|Tour of Duty: Gates of Delirium / Repository One|
|Posted By: Martin||Date: 3/31/15 12:25 p.m.|
Gates of Delirium
Last time on Tour of Duty, we found ourselves on a ship overrun with Pfhor, and with another one bearing down upon it. We followed instructions from some S’pht to activate the primary drive reactor, and with a slightly vague description of what would happen next, we ended up in near-Earth orbit at the end of the level; an implementation of travel that I found quite appealing. Now we take to the Earth’s surface in search of certain manuscripts, to be stored on the ship as we re-use that orbit room many times in the form of Repository levels – and much as with the Rampancy playthroughs that are beating me to the punch here, we will combine levels for convenience.
So, first up we have an Infinity style really tall chapter screen, depicting our voyage through space, along with some seriously eerie sound effects. I was going to put “music” but that’s not quite right. It’s kind of reminiscent of Interstellar but without the ridiculously loud organ bits. I just watched most of that again on a plane, and had to keep adjusting the volume, is why I think of it in particular.
Anyway, our Arrival sets rather a more peaceful and familiar scene, with birds chirping above the howling wind, as we find ourselves (starting back) in a grassy courtyard. Here
we are. PS has prepared a bunch of “illustrative screenshots” to accompany these levels, which are great for showcasing the rather different texture sets we have here in Italy. Just behind us in that shot are the gates of the level’s name, I guess, but the name came from what turns out to be an almost 20 minute A-side from ’70s British Band “Yes” – these nardo guys had eclectic tastes!
Some ammunition beams in as we approach that door, and quickly puts us back in a proper Marathon mindset, shotguns at the ready. To the right at the entrance is a switch, a renaissance switch, as PS terms it:
This is one of two main sorts we will encounter on Earth; the second resembles more of an old school loo flush. And not too surprisingly, this one opens the door, and allows us into what appears to be a church or similar. There are various small rooms around the place, with a few peaceful views of landscapes outside, some nice works of art on the walls, and a bed or two. Making it less peaceful are the Pfhor!
As we were warned, they have followed us here, or rather they -do- follow us here, typically beaming in with a heavy basis on where we are, although some are waiting here for us, and often it’s too hard to tell which is the case! Fighters come at us first, but there are also a couple of Enforcers in this building. In the central open space, surrounded by pretty archways, there is more ammo, and another shotgun, so at least the Pfhor aren’t a huge problem :). That central space has a skylight above, and is filled with some chorus-like ambient sounds, mixed with a few brief bits of chanting – a very nice addition to such a building.
Okay let’s have a look at the level map next. Again, PS has set these up with marked points of interest, and again, I’ll probably forget to include reference to them in the writeup. In this case I have more of an excuse as I’m writing it up in an airport, and never trust the possibility of getting online for free in such places. But it is made a less valid excuse by the fact that I’ve delayed plenty by this time already! And now I’ve added them in post – the central space I was describing last paragraph is at point A!
Basically we have this church/convent, another courtyard, a large dining room, and a hedge maze outside, made much less of a maze by the fact of the overview map! Also really cool for this series is that Nardo prepared 3d renderings of the levels, and I managed to find these on the website again – under “Artwork” from the Nardo front page. It would have been cool to have had the one for the previous level in ... but maybe in the final publication I keep suggesting ;).
Most of the levels are much more complex than this one, so those pics will become a fixture of the series! For now, before we find a way out of the convent, there are the makings of a base of operations, albeit not quite so obviously. Given the holy nature of the building,
might just be thought of as appropriate as seen on the wall. Instead it hides all the power of a pattern buffer – Jesus saves, as Narcogen said in the Rampancy play, rather beating me to the punch(line). We were told that we would not be able to upload our pattern to the ship we started on, at least for the moment, but apparently there are forces beyond our control, and many things that we do not understand….
And in one of the smaller rooms towards the back, there is a suspicious looking bookcase,
which actually starts the “story” we get here on Earth, as it is really a terminal, or I guess it is a metaphor for our reading something from the bookcase. It contains mirrored terminal pics for some reason, and Narcogen did a good job of flipping them and deciphering at least what was English. I’m just going to leave them, at least this time, because those images are already there for the inserting!
So, here we have an excerpt from the diary of our protagonist here, identifiable from the initial blurb from Nardo, and from the drawings and inventions we see, as Leonardo Da Vinci. And he’s having some weird experiences with a curious shadowy presence (or lack thereof) following him. He has kept these writings hidden here in the convent (confirming where we are) because of what the priests would think if they knew, and we’re supposed to make something of it all.
So who is watching? Could it be a Pfhor? Maybe a S’pht doing a little preparation for our adventures? The W’rkncacnter would also fit the description, or rather inability to describe it in much specificity, of a shadow and absence of “something”. I also feel there could be an Interstellar type thing going on – is whatever it is, observing from a higher-dimensional plane, looking at time as something that could be manipulated. Is -our- very presence here, and that of the Pfhor, happening on a different plane to what is happening for the humans? It would explain why there are exactly none around throughout the scenario (well, until the final secret level *ahem*), and the idea of a shadowy presence would be something like the Interstellar manipulation of gravity across dimensional planes.
Or it could just be a story to be taken at face value … but that wouldn’t be very Marathon-like of it :). Also, thinking of dimensions, does the fact that we have 3d renderings mean there are no cases of 5d space in TI? The writings about the Vitruvian Man symbol, and its representing the beginning of a journey, become poignant when we reach the end of this level – the exits from Earth levels tend to be teleporters with that symbol as the texture.
Anyway, in another room nearby we find a switch. It opens up a staircase to act as our slightly indirect route out of the convent. Renaissance Italy was really weirdly designed! We find ourselves looking out over the next courtyard, and jump down into it, to point B. A little opening to the left reveals an unusual “button” in the shape of an L. These tend to be of major importance in the series, and I think it works such that they require us to have the manuscript from the level in order to access, but they don’t consume it. Whatever, we can’t do anything with the button for now.
There is a switch to open the convent back door, just beside it on this side – there, was that so hard? I guess it actually makes sense that they wouldn’t let the nuns get out; perhaps a decent nod to an unfortunate reality!
Around the corner to the left in the courtyard, an Enforcer shoots us from a room we cannot actually reach; most inconsiderate, and this will not be the last time! Curiously, this room seems to be missing from the 3d map. Added late, just to be annoying? Anyway, the mesh over the window also makes it hard for us to hit him, and it is easier to just ignore him, and continue through the opening to the right, and into a large dining room of sorts, with a more famous dining room depicted on the far wall.
There are also Pfhor here! And once they are cleared out, we realise there is a lone trooper shooting at us through an opening in the corner. And he stands between us and a switch that we have to activate with shotgun or alien weapon. And once that is all done, we have to go back to the convent. At least that back door stays held open, so security wasn’t -quite- as high as we thought.
The newly opened door leads us outside again, and into the first Marathon hedge maze. The hedges are remarkably well kept as well, so beautifully linear :). A shame the whole thing couldn’t be round! As I mentioned earlier, it is easy to find your way around this maze, because we have the map! But we’ll still call it a maze. It is pretty much symmetrical, with a number of dead-ends supplying us with ammo (better than most mazes) but also with its fair supply of Fighters and Troopers. In the middle sits our main objective, a key, inside the requisite gazebo-like sculpture at point C on the map. It appears to me as a S’pht key card rather than a key while using the HD A1 implementation, but I noted that the Rampancy guys still had it as a key. Mind you, with the graphical issues they have had in the past, I’m going to hold off on trying to emulate their experience ;). And either way, grabbing the key causes more Pfhor to beam in, including Troopers. But it’s still a good idea!
It makes more sense as a key, because the door it opens, by point D on the map, has a
That is one of the ways out of this maze, the other being another door with a switch on only one side, which just leads back into the courtyard, and another chance to get shot by that Enforcer. Sounds appealing, huh? I should also mention that there are no rechargers down here, but there are 1x recharge canisters strewn about the place, and these should be used “strategically”, especially on TC. As with the previous level, ammo seems to be pretty much perfectly allocated at that difficulty.
So, the keyhole door. It leads to a staircase, and a corridor around to the left, which connects back up to the convent, conveniently right next to the “pattern buffer”. The staircase leads to some library-like rooms, with walls lined with bookcases, and Pfhor waiting to jump out at us. These rooms connect back up to the staircase that first took us out of the convent, but not before we find a secret room off to the left, behind a suspicious-looking bookcase, wherein our first manuscript. This appears as a brown stone tablet with the letters LEO, which I always just interpreted as referring to Leonardo Da Vinci, but which the Rampancy guys had different meanings for! Uhh, on checking in game again, mine is showing as an uplink chip; I might have to work on that! I also came into 2x health around here, and I assume it was from a canister in this room.
Going back just a bit, I hadn’t ever quite appreciated that the hedge maze is two storeyed. The map makes it kind of obvious, and it is also kind of plain to see, with a darker layer of hedge set back from the lower one. The 3d map also shows this off, and shows a third level over parts to the left of the maze – indeed, we should be able to look out over it from a window in the first upstairs room, but all we get is the distant hills and sky landscape. Also interesting, through a window in the room after that, we note that the dining room appears to be lacking roof textures.
Back to finishing the level. We can now proceed beyond the L-shaped button, and into the final few rooms. A small brown (wooden?) room is followed by one all in stone, with pillars in the corners and a nice star shape on the floor. Advancing through the room brings on an ambush, typically enough. There are three wooden doors leading out from here, but only the one opposite where we came in opens. Towards the corner left of that door, we can also get a preview of what is coming in the final room, with the ambient sound of a crackling fire.
And therein also an Enforcer and a few Drones, which I don’t think I mentioned as being on this level earlier, and the by now famous “uncomfortable chair”. The 3d map also shows that the chimney behind the fireplace goes up a really long way, but to what end is unclear. As we finish off the Pfhor, a panel opens up across from our entry, revealing the Vitruvian Man image and our ticket out of here.
It is definitely for the best that there are no Italians around to see something so odd, or use it for that matter, although Da Vinci was clearly onto something when dreaming of this image, and interpreting it as the beginning of a journey. There is also the line from that terminal where the “map” from the shadowy figure – maybe our overview map? Or more likely somehow involving an image of travelling across space. But the map folds – which once again makes me think of Interstellar, where the concept of a wormhole is explained as a higher dimensional shortcut through space that effectively folds space, represented as folding a 2d paper map over and being able to cut straight through the paper to connect two distant points. Presumably “S’Bhuth’s new designs”, as referenced at the end of Bitch, involved similar concepts, given that we not only travelled a really long way, but also managed to be projected back in time, which goes against Interstellar’s rules, but makes me think of the treatment in the latest X-Men film.
Whatever the case, “Wondrous strange” it is indeed. We are teleported back to the Repository room to insert our first manuscript. The place is much the same as we left it, but the first “slot” in the wall is lit up ready to receive.
They didn’t put up separate 3d renders for the Repository room, but I might as well put the whole Bitch one here, so we can remember just how insignificant this room is, as part of a part of the ship, seemingly designed for just this purpose, which shows either great foresight or really quick building on the S’pht’s part. Speaking of which, there is always one here to watch over us in the Repository room.
As we are here to install essentially an uplink chip, we are SOL if we try to scratchstart the level. No Strange Aeons pools up here. And the terminal says we shall not pass.
And so we install it.
So they’re going to work on setting up pattern buffers … but someone beat them to it! And they’ve made it so we can understand the language, but we shouldn’t bother? Curious attitude from the developers there :). And again, we already could understand it – are our Jjarro implants at work again here? Also, the fact that they think they can hide our presence, and all the Pfhor both dead and alive, on Earth, really has me questioning the nature of our visit again. I mean I know we don’t see any people, but really, what’s the deal here? And finally, why are our weapons being replicated by a Pfhor computer? I thought this was a S’pht ship.
Unfortunately, without our being able to tell -them- about the pattern buffer we already found, and before we can ask any of those questions, we’re sent hurtling back down to the surface. Why do our masters always have to be so vague :)?
|Tour of Duty: Gates of Delirium / Repository One||Martin||3/31/15 12:25 p.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty: Gates of Delirium / Repository O||VikingBoyBilly||3/31/15 5:25 p.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty: Gates of Delirium / Repository O||Hokuto||4/1/15 8:34 a.m.|
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