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Volunteers: The Citadel of Antiquity
Posted By: Mark LevinDate: 10/19/01 12:39 p.m.

My Internet access has been down since Wednesday night, so in the idle time (my schoolwork required the net...) I ended up playing Marathon 2 anyway. So, to make up for lost time, here is the entire chapter 4 of Marathon 2, one of the high points IMO.

Eat it, Vid Boi!

The second most beautiful chapter screen in the game ushers in a change of pace. The levels aren't so frantic any more, the combat is lighter, and the story picks up steam, revealing new information that starts to tie into hints found as early as Charon Doesn't Make Change. You become more archaeologist than warrior, searching the wreckage of the ancient, advanced S'pht civilization for the tidbits that will lead to victory. This was the third level of the Marathon 2 demo/preview, under the name BaseDestruction.

The combat on this level is certainly easier than the last one, but the opening fights can be tricky. When you clean everything up, retreat to the far east side of the starting ledge and take a peek at the flamethrower hidden atop the ramparts. The next fight, waking up the compilers in the lava room, can turn bad quickly because of the squadron of Blue Fighters who flank you if you go too far into the room, do as much sniping as you can from the cover of the hallway.

The first terminal room contains two sub-secrets of its own: A 2x health charger below the ground, and an ammo cache on the roof. The terminal kicks off the exploration phase of the story with the introduction of the Citadel of Antiquity and the advanced technology the S'pht used to possess. You're wandering around a fortress that hasn't been used in thousands of years, but everything still works perfectly. They knew how to build things back then...

The first mission objective, the switch that raises the bridge, has a cool-looking door and two more critical story elements: the S'pht civil war and the all-powerful Yrro. We'll get back to this terminal later, it has more to say.

Heading on back, there is a secret way to access the next area. Go back all the way to the beginning (beware of compilar ambushes) and head up to the pink corridor you used to exit the 4-platformed lava room. There is now an extension to this corridor that takes you to a series ofledges above the main floor; from here you can snipe and dodge instead of going toe-to-toe with at the several cyborgs and accompanying fighters.

The next terminal, high up on a wall, sets up even more story elements: The arrival of Battle Group Seven. Now you're working under pressure of time. The final switch is in this room, but while you're looking around stop in at the 2x health charger and pick up a ton of fusion ammo. If you go to the terminal after hitting the switch, you see Durandal getting a little hot under the collar. But he's right, as always, so get out of there and head into the Citadel.

On the way back, don't forget to stop off in the now-empty lava room and pick up a second shotgun and a LOT of ammo for it. Down here is also a set of pipes that lead to other now-drained tanks throughout the level. Nothing in them but a mild hotfoot, so get into the tower before Durandal goes completely beserk (as seen in the first terminal revisited). Of course, one more reason to delay and annoy the big D is the secret second message on the S'pht history terminal: more legends of the S'pht civil war and the disappearance of K'lia and the S'pht'kr. I wonder where they are now...

Take out the tower guards and access the last terminal to go onwards and upwards. Had you been able to get through the door without completing the level objectives, you would have found another cheating-related message, but now it's just Durandal updating you on the status of the Bobs and sending you into the tower.

The Hard Stuff Rules

This level features some of the most complex geometry in the game; it was "named for the fact that it was incredibly difficult to make", according to creator Greg Kirkpatrick. This makes for a very impressive level, but also a level that is a horrible mess on the overhead map (foreshadowing Marathon Infinity?).

Throughout the level you are constantly ascending, heading up through the tower and then the facility at its top.

Level 1: Don't waste any ammo on the first batch of Flick'ta, they will ignore you if you don't piss them off. This room is an extension of the room you left on the previous level, the corridors in the walls are the same. Are they S'pht teleporters overridden by Durandal?

Level 2: The Flick'ta are more belligerent here, and the terminal reveals more S'pht mysteries. Radiation? Why not an invasion? Hmm... Don't forget to double back just before you leave and pick up the huge pile of ammo and 2x health that teleports in. The mysterious Ticks are back too, don't forget that on TC they can be used as makeshift grenades.

Level 3: Your first encounter with the powerful Water and Lava Flick'ta. They can eat quite a lot of damage, take advantage of the whole room when fighting them. There's also a pattern buffer here, and a 1x charger nearby. There's also a small secret: When jumping across to the second half of this area, stay on top of the pillars and navigate to the small ledge at the west end of the room; this will get you a bit of ammo and a nice view of the L'howon landscape.

Level 4: Why on Earth is there a pool of lava up here? If you don't feel up to the task of fighting off the Flick'ta from the narrow ledge, wait for them to come to you by hiding in the elevator with the dual shotguns. You wuss :P

Level 5: The architecture gets really interesting now as you enter the main facility atop the Citadel. The views out the main windows are particularly impressive. There are several terminals here that display the same message as before; these will also be the exit terminals. Battle Group Seven is here, ready to bring the pain. The combat gets tougher as well, with big piles of Flick'ta and the appearance of the cyborgs.

Level 6: The L'howon Arkives. Some rooms on this level can only be classified as libraries or museums, holding sample speciments of L'howon life or records of scientific investigations. In the south museum, there's a bug where one of the Flick'ta specimens comes to life, jumps out of its display case, and attacks you. In the north museum, beware of the powerful cyborgs with guided bombs. The computer area holds records of Pfhor medical procedures, and more information about the all-powerful Yrro. Was he a myth? Why are the S'pht cyborgs anyway?

Level 7: Just some cyborgs and amazing views. And ammo.

Bob's Big Date

This is the first Marathon 2 level on which you never see the sky. It's completely underground, a set of catacombs deep underneath the Citadel, filled with a very, very strange liquid. It actually makes the level a bit tedious, as traversing the central area is never easy. Random observation for the day: For some reason this level, and the song Shout, by Tears for Fears, are inextricably linked in my mind; I cannot think of one without the other. Hmm...

Yet more S'pht backstory, on the unification of the clans. If you go to the exit terminal before finding both history terminals, you'll get some information on Durandal's main opponent in space, the Pfhor battleship Khfiva and Admiral Tfear.

There's not a lot to say about the design of this level. In the central ring there's a switch that will turn off the slime's cycling; the only reason to do this is if you want to kill the Flick'ta and Troopers in the slime with you; it's easy to avoid them with good timing anyway.

Counterclockwise from the starting room, we have: Some ammo and a 3x charger, some ammo and a 1x health charger under head-height slime, the way to the exit terminal (also with pattern buffer and ammo and head-height slime), an oxygen charger and secret ammo under slime, some ammo and a pattern buffer, and the entrance to the second history terminal.

Don't forget to pick up a 3x health charge before you leave, you'll need it for the next level. At the exit terminal, we see that time is running out as Durandal takes a chance and throws us even farther down into the planet for one more chance to find an answer.

Six Thousand Feet Under

There's a nice WTF moment when you start this level: As you fall down the shaft, a green Flick'ta standing in midair falls onto a ledge. The first time I did this level, I wasn't sure what was going on ("Why am I falling???"); later I realized that Durandal had done exactly what he said he would do: Teleported me as far down as he could get me and then let me fall the rest of the way.

This level is very, very large, consisting mostly of caves full of lava and twisting ledges. There are a few buried installations around, which hold the last secrets that Durandal will find on L'howon (for a while). When exploring, beware of the Lava Flick'ta; they have quite a range with their fireballs. Grenading them into lava won't kill them, but it'll definitely get them out of your way ;). There's also a ton of Ticks flitting around, for some reason.

To beat this level, follow a simple rule: Climb as high as you can, and take any available turnoff the first time you pass it. The first stop is the pattern buffer on a low ledge, which then leads you to the terminal. The game is up, and Tycho has defeated Durandal. You are his last hope now, as you search for the secrets of the S'pht. This level is one of the highlights of Marathon 2 for me, because of its high connectivity. You constantly see bits of the level that you won't be able to reach until later, and double back to revisit old areas with new changes.

The next interesting area is a huge room flooded with lava, but with some type of structure across the pool. Hmm...

Eventually you will reach another S'pht history terminal, and see the first mention of the S'ct'lac'tr. Later, it becomes clear that this is a virus bioengineered by the ancient S'pht to kill the Pfhor. Also in this area is a neat 5D space trick.

The next stop is a bit hard to find: A small path runs away from a narrow stairway, leading to a room with the double switch (what do I mean? push it and see!) and another history terminal, detailing the end of the war. It has become obvious that the S'pht are losing to the Pfhor strategy of radiation and bombardment, much as the Boomer is losing to the overwhelming space forces above us. Also visible in this room are some strange sculptures sealed behind bars; these will play a more important role in Marathon Infinity.

Back at the flooded room, the lava has been drained and the next area is accessible. This place contains one of the best terminals in the game, the S'pht creation myth. Who is Yrro? Was he a Jjaro? (Well, sure, we know that now, but remember the first time we ever played Marathon 2?) What is the W'rkncacnter? Hit the nearby switch to lower the lava in the final area, and head for the last battle of the level.

There are a few tricks that can help you in this fight. First of all, it's easy to get the Flick'ta angry at the cyborgs or vice versa. Secondly, at the far end of the room, there's a small elevator that will raise you up to a switch, which will flood the room with lava and kill the cyborgs (but not the Flick'ta). This is not as useful as it could be, because a) you attract a lot of fire up there and b) the Flick'ta can pull the platform back down, dunking you in lava and bringing you in range of their claws. When you're done, don't forget to manipulate the door near the 2x health charger to give you the most health for the final run.

Your reward? The secret Durandal has been searching for. It's always in the last place you look, isn't it? :P An ancient S'pht riddle holds the key, apparently pointing to a location somewhere on the planet based on various celestial observations. We'll get back to this poem later (much later). Durandal has lost, and Tycho is readying the final blow. Access Durandal's terminal for some more gratuitous sevens and a ticket up to the wreckage of Boomer. Time to do what you do best, Marine...

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Replies:

Volunteers: The Citadel of AntiquityMark Levin 10/19/01 12:39 p.m.
     Whoa! 4 levels in 1 post (nt) *NM* *NM*Hamish Sinclair 10/19/01 12:51 p.m.
     Re: Volunteers: The Citadel of Antiquitywhocares 10/21/01 3:42 p.m.
           Re: Volunteers: The Citadel of AntiquityMark Levin 10/21/01 6:31 p.m.
           Re: Volunteers: The Citadel of AntiquityREB 10/21/01 6:34 p.m.



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