Manifold Mischief

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

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sugar Shack 47: Mandarin: Man of Many Mysteries

Orientally-named, but Occidentally-themed, the Mandarin hangs out in his club, the Lynch Pin (-256. 1. -306), in the rancid dumpiness of Lucero Point. Despite this inauspicious venue, though, he is a fine host, and just outside his club there is a profusion of vendors of every sort. The inscrutable Mr. M. hangs out in the back of his bar, perfectly positioned for endless flirting with the bartenders. Or for stopping endless flirting, as the case may be. Curiously, in his dapper elegance, he looks like my XO, RemagDiv! Not only this, his speech patterns evoked British English! Who would have expected this from someone with a name like that? In his missions there is a pleasing variety and ingenuity.

1. Angels and Daemons

In this first mission, once again someone wants rare data. However, “I can’t spare any of my own people. I’ve always found you reddies to be an eager sort.” We first seek Taylot Yamin, a librarian program who is good at tracking down things. As the Operator tells us, “nearly every string of inanimate code passes through her systems at some point”. Sounds like a good person to get to know! I looked forward to a awesome networking opportunity.

It was not to be. I got to the librarian’s apartment, but it was filled with attacking simulacra. No guiding hand is apparent. Yamin is nowhere to be found, but someone else is, one Elwood Meritel, or something like that. He refuses to emerge from the room until the simulacra are all gone. He’s such a wuss! And he knows nothing! Yamin seems to have disappeared. The big mystery is twofold: Who killed the simulacra in the room with the wuss (check for a CD)? And what happened to Yamin? Yamin never turned up, and this absence was never noted by operator or exile, so I assume it to be a mission blemish.

We track down the simulacra to on Aitken, a 50th level master of coding. After I decommissioned his minions, he was very amenable, and agreed to take me to the storehouse where Mandarin’s stuff has been placed. A few of the local thugs attacked us, but Aitken easily withstood them (a nice change!), and I easily dispatched them.

Aitken brings us to the storehouse, and unlocks for us the information Mandarin wants. One room is locked and needs the Pick Lock ability and tool, neither of which I brought to the party; nonetheless I was able to complete the mission; opening the door was not necessary for mission objectives completion. Once everything is over, then when I checked out Aitken, I had the option of fighting with him! I couldn’t resist, and put a couple of slugs into him to remember me by. But I didn’t kill him. I swear! As I moped my way to the elevator, Mandarin told me “You’re not bad for a reddie. Come back soon and I’ll have another job for you”.

Mysteries: Where was the ostensible librarian? Editing blemish? Who killed the simulacrum in the same room with the cowering Elwood? What was going on with the locked room which was superfluous to mission success? What was the significance of being able to shoot Aitken at the end?

2. Broken Connection

One of Mandarin’s contacts broke off contact in mid-call; see what’s going on. Seems fairly straightforward. Oh, there’s a data disk that he wants retrieved. Everyone you were looking for is dead, and Mandarin instructs you to go ahead and kill everyone left there. You find out that the contact owed money to the folks who killed him. Guess this explains why he was in a hurry for me to pay him, Mandarin glumly noted. So, anyway, I found a CD that has to be dropped off with Arachne. When I arrived, I mistakenly spoke to Ananke, who gave me the warm greeting, “Talk to Arachne and get out. We were busy, you know.” And a few seconds later, “Aren’t you done yet?” Arachne is much better when I give him the CD: “Awesome. You can leave. NOW.” Mandarin was a serene island of warmth: “Excellent! The artifact is almost within my grasp! Uhh, I mean, you did a good job”.

Good news! This mission ends up right next to the same building as Mandarin’s club!

3. Far From Home

More artifact mania. “My stupid, stupid, STUPID sister is nosing around after my artifact. Amber just wants what belongs to ME!” To distract Amber, I was sent to kill some of her men, and send the head of their leader to one of her chief lieutenants. Unfortunately, when you kill the target, and “get his head” there is still a head on the figure lying on the ground. When I arrived at the dumpy building used by Amber’s folks, I was surprised to see an Agent accosting me! Does Amber have contacts I did not know about? The agent asked if I had an appointment!! Perhaps it was just someone wearing an agent disguise? The advisor was impressed with my delivery: “What’s this? OH GOD! It’s Adzhimushdjkaj! You animal! What have you done?” I thought that would have been pretty clear. At the end, Mandarin was pleased. “Nice application of violence, Sugaree. That’s what I pay you for.” And we end up right next to his club again!!

Being accosted by an apparent Agent while doing an Exile’s bidding was counter-intuitive. So was the head on the headless figure, especially since all one had to do for the right effect was have the target fall so his “head” was inside the wall, giving the impression of headlessness.

4. Flutter Away, Little Bird

Mockingbird (the artifact magnet) has some information about Mandarin’s artifact of interest. As he puts it, “Mockingbird thinks she knows everything about artifacts. She’s all superior with her talk talk talk.” This is reasonably straightforward, and soon you end up with a business card. That’s it! The most interesting part of this mission took place at the drop-off. Two other exiles interrogated me. One asked me why humans reject the Matrix, and then followed this up with “Like it or not, we programs are a species capable of free thought and feeling. Think about that next time you take an action that harms the Matrix.” I’m a Machinist! Why am I getting this lecture! After the drop-off, Mandarin affirms, “Very very, very good. We’re almost there!”

5. Compression Artifact

The artifact Mandarin so craves is hidden in a crate at a warehouse; we need to find out which one. This involves two locales. The first warehouse eventually yields the location; the second yields the artifact. The exile holding it, Nightingale, reluctantly turns it over, with a stern warning that this is not over. It turns out that the artifact is simply some candy from a previous iteration of the Matrix. Candy! More detail, and a description, would have been wonderful for this: the color, shape, form, and texture, not to mention the taste! Oddly enough, once the handoff was done, I had the option of shooting at Nightingale or fighting with her. I took a few shots at her to let her know I wasn’t scared. Then I ran off to give the artifact with a contact, who remarked, “After he is presented with this gift, perhaps The Merovingian will finally forgive Mandarin.” The meaning of the mission title is not clear, unless it somehow refers to the candy?

Mandarin made no mention of this when he said “Thank you, Sugaree. I cannot thank you enough for recovering this artifact”. But people often hide their true motivations, treat big things small, and small things big, so this was not a huge surprise.

Conclusion. Overall, loose ends galore with these missions, but generally ones which intrigue, not annoy. Even so, since everything seems to work towards procuring the “artifact”, there’s a satisfying internal consistency throughout the suite. The NPCs are definitely above average in this suite, make sure to talk to all of them before and after you do things. The biggest mystery is the backstory at the end: what happened between Mandarin and the Merovingian? Perhaps future critical missions will shed light.

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