Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Game 32: Neuromancer - The Power of Greystoke

Tricky Journal Entry 16: "I thought things were getting a bit too easy. While I can't find many ICE's that I can't get past, the AIs in zones 2 and 3 are an absolute bitch to bring down! Luckily I've increased my skills to a point now where I think I might just be able to manage it. Well, except for the scary one guarding Musabori! I still have no idea how to get past that one! Perhaps the Turing Registry will hold the key?! Only one way to find out!"

Zone 2 awaits!

I’m on the final straight towards the end of Neuromancer! If I can manage to get across the line without requiring assistance, I will feel pretty proud of myself. My last post covered the entirety of cyberspace zone 1. I accessed every base in that zone and defeated both AIs, raising my Logic, Phenomenology, Philosophy and Sophistry skills to 5 in the process. I also had some great warez, including BlowTorch 4.0, Decoder 4.0, Drill 2.0, ThunderHead 2.0 and Python 2.0. I hoped that this would be enough to handle whatever zone 2 served up, and made my way to the high-tech zone to find out. There were cyberspace jacks in all four companies there (Fuji Electric, Hitachi Biotech, Hosaka and Musabori), but all of them accessed zone 2, merely changing the entrance point.  I decided to start with Fuji Electric, and was thrilled when I was able to hack in with little trouble. Surprisingly though, there were no new access levels available to me, so the effort was pointless. I moved onto Hitachi Biotech, still hoping to find some way of getting back at them after they took my lungs in an earlier session. I was close to dying during this ICE battle, but still managed to get through the defences. This time there was a new menu option available, but the Employee List contained nothing more than 11 names I didn’t recognise.

Nope, don't recognise any of them!

So far zone 2 had been pretty disappointing, but that was about to change. The Hosaka base had an expanded Software Library, including Hammer 4.0, Concrete 1.0, Mimic 2.0, Injector 2.0 and Slow 2.0. These were all either entirely new warez or upgraded versions of ones I already had. I replaced my Hammer 2.0 with 4.0, my Slow 1.0 with 2.0, and added Concrete 1.0 to my deck (this is one of the ICE breakers Deathangel’s Shadow listed in the Best category). I didn’t have room for Mimic 2.0 (a warrant mimicking piece of software) or Injector 2.0 (a slow acting virus), but it was nice to know I could get them. Slow 1.0 had already made breaking through ICE much easier, but 2.0 was simply awesome! I could now attack ICE at twice the speed that their attacks were coming back at me! This made hacking into Musabori a simple task, but then I found myself face to face with an AI! All he had to say is “Go ahead. Make my day.”, before he started hitting me with seriously damaging attacks. All the great warez I had now were completely useless against him and, even worse, none of my skills did anything either! I was very quickly crushed, and then taunted for my humanity: “That’s what you get for being an ape-descendant.” This really set me back! If none of my AI affecting skills could touch this AI, how could I possibly defeat it!? Had I missed a skill altogether?

This couldn't even scratch this AI!

I had a good think about what else I could try to get into Musabori, but nothing came to mind. I decided to try my luck on Freeside, where I assumed the cyberspace jacks would give me access to zone 3. I took a shuttle straight to Freeside as I could see no point in going via Zion now that I’d got the Bank Gemeinschaft code off the Rastafarian leader there. I knew of three different jacks that I could potentially use on Freeside, but I decided to use the one in the Bank of Berne. I soon discovered that there were five bases in zone 3, and my Probe software told me they were Bank of Berne, D.A.R.P.O., Screaming Fist, Sex Union and Turing Registry. I decided to try my luck getting into the Bank of Berne base, as I was getting pretty desperate to find a new form of income! It took me a couple of attempts, but I scraped my way through the ICE on the base, only to come face to face with yet another AI! “You’ve forced me to levy a service charge on your account.” I quickly figured out that this AIs weakness was Philosophy (he cried out “Ouch! Bankruptcy!” when hit), but I got crushed every time I tried to take him on. This didn’t bode well, since the only way I knew of to increase my AI harming skills was to defeat AIs. I decided to move onto the other bases in zone 3 for now, and hoped that I would find something along the way that might assist.

Another defeat! My pride was taking a beating at this point!

The D.A.R.P.O. base turned out to be Defense Advanced Research Projects, and the welcome page informed me that the “system contains RESTRICTED data as defined in the Tempest Restrictions of 2025”. There were two menu items inside the base, being 1. Current Research Topics and 2. Software Library. The first section contained highly technical documentation regarding Hypersonic Weapons, Photon Echo Memories, Kinetic Energy Weapons, Monoclonal Antibodies and Laser Techniques. I read through each of them, but I highly doubt any of the information is useful, so won’t bore you with it. I’ll include an example below so you can see what it looks like.  The Software Library section contained ThunderHead 3.0, Injector 3.0, Jammies 2.0, Concrete 2.0 and Drill 3.0, all of which were updated versions of software I’d come across previously. The two viruses (ThunderHead and Injector) are hugely effective, lasting a long time and causing significant damage to ICE, and Concrete 2.0 and Drill 3.0 were great replacements for their previous versions. A few readers let me in on what Jammies is all about after I could find no use for version 1.0. I can now see what it does with Jammies 2.0 (it locks up the ICE, stopping it from launching software for a short period of time), but its effectiveness couldn’t justify keeping it installed on my deck, given the RAM limitations I was facing.

Blah blah blah blah...

The Strikefore Screaming Fist base had the same RESTRICTED welcome screen as D.A.R.P.O., and once again contained two menu options (1. Software Library and 2. Operational Reports). The software library contained Slow 3.0, Depth Charge 3.0, Python 3.0, KGB 1.0, ArmorAll 1.0 and Easy Rider 1.0. This turned out to be a smorgasbord of awesome warez! As you might expect, Slow 3.0 allowed me to hit ICE with three separate pieces of software to every one coming back my way, which makes getting into any Zone 1 to 3 bases really very easy. Depth Charge was the second piece of software on Deathangel’s Shadow’s list of Best warez (leaving only Logic Bomb to find) and Python 3.0 made an already great virus frickin awesome! Most interestingly though, I’d not come across KGB, ArmorAll or Easy Rider before, although I remembered reading something about Easy Rider on one of the message boards. Polychrome had told everyone on the Panther Moderns board that “Screaming Fist has Easy Rider 1.0 in their base. Lets you cross zones without having to go to another cyberjack.” That sounded awesome to me, so I made room for it. I had no idea what either KGB or ArmorAll did, although I figured I could guess the latter. Before I went back into cyberspace to test them out, I checked out the Operational Reports section on Screaming Fist. library...ever!

I found a report from General Davis to Ossian Intercept with the Operational Code of HAMMER. The report appeared to be a summary of several reports concerning Colonel Corto, who reportedly ran into trouble while fighting the Russians over Kirensk (I assume in some sort of fighter plane). He managed to take out many of their defences before being taken down, and even then he commandeered a Russian gunship and made his way to Finland. Once there he was brought down by a cannon, losing his eyesight, legs and most of his jaw in the process. Corto was repaired, with “new eyes, legs, plumbing and extensive cosmetic work”. Later, Corto surfaced in Thailand as “overseer of a heroin factory, then as enforcer for a Californian gambling cartel, then as a paid killer in the ruins of Bonn, then was sent to a mental institution in Paris! Why do I bother mentioning all this? Because Corto is “now living under the name of Armitage”! That’s right…the same Armitage that gave me $10000 at the beginning of the game to work for him, then never turned up to give me my directives at the rendezvous point. As far as I know, Armitage was taken by the lawbots and executed, so I fail to see why any of this information is in any way relevant to the game. It’s likely just something that played a role in the novel, and so is included here, but that really does make figuring out what you’re supposed to be doing in Neuromancer much harder than it would be otherwise.

I assume this Captain Fargo is the ffargo that I owe $2000 to as well!

While I was chomping at the bit to visit the Sex Union and Turing Registry bases, I devoted some time to figuring out what the KGB, ArmorAll and Easy Rider warez were about. The Easy Rider one, as I hoped it would, allowed me to visit every cyberspace zone from any cyberspace jack! This meant that I no longer needed to move around in the real world, as one jack is all I would ever need again! Using KGB 1.0 while in cyberspace autopiloted me straight to a particular base in zone 5. I assume I could have made my way to the base manually easily enough (perhaps not?), so not sure of the purpose, but I do know that the ICE at the base smashed me in seconds! Finally, ArmorAll very handily reduced my damage back to zero on use, although it seemed that I could only use it once per base attack. With all that figured out, I moved onto the Sex Union base. I broke through the ICE easily, but then was confronted by another AI. “Mmm, you’re a big one! Want to play with me? I’m Xaviera.” I hoped that this AI might be easier to defeat than the one at the Bank of Berne, so tried out my skills on her. Phenomenology turned out to be her weakness and thankfully, I was able to beat her (just!) on my third attempt! “Oh, it’s never happened to me like this. It’s driving me MAD…!#@$^*#$#”. I was in! Not only that, but I’d also increased my AI harming skills to 6, meaning I might be able to go back and defeat the Bank of Berne AI.

Sorry, you just seemed the type that likes it rough!

There were three sections on the Sex Union base, being 1. Meeting Place, 2. Advice from Xaviera and 3. AI Message Buffer. The first section’s purpose was described by Xaviera as a place to “get in touch with others who share your tastes and desires. Anything goes, as long as it is above board and you let it all hang out – let’s not have any surprises, unless that’s what you’re into.” I could then see three “profiles”, written by a 41 year old male and 21 and 44 year old women. I won’t describe what was in each of the profiles, but I’ll put an example below. The Advice from Xaviera section was fairly humorous, being a conversation between Xaviera and someone calling themselves SM, 15. Basically, SM, 15 told Xaviera about a girl called Cindy, and how she’d touched his shoulder and called him “unique” in response to a joke. He wanted to know what he should do next, so Xaviera advised him to ask her out on a date. He did, and while Cindy hesitated before saying yes, he thinks that pause was only to have an orgasm. Xaviera was stunned by this, and told him that she wanted to have a long chat with him! Anyway, the AI Message Buffer was the real reason to visit the site, but even that was a bit disappointing.

Showered with gifts and constant attention? Man, that sounds like a form of abuse!

There was a message from Greystoke to Xaviera: “What do you mean asking me if I’m into domination? We can’t have these cowboys violating us at every turn, can we? What would you do for playthings?” There was also a message from Neuromancer to Xaviera: “I do not agree with your assessment of cyberpunks, and I regret the cruel methods you use on them. Do not destroy them all just to sate your bestial lusts.” These messages didn’t really give me anything to go off, making the whole Sex Union base a bit useless. I took my leave and went off to pay a visit to the Turing Registry base. I’d been looking forward to accessing it since I read a message from Greystoke to Morphy on the World Chess Confederation base: “The AI destruct program that Turing developed to destroy me is missing from their vault! I am unable to locate it! If you know where it is, inform me immediately! If it falls into the wrong hands, Neuromancer may win! This cannot happen!” Perhaps Greystoke was the AI that I was unable to defeat at Musabori, and this AI destruct program was the key! I haven’t quite managed to get through zones 2 and 3 in this post, but I’ve probably gone on long enough for now. Join me in a couple of days, where you will witness one of the most successful heists known to man...maybe!

..and so the progress continued!

Session Time: 2 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 15 hours 30 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. I'll be back with comments on this posting, I just had to share this:

    First trailer for the Tex Murphy Kickstarter just released 5 minutes ago, official name Tesla Effect! I'm so giddy I have trouble breathing!

    1. Wow. I'm excited. Then again, I was already excited.

      Now I'm excited AND impatient. Can't wait for this game to be released!

  2. I'm little reluctant to admit that it took me a while to figure out what ArmorAll did. I kept using it at the beginning of a base raid hoping it improved my defense.

    I agree there's no need for KGB when you have can just as easily get there with EasyRider. Without EasyRider though, KGB is the only way to get to that particular zone since there's no jack as far as I know. Sounds like you're well on your way to finishing this up soon.

    1. Yes, KGB is a bit redundant now. I wonder, was Easy Rider a late addition to the game, considering that it makes both KGB and lot of the jacks useless?

  3. Good thing you found EasyRider, it speeds things up when you don't have to physically transport between different jacks.

    ArmorAll is (literally) a lifesaver. With that and Slow 3.0 what versions of other software you have in your pack is of lesser importance (for now). You will soon need every edge you got though.

    Looking forward to reading about Ocean's 1!

  4. Seems like someone's been doing some background work here, didn't even notice you had filled out Accepted/Borderline/Disregarded all the way through 2011 Trickster! Nice work!

    I am foreseeing a bit of trouble further down the road though. I'm establishing my own library of adventure games to prepare for the upcoming blog posts, and so far I'm complete with one or two exceptions through 1994.

    With the change from floppy to CD and the increased sizes though, it seems to be more difficult to locate rarer titles. And if you do find them, sometimes voice, music or movies are left out. This would be a problem when rating them. As far as I can tell my collection is pretty much complete so far as said, but I might have to turn to eBay and similar services when I dive further into the 90's.

    1. Given we're talking niche stuff here, we might want to all look into ways of getting copies communally, too (obviously not when it comes to the more popular titles that are widely available) but as it comes to a rare find that not many have heard of that Trick has included, it might be worth looking into.

      Out of curiosity, could you list a few of the titles you're seeing as difficult?

    2. Yeah, we need to come up with some solutions when that time comes.

      One I'm currently missing is Sherlock Holmes - Consulting Detective from 1991. It is available in a remastered version to buy, but that wouldn't be fair to rate along with the rest of the 1991 games.

      I'm also missing the original Myst, but I haven't spent a lot of time looking for that yet. Again, remastered editions are avilable, but not what we're looking for.

    3. I like the idea of communal games for Trickster; although, I don't see a problem with him reviewing some of the remastered games if they're the only option available. On the other hand, Consulting Detective is a rather boring game, and I really wouldn't mind if Trickster skipped it. ;)

    4. I think I own Myst, back in Ontario. If you can't find it, ask me and I'll see if my Dad can find out CD of it.

    5. Considering the PISSED system Zenic, it wouldn't really work or be fair to use remastered games.
      Puzzles and solvability would be the same.
      Interface and inventory however could get a refresh in a remastered version.
      Story and setting would be the same.
      Sound and graphics would definitely not be.
      Environment and atmosphere would also change due to change in audio and graphics.
      Dialogue and acting would also get a different score depending on the remake.

      Out of five parameters that would mean potentially only two would stay the same between original and remastered version. And that would skew the entire scoring system.

    6. I'd say it's even worse and in extreme cases there is only one parameter that stays same. Consider how many faults in puzzle construction can be due to technical difficulties: parser limitations, infuriating pixel hunting and outright bugs. Just correcting these might change the Puzzles and solvability -score. (Yes, I know these changes would primarily affect the Interface and inventory -category, but I suspect they might influence Solvability also).

    7. That's true. Just adding an object highlighter function would in some cases severaly reduce artificial difficulty by removing the need for pixel hunting as you say, which could make a horribly frustrating game into something else entirely.

      Anyway, seems like I was a bit premature in my worries, currently steaming through 1997.

  5. Don't know if this has been mentioned, but Steam sale has started until 22nd July. Lots of packs and individual discounts etc.

  6. The AIs are sexting each other! This cracks me up.