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Tour of Duty - What About Bob?
Posted By: MartinDate: 8/16/13 6:09 p.m.

TOUR OF DUTY

04 – What About Bob?

A new chapter – affectionately known as ‘Volu’ forever more. Some kind of Pfhor or S’pht word? This is the first chapter screen that scrolls – horizontally, to reveal the full word ‘Volunteers’. I never wait for the scrolling though, so as I said, Volu.

I guess the actual name refers to Durandal’s deal with the BoBs: assist us and control your own destiny, refuse and face indefinite return to the unreliable Pfhor stasis chambers. Few are refusing. Good old 28th Century voluntary labour :).

I have always found the image quite confusing. On the left we have an Enforcer – which we won’t meet in M2 until Sorry Don’t Make It So. But perhaps that wasn’t always the case? We can always point to that screenshot that PS included in the WW writeup! The Enforcer is standing among architecture that looks more like the temple we get to in Ex Cathedra. On the right, sneakily coming up from behind a wall, is us (?) seemingly holding a Pfhor shock staff, which we never acquire in-game outside of Marathon Evil. Curious!

...

The name. Some excellent humourous discussion on the story page. We have the idea that Durandal tells us more about what the BoBs are doing here with us; an amusing quote from Tuncer about BoBs in a corridor – although I would replace “grenades” with “flamethrower”; and the insertion of Marathon quotes in a piece about Microsoft “Bob” applications in the ’90s. Whatever You Please!

Last time in Tour of Duty, we did a David Attenborough and stood back cautiously while a bunch of Pfhor (is there an official collective noun?) proceeded quite purposefully around a structure, and ended up teleporting out underneath a square block. We then explored while the area slowly filled with sewage, found some S’pht history terminals, got teleported to an isolated chamber jam packed with F’lckta, and then eventually found ourselves starting back, the start terminal also being the end one.

We now find ourselves in the middle of a fight between BoBs and Fighters, and a new enemy, the Cyborg. It is still daytime, with the bright orange version of the Lh’owon skyscape again. We quickly learn to fear the Cyborg’s grenade sound, and later in the level, especially the one with a different pitch! Dead BoBs are handy especially to the scratchstarter, and here they even start leaving their magnums when they die, which is fine by me, seeing as we could have acquired a second one on Charon. Any BoBs that survive teleport out when the fighting is done.

We go right around the middle structure just to be sure, and find a back door leading to … lava! At least this time it has some logic to it, and along with the teleporting in mechanics, it makes for some good fun level design! It has its own ambient sound akin to the water’s flowing one, and there’s also wind blowing out here. More importantly, an assault rifle and a bunch of ammo teleport in while we take in our surroundings. This seems to be a dead-end, but that won’t always be the case.

Let’s take a look at the map:

This shows it in its initial state, with lava covering all of the later parts of the level except for the raised platforms to the southwest, including where the end terminal is; it is only a shame we can’t get there and see it like that. Thankfully, progression on this level is linear until near the end – no more talk of connectivity and backtracking ... in fact we cut off parts of this level as we go, so it’s quite a different story. The assault rifle we just found was at point A.

Back in the starting area, we find a way into the middle structure, and read a terminal:

Okay so that explains the BoBs, and the Pfhor seemingly haven’t learnt not to piss off Durandal. Because only you would survive the fall .... Those BoBs are a bit squishy! So for now, we’re on our own, with our now confirmed extra-toughness. It sounds like a fun and unique mission, and so nice to get detailed instructions from Durandal!

Up the stairs we find the ventilation shaft, as promised. And it is a long way down. This is where things would get really tough for the scratchstarter. Thank goodness for the handy dandy assault rifle. We drop in to an immediate firefight. The Cyborg in front seems even closer than I remembered, and his grenade is hard to dodge. Now we start circling the room and trying to get the Pfhor to fight amongst themselves. Gradually we rid the area of Fighters, and then deal to the two Cyborgs – the fusion pistol works very well against them, if we still have ammo for it, and provided we don’t get too close :). Okay so it seems the Pfhor down here have a few options re waking up – in a few scratchstarts just now I had they Cyborg wake up as I appeared, and I had one where I got quite far into the room before anyone noticed me. Stealth mode!

Once we’ve cleared the room, we can stop and appreciate the ambient sounds, a humm, a pulsing, and a repeating sound like someone failing at starting a car. All very mechanical. Around the room we also hear water dripping again, or is it liquid lava here?

I can’t help but feel that the next two ‘rooms’ would be more interesting if the first point of entry didn’t signal all of the Pfhor to come right to us! Not so bad with the 2x health we had from Charon coming onto this level, but things were different in the demo where it followed WW, and of course are different for the scratchstarter – that assault rifle would be getting pretty low by now. However we do it, after we dispatch this next lot of Pfhor, we get to check out two rather strange rooms, towards the northwest on the map.

If we head around to the left and approach the first one, the dripping water is joined by the humm and pulsing sounds as we enter a wide open space with little columns tucked into the corners and bright white light bulbs around a central ceiling plate. It feels very industrial, with the grey walls as well, and that makes sense for a geothermal station – some kind of control room with standing terminals for the S’pht to read? As we approach the second room, we meet a new ambient sound, which to me characterises M2. Again very suggestive of industry, this one sounds like some sort of machine ... to be honest, with it repeating in the background right now, I’m likening it most to a domestic washing machine, but in the game it has always struck me as more like a machine moving goods or something back and forth – some kind of conveyor anyway. It actually isn’t quite the sound I was thinking of, which I guess we have still to meet (on We’re Everywhere!).

Here we also find that three Projectile Fighters missed the signal to come and kill us. They receive the same treatment, although it is here that I like to switch to dual magnums as from here, it is Fighters all the way down. There are a couple of creepy alcoves with skulls and other bones on prominent display … S’pht interior decorating? And a path onwards, which brings more Fighters our way. Damn, a scratchstart finds me running out of magnum ammo at this point. And then I died … never mind. Another slightly wasted room leads us up some stairs and then to the real action – the ledges here do seem unnecessary. If only the Fighters stayed up there, like they might have done in M1.

Around the corner, we come to the lava pits, and across a narrow bridge, to point B on the map, many many Fighters come! All I can say is:

Then we can safely cross the bridge. On the other side we find a comfort stop at point C on the map – Pattern buffer! Terminal! Charger! 1x only :(. Switch! The terminal gives us further instructions:

And we just have to follow them. Switch to fists and go punch some circuits! Looking at the map, we can see the circuits marked in purple, how nice. First, back the way we came. As promised, hitting this one first is the safe option. We can even go back and save again! On to the second circuit, we start thinking about our escape route. We pass an opening that leads to a spiral staircase. That would work just fine, and it is the safer choice. But we have another! Smashing the circuit, or more safely, grenading it, opens a door under the lava behind us, at point D on the map. This leads us to a lift, which is activated by a switch (not automatically, he says, dying). There is also a dead-end path beyond the lift, but I don’t think there’s anything there but death. The lift takes us up out of the lava, and delivers us to an ammo stash and a single Fighter in wait – a small price to pay, but one needs to be pretty healthy to survive the ordeal on TC.

From there we drop down to the corridor we would have come to had we taken the stairs (do not use lift in event of fire??), but further along. Going back a bit we find a branch off to a viewing platform where some Pfhor are … viewing things. Not for long. There’s also a pattern buffer and some ammo here, not to be sneezed at!

Carrying on down the main corridor we find ourselves starting back ... seriously, are people going to get pissed off as I keep using that line? It turns out that the lava we just came up through was from the lava pools that used to cover the south half of the map! Indeed, if we now try going down the ventilation shaft again, we notice that it is a lot hotter and wetter down there. The story page shows what we might see down there if we cheated our way: You cheater. Quit cheating and play for real! Cool :).

So we pop out back at point A to find some Pfhor fighting some BoBs. New arrivals – via teleport and also a small cupboard that has opened up. Why both? In fact, I find it interesting in general with M2/Infinity, to think about where and why the decision was made to have Pfhor/ammo teleporting in versus standing in wait. I guess the underground area we’ve just come from was out of range of teleporters, further reasoning for Durandal’s not sending BoBs, and for all the Pfhor being down there waiting. So far we haven’t been given reason to fear teleport in ambushes, but they will come … if we get to Tempus Irae eventually, they will become the norm – those guys were the masters!

From here we have several large rooms to clear, and we’ll be fighting alongside the BoBs. I like to start by securing the end terminal room. From where we come out, straight ahead, through the opening slightly to the left, and up the stairs, where we trigger more BoBs teleporting in, and Pfhor appearing from a room off to the side. It’s best to wait here and join in this fight, lest we be caught in the crossfire. Then the far staircase leads us to all manner of bountiful things. A pattern buffer, both health and oxygen chargers, and a terminal, which currently tells us:

A few things: an apology from Durandal, he has changed! Hlford? A high up Pfhor guy? Ahh yes, he of the Directive from Garrison Command from WW, thanks PS! So, Pfhor take showers? Kind of hard to imagine … especially for those in armour. Also the first time we hear about Robert Blake. If he’s just a cover for Durandal not being quite dead later on, it all took quite some planning. However, I just saw Now You See Me so I’m willing to consider anything lol. Off to secure the area!

Down the stairs we have a big room full of Pfhor and BoBs, then a corridor, with access to two viewing platforms, which I never find to be of much use, and then another big room, this time with a large raised platform, just to keep things interesting. Finally in this direction, we stand back with some BoBs on a platform, looking over a lava gap at more BoBs and some Pfhor, with a viewing window over to the left – depending on the order you clear the rooms in, I guess some of those things could come in handy. As ever, “I want you to collect magazines from everybody.” Okay I was hoping for much more from an Aliens quote, especially with the following bit about harsh language that will appear in our Infinity coverage. Still, trying to find the quote did see me stumble across this, which I thought was worth including here. Anyway, these BoBs are dead, so they don’t need the magazines; mind you we don’t really either, unless scratchstarting :).

From here we have to backtrack to near point A on the map, in order to clear the final spaces. The first one, along the corridor and down the stairs, introduces us to the Major Cyborg, with closeup flamethrower and seeker bouncing grenades, nasty stuff! A good time to have that fusion pistol from Swings & Roundabouts ... err I mean Slings & Arrows. By the time we’ve finished with him, the rest of the fighting might well be over. We can proceed through and look at the corpses through the window we saw from the other side earlier ... and then we head back to the end terminal room, safe in the knowledge that NONE survived. After saving and recharging, we have the problem of choice, again! Both this terminal and the first one we saw serve as exits from the level, and they tell different stories. The one marked ‘End’ on the map is the less interesting, just like on S&A.

Big deal right? More newsworthy is the start terminal:

Confirmation of the fate of Leela :(, and of what has become of Tycho, and some sentiment from Durandal – nice. But that’s not all! The Story page tells of extra juicy details that were given in the M2 Preview and Demo terminals, including a rather blatant reference to the tenth cyborg we’ve been wondering about since Ingue Ferroque. Also, you’ve gotta love the last line in the Demo terminal: I would surmise that the Pfhor have some plans for old Deimos; they bought the colony ship for sale. Cheap!! There are also a few differences in the Windows ’95 release of M2. But that’s all I have to say about that. Now to brace for corrections from PS :).

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Pre-2004 Posts


Replies:

Tour of Duty - What About Bob?Martin 8/16/13 6:09 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - What About Bob?Antarctico 8/16/13 6:29 p.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - What About Bob?Martin 8/16/13 7:38 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - What About Bob?PerseusSpartacus 8/16/13 8:11 p.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - What About Bob?Martin 8/16/13 9:21 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - What About Bob?Godot 8/18/13 3:11 a.m.

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