The Let's Play Archive

The 3rd Birthday

by The Dark Id

Part 27: Mudflaps, Meat Walls, and Bone Curtains

Alright, folks. This is it! It’s time for the final mission of The 3rd Birthday: Operation Scarlet Snow. You know, it really doesn’t feel like we’re at the end of the game. Especially, considering there has barely been anything you’d call progression in the fight against the Twisted invasion. The world is in an inarguably far worse place than when we began.

But rest assured, this entire apocalypse thing will be sorted out by going and kicking Hyde Bohr in the dick. Or astral projecting into an unwitting host which will kick Hyde Bohr in the dick – as is The 3rd Birthday’s convoluted methodology of accomplishing anything.

If nothing, The 3rd Birthday had at least been consistently switching its generic interchangeable fighting force and their character models each mission. But even that miniscule amount of effort has gone by the wayside as we are once more jumping into the UN Coalition Forces for this final round up.

Aya stops short in a look of either determination or annoyance that she forgot to wear her jacket to the final mission. It’s Mid-February in New York. I’ve got to imagine that it is bloody cold out.

And my final mission is about to begin.

See? I told you. She said it herself. This is the final mission. Sorting out Hyde will fix everything… somehow. I mean, unless there’s actually some worldwide cabal of High Ones lurking around the world with Hyde, Madigan, and the CTI folks just being one small pocket of ‘em in the greater Manhattan metropolitan area. Aya is going to feel real silly if she takes down Hyde, only to find there’s another trio of High Ones hanging out in Yonkers or some shit.

New Music: The Way Things Are

[…a suicide squad. Their last attempt at resistance. Hehehe. Well, perhaps not resistance, but a counterattack.]

You see? These men are all on a desperate suicide mission. So it’s perfectly okay for you to throw away any of their lives if it means completing the mission. Got it, Aya?

The Feats of Chapter 5-1 paint a slightly different story. Conserve Ammo is err… I think the parameters is you’re only allowed to reload a half dozen times in the chapter? I’m equipped with a single shot grenade launcher as my heavy hitting weapon which must be reloaded each time. Yeah… That shit ain’t happening for me or probably much anyone on a first run.

Sustain reinforcements translates to letting no more than five soldiers die during the course of this chapter. And the last Feat I think you can figure out on your own.

Before we proceed into the Grand Babel, I will say I think this area has a pretty visual style to it, with ruins and wreckage sewn together with a weird alien nest setting. Granted, it looks nothing visually like areas the Twisted had infested previously. Only the Snatchers had any indication of constructing any sort of habitat in their environments and now the Twisted have suddenly gone full Xenomorph in the closing act. But hey, I’ll take it over the wrecked urban sprawl, subway tunnels, or office building wreckage of the last few missions.

[Each unit is acting on its own. All of this to protect New York.]
Weren’t these troops a multi-national UN security force?
[Well… yes. But… W-Well the spirit of New York is strong worldwide!]
On the subject of protecting New York… That nuclear missile detonated, right?
[It did indeed.]
And the Grand Babel formed around it, correct?
[That is right. All the Babels in the Manhattan area merged where the m-missile detonated.]
So… given the nuclear explosion and the Grand Babel absorbing the blast… Is this Grand Babel radioactive?
[Oh yes, INCREDIBLY so. It makes the fallout from Hiroshima and Nagasaki look like an afternoon in the sun. But don’t worry, Aya. M-My studies have shown your soul during the Overdive is not capable of absorbing r-radiation.]
And… the people I am Overdiving into?
[I did say it was a suicide squad. I was not necessarily talking solely about the Twisted.]
Oh… Hmm...
[Do hurry, Aya. You should have plenty of time to face Hyde but… you know.]

New Music: Into the Babel

In this final mission, all of the previous enemies we’ve encountered have received an upgraded, palette swap second generation (not counting the ones we’ve already seen upgraded.)

While some of them, like the Wads, have just gained higher HP, defense, and attack power. A few of the Twisted ranks have gained new abilities. The Rollers, for instance, have gained a temporary defensive shield on spawn, which blocks bullets from their front for a time. This also strengthens their ramming attacks until the shield deactivates.

Their shield does NOT, however, protect against grenades chucked in their general direction. Making the old tactic of lobbing a grenade into an Overdive Kill and laying into ‘em afterwards while they recover from the stun time still just as effective as it was in their earlier form.

Almost every area in the Grand Babel is just a fight arena where Aya cannot progress until she rids the area of Twisted. Coupled with all the upgraded Twisted being bullet sponges, many of which come packing a minimum of two to three health bars. This whole portion is a rather grueling slog.

[It might be hard to believe, but...]

I think Maeda is talking about the giant white, low resolution splotches coating the floor and walls as we go along. Please do not tell me Hyde’s High One power centers around flinging or emitting any manner of sticky white substance. That would be incredibly uncool, The 3rd Birthday.

In the second arena of the Babel, we come upon the upgraded Snatchers. Snatcher 2.0 seems to have put all its upgrade stat points into offensive capabilities. Its energy blasts and spike mines hit hard, but it is still a fairly fragile category of Twisted.

The Snatcher does come packing one new ability: A beam which scrambles Aya’s vision with a terribly low resolution TV noise filter for 3-5 seconds. Aya is still controllable during this time period. You just cannot see shit. Considering Aya ought to be near cover when taking on enemies with projectile attacks, this is more of a brief nuisance than anything debilitating.

Speaking of cover, the Grand Babel seems to be host to a series of waist high meat walls scattered at convenient intervals where Aya and the troops find themselves combatting the Twisted. During this mission, we’ll find meat walls either already strategically placed or suddenly erupting from the ground at regularly intervals. They even respawn after a bit if exploded with grenades or rammed by enough Twisted attacks.

Sadly (Thankfully?) there are no datalog entries on the origin of the pork rib cover system of the Grand Babel. Its origin and functionality in the Twisted hierarchy will remain a mystery to all.

Nice parking job, idiot. You know… now that I think about this setting… This mission’s map is reminding me of something: Prey. The less than stellar 2006 FPS using the Doom 3 engine that wasn’t made by iD. Only there the school bus carved into the alien nest was filled with ghost children. And the game murdered the hell out of a few kids for sheer shock value. Anyway, back to this 2010 bad game…

[…gathered - the Doors of Time. That should be where Overdive is possible. If you encounter Twisted heading to the past, following them would be the easiest way to get there.]

Maeda, you are a scientist. Please stop naming locations after areas from your DnD campaign? Thanks.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go fight these upgraded anuses with phalluses erupting from their top called Beans. Upgraded Beans are able to teleport at will much more freely now. The most pressing matter with the Bean 2.0 is that they can hole up in their shells and regenerate about a third of a health bar of HP, unless interrupted by firing a sniper rifle up their blowhole or battering ‘em with some explosives.

This third arena is a huge rectangular area with a massive chasm splitting it in half. The corners of the room have hidden Orbs tucked over the edge of cliffs and obscured around ceilings at awkward to reach angles. The area is already host to four Beans and five Wads from the start. We’ve got to take out all of these Orbs ASAP if we don’t want to deal with regular reinforcements of the two. Also that easy Feat.

This area is pretty tricky given the constantly hail of energy orbs from all the Beans and Wads clogging the place. But eventually Aya gets reinforcements. Why, here’s some right now! …Walking on air because I had the audacity of quickly Overdiving to this side of the room while they were spawning in to the fray. Good stuff!

The burly brawl in this room concludes with a pair of upgraded Rollers coming in to play. Their efforts at attack are thwarted by some well-placed baby-back rib walls blocking their advance toward Aya and friends.

Video games make you type some weird fucking sentences…

Regardless, completing that battle I managed to only lose two men along the way and destroyed all the Orbs because it’s basically an unmanageable clusterfuck if you do not.

They've run into trouble with this new Twisted.

Completing the Bean/Wad/Roller hoedown brings Chapter 5-1 to a close as we reach the first UN Coalition outpost of the mission. Let’s take some time to reflect on the mission and upgrade our loadout. But first…

…It’s the Statue of Liberty’s head. I guess the Grand Babel forming flung it all the way from Liberty Island to several miles into Manhattan proper. Since, as you’ll recall…

The Statue of Liberty still had a head still attached just yesterday in the post-timeskip opening cinematic. And there’s no way a skillfully crafted work, such as The 3rd Birthday, would possibly have any glaring continuity errors. No sir!

What are the chances we'll make it back alive?
Not zero, anyway.
Just focus on the task at hand and we'll be fine.
Easy for you to say - you're single. My daughter's barely three months old!
Women are strong. Your wife'll do a great job raising her on her own.
Maybe. My wife, though... she gets lonely thinking about that.
Don’t sweat it, man. She’ll probably be dead by year's end, along with everyone else anyway.

Dude! Don’t say that about my wife.
Oh. Sorry. That was insensitive. Your daughter probably won’t make it to her first birthday either. Wouldn’t want you to worry.

DUDE! The hell?!

Good thing someone brought their laptop with a satellite internet connection to update their Facebook status to Fucked. Also, to let Aya upgrade because boy I’m kinda getting my ass kicked this mission.

I fiddled around and looked up a few choice Over Energy abilities I could make by combining some of the crap OE chips I had and praying to the RNG gods.

New abilities include Barrier , which gives Aya a random chance of gaining 10 seconds of invincibility by transforming her into a translucent ghost woman for a time. Kill Boost just flat strengths Overdive Kill power. And Haste gives Aya a random chance of gaining Bullet Time for 10 seconds after performing an Overdive Kill. All good stuff.

I also retired the old Impact heavy SWAT rifle for the first Tier 2 rifle, the D6B2 – a M4 rifle knock-off with a balance between Impact and Power. Though I beefed up its Impact to be near parity.

[…the past. It's natural instinct to return to the womb. Hyde Bohr has something else up his sleeve. The Grand Babel isn't used to travel hundreds or thousands of years back into the past. It's likely he's returning to several years ago.]
Only going back several years ago? But I could already do that with the Overdive machine back at CTI.
[Yes, but… Hmm… You could, couldn’t you? I may need to reevaluate my studies. I will get back to you.]

There seem to be several clutches of eggs growing in the walls of the Grand Babel. I have no idea if the Twisted lay eggs. Certainly, we never see any of ‘em hatching from one. It is almost as though there was no unified vision for how the Twisted operated and the map designers were just throwing in whatever. But that seems off the mark.

Speaking of Twisted spawning, Chapter 5-2 has some Feats related to the prevention of that. And a new foe lies ahead. The umm… The Mudflap. Mudflaps. Uhh… sure. I’d say let’s hope they were referring to the truck component and not the vulgar vagina term. But when we’ve got Beans, Wads, and Stinkers running around… who knows if it is meant to relate to either.

It might be risky, but why don't we try a grenade?

In the first area of 5-2, we come upon this blue bone wall. As the UN troopers suggested, this standout structure is rather brittle and will immediately crumble from the slightest explosion. However, disturbing what is behind the bone curtain may not have been the wisest move…

‘Tis a troublesome foe! I really ought to finish Dragon’s Dogma PC. But alas, here I am playing The 3rd Birthday. They hold the advantage at Square-Enix. My ill spent free time aside, meet the Mudflap – the final standard Twisted type of The 3rd Birthday.

We’ll get to the abomination in a moment. First things first, “Act fast in the first Mudflap battle” actually means destroying all three Orbs hanging out in the Mudflap’s chamber within 30 seconds of the creature awakening. These orbs don’t seem to actually spawn anything else. But hey. Free BP.

Now about the Mudflap. Here you can see it using its telekinetic attack to fling a hapless soldier in its direction. The brilliant beam of light is just for flare.

As the soldier picks himself up from the floor, he is greeted by the Mudflap’s wings, for lack of a better term, peeling back to reveal a giant teethed anus the likes of which is rivaled perhaps only by William Birkin’s final form in Resident Evil 2. It doesn’t actually do anything with said teethed cavity. That’s merely its weak point.

From here, the Mudflap will do a body slam. This isn’t particularly threatening. But what is worrisome is the wisps of sperm looking dark energy emitted from the Mudflap.

Should any soldier in the immediate area, Aya Brea’s current host included, within range of the dark sperm will be enveloped in its light and be reborn anew as a Slacker. An incredibly weak Slacker at that. Half a magazine is enough to double kill the unfortunate transformed soldier.

Any soldiers caught in the Twisted transformation are SOL unless Aya can Overdive into them and perform a Liberation mid-transformation. Considering Aya will maybe reach a full Liberation bar twice per chapter… yeah, there is a very good chance the soldier in question is completely boned. Likewise, if Aya herself is zapped into Twisted form it is an instant Game Over.

The whole Slacker transmogrification is the Mudflap’s chief hazard. Beyond that, it can produce an area of effect cloud which it will use while lazily milling about the area, stun locking NPC soldiers and shredding Aya’s clothes by sheer amount of tick hits the AOE field dishes out. During this time, it also produces a small energy buckler shield. It’s that little warp space in the screenshot above. The Mudflap seems to know which soldier Aya is possessing and will shift the shield in her direction. But Overdiving to the other side of the room gives ample time to fire on the Mudflap before it can readjust.

The Mudflaps only have two health bars and have no armor status like the much heartier Wormruntspawn of the previous chapter. So they are not the biggest threat around. Upgraded Rollers and Beans both probably have more overall HP. But, there is one kink to the Mudflap that we’ll get to later. For now, I’ll just say it is highly advised to finish ‘em off with an Overdive Kill.

Video games make for weird sentences. Exhibit B.

[The High Ones are even more powerful than we expected. He must have been fighting the Twisted through time and space.]
Maeda, how are you seeing this any of this? How are you getting this information?
[Well I am…]
And don’t tell me you are hacking the soldiers’ radio communication because you already told me that was down and I haven’t heard one bit of radio chatter since I got here.
[W-Well… That is… You see… I’m sorry, I need to boost the signal. You are b-breaking up!]

Insert a room of Aya getting her ass kicked and everyone dying around her because as it turns out, having respawning flying enemies that can warp in from anywhere, coupled with teleporting artillery batteries that can turtle up at any time, and a pincer attack from walking battering rams destroying your cover all makes for kind of a bullshit encounter.

[…encounter. Either the Twisted are out for blood and won't let an enemy slip away- Or he's trying to lure you out.]
I thought you said Hyde was fighting the Twisted just before. Now he is controlling them? Which is it?
[You’re breaking up again, Aya.]

In the final room of the chapter, Aya and a wide variety of troops come upon another Snatcher nest flanked by a half dozen orbs churning out additional upgraded Snatchers. You know what’s fun? Enemies that can spawn in and immediately disable your vision with zero way to retaliate while you’re in the middle of preventing more of ‘em spawning in and doing the same. That’s real fun. It’s quality encounter design. Just rub that 25x25 blown out artifact filled 3 frame gif of TV static all over my face.

But that’s not all. Once the swarm of Stalkers are dealt with, Neville Waske and the gang come face-to-face with the second Mudflap of the chapter.

There’s nothing new to add to the standard Mudflap encounter wheelhouse. Except… I did mention earlier, that it is a very good idea to finish one of these bad boys with an Overdive Kill. But that is not always possible. For instance, when there are five NPC soldiers all firing at once there may not be time to trigger a stun in order to finish the job with the Overdive kill. If that happens, well…

It turns out the Mudflaps can do an Overdive of their own, straight out of their dying corpse and into another healthy nearby soldier body. Unlike Aya’s passive and wildly inconsistent possession of the troops…

…The Mudflap simply explodes the soldier into a brand spanking new body. The reborn Mudflap only has one health bar, as opposed to the freshly warped in two bars of HP a standard one comes rocking. But still, it’s a real shitty trait. The only way to avoid the rebirth is to run all the soldiers away from the slowly floating ghost Mudflap. But, ya know, when there is six total NPC soldiers with zero survival instinct to babysit… yeah that’s not happening.

And there’s also the cool reborn Mudflap’s trait of immediately performing the Slacker Sperm technique. And since in this scenario, the Neo Mudflap spawns directly surrounded by a whole squad of soldiers… Whoops! I guess Aya isn’t getting that particular Feat.

Thankfully, the Mudflap can only perform the rebirth trick the one time. It’s down for good, regardless of Overdive Kill, if it is slain a second time. And with the second Mudflap’s death, we draw Chapter 5-2 to a close.

Still scattered.
The staging ground should be nearby. Hope we can rendezvous with them.

With the end of the chapter comes another safe zone for Aya to recover. First things first, let’s go log on to that laptop next to the 20 foot eye in the wall and sort out Aya’s wardrobe malfunction. Despite my best efforts, I found it near impossible to make it through this segment of the game with Aya’s outfit intact. Indeed, Aya will just be torn up in cutscenes too by the end of this mission.

I buffed up the Restock ability while I was here, as The 3rd Birthday is getting rather stingy with its ammo recharges in this final mission. It’s been a fairly useful trait to have on hand here. As for Aya’s loadout, I do believe we’re done ever purchasing anything, beyond maybe an outfit repair, for the remainder of the game.

Yep, we never even touched, or hell even unlocked, about 80% of the weapons in The 3rd Birthday. If you wanna see ‘em, you are more than welcome to play through the game… several times… all by yourself. Me? I don’t give the first damn.

Keep the creepy comments to yourself. I'm uneasy enough as it is.
Hey, take a picture. I want to send it to my family.
Your daughter's still an infant, though, right?
What's your point?
If she grows up and finds out she looks like her dead dad, she's gonna hate you.
Hell, I once talked to a gorilla thinking it was you.
You jerks don't know what it feels like to meet your baby girl, then turn round and go to war. And No problem - my girl looks like her mom.

The Twisted actually get speeds that make Google Fiber look like a 56k. It actually turns out this whole Twisted fiasco is a future ISP network expansion plan gone horribly awry.

But that and more will have to wait for another time. Tune in next time when the scenario writers arbitrarily decide it’s time to face that reoccurring invincible mid-boss and take it down with a never before referenced deus ex machina as The 3rd Birthday continues!

Video: Part 27 Highlight Reel

Check This Webzone Later. Processing.

Grand Babel Concept - Motomu Toriyama's Dark Tower ends just as disappointingly as you'd expect.

Mudflap Concept – Neat. What off-brand Cthulhu Mythos design book did you copy that one from, Nomura?