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Volunteers: Where Some Rarely Go
Posted By: Mark LevinDate: 11/17/01 2:15 p.m.

The What's In A Name section says that this level's name is a takeoff on "Where no man has gone before", but I suggest it could also/instead be a takeoff of "Where only fools dare tread", a phrase that was also featured in Pathways into Darkness.

Durandal has dropped us in a large Pfhor installation concerned with the treatment of the ubiquitous L'howon slime. This is our first look at the new sewage textures, and they have also been greatly improved since M2, with a new mechanical look to replace the vague tiles previously seen. However, I feel that this set is (still) too general; none of the textures really suggest much of anything, causing difficulty when building a map that is supposed to be something specific.

This big level is built around a large slime river, with tunnels and canals leading all over the place. High above the sewage is a superstructure of walkways and control rooms that contain most of your objectives. When you start, don't jump down until you have found the large pile of ammo to the southwest. When you do jump down, get ready for a surprise: This base was for some reason assigned a squadron of super-compilers. They are invisible, move very slowly, and fire very fast bolts very rapidly. Do not underestimate them, they can take you down many pegs. Also down here is a secret I was not aware of until now: At the west end of the main slime canal is a teleporter that takes you to the Flick'ta pit we will get to much later, bypassing most of the level.

Work your way up to the top of the only available ledge, and you'll find a terminal behind a door; more of the Pfhor bureaucracy. The sound work in this area is sloppy, with several quiet spots and jarring transitions. Nearby is a small, raised room with antennas in it, which we will also get to later. Further along, we come to a Compiler reading a terminal. Watch out for ambushes here, and read about some Pfhor news updates. Near here, in a hallway, is a switch that I have never found active. Does anyone know what it does?

A pile of Fighters tries to stop you form entering a small control room overlooking a courtyard. In here is, for no apparent reason, a S'pht ID card. This item appeared under that name in the Marathon 1 Shapes file, but was never used. Perhaps this item is similar to the Alien Energy Converter in M1: An item that allows us to do something important to the plot that is not implemented in the game world. The energy converter probably allowed us to use Pfhor panels on the scoutship; perhaps the ID card allows us to use S'pht machinery, like ancient terminals or Thoth's personality cells. After you pick this up, turn around to read about a Pfhor memorial supply tower, then head out through the big doors back to the start of the level.

This time, there is a new open door in the overhead paths that lets you onto a large elevator. This ride is made more interesting by the presence of souped-up Compilers in alcoves on the way down. Once you start engaging the Fighters at the bottom, the Compilers will shoot you in the back. It takes practice, but they can be killed easily by shooting them in their alcoves as the elevator descends.

At the end of this underground area, you find some more information on the Flick'ta. This might count as foreshadowing the biological inconsistencies seen in Marathon 2, emphasizing the fact that we have gone in time at least as far back as the events in that game. The terminal trails off in mid-thought, indicating that we killed the Pfhor who was writing it just a moment ago, a trick used quite often in MI.

The next area is one of some interest. A large circular pit is surrounded by Compilers. This appears to be the holding area referred to in the previous terminal. If you step forward through the door, some Flick'ta will fall out of the sky (!) and distract the Compilers. Once they are all dead, jump in the pool. There's some ammo hidden in the corners of the walls. Note that in the first terminal of this level, the map is inverted. If you go down the corridor to the south, you'll eventually arrive in a platform that constantly crushes you. Shooting a switch will get you out, and into a strange room where Compilers are trapped in devices to crush them. To see what this is all about, kill the nearby Fighter and read his terminals. The first terminal displays the entirety of the huge Pfhor installation. The second terminal displays the results of Science Officer St'ngr's (Isn't there a Bungie guy who goes by, or once went by, the handle Stinger?) investigations into the nature of the Compilers. Marathon Infinity occasionally displays hints of sadly underdeveloped subplots and barely-used story devices in terminals like these. Some terminals seem to follow the paths of individual Pfhor, as they do their job in the Empire and stumble across the mysteries of L'howon themselves. The idea that sometimes we interrupt Pfhor officers in the midst of actually writing these terminals helps to show that there is a lot more going on in the world than our combat.

On the other side of the pool is a secret. There are three elevators, each of which will kill you if it reaches the top. Take the north elevator and tab at the north side of the northeast corner until a door opens. This lets you access the antenna area seen earlier, and fight off some major Compilers to grab a pile of ammo. Go back down the same way you emerged, and take the south elevator to reach the end of the level. Durandal moves you across the river, and you're ready to take on the most notorious puzzle in Marathon.

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Replies:

Volunteers: Where Some Rarely GoMark Levin 11/17/01 2:15 p.m.
     Re: Volunteers: Where Some Rarely Goarchon 11/17/01 5:54 p.m.
           Re: Volunteers: Where Some Rarely GoDavid Curry 11/18/01 12:12 p.m.
                 Re: Volunteers: Where Some Rarely GoTru7h 11/18/01 4:25 p.m.
                       Re: Volunteers: Where Some Rarely GoJed Reinert 11/18/01 5:42 p.m.
                             Re: Volunteers: Where Some Rarely GoTru7h 11/19/01 11:57 a.m.
     Re: Volunteers: Where Some Rarely GoAlfred Mordeir 11/18/01 4:29 p.m.



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