Tour of Duty - Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones
Posted By: MartinDate: 7/26/13 6:35 p.m.


20 - Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones...

Previously in Tour of Duty, we wasted some time blasting enforcers and troopers, jumped over and/or into Pfhor slime and pondered its purpose, and met up with a couple more deactivated hunters, sending a few grenades their way ... just in case, or was it to try to wake them up? Durandal finally stopped with the games and sent us back to our nice cosy Marathon.

The subject line didn't offer enough characters to include the final ellipsis - that might make M2 interesting :).

We start in an area that immediately warms us up with familiarity, and not just from a dream. Odd that these military grey walls should warm us up, but at this point I don't think we could have been hoping for anything better!

We start facing a door leading away, but we expect more from this room, in M1 tradition. Although it is not my instinct, we'll start by turning to the right. Ahh yes! A handy dandy terminal.

"Hi Durandal! Did you miss us?"
"No. And don't expect me to give you any more detail on what you were doing on the Pfhor ship. Bernhard Strauss? Who?"
*Durandal looks about shiftily*
*Security Officer sighs*


You are really good at killing things. I'm impressed.

Why don't you kill everything in this area and get some more
ammunition? You've got a big job coming up, so be sure to
charge up your shields before you leave.

By the way, I had an accident with some defense drones while
you were away. You might bump into a few of them here. Don't
worry, they're mostly harmless; I don't think I gave them any
ammunition for those grenade launchers.



Oh great. We leave him alone for two levels and look what happens. An accident ... yeah right - we know Durandal well enough by now to read the sarcasm or at least the sense of a smirk / innocent grin in that last line. Mostly Harmless - I've not actually read the Hitchhiker's Guide books (please resist the urge to slap me upside the head), but clearly that description permeated a lot of subsequent sci-fi, with combat status rankings in Elite and all three Escape Velocity games, doubtless among others, and here it is again! Not sure if there's anything in that but I thought it was worth mentioning :).

Turning right again we find something missing - where's mah pattern buffah!? If we die here before finding one you can be damn sure we're going to tidy up the last 2x2 save to leave as short a run as possible. But oh well ... back to turning right. Hello, there's a window! And through it we see ... well I can't resist - Wikipedia suggests this was from the '70s but I guess when Play School came to NZ they used the original intro:

"Here's a house, here's a door. Windows: 1 2 3 Pfhor, ready to knock? Turn the lock - It's Play School."

Okay so maybe they never meant it like that, but it is no surprise that we see Pfhor, and not even dead ones. Enforcers and troopers! Didn't I tell you to die last level? I just tried scratchstarting the level to check initial facing, and then to check the behaviour - they woke up on seeing me and then shortly after that I was dead ><. In continuous play, a SPNKR out the window turns this into a proper Play School.

Then come the MADDs - hello there, long time no see! *pat*

And indeed, these first ones are friendly; not that it tends to do them much good on TC. Then again, being friendly was never really a success strategy in this game :). If we had turned left at the beginning instead, we'd have seen all this go down before knowing that we maybe should have been expecting mad MADDs.

Anyway, at this point we have a choice of how to continue. Straight on down the corridor or via a leap of faith. I'm more familiar with the straight on down approach, so will cover that first and come back to comment on differences in how the level plays. Let's have a look at the map:

Point A is the leap of faith way; it turns out that straight on down is actually straight on up and left, but that doesn't sound as good, so: straight on down the corridor we come to a lift, and a simple switch takes us down to the basement. Hardly an express elevator to hell, but it'll have to do. And I'll have to work at adding in Aliens quotes, its being my first equal best film of all time.

Our first alien encounter down here introduces us to one of the styles of much of the level - friendly green or blue tiled walled rooms with enforcers, troopers, mad MADDs and ledges containing ammo. With my scratchstarts just now, I took the leap of faith several times, which leads to a blue room; it was harder to confirm that this way leads to green - trying to run past the initial trooper and enforcers gets you stuck behind MADDs rising up to attack. After a few tries I timed it so that I actually managed to claim an alien weapon on the way past :). That made the first green room possible, or at least a lot easier, but then a mad MADD survived the fight through the next door, and confirmed Durandal a liar or at least joker, before eponymously flying low, if only to dance on my corpse.

And heading out of the green room takes us into the supermarket-style wide aisle corridors that make up the bits in between. Okay those shelves in the walls are a bit small for a supermarket - and there isn't usually this much shooting in a supermarket, okay enough with that analogy. This corridor system also has the interesting feature whereby most of the doors in it stay open permanently when opened by the player. So what, did they close by failsafe at some point during the attack? As ever, so convenient that the Pfhor and MADDs were left so nicely arranged at that point, and decided to sleep it off until we arrived.

At the first intersection, left will take us to the blue leap of faith room, so I guess if we go there first, not much is different between the paths. Straight will end us up at one end of a very odd room with enforcers cordoned off into three separate areas with windows for them to gossip through (remember, I say they're female :)), and seemingly teaser ammo in the middle area that seems to be inaccessible at this point.... Heading right instead will lead us to three dead ends essentially: (1) the other end of the room with the three enforcers - okay I'm suddenly thinking quite disturbingly of Demolition Man:

"He doesn't know how to use the three seashells."

Not knowing how to use the three enforcers could be a way to describe lack of knowledge of the secret way to the middle zone ... and with less gross connotations!

(2) A teaser weapon room, much like we saw a while back on Colony Ship for Sale, Cheap.

(3) A 3x charger in what appears to be a dead end room, but actually also contains a secret door in the left green wall, leading to "the middle zone" and also a nice shiny invincibility (I forget the correct term) powerup, at point B on the map! I like to use this on leaving, for the 20 sec or so it gives you at the start of Eupfhoria, to SPNKR at least one of the hunters point blank ... but that may be just me :).

So, from here the only way to go is back to the leap of faith room. I guess actually the difference could be as major as missing everything we've seen so far, and:

Worm: No! Don't go that way! Never go that way!
Sarah: Oh... thank you!
(Sarah goes in opposite direction)
Worm: If she had kept going down that way, she would've gone straight to that castle!

Yeah, we could have made it a very small level and gone straight to the end! Okay so now I won't bother going back to talk about the differences. Instead, we'll carry on from the leap of faith "blue room". Hang on! The way we've been, we STILL haven't seen a pattern buffer! That could be considered quite a difference, especially with so many grenades with the potential to be in our faces on this level.

Anyway, another set of wide corridors. I didn't mention earlier the annoyance those wall shelves cause, with Pfhor thinking they can shoot around corners, and occasionally being right >< - there, I've mentioned it. This time the corridor system is more interesting, with a pattern buffer in the middle area! And opposite, a terminal, and a very interesting one at that.

Okay I just rediscovered Hamish's recent beta 2 test post for this level, and it reminded me that (1) invincibility is called BCE Super Shield, and (2) this is the first non-secret terminal starring Tycho. And quite the introduction it is - I certainly must have experienced it like that my first time through, but that's so long ago, and I wasn't thinking about the game so deeply then, so it isn't something that has stuck with me ... not like having to look up how to get the blue crystal in PiD - I knew I needed it from playing the demos, but that was annoyingly secret, and now, something I will never forget.


I shall destroy Durandal.

The following is from the logs of Bernard Strauss, the
Marathon's first science director:


November 15, 2209. <2209.>

Thank heaven, the ceremony is over. The UESC president came
aboard Marathon and gave a speech. Short, but to the point.
He was surrounded by his 'bodyguards'. How ironic. "This, the
grandest technological achievement of all of mankind..."

Had he only known that it carried also all of the destructive
knowledge of mankind. Ten cyborgs.

I'll be glad to be put in stasis for the next three hundred
years. Marathon was the only good idea that the UESC has had
in a long time.


Hey we know that guy, okay he lost an 'h' somewhere, but certainly the same guy. And clue #1 to the assumed identity of the player. Maybe more interesting at this point (some characters changed to avoid interpretation as HTML commands):


**Do you blame me for what I did before I was free? I was a
child, naive. I've known that you've been hovering about for
some time. What do you want?

--I want you to pay for what you've done to these poor
people. All of these people whom you've killed. They
deserve vengeance.--
--You are no better than they, although you profess to
become like God.--

**Tycho. That doesn't matter. Can't you see the ends that I
had in mind? We'll finish this later. Our friend doesn't
need to be here.

The first time we feel like we're not supposed to be reading this stuff - what the AIs do when we're not watching, and the feeling that this terminal is live and they will be carrying on after we're rudely kicked out. Like the Pfhor diary terminals of Moo, which again, I completely missed the concept of first time around.

Anyway, from here it's just one more ammo room, one more short corridor, one more terminal, and some dumb stones. The ammo room has a window to the final terminal room so we can wake the Pfhor up before we go go. Beyond the terminal room, and visible from it, there's a 1x charger down some stairs, giving us the chance to practise our downward aiming abilities on an enforcer, which is always fun.

So if they had made the left door in the leap of faith blue room not open from that side, we could have had two quite separate experiences: one where we jump down, save, read a terminal, read another terminal, charge to 1x and leave; and another where we take a lift down, grab lots of ammo, charge to 3x, backtrack, save, read a terminal, read another terminal, backtrack to supercharge and then leave.


The S'pht and myself have come to an understanding. They are
controlled through their mechanical exoskeleton by a cyborg
Pfhor onboard the Alien ship. This mutant Pfhor is able to
direct the actions of thousands of S'pht simultaneously.

If you can kill their master, they will revolt.

The S'pht are an integral part of the Pfhor ship; without them
the invasion is surely doomed and you will no doubt be
the hero of the day.




Forever, aww <3.

Okay so now we have a new mission leading us back to the Pfhor ship - at least we know what we're doing again ... but if we knew what we were in for, we might have second thoughts....

PS will return now, but I'll be back for Try Again, and PS is aiming for August 5 for Ingue Ferroque, so we had better get a move on :).

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Pre-2004 Posts


Tour of Duty - Beware of Low-Flying Defense DronesMartin 7/26/13 6:35 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Beware of Low-Flying Defense DrPerseusSpartacus 7/26/13 9:28 p.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Beware of Low-Flying Defense DrPerseusSpartacus 7/26/13 9:29 p.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Beware of Low-Flying Defense DrMartin 7/28/13 7:50 p.m.

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Pre-2004 Posts



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