13: Payback (near Earth)
Information from the Io labour camp reveals that Galactic Enterprises and Solar Brotherhood are negotiating a strategic alliance, and GE is sending a delegation to SB. PF Executive plans to attack the delegation in return for the earlier betrayal, intercepting the GE shuttle before it reaches Earth orbit and jumps to hyperspace.
With the assistance of a command ship, Tango Fox find and destroy the delegation and its escort.
Mission 14: Return to Io (Io surface)
The player is promoted to Flight Officer, with callsign Tango Fox 3. Tango Fox is sent back to Io to destroy a Solar Brotherhood operations center and large radar installation, forced to fly within a lava-filled canyon until the radar system is taken out.
The radar buildings and defences line the edge of the canyon. The player is capable of flying above it – and must do so to reach the later objectives – but flying too high before the radar is destroyed results first in a warning from the Navicom, then a ‘radar lock’ and instant destruction. The lava is treated as a solid surface for the purposes of collision.
Mission 15: Destination Unknown (Mars surface)
Analysis of the Navicom recording from the player’s travel to Aldebaran has identified a location on Mars near “Marsface” that shares characteristics with the 'portal' to Aldebaran. The player, now with callsign Tango Fox 2, is ordered to attempt to jump at the portal and explore the destination thoroughly, but a large fleet of Solar Brotherhood and Aldebarani ships are already present and they attack the PF command ship travelling with the player. The player assists in the command ship’s defence and then quickly proceeds to the portal and successfully jumps to an unknown destination.
A black monolith is present on the map in close vicinity to the portal’s supposed location, though there is no sign of the “Marsface” hill. Its presence is not remarked upon.
Mission 16: Star of the Kings (Extrasolar – Regulus A)
The player arrives near a planet in what the Navicom soon determines is the Regulus system, 77.5 lightyears from Earth, and almost immediately strays into a minefield. Following Navicom waypoints the player exits safely, passing a derelict human spaceship in the midst of a large field of wreckage. The Navicom picks up new unknown signatures, and an alien being contacts the player, asking for identification. Once again the player’s character responds unusually aggressively, but when the aliens realise he is from earth they decide to simply destroy him, with one telling him to “drop that Tango Fox monkey business, son” and a third alien referring to him as “another communist clone from Sol … all that wasted effort”. Before they do so an Aldebarani fleet – 18 fighters and three battleships – approach and one of the aliens suggests letting the player fight them to see what happens. The player survives the attack and is told their performance was “disappointing but not completely hopeless”, and one decides to tests the player further and jumps with them to the planet’s surface.
Three different aliens speak to the player in the level, each from their own command ship, and with a different opinion of the player (positive, negative and neutral). Their command ships are a different design to the Aldebarani craft, and are treated as indestructible (they have no health bar and are not apparently damaged by the player’s one-hit-kill weapon). The alien ships and their fighters will assist in the battle, though again the Aldebarani battleships do not move or attack. The "communist" comment is never expanded upon.
The mission title presumably refers to both the advanced aliens present there or the meaning of Regulus - "little king" in Latin.
Mission 17: Heart of the Lion (Extrasolar – Regulus A – unnamed planet surface)
Like Herculus, the player is forced to perform tasks to satisfy the gods (according to the mission synopsis). In this case the player is told to prevent a permanent base that the Aldebaranis are attempting to set up in the Regulus system by destroying the invasion fleet singlehandedly… with a little help from the friendlier of the aliens. In addition, to assist them, their laser cannon is replaced with an alien version – one that is described as merely a “toy” but still the most powerful their ship can handle. The mission consists of destroying several waves of Aldebarani fighters and battle ships, assisted by one Alien command ship and several of its fighters. Eventually the aliens are satisfied and send the player back to Earth without warning.
The friendly alien ships are quite capable and the player can let them do almost all of the work in this mission without penalty, despite the script. The map itself is unique; there are no destructible buildings but several decorations are present including crystal fields and glowing plants, as well as gigantic vaguely slug-like creatures termed Incubators, much larger than even the command ships (named only in the complaint one alien makes if the player shoots at them).
The mission title may refer to one of Hercules' labors (slaying the Nemean Lion) or a translation of the Arabic name for the star (referring to its position within the Leo (Lion) constellation).
Mission 18: Defending Freedom (near Jupiter)
A cutscene informs the player of developments while they have been away. The elimination of the GE Executive has led to a peace treaty, but Solar Brotherhood has begun working together with the Aldebarani aliens and have wiped out Project Freedom’s main battle fleet near Jupiter. A vast alien space station – seen under construction in Mission 9, but now fully operational – is approaching Earth and an attack is imminent.
The player is promoted to Flight Lieutenant. They arrive back at a crippled PF command ship as it comes under attack from combined SB and Aldebarani forces. The ship’s fighter bay is damaged and no craft can be launched, so the player assists by manning one of the defensive weapons, shooting down several waves of fighters and then destroying three explosive-laden freighters that are towed towards the ship. Eventually reinforcements with the callsign ‘Zebra flight’ arrive and the remaining enemies retreat.
This is a standard turret sequence mission. The weapon is a more powerful variant of the fighter’s laser cannon. Most of the HUD is removed, and only one camera view is allowed. The script includes a bizarre racial slur – when the alien fighters first arrive, one of the Tango Fox wingmates responds with “Oh man. Those gooks are here too”.
Mission 19: Return to Regulus (Extrasolar – Regulus A)
Solar Brotherhood and Aldebarani forces continue their attacks on other forces. After analysis of the player’s report on the Regulus civilisation and his fighter’s new weapon, PF Executive decide to send him back to ask them for assistance. The mission begins in the Regulus system, with the Regulus aliens already fighting a small Aldebarani force. At first the player is threatened to leave the area or be killed, but the friendlier alien allows him to stay and help. They are already aware of developments at Sol and the player’s reason for coming, and once again it is the friendly alien who helps out the player, agreeing to travel back with several ‘roboships’ (the Regulus fighters). As they depart, the alien asks if "Sol clones still roll around naked when they want to multiply?"
Mission 20: Close Encounter (near Earth)
The Aldebaranis have launched a massive assault on Earth while the player was away, all attempts to damage their space station have failed, and Project Freedom’s hopes now rely on finding a weakness they can exploit. A shuttle converted into a probe has made it to the 'surface' of the space station, beneath the range of its powerful weapons, but short-range defences still pose a threat and Tango Fox and the Regulus pilot’s forces (the alien is given the nickname 'Wonder Boy' by the player’s wingmates) protect it as it gathers data. The alien is particularly smug, making several references about knowing important information the humans don’t but refusing to share, as well as laughing "Aldebarani clones – meet your maker!" as he destroys them. As the probe approaches its final waypoint the Regulus alien suddenly departs, and shortly afterwards Tango Fox 1 is shot down, but the probe manages to gather enough data for the next phase.
This mission and the next take place near Earth, but on the ‘surface’ of the alien space station. Other sections of the station take up most of the skybox but are unreachable.
Mission 21: The Big Bang (near Earth)
The player is promoted to Flight Commander. The probe’s scan determines that energy for the station is being transmitted from Aldebaran, and destroying the main energy receptor will instantly shut it down and make it harmless – or possibly cause it to explode. However, the main receptor is protected by four large forcefield generators, in turn protected by eight smaller generators spread out around the main receptor. The player, now with callsign Tango Fox One, leads the efforts to destroy the generators; mid-attack a huge force of 32 Aldebarani fighters attacks the local command ship, and just as efforts seem hopeless the Regulus pilot suddenly returns and helps in the command ship’s defense. While the remaining generators are destroyed, the command ship asks the Regulus pilot about their use of the word 'clone', with an explanation given that it simply means 'people' in their own language. With their extra firepower, the remaining generators are destroyed, and Tango Fox flies into the main receptor and destroys it.
A final cutscene shows the player escaping as the station explodes, and Tango Fox One being personally congratulated. The game ends with the player asking – and being granted permission – for a victory roll as they fly back towards Earth.