Manifold Mischief

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

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Sugar Shack 27: Exile Contact Missions: Sammy Wein: Nothing Ever Goes Just Right

Sugar Shack 27: Exile Contact Missions: Sammy Wein: Nothing Ever Goes Just Right

For an Exile at the nexus of several vicious gang rivalries, Sammy Wein seems quite serene. In fact, with his harshly-cut white hair and piercing dark eyes, he looks more like Andy Warhol or David Bowie, standing across from the entrance of Club Vault (Lamar at 249, 7, -61), raptly contemplating its shapely holiday assistant. He seems to work by himself. He does not have labs, he does not have swarms of assistants, all he has is manipulative ingenuity. His goal is to bring warring groups together, apparently in the belief that peace is good for business.

All his missions are simple and straightforward, but a couple of things make them stand out. First, they’re so straightforward! I mean, they have their wrinkles, but they are easily doable in a couple of hours. No swarms of bads, no out-of-the-blue attacks during escorts, etc. They felt like a breath of fresh air. Second, unlike so many Exiles, Sammy does not seem to just be in this for himself. In fact, most of his missions are related to brokering peace among street gangs. After working with Exiles obsessed with baking and booking, brokering was a pleasant change, believe me.

1. Odd Jobs

His consigliore tells him I’m good and he needs a package delivered. Someone tries to cut in and hijack the delivery. Does this sound familiar, or what? Well, it turns out this is a test. I pass it and he says to come back for some real work. In case I had not noticed, my operator tells me he is still a very dangerous program. Thanks, but isn’t this the kind of thing you should hear _before_ taking on an assignment? The Operator seemed quiescent and passive for these mission suite; maybe he was off playing Second Life or something.

2. Cleaning House

The “real work”. Almost half a dozen street gangs have been at each other’s throats, and Sammy wants to put an end to it. As a preparatory step to arranging a meeting, he needs you to check out a site for the talkfest. Alas! It turns out a sixth gang, the Bookwyrms, is there waiting to cause trouble. Kill three of them and you’re done! For a mission on Hard setting, I was surprised that so few were thrown at me, and that they waited separately in different rooms for me to defeat them piecemeal. Maybe this was the Classics Illustrated version of the Bookwyrms?

3. The Exchange

The Suits are holding a White Security gang member hostage, and the White Security folks have a disk they stole from the Suits. Sammy tasks you with arranging the exchange. I’ll admit I have extreme nerves about anything resembling an escort mission. Happily, though, the White Security hostage is dead, and you don’t need to escort him anywhere! Just kill everyone, take back the disk, and drop it off with one of Sammy’s folks.

There were many neat touches about this one. I spoke with the White Security folks, and one looked at me and answered “Nice shoes”, and then burst out laughing! (Nice foreshadowing, as we see at the end.) Sammy’s cut-out at the end shakes his head commenting about these stupid squabbling gangs. I love touches like this.

4. Keep the Peace

Someone once said that the best way to achieve peace is to kill all the bad people, and that’s exactly what you do here. First the Shades and then the Assassins. When I arrived at the third site, spattered with blood and smelling like a wicked hacker, the third group decided to be more accommodating. Sammy approvingly observes at the end:

“They fear you, Sugaree. That’s the most valuable asset you can have in business.” I purred in satisfaction.

5. Shell Game

Now the five-way negotiation is all set to begin! Three gang representatives are already waiting impatiently, and you need to escort two more to the confab. Strangely, this two-part escort mish is trouble-free! I kept expecting attacks from mobs, from lobby guards, from bystanders, from spontaneously-generating attackers, and from UFOs. But nothing happened. Until I got everyone together, that is. Then you discover that not everyone wants peace as much as Sammy does. Maybe they just don’t fear him enough…

Again, there were many nice touches: the comments of the principals, the way they stood tapping their feet and crossing their arms when you weren’t doing anything. And the escorts helped me in some fights, which was a welcome surprise! Oddly, though, in the final fight, they became wallflowers, standing around like they were waiting for Godot or something.

And so, in the end, peace was not achieved. The lovely downtown streets were safe for strife. The same gangs which hated each other were free to continue their pointless wars, just like at Mara. The only loser was Sammy lost cred with them by failing to enforce his peace, but he did not reveal his disappointment. Instead, he bravely spoke to me about taking a break from peacemaking, and who can blame him? But all was not lost; he gave me a super pair of indigo buffed pumps, as a parting gift. Maybe he was thinking of the long and winding road I have yet to travel.

It’s only recently occurred to me how some Exiles just never get things right. The Chef comes to mind as the best example of course. But like him, Sammy fails and is left gazing vacantly at the Club Vault, waiting with worried eyes for someone to come out and bring him a solution to his woes. I liked his style and I liked his shoes.

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