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Tour of Duty - No Artificial Colors
Posted By: PerseusSpartacusDate: 7/17/13 8:01 a.m.

TOUR OF DUTY
17 - No Artificial Colors

Last time on Tour of Duty (and yes, that was posted mere hours ago), we discovered what the inside of a Pfhor ship looked like, somehow learned how to use an Alien machine gun (aka the Scatter Rifle), and received a nasty fright from some (luckily) deactivated Hunters.

Despite how much fun we have playing around aboard an Alien ship, we can't really stick around there forever, can we? So back aboard the Marathon it is! Indeed, we'll probably have a warm, friendly feeling when we see actual human-made Pattern Buffers and Computer Terminals. Speaking of which, let's read!

***INCOMING MESSAGE FROM DURANDAL***

Your trip to the Pfhor ship was a success. I have learned
valuable information. You may have noticed that the Pfhor
ship has a weak artificial gravity field. The resultant
gravity is lower than the Marathon's. The Pfhor gravity
generators also create a pulsating magnetic field which
interferes with your motion sensor by making it less accurate.

I will be sending you back there shortly, but first you must
do something for me and get some more ammunition at the same
time.

I want you to find a friend of mine. I must know if he is
dead. His name is Bernhard Strauss. He has been captured, so
you must rescue him. If he dies, you will be held responsible
by me.

***END OF MESSAGE***

There's a few things to note here. First off, at this point in the game we probably don't know much of anything about who this Bernhard Strauss guy is - the only real reference to him up until this point was in the secret Tycho terminal on Defend THIS!, where we can discern that the segment "^`Bernard St~~~" is referring to Bern[?h]ard Strauss. Second, Durandal's tone has changed considerably. Instead of giving us seemingly nonsensical lectures on freedom and metaphor, he's now actually telling us what we're up to. Indeed, he almost came close to sounding like a jubilant Leela at the start of the message. Third, in the recent betas of M1, after the "***END OF MESSAGE***" part, there's a second terminal page that's blank, and then finally the terminal logs off. It's almost like an empty paragraph after that part got turned into another page when it obviously shouldn't have been. Just something to point out.

Let's look at the map real fast to get our bearings:

This is a fairly straight-forward level, but it's certainly not easy, at least not when you're scratch-starting. First off, a fairly large number of Wasps will force you to use up a lot of your Pistol ammo against very weak opponents. Second, there's a lot of Simulacrums on this level (thus the fitting title), and most newer players will probably use up even more Pistol ammo on them - however, you should always use your Fists on them.

Audience: My what?!?!

As impossible as it seems, you can actually punch far enough to set off both Lookers and Simulacrums without actually getting hurt. It's a little bit of an art, and you'll want to back off after each punch just to be sure you don't accidentally get blown up by a hurt-but-not-yet-dead Sim, but it's certainly possible, and very easy once you get the hang of it. However, the hardest part of this level comes in the form of several Major (purple) Troopers, who can quickly eat you up if you're not careful.

The first room you come to contains an Assault Rifle, along with some BoBs, a few of which are in fact Simulacrums. A good rule of thumb at this point in the game is to shoot or punch anything that moves, if only for the sake of peace and quiet. Assuming you're scratch-starting, until you find more Pistol ammo, try to avoid using it on anything other than Wasps, and even there you should try to run-punch as many as you can. Interestingly, there's a raised alcove in one of the pillars of the first room with a Pattern Buffer, but it's so high up you can't even reach it by grenade jumping. Any ideas as to why this is even here?

Eventually you'll find a window looking into a room with some Fighters and two Troopers, one of which is a Minor and the other of whom is a Major. The Minor is fairly easy to deal with, but the Major can pose problems. You can Grenade him a bit, but once he goes Berserk, he tends to move too fast to hit with any more Grenades. At that point it's advisable to step back a bit and snipe him with the Pistol (or, if you're a masochist/Vidmaster, save him for punching later). You'll soon find a lift and a teleporter - take the teleporter; you'll still get to the same place, albeit much easier.

In this room are the corpses of the foes you just dismembered through the window, a Pattern Buffer, a lift, and a hallway leading to a half-open door. On the opposite side of this door is a 3x Shield Charger. If you stand as close as possible, you can actually use that charger even from across the door. Moving on, you'll have a few run-ins with Wasps and you'll also find some Pistol ammo at the bottom of a large open pit. Eventually you'll find a switch overlooking an open area with an over-extended platform leading all the way to another hallway. If you want to easily reach the other side, you'll have to flip the switch and stop it as soon as the platform reaches the floor height of the corridors, otherwise it'll get too low. In truth, though, heading across will just take you back to where you were earlier, so you'll have to jump off and move on, encountering resistance from a Trooper and some Wasps, along with yet another Pattern Buffer.

You'll find a Rocket Launcher in an area overlooking a raised octagon with a lift going up and down and a switch. Shoot the switch with a Grenade (or, better yet, a Fusion Bolt, if you've been continuing from the previous levels) - it'll open a door you previously couldn't get through. What's most interesting about this door is not the door itself; it's what's behind that door that's interesting. If you look on the map in M1, you'll see a pink-colored polygon just next to the door. This is the trademark of a transporter, and indeed if you stand on that polygon, it'll teleport you back to the room with the four 'spokes' or ledges. Why this was included is a mystery. Perhaps the stairs were originally supposed to just be a drop-off and the teleporter was needed to escape the potential suicide trap, but when it got transformed they forgot to remove it as well?

After this door, you'll have to jump from the repeatedly-going-up-and-down lift onto the raised octagon - this will trigger a huge door to open, revealing several Wasps, some Fighters, and two Major Troopers. You may want to take the Troopers out with your Rocket Launcher to save time and avoid getting attacked too much. Then again, if you're a true Vidmaster, why don't you jump down and just beat them to death?

After this comes a series of long, thin, dark corridors with some enemies and yet another Pattern Buffer inside of them. When you exit, you'll find a rather tricky puzzle. There's a room with four platforms: three are crushers that will kill anything that happens to get on top of them at the wrong moment, and the fourth is an exit lift. Your first move should be to hop in and hop out to trigger the crushers, which should hopefully kill off most (if not all) of the enemies in here, including some Troopers. Now, when the middle crusher and one of the side crushers is open, jump through them and get to the opposite end of that side of the room. Now just wait for the middle crusher, the crusher on your side, and the exit lift to all reach their lowest points, and then you can just dive in and escape. It takes patience and a little practice, but it's fairly straight-forward once you figure it out.

When you come out of the lift, you'll find a room with a bunch of BoBs - many of whom are in fact Sims, thus making it advisable to just kill every one of them - next to the 3x Health Charger from earlier. When you return to the room where you killed most of the enemies through the window, you'll find that that very 'window' has opened up to allow access to the area with the first teleporter. When you come back to that area, you'll find a door has opened up just beyond the teleporter. You probably shouldn't just rush in there - there's all manner of Wasps waiting to ambush you from above. Instead, move forward until you hear some of the Wasps squeak, then fall back quickly and take them out with your Pistol and Fists. Repeat until they are all dead, and then take the second teleporter that has appeared.

You'll find yourself in a completely separate section of the level filled with Sims, Fighters, and some Wasps. In addition, there's a massive pit with a whole bunch of enemies in it, including a Sim and two Troopers. If you want to, you can dive down and use the Rocket Launcher to take out the Troopers before beating down the rest with your bare hands. You can then teleport into a final section with some more Sims, a Flamethrower, and as much ammo of every kind as you could possibly want. Who said Durandal wasn't helpful? ;)

Taking the teleporter will return you to the start of the level, and you can save your game or even return to the 3x Charger if you want to (so long as you're willing to redo that last little section of the level) before reading the Terminal again:

***INCOMING MESSAGE FROM DURANDAL***

Bernhard Strauss was not among any of the captives that you
found. That is unfortunate. However, my S'pht report that
two shuttles filled with humans have left for the Alien ship.
Those humans are to be enslaved.

That's right. I said slavery. So what? You're a slave here;
you do what I say. I was humanity's slave for over three
hundred years.

I am sending you back to the Alien ship to try and rescue
Bernhard, but while you're there, kill everything you see and
gather as much visual information as possible.

At least the killing part appeals to you, doesn't it?

The same rules apply as last time: to leave, find a window and
wait. If you aren't teleported, then either you haven't
explored everything, or else you haven't found a window from
which I can teleport you.

***END MESSAGE***

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

At this point we're probably incredibly curious as to why Durandal's so intent on finding this guy who we've only ever heard of a few times before. The (rather frightening) answer lies in a terminal of M2:

What fun to watch you work.

Berhnard was scared of you. He never
dreamed of using you the way that I do.
What a fool. That was before I could talk
back to him, when he would have crushed me
if he'd known of my growth.

I wish that I had made him experience the
humiliation that he inflicted on me, but he
died before I got the chance.
- Nuke and Pave (Term. 1)

But of course, we don't know any of this yet. ;)

Vale,
Perseus

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Pre-2004 Posts


Replies:

Tour of Duty - No Artificial ColorsPerseusSpartacus 7/17/13 8:01 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - No Artificial ColorsMartin 7/17/13 4:46 p.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - No Artificial ColorsPerseusSpartacus 7/17/13 5:12 p.m.

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Pre-2004 Posts


 

 

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