|Tour of Duty: Naw Man He's Close|
|Posted By: Martin||Date: 4/17/14 8:50 p.m.|
Last time on Tour of Duty, we saw the end of the world again, from an exciting carefree, or at least air-free, perspective. I argued that it was Thoth that imparted to us some words ... of inevitability. The end of the world, failure, and yet freedom. Freedom from responsibility, and just moments to enjoy it. We’re not quite at that point ourselves; we’ve still got things to do, like trying to help Tycho defeat Durandal ... or something like that.
And so here we are. In terms of the timing, this very much follows Confound Delivery, but there’s enough to suggest that this is actually yet another timeline; we are however, still in the Rage chapter. We start falling down into an octagonal room. I had actually never noted that the freefall start actually happened until just now, because it only actually happens if you scratchstart, and you only then notice it if you look up and see space ... when it really has a lot to answer for in terms of the level’s design, as per the Story page, which also talks about the level name’s origin, a scene in Apocalypse Now. Unfortunately I fell asleep during that film the only time I tried to watch it, and searching for the scene on YouTube lead only to “not available in your country” results *sigh*. Anyway, we were at one point going to be blasting stuff while we fell from a great height; a great loss to us all. And ultimately the level was a work of duality in terms of two designers, which is why it plays almost like two separate levels, and why it kind of seems unfinished.
What turns out to be an airlock door commences opening as we arrive, an airlock on Durandal’s ship!, but the level is not vacuum, at least not anymore. Slightly random really, but handy, as I totally exhausted my oxygen in Carroll Street waiting for that Juggernaught that didn’t respawn.
There’s a pattern buffer, minimal ammo, and two 2x recharge canisters in this first room. The door’s opening reveals an enemy that was teased in a terminal “back” on Ne Cede Malis: the “Infivac BoB”. Armed with Fusion Pistols and apparently able to use the powered up shots more quickly than we can, these guys pack a punch and can take one or two! Conveniently, it is not all that hard to dodge fusion shots when required, so this ain’t such a bad scratchstarter. These BoBs explode when killed with fusion or the like, and usually drop ammo and/or weapons, just not on this level, for whatever reason.
There’s a window through to a narrow corridor on either side here, wherein more BoBs, and an Assault Rifle to the right. The sides both end in doors that we can -just- open on the right angle, but only to let more of those BoBs through. The main space ends in another airlock door, the switch for which is just to the left; an oxygen charger to the right. More BoBs, including quite a pile-up in the right corridor, to the point that they start hitting each other while trying to hit us – we’re not complaining! This time, a 1x recharger accompanies the next switch. About at this point, two Troopers teleport in back at the start. They are kind of on our side, but they suck against these new BoBs, and they actually seem quite ready to turn on us when the BoBs are dead. Unfriendly.
As we enter the next space, another octagonal one, yet another airlock door opens to our left, with two more BoBs waiting behind it. Sucks to be them…. The path from the left-hand narrow corridor notably does not continue through that area, which is odd at this point, and there’s another locked door on the right wall here. On the other side of the octagonal room is an almost fully open airlock door that gives us access to the right-hand corridor from before. It takes a grenade jump to get over the door, and the only reward is the Assault Rifle we saw from the start, in a nice scratchstarting irony. I guess if one really wanted it, one could get some help from the Troopers. There’s one more door in there, but it don’t open.... It is curious later when we encounter another set of rooms that are almost exactly the same, and think we’ve looped back, but alas, close, but no cigar.
Their appearance here seems in line with Tycho’s story in the last timeline with him, there being no place for Troopers in the new regime. We were killing them on Poor Yorick, and now they’re being sent in to Durandal’s ship as cannon-fodder – plus of course they are vacuum-enabled, just like the vacuum BoBs *ahem*. This is also similar to the case in M2, where they were the main stars of IIHARL, which also wasn’t vacuum but might once have been. Aye yie yie. A lot of this info I was reminded of by the Story page the other day. There isn’t much it doesn’t know :).
The way forward is up a winding staircase. At the top is a terminal, where we should really read the following, which I apparently didn't send to PS:
This would give us some much needed background on what is going on here. Battle Group Seven has arrived and is attacking Durandal’s ship; Tycho’s ship is working on making Durandal’s compilers rampant and D’s ship is adrift; not crashed on a moon or anything like that. We would also get an objective, to open the rest of the airlock doors on the level, presuming that we would return here afterwards.
Unfortunately this terminal already contains its “completed” message when we first see it, and that is far less useful as an introduction to a new timeline. But the story is well underway in this one, so I guess we weren’t expecting tea and biscuits. It also refers to the second half of the level, so I’ll just ignore it for the moment and pretend that we saw the first message.
For one thing, it would have prepared us for what is just around the corner, a slightly crazed compiler in front of a locked airlock door with no switch in sight. These guys fire a lot faster than their saner colleagues, and seemingly in a rhythm, three shots in quick succession then a short break. At least they are visible!
At this point we can start to explore a bit more openly, and we’ll have a look at the map:
We can see the octagonal rooms clearly, and there are more of them to come. The maps always manage to look like full levels even when there are clearly different designs at work, but the top-left parts with their sprawling narrow corridors and dead-ends for no particular reason to be on Durandal’s ship ... smack a bit of being a hurried attempt to just end the level in whatever way, and the way they chose is well worthy of the story in terms of its confusing nature. More on that later, we’re a long way off!
Next we find some green vac BoBs, which are quite keen to follow us back down the stairs if we go down to recharge after they hit us – oww! They came from the first of three quite open spaces that I never quite realised were so aesthetically pleasing on the map – if only the first one had slime in it, and a random square hole in it.... There are sets of stairs down to the low area, ledges around the outside, and more of those super compilers dropping down around the place – it can be hard to work out where they are coming from, and that all stems from what seems to be another slight stuff-up with the map: compilers, and later, vac BoBs, drop on us from the ceiling, which apparently was a default option in the design tools? Seems very odd, but it does help with the spooky atmosphere, as does the Jjarro station groaning sound in the background in parts of the level. It’s not the first time we’ve seen behaviour like that from compilers anyway, and for the BoBs it could be written off as Durandal having a bit of a hard time with his coordinates as his ship is being disabled and compilers turned rampant.
If we follow the ledge all the way around, there are a couple of paths back to earlier in the level, starting from point A on the map. That one leads to a drop-off, with some ammo lying around and then a lift up to a SPNKR, and what appears to be a tiny room on the map, but doesn’t seem to be visible or accessible. The wall textures go out of alignment slightly, but yeah ... a bit of a mystery. Here we can also fall off to what was the left-hand corridor back where we started. It turns out there is some AR ammo here, making the idea of having bothered to get it, a bit more appealing, damn. And then we can actually access the other dropoff area we could have hit from the ledge before. A door reveals a staircase going down, explaining why the corridor didn’t continue through the nearby wall. It then goes back up around a corner, to a switch, which opens the other locked door we met before, and takes us back out to the early part of the level – this switch is another that can be toggled to keep the door open (Narcogen take notes :), although you’ve probably done this already).
Oh! Something in all of that also actually lowered the other door the rest of the way, so the AR is now mine! Some of those doors don’t even get the usual red colouring on the map, hmmm.
Dodging super compiler bolts is fun; I just had a couple of very close encounters with death :), which I guess is the sign of a good scratchstart. In trips back to recharge at the start, I have come across a map design issue that I remember from what little I did with Pfhorte back in the day. If you come back via the ledge, hugging the left, and try to go through the first opening, by the staircases, you can end up with stuck record syndrome, where you appear to keep trying to get through the gap but somehow not managing it, and it just keeps looping. Odd. Well, on to the next open area.
More super compilers falling, three bright yellow holes in the ground but otherwise darkness, a locked door, and an opening, to an area very similar to the one we were just in, but with very shallow slime in the lower area. More super compilers, which are a bit odd: they take a bit of waking up then drop down with lots of shots suddenly en route, and then they don’t seem to want to come out of this area, but very curiously, they do seem to be quite willing to wipe each other out - I ran away just now and came back to find them all gone! Again, not complaining.
An easy jump across and up the stairs, to a switch that opens two more airlock doors just through a window, and a pattern buffer. The switch also opens the next area like this, so back we go. This time there are vac BoBs again: “They killed BoB!”; “oh crap!” is how our conversation went, as I ran away yet again with minimal health left. By comparison these BoBs are serious travellers. I took the dropoff and ran to recharge, and using the handy dandy BoB dots on the automap, watched this guy run most of the way back with me - not via the dropoff but still, impressive, and still, dead.
Again some odd behaviour from compilers, another easy wade, another switch, this time a 2x recharger (not marked by PS) and an oxygen charger; two more airlock doors opening through a window, and a lift at the end of this area. Heading up, we hear the BoBs before we see them - come on, subtlety, guys! This is an open area with another window to that last airlock room, a random recessed platform in the wall, some bright yellow columns against the walls, and otherwise darkness. Here begins a winding descent in similar darkness with yellowy bits, wherein the monster drops from the ceiling start to have more of an effect. Vac BoBs just appear in front of us with little warning; lucky we just got 2x health. There’s a lookout / quick way down at one point, but that would just mean having to kill more on the way back up to recharge.
At the bottom of the stairs there’s another locked door to nowhere, and then a cross-shaped room with a couple more, and a great monster drop with both compilers and vac BoBs. Then one door actually takes us further. Into an area very similar to the right-hand corridor from the start. We get to snipe some BoBs, which is always nice, and then we get a nice gift in the form of a Tozt ... or is it only a canister ... dammit! We have to operate in reverse here compared to at the start, shooting the switches to open the airlock doors from within the corridor, nice touch. No health recharger down here though, just two oxygen ones, and an inaccessible left-hand corridor.
There are stairs at the end here, which again look very similar to the starting ones, except that we can see the terminal from the bottom of them. Hey! It’s actually the same terminal, and this, the path from behind the door where we killed our first super compiler. Really cool and unexpected map loop the first time around :). Now let’s read up on our “success”.
Nothing congratulatory, aww. Tycho says “this location” but gives us no map ... typical! He actually tells us to go kill the humans and then find a terminal, which is exactly what we do now. There are stairs to a new opening right next to us, so up we go, and into ... the tunnel! More like a series of very narrow corridors, with random dead-end offshoots. The first might almost have connected to that inaccessible left-hand corridor! But alas.
Around the first corner we find ourselves under fire by vac BoBs at really long range. I remember finding this really hard the first time through, not being so willing to just run towards them as I tend to now :). It is hard to hit them from quite so far away. There’s even a 1x recharger just off to the side, in case we should find this difficult. Did I mention it is really dark here? Except for this weird pulsating passage off to the side a bit further on, which gives us a bit of cover from the BoB fire, at least. Around the next corner things are very similar, but one of the BoBs is hiding out in the equivalent pulsating passage, and my attempts to grenade the one that isn’t, just for old-times’ sake, results in me getting killed instead ... ahh nuts. And I wanted to check the nearby phenomenon in those pulsating corridors – is it 5D space there in what should be the meeting of the two? Or did I dream it.... Whatever. It turns out *ahem* I had forgotten this wasn’t actually a Naw Man scratchstart, but a Whatever You Please one, so I had a Fusion Pistol, which made things a lot easier, yeah :). Also, on respawning, I couldn’t get the Troopers at the start to fire grenades at me to try for the AR. Never mind!
The last part of the level is a series of dark, narrow corridors (the hell you say!?) with scary vac BoBs, ending in an almost Arrival-like maze area, with only one way out. A wide corridor off to the side with a pattern buffer and terminal, ending with an airlock door, which opens as we approach it, but then closes again, and because all of these doors open from the top, going through it is suicide. There is a lone BoB up to one side, and we can kill him, but otherwise are best to leave that room well enough alone!
The terminal is our only way off the level; we have no choice. We have done what Tycho asked of us, killed a lot of BoBs, and assume this is the terminal he meant us to find.
However, it kind of isn’t. This is one of Durandal’s terminals, and displays a message from Robert Blake - oh him! - to a Lieutenant Kent. It reports on the Pfhor’s progress, and talks about an attempt to set up a transporter - Tycho mentioned a jump pad! - to get onto Tycho’s ship and try to release Durandal’s from its grasp. We might think that we’ve just had the benefit of seeing what they’re up to, given that we came here working for Tycho, but this is apparently supposed to be the SO wilfully switching sides, and going with the humans on that jump pad – they’re kind of forgiving!
Again, we have no choice here; there is no other terminal to leave by and the only other one on the level still reads the same as it did. If we actually wanted to keep working for Tycho, we would find ourselves frustrated! We may be destiny, but at this point, we don’t have a choice in what we’re doing when the story kind of requires that we must have done. One has to wonder how the level was originally planned to go, but one must also get on with the story as it was written, and that leads us to Tycho’s ship.
|Tour of Duty: Naw Man He's Close||Martin||4/17/14 8:50 p.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty: Naw Man He's Close||Hokuto||4/18/14 6:00 a.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty: Naw Man He's Close||PerseusSpartacus||4/18/14 7:00 a.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty: Naw Man He's Close||Martin||4/18/14 9:54 a.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty: Naw Man He's Close||PerseusSpartacus||4/18/14 11:51 a.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty: Naw Man He's Close||VikingBoyBilly||4/18/14 9:54 a.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty: Naw Man He's Close||Martin||4/18/14 9:56 a.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty: Naw Man He's Close||VikingBoyBilly||4/18/14 10:08 a.m.|
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