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PF Volunteers - Who Turned the Lights Off?
Posted By: Steve LevinsonDate: 6/30/04 2:53 p.m.

At first glance this level would appear to be extremely small. Viewed in map mode, Pfhorte or Forge, it is one of the most compact in the entire scenario. A quick check of the poly count, 255, however makes it clear that there is more here than meets the eye. The fact that there are 4 layers stacked perfectly on top of each other and the progressively increasing monster density as one progresses upward makes for a surprisingly difficult level. The fact that there is only one shield recharger that is very well hidden makes it even more challenging. I don't doubt that there are those who never find the shield recharger at all.

The player starts at the bottom of the power plant. Fortunately, a pattern buffer and the first comm terminal, with instructions, are right there. The instructions are straight forward and need no further elaboration here, with the exception of one paragraph:


I have decided to tell you this now. Lately, I have been sensing a strange presence in the colony's computer core. This puzzles and frightens me because there are only two possibilities that can explain this occurrence. One is that a colony AI has somehow managed to come back online, but I find that very hard to believe because I am sure that the rest were destroyed in the alien onslaught. The second is that the aliens themselves have started to restore their computer attacks. I will investigate this more thoroughly soon, but now we must return power to the colony. When full power is achieved I will be able to expand throughout the colony and gather more information to help in our battle to survive.

Interesting. We'll hear a lot more about this later. In any case, the monster density on the first floor is low and there is ample ammo, making for quick work. This is a good opportunity, however, to get a feel for the general layout that will be seen on all floors. Watch out for the troopers in the area of the elevator to the second floor. Also note that wasps can enter the first floor from above by way of the central core, which is open to all 4 floors. The elevator to the second floor is complex, with 6 platforms that raise on their own cycle. The one closest to the exit, by the way, will cause damage, and there are a lot of wasps waiting to pounce on the player once they get there.

The second floor is notable for 4 features in addition to a higher monster count. The first is the shield recharger, which is fairly well hidden in a wall along a corridor in the southeast portion of the map. Only a tiny portion of the recharger is visible. The second feature is the presence of holes in the floor. It may be tempting to try to drop down one of these to take a shortcut back to the first floor. Unfortunately, these are suicide traps, as they are pits with no way out. The third feature is an alcove with a couple of compilers and a pair of terminals that I will discuss below. The fourth is the elevator to the 3rd floor, which is very fast moving and problematic. Going up the elevator is easy, but going back down is very difficult. The player must stop the elevator at the bottom of its run by flipping a switch. Unfortunately, you cannot see the elevator platform from the top unless it is near the top and the only way to check is to jump down and hope the you don't get stuck. You can always fire on one of 2 switches to start it back up again, but this won't help you much if you're fleeing the many foes found on the 3rd floor.

Now for the terminals. One of them contains a very long-winded soliloquy from Shaki, that I won't repeat here. It is significant for two things - the aliens, although never given a name, sure sound a lot like our good old Pfhor and S’pht. Secondly, I finally figured out the use of coding for font styles, so bold and italic text appears as such. As was pointed out in an earlier post, the capitalized bolded letters spell out a hidden message - in this case it is, “DO NOT LISTEN TO SHAKI HE IS RAMPANT”. Gee, what a surprise. But just as with the last time, who embedded that message?

The other terminal is a message from one of the other AI’s, Mece, whom we’ll have the pleasure of getting to know much better soon enough. The terminal is mostly a bunch of gibberish, but it ends with a more explicit version of the message from the last one:


DO``!10201T LISTEN TO SHA100102`^. HE IGFK31910
RAMPANT!
I AM M.45tECE
You a%e in my ga@8df<

Unfortunately, this Mece guy doesn’t sound any more sane that Shaki, but more on that later. In any case, the 3rd floor is even more challenging, with lots of troopers and compilers. At least there is a pattern buffer on that level. The 4th floor is hellish, but one can always retreat back to the 2nd floor for a recharge if the elevator platform is all the way down. AT the end, there is a terminal with specific instructions on how to power up the power plant. Interestingly, only half of the switches are accessible - the others are blocked off and supposedly already active. It is possible to shoot the other switches, however, but I was unable to determine if doing so had any effect. The player leaves the level by returning to the beginning and logging on. And with that, we’re off to get to know Mece a bit better.

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Replies:

PF Volunteers - Who Turned the Lights Off?Steve Levinson 6/30/04 2:53 p.m.
     Re: PF Volunteers - Who Turned the Lights Off?Dr. John Sumner 6/30/04 3:21 p.m.
           Re: PF Volunteers - Who Turned the Lights Off?Steve Levinson 6/30/04 3:30 p.m.
                 Re: PF Volunteers - Who Turned the Lights Off?mattschenk 6/30/04 3:43 p.m.

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