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PF Volunteers - Introduction
Posted By: Steve LevinsonDate: 6/20/04 9:16 a.m.

Happy Father's Day, John. Hope you're having a great time with your family. In the meantime, I thought I'd get a head start on the PF Volunteers series with an introductory post. Mark, are you there? Haven't heard from you in a while - are you busy with Red 1.1? Have you had a chance to play PF? If not, why not take a break and join us - your posts are always the most insightful when it comes to volunteers series.

Phoenix Falling is a totally new scenario from the team of Matt and Andrew Schenk. I think most of us were totally blown away by this one, paricularly since it seemingly came out of nowhere with virtually no advance hype. That it uses the M1 engine is a big surprise - we thought that no one was writing new scenarios for M1 and I think it's safe to say that we all thought that Trojan's status as the best 3rd party M1 scenario was safe for all time. Now it has a real challenger. If nothing else, PF reminded all of us just how cool M1 was and of some of the things that were lost when Bungie rolled out M2 and Infinity. Although M2, MI and AO have brought us much more detailed textures, larger fields of view, transparent liquids and much faster, more responsive gameplay, M1 set the standard for FPS on the Mac and, frankly, on any platform, and it was in many respects more realistic. For me the most significant difference is that M1 provides a much more realistic intertia effect. This was reintroduced to an extent with M1A1, but it's still not the same. In M1, Trojan and now PF, if you start running, don't expect to stop on a dime. Although you can still change directions in mid-air, the effect of inertia makes this much less obvious to the player. The alien sprites in M1 are much more seemingly alien than in M2/I, and PF makes full use of these sprites, changing the color tables to give them an even more alien, although perhaps less realistic appearance. One other thing the player quickly rediscovers is that the tab key doesn't work for paging through terminal screens - you must use the return key. This is a minor gripe, and more than compensated for by the fact that game action stops when the player reads a terminal. This is of course less realistic than in M2/I, but at least the player always has a chance to read and comprehend - a refreshing change of pace.

One of the first things you'll discover is that you have a different set of weapons than you're used to. About the only thing that carries over unmodified is the magnum, which can be used in both hands (dual magnums) as in Marathon. One thing you might not notice at first until you are forced to try it - these magnums can trigger switches. Instead of using your fists, you have a large commercial fishhook with which to rip your opponents apart. Unfortunately the animation just doesn't work and it still looks like you're fisting them - probably a limitation of the game engine. The AR has been replaced by a new AR that fires bullets, but not grenades. Although you'll certainly miss the grenades, particularly when it comes to hangtime manouvers, the secondary function is useful in another way - a virtual clone of RED's mine layer. Find yourself a narrow corridor and lay down a series of these babies, and watch your enemies incinerate themselves - just don't get too close! Bullet fire is much more accurate than with Marathon's AR. The shotgun is also gone - replaced by a shrapnel cannon that does about the same degree of damage. Unfortunately, you can only shoot one of these - no dual shotguns here. Eventually, you'll be able to pick up a "faser", which fires short burts of energy very accurately, but oh so slowly. One nice thing is that it comes with a built-in laser sight, making it very good as a sniper weapon. The rocket launcher is little changed from M2/I with one exception - there is a built-in sight, making it much easier to aim. Sadly, there is no equivalent of the TOTZ, but the jetpack that you get late in the game provides the same function if you use it that way. Unfortunately, there is very little fuel and it is much more valuable for providing hang time than for torching your enemies. And there is no alien weapon to pick up - the enforcers are not nearly so generous in PF.

All of your favorite enemies are here, but their colors have been changed to make them appear even more alien. Make no mistake, although these aren't supposed to be the Pfhor - we never actually give them a name in PF - they act in every way as the Pfhor we are used to, complete with a highly developed beaurocracy and visions of conquest and enslavement. Fighters, troopers, hunters, compilers, enforcers and wasps - they're all here - only the looker seems to be absent. There are also some new monsters - life forms that are native to the planet and moon we will be exploring. More on these later, as they play a pivotal role in the story and there's no use getting ahead of ourselves. Oh one other thing - there are rampant AI's here - they are as central to the plot of PF as Durandal is to M1. None of them are as clever as Durandal, however - they're not nearly as advanced, or perhaps it's just that the terminal text is too simplistic. In any case, they're antics make for some of the biggest changes in mission objectives in any scenario.

It's worth reading the Introduction included with PF, as it provides some important background info on the player's identity and the backstory. This clearly is not a Marathon sequel or even prequel, and none of what we have come to know about Marathon's story is applicable here. Whereas your identity is always somewhat vague in Marathon, you know exactly who you are in PF. There is nothing special about you in this scenario - no battleroid with Jjaro implants. You have no special cybernetically-enhanced abilities - your survival hinges on a special suit that provides shielding, oxygen and the ability to survive falls. There is no illustrious history that you cannot remember, but that you piece together through backstory screens in gameplay. You are the child of early space exploitation, born among Jupiter's harsh moons and largely a failure. In a world where few survive to adulthood, however, you are a survivor and even though you weren't able to make it as a modern day gladiator, you eeked out a living in illegal smuggling. Ultimately, however, you were duped and barely escaped with your life. Now with a price on your head, you sought a clean break with your past - a new beginning on the very fringes of human exploration.

The New Arizona moon seems like the perfect opportunity - a space colony 18 light-years from Sol, it is at the farthest reaches of human civilization. Even better, the colony has been under quaranteen for the past 3 years - if you can get in, and you know you can, no one else will be able to follow you. But when you arrive, something is very wrong . . .

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Pre-2004 Posts


Replies:

PF Volunteers - IntroductionSteve Levinson 6/20/04 9:16 a.m.
     Re: PF Volunteers - IntroductionDr. John Sumner 6/20/04 10:28 a.m.
     Re: PF Volunteers - Introductionukimalefu 6/20/04 8:35 p.m.
           Re: PF Volunteers - Introductiongoran 6/21/04 7:48 a.m.
     Re: PF Volunteers - IntroductionMark Levin 6/23/04 5:53 a.m.
           Re: PF Volunteers - IntroductionSteve Levinson 6/23/04 6:07 a.m.
                 Re: PF Volunteers - Introductionmattschenk 6/23/04 2:23 p.m.
                       Re: PF Volunteers - IntroductionSteve Levinson 6/23/04 7:15 p.m.
                             Re: PF Volunteers - IntroductionMark Levin 6/23/04 10:00 p.m.
                                   Re: PF Volunteers - IntroductionSteve Levinson 6/24/04 6:09 a.m.

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Pre-2004 Posts


 

 

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