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Level 3 Blank Slate
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I chose the Tricraft Lithium; it may have the fewest equip slots, but it's the fastest and its regular weapon does the most damage.
Before you start, something to note: bonus weapons can "sync" with one another, if you collect the right ones in the right order - always a rare one followed by a common one. Cataclysm Orbs (blue)(homing) plus Laser Blast (yellow)(spreadfire) yields Cataclysm Blast, Vecton Laser (yellow) plus Double Fire (white) yields Double Vecton Laser, and Unleashed Plasma (purple)(piercing) plus Fusion Fire (green) yields Fusion Plasma.
The first level is straight forward; shoot things, try not to die. If you see a Teramid Fragment (big boxy thing with red on it) don't even bother trying to kill it; later on, you'll be able to get ridiculous amounts of cash from it, but right now you aren't nearly strong enough. The boss is pretty easy, even more so if you have missiles on.
In the shop, buy Neko's Bonus Charm, Adriana's Rosette, and if you have the money afterwards, the Zennon Laser Bolt. From the skills menu, buy Stun Enemies and Mega Bomb - both are best used when there are several enemies on screen at once, and the first is also useful for keeping an enemy in place that you don't want to escape (like I'm the example I'm about to give).
After that, replay the first level; remember the Teramid Fragments? You can stop them with Stun Enemies, giving you plenty of time to kill them - don't let other enemies pile up on you, though. Since I had enough achievement points to unlock the Rare Skills shop, I was able to get enough money to buy Stop Time, Psion Wave, and Electromagnetic Pulse (since you can't get EMP Missiles yet). The first two are important throughout the game; in fact, I keep Stop Time in the number 1 skill slot. Psion Wave is best used on fairly tight clusters of enemies or bosses - its downside, though, is that it seems to have a cooldown period before you can use it again. I still had enough money to buy Micro-Repair Bots from the Shops.
Second level's just as easy; it got a little hairy at one point, but that was only because I insisted on spamming Stun Enemies to kill a couple of Teramid Fragments. The boss has three pieces; you can destroy the left and right ones really quickly with the help of a Psion Wave delivered sideways so that it does the most damage (staying in/through it the longest possible).
After this, buy Negative Effect Canceler; it's another skill you'll take with you all the way to the endgame.
More of the same with the third level. The boss has this continuous-beam style attack you can't weave your way through; just wait until he stops to move to his other side. Again, Psion Wave delivered into him horizontally rips him to pieces. As an aside, this was the level I collected the Racer achievement in.
Once you complete level 3, you'll be able to upgrade certain skills and add-ons. Out of the ones we have so far, that includes the skills Stop Time, Mega Bomb, Psion Wave, and Negative Effect Canceler. I had enough money to upgrade all of them, and then buy the add-on Cargo Expansion - another critical skill/add-on. Even though I didn't have enough money to buy anything from there, it's a good idea to unlock the Elite Gear shop at this point, assuming you have enough Achievement points to do so. EMP missiles are under the Power Missiles shop, but until you can get the Fion Assimilator from the Black Market, or failing that the M. Creator with a few upgrades, no missles but the regular ones are worth it. Also note that, the later in the game a level is, the more money the Gold and Copper bonuses are worth - an important factor in deciding which level to replay for grinding purposes.
I replayed level three, and this was the first time I ran into a Denton Shielder - you'll know one when you see it. These are VERY annoying, reflecting everything back at you except for Mega Bomb, Psion Wave, missiles, and the bonus weapons Unleashed Plasma and its "sync", Fusion Plasma; the best strategy for killing them seems to be Stop Time, turn Autofire off, then Psion Wave. I also collected the reward for the first Mission. These are all "Kill X of a certain enemy" except for one (which is a pain in the ass to complete), and a great source of Achievement points and cash.
Back at the shop I bought the Zennon Maximum Blaster and the Tricraft MINI Ships, along with the Megacorp V4 Nuclear AUX.
Fourth level. I ran into a Nerozon here; they're fairly big compared to other enemies so far, and run away after a few shots - I wasn't able to defeat it. The boss is more of the same, get two Psion Waves into it from the side and it crumbles.
Fifth level. Slightly tougher, but not too bad. The boss is the annoying bit. Remember the Shields? The boss's side module things have one each. So I turned off Autofire and relied on Psion Wave, which took many more uses to bring him down. I also had to use an Armor Pack to keep from dying. You may fare better, but you'll definitely observe that things are starting to pick up the pace at this point.
After level five, you'll be able to do Nekon Attack. Even with a full-power Zennon Semicraft, some of the challenges are literally impossible (Stop Time + collecting every single orb still didn't get enough), so don't feel too bad if it makes you give up. Now seemed a good time to upgrade to the Tricraft Azimuth; if you think you can keep going with a tier one ship, go ahead, but it'll get a lot harder real fast.
At the shop, I bought Auto Healing Technique; this managed to save my life a couple of times, so while it is optional, I strongly recommend it - note that you must have Healing Technique in one of you skill slots for this to work.
Sixth level. Be sure you have missiles activated - Denton Shielders are getting more frequent. The boss is five identical pieces; focus on the middle, then slip up into the gap, and do the Psion Wave trick. They don't throw too much at you, so this is actually easier than the last boss.
After level six, you'll be able to upgrade things again. You probably won't have enough money to do Stop Time and Negative Effect Canceler, so focus on the other skills. While Cargo Expansion is also upgradeable, it's hella expensive to do, so don't bother for now.
I did the silver and gold level 5 Nekon Attack challenges, and they were actually not too hard; the trick is to use Stop time when things get too crowded so you don't miss any ships or orbs.
After this, I ground until upgraded the Cargo Expansion (once), Negative Effect Canceler, Stop Time, and bought and upgraded the Green Betasize (twice).
During this time I had Neko's shop attack me; this happens from time to time. One of its attacks is a bunch of small red orbs that it aims at you, the other is downward lasers fired at high speed. Not too tough as long as you stay to the sides.
Level seven. Tougher enemies. The boss shoots a lot of stuff at you, but the combination of the shots' weakness and gaps between them means you can move around without too much worry. Same strategy as before with Psion Wave.
In the shop, I had enough Achievement points to unlock the Black Market - while I'd head for the Ultimate Skills shop first, you need to unlock the Black Market before you can access the other third-tier shops.
Level eight. I ran into a lot of Denton Shielders here. I also encountered an Aion, a W-shaped enemy that fires a barrage of missiles - you know, the homing kind you have? The boss has a horizontal beam attack that to my knowledge is unavoidable (possibly its version of the skill Nithilium Burst); the good thing is that, while it pushes you back, it's pretty weak. The other attack is whipping up a bunch of orbs, then having them all travel downward at once; between uses of this attack is when you should move out from under it. I think you know by now how I recommend taking it down.
Upgrade your Cargo Expansion at this point, assuming you've saved up for it like I did (if not, grind until you have enough). Also, buy and upgrade the Tricraft Ion Boosters.
Level nine. This is where I first encountered a certain n-shaped enemy - their shots stun you, so they're about as annoying as the Shielders. I also started to run into Zenakas - these are pretty dangerous at this point, they fire a lightning-like beam that does damage as long as you touch it (like Psion Wave and Unleashed/Fusion Plasma); so if you activate Stop Time while it's on the screen, and you don't move out of the way really fast, you're screwed. This is where I ALSO ran into a HUGE, box-like enemy; given that the smaller ones are called Teramid Fragments, I assume these are supposed to be whole Teramids. As Neko informs you, the boss heals itself when you hit one of the shields, so there will be times where you'll want to turn off Autofire. However, like the other type of shield, there are things it won't absorb; the same things, in fact. So Psion Wave this boss to death, but watch out for its attacks - it throws quite a bit of bullets at you, and the smaller bits fire beams like Elzons (which you've probably seen labeled by now).
Level nine completed, fourth level upgrades available. In order of importance, Psion Wave, Negative Effect Canceler, Healing Technique, Mega Blast, and Stop Time. Given that we have Healing Technique, I took this opportunity to switch out the armor packs for Micro Energy Boosts - don't let the name and description deceive you, in my experience they completely refill your energy.
Level ten. Standard difficulty ramp. The boss is where it really starts to get hard; the inner turrets shoot circular sprays of bullets, while the outer ones aim for you. I used a combination of Stop Time and Energy Boosts to beat it, but I suppose with enough EMPs you could do it too. At the end I collected the Blue Laser by some lucky chance, which for some reason Synced with Fusion Fire to create Fusion Laser; this surprised me, since its less rare counterpart, Vecton Laser, doesn't sync with Fusion Fire.
I guess this is a good time to list the super-rare bonus weapons and their syncs:
Blue Laser + Double Fire = Double Blue Laser
Blue Laser + Fusion Fire = Fusion Laser
Phase Synth + Fusion Fire = Fusion Synth
Fevron Sparks + Laser Blast = Fevron Blast
Ultra Tetra Fire, to my knowledge, does not sync with anything.
Level eleven. This boss fires a bunch of missiles at you, plus the odd Zenaka-zap. Stop Time helps, but isn't really necessary. Replaying this level is when I first ran into a swarm of Teramid Fragments; if you have the firepower and skills to blast through them, this is an opportunity to gain massive amounts of money. I used mine to buy Second Chance from the Black Market; Auto Neg. Effect Canceler is also a good investment, but right now Second Chance is more important, as it will pretty much revive you with full health.
Level twelve. This is where Pylons first appeared for me; they can be fairly dangerous, but only if you sit underneath them like an idiot. The boss has beams, zaps, and the smaller bits shoot lasers. Same strategy as before, Psion wave then zigzag through its shots while you recharge.
Level twelve complete; level 5 upgrades available. Psion Wave, Mega Blast, Negative Effect Canceler, Healing Technique, Stop Time. Green Betasize, Tricraft Ion Boosters, and don't even bother with Cargo Expansion.
Level thirteen. Nothing really worth mentioning about the enemies. The boss throws a bit more at you, including mines; I never got hit by one, but you should try to shoot them before they hit, given how easy they are to destroy I imagine they can do a lot of damage. Keep your mouse trained on him, and swing in a wide arc from one side of him to the other, using Psion Wave as soon as it's done cooling down. I encountered Megazons here; their attack is like a Zenaka's but MUCH stronger. They take a lot of punishment to bring down; use the same tactic as with bosses - they even make a bright flash like a boss when destroyed.
Grind until you've fully upgraded everything except the Tricraft Ion Boosters and the Cargo Expansion (upgrade that once), bought the Cytoreactor and the M. Creator (upgrade to level 4, de-equip Zennon Laser Bolt to make room for it), unlocked the Power Missile shop and equipped and generated a few hundred EMP missiles (not as hard as it sounds, M. Creator at level 4 produces about 150 per level).
Level 14. This is where it starts getting sticky. The boss(es), the Elemental Trio, each inflict status conditions corresponding to their color: red slows you down, blue freezes your weapons, yellow stuns you. Due to the horizontal area they take up, you may want to use Stop Time to help you get around to their side to Psion Wave them. Apaprently the blue one is the main one; only it exploded during Stop Time when the health meter reached zero.
Finish upgrading the M. Creator, switch to Drain Missiles (create at least 1000), unlock the Ultimate Skills shop, replace Electromagnetic Pulse with Relentless Strike (or replace Healing Technique if you're feeling adventurous), fully upgrade the Tricraft Ion Boosters, bought the next tier of ship (I stuck with Tricraft), traded the Auto Healing Technique for the Auto Neg. Effect Canceler, and upgraded Second Chance to level 3. Before proceeding, you may want to switch back to EMP missiles; if you think Drain Missiles will be more helpful, they should be fine too.
Level 15. This is where the Genu Drones start appearing. They aren't a major threat, but for the sake of Mission completion it seems to be worth mentioning. I found Mega Blast particularly helpful in this level. The boss will either do the "conjure a bunch of bullets, then shoot them down all at once" trick - I think I'll call this "bullet rain" from now on, or shoot an ASSLOAD of lasers from its middle in a narrow spread. The little pieces shoot to, but the boss itself is the main threat. EMP missiles help here, since they'll occasionally disable its weapons for a second or two.
You should have noticed the pattern by now regarding upgrade availability... Switch out the Ion Boosters for the Gold Generator, unlock the Bosskiller shop and equip Death Missiles to start generating them, upgrade Psion Wave and Mega Blast... (I had to start grinding here) Upgrade Stop Time, Negative Effect Canceler, swtich Healing Technique with Damage Absorb (upgrade to level 5), upgrade Cargo Expansion once, trade Adriana's Rosette for INFINITE Bonus, and trade Stun Enemies for Bonus Lock. Get the Silver and Gold medals for each Nekon Attack stage accessible (Mega Blast helps a LOT here), but don't bother with Platinum. Lastly, replay the levels until you've got some sort of sync equipped (I lucked out and got Fusion Laser, but you should be fine with anything except perhaps Fevron Blast). Fiery Amulet helps in this, but I'm putting it off for a while.
Level 16. It's worth mentioning at this point, since we'll be pretty much relying on the bonus weapons from now on... AVOID BONUS KILLERS! These, if you haven't hit one so far, are then negative pick-ups with a Z on them instead of an X. And hitting one is absolutely infuriating. This is where the Cyanobomber's big brother starts appearing; it's yellow and round-ish. Whereas the Cyanobomber simply poots the odd bullet at you, this thing lets out a spray. And when you kill it... A word of advice: Damage Absorb REALLY helps. The boss's main attack is a laser barrage, with the occasional blue beam; I was never hit by it, but I assume from the color-coding in this game that it disables your weapons. As its health drops, the convergent lasers will spray randomly every once in a while. Not too difficult.
Back in the shop, equip Nuclear Strike for farming purposes, upgrade Damage Absorb, Green Betasize, and M. Creator, grinding as necessary. Remember to turn Bonus Lock on at the start of every level so you don't lose your sync!
Level 17. More of the tougher enemies; remember, Damage Absorb is your best friend when there are loads of bullets onscreen, and don't be afraid to use Stop Time to help you pick off an escapee. This boss can be... annoying. Convergent laser barrage, convergent starshaped bullets, round bullets (these seem to cause Chaos, I know one of them did), and the pieces shoot spreadfire or double shots at you. I equipped the nukes (as a heads-up, their fire rate is pretty slow) and had to Stop Time a couple of times to get around him for a Psion Wave. Trickier, but nothing to rip your hair out over as long as you have a powerful bonus weapon (I'd picked up Fusion Synth while grinding, but managed to switch back to Fusion Laser).
I picked up the Legendary Key during the last level; it's magenta and shaped sort of like an upside-down nuke. It seems to have an extremely low drop rate, so if you see it, GRAB IT, no matter what you may have to cut across. Also, try not to die. At any rate, it allows you to purchase The Fifth Collection (final ship tier) and Boss World (Unlike in the original, it's just a third option when you leave the shop) from the Black Market, and Darkness Energy Charge from Ultimate Skills. But these are all over 10 million in cost, so we're going to put those off for now. Instead, just head directly for the next level, or even grind some more and save it all; I think you know why. At any rate, I'm going to proceed to the next stage; feel free to grind at this point, because you won't have to do it later. Since the nukes fire so slowly, I bought the E-Magnet Missile Launcher and switched the Ion Boosters for it; 16K is almost nothing at this point anyway.
Level 18. There's a new ship, basically an upgraded Elzon; it's red, and shaped sort of like an SD card. There are also a lot of the Yellowbombers (might as well call them that). Grinding here is where I first encountered a Final Guardian; like a Megazon, it's really tough and explodes like a boss, but unlike a Megazon, it fires laser bolts that aren't affected by either type of shield. Remember that prettyboy, Clade? This is where you get to kill him. Be warned: he is FUCKING HARD. The side bits fire laser bolts at you, the rear turrets on the main ship shoot round bullets, and just about everything else is a spreadfire-type attack. One of them seems to deplete your energy, so you'll want to keep Damage Absorb up for pretty much the entire fight. He also fires beams that cause weapon failure, and coupled with the energy depleting attack (meaning no Neg. Effect Canceler)... yeah.
With level 18 in the bag, it's time for more upgrading. Stop Time, Psion Wave, Negative Effect Canceler, Mega Blast, Damage Absorb in skills; Green Betasize, M. Creator, Cargo Expansion (once) in add-ons. Buy and upgrade the Z900 to at least level 4; since Fusion Synth fires the most, I'd imagine its individual shots are the weakest, meaning this will strengthen it more than any other weapon.
Level 19. This is where I first encountered an Arton Demi-Craft; they shoot a bunch of round bullets that have moderate homing capabilities. The double-ended enemy you may have encountered before is in greater abundance here, and there's no shortage of the Yellowbombers either. And now it's Bozo the Clown's turn to die, otherwise known as Demenus; like Clade, he puts up one hell of a fight and you shouldn't let your Damage Absorb drop for more than a second.
And now we grind. And grind and grind and grind. Remember the fifth tier ships, and how accessing them costs 25 MILLION? We're getting them. The high price is probably due to the price curve already present as you increase ship tier, coupled with the fact that you're really buying all three at once. I'm equipping the Zennon Semicraft. And now, since our ship has MUCH more Armor and Shield, it's time to start upgrading Second Chance. Once you're done with that, get the Z900 to level 6, upgrade Fiery Amulet to level 4, purchase the RS Doom Orbs, and equip Death Missiles. It's time to face Genu.
Level 20. Lots of SD cards, Yellowbombers, Arton Demi-Crafts, and double-ended shooters.
Genu zaps, he beams, he bolts. He bullets, he missile barrages. He enters with the same red flashing from the first game. Good luck beating him without Damage Absorb. And yes, he has an energy-depleting attack too.
And so begins the endgame. Levels 21 through 24 are more of the previously mentioned enemies followed by a Genu Command Core; note that Arton Demi-Crafts become MUCH more common. They (the Command Cores) aren't too tough, compared to the past few bosses. But you'll want to grind some (read: a lot) more before taking on the last level...
Max out the Z900, max out Cargo Expansion, max out Fiery Amulet, buy and equip the X reducer, as well as re-equipping the E-Magnet Missile Launcher and buying and equipping the Particle Compressor if you're using the Pseudo-Epic, possibly substituting Bonus Amplifier for the former due to the craft's low (compared to the others in the tier) energy. You might want to equip the Fion Assimilator instead of the M. Creator, but you should have so many of each missile type by now that it'd simply be a matter of preference. Lastly, equip Ultimate Renews instead of the Micro Energy Boosts and set your missiles to Nukes - you'll need them. The final boss awaits...
Level 25. You'll practically have more laser than air (well... space) coming at you; keep Damage Absorb up most of the time. Also, the amount of Bonus Killers the enemies drop is beyond irritating. The Chaos (green) nega-bonus, though, outnumbered them six to ten. Some dialogue ensues (tell me you didn't see this coming) And the final fight begins. This guy just... won't... die... Well, he will, but the amount of punishment he takes is mind-boggling. Okay, so he IS the last boss, but still... I used up ALL my Ultimate Renews fighting him. Every. Last. One. And I still lost, because he has so much fucking health. And when he says his weapons can destroy your ship in one hit, he isn't kidding; one of his attacks is a large, glowing green orb that will deplete both your armor and shield instantaneously. His other attacks include: laser beams from his sides that converge slightly (think twin, angled, evil Vecton/Blue Lasers), A hail of bullets from his rotating turrets, a circular burst of bullets from his turrets, and when his health gets low, a barrage of missiles. I... cheated. I spammed Stop Time. I suppose it's possible to beat him without it, but it'd be extremely difficult; if Damage Absorb were dropped, even for an instant, you'd lose all your energy and you'd be fucked.
And that's it! The final boss is dead. All that's left now is metagaming: buying everything (which earns the O.C.D. achievement), getting all the achievements, and so forth. Upgradeable add-ons I didn't bring up so far are FT5 Armor, Nithilium Shield Cores, Guardian's Essence, RS Laser Amplifier, and Megacorp V5 System from Neko III's shop; The 1 Multiplier, M. Specialist, Xenon Battery, and Semi-Barrier from the Elite Gear shop; and Negienergy and Conqueror's Seal from the Black Market. Under Rare Skills, Reflection Barrier and Nithilium Burst are upgradeable; as are Guardian of Mana and Darkness Energy Charge under Ultimate Skills.
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