Tour of Duty - Jaunt
Posted By: PerseusSpartacusDate: 5/27/18 6:15 p.m.

Last time on Tour of Duty, VikingBoyBilly led us through an engineering level with oddly-placed repair chips, got starved for a good shield recharge, and had to keep reminding himself that we are technically no longer in the Marathon universe. Mithrandir gave us a rather interesting mission at the end of that last level. Let's review what [?he?she?it] said for a moment:

"I have more information about that attempted transmission from the Galaxan ship. There doesn't seem to be any central computer control on the ship - each sector is controlled by a different AI, with distributed coordination. I have been in contact with the AI in control of the forward sensor arrays. Apparently, the damage to the reactor is serious enough that if it is not shut down very soon, it will destroy the ship, this post, and everything else within half a million kilometers.

Unfortunately, the AI that controls the reactor was destroyed in the pirates' attack, and there is no way to communicate with the Galaxans still in that section of the ship. Fr'kna (the sensor controlling AI) is willing to help you gain access to the ship, but you'll need to get through the outer deck, which still have both pirates and hostile Galaxans on it.

Prepare for more battle. If you find any Galaxan communication terminals, I will attempt to aid Fr'kna in locking in on your suit transponder and transmitting you a message."

- P.S. I do know that the original terminal used yellow text, I just thought that it stood out better in green.

And so we enter a new chapter...

Which clearly stole its image of the S'ph... I mean, Galaxans, from Craig Mullins' drawing of a Compiler. Plagiarism!

What's more odd, actually, are the textures seemingly used in this picture - they are definitely the Infinity versions of the Pfhor set (with white glowing parts photoshopped to look green), but as far as I know, this scenario was made for M1 and remade for M2, but not for Infinity. So, what gives?

Graphics griping aside, we find ourselves in a nook in the northeast corner of a dark room. Behind us is a door, and to our left is a panel that opens to reveal a switch. Moving out of our nook into the rest of the room triggers a Cyborg to teleport in - fighting him will also trigger a Trooper and some Fighters to enter the room as well. This Cyborg has tracking grenades, by the way, so be sure to keep moving while pouring fusion bolts into him. This might seem like a rough start, but fortunately, in a nook opposite the one we started in, there's a 3x Shield Charger!

After filling up with purple energy, we hit the switch that we started next to - this triggers a platform to rise up from a tiny plasma pool in the room, revealing an Assault Rifle, two Grenade clips, and some Rockets. Heading through the door in the northwest is an immediate dead-end. Heading through the door in the northeast takes us to an intersection between two dead-ends - the one to the left leads us to encounter some Drones, while the one to the right takes us to just beneath a ledge. The map indicates there are some BOBs near here, but we can't see them or hear them. We could rocket-jump up there, but I prefer not to.

There's only one other way to go - a door in the southwest, from which the Trooper came, loops us around to what appears to be a dead-end. Advance far enough into it, though, and the walls slowly come down to reveal we are on a ledge overlooking a room with a Terminal and a Compiler (a.k.a. a Galaxan, which Mithrandir said would still be hostile despite us helping their AI, because they can't tell the difference between us and the Pirates). The railing seems to prevent us from going down there, so we backtrack to see if we missed something.

As it turns out, when we got near the end of that last hallway, we also triggered a door to open in the starting room, on the southeast side. You would've noticed that door earlier if you had tabbed along that wall with the action key, in which case you would've heard a 'door locked' sound. So we pass through the newly-opened door, into the hallway, and--

Um, well this is embarrassing. It would seem that the very first polygon in that hallway is a Platform On Trigger, which unfortunately has no target polygon specified, for some strange reason - this causes Aleph One to bug out, and the game crashes. This same phenomenon was also encountered by our friend at the Devil in a Blue Dress spoiler guide.

This is particularly unfortunate considering that the last Pattern Buffer was quite a ways back on the previous level. Even more worrying is the prospect that this might stop you from completing the level at all - we haven't found any other way to go yet, after all.

Fortunately, there are in fact two ways to proceed; both involve a fairly simple grenade jump. The first method is to use a grenade to jump over the railing into the room with the Compiler and the Terminal - this is a fairly easy jump, and if you mess it up, you can always recharge back up to 3x shields. The second method is to head through the northeast door, take a right at the intersection, and use a grenade to jump up to the high ledge. Either method works fine, but they put you in very different parts of the level and create very different experiences.

While I initially favored the first method (grenade jump over railing into room with Compiler), I've found that the second method is actually more practical if you know what you're doing. However, you'd better have some clue as to what's ahead of you, because this method drops you right into some of the most dangerous parts of the level. The first danger you'll face is a [?assimilated_bob?simulacrum] who's pretty much waiting for you once you get up the ledge. Fortunately, he can be triggered beforehand with a pistol shot, and he'll run off a ways, allowing you to do the grenade jump and get ready to shoot him once he comes back.

On a side-note, I'm pretty sure we haven't had any explanation yet for what the A-BOBs are supposed to be in this scenario's lore.

The nice thing about having gone this direction is that you're relatively close to a Pattern Buffer and have the option to drop back down the way you came to get back to the 3x Shield Charger. However, we're not at the Pattern Buffer just yet - we need to fight our way there, and that's harder than it might seem at first. For starters, the enemies just a little ways ahead of here have strange activation patterns - in particular, two Compilers that seem like they ought to teleport in after you go past the first door usually end up triggering much later than they should, and they often end up behind you at the same time that a Trooper and some Fighters activate in front of you. If you don't anticipate this, it can be a very deadly sandwich indeed. My advice is to keep Shotguns at the ready so that you can try to quickly blast a way out of the trap.

Fight through this, and you'll find yourself opposite a door across some stairs. Through this door are some Fighters (very easy to dispatch with the Assault Rifle) and the Pattern Buffer that I mentioned earlier. Now that we have a chance to catch our breath, let's have a quick look at the map:

As you can see, we're currently over by the Pattern Buffer on the east side of the map (indicated by a red circle as usual), and we started out over in the room with the 3x Charger. From here we have five ways to go:

1) Back to the 3x Charger for a quick recharge, and then grenade jump to get back to here.
2) Down the stairs, which takes us further into the level.
3) Up the stairs, which takes us closer to the exit (not helpful at the moment; we'll come back to this later).
4) Across the stairs there is a teleporter that allows us to access several otherwise-inaccessible ledges, and head through a series of other teleporters to get to the panel we need to break to beat the level (not really recommended unless you know what you're doing and are attempting a speedrun).
5) Also across the stairs is a platform that raises us up to a ledge with a Trooper overlooking the room at the bottom of the stairs.

Down the stairs is a room with two Troopers and an invisible Compiler - these are surprisingly dangerous, and I think the best way to deal with them is to use the platform that I mentioned as option 5 to get up above them. Just be careful, there is another Trooper up there, so be ready to blast him as soon as you round the corner. Then, you can snipe the other enemies without fear.

We now proceed down the stairs. Unfortunately, there's a rather strange ambush here that will get you killed if you're not careful - in the southeast corner of the room is a platform that is supposed to drop from way up high to bring down a bunch of enemies shortly after you enter the room, but the enemies don't necessarily trigger before the platform drops, and if they don't, then they won't come down with the platform, and instead I guess just hover way up high until they are activated, at which point they fall down and then proceed to attack you. They trigger somewhat randomly from what I can tell, so your best bet is to have Shotguns ready, wait for them to arrive before you leave the room, and then blast them to kingdom come.

And here is where I have to break the fourth wall (so to speak) and make a comment about how the level is designed. This level superficially seems to be a Repair mission, whereby you have to go find a panel and break it. In reality, however, this is in fact an Exploration mission, with only two polygons marked as "Must Be Explored" - one of these polygons being the southern part of this exact room that we are in now. In fact, you don't even have to proceed to the next room or the rooms after it - you can find the other "Must Be Explored" polygon and get to the exit terminal without going beyond this point.

But of course, in regular play, you wouldn't know that, so we'll just ignore I said all that and continue onwards as though nothing suspicious happened.

We head west through a door and enter the first of three large, inter-connected square chambers that serve as the primary battleground of the level. In the first room is a shelf with a bunch of ammo on it (though for the life of me I can't tell why the Galaxans would have so much human ammo here). In all three rooms are enemies, both on ground level and up high in raised corridors, many of whom teleport in as you move through the area. The Assault Rifle seems to be the most useful weapon here - just make sure you take advantage of the extra space here and keep moving around the enemies as you pour lead and grenades into them, as you can't really lure them back to the safety of the door due to a zone border that stops them following you.

In the southwest of these rooms is another door, which opens up to reveal that same hallway that caused the game to crash earlier - walking it through now still causes a crash, by the way, so you'll still need to go back up the stairs and drop down the same way to get back to the 3x Charger, and do a grenade jump to get back. Also worth noting are two light columns on the southern side of these chambers - these have destructible panels on their sides which can be punched to deactivate the light. A neat little aesthetic feature in an otherwise fairly desolate map.

Once you've cleared out the chambers you can head through a door to the southeast and find a destructible panel. One would assume that this is meant to be the objective of the level, but of course, as I said earlier, this is actually an exploration level, so really this panel's purpose is to open a door that leads to a secret area (more on that later). More important, though, is what teleports in just in front of the panel: a Flamethrower! Yup, that's right ladies and gentlemen, you may now grill pirates by the dozen with your trusty TOZT-7 Backpack Napalm Unit!

This turns out to be a dead end, so now we must go up the main staircase (making a stop at the Pattern Buffer on the way up), so that we can-- OH GOODNESS ME!!

*loud explosions*
*a lone scream pierces the darkness*

As it turns out, a whole pile of A-Bobs are waiting for us at the top of the stairs. If you round the corner too fast, you're liable to find yourself within their famed three meter blast radius, and you may well end up being turned into a smoking puddle on the opposite wall. Fortunately, we did just save the game, so now, knowing what awaits us, we can just take a peek around the corner and fire a grenade at the closest A-Bobs, setting off a chain reaction that usually eliminates the whole group.

Past this hallway is a door, which leads to an open area reminiscent of the final section of Couch Fishing - a long, windy ledge around a large open pit (in this case full of that nasty Pfhor slime). On the ledge are a fair number of Compilers and Cyborgs complemented by a few Fighters. The tricky thing about this area is that fighting the enemies out on the ledge is almost suicidal - you need to hang back and be able to duck behind cover. Unfortunately, this door has awkward side elements that don't open all the way, leaving a very narrow gap to try and get through; it is extremely easy to become stuck in the doorway for a few moments, long enough for the Compilers to get some quick shots on you. So, the advised tactic here is to just hang back in the hallway where the A-Bobs were, get ready with a Fusion Pistol to blast the enemies as they come through the door, and run back around the corner as soon as the Major Compilers fire at you (there's not enough room here to dodge their guided shots).

Directly across the pit from where you enter, there's another door, which opens to reveal a drop down into a... "dark closet", I guess I'll call it, with some more slime in part of it. I would advise extreme caution before heading down there, as the only way to get back out of there is to swim through the slime to the right, loop around, and find your way to a submerged teleporter sunken into the floor in the middle of the main open pit. Now, dropping into the "closet" is the only way to get to the main secret on the level, but I must warn you, this is truly a very strange and hard-to-crack secret.

First, after entering the "closet", assuming that you actually destroyed the panel in the southeast part of the map, you should find an open door in the left wall of the closet, just above the slime. Running forward and sidestepping at the same time should give you the momentum you need to reach it without falling into the slime, but if you do fall in, you can swim back up to get in. From here, you must take a quick swim through some more slime, around a corner, to get to a ledge. Now, if you just played through the level normally, this would appear to be a dead-end; tabbing the wall would play a "door locked" noise, but that's it, and you'd probably be terribly, terribly confused as to why this area even exists.

Well, here's the trick (which I actually just discovered less than an hour before writing this section): remember that switch that you started the level next to? The one that raised up a small pedestal with an Assault Rifle and some ammo out of the slime in that same starting room?

As it turns out, that is actually a Tag Switch, and it also operates the secret door in this seeming dead-end. If you either don't press it at all, or flip it 'on' twice (on, off, and back on), then this door will be open, allowing you to access the super-secret room at the northernmost point of the map. Inside are some items: a 2x Shield Canister; a Shotgun; 5 AR Magazines; 2 Grenade Magazines; 6 Shotgun Shells; a Missile 2-Pack; and a Flamethrower Canister.

So, not the greatest haul, especially considering that the 2x Shield Canister is really just there to make sure you can survive the swim to a teleporter, but hey, it's so secret that just the achievement of having found it is something to be proud of! -- Unless, of course, you discovered it by reading this... Hmm, I kind of wish the Story Forums had a 'spoiler' option the same way that the Pfhorums do.

Now, once you're back on the ledge above the open slime pit, you can just follow the ledge all the way to a door in the northeast corner. By doing so, you'll invariably walk over the other polygon that's marked as "Must Be Explored", achieving victory and allowing you to exit the level... once you find the single terminal on the map, that is. Head out the door and you'll enter a long hallway that winds all the way around the eastern and southern sides of the map, with large windows looking out into space and smaller windows looking into rooms we already went through.

Eventually you'll pass through a large chamber with two Drones. Immediately after this is the final room, with a Compiler and the one and only Terminal on the level. Before we read the Terminal, let's wrap up a few minor things: first, a door in the southeast of this room lets you enter a tiny winding hall that takes you to a Rocket Launcher and another door, which opens back up into the big, long hallway that we just went through.

Second, another door in the northeast of the final room takes you to a small chamber with a Fighter, some debris and bones (waste disposal room?), and... a green Bob who isn't actually a Simulacrum! Of course you probably won't know that at first and, with the assumption that he'll blow up in your face, you'll likely just gun him down before realizing he is actually a red-blooded human. Interestingly, the Fighter started out facing away from this room - was he guarding the human? Were the Pirates holding this human hostage in a waste disposal room? I honestly don't know or care, but what I am interested in is that before entering the final room, you would've walked over a polygon that triggered a platform to open up, granting you access from here to the 3x Shield Charger back at the start -- hurray!

Now fully charged up and ready to go, let's head back to the final room and read the terminal (note - if you had grenade jumped to here at the start of the level, you could not read anything on this terminal until you completed the mission by finding the "Must Be Explored" polygons):

Okay, first off, the logon/logoff image is kind of unsettling for me: red energy going into some strange suspended ball with organic shapes around it, creating a visual impression that reminds me vaguely of the Overmind from StarCraft. Maybe it's just me, but something about this image scares me.

So it sounds like next time we're in for a serious switch hunt, in vacuum, and the Galaxans are still not friendly even though we're working with one of their AIs, supposedly just because he can't contact them to say "Hi, yes, please don't shoot the monkey wearing armor and carrying a whole arsenal on his back." Actually, the real reason is that none of the levels in Devil in a Blue Dress have level-specific Physics Models, and so the level makers couldn't change the behavior of the Compilers so that they would be friendly to you and hostile to the "Pirates". Oh well, at least they hid that fact well.

And that wraps it up for today. Next time on Tour of Duty, Martin will show us just how complicated the seemingly simple task of getting from point A to point B can end up being - I'm sure that even AIs in the third stage of Rampancy won't be envying him then.


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Pre-2004 Posts


Tour of Duty - JauntPerseusSpartacus 5/27/18 6:15 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - JauntGeneral-RADIX 5/27/18 8:18 p.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - JauntMartin 5/28/18 1:38 a.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty - JauntPerseusSpartacus 5/28/18 6:07 a.m.
                       Re: Tour of Duty - JauntMartin 5/28/18 10:27 a.m.
                             Re: Tour of Duty - JauntPerseusSpartacus 5/28/18 10:55 a.m.
                                   Re: Tour of Duty - JauntMartin 5/28/18 1:13 p.m.

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Pre-2004 Posts



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