Part 19: Rise of the bearGrab a treat and enjoy the ride, folks!
Rise of the bear
Welcome to the last chapter of the game!
Fittingly, it starts different then the others did. There is no real transition, but I feel like there should have been. Because Serb approaches Akhmet and tells him things that he can't have learned in the last five minutes.
:"Boss, we have news."
:"Why so serious? Or are your news not funny?"
:"You decide. A Yankee column camped at Venikovo. About a company with armor, and that's Strikers, not Cougars. That's the ones with cannons."
:"So they have war in mind. Shit. Ok, continue. What next?"
:"An engineering vehicle, like our IMR. Command has a Humvee. Also they have several unusual trucks; it's probably electronics or something like that. Electronic trucks' crew wears special helmets, just like in motorcycling shows."
:"Got it. And what the hell are they doing?"
:"Both roads are blocked and guarded. The electronic trucks have even more guards, they don't let anybody go in. So even locals don't know what's happening."
:"Blocking is solid?"
:"No, just temporary. They brought some concrete and made a big pile, that's all. So what do you think? You must be scared."
:"Scary it is. I have to talk to Zhirik."
I like to think that Akhmet's little skirmish in the last chapter was the trigger for this. It's never mentioned, but then again we will also not get a clear reason why the Americans decided to come by in the first place. If you assume that Serb would have needed some time to gather those informations, it makes sense to include the last events.
Anyway, the Yankees are up to something and we have to speak with Zhirik to get a better picture. You have to be alone for this conversation so there is no reason to bring the lads.
Well these are some odd fellows indeed. It's uncanny for such a big group to show up now. I wonder how they even got past the Americans?
Since we can't talk to them directly, let's see what the people at the Bazaar have to say.
:"A huge caravan has come and is advancing to the North. They say they're from Sverdlovsk. They're inside and somebody is bringing them food for thirty persons."
Hmm, no big revelation here. Though thirty people is quite large. The only bands of that size we've seen were bandits.
Inside the Bazaar, there are more of them.
And for some reason they're allowed to keep their guns out.
But we can talk to these two..
:"Hey, fellow. Got a minute? Would you like a smoke?"
:"Hello. Yes, with pleasure."
:"I see you've got order here. No chaos. And what's outside?"
:"Chaos ministers were shot a long time ago. The Bazaar has its guard and Pishtim guys are okay too. They have law and order and a lot of people sell copper to them."
I have no idea what "Pishtim" refers to. Could be a town, but the only connection to the word I was able to dig up led to a god in the Epic of Gilgamesh. And that's probably not what's meant here.
:"Alright. And what about Houses? Got any serious Houses? I mean any with ten fighters or so."
:"Probably not the same."
:"What guns do you use in general? I see few rifles."
:"Yeah, rifles are of little use here."
:"Ok. Can you tell me what type of goods has a higher demand here?"
:"I sell protection. So I have no idea. You'd better ask the traders about it."
Yeah, those were some awfully specific questions. Maybe they want to make some good deals or establish a trade route? This is getting stranger by the minute.
Well, let's chat up the other one.
:"Good day, brother. Where are you from?"
:"From Polevskiy, if you know where it is."
:"Sure, I know it and I've been there. So how's your business?"
:"Well, it's profitable so far. Your place is quiet and you must have a lot of trading here."
:"Not really. For example, you're the second traders this autumn."
:"So that's how it is in reality. I had wrong news. Could you explain it to our boss? Certainly, if you have some free time. He's in the pub talking business with locals."
I fully agree, something weird is going on here and those people surely aren't simple traders. But what are they?
Well, we've been directed to their boss so let's chat with him. Some of the other folks at the Bazaar can tell you stuff about the new group but nothing that we haven't already heard.
Oh my, that's a serious guy. And check that villain face..
:"Peace to your house, honest man. Can I ask you a question?"
:"Yeah, with respect. Go on, I'll try to answer."
:"Excuse my intrusion, didn't you support the Way by any chance before? Your manners are suitable."
No idea what that is about.
:"No, sir, -sorry, I don't know. What's your name?"
:"I'm Georgy. Or simply Jora."
:"And I'm Akhmet."
:"Ah, you must be the sapper! People speak of you. They say you've been living in your House since the Beginning."
:"So it is, Jora. This is what you wanted to know?"
:"Not only. Listen, Akhmet. What about you? Do you want to change your life?"
:"What do you mean?"
:"I mean, break out from here. And settle somewhere in warm Greece. With a real passport and money to live."
:"Wow. And what do I need for it?"
:"You can help a good fight. But before I begin promise me to keep it a secret. Now listen. We want to clean the factory from Yankees. Moreover.. some of the locals have already joined, the serious people. Think for a while, then let me know your decision. We're leaving tomorrow but we'll visit you on our way back."
Well, Akhmet has a sudden moment of Sherlock here. I mean it's obvious that there is something fishy about Georgy and his group, but Akhmet still takes assumptions for a fact. Nevertheless, he's right and Georgy is lying about Greece. But he has a motive for it. One which we will discover after a chat with Zhirik.
How about that, huh?
To recount what's going on: Georgy works with the Americans.
He draws the serious people out of the city, so it's easier to wipe. The factory he was speaking of is a plant for nuclear materials. So the Americans could have made up a story about how these people are terrorists that wanted the plant for their evil plans. That's some nasty stuff. I'm not 100% sure why the Americans want to wipe the city though. It could be because of Akhmet killing a few of them, or they just got sick of dealing with the locals or bandits and want to fully control the place. Anyway, Zhirik wants to stay and hang on to his Bazaar and Akhmet thinks that is suicide. Seeing how the Americans got tanks and some microwave weaponry, I'd agree with Akhmet.
Akhmet leaves Zhirik to his fate, and heads back home.
But the game stops him on the way...
Say hello to a possible "Fuck you, player" level.
I've already told you about how dangerous the dogs in this game are. If even one reaches you, you're dead. And this level has nothing but dogs. Lots of them. This is nasty on his own, but there is another thing to this. See, when you're playing this game, you're likely to develop the habit that you don't bring guns to the Bazaar. Since you can't have them in your active slot while there. Better have a savegame to revert to if that's the case.
Anyway, this level can be horrible because it's possible to trigger too many dogs for Akhmet to handle on his own. No matter how good your gear is. Of course, I'll take the fastest and most painless way through this. Also I'll abridge this a bit to have more room for the ending.
You can either go low or high, both ways are equally doggy. But I find the upper path to be a tiny bit better. There are some corpses around which you can loot, but it's pointless at this stage.
Akhmet's sneaking skills come in handy here.
There are two packs at the first crossroad, and God help you if you trigger both at the same time.
I trigger the pack to my right...
..and swiftly gun them down. The accuracy of the AEK also helps a whole lot here.
The other pack triggers before I can leave the road.
But given the distance, they're easy targets. If you care, a pack is between 5-8 dogs.
At the halfway point, I trigger a pack in my flank.
But they fall victim to some panic burst fire.
The mutts get closer, but the AEK still prevails.
But then I make a mistake..
One of the dogs fled, and I went after it. See that question mark? Yeah, triggered a new pack. With them charging towards me and the stray on my flank, things look shitty.
I figure that the stray one will keep fleeing for the moment so I throw a nade in the way of the fresh pack and bail.
Two dogs get stunned, good enough.
I shoot what I can see and then repeat my mistake.
I was so eager to kill the stray one that I overlooked one survivor from the new pack.
Well I had to reload.
And then I did it right, okay? fuck dogs
Akhmet got another pointless level and left this horrible place.
:"Crap! Dear sir Akhmetzyanov, you were just about to get fucked."
And here we come to Akhmet's plan for the situation: Get the fuck out!
Makes sense. Even his fortress can't stand up to tanks and death rays. So he packs a kart with whatever he can carry and bails. Funny though that he brings one of the mg's. Maybe he has a sweet spot for "Utes"?
But your eagle eyes may have also spotted a special line in this entry. "Too bad about the guys..."
This means that he plans to leave Serb and Vitek to their fates. Bad, Akhmet! Bad! This is what the developers understood as a moral "choice" and it's the dumbest thing ever. I'll expand more on this in my last update but know that leaving them gets you the bad ending and makes for an almost impossible end battle.
So let's bring the lads.
:"Serb, I've got news. U.S. forces are going to pay us a visit."
:"Oh crap. The squad from Venikovo?"
:"What are we going to do?"
And here you have to make the choice.
:"Vitek, I have to tell you of some problems. This U.S. platoon in Venikovo...it seems like they're going to visit us."
:"Greetings, Boss! So we're going to fight? I want to have at least a pair of their ears as a trophy. Good that you're here with your guns. We'll halt fire before they come close. And then - booom! Utes and KPV playing together!"
:"No, Vitek. It ain't happening. We'll take Utes and leave now."
:"I don't get it. It looks like we won't use this moment? Stop..Akhmet..You told me yourself that you would blow them away if they've had only shown their nose above the fence!"
TANKS AND DEATHRAYS YOU IDIOT
:"Vitek, come back to earth, alright? We're going to build a new House. It's too much danger down there. Come on, I need you and Serb to carry Utes."
And so we bid farewell to our castle..
..we had some good times.
Huh, seems like fate offered us a chance. If we can defeat this smaller guard unit, we could cut off the head of the snake. Without their fancy gear, the Yankees will have to face the fortified houses in town the old fashioned way. Fat chance, without a proper command unit or siege equipment. And vehicles are vulnerable in a city, without an extra pair of eyes. This effectively means that we can save everyone in town and deal a massive blow to those dirty Yankees. And jfyi, "Pavlov's house" refers to a famous place from the battle of Stalingrad.
Time for some explanations. This is the last fight and it's pretty cool. Battle starts right away, and we are up on a hill with Utes nicely pointed towards the Americans.
We have to destroy the three marked vehicles on the map. This can be done with the Mg, explosions or a lot of normal bullets. Don't be fooled by the three enemies on the map. There are plenty more. And you also spotted that clock right? We have five minutes before a big group of reinforcements shows up. You really have a very slim chance to deal with them, while the other guys are still around. But I have to say that it's not too hard to stay in the time limit.
Of course, I made sure to equip everybody as best as I could. And I surely didn't forget to refill Akhmet's second grenade slot or to top off Vitek's big magazine. Nope, I'd never be so sloppy.
I still want to point out that I gave everyone a Ceramic plate which is better than the old plates we used up to now. Well, it offers more armor but will also break faster. I held them back for this encounter. And believe me, it was a good idea.
Let's take a look at our targets.
This is the truck that carries the power supply. Nicely in view of our Mg, so it will go down first.
Directly behind it, is the deathray truck.
This can also be targeted with the Mg and will go down second.
The last target is the command vehicle, a Striker.
It is just a prop and won't fire at us. But you can't reach it with the Mg, so we have to move up on it.
Btw, I really like the model for the Striker.
Since we are on a hill and have the upper hand for now, the battle starts out easy, but will quickly turn ugly when all those American's fire on our three lads as there isn't too much cover. Well, no other choice than to get it done!
Serb gets on the Mg, while Akhmet and Vitek cover their respective sides of the map. Of course, Vitek will do his sniper thing, but Akhmet needs to advance towards that stack of concrete in the front. It's important, trust me.
Serb targets the power truck.
Which immediately blows up. You can see it in the back.
Sorry but I couldn't grab a better shot as I was surprised by how fast it blew up.
There's no turning back now.
Yeah, as I said, lots of guns pointed our way.
Serb puts down some distracting fire on the right.
While Vitek does his thing on the left.
Here you also see the other American model I talked about in the last update. I think it looks pretty cool, menacing even.
Since the first truck blew up, it will now emit black smoke.
This will fuck with your line of sight and gets worse the more vehicles you explode. Oh well, I can deal with it.
Akhmet reached his comfy stack of concrete.
And if you look at the back, you can see that Serb's volley blew up a Humvee.
Vehicle explosions are kind of weird. They'll deal some stun but very little damage. And only the truck explosions have a good range.
On his end, Vitek also racks up some kills.
The Americans have pretty good armor, probably upped stats even. And so, not every headshot is a kill.
There is a small stretch of forest between the first and second truck.
The enemies like to go prone there and get concealment from the foliage and smoke. That's bad.
Serb is on the job!
Meanwhile, Akhmet threw a nade towards the soldiers next to the Humvee that blew up a moment ago.
Well, at least one of them is hosed.
Things happen very quickly at this point.
Behind the forest, you can kind of see the cloud from the second truck explosion. And at the right hand bottom, an American grenade explodes. But Akhmet is safe behind his concrete stack.
Yeah, that thing is fucked.
On the other hand, the smoke will provide more concealment for the soldiers in the forest stretch.
So I tell Serb to strafe that damn forest area with a long burst.
Which results in another Humvee explosion. This also fucks a soldier who was chilling directly next to it. And to top it off, on the right you can see Akhmet's grenade going off. And it did indeed kill the one guy.
Since the AEK is so damn accurate, Akhmet competes with Vitek for the title of headshot king.
I'm not kidding. The AEK feels almost broken. But I figure the developers wanted to toss you a fun toy for the end of the game, so it's cool with me.
But not all is well for our lads...
Vitek ate a round. Look at his stamina. Yeah, another hit and he's knocked out. Honestly, I expected him to catch a second one and kind of ran with it from here. Seven seconds of stun mean that he's very unlikely to recover fast enough.
I'm not too worried though, since Akhmet also does good sniping with the AEK.
Since most of the Yankees have scrambled for cover, and the smoke fucks with my vision, I have Serb leave the Mg. He's more valuable on foot now.
But I want to point out that all this mayhem happened in less than thirty seconds.
And then the inevitable happens...
..Vitek takes a nap.
And while he's falling over...
..he gets another one in the balls.
This also broke his ceramic plate. But since it saved him from damage, I'm okay with that. Sorry about your balls, bro.
But since he is down, I also lost my guy with the highest eyesight.
Yeah, I have to move now.
Akhmet takes a peak and finds more jerks in the forest.
And some stray rounds blew up a Humvee in the distance.
He pops some rounds, before ducking back. Things are okay at this point, but not that great.
Here is something weird.
Serb spots this guy on the left. He throws a nade in the completely wrong direction. No idea. He get's a round to the back for his efforts.
Here you can see how difficult it is to find the soldiers in the forest.
Luckily, the AEK isn't phased by that and headshots him.
But now Serb is in trouble.
You can see where this will lead, right?
This is the jerk that's shooting at him.
I can't really engage him...
..so it's nap time.
His plate also shattered and the shot even caused some damage.
Akhmet is pretty much on his own for now.
So it's time for some daring action.
In the AEK we trust.
Vitek gets back in the fight, and is hungry for revenge.
Akhmet's Rambo antics get stopped for the moment.
Vitek reminds us why we like him...
..and Akhmet shreds two soldiers with a sweet rifle grenade.
Things are mostly under my control by now, so it's time for clean-up.
Hey, Sleepyhead, you forgot your blood!
AEK: Still the best thing.
Vitek spots this guy.
Coincidentally, it's the Commander of the unit. Leading from the rear, eh?
Glad you're enjoying yourself, pal.
Akhmet moves towards the Striker, and kills the last soldier.
..the bear and the eagle clashed...
..and the eagle lost...
..while the bear will wear his scars with pride.
Time to finish.
Of course, I'll do it in style.
And that's it!
The ending is a little open. Though I think it's fair to say that Akhmet's actions sparked a rebellion against the oppressors. So maybe he is a hero after all? You have to decide that for yourself.
One thing I'd like to point out is the tone of the ending. It portrays the Americans as weak and reliant on their technology while the Russians prevail by being tough and self reliant. Since we, as in the West, have mountains of fiction that portray the East as the awful villains and whatnot, I'm totally cool with it. I think Al Atomi, the author of the book, has some radical views but I don't think that the guys from Apeiron share them. At least I've never seen something along this lane in their games. I'll write my closing thoughts in the last update.