Stop reading this and start downloading the game from the web site. While it downloads, come back here and read on...
Part space sim, part real-time strategy, Allegiance has a steep learning curve, a rabid community, zero cost of entry, and full open source code for anyone who cares to download it.
Microsoft produced Allegiance a few years ago; I was on the early beta tests. Sadly, Microsoft had a lot of difficulty getting the game balanced and preventing cheating. I lost interest in Allegiance shortly after it went gold, but the feeling that Something Really Cool was going on would not go away.
Then, one fateful day, I stumbled across the website of the Free Allegiance Zone, a group of Allegiance devotees who are keeping Allegiance alive. In a stunning move, Microsoft released the game to the player community for free.
On the surface, it's just another space shoot-em-up a la Wing Commander. Under the hood, Allegiance sports complex ship upgrade paths, a fully-developable tech tree, bandwidth-friendly network code, and a new twist: you must play as a team. It isn't possible for a lone hotshot to swoop in and save the day.
Allegiance hardware requirements are low: any 400Mhz Pentium system with a 3D accelerator can handle it. Download it! Now!
Here are few I've assembled:
- Game Overview Sample
- Training Sample/Proof of Concept - Bomber Stopper
- For best results you need to know how to forward ports through your Internet router.
- Forward ports 2302 to 2311 to your Allegiance system.
- For more consistent results, run DXPort from PuffinSoft.com; pick File/Port Range and pick the 2302 to 2311 port range. Minimize it and play.
Stuff I learned the hard way.
- Sign up for a forum account at www.freeallegiance.org. The material is essential to enjoy the game and understand the community.
- Good at circle-strafing in first-person shooters? You can configure sidethrusters in Allegiance to slide sideways, similar to a helicopter or hovercraft.
- Situational awareness is essential. Think like a commander, and you will become valuable to your commander.
- Know when to run. If you are outnumbered 4 to 1, you will die. Unless you have a definite mission to finish, run.
- Manage your signature; master stealthiness. Enemies cannot kill you if they cannot see you.
- The training missions are bare-bones but essential.
- Some of the pilots you encounter in Allegiance have been playing for years; you will be crushed very often at first.
- When the combat training simulation destroys you in the first wave or two, you can expect similar results in a real game.
- When the combat training simulation destroys you in the first wave, it's because
a) you are outnumbered 2 to 1 and didn't realize it and
b) went running in guns blazing without realizing you've got medium range missles.
- When the combat simulation training mission becomes boring after 4 waves, you are on your way to being a good pilot.