Saturday, 8 July 2017

Trevelyan's Mainframe - FILE: Surface, Severnaya / Twenty Years Removed

I hope you weren’t expecting a warm reception from this forthcoming level file, friend. You see, the snow covered surface surrounding Siberia’s Severnaya plateau region is among the harshest places to survive in the modern world. A true test of will, one might say. Perhaps for that reason, the Russian military’s space-based weapons division holds a remote station there that stands as the fourth level of GOLDENEYE 007. So, zipper up dear boy. After all, trespassers have been known to disappear underneath the miles of snow that never melts…

Before we fully trudge through my mainframe files on level four of GOLDENEYE 007 we again find ourselves sifting through the rubbish MI6 supplied at the time. Once again, here are the original transcripts we were able to intercept from Her Majesty’s government. 

A spy satellite has detected increased levels of activity at an old observatory complex near Severnaya (62.08n, 102.58e) in Russia. Other sources have confirmed the shipment of a large amount of computer hardware to that location, and an influx of skilled personnel.

It might be coincidence that there is a new head of the Soviet Space Weapons Division, your old friend General Ourumov, or it might not. Penetrate the base and find out what is going on. Building plans for the underground section would be ideal. They’re unlikely to be just lying around so look for a safe – there’s bound to be someone you can borrow a key from.

I’ve looked over the recon photographs and I advise you to stay clean of the main bunker entrance by the helipad. However, there seems to be a ventilation tower for a covert entry. You ought to power down the comms dish too, no point in letting them tell the whole of Russia you’ve dropped in.

It’s cold in Siberia, James. Make sure you wrap up warm and take care to protect your extremities. 

Now, unlike the previous assignments I’ve walked you through, this differs a bit slightly. Instead of Bond proceeding foolishly through our predetermined route designed to lead him on, the forth level proved to be Bond getting the jump on us. We did not fully anticipate that he’d follow us into the heart of the Russian cold on a hunch. I should’ve known my old friend better, I suppose. Nonetheless, watching Bond hike through the snowbanks in search of even a scrap of intel was quite amusing for the Janus syndicate. Especially knowing that the place had been wiped clean before he arrived. Some call it paranoia, to where as I like to refer to it as preparation! That’s right, James. I was always better. Once realizing there wasn’t much left for him to scurry onto, Bond stumbled upon an underground space-based satellite control bunker. What he would find there, would again surprise our Russian comrades. But, we’ll get to that. To round out the full picture of the Severnaya Surface level, the last bits of our intel reports show that the Siberian Special Forces, Russian Commandant, and Artic Commando (as reinforcements if needed) characters reported engaging Bond here.

A few brief notes of bonus intelligence were available within the surface file of my mainframe as collected by only my most trusted men. Out of the continued kindness of my own heart, I once again, shall supply you with those at this time. Originally, surface was to have a white sky. However, it was deemed too similar to the ground level in color, and was soon switched to a unique pink and blue sky. Also in the original plans for the level, the small guard towers sprinkled throughout the map were to house snipers in each that Bond would have to take out. Unfortunately, the com AI was unable to see through railings and would not be able to actually fire at Bond from said towers. Once the developing team realized that Bond would have to scale the towers before the enemies would be able to “see” him fire at him, the ditched the enemies and towers ended up as a byproduct. And if I could quickly throw in my two cents, I must say, utilizing these towers as Bond prove to be much more useful that I’m sure the developers figured! To be able to survey the area and take out enemies from afar is quite beneficial! Also, as a nod to the previous level, runway, the scrapped motorbike model is visible as a desk decoration in one of the small buildings in the corner of the level map. According to further intel, another fun thing to try is destroying all the shipping crates in the small building with the safe with result in the explosion of a couple flying books. Speaking of the safe, inside a map of the second version of surface later in the game can be recovered. Though, if it is destroyed, Bond will fail the mission. 

In the glitch related category, there lies only one. Yet, it is rather large. Though I’ve never experienced such interference personally, according to what is transcribed here, destroying the main console in dish facility instead of using it as directed will not only fail the mission, but destabilize the level. Reports of serious errors in the texture mapping or enemy reinforcements that spawn after the fact will do so without properly rendered face textures, or the complete lack thereof. In extreme cases, the amount of ammunition and the type’s picture usually housed in the heads-up display in the bottom right corner of the screen will be heavily plagued with glitching. 

And finally, according to several Russian sources, ‘Severnaya’ translates to ‘North’ in Russian. Simple yet effective of them, no?

For me, the surface level was a favorite. The wide-open map and several individual buildings you could visit and destroy boxes, desks, and bookshelves in! I’d spend an hour with alarm bell rings loud, taking on waves of Artic Commandos. Sounds a little like my experience in the Facility… I know. In my youth, I supposed I liked the one versus a hundred odds. Plus, on this level, there was more room to breathe in between enemies. Specifically, I’d stand atop the dish tower with dual grenade launchers wreaking havoc on the Russians from above! And for those in the dark, that 2x grenade launcher cheat code would be unlocked by completing this mission on Secret Agent in three minutes and thirty seconds or less. You’re welcome for the tip, by the way. Also, I’d find myself in the guard towers equipped with a sniper rifle, shooting at the explosive barrels next to unsuspecting guards on patrol. 

Unlike runway, I did put my time in on surface, and on 00 Agent, it was a heck of a challenge. In an odd way too, I remember being memorized by the seemingly unlimited tree line that surround the level. I’d wonder what lied beyond deep within the Siberian forest. At the same time, I’d wonder why a secret control bunker would be located in such a clearing! Silly Ruskies… 

I digress and kid, friend. We very much value the fruitful friendship we’ve been able to develop with the Russian forces. And with that ironed out, this concludes our compiled data on the forth level of GOLDENEYE 007. As we continue to review these classic levels for the glory days of 007 video games, memories rush through. But, don’t be fall into comfort quite yet. The close quarters of the underground satellite control bunker will leave you feeling a little claustrophobic. Detection waits around every corner of the next level, old chap. As the fifth level looms ever closer, and with any luck, it may just be your last… 

- End transmission, Trevelyan.

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