I will play every level in Marathon 2, and comment on them.

For topics about the story, help in a certain level, game discussion, or finding/discussing content.

Re: I will play every level in Marathon 2, and comment on th

Post Jan 19th '19, 21:40

Level 14: If I Had a Rocket Launcher, I'd Make Somebody Pay.

Will that be cash or credit?

In fact, it's neither. It's all in carnage, total carnage! This level has no shortage of it.

As soon as you arrive on Boomer, two 3X rechargers, and a pattern buffer. Tell me that's not foreshadowing! And right after the terminal, swarms of Troopers, and you are greeted to the assimilated BoBs. Get those shotguns out! That is one nice thing, you do get a nice batch of shotgun ammo at the first door, as well as a 2X and 3X canister, and trust me, you will be needing most likely both of them at some point. When you get to the hunters, hopefully you have some fusion batteries, that's a great weapon to use on them if you can. Their hard deaths, and the assimilated BoBs can be a great source of damage on them if done enough times. You do have one MOAH to deal with, but it can be weakened some if the scenario above is successfully done, but it is challenging to do.

When you get to the large room with the SSM, lots of bad guys to fight but there is a decent space to move around, still very much a challenge though. Taking a dive and then going up to that high corner ledge can help give you some cover. It's too bad that the static shield that would be there is only available during co-op. That would be a HUGE help for all the carnage here. Once you get the launcher, it gives you plenty of missiles, and a 3X canister. I would try to save them though because the next level will be good for it to have. Though I know here some ammo does continue to respawn, but I never really took notice of how much.

So this is the first level of Tycho terminals, pretty cool reads.

The M2 Pfhor environment is also first seen here. Opinions vary on it, but in all seriousness, I like it. I still think it looks good for an alien environment. A couple of textures from M1 do carry over into here, but considering different areas of this place were involved with M1, I think it makes sense for it. Some people love to use the term "candyland", but I heavily disagree. It's not quite as intimidating as the Pfhor textures from M1 (and those are fantastic), but I don't think it's meant to be. The Infinity Pfhor set on the other hand just looks like the result of someone saying "I got it, let's take the same M2 textures (most of them anyway), change their color to about the same as others, and throw some patterns over them. That'll make a great set!" Well you failed miserably.

But I digress. This is a pretty straightforward and VERY challenging level. Definitely among the hardest of M2 and really puts you to work!

Level Design: 4 out of 5.

Aesthetics: 3 out of 5.

Combat: 5 out of 5.
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If You Are Always Dying in The Game, You Are Not a Bad Player, You Are Learning.
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Sharkie Lino
Connecticut

Post Jan 20th '19, 10:42

You were way too kind to Curiouser and Curiouser. Otherwise, good reads and great work, looking forward to the rest!
doctorbenjiphd

Post Jan 21st '19, 03:01

Level 15: Sorry Don't Make It So.

Ah nostalgia, you return to the area you were first at for the Pfhor environment of M1. If you remember that level, you'll pretty much know where to go for the first part of the level, with some differences. Some rooms now flooded out, for example, and obviously no Marathon outside the windows. If you saved missiles from the last level, this is a good place to use them, you'll be greeted by a batch and now introduced to the Enforcers. They are quite brutal on TC.

There's really no exact mission for this level other than find the terminal. In fact, compared to M1, you start at the other end of the hallway this time. So if you wanted, you can skip most of the level by taking out what's by you, and in the room behind the second door, then hit the switch and take that elevator up to the teleporter. In some cases that might not be a bad idea because there is very little ammo on this level, and you'll use up a lot of it if you go along the entire hallway. However, you'll also miss a room with a 3X recharger and a pattern buffer. The latter is in a now-flooded area but the liquid level is right up to the ledge and getting out is a cinch. And said room is only about halfway down so if you're low, and don't want to find yourself starting back ( [MGrin] ), it's good to stop by there. And more taunting Tycho terminals.

But hey, if you feel like exploring and shooting, then by all means, go along the whole level. Just be prepared to fall back to your dual pistols, or the alien weapon, if you choose to use it. I usually don't because you never know when it will run out.

There's actually two ways you can get to the second half of the level, either by the teleporter, or going to the last door and head up the stairs and jump in the plasma. The latter will give you the flamethrower and some canisters, but you'll obviously take damage from the liquid. For here, you'll be fighting a bunch of enforcers, fighters, and cyborgs, and there's a lot of them in each room. But if you can work the cyborgs correctly, you can really do the door trick here to help take a lot of them out. Aside from that though, there's nothing heavily special about the level aside from the nostalgia aspect. Durandal tells you, in his worsening condition, that you weren't even supposed to end up in this abandoned location (that probably explains the lack of ammo).

So overall it's just another "find the terminal, and just eliminate whoever's in your way kind of level.


Level Design: 2.5 out of 5.

Aesthetics: 2 out of 5.

Combat: 4 out of 5.
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Sharkie Lino
Connecticut

Post Jan 21st '19, 03:32

Level 16: For Carnage, Apply Within.

This level is absolutely ridiculous. Having a lot of combat on a level is one thing, but when you do it in a level designed like this? It is NOT gonna be fun. Sometimes you start in that room with the trap, other times you are in a smaller room on the side. That smaller room is better, because at least you have a door for some protection, and a little ammo.

If you thought taking out those enforces was the hard part, then you're in for a surprise. In the next area, there will be a TON of S'phts. After you go through the door, the room to the left will have some ammo and a 2X canister. After that, you'll HAVE to go through the other door, and hop on those green platforms surrounded by the liquid and fight along there with your fusion pistol. If you try to go through the hallway, you will not make it, trust me.

At the other end of this platform area is a room with another Tycho terminal, but also a 2X recharger, a pattern buffer and some ammo. USE THEM. Some S'phts may be following you to this area (many teleport in as you're walking along those green platforms), but taking care of them with the fusion pistol shouldn't be too difficult. But even with that, when you think you're done, you're not at all. As you walk along more, more will teleport in, and if you manage to get hit, you're probably gonna be taking a dive. Hope you're good at getting out.

There is one area in the liquid where you can get some pretty nice ammo, but you'll obviously be taking damage doing that. Overall you'll be making a lot of trips to the 2X recharger before you head back to the hallway. Once you go up the stairs, more S'phts and Enforcers will be teleporting in. By this point, you're probably done with all this excessiveness, and just want to move on. I sure was. Once you make it to the terminal, you do get a nice batch of ammo and 2X canisters.

Overall, I do not like this level. I don't know WHO thought it was a good idea to have the number of monsters be to the point where, unless you go to a side area right away, you're pretty much dead. Yeah I get it, this is from Battle Group Seven, but the set up of it in the main area, especially to the point where you can move is again, ridiculous.

Level Design: 1 out of 5.

Aesthetics: 2.5 out of 5.

Combat: 3 out of 5. It's there, but it's insanely excessive for a level of this size.
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Sharkie Lino
Connecticut

Post Jan 21st '19, 04:26

I never liked For Carnage, Apply Within, but I've recently begun to appreciate it. One tactic that sometimes helps me to deal with the mobs of S'pht is to jump onto that piston thing, they don't tend to want to crowd you up there.
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ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Jan 21st '19, 18:29

I enjoy reading this thread. It is a pleasure to rediscover the levels by description. I think For Carnage, Apply Within is a good example why some players dislike the Marathon 2 alien texture set thanks to its level design.
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RadBurn

Post Jan 21st '19, 20:17

ravenshining wrote:I never liked For Carnage, Apply Within, but I've recently begun to appreciate it. One tactic that sometimes helps me to deal with the mobs of S'pht is to jump onto that piston thing, they don't tend to want to crowd you up there.


I had thought about that, but I just preferred solid ground and having a 2X recharger nearby.

RadBurn wrote:I enjoy reading this thread. It is a pleasure to rediscover the levels by description. I think For Carnage, Apply Within is a good example why some players dislike the Marathon 2 alien texture set thanks to its level design.


I'm glad you're enjoying this!

I don't think a different texture set would have improved this level.
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If You Are Always Dying in The Game, You Are Not a Bad Player, You Are Learning.
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Sharkie Lino
Connecticut

Post Jan 22nd '19, 00:31

Fog actually does wonders for the M2 Pfhor texture set ;-) But you'd have to be playing with a modified map like mine for that to work.
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ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Jan 23rd '19, 03:40

Level 17: Begging For Mercy Makes Me Angry.

Time to destroy Durandal's core logic center. He's not gonna end up like Leela. The mission here on this level is pretty straightforward, but it is quite challenging. If you know how this level works, your best bet is to try to get to the one already-open door as soon as you can, and clear that area out as it holds a 3X recharger, and the central area you start it has a lot of monsters waiting to transport in. After you get your shields, clearing out the central are is much easier, and you also get a decent amount of ammo within it, you sure will be using a lot of it. But, if you know what happens after this level, you'll know it won't really matter.

The rest of the level is pretty simple. Each room you go in, clear it out, hit the switch to open the next set of wires, and head to the next room that has opened. Each one (except a few) has a different challenge to each switch. It's best to recharge and save after (or before in a couple of rooms) each switch. Especially since the 3X will be disabled after the 4th wire set, and the first patter buffer after.... I think the 5th wire set? Luckily you do get a room with a 2X after the 4th wire, and another pattern buffer not long after. It's better than nothing.

One thing I do like is in the last room, it is set up similar to the second room, but this time, all the monsters transport in in all 3 sections at once, instead of each one you step over to. That's a pretty cool way to make the second room of this design have an extra challenge. This level is good in terms of combat, but it's kind of repetitive. It begins to feel that way maybe after the 4th wire or so. They do try to make some of the rooms set up differently, but the overall point is the same.

Fun fact, if you destroy the last wire while not standing in the inner ring, you'll get to see the whole level go completely dark. Pretty effective I think.

Level Design: 3 out of 5.

Aesthetics: 2 out of 5.

Combat: 4 out of 5.
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Sharkie Lino
Connecticut

Post Jan 23rd '19, 04:10

Level 18:The Big House.

Very little to say here. Captured, and stripped of everything, with next to no shield. Just stand in the corner by the door, and wait for the transporting BoBs to eventually take care of what they have to.

*No Rating.*


Level 19: This Side Toward Enemy.

Welp, it's back to the basics. As soon as you dive in, you're given the pistol, and a few clips. The extra challenge of this level though is that you have F'licktas, Troopers, and some S'phts to fight. I guess Bungie figured even though you're back to Square 1 in some ways, you have an idea of how the game works by this point. You do get a 1X recharger near your spawn point, but of course a F'lickta is waiting near there. But at least you can get him up the stairs so you can at least fire at him.

At the Terminal, you're introduced to Robert Blake. It's been a month since your capture, and it's time for the Eleventh Clan again. No S'pht terminal reading this time. Now it's time to reactivate Thoth, the dormant S'pht AI. Doing it section by section.

Kind of a confusing design at first, but at the same time, at least it's easy to not get lost here. If you can't progress much one way, head back to bring some stairs up, and fight more F'licktas. Once you make it up both stairs though, they definitely test the skills you learned as this is where the Troopers and S'phts are. Even with dual pistols, it's a challenge for sure. I think I died once, and almost the second time! The two water rooms you go through in this area in terms of where to go will be a challenge at first for sure. Once you progress and get to the two Thoth sections. It's best to lower the water and then wait, as the F'licktas and S'phts will start fighting each other, making it easier for you to walk through, and get some extra ammo, as well as your fusion pistol back. Same thing with the second one. Lower the water, and let them fight it out, and obviously be sure to activate the two sites.

Not that bad of a level overall for kind of starting over. But like said before, it does try to have you show what you have learned in terms of combat in this point of the game.

Level Design: 2.5 out of 5.

Aesthetics: 2 out of 5. Lighting is pretty bland here.

Combat: 2.5 out of 5.
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Sharkie Lino
Connecticut

Post Jan 23rd '19, 05:40

Sharkie Lino wrote:Level 17: Begging For Mercy Makes Me Angry.
...
Fun fact, if you destroy the last wire while not standing in the inner ring, you'll get to see the whole level go completely dark. Pretty effective I think.


I always wished I could take Tycho up on his offer here, and thus created a little ritual of hitting the last panel with the Alien Weapon from far away, giving me time to run through the level and revisit Tycho's terminal. You only get teleported if you stay still, so it's actually quite easy to go explore the level in its darkness if you get a head start like that.
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ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Jan 23rd '19, 21:25

ravenshining wrote:I always wished I could take Tycho up on his offer here, and thus created a little ritual of hitting the last panel with the Alien Weapon from far away, giving me time to run through the level and revisit Tycho's terminal. You only get teleported if you stay still, so it's actually quite easy to go explore the level in its darkness if you get a head start like that.


You can do the same thing from the outer ring, so I'm not sure what the benefit of that is.
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Sharkie Lino
Connecticut

Post Jan 23rd '19, 22:09

It’s interesting to read detailed thoughts on a lot of these levels. Objectively I agree that “The Hard Stuff Rules…” has to be the best level in the game, and it’s not even close. It’s been built up for so much of the game and it’s a rare case of a game level actually delivering on the hype; it genuinely feels like a massive, ancient alien tower.

Oddly, though, it’s not actually my favourite level in the game. My favourite, which I’ve mentioned several times elsewhere, is coming up in (I believe) the next three levels. This whole segment of the game is probably my favourite, actually. It might not be so exciting from a combat standpoint, but the atmosphere is second to none, and in a lot of cases, it feels like you’re wandering about in a genuinely alien environment, and that’s really what drew me to Marathon in the first place. Well, that plus the ability to design my own levels.

This is also sort of the turning point of the game. It’s like the part in Final Fantasy VI where you suffered a cataclysmic setback and have to put your party back together, except in this case the party is your arsenal. (That’s also my favourite part of Final Fantasy VI, incidentally; beyond the atmosphere I also like the more nonlinear gameplay.) Oddly, none of the post-“Begging” levels seem to be anywhere near as challenging as the stretch on Boomer, but that’s probably fine. (The general consensus seems to be that “Begging” is the hardest level in the game, at least to vid – I’m curious if you’d agree.)

I don’t know that I entirely agree with all your takes on the levels, but I haven’t played some of them on TC before (though I did play the entire game on MD several years back), and I haven’t played some of them in years, either. I still sporadically go through and try to vid various levels I haven’t gotten yet, but my skill level isn’t up to the point where I can get the Boomer levels yet. Someday.

(I also really like ∞’s take on the Pfhor textures, though I agree that they could’ve used more colour, which is why… well, just look at Chronicles. It’s basically a mix between M2 and M∞’s takes on the Pfhor textures, with some Rubicon and Tempus thrown in for good measure. And four different colours of goo, just because it was possible. We’d already seen two different flavours between M1 and M2/∞; why not more?)

Anyway I’ve been enjoying reading this and am looking forward to the rest.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Jan 23rd '19, 22:46

I'm actually not sure what my favorite level is on M2. Clearly I enjoy some more than others, but to say which one I like the most? That's a tough call.

I don't personally think Begging is the hardest level. It's still challenging, but I still say that goes to If I Had a Rocket Launcher.

To be fair, I'm not a fan of Infinity's textures in general (except for Jjaro, since it didn't exist in M2 and there's not much to compare it to). But at least the Pfhor set kept the good-looking rechargers. The other rechargers on all the other non-Jjaro sets were very bland and boring compared to M2.
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Sharkie Lino
Connecticut

Post Jan 23rd '19, 23:10

It’s possible that “Begging” is the hardest to vid, specifically, because on a vid-start of that level, you only get the pistol, 3 clips, and whatever alien weapons you’re able to scavenge from defeated Enforcers; but that a few other levels are harder during a regular playthrough. (“Rocket Launcher” gives you a pretty substantial arsenal from the get-go.) I do remember having an insanely difficult time getting through that opening gauntlet with all those Troopers, Hunters, and Enforcers when I last played “Begging” on MD, though.

One thing I enjoy about M2 that some of the third-party scenarios dropped is that each level only has a handful of enemy types. In fact, there might not be more than three per level, though I don’t recall for sure. I feel that this helps give each M2 level a bit more of a unique flavour, but a lot of scenarios didn’t follow Bungie’s example in this respect. Some of the Chronicles levels do use a large variety of enemy types, but several of them do restrict themselves to three or four.

There are some aspects of M2’s textures that I enjoy more, but there are other aspects where I enjoy M∞’s more. I do tend to prefer the M2 rechargers. M∞’s textures feel more… realistic than M2’s, if that makes sense. I feel less conscious that I’m playing a game with ∞’s textures. However, M2’s textures are more vibrant and colourful, and each set and, for that matter, each texture has more of a unique identity.
Last edited by The Man on Jan 23rd '19, 23:40, edited 1 time in total.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Jan 23rd '19, 23:35

Level 20: God Will Sort The Dead...

I guess they opened The Ark of the Covenant or something.

Simple mission. Blake says that the alienated BoBs need to be eliminated.

Originally, I had a feeling that I was going to be bored playing this level because it's mostly just getting rid of Assimilated BoBs. But upon playing this level with fully standard physics again, I was pretty inaccurate to think that. While a hit from them is quite damaging, it's extremely fun when you can knock one into another, especially when you can get them behind a door. Pretty awesome chain reaction. Some will be knocked into the real BoBs but that's incredibly unavoidable, and it doesn't count against you (meaning the real BoBs wont turn on you because of too many deaths from them).

So you're just exploring along this level and simply looking for more of them to take out, and all areas pretty much lead back to your starting point and the terminal, so it's not hard to navigate. There's a couple of rooms where you have to deal with Troopers and Hunters again, but if you can knock some Assimilated BoBS into them, it can make your job much easier. There are a couple of secret switches that activate some crusher platforms in a large room, and I always activate one of them, since that one contains the area where the troopers and hunters will teleport into, clears out the room much faster, and a good ammo saver. Probably the hardest room is that lower one with the pillars. Even now I have not memorized who is real and who's not, and more Troopers and Hunters to join you down there.

This level puts some decent use to lighting in some areas for some very good differential shading. I also really like the use of red strips on the walls. If there is one problem I have with this level, it's the sounds. In some parts of the level you hear water, so you may think there's some nearby. But since this level has the lava texture set, that's impossible (at the time this was made). It seems someone forgot to check "Is On Platform" when assigning the sounds to the platforms. Some may argue that's how they let you know there's a platform there, but that's a very bad way to go about it. And considering this is the only level that does such, I strongly doubt that was its intention.

But whatever, it's something that just rubs me the wrong way. I actually enjoy this level and have a lot of fun when trying to knock these Assimilated BoBs into each other, and I don't feel it's too overdone as only three levels have them to deal with.

Level Design: 3 out of 5.

Aesthetics: 4 out of 5.

Combat: 3 out of 5.
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Sharkie Lino
Connecticut

Post Jan 26th '19, 20:18

Level 21: My Own Private Thermopylae.

Back to Thoth activation. And this is actually my favorite level for that. While the way I usually play this level keeps you to your dual pistols most of the time, I have found them to be more effective than I originally thought, and the fighting I had to do really wasn't all that difficult, just a little time consuming.

Your starting point is sort of a "choose your path" kind of beginning. I have found the best way is to use the left stairway first since that's your terminal and pattern buffer. You also have a secret with a missile launcher if you can get those platforms set up correctly, though I tended to just save it and use it later. Then, I would just go to the right stairway and ignore the middle one for now (you can still raise it up of course), since this particular area is only accessible by the stairway, and given how the rest of the level is set up, I feel this is the way you are intended to go.

Anyway, through the door you'll have your usual Troopers and Cyborgs here. The troopers really aren't that hard to stun-lock with dual pistols and if you can get them to go berserk, they can usually help with the others you would need to fight. The crushing platforms here I always found to be pretty cool, especially when you go up and it looks like you are now on top of them. Really cool whoever took the time to design that, I've always liked it. As you fight the same group of Pfhor here, the middle light column holds a secret terminal. Looks like Durandal hasn't been fully gone all along, and even mentions us to be weary about Thoth. Interesting.

Past here is one activation site. Simple enough by now. The large pool with the waterfall I also found really cool the first time I played this. Just jump in and swim to the far area. When you come to the area with the BoBs, they are a lot more effective here than I remember. If you just shoot your dual pistols at the same group that they are shooting at, they go down pretty quickly, and not one of those BoBs got taken out, certainly a rarity for TC play. Past there is where you really gotta show how good your running is as you jump across water areas to get to the second activation site, as well as fight off more troopers and a cyborg. The most challenging part of this level, if I'm honest. At least the site gives you a 1X recharger.

Eventually as you go along, you get to the room that has the assault rifle waiting for you. Of course I have learned to take out any visible troopers and cyborgs first (this is where I used a couple of missiles), and head back to the starting point (middle stairway) to keep your shields up because going in that room will bring a couple more, and some more assimilated BoBs for your explosive pleasure. Even though I had the AR, I stayed with the pistols because I wanted to save up for it. And since assimilated BoBs can't fire, taking out one behind a closed door is easy, and will take care of most of the rest, if not all of it. Then back to the terminal.

So yeah, I still enjoy this level even with the lower-tiered weapon being used a lot. It is good practice for it, and getting around is pretty straightforward. Just the AR room area is where I went back a lot for shields, but thankfully it's close by, and doesn't take long. Might be a good idea to make sure your Oxygen is all up, you'll need it for the next level.


Level Design: 3.5 out of 5.

Aesthetics: 3 out of 5.

Combat: 3 out of 5.
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Sharkie Lino
Connecticut

Post Jan 26th '19, 21:13

Level 22: Kill Your Television.

The final activation site. This level is definitely the least favorite of those for me. Your starting area isn't bad. A nice large area, a few Cyborgs to get rid of, and lots of space to dodge their grenades, also find the darkened door and hit the switch. Then after that, find the door under water, read the recorded message Blake terminal, sounding pretty urgent, and then swim all the way up, and you're going to be doing this last step, a lot.....

Once you get to the top, nothing but a 1 WU wide high ledge, and a bunch of cyborgs and a couple of troopers to transport in, and fire at you. You pretty much have to stand at both edges of the ledge to even have a chance of dodging those cyborg's grenades, and even then, it's a hassle; if you fall off, you gotta keep swimming up again. Lovely. But at LEAST the designers weren't pricks and had all cyborgs have non-guided grenades. Otherwise this commentary would probably be more negative and shorter.

You should definitely go to the middle area because you get a bunch of fusion batteries, two 2X canisters, as well as an Oxygen recharger (use it) and a pattern buffer (as long as you hit that switch before), and as far as I know... it's the only one on this level, so if you need to use it again, you're going to be doing a LOT of backtracking. Of course, the only thing you can do from this area, is drop down, and swim up again. If anything, THIS level should have been titled "What Goes Up, Must Come Down."

Anyway, as you go along, you find another water area to drop in to. It has a Thoth terminal, which the jumbled message clearly shows partial activation.

Unless you have played this map multiple times, it's an absolute maze down here, and the F'lickta don't help much. Some areas will appear above water in the auto map, only to find out it's way too high to reach. Okay, you get the idea, I don't want to make this post too long.

The "cross" area that you can swim up to is usually the best one to go. More cyborgs, but you have open area again, and the water cross-way makes it harder for their grenades to bounce to you. And when you get up to the ledge, it's the same thing, but at least if you fall off, it's not far, and it's quick to get back up. This is probably the best area of this whole level. Once you leave it, same thing, if you fall off, take another dive, and find where to swim back up. Activation site near here, you know the drill.

The last site, once you find it, Pretty much the same thing, unless you find the submerged switch and switch the water levels right away, that way you can easily step off the ledge and swim back if you have to. But by this point, I'd probably just ignore the cyborgs and dive in to get this level over with. Activate the final site, charge up in the water area, and the find the Thoth terminal, give it a read, and then get out of here.

Really, this level is good aesthetically, but aside from that, it's terrible. All the narrow ledges which makes dodging hard, long ways back up if you fall off, and underwater areas that are hard to navigate (Confound Delivery anyone?) is something I do not like at all.

Level Design: 2 out of 5. Those two large open areas it at least has. It would be lower without them.

Aesthetics: 4 out of 5.

Combat: 2.5 out of 5.
Last edited by Sharkie Lino on Jan 27th '19, 02:13, edited 1 time in total.
Marathon Player Since 1995.

If You Are Always Dying in The Game, You Are Not a Bad Player, You Are Learning.
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Sharkie Lino
Connecticut

Post Jan 27th '19, 00:36

The combat in KYT is actually really easy once you figure out the trick to it; just stand or swim below the cyborgs and wait until they self-destruct (note that you will need to move around in some cases for this to work, but there is almost always a spot where you can lurk to induce them to self-destruct - I think the opening four may actually be the only exceptions). Yes, it uses a lot of oxygen, but there's an oxygen recharger not all that far from the beginning even before you've cleared the way to the shield recharger. It's even possible to eliminate the cyborgs in the computer bank areas this way; you just have to manipulate the water levels appropriately and then lure the cyborgs two or three steps up. I'm pretty sure this was intentional, because the switch to control the tides is right there and you can turn it on and off at your leisure. Why else provide one?

In any case, once you figure out the tricks, it's easy, and the sizes of the ledges don't matter. (In fact, I wouldn't actually be surprised if Jason deliberately made them narrow in an attempt to discourage players from trying to simply run through the level mowing down enemies.) I don't think I've ever actually died on this level in the past ten years except when I was trying some challenge like no recharging. I'll acknowledge that these strategies require no small amount of patience, but I find it highly satisfying to defeat enemies by outsmarting them.

The whole level definitely centres around the puzzles, though, and whether you enjoy it is no doubt going to hinge in some part on what you think of the puzzles. To me the whole thing feels like a massive abandoned structure built millennia ago by aliens with massive physical differences from humans (most notably, the ability to fly) in a way that few video game levels do. I'd never seen anything like the tide puzzle done in a first-person shooter before, either - I wouldn't actually be surprised if it were literally unprecedented.

Most importantly, like most levels in this part of the game, KYT also has an impeccable atmosphere, making fantastic use of differential shading and ambient sounds and being one of the few large outdoor spaces in the trilogy that doesn't feel limited by engine restrictions. Plus, of course, there's that fantastic, cryptic, Moorcock-esque terminal message after you activate Thoth that ultimately inspired one of the best scenarios in existence. Ultimately, I can wander through it and feel like I'm lost in an alien world, and really, why else do I play Marathon games?

The one weakness I'd cite is really more a consequence of the lack of effective underwater weapons - the water F'lickta simply aren't very interesting opponents when actually underwater, because the only thing you have to deal with them is your fists. That's a problem throughout the M2 levels that use them, though, and it's why I gave the player a staff that works underwater in Chronicles' flashback levels.

I'll grant that this level is not to everyone's taste, but I find it a great change of pace for this part of the game, particularly sandwiched as it is between two highly combat-intensive levels. (Though it's possible to use similar tactics in Thermopylae, I might note - however, it's still a lot more combat-intensive even if you do, if only because Troopers are much deadlier foes than Cyborgs and F'lickta.)
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Jan 27th '19, 00:53

Personally, I find that tactic to be extremely unsporting. It feels like cheating, and makes me wish A1's AI wasn't so sacrosanct that we can't program out stupid behaviour.
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ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Jan 27th '19, 02:38

I'm not in this to be sporting, I must confess. A big part of the reason I enjoy video games is the ability to come up with outside-the-box solutions to problems. If the game permits a course of action, I don't see a problem with it. Unsporting would be cheating to give yourself infinite shields and ammo or something along those lines. But taking a pragmatic approach to combat in order to bypass encounters that would otherwise be either tedious, time-consuming, or incredibly difficult (or any/all of the above) is fine. If I wanted my choices restricted, I'd watch a movie or play Final Fantasy XIII.

Besides, as I said, there are some design features that make me question why they exist if this wasn't intended to be a possible approach to the level - being able to control the water level in the computer banks, for instance. Jason could've prevented the player from raising the water levels again after lowering them, but he didn't, and I have to think that as the chief programmer at Bungie, he has to have been aware that monsters that fire grenades would keep damaging themselves if the player stood in the right position, because he has to have been aware that there was no code altering their behaviour if they started doing so. Jason's a smart guy. I think he knew what he was doing.

If you want to challenge yourself by never taking advantage of the AI stupidity, that's perfectly fine. But in a lot of cases, doing that can result in lots of extra trips to the recharger, and that carries with it its own flaws. Besides, the AI stupidity is to me part of the game's charm, like its bizarre implementation of external velocity and its antiquated weapon switching. There are some cases where I'd be fine having monster behaviour patched some - make monsters run from dying Juggernauts? Fine. But "Eat the Path" explicitly tells the player to find alternate paths through the games. To me, exploiting enemies' stupidity is just another way to do this.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Jan 27th '19, 12:00

ravenshining wrote:Personally, I find that tactic to be extremely unsporting. It feels like cheating

I think taking advantage of coded behavior isn't cheating. It comes down to expectations and play style. It could be argued that cheesing takes away from the developer's grand intentions. I see the player's experience as subjective. There's no right or wrong answer and neither is better than the other. It's a matter of personal taste.
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RadBurn

Post Jan 27th '19, 15:41

Yeah it really comes down to personal taste. That said I always found it more fun to play adhering to the 'extended' vid rules, especially the do nots, which I guess are sorta canonical when it comes to vidding.
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$lave

Post Jan 27th '19, 16:38

For the record, I did do those tricks with the doors a lot on Curiouser and Curiouser, and I did it some on Sorry Don't Make It So.

I can see where some would look down upon it. But considering it is pretty much just going along with how the game was actually designed, I don't see it as a cheat.
Marathon Player Since 1995.

If You Are Always Dying in The Game, You Are Not a Bad Player, You Are Learning.
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Sharkie Lino
Connecticut

Post Jan 27th '19, 17:19

What may be so obvious to some ( or many ) Marathon players is the history of "vidmaster." Not me. I couldn't for the life of me recall where I had first become aware of it. Maybe it was some random FAQ online or possibly on my Marathon CD in the extras folder.

I decided to look through the PDF copy of the Marathon 1 user manual. http://archives2.bungie.org/manuals/Marathon_Manual.pdf On page 22 it states "Lessons applicable to the game: Move fast, seize the initiative, wield superior firepower, dive into the melee, anticipate enemy movements, slaughter the defenseless, endure." Also, on page 9 under "difficulty level" it mentions the terms "spazeroids" and "vidmasters." However, I did not find anything in there about the vidmaster oath.

A google search provided me with a page within marathon.bungie.org about vidmasters. http://marathon.bungie.org/vidmaster/vidchallenge.html In January of 1995, Jason Jones of Bungie posted the vidmaster challenge online. This post was made shortly after the game was officially released.

I mentioned "grand intentions" earlier and by that I mean that the game provides atmospheric gameplay with rewarding story and enjoyable combat situations ( and puzzles ). Outside of the "grand intentions" lies this vidmaster thing that is loosely mentioned in the 1994 user manual before Jason Jones posted a definition online. He was the designer and a programmer so the idea of vidmaster had reasonable weight and certainly added further difficulty challenge to an already great game.

What I'm curious about is if the original Marathon 1 official release version had the option to begin a new game at a desired level with the accompanying vidmaster oath message. Was it there all along or did the vidmaster level selection come only after the game was patched? Was it an option in the Marathon demo?

I realize I'm posting this in a commentary thread about Marathon 2 levels. But if we're talking about personal gameplay style and abusing ai behavior then I think it is important to know the history here about vidmaster and its rules. Assuming vidmaster techniques require efficient use of abusing ai behavior then it could be considered a part of the "grand intentions" when coupled with evidence relating it back to the official release version. Perhaps Marathon was always meant to be played as skill rather than immersion.
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RadBurn

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