Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...
Posted By: VikingBoyBillyDate: 4/8/14 5:47 a.m.

Last time on Tour of Duty we treaded through some sludge, read about pfhor demotions, found a s'pht card key and saw some s'pht subjects to st'ngr's experiments.

This map has a strange beginning. Sometimes you'll spawn outside the window at a height far above the sludge and fall into the green goop. There's a teleporter at the bottom that brings you to the room you're supposed to start in. Why bungie did this instead of placing all player spawns in the very large, empty starting room? I don't know. Moving on.

The music I have chosen for this map is gravity from the resurrection album, but due to the music not working the way I expect it to, we listen to Norach once before gravity starts playing. Then norach plays again and it keeps cycling between the two. Weird. Well, norach is a relaxing track =)

We start in the building on the other end of the slime pool that we couldn't get to before. We can see where we teleported from when we look out the window. The terminal:

So Durandal has activated Thoth and is planning on teleporting us to the citatel of antiquity when we finish here. Which is odd, because if you know how this plays out, the Citatel maps are not the next area in this timeline.

Durandal shows us that full map, so let's whip out the half we can explore:

Another big map, with some of the largest bodies of water we've seen so far. The mappers were really taking advantage of the increased 1024 polygon limit. But over the years of playing fanmade maps for fps games and trying my hand at making them myself, I have come to the conclusion that the size and complexity of maps is not congruent with their playability and enjoyment. To restate that briefly: bigger is not always better.

When I was asked to join the ToD crew for infinity, this map was my first choice to review. I'm sorry to say it's not for positive reasons.

I've been anticipating this since the beginning, and now that we're finally here, I'm going to inform you that this is the first map in the official marathon trilogy that was a game stopper for me. I didn't get stuck on Colony Ship for Sale, I didn't give up at acme station. Nay, it was this that had me stumped for hours. But we'll get to that when we get to that.

We run down the hall and see some pfhor in the room to the left of us. We gun them down as well as the one coming up the stairs at us and decide to go in and jump over the slime put to the terminal. We are ambushed by drones and there's seemingly no immediate way back up, but I want to read this terminal so badly:

It's quite interesting to see a Nar without his armor. His face looks like lotsa spaghetti. There's also the Narsh and Pfhorric languages to consider. In M1 we could only read messages left by humans and human AIs, with Durandal and Leela relaying to us things they learned from the pfhor and s'pht. Ever since M2, when we read s'pht terminals, we saw a "s'pht translator active" header, which more or less tells that the terminals are somehow being transcribed to english for us, either by our own cybernetic implants or the terminal itself understands we are earthlings and conjures characters that were not natively built into their systems (that's some crazy hi-tech computer technology, there. Human computers circa 2014 still rely on multiple fonts built in by human artists to display characters in different styles or glyphs from other languages). The same kind of translation occurs for all these pfhor terminals, obviously. I think we can conclude that, in the past 17 years, the s'pht had a hand in informing Durandal and augmenting our technology to translate these languages for us, meaning the s'pht have an understanding of pfhorric.

Yet the pfhor are having so much trouble transcribing a simple Narsh quote. Think back to the beginning of M2 and how oblivious battle group 5 were to everything that was revealed to us in s'pht terminals. If the pfhor conquered the s'pht roughly one thousand years ago and the ancient terminals have been there all this time, then why don't they know about the mythos involving S'bbuth, Jrro, K'lia, and the W'rkncacncter? The most simple excuse is they can't read in s'pht. After a thousand years of being dependent on s'pht cyborgs they still don't know their language? Does that make sense? They're just slaves and as we've seen, pfhor don't seem concerned for diplomacy with low-technology races.

Trying to understand a spaghetti-faced alien monster under interrogation is probably way different from translating ancient glyphs, though. Anyway, the word Drinniol is familiar. It first appeared in M1 on DEFEND THIS in this message from Leela:

The Hulk is an enormous and rather slow creature, but it is
incredibly strong. The science report indicated that it had
no body fat, and therefore had to be fed often to keep it
active. One crew member reported seeing one of these
creatures pointing to itself and mumbling "Drinniol" right
before it "picked Johnny up by the shirt and crushed him
against a pillar".

It appeared again in M2 in a terminal from Tycho:

The Jjaro were a mysterious race that
disappeared from our galaxy millions of
years ago, leaving behind military and
civilian outposts on the moons of many
habitable worlds. Most of the Pfhor's
technology was plundered from sites
abandoned by the Jjaro.

But the Pfhor found much that they were
unable to exploit, and they destroyed all
known traces of these technologies after a
foolhardy Pfhor scientist implanted a Jjaro
cybernetic junction into a Drinniol,
causing the most terrible and destructive
slave revolt in Pfhor history.

And here we see the word Drinniol again, identifying a creature that's strong enough to crush nebulons. If we were really overanalytical and keen on jumping to asuumptions, the first terminal would be enough for us to connect the dots, but these two supporting terminals only boost our confidence in making the conclusion that Drinniol is the native name for the Hulk Species. Facsinating. The story Tycho told us will later be explored in Eternal in a map called "The Incredible Hulk" where we get to meet the Drinniol cyborg in the slave revolt. It's amazing that one run-on sentance can result in such an ambitious fan creation.

We find Re'eer downstairs near a green platform which I'll assume he's using as his bed (even though RRR suggests they sleep standing up and plugged into walls). A button next to the terminal we read raises a temporary bridge. It's a strange one to cross because it's a staircase and the middle step raises first, so we have to swim over to the middle one and wait for the rest to raise in order to cross. Otherwise, the middle one will sink by the time we can cross the first step. The rest of the slimy pool isn't worth exploring. There's nothing but o2 consuming dead ends in those crevices.

Down the stairs and around the corner we'll find an opening to one of the deepest slime pits we ever saw, and if we stand around and shoot at the drones for too long, two of these guys will randomly teleport in:

HOLY S'PHT! If we had chosen to bypass Aie Mak Sicur (and not counting those dormant and outside wandering 'nauts in post naval trauma), this is our first encounter with Juggernauts in a casual map that's not at the endgame climax. If we have been attentive, we know these guys are the map's namesake. They blow me up and I have to restart from S'tngr's laboratory =(

I usually play on Major Damage or Total carnage, and I've now taken notice that on normal difficulty, there are no Juggernaut Majors. The editor (at least what they were using at the time) must have only had one spawn object for juggernauts that could only spawn majors on the higher difficulties. All other creatures have spawns for minors and majors, transforming randomly at each difficulty except Normal, so playing on normal is seeing the map creatures in an unaltered state.

Even with SSM missiles in tow, it's best to just run past them. The next area is confusing to navigate, let alone describe. It's a bunch of smaller corridors with oddly shaped staircases. I look for a pattern buffer, only to find the shield charger first. This is the first time I decide to forego randomly bumbling about to look up the pattern buffer's location on the ToD map.

Back at the shield charger is a unusual phenomenon unique to this map.

That's not what that's supposed to look like... uh.. wait. Yes it is? That's weird. Ingame I saw a hard orange block texture in place of where the slime is, but the slime is rendered correctly in a screenshot. Huh? Well, anyway, Let me turn the graphics settings to software mode just so I can see it right.

kinda forgot the original had no liquid translucency, but that's how it's supposed to look. This slime defies gravity and doesn't flood into the area we're in... somehow. Jjaro technology? We can walk into it and swim around, but if we surface we will be greeted by another Juggernaut!

Here's one of those confusing parts beginners complain about. It's similar to Kill Your Television where you have to do some weird vertical underwater navigation. That kind of stuff never bothered me (I guess those are players who were introduced to swimming in these games and not used to it from quake and duke nukem already), but I have to talk about it.

There's a surface here with some buttons and a terminal that's just barely too high for us to get up to, but just low enough to tease us into thinking we can if we keep trying. It's a cruel tease, especially for the new player. What we're supposed to do is dive under and find an opening under the dam to swim up from. It's another one of those weird differing heights of liquid on the inside from the outside, which doesn't really make sense since the dam water outside should be just as high or higher. But whatever, we're in.

There is a pattern buffer and a terminal:


Here we see two buttons. They both have an embedded platform in the wall next to them that rises to reveal another button (why?), and these rise and lower the middle platforms when you push them. One appears to do nothing and I have a huge rant for that later. The other button will open a door with a pfhor fighter waiting for us.

The door will close if we don't unpress the button while the middle platform is delayed at the top. Take note of this for later. Inside we run into a terminal - OH S'PHT WILD PFHOR AMBUSH FROM THE ALCOVE ABOVE! Ahem, sorry for that interruption:

So we need to smash some circuits. Interesting that Durandal insinuates the commender is probably that common pfhor fighter we killed by the entrance. I would think a commander unit would be something more special, or a hunter at the very least. Meh. Pretty crazy he was sent here for punishment because he was a threat to society. I thought the commanders were just sent here for being lazy and stupid, but I get the vibe this guy was neither, but all sorts of crazy. It almost seems as if Durandal admires him for not being a complete idiot, which isn't saying much when we're talking about battle group five, but it works as a supplement to the much less informative terminal earlier explaining that he locked us out. Maybe he and Durandal both think they are The God Of The Universe.

A new biology lesson: pfhor have chitin.

From here there are a couple of places we can jump down. I'll pass up the narrow corridor of slime I didn't mention on the way here and go down where the game expects us to by the terminal. A drone lies in wait behind one of the pillars and some ammo teleports in the corner by an odd spiral staircase. At the top of this staircase we'll be at the elevated area where the orange fighter ambushed us, so at least we know we can get back up here easily. What is the use of these elevated areas that you can only travel one way through for the pfhor, anyway? Ambush spots in case an AI-directed human cyborg ever happened to pop in? I guess that's what they were thinking at the time (15 years ago). The only reason they're here is to capture Durandal and the bobs, anyway. It seems smarter than a button-activated bridge that raises and lowers the middle section earlier than the rest, anyway.

So we go back the other way and SWEET MOTHER OF S'BBUTH, A drone rises out of the slime pool to catch us off guard and alert his buddies. This looks like where we'd end up if we jumped down into the slime pit from above earlier.

Going up the stairs here, we'll see a certain door that will be a big part of my upcoming rant. It doesn't open. We'll see another raised platform and if we jump to it we'll be supplied with some ammo. Jumping down again, we go up another staircase into the "dam" that is the core of the map, and guess who's waiting for us here:

Good thing he's still waiting there stupidly for me to come back to that ledge and let myself get killed. If these guys were competent, he might *gasp* turn around! (I'm sure this is a different story on Total Carnage)

Anyway, I walk out and am met by fire from other juggernauts. By my count, there's three of them. Dang floaty things what kicks our arses. How am I gonna sneak past without being forced to kill them? I only have so many SSM missiles and I apparently forgot to grab a Zeuss when I used level select a few maps back.

We'll just make a mad dash for it and climb up the stairs to the other side of the game and findÉ fusion batteries. Thanks, game. If we run to the other side of the dam, we'll find ourselves in a section of confusing corridors we've already been before. We explored everything, so where is there to go now? Well, actually, there's some places I haven't bothered to explore before, like this weird room that's directly adjacent to a staircase, but the ceiling makes an opening that just barely connects the two rooms. There's also a couple of areas with ammo that I missed.

Okay, now it's rant time. Remember that button?

And that door?

Well, this is a weird puzzle that's reminiscent of Colony ship for sale, only to me, it's worse. What you're supposed to do is press the button, then press it again when the... uh... I guess I'll call it a tumbler, reaches the peak, like so:

The door in the dam moves in unison with the tumbler:

The idea might not sound so aggravating on paper. It's just one button, and the timing to release it isn't a guessign game. But what makes this an atrocious decision of game design, and the difference between this and colony ship, is that in colony ship, you can see the platforms you're moving. Not here. It gets abstracted by that weird tumbler. The idea is you're supposed to stop that other door in the same area and guess you're supposed to do that, too. But if you were like me, you didn't think to even push that other button again and the door locked behind you as you went in. You assume the map is supposed to be like this without even guessing that you can stop the door when it's open.

As for the other door, it's far out of sight from the button that activates it, leaving the first time player wandering and confused for hours not knowing what to do. This level even has juggernauts, so you'd think you're supposed to kill them to proceed. Nope. That's just a waste of time. Jason Jones apologized for Colony Ship in the Bungie terminal in M2 and then they let this map get greenlighted for infinity? This and Where Some Rarely go is even among the first maps that were made! There are actually some fans who took this as a good idea and implemented more button puzzles like this in their scenarios. It's a good thing some of these scenarios are covered in the spoiler guide, but for those that aren't, it was more boring roadblocks.

There isn't even a passing hint to tell you how that door opens. Couldn't durandal have mentioned that one of the buttons near that pfhor terminal opened the door to the panels we need to smash? Oh pfhor'f'sake, I hate this map.

Anyway, the door is open, and I already killed the pfhor inside before taking that screenshot. I ranted about that elevated alcove before that only served as an ambush point for that projectile fighter, but the shape of this room has really weird geometry and doesn't have any point whatsoever. Where the architects smoking some heavy pfhorric drugs?

At least there's a pattern buffer. We eventually find ourselves back where we teleported out of Where Some Rarely Go (the door to the rest of WSRG is inactive) and Durandal has this to say:

Psychotronic profile? I swear whoever wrote this just made that up on the spot. I'm curious about Durandal's psychotronic profile, though. Is that what we were reading in Where Monsters are In Dreams, as Hokuto suggests? Nah, I bet something monikered "psychotronic profile" is more akin to Durandal gloating about his big ego. Well, time to smash.

If we go back down the stairs and down the last corridor we haven't been through, we'll be met by a juggernaut shooting at us through the window by the panels we're supposed to smash. Great. This part is always annoying.

There's a shield recharger and a button revealing an o2 recharger, too. Geez, can't this juggernaut leave us alone? I guess I have to use my last SSM missiles on him. Oh no, it's not enough, but hey, I somehow got a zeuss fusion pistol from somewhere! *PEW!* Beeeep beep beep... BANG!

Another thing players complain about is it isn't too obvious that these textures that the o2 charger is wedged between are the panels we're meant to smash. They kinda just look like generic wall texture, so I can see where they're coming from. Okay, smash smash. This deactivates the chargers, by the way, so I hope you used them. Back to Durandal:

Well well, whaddya know. Those crazy compilers from Where Some Rarely Go were on our side all along, but it appears the pfhor are bringing more of their controller cyborgs to turn the s'pht into their obedient (if not loyal) servants. And for the observant players who are feeling a heavy dose of deja vu- yes, that's a model of Waterloo Waterpark, and Durandal is sending us on the same mission to install two uplink chips.

Alas, the road to success is paved with failed attempts. Since events are turning out to repeat themselves and Thoth does not appear cooperative, we'll have to take a trip into dreamland to get our bearings (or rather, just get confused some more) and try again.

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Pre-2004 Posts


Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...VikingBoyBilly 4/8/14 5:47 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...VikingBoyBilly 4/8/14 6:25 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...PerseusSpartacus 4/8/14 8:24 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...Martin 4/8/14 11:59 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...PerseusSpartacus 4/8/14 5:29 p.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...Martin 4/8/14 8:24 p.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...VikingBoyBilly 4/9/14 7:04 a.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...Martin 4/9/14 9:55 a.m.
                       Re: Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...PerseusSpartacus 4/9/14 11:52 a.m.
                             Re: Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...VikingBoyBilly 4/9/14 1:41 p.m.
                                   Re: Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...Martin 4/9/14 1:53 p.m.
                                         Re: Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...VikingBoyBilly 4/9/14 3:14 p.m.
                                               Re: Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...Martin 4/9/14 4:13 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: Thing What Kicks...Hokuto 4/9/14 12:09 a.m.

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Pre-2004 Posts



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