The Von Braun Incident: Chapter 2 – Bloody monkeys and other horrors
It’s been a while since last time because of various circumstances, but here I am again, delving into the depths of a game that’s 13 years old, and having a lot of fun with it.
The difficulty of the game is quite high, even this early on. A moment’s recklessness in combat is enough to get me killed, and environmental hazards are all around, so I save quite often. Very often in fact. And blundering into the line of sight of cameras or turrets is not optimal, so the game encourages me to play more tactically and cautiously. And I enjoy that.
I am quite intrigued by the mystery the game presents me with. And with each piece of the puzzle it hands me, the more involved my theories become. I won’t share anything yet, at least not more than is in the log.
I am still happy that the game seems content to give me more than sufficient quantities of nanites, even though I’d love more cyber-modules as well. There is so much stuff to upgrade. So many choices. I feel confident in sticking to my hacker build for now, even though I’m sure other builds could be equally viable. It really feels like a game where you need to focus, rather than trying to spread points into everything. I guess time will tell when I’m a few levels from now with no weapons beyond my wrench and pistol, and whatever I can hack.
I do have to wonder; would a game like this sell today? Imagine someone made a game just as complex and involved, marrying FPS with RPG, just with up-to-date graphics, a shinier UI and tighter controls. Bioshock and Deus Ex: Human Revolution tried something like that, and I enjoyed both of them, and so did many others, but they were light versions of System Shock 2 and the original Deus Ex. Finding a game that is challenging without being punishing, that lets you explore as far as your skills (and access cards) reach you, that tells a fascinating story, is genuinely tense and scary, and can provide depth in complexity without becoming too convoluted; that is kinda tough these days. There are roguelikes, but they generally have little story to speak of, and the random elements tend to put me off. I guess I should be happy we at least have the light versions still.
12th entry: Stuck in the lab with the dead monkey. The door locked behind me. Out of morbid curiousity I removed its brain and set my research module to work on it. It says it needs a chemical, Fermium, to complete the research. I know I passed a chemical storage room somewhere around here. The glass out to the hallway is too solid for either the wrench or the pistol to break through. The glass to the other rooms seems thinner. First though, I want to have a look inside this security crate.
13th entry: I got out and found the chemical storage. Unfortunately the Hybrids seem to be multiplying. Even a couple with shotguns have wandered over. From where, I don’t know. Took a load of buckshot to the leg. The medical unit got it out, but not without some alarming blood loss. I still feel alright though. Well, mostly alright. The research on the monkey brain shows that it is not another hybrid creature, but rather a victim of scientific experimentation. The computer agrees with my observations that the monkey was psi-capable. I also figured that if I upgrade my hacking gear further I should be able to turn the turrets to my side. Would be damned handy considering most of the crew are now psychopathic.
14th entry: With the charged power cell in hand, I managed to get from the science sector to the medical sector. Among the ramblings of the Hybrids I’ve heard mention of the ‘Many’, whatever that means. Perhaps the parasites infecting them have made them part of some hive mind or collective? Maybe it’s made them telepathic and whatever sent the parasites is talking to and controlling them thus? The good doctor has informed me that the person that monitored my cryo-sleep, a man named Grassi, might still be alive, and even if he isn’t, well, at least I could get the access card to the crew sector off of his body.
15th entry: Dr. Polito suddenly started talking about the ghosts I’ve seen. She said they were merely ‘residual psychic emanations’ from the recently deceased, because of some experimental tech in my rig, and I’m not going crazy at all! Except… if I really was crazy, I might have just imagined she sent that message to make myself feel better. A conundrum, to be sure.
16th entry: I have found a surgical unit. Next to one of those quantum bio-reconstruction machines. I have made it a makeshift base. Somewhere to retreat to when things get bad. A lot of monkeys and Hybrids around. Had to take out a live camera, which was really not fun. My swings were very nervous and unsteady. Xerxes spoke up, and I believe it was addressing me. Asking me why I persisted in being lonely. Not sure what it means by that. Also blundered into some radiation. A good thing I’ve been collecting all sorts of hypos. Even so had to vomit, and am worried my hair is going to fall out. How soon does that happen?
17th entry: Found a log speaking of the first person infected by the parasite. Apparently he caught it on the surface of Tau Ceti 5. What were they doing there? I have no insight in the mission briefings for this vessel. What was it they found down there? Why did they bring it back up? And how did it go from one parasite, to the whole crew getting infected? Do they Hybrids breed more parasites? If so, why haven’t they tried forcing one on me?
18th entry: Moving further away from my base I found that someone had written “RUN” on one of the walls. In blood. Possibly their own. Also saw another ghost. It seemed to be as confused as I am. And a log detailing that they’d brought 150 monkeys on board. I have killed 3. Even if we assume some were lost to experiments and the initial fighting, there is probably over a hundred monkeys left on the ship. I don’t think I have enough bullets for this. Also, monkeys seem to be immune to radiation. I wish I were.
19th entry: Okay, good news first. I found some body armour. It’s not in the best shape, but I feel heaps better with it. Bad news: I am now hearing voices. Or possibly a voice. It was fluctuating between male and female in several pitches. I couldn’t quite make out what it said, but it was something about unity. In some slightly good news again, I found the key-card, and Grassi’s body with it. Damn it.
20th entry: Having explored what I can in one direction, I have now ventured the other way to search for more puzzle clues. Xerxes spoke to me again. Said the ‘Many’ demands to know my intentions. It further referred to this ‘Many’ as ‘she’, and asked whether I knew ‘her’ history. It seems the computer has gone mad as well. At least I have some company in my insanity, even if that company is trying to murder me. The logs I am finding are making me believe that the monkeys may be on the verge of forming their own civilization. Except I am murdering them all because they try to blast me. Considering the experiments I can’t exactly blame them, but it’s them or me.
21st entry: I am starting to feel safer now, at least relatively. In the crew sector I was able to upgrade my hacking equipment and even acquire a hacking tool. Having something to help offload the hassle is very helpful. I have now started to convert whatever turrets I can find. I feel like I should head back to the Science sector to ‘secure’ that as well, but I have a hunch I’ll have to go back soon enough anyway. I feel like my next investment should be some repair tools, as if I can’t keep this pistol in working order, I might be in serious trouble. Plus repairing one of these shotguns would be nice. The Hybrids are awful at maintenance.
22nd entry: Wonderful, just wonderful. Apparently a second vessel, the Rickenbacker, was involved in this mess. Does that mean there is a second ship as crazy as this one out there? From what I’ve been able to piece together so far, they discovered a signal coming from Tau Ceti 5. They went down there, recovered some sort of artefact and came back. Clearly carrying the parasites with them as well. Doctor Polito believes the artefact to be an AI. Xerxes is still mad as a ferret, telling me it’s summoned non-existent security forces to get me, dead or alive, and spouting stuff about laws and punishment. At this point I’m not certain which is the more bonkers of us.
23rd entry: I found Dr. Watts’s room, but he was not there. Considering the state of the place, I do not blame him. There was a key-card to the R&D sector in there though, which is where Dr. Polito says that Watts has his office. Further notes I’ve found on the Hybrids says they die before the parasites reanimate them. So apparently I am fighting zombies! Just great. They are a lot more eloquent than the ones from the films though. In that they can speak at all. It seems I need to head back into Science to get to R&D. I believe I called that. Though what do I care? There’s no one around to brag to. Except Polito, Xerxes and the voices in my head.
Now I’m looking forward to my next play session. Hopefully already this weekend, if nothing comes up.
Posted on September 28, 2012, in Games, Retrospective, Thoughts and tagged blind, Chapter 2, EA, FPS, impressions, Irrational Games, log, Looking Glass Studios, PC, RPG, serial, System Shock 2, The Von Braun Incident, videogames. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.