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Evil Volunteers: We Be Groundpounders
Posted By: Steve LevinsonDate: 2/1/04 10:18 a.m.

What a level! It has its flaws to be sure, but this is really an amazingly complex, fun to play, difficult but beatable level, it's hard to imagine that FM did this level and Hackers in only 3 days (as he tells us on a secret terminal, as we'll discuss later). Groundpounders is memorable for a variety of reasons. First of all, we acquire two new weapons that are so unique that nothing similar has been used in any other scenario, largely out of respect I would hope. The first of these is the Pfhor staff. Why didn't Bungie think of this? Sure, Craig Mullens drew that wonderful chapter screen for M2 in which we are holding a Pfhor Staff, but we never got a chance to actually use one until now. The implementation is brilliant and it has two modes - contact and projectile. Unlike the enforcer alien weapons we're used to, this one never runs out of ammo, making it a great supplement to our fists, but with the ability to flip switches at a distance and to hold Mystics at bay. The second weapon is the nuke weapon, which fires some sort of nuclear packets that can take down a variety of villains in a large area with one or two shots. Not since Infinity's Post Naval Trauma have we had such a weapon, and then it was only powered down Juggernauts that weren't exactly something we could carry around with us. We will be encountering some areas where the nuke launcher will come in vary handy.

Secondly, the flow of the level is really superb. We start out in the private quarters of Rif Di'Chipht on the Orbital Station Dricta, or Overlord, where the Hellraiser just happens to be docked. We all remember the Hellraiser from our last encounter with it in SoNK. Our primary mission is to destroy the Hellraiser, but this station is also the primary production factory for juggernauts and our secondary mission is to shut down production. We're also going to crash the computer core. Piece of cake! This is a highly nonlinear level with many different ways it can be approached, but with a degree of interconnection that makes it hard to get lost in the process. The only point of confusion for me was in recognizing the circuits that had to be smashed to bring down the computer core - they just faded into the background for me and I didn't see them at first, leaving me trapped trying to figure out how to access the rest of the level. Now it's so obvious, I wonder how I could have ever missed them.

The fighting is varied and it is pretty easy in most spots to coax the Pfhor to fight each other, making the need for ammo almost superfluous, particularly if you put that Pfhor staff to use. The Mystic drones are still on your side at this point, so be sure to let them do some of the fighting. You may need to coax them into action, but they're very effective. There are several override chips that must be inserted and finding the corresponding chip slots can be a bit of a challenge, but all are easily reachable through thorough exploration. There are no troopers here - just fighters and hunters, and there's always plenty of room to get out of the way of their projectiles, so the fighting is challenging, but not nearly as difficult as in A Million Ways. Just be sure to watch out for the hunters that hide behind doorways.

The one real challenge is in shutting down the juggernaut production line. A switch must be activated to expose a destructible switch that will shut down production, all while you are under attack by several juggernauts. You may need to make two passes at this, unless you choose to take out all the juggers. There is no need to take them out, but it can be a lot of fun if you want to try and are willing to use up a fair bit of ammo that might be better saved for later. You can also easily get stuck having to take them out if you happen to make a run for the pattern buffer and shield recharger that are visible in this area. Once there, it's hard to get out without taking the juggers on. One very effective technique if you're brave is to get the juggers to take each other out. To do this you need to place yourself in the line of fire of one juggernaut with a second one directly behind that one. If you hang close to the first one, you can avoid taking much of the damage while that jugger takes a pummeling from the one behind it. The trick is to get out in time!

There is a secret terminal in the room where you take out the computer core. This is FM's personal credit terminal (as opposed to the scenario credit terminal that we'll encounter later). Reading it requires taking on a second MOAH in this room (the Pfhor staff is surprisingly effective in this regard) but reading it is worthwhile as FM has some interesting things to say. I think it's interesting that FM makes a point of telling us that Felix is a woman. Frankly, the single-sex nature of Marathon seem really out of step with the likely nature of the future, but I guess Bungie was on a budget. This is a nice little gesture on FM's part to make it right. A second revelation is that we should take a closer look at that first chapter screen (I think it's the one labeled Desolation, in which there is a marine skiing down some sort of slope in front of a monolith as seen through the shape of a watching devlin. There is an asian glyph woven subtly into the background - I wonder if this is what FM's talking about? Does anyone here read asian characters?

As Mark already mentioned, the feel of gameplay is very different from here on out. In a sense, it's as if we're playing two different scenarios. These are some of the best maps anywhere, even if the story behind them is a bit lame. In any case, after trashing the core, inserting all the chips, shutting down the jugger factory and destroying the Hellraiser, we are to be put back into stasis for our journey to Warzau-0, the home world of the Mystics. Strangely, we're going there in this very space station - seems like a bit of overkill for the journey if you ask me, and probably a rather slow vehicle at that. As we head off to sleep, we're warned that we might be called upon if things get out of hand - ominous words.

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Pre-2004 Posts


Replies:

Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersSteve Levinson 2/1/04 10:18 a.m.
     Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersDr. John Sumner 2/1/04 2:40 p.m.
           Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersSteve Levinson 2/1/04 3:55 p.m.
                 Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersMark Levin 2/2/04 9:38 a.m.
                       Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersDr. John Sumner 2/3/04 4:43 a.m.
                             Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersSteve Levinson 2/3/04 5:09 a.m.
           Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersTodd 2/1/04 10:54 p.m.
     Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersSpeaker-To-Animals 2/1/04 7:36 p.m.
           Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be Groundpounders *NM*Steve Levinson 2/2/04 4:26 a.m.
                 Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersSpeaker-To-Animals 2/2/04 4:19 p.m.
                       Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersTasnu Arakun 2/3/04 12:00 a.m.
                             Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersSteve Levinson 2/3/04 5:13 a.m.
                             Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersTasnu Arakun 2/3/04 7:50 a.m.
                             Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersSpeaker-To-Animals 2/3/04 12:00 p.m.
                             Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersTasnu Arakun 4/1/04 7:38 a.m.
                                   Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersAnaphiel 4/1/04 7:56 a.m.
     Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersMark Levin 2/2/04 9:25 a.m.
           Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersSteve Levinson 2/2/04 10:51 a.m.
     Re: Evil Volunteers: We Be GroundpoundersWejam The Carter 2/2/04 6:18 p.m.

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