PF Volunteers – Stewards of the Enigma
Posted By: Steve LevinsonDate: 8/31/04 9:51 a.m.

Before you can continue playing PF, you need to patch your saved game file to make up for an error in the PF Map - an O2 recharger was inadvertently left out of Omega. The result is that you probably don't have enough oxygen left to finish the scenario without either playing well below your skill level or by cheating. You definitely don't have enough O2 to continue playing on TC. Since most players will probably want to continue at their current skill level, I have provided a link to one of the better cheaters out there:

Marathon Cheater 5.0.2

You will need to set your oxygen level to about 11k. Alternatively, if you're willing to leave your weapons behind, this level is easily vidable.

You start out in a structure that is open to the planet's tainted atmosphere - hence the need for oxygen. This turns out to be an arena complex. Enter the stadium by heading left and left and up a set of stairs - heading straight will expose you to a pack of ghosts. At the top of the stairs is a 3X shield recharger - you'll definitely need at least some of it to survive. Turn left to enter the arena proper, but before jumping into the arena, you can increase your odds of survival greatly by stepping over the rim and back. This will activate a set of four doors that will slowly lower, releasing a hoard of beasts and golden monsters that will immediately fire at you, so you might want to back off a bit. Take note that one of the doors fails to lower completely, providing a nice reference point for you while in the arena. Through the door to the right of that you can see another door - this is your exit from the arena, but it opens incredibly slowly. Jump down into the arena and quickly tab on that door, then return and fight the monsters as best you can - you need only hold them off until the door has opened. There is another door behind it, but the monsters will follow you only part-way, though they still might get a pot-shot in at you. Tab on the second door and it, too, will open extremely slowly.

If at any point you are low on shields and if you still have your jetpack, you can always return to that 3X recharger. Once the second door has opened, you will come to a u-shaped hall with, in succession, a 1X shield recharger, an O2 recharger and a pattern buffer. Use them! Next jump down and down again until you come to a slime-filled room with a catwalk down the middle. The catwalk is a trap – there are monsters behind a door at the end! Instead head into the slime to the left and you will see a hole in the slime - jump in and you'll have a passageway to follow until you reach a dead end. This brings us to my other gripe about this level. There are a couple of platforms here, but to activate them you need to tab on the one in the floor. I had no idea what to do when I reached this point and only discovered the trick by accident. I would have much preferred a switch - this is a cruel joke. In any case, drop down the shaft now revealed, save your game if you wish at the bottom and head out until you reach a large door, which is actually a teleporter to the next level, which has no name.

The finale is weird. You are in some kind of space, but you're not in vacuum, which is a good thing considering the length of the final terminal text. Head down a long and tortuous path, taking care not to fall off (it's fatal) until you reach the end of the path. A magnum clip provides a hint as to what you need to do. To your left on a wall, high up, a switch will become visible - shoot it. Return the way you came until you reach a previously closed door, which is now open. Step inside to be transported to a very dark, large room. Ahead is a stone wall, but as soon as you step forward, it's maw will open. Step through and head directly for the large circular area ahead - you'll be transported to another narrow walkway. At the end of it is an ancient alien terminal - the only alien terminal in the entire scenario.

I’m not going to repeat the full contents of the terminal here - suffice it to say that there once existed a great advanced civilization on this planet until the aliens came, thousands of years ago. The aliens were no match for the ancient ones technologically, but they came in such vast numbers that they were soon crawling throughout the star system. In response the ancient ones constructed a great machine that trapped the alien ships - all but one - and forced a great confrontation. Although the ancients ultimately won, it was not before the aliens released a doomsday device that poisoned the atmosphere and rendered the planet uninhabitable (sounds a bit familiar). The only vestiges left were the buildings and guardians that the ancients constructed from inorganic materials. The aliens all died, but somehow their minds survived as The Mind. I'm not sure if this was as a part of The Machine or in the form of a distinct artificial intelligence, or perhaps even in a metaphysical sense, but it was The Mind that contacted the 5th AI on the New Arizona moon. The ancients sought revenge and could not tolerate the fact that one ship got away. The aliens indeed returned and quickly took advantage of a new species to exploit. When The Machine was reactivated, the aliens were once again trapped.

Your presence here was not anticipated, but you and the artificial ones you worked with were so affective at killing them. That is why we have decided to bring you to me; I wish to let you go before we pass judgement. Your friends are ready to lift you upon their eagle wings and bear you off, but before you go, we wanted to look into your eyes-search your mind, and feel your soul. You are the only living one to have heard our voice, you are-in effect-the last of us.

The final screen is barely readable - Matt and Andrew - you need to clean this up somehow. I've reproduced the text in full here for those who may have had trouble reading it.

The ground shakes violently as great tremors caused by some unseen force flows through the moon. The ruined remains of the colony tremble and collapse all around you. In the time of despair, hope triumphs as the you catch glimpse of a shuttle from the P.S.S. Kinetic.
You dash aboard as a support pylon crushes the tile where you stood but a second ago. In a matter of seconds you are restrained in a seat, looking at the colony as it grows smaller and smaller in the distance. Great flames and billowing smoke cover the horizon.
As the P.S.S. Kinetic fires its main engines you glance down through the tiny view port; it is then that you see the last judgment of the Mind. By some method far beyond your comprehension, the Plyxcose star becomes extremely dim, then great red shoots of flame billow out, moving ever closer to the planet and moon.
Their judgment was the premature death of life.
You cannot help but wonder why the Mind would destroy itself in such a fiery rage; could it not get its revenge and preserve the memory of the past. Your reflection stares back at you in the window as you think this over…
…then you see the answer looking back at you.
There is a tingle in your skull that finds its way down your spine in a chilling wave as you remember the Mind's last words…

Again, this seems vaguely familiar, as if from a dream . . .

Matt and Andrew - there is one minor plot discrepancy here - the player reads the final terminal on the surface of the planet, but is then somehow rescued from the moon, which certainly makes more sense given that the Kinetic couldn't withstand a trip through the planet's atmosphere. My suggestion would be to have the final screen transport the player to a spot within the colony, right on top of an exit poly, providing the player with an appropriate bridge to the final screen.

Many questions remain unanswered, leaving a number of possible handles around which to build a sequel. One major question remains in my mind. Did The Mind transfer its memories to you in those final moments. Keep in mind that you're not a battleroid - you're an ordinary human in a special battle suit. But these ancient ones possessed a technology far beyond our level of understanding. If they found a way to remain alive before, could they have done it again? Interesting stuff . . .

Well, that concludes the PF Volunteers series, save the comments that will be posted in response to this, my final post. I found PF to be a truly compelling scenario with a perfect blend of puzzles, action and story - in short, a scenario worthy of the Marathon legacy. I believe that for gameplay it is on a par with scenarios like Trojan, but its story is even more well-developed. This will certainly go down in my book as one of my favorites.

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Pre-2004 Posts


PF Volunteers – Stewards of the EnigmaSteve Levinson 8/31/04 9:51 a.m.
     Re: PF Volunteers – Stewards of the EnigmaDr. John Sumner 8/31/04 12:09 p.m.
           Re: PF Volunteers – Stewards of the Enigmamattschenk 8/31/04 2:39 p.m.
                 Re: PF Volunteers – Stewards of the EnigmaSteve Levinson 9/1/04 9:49 a.m.
                       Re: PF Volunteers – Stewards of the EnigmaAndrew 9/4/04 3:18 p.m.
                             Re: PF Volunteers – Stewards of the EnigmaAdam Ashwell 9/5/04 2:24 a.m.
                                   Re: PF Volunteers – Stewards of the Enigmamattschenk 9/5/04 11:20 a.m.

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Pre-2004 Posts



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