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Volunteers Multi-Level Super Fun Pack (G4-Fire)
Posted By: Mark LevinDate: 8/7/01 4:05 p.m.

I've also been on a trip, and missed a few days here...

G4 Sunbathing:

I cannot praise this level enough. It's just great. It's challenging, fun, realistic, incredibly well-done in so many aspects. It's certainly among the best levels I've ever played, in any game, and may be the best level in Marathon 1. The design fits the premise, it does feel like a broken, malfunctioning spaceship full of only danger and hard vacuum. The level is spacious and extremely nonlinear, there are many available paths from anywhere to anywhere and much of the level is almost always visible. The empty landing bays, the walkways and bridges, the control rooms and working airlocks all contribute to the realism. The monsters put in a stellar performance as well, wandering around and showing up on your motion tracker, or working the airlocks to come at you from behind or wait at choke points.

The monsters and design worked together to provide great panic moments. Compilers can pop up at you from the bays and chase you down the corridors, Hunters and Troopers guard the ammo downstairs. Once I had accidentally fallen into a bay and headed for the airlock, only to find it crammed with monsters leaving to ambush me upstairs! They immediately changed their plans and charged, forcing me into the bay behind me, from which the airlock was the only exit. I was pretty low on health at this point, so I lured them out into the center, then raced around the group and leaped into the airlock, just in time to hear a Trooper's grenade slam into the door closing behind me.

The final room of this level is the closest thing Marathon has to a traditional "boss" encounter: A Major Hunter (the first in the game when playing on Normal) in a fairly small room. As Hamish is about to point out, you only need to hit 1 of the 4 reset switches to win.

G4 Sunbathing has some odd map writing: The 4 bays and their control rooms are named. On the lower left is Death Valley, overlooked by D.V. Control. Across from it is the Dead Sea and D.S. Control. On the upper right, however, the bay is not named, although it is controlled by M.C. Control. The satellite reset is named Satellite Relay, but its control room has no name.

Blaspheme Quarantine:

In the first of the game's 3 major plot points (the other two are the death of Leela and the rebellion of the S'pht), we find that Durandal is alive and kicking, much more powerful than the crippled wreck Leela has been telling us he is. Hmm...

The level design is nothing to write home about, but it's interesting that this is the first level that is composed of several independent areas. We could be teleporting all over the ship at Durandal's whim. The Hulks are back for no apparent reason, most of them can be bypassed with minimal loss of ammo, although it's fun to get them to turn around and smack the $#%& out of a Fighter who accidentally shot them in the back.

Another important piece of the story puzzle lies in the secret terminal in the area with the T-shaped pit: Durandal's "shame on Mars". In hindsight, this may be the first time in the game we see that there's anything strange about Durandal's origins, not counting the mention of Traxus IV on Defend This. It also shows us that Tycho, too, is still around, and that the cooperation between the AIs and the S'pht is very advanced. Hmm again...

While returning to the start after that room, stop by the longest drop you encounter and pay homage to Mountaineerin' Bob from the Marathon Demo 0.0 He's not there, but his door is, above your head on the wall with the spotted brown texture.

And don't forget to blow off Leela at the final terminal and return to the Quarantine Storage for the original Durandal Song. Rock on, Whirling Death Spike! :)

Bob-B-Q:

A difficult level. The action starts from the moment you teleport in, in an encounter many believed unviddable, only to be disproven wrong by Jason Jones himself. The second appearance of Bobs in the game prompts another Rescue mission, one that is almost impossible to fulfill even on Normal. The Bobs fill the halls, running into ambushes and constantly wandering into your line of fire. The map writing is quite accurate :P

There's a room on this map where, upon exploration, 3 doors spring open and Fighters emerge to pound on you. Some time ago someone posted to alt.games.marathon a film in which the doors did not open, no matter what he tried. It turns out that the room actually contained a monster trigger, not a platform trigger, and that the designer had relied on the monster's ability to open doors, which for some reason they were not doing. Elsewhere in this room, in the secret ammo hole, is a 2x recharger in a wall.

Fill up on oxygen before you leave; this level has the last oxygen charger in the game. Of course, that's ignoring the place where one was obviously ripped out of Neither High nor Low, but that's a story for another day ;)

Shake Before Using:

This is the 3rd level in a row to feature a unique music track. Hmm...

One "bug" in this level is immediately visible: A secret room is shown in the terminal.

This level is basically a series of traps and ambushes, almost filler. We do meet the unfortunate H. McYultry in the first large room, and get taunted by Durandal if we fall off the long bridge (which is so long that the zoomed-in map doesn't display it correctly). This level also has the first Hounds, although they're hidden. And, as someone has already mentioned, it's the first level exited via a plain teleporter, no computer message.

Fire! Fire! fire! Fire! Fire!:

This level introduces a major gameplay element: Lava (which appeared briefly on Shake Before Using, but in a place you probably weren't going to look). Anything that dies on lava will vanish, even if the lava didn't actually kill it, it incinerates corpses. The powerful Major Wasps ambush you as soon as you arrive, for some reason they're very vulernable to the fusion pistol so swat them down. The real introduction to the Hound occurs when you cross the bridge and enter the room with the recharger. Ouch!

This may not be the most realistic level in the game, but I do like the design. I get the feeling of machinery locked away behind the walls, with bits poking through for inspection or maintenance (especially the bit with the lava flowing across the path and the corridor around it). Beware of Wasps, who are immune to the lava and tend to leap out at you from pools. However, they are very stupid and tend to bang into each other in midair and get stuck face to face, perfect placement for a grenade.

The lava run you must make on this level can be skipped entirely with a grenade hop from the right side of the L-shaped ledge to the hidden passage meant to be used as an exit. This will, however, drop you in the middle of the monsters instead of letting you come at them from one direction, and the damage taken from the hop will be about the same as the run anyway.

Why does Durandal send us his rantings before the end of the level, when Leela turns control over to him? Because the last terminal is a prerecorded message. By the time you finish the level, Leela is already dead, and Durandal has control of the ship.

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Replies:

Volunteers Multi-Level Super Fun Pack (G4-Fire)Mark Levin 8/7/01 4:05 p.m.
     Re: Volunteers Multi-Level Super Fun Pack (G4-Fire7revor Smith 8/7/01 4:37 p.m.
           Re: Volunteers Multi-Level Super Fun Pack (G4-FireHamish Sinclair 8/8/01 12:26 p.m.
                 Re: Volunteers Multi-Level Super Fun Pack (G4-FireSidoh 8/8/01 2:10 p.m.
                       Re: Volunteers Multi-Level Super Fun Pack (G4-FireHamish Sinclair 8/8/01 10:30 p.m.
                             Re: Volunteers Multi-Level Super Fun Pack (G4-Fire7revor Smith 8/9/01 9:30 a.m.
                                   Re: Volunteers Multi-Level Super Fun Pack (G4-FireHamish Sinclair 8/9/01 9:48 a.m.
                                         Re: Volunteers Multi-Level Super Fun Pack (G4-FireMark Levin 8/9/01 11:26 a.m.
                                               Re: Volunteers Multi-Level Super Fun Pack (G4-FireHamish Sinclair 8/9/01 11:39 a.m.
     Re: Volunteers Multi-Level Super Fun Pack (G4-FireSpeaker-To-Animals (Alexander S7range) 8/8/01 8:53 a.m.
           Re: Volunteers Multi-Level Super Fun Pack (G4-FireMark Levin 8/8/01 9:12 a.m.



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