For mission 14, it’s back where we were and I’m in the same mansion as last time. This time I get to knock everyone out at least but this is still a huge level and there are a lot more guards than last time around.
New treasure has appeared all over the place and I need a lot of it to complete the level. This means I still need to explore near enough all of the house even though I only really need the masks.
The guards have a nasty habit now of teaming up in pairs like this one making it very difficult to take them both out without one of them noticing. It is just about possible by taking the rear one first as long as there is enough corridor left before the second turns around.
I head straight to the top floor where the masks should be. I find this strange contraption where 3 alcoves allow me to turn off a particular coloured light. This has to be important and I later discover that it turns off the gas traps in certain rooms depending on which colour is off.
The servants are in evidence but contrary to what I’d expect they are particularly easy to deal with. They remind me a bit of the cyborgs from System Shock 2 and sometimes thank me when I kill them.
The masks I need are all in near enough identical rooms. Stepping on the carpet has an odd effect and makes it bounce up and down like an enormous subwoofer on full volume. If I haven’t turned it off it also emits a load of gas which is lethal. I trek back and forth to the foyer to make sure the right colour is turned off and go around collecting all these masks.
Also up here is the cultivator that I apparently need. Dealing with the guards is a pain but I manage to grab it and then leave this floor by jumping off the balcony.
I still haven’t got enough treasure so I have to explore the other floors despite completing all other aspects of the mission. The central room in a nightmare with loads of guards and it’s brightly lit. I manage to slowly clear it out and grab the meagre amount of treasure on offer.
Some more exploring and I get the treasure I needed. I head straight out and miss off the rooms I still haven’t looked around. This hasn’t been that bad a level but it hardly had anything new to offer over the one before. It’s very strange that the masks weren’t just there in the mission before and I had to play the same map twice and it looks a lot like padding the game out. I wouldn’t have had a problem with 14 levels so it’s unneccessary. Even knowing where I was going, this level must have taken me going on 2 hours to play.
Viktoria has used the evidence I’ve collected and found that the Mechanists have built some kind of weapon using the rust gas. It feeds off vegetation and since the lords who got the free samples all have huge gardens it could be used to destroy the city. I’m not quite buying this I have to say, surely it would just destroy the gardens. It’s all a bit of a convenient link to Viktoria’s plant making abilities….
Anyway, Viktoria’s plan is to go to the Mechanist cathedral where she will make loads of plants. In the meanwhile, I’ll be somehow finding a way to attract all of the servants back to the cathedral so that when they are set off the cathedral will be destroyed instead. Conveniently the cathedral is airtight so everything else will be ok. This sounds just like the sort of hare-brained scheme that makes up a final mission but Garret doesn’t like it and leaves to come up with his own plan.
One of the Keeper’s tries to change my mind and I learn that Viktoria has gone on her own. I try to rescue her which seems out of character but I only arrive it time to see her sacrificing herself to create enough plant life for the reaction. It’s back to plan A and I have to get all the servants to return here.
As soon as the level starts, I’m immediately spotted by Karras and he sets some of his “children” on me. Throughout this level there don’t appear to be any human guards and I just have to deal with the various mechanical creatures. I’ve only got 10 water arrows which doesn’t make this easy for me.
From a book I find, I learn that Karras has been transforming Mechanists into servants. This might explain the lack of human guards. The servants are the least of my troubles anyway as I can just hack them down with my sword if I have to.
The cathedral is truly huge with the biggest rooms I’ve seen in the game. Through this arch is another area described as the upper levels on my map but I never even explored that in this days play. Instead I stuck to the factory area at the south end of the cathedral and attempted to figure out how to make the beacon I needed to attract the servants.
I find some storage rooms with loads of strange equipment. I know well enough never to leave anything behind so I grab everything. It’s amazing just how much Garret can carry.
I soon find the plan room which contains a myriad of scrolls, including the blueprints for the guiding beacon. I’m going to be spending the rest of today attempting to build this beacon.
I also find instructions for using the beacon but I never get around to trying these out.
The first few stages of the process are not too hard. I basically have to throw parts into these giant machines, flip a switch and take the thing it makes to the next machine. The machines are spread all over the place which means a lot of trekking back and forth.
When it comes to coping with factory bay D, I have a lot more problems. I end up with 3 of the children in here with me and no water arrows left to do anything about them. By accident I discover that I can get them to blow themselves up by getting them against a corner so they shoot the wall instead of me. This isn’t easy but it works well enough for me to clear the room and get through the next stage of building the beacon.
I go from one machine to another and finally get the beacon built. I’ve given in finishing the level today at this point. It’s probably taken 90 minutes to get this far and I don’t think I’m even halfway through yet. This level has certainly been a challenge although I’m not that keen on it so far. If I had a better supply of equipment to take out the robots then it would be ok but I spent far too long just avoiding them when going backwards and forwards through the same areas. I think the levels have probably been going downhill a bit since Life Of The Party. I do seem to have found myself going back over the same ground in each of them far more than I would like and having the same level twice in a row didn’t help, neither did playing a level I’d already seen in Thief 1. I gather than I need to flip a load of switches in the cathedral to switch the signal towers to my beacon next which sounds a bit more promising.
I was impressed with the cutscene after Level 14. There haven’t been many of these animated cutscenes as the game usually sticks to panning over static images. I particularly like it when they show the characters in silhouette. It fits in with the games dark atmosphere and the movement is strangely lifelike adding to the creepiness factor when Viktoria starts growing roots out of her arms. I’m hoping for something similar at the end of the game – I’m expecting Karras to turn out to be half machine or something similar.