Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Planet Alcatraz - Part 6: Introducing Sullen

It's been more than 2 weeks since I last updated the blog. I completed the game, and had a blast with it. I also digged in the game files for the .csv files containing the game's texts, and compared them with the Russian version I got years ago.

Turns out the English version got quite a bit of contents cut off (references to races, hints of prostitution, etc are completely removed; the Aryan gets changed to Legion, and a whole encounter referencing Nazi experimenting on human gets cut completely).

After I'm done with this playthrough, if I manage to find the time and motivation, I MIGHT start another one on the Russian version with translated text dubbed over. So until then, let's get this one over with, shall we?

Okay, so who's this Sullen guy?

(From the game's Russian manual. Translation errors are to be expected)

Cadet Sullen - Boar's "Vampire" team mate and closest friend

Small height, solid build, a darkly dejected look on his face, a hook knife scar on the back of his neck. Claims he's a powerful psychic, which nobody believes. Very fond of old war songs like "Saboteurs I'm born and I go as zhivorez(?)", "Nightingales, nightingales, don't disturb the soldiers," "The heroes of yore left sometimes names (?)", etc. However, considering Sullen's completely tone-deaf, very few people can endure his singing.

Loves to use the word "this" and "tum" (?), almost all the answers begin with the words, "Well, I don't know."
For instance, Sullen is at the field medic for an urgent blood transfusion, and is asked:
- Sullen, What Rh are you?
- Well, I don't know... Probably twenty centimeters will do!

Sullen's specialty: demolition. He's a master of various types of explosives and can conceal mines even on an asphalt highway. Defusing mines also comes naturally to him. Furthermore, Sullen is one of best in camouflaging and scouting. He can get close enough to an enemy sentry to compare time on their watches, and even pick his pocket for a cigarette pack before disappearing - just for kicks.

Note: Too bad we won't see his demolition specialty in action, as there are no mines or traps whatsoever in the whole game.

Strongly dislikes Vampire RST leader, Sergeant Hartman. His favorite question during the mission - "What do we do with this creep, when we find him?"

With the little biography out of the way, let's get back to getting him out of that cage.

Saving Cadet Sullen

Boar talks to Sullen, but our super spy doesn't respond.

Let's negotiate Sullen's release with Mirza, the slaver who owns him. The guy sports a black eye. Must be tough being a slaver!
Boar: Dude, shut up! Aren't you supposed to keep your mouth shut? You don't know me, remember?

At this moment, I can buy Sullen out immediately, but I'd rather not part with my money just yet. 10,000 coins is pocket change later in the game, but right now it's not.

So, Boar heads to Abu-Bakar, another slaver, to buy some cheaper slave to trade for Sullen.
The deal is done quickly. And this guy lost an eye! Man a slaver's life sure is tough!
And here is Sid.
When the game assigns a NPCs that follow the team (not a team member), they have a tiny portrait shown like this. They can be controlled like a team member, but cannot pick up any items and you cannot access their inventory.
The dialogue makes it pretty clear that Boar needs 2 slaves to trade for Sullen (the second one can be bought in Ungan district for 7000 coins). However, you only need one to trigger the next phase in the quest: Mirza changes his mind.

Resisting the urge to punch Mirza in his good eye, Boar makes way to the Street of Dreams and enter a bar called the, um ... what's its name again?

Boar: Hmm, now I gotta find a guy named Rodriguez and buy his girl, Bounty. But I think I'd better... ooh Hellooooo!
Anyway, I got so distracted by the pole dancing chick that I forgot to take screenshots. The gist of it is, Rodriguez will trade Bounty for a flashlight that belong to Frying Pan, a recently deceased friend of his. Our fetch quest continues! Off to Warehouse District!
The flashlight is around here somewhere...
And Boar finds it inside a chest, in a big house next to the marker above.

After Boar takes the flashlight, all the beggars on this map will turn hostile and attack him as well as Sid. However, there is a few seconds delay before they turn hostile, so I can just open the map and teleport the hell out of Dodge.

Back to Rodriguez (Rodridges, whatever)...
And things went smoothly.
Meet the band, Boar and the slaves
Back to Mirza.
Too bad we don't see Mirza acting out the amusing reaction in the description. Anyway, I get 1000 coins for the Sid, whom I paid 700 coins for earlier. Sweet!
Boar receives a bunch of xp, and promptly levels up.

Sullen's quests

So, let's have a chat with Sullen. Actually, he has a chat with Boar. It's not optional.

To be completely honest, I've only read the dialogue when I am writhing this very post. So, the game tells me quite early Demon was taken to Stoneguard, the Southern city. And Sullen also received a killing quest from Blackie (on Frying Pan, whose flashlight now belongs to Rodriguez). He had some fun with a prostitute, and got sold to a slaver. Not bad, Sullen!

Then, it's back to business. Actually it's more of a side business. Boar and Sullen need more money and equipment before they can continue on with finding the remaining team members. Sullen points out a few useful places to check out.

Okay, now let's have a look at Sullen's stat. Boar is at level 17 when he frees Sullen, so naturally our new guy is level 16. He's good at Scouting, and has a Night person trait, so he will be the spotter later on.

Abu-Bakar, from whom Boar bought Sid earlier, still keeps 700 coins on him. It can be stolen with no skill in Thieving. But I won't do that. Not that I have anything against stealing, but it's another 700xp I don't want yet. Stealing in this game gives xp. When you steal money, xp gain is equal to the amount of money stolen. For item, xp gain is equal to 2/3 the item's base value. So, let's leave him alone for now.

And I'd take a few moment to pump up Boar's stat. His trade skill is set at 132, so a brief training at a coach can increase it to 150, which means I can buy and sell items at their base price. The rest of his points will be put into Heavy Weapon.

Our guys make a quick trip to the local Gun shop and sell off the unnecessary junk.
Boar keeps the sword and pants, and Sullen get a new "Best Friend" sawed-off shotgun and the helmet. Don't mind the lack of clothes!

Here's the world map. The new encounters unlocked by Sullen glows briefly for a few seconds.
Out of the new areas, I only need to complete the four mentioned in this quest log before the next part in the story unravels itself. Note the "Flashlight" quest is still on here. It's a side effect of the glitch I exploited earlier to bail out of the fight. Just ignore it.

Human Encounter: Landing ground

(I forgot to take screenshot of the loading screen)
Boar sees a metal sphere.
And he decides to do... this.
That's just... embarrassing
Let's have a look at our checklist.
Of course, our guys won't be alone here. Bandits run amok among these parts.
They will notice us and come running no matter where we stand, so Boar and Sullen take cover behind a large rock at the map's edge.
The enemy can only attack us two at a time. Note the smoke in the picture, that's a grenade that just hit the rock. Our duo are completely safe.
Spot the guy with the hammer. Hit him in the head. Then kill the rest. Rinse and repeat.
Boar occasionally switches to his Rat SMG to spice things up

This guy smartly runs to his buddies and call for backup.
More fighting!
Looting time!
Heads up, guys!
Although all the women are sterile, condoms are still useful for preventing STDs. How thoughtful!
Although this map is pretty open, there are still a few chokepoints to use.
Eventually, Boar and Sullens kill all the bandits and complete the map.
Have a look at our spoils of war!
Let's head back to the city now
After selling off the loot at the Food vendor, the team heads back to warehouse district and pluck out the crap that Boar stashed outside Hunchback's house earlier. We're gonna need every bit of money to get Sullen a new gun.

Sullen gets a new weapon, the Big Brother, a powerful pump-action shotgun with a 5-shot magazine. The Best Friend sawed-off get pass down to Boar. I think I forgot to take the screenshot, or misplaced it somewhere.

Human Encounter: Village of the Rogues

Boar enjoys the nice, peaceful scenery and the fresh, gunpowder-free air. Both of these will not last.

Alright, it's murderin' time.

There are 2-3 groups of patrol, with 3 rogues each. They are armed with shotguns and Bolt rifles instead of crappy home made guns like the dudes we've seen so far, and several of them wear studded leather vests.

The Bolt Rifle gives the rogues extra critical chance; however, they don't have any clip/magazine and can only fire once before having to be reloaded (most likely for game balancing reason). Furthermore, some rogues carry hand grenades, which they will only throw if you are far enough away so they don't get caught in the blast radius. For these reason, using shotguns and the "get close and shoot 'em in the face" tactic works very well in the first part of the game.

After taking out the patrols, our heroes take some time to heal.

The single most advice when playing the game is: do not get overwhelmed. It is advisable to engage only a few enemies at a time. The upside is you don't have to reload often, you can heal between attacks, and you make clear progress. The downside is that it doesn't look very impressive, and all the creeping up a few steps at a time means that the battle are longer and more tedious than it appears on screenshots.

Boar and Sullen makes their way to the rogue camp's entrance...

... then employ the familiar tactic: camping inside the nearest house.

After killing all the rogues that are roaming outside, I take a break and examine the loots I've got so far, shall we?

Sullen (on the left hand) is holding the Big Brother shotgun, while Boar gets handed the old Best Friend shotgun. They also wear the Studded Leather Vest that were looted earlier. Boar carries the Chinese Sword in the off chance that we run out of ammo. And those are Bolt Rifles, which we won't use because of their crappy rate of fire and damage, not to mention our heroes still have troubles shooting at anything further than spitting distance at the moment.

Boar: Don't worry, bro, I've got this!

While Sullen chills out inside the shack, Boar heads back out and takes care of a rogue that's snooping nearby. Man that's gotta hurt!

After the groups standing outside are eliminated, the remaining enemies are surprisingly tame, contented with staying inside the houses and wait for us to come knocking.

The rogue leader is inside this house, but let's leave the best for last.

Near the end, Boar's shotgun runs out of ammo, so he whips out the Rat SMG we got from the Industrial Area

Time to take out the Rogue leader! But we have to get rid of the bodyguards first.

Here he is !

All done!

And of course, we gotta loot this treasure chest.

A Surgeon kit, some Medikits and ammo. Not too shabby.

Let's have a look at our swag after battle.

Back to the city, Boar sells off part of the loot and gathers 25000 coins, then head to Coach Grey at the market.

After forking out 25k and spending a few seconds on a brief chat, Boar's Trading skill gets improved by 18 (which is 2 x INT). I can only train at each coach once.

Boar's trade skill is now at 150, which opens up all kinds of opportunity. For starters, we no longer have to hoard healing items. Just sell off the excess and buy them back when needed. Also, it's great for "borrowing" equipment (buy 'em, use 'em and sell 'em back at full price when you have access to better stuff).

To part 7: Boar and Sullen completes the remaining encounters, and search for Kruger.

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