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2. NyLeve's Fall
Map Author: Juan Pancho Eekels
Before you fell in the hole of the Rikers you probably said "What the hell is up with the terrain replacing iron floors here?" Yeah... I said it too. Then we start the level and... there's no long corridor to the exit, but there's just a really short one and you're face to face with the opening already. After a few steps (with the music already activated.. prepare to destroy your ears with the looping 2nd songsection), over a fallen bar and a Clip, and you're outside, unaware of what you will see...
You exit from the Rikers and you’ll be probably confused. It seems that the world of Na Pali changed geographically between the versions of the game. The Vortex Rikers has crashed in the middle of a large valley, completely different from the one in the released version. And the most weird thing is the exit of the Vortex Rikers. It's no longer on the side of the ship, but under the side of the bridge. This doesn't make a lot of sense, as the position is weird: if the Vortex Rikers crashed into a mountain, this exit would be blocked. And it's also wrong, because the exit should be to the right of the bridge, right? Not even the one in released version was in a good position, as it was on the left hand side. Anyway this is the first time that we see the real front of the Rikers.
Now let's go to visit new stuff in this valley. Let's start with the geometry. This place is shaped like an egg. There are two white rocks near the front of the Vortex Rikers (similar to the one in front of the entrance to the second valley in the released version), some plants and a Nali Healing Fruit behind the Vortex Rikers. Notice how unrealistic the crash site is, halting in the middle of the valley without anything to stop it. There's a nice detail on the mountain behind the ship, as it has an open hole caused by the impact of the Vortex Rikers. The Easter Egg with the name of the author is still on the side of the ship.
Let's explore the rest of the valley. Firstly, probably the weirdest thing is that this level shouldn't be called Nyleve's Fall, but simply with the map's real name FHub1 (this is the first "fake hub" map of the beta). Why? Because there's no fall. Yeah, guys, the well-known part of the released version that stunned every Unreal player isn't even present here, and nor is everything else that you find near it (the lower area with the cavern and the first mining bunker). They are just replaced with a pool (which becomes then the Biterfish pool in the released version), together with a small fall. This pool is very small, unlike the one in the released version and doesn't have the blue light (they added these things in a later beta) but it still has a school of Biterfish (in the beta the fish have only the pink colour, but they are more detailed and have teeth), searching for the player's flesh.
The last thing to see in the valley is something unique. In the released version there's a house used as a refuge for a few survivors (killed by the Lesser Brutes), but here? There's a wooden house that looks like to have been made by humans rather than Nali. The weird thing is that the house is actually owned by a Nali, because I don't think humans know how to breed Cows live (the Cows here have their normal skins. The Sacred Cow texture was just used in the conversion). This type of house is only found here in the beta, and never in the released version.
There's a dead human inside it. Other than this dead body, there's something awesome (not shown in the screen because it doesn't appear in the conversion) then leading into one big disappointment for Unreal fans. The Automag (accompanied by two Clips) has the old, pistol-like design (as shown in some old Soledad screens). You cry happily to see it before you, and then you collect it. Now you say "What the f**k is this?"... because the first person design of the gun is the same as that in the released version, while the third person design remains the old one. Other than the design issue, the weapon is the same as it appears in an unpatched Unreal. Here are some pics of the human house, with some kind of WC in it.
Now let's leave the first valley to go further into the level. Look over the mountains for some identical plants; you’ll see them everywhere.
The next segment is just a small road with plants and lights. Now, 75% of the time, you'll be attacked by your first real enemies in the form of a pair of Mantas. Probably one of the two Mantas will go elsewhere (usually inside the optional bunker seen in the retail version) instead of attacking you. After dispatching them, continue and you'll say "WTF". This path connects the first valley to the one with the entrance to Rrajigar.
The second valley appears slightly smaller, but the white rock is here as are plants, Nali Healing Fruit, Nali Rabbits and the same item placements. The only differences here are the blue (as opposed to red) lights that cover the entrance doors to Rrajigar and a ventilation shaft on the mountain, above said entrance (beyond that shaft there's nothing, although there are sounds if you go near it).
Ignore Rrajigar for now to go into the mining bunker. If your luck sucks, then you'll be attacked by a LesserBrute, but the beta version. They have a dark green colouration on the body, with very bright red eyes, and lastly they look really evil and menacing; all the types of Brute have a different skin. These ones are actually more powerful than the LesserBrutes from the released version: 210 health opposed to the usual 180, slightly faster, with a 30% resistance to explosions (Dispersion Pistol, Eightball Gun etc...), their melee attack is more powerful and they are as big as a normal Brute. Their projectiles (or rockets) are different too: they leave flares (quite similar to the Eightball / Rocket Launcher rockets) and their model is similar to the Warlord rockets one, with a grey and yellow skin.
After we kill him (the monster's position and patrol route are actually the same as in the released version) we go finally into the bunker, attacked by the first two Tentacles: one appears on your left and the other one on your right in another room - yes, another room. At the right hand side, from the entrance (closed with a normal wall in the released version) there's a small room with a door identical to the one used for the Rrajigar's exit to Sacred Passage. Is closed here (you hear machine sounds near it), but the first signs of the Hub feature of the Beta are starting to make their appearance.
Let's continue to the left hand side. Here everything is normal except for a new part of the level. We don't have the Translator yet, so we cannot read the message (actually the first of a very short series) on the orange computer, but it actually says "BoilerRoom".
In this room we notice a weird looking machine (and it seems shut down), an inactive lift and an open window from which you can see something familiar. It is the ending of Depths of Rrajigar from the released version, which is connected to the new door at the entrance, as mentioned above. You finally discover that the beta has a Hub System and you really want to try it, unaware of what happens next. It's better not to ghost through that window, as there's a BSP hole which will kill you.
We continue through this room, which looks like a maze. The machine is connected with a boiler through some pipes. Near this thing, which glows a reddish colour, there's no button to press, just a Health Pack and Clips.
At the end of the room there's another one containing an inactive lift and a Tentacle. There's nothing you can do here for now.
Now we leave this room and we advance to the part of the bunker that we already know from the released version. First of all, the other corridor which leads to this area is the same (I'm talking about that path with some Clips, the dead brother - albeit here he is alone - and a Tentacle - which doesn't appear in the beta). The crate room is almost the same: the Lesser Brute in the shadows, the Super Health Pack (now appearing in every difficulty, remember that I'm playing on Unreal), the boxes used for climbing the crates contain nothing and there's no Box of 50 Bullets, just another Clip in its stead. The only weird thing is another door that leads... guess where... to Sacred Passage from the released version! NyLeve and Passage combined...
Let's go there. The way to the Sacred Passage is the same, but look over you and you see a bridge which reminds you of Dark Arena. That part is connected with the 2nd inactive lift mentioned previously.
We are finally at the Sacred Passage. The door to the road to Chizra is open, or better, there isn't any door. Sometimes a LesserBrute appears to annoy you.
After some Manta battles (in the beta you have to fight more of them, and they tend to appear over the big white rock) we explore the outside area of the Sacred Passage. It appears very similar to the final version, with lots of identical plants on the terrain and on the mountains. No SkaarjWarrior here. The pool contains only Biterfish; no Devilfish, ammo, rocks or seaweed. Also there aren't plants any over the temple door.
One funny thing to notice: it seems the end of the water passage is different. Watch the ledges: they are set up in a way that doesn't change the gameplay compared to the released version. Great change, Juan!
Now we are in the other part of the valley. Here we'll be attacked by the last waves of Mantas and also you'll encounter other solitary Cows. No major changes here, or with the entrance to the passage itself.
Now let's visit to that sanctuary in the mountain. No LesserBrute and Tentacle, just a cup, a Flare and a dead Nali. No Clip, no message on the wall and third wall closed with three bars.
Oh yeah, there's no famous button on the pillar. You actually can't open the bars, but you notice another button in the floor, immediately behind the bars. You can't press it from here. So it's better leave this place, after noticing that in the 3rd closed room there's a Toxin Suit. Remember that the Nali carcass appears with the released version's skin because this is the conversion.
Let's enter the sacred passage itself. The Lesser Brute appears with a trigger, which is not actually added directly. This monster is the same one that I mentioned when I talked about the opened door of the Sacred Passage. The rest is largely the same, although there aren't any inscriptions on walls about Chizra. The method to open the temple is unchanged. The only thing that has changed is its first corridor:
Well, now you have two roads, Chizra and Rrajigar. We start as the released version taught us: through the mine. Keep in mind we haven't explored NyLeve totally, and that we'll be back later...
Check out the next part of this article to see Rrajigar Mine.