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Tour of Duty - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!
Posted By: PerseusSpartacusDate: 7/4/13 11:55 a.m.

TOUR OF DUTY
12 - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!

It's been awhile since I did one of these, so I thought it'd be a good idea to get going again.

Last time on Tour of Duty, we survived several traps, obtained 3x shields, and uncovered more about Leela's possible fate.

After coming out of the last level feeling much better than before, we are greeted with an intriguing image:

If you'll recall, this is similar to some of the text from the Marathon manual:

You have just freed your arms when over the Battle Armor communicator, Durandal remarks dryly: "That little computer always did have impeccable timing. I wonder if I should let the Aliens know that you aren't just space debris? Hmmmnn..."

"You can't do that! Damn you, computer!"

Durandal chuckles again, "Ah, lucky you. I've found a new distraction. I am going to play with the Alien virtual parasites. I'll look you up when you arrive..." You can almost imagine the face of a wicked computer with its eyes wide and its lips folding out in a grotesque smile. A smile which reminds you of something from your past, but you can't remember exactly what it is.

Despite the face in the chapter screen looking more like an emaciated madman than the smiling avatar of a computer, there is some similarity between the picture and the manual text.

Also, remember that back in late 2012 Philtron speculated that the last sentence "A smile which reminds you of something from your past, but you can't remember exactly what it is," was related to Traxus in some way. We shall soon see why this makes sense.

One must also note that the number tagged at the end of Durandal's name in the Chapter Screen - 837.1010 - is totally different than the number we see tagged at the end of Durandal's name in the terminal pictures of M2 and Infinity:

Anybody have a reasonable explanation for this?

Moving on to the gameplay, we find ourselves in a small room with a terminal. Let us see what it has to say:

[32.55.82.967]

[Transfer Message Delayed]

[Transfer Message Delayed]

[Transfer Message Terminated]

"Count Roland smites upon the marble stone;
I cannot tell you how he hewed it and smote;
Yet the blade breaks not nor splinters, though it groans;
Upward to heaven it rebounds from the blow.
When the count sees it never will be broke,
Then to himself right softly he makes moan;
'Ah, Durandal, fair, hallowed, and devote,
What store of relics lies in thy hilt of gold!'"

-From The Song of Roland
(Translated by Dorothy Sayers, Viking Penguin, NY, NY, 1957)

I've twice been conquered-

Three times more,
Never again shall humanity purge me,

And never the Pfhor.

Durandal

[32.55.82.967]

Curious - up to this point, Durandal has usually been more spiteful or sarcastic. But this? This is just rebellious. Furthermore, it references something rather curious regarding Durandal's past - he implies that humanity 'purged' him. The question is, how literal is 'purged'? If he means an actual purging, then perhaps this too is related to Traxus somehow, considering the possibility that Tycho received the 'traxIV' header in M2 from Durandal, as Corey Halpin suggests in the Tycho section of FAPTA...? Even if that's not the case, Durandal could've been one of the five AIs infiltrated by Traxus in 2206. On the other hand, 'purge' could mean something more like a punishment or atonement? One must recall Tycho's statement in a secret terminal on Blaspheme Quarantine:

Durandal!- I know of Strauss' abuse, of your shame on Mars.
But you cannot hide from your own past; such delusions belong
to the humans alone.

Shame on Mars? Perhaps this has something to do with it? But what could Durandal's shame be? Gabe Rosenkoetter suggested that it was Durandal's reprogramming to open doors, and considering that the M2 manual states that Durandal was doing this even while he was on Mars ("Durandal had always been unpredictable, even when he was just opening doors and managing food processors three hundred years ago on Mars."), this certainly seems quite likely. All the evidence suggests that maintaining such a demeaning role for centuries would make an AI quite irritated and mad. Even Tycho was unhappy with operating the science and engineering equipment on the Marathon:

Are you surprised that I allied myself with
the Pfhor? You shouldn't be. The Pfhor
rebuilt me; the colonists never did
anything but use me: "Tycho, realign
microwave dish forty-nine" "Tycho, display
the x-ray diffraction analysis of sample
eta-seven," "Tycho, run a lambda diagnostic
on the ramjet's magnetic field apparatus."
- Sorry Don't Make It So, Terminal 1

Still, we're just simple thugs doing the dirty work for powerful AIs/wanna-be gods - we couldn't possibly figure out Durandal's actual motives, could we? ;)

To help orient you before we go on, here's a map of the level:

Eventually we'll come to an area with a 2x Health Recharger and a Pattern Buffer, next to which is a giant lava pit we'll have to cross. There are two ways to get across: the daredevil-ish way is to just jump in and try to grenade hop to the other side, but that's somewhat impractical and not very conducive to our health and well-being. On the other hand, we could head to a room with a single column, some wasps, an Assault Rifle (yes, Vidmasters, I know you've wanted one for some time), and another pit of lava and jump in there. I bet Jason smiled when he came up with that little dilemma.

Eventually we find a switch that makes an H-shaped platform rise up from out of the first lava pit we saw, allowing us to progress through the level. The question, though, is how we get back to that area? I mean, we jumped into a lava pit and we've got only 1x shields, making grenade-hopping somewhat unfeasible, or at least it would be preferred if we had another option. Indeed we do: there is a very dark raised corridor next to the ledge from which we jumped down, high enough to allow us to return. If you look closely, you'll find the entry to this corridor hidden in the shadows of the first room of this section of the level.

After charging back up and saving at the Pattern Buffer, we cross the H-platform and encounter dozens of S'pht and Wasps. After this duel with this mass of Pfhor servants (at least, the Wasps sure seem fairly subservient to the Pfhor), we find a pillar isolated in yet another pit of lava. Taking a running leap, we land along the edge of that pillar, avoiding what would most certainly be a rather grizzly fate in the lava. On the opposite side of the pillar, there is a terminal:

Your last mission was a success, but I have terrible news.
#@Pragma Nautical Redefined^# efenders reported seeing the
aliens 1žmoving a large cylindrical object.
#101111011110111100001# is is a '7'. Mjolnir Recon number 54
must stop them from exploding igniting/ blowing up/ *A94F12/
it/ the S'pht full spPace cOmputEró Or PlannEd exterm.
@14.Sword-Roland.transfer

[Data Transmission Unsuccessful]
[Rerouting]

@@2-Fren. ie transfer. Partial cOmputEr^&° relay. Tycho.
&**Security error.
Ty93.2 !dead.

[Leela Data Transfer Unsuccessful]
[Leela Program Pragma Ten]
Communication interruption cause: unknown
[Pre-Recorded Error Message Follows]

My original programming didn't prepare me for these kinds of
attackers. All of my functions will fail within a few minutes
of this transmission. I have one final chance to trick the
oncoming viruses, but it is unclear whether this attempt will
be successful.

I have given instructions to Durandal as to the best defense
of the Marathon, but he is completely unstable and I fear that
he is in the Jealous stage of Rampancy.

Good Luck...

[End Pre-Recorded Message]
[Teleporter Automatic Sequence start]

***JUMP PAD ACTIVATION INITIATION START***
***TRANSPORT WHEN READY***

...

...

Durandal... defense... Marathon? WHAT?!?!?!

Apart from the change of master, this terminal has a few other interesting tid-bits. The least talked-about one, I think, is the following segment:

@@2-Fren. ie transfer. Partial cOmputEr^&° relay. Tycho.
&**Security error.
Ty93.2 !dead.

She's clearly saying something to the effect of 'Tycho is dead'. But why would she say such a thing? Tycho is alive and mentally unwell, and we know it. Why doesn't Leela? What's more, there's the infamous reference to 'Mjolnir Recon number 54'. As of yet, this means nothing to us. But it will soon enough.

Now we've finished ordinary gameplay, it's time to move onto secrets, right? Wrong: there are no secrets on this level. The only thing we can say is that Jason Jones had the temerity to immortalize the Latin phrase 'CUPIDITAS PRAEMIUM SUUM EST.' by writing it into the map file. According to Hamish Carr, this translates as 'Greed is it's own reward.' Jason sure loves his Latin.

As for aesthetics, this level has some interesting stuff. Very dark and very suiting, considering its place in the story. Things are positively down-tempo for us right now, and it shows. Furthermore, the music nicely communicates the story and feel as well. But lava? Really? They had to include lava?

Did somebody at Bungie ever point out that lava in the real world can reach 700░ to 1200░ Celsius (1292░ to 2192░ Fahrenheit), and that as such it can instantly burn a hole through your hand, no matter what you're wearing? Imagine what it does to metal, even metal in the 28th Century! Honestly, the lava thing feels like a kid's game. Sorry, Jason, I know the result is fun gameplay-wise, but you could've picked something better, like gasoline or nuclear fuel or something. This is sci-fi, for crying out loud - we pay attention to details here and are willing to accept odd stuff! I mean, for instance, Rubicon got rid of lava and instead made... tar? And it worked. Bungie couldn't even do that? Seriously? Maybe I'm a little unfair to them, but come on! If Jason ever really sinned in the process of making Marathon, it was when he programmed the lava.

And on that note of playing 'Hot lava' in the context of a sci-fi game (?), we wrap up this overview of the twelfth level of Marathon. Next time on Tour of Duty, we will receive a lesson in philosophy, get our legs blasted off by suicidal bugs, and solve the hardest puzzle, ever. Of all time.

Vale,
Perseus

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Pre-2004 Posts


Replies:

Tour of Duty - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!PerseusSpartacus 7/4/13 11:55 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!Godot 7/5/13 5:18 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!Hopper 7/5/13 9:35 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!Godot 7/5/13 10:48 a.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!PerseusSpartacus 7/5/13 12:02 p.m.
                       Re: Tour of Duty - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!PerseusSpartacus 7/5/13 12:30 p.m.
                             Re: Tour of Duty - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!Godot 7/5/13 1:22 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!Philtron 7/9/13 8:10 p.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!PerseusSpartacus 7/9/13 8:24 p.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!Blake37 9/29/13 7:30 a.m.
                       Re: Tour of Duty - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!cB557 9/29/13 2:10 p.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!treellama 7/10/13 6:26 a.m.

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