Manifold Mischief

Mission reviews, essays, and documents of record regarding The Matrix Online. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sugar Shack 22: Exile Contact Missions: The Jeweler: Christmas Shopping with the Best

Sugar Shack 22: Exile Contact Missions: The Jeweler: Christmas Shopping with the Best

For Christmas, my thoughts turned to my shopping list, with its many stops in many malls. To make up for the jewelry which would not be coming my way next week, I decided to seek the next best thing: an Exile named The Jeweler.

He is to be found in a very well-appointed upper room at Club Cyclo in Morrell (-1430, 263, -244; take the club elevator to the 31st floor). I had the strong feeling of entering his world as I passed the burly guards, opened the double doors, and walked on in. He stood in the middle, with a crammed shelf of reference books behind him. Nearby there was a comfortable sofa, with plants, decorative vases, and a delightful grandfather clock. A “Free Zion” poster on a wall may have accounted for the fact that all the trouble in this mission suite came from Merovingian operatives. I have to say, the decoration in this game has come a long, long way, and is definitely too little praised. The only blemish was a defective ceiling fan, with only a “V” of blades, not even moving.

Amidst this elegance, the Jeweler seems like a diamond in the very rough. He speaks like a refugee from Brooklyn, brusque and distrustful one minute, and cajoling and laughing the next. Sometimes you can take the gem out of the dirt, but you can’t take the dirt out of the gem.

1. The Stones

In this first, show-your-worth mission, you get some uncut diamonds from his assistant and deliver them. I expected allusions to Mick Jagger and company, but none was forthcoming. After you receive the stones, there’s an NPC who attacks you (numbers depending on party size); a little skill gets you past the threat with ease. Skill not being my forte, I of course died the first time.

2. Just a Few Questions

Of the five Jeweler mishes, the second one is the stand-out. Initially a simple escort mission, it became one of the two or three most difficult missions I have ever undertaken. I failed repeatedly at it solo, and now believe that solo it is undoable. Only when I had a full mission team of outstanding players (Sattakan, Illyria1, Darklordmax, Shread, and Alysha) was it completable, and then only after several tries. Few other missions take the planning and strategy that this one does, believe me.

****SPOILER ALERT BEGINS****

Here’s why. You’re tasked with bringing in the assistant from the first mission for some questioning. The gems you picked up were bogus, and the Jeweler wants to find out what’s going on. The assistant, understandably, has surrounded himself with 6-8 bodyguards. Strangely, they show little interest in you, and seem quite bored when you talk to them about their client. In fact, you cannot engage them. When the assistant agrees to come with you, though, they all wake up and instantly start attacking. The client quickly falls in the crossfire. And AOE attacks seem to bring him down as well; hold off on Devastation Fields and Code Nukes.

The second time I tried this, I entered one office and set off the alarms, so I could control the terms of engagement. This set the guards to hostile, and I defeated them piecemeal, working my way to the jeweler’s office, using Ballista build rather than AOEs. This brought me to the final guard in the final room with the assistant jeweler. As soon as I spoke to him, however, the guard attacked, and the jeweler died in the crossfire. **bleep**!

But that’s not all! It got worse! Less then ten seconds after this, my operator said there were agents closing in on my location! By the time I reached an elevator, one had already materialized and winged me on the way out! Then he chased me out of the building! I hyperjumped, looking for a hardline, and he was everywhere I came down, taking a big bite out of me each time! I barely made it to a hardline and the blessed loading area, looking more like a piece of Swiss cheese than runner-up for the Ms. Sexiest Redpill!

At Stamos I sat on a bench to stop hyperventilating and re-consider my strategy. And I would still be sitting there, too, if I had not run into an exceptionally talented, fierce group of people (Sattakan, Illyria1, Darklordmax, Shread, and Alysha) who came to my aid. We attacked in a tidal wave of mayhem, quickly obliterating the guards. Then we cleaned out the lobby guards. But the instant I exited the building with the jeweler in tow, three or four more Merv mercenaries appeared out of nowhere and killed our man. Damn!

****SPOILER ALERT ENDS****

Eventually, through careful coordination, we got our client to the Jeweler’s interrogation team, some happy-go-lucky blood-drinkers. Then the client tried to chicken out. But by then it was too late. And good riddance!

3. Bright Shiny Objects

It turns out that the assistant you bagged last time had nothing to do with this! It was _his_ supplier that caused the problem, and in this simple mish you dish out doom to the duplicitous diamond double-dealer. At the end, the Jeweler is all smiles, and promises to take me out for a night on the town. I wish!

4. Fair Payment

This is “prime time”, and simple enough: getting payment from Exile Anti-M for a special piece of jewelry for her to give Beryl, Argon’s alleged girlfriend. You run into Anti-M (she looks as she did when I ran her missions ages ago) and she helps dispatch a few of the thugs who seek to break in and steal the payment. Anti-M seems quite involved in this mish, apparently not totally convinced of your reliability. Or maybe she just enjoyed the buzz, and wanted a good story to tell Beryl. She reached the final bad before you, in fact, and dispatches him on her own. You have to wonder how she gets around so quickly; the cell phone on a desk with her in the end-game room seems to have something to do with this. If only…if only…

5. A Girl’s Best Friend

Oddly, no fighting is really necessary for this final mission. Here, you just drop off the ring from Anti-M to Beryl. This goes fairly smoothly, except for Beryl initially giving us the wrong address; we seemed to stumble into a Blood Nobles Promise-Keepers convention. Eventually the delivery was completed. When you get here, don’t be in a hurry; Beryl’s pleas for the box are wonderful; I felt like I was talking to someone after my own heart. She thought it might be a new dress or the handmade chocolates she had ordered… She’s my kind of Exile! She was thrilled with the ring, and planned to wear it immediately, just to drive Argon nuts. You go, girl!

And with this, the Jeweler’s entrance to the big leagues of power and influence seems assured, or so he tells us. With his talent, he crows, he won’t need luck! And when he’s running the city, he’ll remember all the little people! Like us!

So what was memorable about The Jeweler?

- One of the hardest missions I have ever done, on a par with the Coroner’s first one, as done back in beta. Try this by yourself if you don’t believe me! Much delightful, unexpected challenge! Well, unexpected, anyway. The solution to the guards (using the alarm) was non-intuitive, and quite nice.
- The writing for the secondary NPCs was excellent.
- The phone interruptions from The Jeweler at various points along the way. The way he maddeningly swung from bluster to cajoling was great. He told me he loved me!
- The Jeweler’s setting was very well laid-out, much better than the usual pimp-on-a-corner, thug-in-a-club stuff. Even the broken ceiling-fan seemed cute.
Incorporating Beryl and Anti-M and Argon and their ménage-a-trois was great. Beryl was well-written, as was Anti-M.
- How _did_ Anti-M get around so much and so fast? Apparently from the cell phone we found near her in mish #4; this opens up some exciting possibilities about what Exiles can do.
- The way the Jeweler jovially blows you off at the end “I’ll be good to all the little people” indeed!

What could be better?

- The business card I was given in mish #1 could have had some text on it, described in the details, describing me generically (“another Trainman wannabee; see if this one can handle something with training-wheels before we assign anything that matters” or “This one has a hair-trigger temper and some powerful friends. Keep everything on a professional level.”).
- Other Exiles gave me stuff at the end of a mish. Usually it was junk, but I always figured it was the thought that counted. Maybe a nice ring or bracelet or earrings, or a brooch, or necklace or diadem or nose ring or ankle chain would have been thoughtful. Would that have been so hard? Something that goes better with a Red Lotus Blouse than, you know, a fly-in-amber! Something suitable for a night out at Succubus, like dark emeralds in a platinum setting for a bracelet…I mean, hey, it's Christmas!
- Maybe some customers hanging out, outside his office, chattering about this or that piece of jewelry. Then, when you go in, they say “Hey! No cutting in line!” and they reach for guns, before the guards at the door say “Cut it, you clowns, this one works here”.
- If we ever get more clothes or add jewelry, his missions would be a great way to start their distribution.
- His breezy condescension wore thin after a while.
- The opposition in this mission was all Merovingian. Imagine if one of their emissaries had approached us during the missions at some point and offered us a better deal to betray the Jeweler…with veiled threats if we did not acquiesce…

This review may be found at manifoldmischief.blogspot.com, along with previous reviews and other writings relevant to MxO.