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Tour of Duty - Curiouser and Curiouser...
Posted By: MartinDate: 8/22/13 6:57 p.m.

I know I said I needed to slow it down, but this Friday is going really slowly and I was getting sick of seeing no new messages on here, so here we are. This was all written before the recent calling into question of its entertainment value, so I'll just say hopefully people get something out of it :).

TOUR OF DUTY

09 – Curiouser and Curiouser…

The name. The Story page is very brief on this: Quote from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Caroll. The phrase “Curiouser and Curiouser...” is used to describe events which are getting stranger and stranger.

I set out to try to do a little better, or in other words I googled it (actually I binged it, but I still don’t see that catching on). I quite enjoyed this ‘answer’. Now, we’re not really seeing anything more unbelievable here than we have already, and if you ask me, the complete lack of direction and strangeness of the previous level would have made it a better place for the name.

The connotations of an Eat Me cake might make more sense in Infinity (eat the path), but perhaps for now could just feed into (thank you) some idea of dreams – the Stupid “all just a dream” theory thread? We have another Alice in Wonderland reference a few levels on – could this whole thing that we call M2 be a rabbit hole like dream, maybe in stasis during our missing seventeen years? It’s too bad, perhaps if I could have delayed the Pfhor from using their weapon, I could have sent you to explore the ruins of Lh’owon. There was an episode of Quantum Leap that was mainly a dream, and at the end Sam woke up knowing what he had to do for real, and that worked out. In Infinity, we know what we have to do in terms of our experiences with Thoth in M2 – we know what we need to do, but then we start leaping to different beginnings. Hmmm! Maybe some similarities, and I’m sure there are other examples in popular culture – in fact we’ve discussed this recently, haven’t we? As if from an old dream....

...

Last time in Tour of Duty, we met a few of those Drones that were on our side, but they died before we could really exchange greetings. We then proceeded on some serious exploration with no helpful terminals to be found! Of interest, we found a net level tacked onto the side, a 3x recharger masquerading as a 1x, and an invincibility powerup which, at time of writing, I can’t even remember how to access. Ultimately we found a terminal message from Durandal, and more of a return to his sarcastic side than what we have recently been used to.

Now we find ourselves in an octagonal room. One of many octagonal rooms on this level, it turns out. Having been through water and lava in the preceding two levels, we’re now back in the sewers. There’s a door here – opening it here takes us out into the main network of corridors in the inner part of the level. Our presence here wakes up some Troopers and a Cyborg, which counts me out of scratchstarting, thanks. Conveniently I was up to here in the save game I was using to capture terminal pictures in my official capacity for this project :).

After dealing with this initial onslaught, we note a very similar door just across the corridor, and are somehow drawn to it. Inside is another octagonal room. Curiouser. Some ammo teleports in. Nothing for scratchstarters yet. Brightly lit exits to the left and right lead out into sewage. Let’s a have a look at the map before we explore that.

Quite a work of art. A circle within a circle, and wait! Does the inside area with two ears to the north depict a grinning Cheshire Cat?? Bleh, it doesn't seem to like my putting an image from outside, so you'll just have to look at it.

One of the least evil looking versions Google came up with lol. I definitely see the resemblance. Curiouser. Our exploration is going to be a mix between dry land and sewage as I try to conjure up a linear way of exploring a circle. I guess it’s lucky that the map is not the shape of two circles next to each other.

It all fits together really beautifully – very little wasted space and very little overlap. Kind of rare for an M2/Infinity level! The next one I’m covering is the exact opposite!

In the sewage to the left we find a 1x charger – nice – and thankfully a dead end. To the right we find a smashable panel, and switch to fists. We probably get rudely interrupted by poop hitting us in the face though – here there be monsters, F’lickta and Troopers, and oh so conveniently, the latter can’t quite shoot in this depth of sewage. Oh happy day!

Next we climb up into ... an octagonal room, identical to the one before. Ooh I’m channelling Pulp, albeit one of their lesser known and less than brilliant tracks, to the point that it’s not even Jarvis Cocker singing!

This House is Condemned
He’s in a room
He sees the floor
He sees the wall
He sees the roof
He sees the door
It’s nine thirty-eight

So he goes up to the door and he finds himself in another room identical to the one before
The clock still reads nine thirty-eight
So he goes out of that room, but he finds himself in a parallel room
A mirror image of the one before
He hits the floor
He hits the wall
He hits the door

...

As I was saying, there are a lot of octagonal rooms in this level, and this third one is the same as the second, with two sewage entrances/exits, a wall, and a door. As we go towards the door, a decent number of magnum magazines teleport in here – scratchstarters rejoice! This door leads us back to the main corridor network, and wakes up another Cyborg and more Troopers, and maybe even some F’lickta beyond them, so there’s a chance of them fighting amongst themselves, although those F’lickta are damn squishy!

Again there is another door opposite where we come out here, which is actually just down the corridor from where we started. The fourth octagonal room (Curiouser) brings more fusion batteries, and for a change, just one entry to the sewage system. And right there is a 2x charger! Here we get to explore quite a bit more, kill more F’lickta and a Cyborg that is trying to take them on as well. They -can- still shoot in the sewage.

After neatly wrapping around the rooms we’ve already visited – including two narrow passages where we can’t quite get the end walls to show on the map, we find a Terminal (not marked on the map), yay, and a Pattern Buffer that is out of order – uhh is that our fault? No, smashing the panel earlier was a Good Thing™, the PB just isn’t working at the moment. The terminal reads:

Those #%*@!ng Nar! Two failsafes to destroy ... don’t worry I won’t start. Okay well I guess we already destroyed one of them! Just one to go. Still no mention of what we were really doing on the previous level....

Next we see an entrance to a fifth octagonal room. Curiouser. However, before we go in there we note that the sewer keeps on flowing, and I’ll take us just a little bit further that way now. Squeezing through the narrow passage, we soon find ourselves back in the open, and see a structure to the right. Around to the right we fight a Cyborg. On the far side, we find a switch. A switch that enables the Pattern Buffer from a moment ago, so hit it! I would take you further in this direction, but I doubt you would understand and if you did it might frighten you. That amuses me.

From the fifth octagonal room, we head back into the corridor system on the other side of where we started. This time no ammo ports in. This time no Pfhor wake up. This time it’s just us. We open the door opposite to the biggest shock thus far: the room is not octagonal! Troopers and a Cyborg blast us from a raised platform, and more Troopers are down at our level, and follow us back out the door as we retreat. It seems that the Cyborg heads off in the other direction and gets blocked by Troopers – I guess he would not survive the fall. When the smoke clears, we find another Pattern Buffer here – one that was active even before we hit that switch. Skulls and other bones line the battlefield.

We head back out the door and turn right, left and then right again, along the corridor. At this point we get shot at by a Trooper to the right, up some stairs tucked into a very short wall between corners in the corridor – easy to miss if it weren’t for the Trooper. He’s got friends, including the Cyborg who took off from the raised area just moments ago. Then up the stairs, we come first to that raised area, and then to a turn into a darkened area where yet more Troopers and a Cyborg lie in wait behind some partition walls. After dealing to them we find a new model switch – well we did see one like it in the secret area on We’re Everywhere – and next to it a deactivated oxygen charger – in most non-mysterious fashion, the switch activates the charger....

Back out into the corridor and heading right again, we encounter a serious line-up of grenades coming towards us around another corner. With the corridor somewhat wider here, it is not as easy to get cover – and again, scratchstarting? With those things running around? You can count me out!

On my Terminal save game the Troopers took to firing on their Cyborg friend very easily, on two separate lives of mine. For the Troopers, I dispensed grenades at the corner the first time, but then ran out of grenades. After dying later on, I backed up and took them with the WSTE-M5 the next time – such fun!

Advancing, we realise that that group had come from an octagonal room, albeit this time just a glorified corner in the corridor network – there was actually one like this already, but we sort of didn’t notice, and on the map, the presence of a ledge makes the shape slightly less obvious. Curiouser. Next we have something slightly different, shallow sewage channels flow across the corridor and disappear under low walls on either side – on either side of point E on the map. The automap picks up what is beyond, but we’ll have to wait to see properly. This reminds me of the similar lowered area, but with no sewage, in the Star Wars room on Ne Cede Malis – although how could it remind me of that ... when it hasn’t happened yet!?

More Troopers come running towards us, happily wading through the sewage as required. This is a spot where even I can start to take them out with magnums, but the poor scratchstarter would have only one :(. The next corner features another sewage pool, this time with a Cyborg, who doesn’t seem to be able to get out, and again with sewage disappearing under a low wall, with light bulbs underneath it, for some strange reason!

Next, we have another pair of doors – left and right – which lead to another pair of octagonal rooms! First to the right, where a three-way fight starts up, with Troopers, Cyborgs and F’lickta, and no one seems to care exactly whom they’re killing, so why not leave them to it! The exit from this room actually leaves us on dry land, and to the right we find the second smashable panel – tagged as objective on the map above. To the left we find the end of one of the sewage rivers we wondered about just before, and then a loop on dry land, with another three-way battle going on in a small sewage pool at the end opposite where we are. As ever, this area fits snugly into the space on the map – we admire the fact, and move on.

Back out in the corridor, the door opposite leads us to an empty room – no fighting, no ammo, nothing! Just one exit, into the sewage again, right to a dead-end, left to a Pattern Buffer. Further left to a Trooper vs F’lickta fight, the other side of our sewage channels from earlier, various nooks and crannies to fill in the map again, a high up opening to the outer sewage ring, and ultimately, the switch we hit a while back to activate the first PB. Wait what? An opening to where? Oh right, this is the first glimpse we’ve caught of the outer ring, and for the moment that opening is just strange, or should that be Curiouser.

Heading back north to the most recent PB, we can carry on around to see another three-way fight, fill in yet more of the map, and end up in the last octagonal room. Opening the door into the corridor, we find that we have completed the loop – to the left is the only bit we haven’t actively explored, a corner with three sewage pools, one more interesting than the others, but we’ll come to that later. To the right we head to a wide open part of the corridor, with stairs leading up on the left and right sides. At the top of each is a pair of Troopers, and waking up one lot sends the other lot running over to cut us off at the bottom of the opposing stairs – cunning!

Once they’re gone we find that the staircases lead to views over the aforementioned outer ring of sewage, over which a Lh’owon night sky looms. Troopers stand across the way on platforms outside small openings at about our height – too far across the lava for now. The automap shows the outlines of platforms halfway across, and there are switches visible in those openings behind the Troopers, directly ahead on the left; slightly around a corner on the right, harder to aim at, and that’s the one we’re supposed to hit second, so I suppose that’s why it’s like that.

An overcharged fusion shot at the left switch brings a platform out of the sewage, as we surmised, allowing us to run across and find a third smashable panel! Well, Durandal did say at least two :). This time we can see the effect through a window – a door opens, leaving the way clear to a Terminal from the right opening. So we repeat the process from the right staircase, and read the Terminal:

So that was all a waste of time, great :).

We’re not done here though, there’s this whole outer ring of sewage to explore, and now that I think about it, the vidmaster would still be short a weapon to hit those switches with, going on this playthrough! If one managed to get there through some cheating means, they’d get another sarcastic message from Durandal: That's cool how you just walked through that door, but I still won't let you leave. Curiouser. For real, they would have to jump into the outer ring from one of the staircases, and head west.

I had read in the MSG and in Volunteers, and then upon further searching, the Pfhorpedia, the vague idea that there was a shotgun somewhere in this outer ring, but to be honest I don’t think I knew that, and had never thought of the issue otherwise with vidding the level – unless I’m missing another weapon somewhere? Even with this knowledge it still took me a while to find it, sitting stealthily in a corner at point B on the map. Ahh, I should have looked there first instead of waiting until now! Curiouser. And I still have a few other points to cover!

Point A is obviously where we make the platforms rise from the sewage ... I keep almost typing lava instead! Must be thinking of the next level :). Exploring the outer ring further, clockwise, we find a staircase going down at point D. A bunch of ammo teleports in under the sewage as we pass over the staircase, and taking it down leads us to that sewage pool in the corridor system that was not like the others – one of two ways out of the outer ring should one happen to get stuck there, which is perfectly likely for the inexperienced! Also, if we had come at this door from the other side earlier on, we would have had the F’lickta coming at us all limbs blazing as soon as we opened it – much safer the other way!

If we keep on exploring, we see various fights going on, and they probably come to involve us. Right around past the south point, we find a 2x charger, and near the west we find a staircase inside a structure, wherein waits a Cyborg, and a bunch of ammo ready to teleport in, and from which we can jump through the high opening back into the inner ring of sewage – the other way back. This staircase is also somewhat magical, as stepping into it even slightly, completely silences the sewage background sound, which permeates most of the rest of the level. Curiouser. There really isn’t any other ambient sound of which to speak.

Now, on to Citadel, a beautiful new chapter screen, a main Terminal within what is technically a secret door, and another, kind of, secret shotgun. Fun!

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Replies:

Tour of Duty - Curiouser and Curiouser...Martin 8/22/13 6:57 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Curiouser and Curiouser...Godot 8/23/13 4:08 a.m.

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