Tour of Duty - Where the Twist Flops
Posted By: MartinDate: 12/14/13 10:56 p.m.


23 – Where the Twist Flops

The name. The Story page was quite a surprise when first I read it. This is not the first potential reference to Miller’s Crossing, and I guess I really have to check out that film! Prior to reading that, I always interpreted it as being where a twist in the story, or the chance for one, was lost or given up on. With that in mind it would make more sense a couple of levels hence, where Durandal comes back and says “Hi!”. The fact that it didn’t fit right here didn’t bother me when I didn’t consider these things so deeply, and/or couldn’t remember exactly where that reveal came. It still makes more sense to me as a meaningful title anyway!

Okay, Last time on Tour of Duty we played with physics as it relates to bodies (of water) in motion, and explored a very 3D maze of ledges and underwater passages, in order to finally complete the activation of Thoth, this AI keeper of the balance of whom PS has been writing in helpful detail. His first request was to be left alone, and for us to go to save humans nearby.

And so here we are. First of all we are treated to a new chapter screen: Simulacrums! What could it mean?!

It’s not like this is a heads-up, there were enough to blow up a ship on God! Enough to drive Narcogen and Blackstar down a zero tolerance for BoBs path. And the chapter title suggests we should expect more sims, well ... here goes.

The level start is an M1 classic, with our own personal pattern buffer and terminal. The terminal is a Thoth one, and about as short and sharp as it could be.

So balance demands that we kill more Pfhor. And we thought things were supposed to change! Well no, no one knew what to expect from Thoth’s awakening, and from our point of view this is just yet another master – we seem to be cut off from Blake, although rumour has it that he is actually represented among the -real- BoBs here.

Moving out of the start area we see a bunch of green BoBs, but despite the chapter name, yes they’re real, and they’re spectacular.

Hunters show up to cut them down, and on TC they do this easily unless we step in. Which I do. And then the Hunters die easily.

I always group this level with God in my mind, the same theme of killing sims, the same kind of textures and structural feel, to some extent, and the same feeling that we’re being diverted from our main aims. Also, reasonably uninteresting levels. Hence my leaving them to PS in the original plan. But in the interests of getting M2 finished this year, here I am :). Sorry if you prefer his style.

Before I forget again, the map, and I should mention, these maps of PS's are awesome compared to the polygon views of the MSG - I'm really hoping PS can pull off similar for Infinity ;).

The way things fit together on this level is among the most confusing in M2, kind of like with Nuke and Pave, there are cases of surprising connections between the parts of the level, and it can play quite differently depending which way we go. With this level, I’ve always felt there was just something missing.

From where we are on the west side, the next thing we see is a pit full of sims, trying not to fall into lava, at point A on the map. Don’t ask me why they’re down there! I only kill Pfhor here. But I can never resist trying to chain kill those guys. I’m guessing they were rounded up by the real BoBs and tossed in there, somehow, without letting them blow, before we, and the Pfhor and S’pht, arrived. Complicated.

From here the path splits three ways, although two of them lead to the same result. I don’t think I’ve ever decided on the way I prefer to play this level, but as we have the pattern buffer sorted out, but don’t yet have access to a health charger, I’ll take us on the path of least resistance to one of those. The model of advance a bit and then return to save works much better when you are not so vulnerable! At least I had 2x coming in from KYT.

And that path would be to the north. As we round the corner we see compilers shooting at BoBs, and then shooting at us. So we shoot at them. There’s a lava pool here, and we notice something surprising in it, against the wall at point C: a terminal! Now, reading such while in lava is not fun, and the fact that there is an invincibility powerup on the ledge by the terminal doesn’t even help with that. We still have to tab incessantly as we get kicked out each time we -would- take damage. This made my job for the tour of screen capturing every terminal page equally as annoying, with the print screen key thrown into the incessantly pressing mix … but I got it :). At least this was on Windows, as pressing cmd-shift-3 incessantly would have been even harder!

Clearly this was going to be a flavour terminal rather than a story one. And I don’t have much to say about it, other than that there’s a similar one a few levels hence, without the hassle of lava.

There’s an opening on the other side of the lava pool. And I forgot to mention that some of the BoBs weren’t really shooting the compilers, because they were really sims! Big reveal huh. Through that opening, we can go right to kill an invisible compiler, and left down some stairs to an ambush of Hunters and sims. More health suckers, especially if you’re not forewarned (have you done this one yet, Narcogen :)?). Beyond these guys is a big dropoff. So we drop off, and immediately we find ourselves being shot at again! There’s one invisible compiler at the end of this area, and by the time we get to him, as many as three more might have noticed us from the next level down, and the sight of half a dozen green homing balls of … electricity? is a bit daunting. Convenience of conveniences, there’s also a 1x charger here! And to make a bit more of the connectivity of this level, I’m going to take us back to the sim pit area at this point, and we’ll find ourselves starting over.

We get there by way of a switch right next to the charger, which reveals part of the wall to be a platform. It only stops at the roof, so don’t forget to get on, and don’t forget to get off! Then, to the south, across from the lava terminal area, we find another lava pool – if we approach around the right side, it all seems very quiet … too quiet. The left is similar, but towards the end we trigger more compilers and a Hunter around the pool, and it’s best to run away. The BoBs in the middle area are surprisingly alert to such attacks, but they’re probably already dead with the way we’ve gone. Next we find a door around on that left side of the south lava pool. It leads to a circular room with oddly shaped large central column. Teleporting in are some real BoBs, careful, and the usual compilers and Hunters. Careful also of Hunter shots hitting you through the open parts of the central column. A door leads to another room that is pretty much identical, but you can get through the parts you need to without causing more Pfhor to spawn. If you don’t manage that, this time invisible compilers join the mix, and they’re more annoying in this dark environment. Okay it seems like not making more spawn is the exception rather than the rule, and that the trigger points are set for the other entry to this room, straight from the sim pit area, that third split path I mentioned earlier.

The next room is the biggest flashback to God moment, as it closely resembles that level’s starting room: a crossroads with BoBs and sims. I think this time there are more sims than BoBs here … but this time I just ran at the first one, who was in the way and turned out to be a sim, and this caused the rest to throw themselves in the air and spread themselves over a wide area.

Continuing the theme of going after health chargers, the door to the right of where we came in is the way to go. Another large empty room, yeah right! Venturing in a bit spawns Hunters all through the place, and they are best handled from the crossroads room, with judicial opening and closing of that door. Once they are dead we head in to find a 2x charger, that’s more like it! But I hope you can see why I went for the 1x first … fewer Hunters :). There’s also one more Hunter in here, so be careful where you tread. And the room ends in another oddly shaped column … okay I could probably start calling them diamond shaped, well a diamond on top of a circle.

Heading back to the crossroads, the next door to the right leads to another corridor with a door at the end, and a Hunter. This one takes us to some BoBs fighting some Hunters, and some sims heading towards us. Then there’s a nice breadcrumb trail of shotgun shells, which lead to … a whole bunch of them, on the opposite side of the diamond on top of a circle we just described.

Back towards the crossroads we also notice a raised area, which is not particularly interesting. The last door from the crossroads leads to a room with a few partitions. Several Hunters teleport in as we venture forwards, and again, the crossroads is the best graveyard for them. To the right, stairs lead up to the raised area we just saw, which is indeed empty. To the left, there’s more ammo of various sorts, and a shotgun! Then around the corner we fill up on magnum ammo, just what we’ve always wanted!

Before we get there though, we see openings to the left and right, well, more like lift shafts – so you can guess where we’re heading. Because only we would survive the fall? Firing a shot or two into those openings will start BoBs, sims and Hunters moving on the radar, and then fighting. Then we can drop down into the middle of that. I just now managed to get an exploding sim to finish off a Hunter down there, which I wasn’t even 100% sure was possible, so that’s good news.

If we manage to keep the BoBs alive, we notice one blue one among the green, and this is the guy we think might be Blake. If that is the case … I guess he’s dead now, as he was when I got down there this time around. This room does seem to be some kind of human resistance control room though, with those columns that could be something computery given half a chance. This would make sense based on the Blake’s recorded message on KYT – they were retreating further underground, and I guess this could be the last stand … it’s just not very dramatic.

And of course there’s a lava pool. More conveniently, there’s a 1x charger tucked away down a corridor underneath where we dropped down. And then there are stairs leading up. To a door! And behind the door is the level just below the first 1x charger we found. This is certainly an easier way to approach the area – always use the approach with a door :)! BoBs fight it out with Hunters and compilers before they all come to see us, and die from it. There’s a switch in here that brings down a platform that takes us to that 1x charger. As it comes down we can go and collect magnum ammo from the dead BoBs. And then we’re done.

In my messing about games to remind myself of things for this writeup, I realised this must be an elimination level, as I couldn’t leave after just doing the crossroads side of things. I guess it’s obvious, I mean the terminal states it, and it couldn’t be anything else … I guess that’s just what happens – interesting with some of those triggers if every enemy has to be killed though. Anyway, another thing that just happened was that a Hunter ended up down in the sim pit – no idea how – and they weren’t dead yet….

So, when everyone is dead, the start terminal lets us go with the message:

Thoth realises what we’ve been up to, describing it of course in a new and novel way. I’ve only just looked up ansible for the first time. That’s shockingly interesting! I’m not sure if it helps with interpretation of that last bit, and it turns out that it is a bad idea to search the Internet for destroyed by the threes :O. Volunteers didn’t go into detail here either, so I’ll just leave it there and see what y’all have to say!

Next up we have another filler-like level, with more crypticness from Thoth. Probably the highlight is the very large central secret ammo room, which I explored for the first time a few months ago.

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Pre-2004 Posts


Tour of Duty - Where the Twist FlopsMartin 12/14/13 10:56 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Where the Twist FlopsHokuto 12/15/13 2:45 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Where the Twist FlopsGodot 12/15/13 3:00 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Where the Twist FlopsDr. John Sumner 12/15/13 4:28 a.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty - Where the Twist FlopsGodot 12/15/13 7:05 a.m.
                       Re: Tour of Duty - Where the Twist FlopsMartin 12/15/13 8:46 a.m.
                             Re: Tour of Duty - Where the Twist FlopsGodot 12/15/13 9:40 a.m.
                                   Re: Tour of Duty - Where the Twist FlopsMartin 12/15/13 10:19 a.m.

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Pre-2004 Posts



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