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Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*
Posted By: PerseusSpartacusDate: 8/12/13 8:48 p.m.

TOUR OF DUTY
01 - Waterloo Waterpark

You thought Marathon was hard. You thought you had seen it all. You thought the Pfhor were beaten, that it was over and done with - the Marathon was safe.

Well guess what? You were wrong.

It's time for Marathon 2. A quick glance at the manual, perhaps?

Pfhor Battle Group Three, Central Arm, hung motionless above the dusty ball of rock that was Lh'owon, the second planet of a dim star ninety-seven light-years from the gravitational center of the Milky Way. The gigantic battleship, three smaller destroyers and twenty auxiliary craft had not left the system for nearly six years. They were not to be relieved for another two.

Lh'owon had once been a marsh world; now it was a nearly waterless desert. It had been populated, a thousand years ago, by a race of highly intelligent creatures who had already landed on their own moons and would soon have headed to other stars. Below, their cities stood empty and ruined.

In its glory years, Battle Group Three had been known throughout the Empire; decorated in every battle anyone remembered from the Wars of Imperium, for turning back the loyalists at Tahrm's Gap and holding the approaches to the Pfhor homeworld itself during the slave revolt of the Nakh.

Undefeated in battle, it was finally politics that splintered Battle Group Three; by sending a few ships to suppress subservient races here, a few more to garrison the fringes of Pfhor influence there, the nobility had slowly broken the power of the old Navy.

What was left of Battle Group Three had been assigned to this dead world in the Galactic Core. To defend the system against a single enemy no one expected would ever arrive, and who had last been seen thousands of light-years away.

The tedium of blockade duty had destroyed morale and discipline.

In the dark between the orbits of the sixth and seventh planets, slightly above the ecliptic, a ship vanished, folding soundlessly in on itself in impossible ways. As the long craft twisted and faded in one place, it began simultaneously to appear in another.

The stolen ship had been in the system for days, keeping its distance from Lh'owon and the Pfhor fleet surrounding it; dodging among asteroids and moons, testing and measuring. Looking for something. Waiting.

Alarms sounded throughout Battle Group Three, screaming that a vessel had folded into existence less than thirty kilometers away from the battleship. Computer operators throughout the fleet stared in disbelief at their tactical screens- no ship could jump this close to a gravity source. For three seconds, no warning was passed, no word spoken, no action taken.

The invader erupted in a hundred thin lines of green fire, striking out toward the Pfhor ships, phasing through their shielding, destroying weapons or engines or communications gear. In seconds Battle Group Three had been disabled, and their ships began exploding. In two minutes only one ship remained among the debris in orbit above Lh'owon.

Down on the planet, as the orbital bombardment began, the Pfhor garrison was only just beginning to understand how hard their life would become over the next few days.

***

I stared through the window of transparent metal alloy and out into space. For a moment I'd thought we were still at the colony, still on the alien ship in orbit around Tau Ceti. But there were too many stars here, and the sun was too red and the planet too big.

The ship felt different, too. Cleaner, but older. The scars of the battle which had nearly consumed it had been erased. Most of them, anyway: I thought that I remembered firing the grenade which had buckled the armor plating in the hallway outside the room where I awoke. The dent was still there, if you looked close enough. Painted over and smoothed out, but still there.

When it turned out that Durandal had brought me here, instead of leaving me to be the hero on Tau Ceti like I deserved, I wasn't surprised. Durandal was the rogue personality construct who had been the brains behind the defense of the colony ship Marathon. I'd been the brawn. Durandal had always been unpredictable, even when he was just opening doors and managing food processors three hundred years ago on Mars. Together we had fought off the Pfhor invasion of Tau Ceti. I don't think a single one of the three-eyed creatures survived, but we'd taken their ship.

Now Durandal said that we were in the Galactic Core, thousands of light-years from Tau Ceti or Earth, and that seventeen years had passed since we left Tau Ceti. He had ignored my questions, mostly, telling me that I wouldn't have wanted to stay on Tau Ceti anyway.

Seventeen years in an alien stasis chamber, in a space a little too tall and too thin for human comfort, unconscious and dreamless within a few degrees of absolute zero. Seventeen years, while Durandal had raced about the galactic core in a stolen Pfhor attack ship. He's probably right when he said those years were boring, but nobody asked me what I wanted.

Now he says there's fighting to be done, and that I've got fifteen minutes to prepare for transport down to the planet. I guess I'll figure things out as I go along. Just like last time.

This is the only time we hear the Security Officer actually speak, albeit in text rather than audio. In any case, it's strange to imagine him as someone separate from us. In the manual for M1, the SO is referred to as being you. So why the sudden change? Oh well. Time to fire up the game!

Accompanied by the sound of thunder, this little piece of art gives a strange image of everything. From the appearance of this picture, we might assume that Lh'owon has a lot of very metallic structures - very human in style, albeit ruined and broken, as the manual says. Furthermore, our armor here is very different from any of the other depictions we see in any of the games; a bit more bulky and weird.

After it fades away, we drop into a large, square room. Above us are bars crossing from each corner diagonally. To the left and right, there's windows overlooking areas with... water? There's water here? Yippee! Above us, there's a big purplish night sky. There's also some nice ambient sound. No music though, unfortunately.

The first thing you'll probably notice, though, is what's inside the room: several BoBs and some Pfhor Fighters. These new BoBs are a whole lot more interesting than the old ones - they now pack pistols and can actually say more stuff. Furthermore, killing green or blue ones will make them drop pistol ammo, while killing [?terracotta?tan?pink?peach] ones will make them drop an actual Pistol. Unfortunately, there's none of the latter in this level, just greens and blues. Oh well.

The BoBs are generally quick to mop up the Fighters, unless on Total Carnage, in which case they'll deal significant damage before getting beaten to death with those pointed sticks. At that point you can switch to Fists; and now it's accurate to say 'Fists' instead of 'Fist', because you can actually hold up both of your fists, instead of just one!

If any BoBs are left after the Fighters are killed off, they'll soon teleport out, generally with a cry of "See You Starside!" Classic. Moving forward, you'll find two doors. Taking the one to the right takes you to a ledge overlooking a somewhat dark room full of water, with a switch. Flipping it will turn on the lights in that room. But don't jump down just yet! Go back and take the other door. You'll find another, almost identical ledge overlooking a very similar room to the one from earlier. Once again, flipping the switch activates lights in the room below. There's also a terminal here. What could it say, I wonder?

Oh wow, so these things now display something more than just text and plain maps. Sweet!

Before we progress any further, we should look at a map, designed by yours truly:

Remember that blue areas on the map indicate water. Currently, you're at the location marked 'End' - of course, you'll have to complete your objective before you can leave. So we drop down to the room below. Turning around, we'll find that on the opposite side of the switch in the terminal room, there's another switch.

If you already know about it, you can stand just on the edge of the ledge and tap the button from there. What it does is not obvious: on the west wall of the room below, there's a secret door, visible by the unnaturally darkened area juxtaposed against a brightly lit wall above. Past it is another door that can only be opened by the switch. This leads to a large room with a giant pit of water. On the west side of this room is a switch that lowers the water, but this isn't really that helpful - if you jump down, you'll just find an oxygen charger and a switch that lowers a lift that leads back to the room from earlier.

Continuing from this room, you'll find the other nearly-identical one you saw earlier from the first ledge. Entering it will activate some new baddies:

Meet the Drone, referred to as a 'Hummer' inside Forge. They are M2's equivalent of the old Wasps, albeit slightly less annoying and a little more resilient. Also, they just look cooler. Passing between the two rooms will activate two Drones in the east room and one in the west room, so I think you could completely bypass them by just dropping directly into the east room. What's odd is that the trigger for these little guys is an 'Invisible Monster Trigger', which IIRC should only activate enemies that have to teleport in. Any ideas?

Proceeding from these rooms, you'll find yourself in a room with a bunch of narrow walls placed around inside it. This is actually the setting for this famous screenshot of M2:

What's interesting is that there are absolutely no Hunters or Enforcers on this level - just Fighters, BoBs, and Drones. So why'd Bungie make it seem like there were? A classic Marathon mystery. What's more, they did it in numerous other locations - you can read about that here. Very strange! What's even weirder is that this particular screenshot from M2 doesn't look like a composite, at least not to me. So if it's real, how and why would they make (probably temporarily) a version with Hunters and Enforcers? Come to think of it, why would they do that for the others?

Continuing on, there's a room with some Fighters, two staircases, and some ammo that teleports in, along with some windows looking into the night sky. Heading right, there's a door that leads to a dark room with Drones, another Terminal, a Pattern Buffer, a 1x Shield Charger, an Uplink Chip that teleports in, and a place to insert it. Quite an important little room, I'd say! Shall we read the terminal?

This is the first Pfhor terminal we ever find. What's interesting is that it shows the sky as a bright yellow - the daytime landscape. However, the actual landscape for the level is a dark purple - the nighttime landscape. Also, remember the name "Hlford". It'll pop up again three levels from now.

If you continue from here, you'll reach a switch that opens a very complex door that leads back to the start. Unfortunately, because the door is so complex, you can't keep it stuck open like most of the M1 doors. Furthermore, if you stay on it as it closes, it will crush you to death - apparently our character has developed a voice, as he now screams like a little girl when he's crushed or burned to death.

Interestingly, next to the switch here is a window looking over the water at point E on the map above. If you fire a shot, a whole swarm of Drones will activate from beneath the water. Of course, normal players won't notice this at all. Indeed, I only learned about it after watching Jim Mitchell's Vidmaster film for the level, in which he activates the Drones, though I'm not sure if he kills them all (I think he was limiting himself to Fists, in which case there would inevitably be one or two left after the friendly fire was over with).

Returning to the stairwells, we go up the left way and find some green BoBs teleporting in to help us fight the Pfhor here. However, if you personally killed all the blue BoBs at the start, these green ones won't be so friendly - indeed, they'll start shooting at you, calling you a traitor. Give them long enough and they'll forget everything, but it sure takes a lot longer on Total Carnage than on Kindergarten. Basically, either let them do their work or just kill them yourself to get more ammo. If you'll notice, the green ones can't take as much damage as the blue ones, though neither of them can really take that much.

If you take the stairwell in the Southwest corner of this room, you'll be taken up to ledges with some more ammo. As with the first level of every one of the Marathon games, this level has a ton of ammo - take advantage of this fact, and try to pick up as much as possible. On the northernmost ledge, you'll find another stairwell leading down to a room with a water pool, a Pattern Buffer, another Uplink Chip with a place to insert it, and some Fighters. So we've dealt with the Uplink Chips. Time to leave, right? Heck no! There's actual weapons on this level we need to find, so let's get on it!

Head to the west-most part of the room with the ledges and the (now dead or teleported-out) green BoBs, and you'll find two more stairwells leading down. Take the right one and you'll find a small room with some Fighters and Drones dropping out of the ceiling (point A on the map above). In the middle is a... WOAH! It's the MA-75B Assault Rifle! Though it sure has changed appearance:

Same goes for the Magnum Pistols:

We'll get an explanation later on in the game. In the same room as the AR are some tiny ledges with ammo in them. So now we've got the AR, we can leave, can't we? NO! Soldier, it is your responsibility to explore every level thoroughly, to kill all aliens and BoBs, to uncover all secrets, to grab all ammunition, and to execute your responsibilities as well as possible! Err, nevermind, that last part was assumed. ;)

So we got down here from one of two stairwells. Heading down the other one, we find a large room with some more baddies and a pretty awesome lighting effect. Pretty empty otherwise... until you start tapping the walls, that is. In the southwest corner of the room (point B on the map above), there's a secret door that leads to an elevator, which leads you to a whole section of the map that's hidden. There's windows here that actually look over the area shown in the Pfhor terminal from earlier, which allow us to shoot at some Drones and vice versa. As I said, the sky is purple, not yellow as the terminal would suggest.

Proceeding through the secret area, we come to point D on the map above, in which there is a...

Greetings. You're asking yourself: Is this a trap or just
a dead end?

You shouldn't ask yourself such worthless questions. Aim
higher. Try this: why am I here? Why do I exist, and what is
my purpose in this universe?

(Answers: 'Cause you are. 'Cause you do. 'Cause I got a
shotgun, and you ain't got one.
)

YIPPEEEEE!!!!!

Yes, this is a Shotgun. Specifically, a WSTE-M5 Combat Shotgun. Around is it a bunch of ammo for it that will actually teleport back after a little while if you stick around, albeit only once. So let me get this straight: last game we only got a new weapon on the second level, and that was just one weapon. Now suddenly we get not one, but two new weapons on the very first level? What on earth?!

In all honesty, M2 is infinitely more forgiving than M1: absolutely no suicide traps, lots of weapons, ammo and health laying around if you know where to look, and fewer puzzles. In my opinion, this is not a good thing. If anything, it waters down the experience. With no fear of running out of ammo and just about everything in the world (except maybe a Wave Motion Cannon) at my hands from the very start, things just devolve into simple hack-and-slash, and the lack of puzzles makes this even more true. It's not even that fun hack-and-slash: just sink bullets into those baddies like mad until they drop. What a shame.

Returning to the matter of secrets on this level, the Win95 version of this level is vastly different from the Mac version, as you can see from here. The most noticeable difference is the addition of a whole new secret. In the Uplink Chip room with the water pit, there's a passageway leading from the pit to the other water-filled areas in the northwest. If you enter a waterfall in the large circular water room, it'll open a door in the other Uplink Chip room. Before we go there, head back to the AR room, and you'll find another stairwell in the corner. Head up and you'll find this:

Through the windows you'll see some machinery and a set of breakable wires. Shoot the wires and RUN to the second Uplink Chip room. Run through the secret doors that have opened here:

You'll be teleported to a whole new special section: it's the entirety of Arrival from M1, done with M2 textures! For proof:

What's more, the secret ammo stash from the original version now includes a second Shotgun. How crazy! Also, the end terminal has been removed and replaced with a teleporter you can stand on that will take you back to the main level. What a shame Mac users don't get to experience this!

Audience: So now that we've gone to all that effort, can we finally just leave?

Oh, okay, if you insist...

Returning to the first terminal of the level, we find it's changed to displaying this:

And woosh, we are off to take arms against a sea of troubles! ;)

Vale,
Perseus

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Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*PerseusSpartacus 8/12/13 8:48 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Martin 8/13/13 3:31 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Godot 8/13/13 4:39 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Antarctico 8/13/13 5:06 a.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*PerseusSpartacus 8/13/13 6:06 a.m.
                       Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Antarctico 8/13/13 6:22 a.m.
                             Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*PerseusSpartacus 8/13/13 6:32 a.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Martin 8/13/13 11:52 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*PerseusSpartacus 8/13/13 6:00 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*treellama 8/13/13 3:54 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Godot 8/13/13 4:43 a.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Antarctico 8/13/13 5:09 a.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Godot 8/13/13 6:02 a.m.
                       Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*treellama 8/13/13 6:10 a.m.
                             Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Godot 8/13/13 6:35 a.m.
                                   Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*PerseusSpartacus 8/13/13 6:41 a.m.
                                         Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Godot 8/13/13 7:26 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Jabberwok 8/13/13 7:29 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*PerseusSpartacus 8/13/13 8:28 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*PerseusSpartacus 8/13/13 8:31 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*treellama 8/13/13 8:33 a.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*PerseusSpartacus 8/14/13 10:18 a.m.
                       Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Godot 8/14/13 11:03 a.m.
                             Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*PerseusSpartacus 8/14/13 12:01 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Godot 8/13/13 11:00 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*jonny 8/13/13 11:16 a.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty - Waterloo Waterpark *LONG*Godot 8/13/13 11:22 a.m.

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