System Shock 2: Fun and games

(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

rec1Holy crud, there’s another non-mutated human left alive on this ship?  Hey man!  How’s it going!  Wish you could be over on this side of the glass, but oh well — I wish you the best of luck!

Today we’ve arrived on deck 6, recreation.  At first I thought it was kind of weird to have a full deck devoted to what amounts to a playpark on a company scientific vessel, but then I realized that they probably expected to be in deep space for some time and would need a place for the crew to blow off steam.  Now, of course, they’re all horribly dead or coopted by the Many, but it was a good intention on behalf of Tri-Optimum.

rec2The goal of this deck isn’t all fun and games, unfortunately.  SHODAN tasks me with turning on a transmitter that will send a distress call to Earth (which will do… what with that information, exactly?  This is Earth’s first FTL ship, so a S&R mission is out of the question.) and will also weaken Xerxes (which is SHODAN’s primary concern).  Easy enough, right?

Nope.  Not only is the transmitter behind several locked doors, but it requires a code.  To find this code, you first have to pick up a particular PDA that mentions how a guy hid the code in the electronic paintings on the level.  So then you have to find every… last… painting and click on each several times to hopefully get part of the code.  Then when you have them all, you have to try every combination of the numbers to see what works.  It’s really annoying.

rec3Happily, it’s a fun deck to explore since it has a bunch of stuff that the Enterprise only wishes it had.  Here’s a movie theater (please stand by).

rec4Wait, there are KIDS on this ship?  Why?  What?  Huh?  Is the Von Braun rented out on the weekends to birthday parties so that Tri-Optimum can make a few bucks back?  This sign really puzzled me.

rec5There’s also a casino…

rec6…and a holo-brothel.  I can just imagine the teenage boys finding this part of the game and being all excited, only to discover that there isn’t a shred of nudity in the place.  Decapitated heads, sure, but holographic prostitutes?  I guess they’re offline for the day.

rec7The mall is another disappointment.  I mean, points for having a space mall and for entertaining me with a couple of the signs, but most of the stores are closed up and what is there is pretty dull.  But hey, why not buy a robot maid for your 8×6 crew quarters?

rec8I got a laugh out of the “gardens” that have, tops, two plants and a big hole.  Underneath is a scary set of tunnels with eggs and dead bodies galore, so I guess we know what’s fertilizing the lawn.

rec9Unlike many of the space ghosts on the Von Braun, this lady isn’t grieving or freaking out, but quietly getting drunk while swaying to the music.

rec10My questing eventually gets me to the basketball court, where I first meet Mr. Big and Muscley here.  While he takes some good ol’ fashioned bullets to put down, most of the mobs on this deck were handled with the EMP rifle.  That’s my new favorite for any mechanized foe (cyborg, mech, droid) — a couple of shots from that rechargable weapon and they’re toast.

rec11The pool is another nice touch, although I wouldn’t want to be in this room if the gravity cut out.  Reach for that life preserver, dude!  You can do it!

So I find the transmitter, enter the code, and generally feel good about my state in the world.  SHODAN gets freakier than ever after it, telling me that while the message didn’t get to Earth (I don’t think) she was able to beat Xerxes down some more.  Yay?  Victories in this game do not often feel so much.

System Shock 2: Bronson’s last stand

(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

b1I have to say, I am not overly fond of these new cyborg assassins.  Not only are they pretty annoying to take down, what with their running like scared chickens and all (just like real assassins!) but they are a huge strain on the believability factor.  Someone made these limber robots and then equipped them with ninja throwing stars?  Because… why?

b2Oh Tau Ceti V, I wish that we had never gone to visit you.  I hear Ceti Alpha VI is so much nicer this time a year.

b3Even though Xerxes is bad and the Many are bad, I still feel profoundly uncomfortable helping SHODAN take over the ship.  Hands up if you think this is a good idea.  No, I didn’t think so.  Oh well, I have precious little choice I suppose.

invHere’s a quick peek into my inventory on the Ops level.  Ammo continues to be in incredibly short supply, so I use the laser pistol if at all possible, my pistol next, and the shotgun after that.  Even though I now have enough skill to use the assault rifle, I’m going to keep that in reserve.

b4This gave me a jump — I got into the security armory, and there was a giant mech waiting to blast my head off right inside the door.  Thank you whoever invented armor-piercing rounds!

b5Over a couple of decks I had been picking up PDAs about and from Bronson, the female security chief of the Von Braun.  The tale of a no-nonsense chief trying to keep control over a ship infiltrated by the Many is sad and, naturally, tragic.  Even though she doesn’t come across as a likable person, at least she was trying to resist all the way up to the bitter end.

So it was bittersweet when I came upon this console room and found her and the last members of her staff gunned down.  Even though we never met in life, I feel that I got to know her anyway.  So why bittersweet?  Because security chiefs have the best ammo and weapons in their private stock.  Thanks, ma’am!

With all three terminals reprogrammed, SHODAN opens the way to the recreation deck.  Recreation?  I am totally crossing my fingers for space tetherball!

System Shock 2: Betrayal in Operations

(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

p1Now that I’ve moved on up to deck 4 (operations), I’m finally able to meet up with the lady who’s been guiding me for the past three hours in the game.

p2And that’s when the game drops the hammer on you.  Polito is dead — long dead, in fact, having committed suicide some time ago.  But who’s been…?

shodanWhen I try to leave, the walls melt to reveal my true guide: SHODAN.  In an electronic, halting voice, she fills me in on some of what’s been going on.  After the events of System Shock 1, a pod with her AI in it was ejected from Citadel Station (“remember Citadel”) and it somehow managed to cross several lightyears in the intervening 30 years to crash-land on Tau Ceti V.  There, SHODAN created the Many, a lifeform without restraint or conscience, but it (shockingly) turned on her.  So she’s enlisted my help to fight the Many (and Xerxes, who is on the Many’s side for some reason), putting her in the category of “evil villain who is technically aligned with my interests.”

Now if you were wondering, yes, I’ve long known about this twist in the game.  It’s come up on several lists and is fairly well-known, not to mention that this dev team pretty much lifted the whole idea for BioShock, plot twists and all, from System Shock 2.  Finding out that you’ve been unwittingly working for the bad guy is a pretty major breach of trust between the game and the player, but that’s also a major motivational factor too, since there’s a desire to get even.

p3I guess I am truly on my own then, but that’s just how I like it!  After my little chat with SHODAN, I start exploring the rest of Operations.  The goal on this deck is to find chips to put into the computer so that SHODAN can unlock more areas, but truth be told, I’m more interested in space pool.  Looks fun.  And I’m still amazed how neat this ship is.

p4Ghosts and PDAs continue to expand upon how bad things got prior to my unfreezing here on the ship.  These ghosts were victims of a massacre by security forces, and a nearby PDA suggests that my own memory has been wiped to forget some implants that were put in my noggin.

I can’t help but think of how interesting a game would be if you had to play while the breakdown was happening on the ship instead of through its aftermath.  Paranoia, deceit, covert activities, forming a desperate plan to escape.  That would’ve been cool.

p5Past the horror of corpses, conniving computers, and jack-in-the-box ghosts, I really am enjoying my time prowling through this ship.  It’s obvious that a lot of thought was put into the design of these levels to make it feel as “real” as possible.  I’ve seen System Shock 2 labeled as a simulation RPG, perhaps to put more emphasis on how immersive it is.  Seeing more of these levels is my main motivation to proceed, really.  I just wish that I could use a pistol for more than six shots without completely breaking it.  You’d think that space pistols would be more resiliant.

p6In the bathrooms (SPACE bathrooms!) I found this poor hybrid standing there, unmoving.  Maybe he really, really wanted to go but couldn’t while I was in the room.  Poor guy.

CC1I begin a sweep through the crew quarters, which are both appealing in design and a little unnerving the way the Many have moved in.  It’s around this time that I realize that System Shock 2 is quite enjoyable as a shooter when you can let go of your worry that your weapon will break or run out of ammo.  The guns are satisfying to use and it’s cathartic to blast your worst fears into smitherenes.

Around this point two new mobs start making their presence known: grenade-flinging hybrids (no biggie) and cyborg assassins.  I saw one of the assassins from afar, took a shot at him, and he dodged into a nearby corridor and… disappeared.  Can they do that?  If so, I’m in trouble.

cc2Toilets… in… spaaaaace!  Hey, this is a blog named “Bio Break,” how could I not post this?

cc4A couple of other highlights from the crew quarters: A slot machine (that actually works — I lost two nanites)…

cc3…and a high-tech piano.  I have so many questions about this piano.  It’s obviously high-tech, so why does it need to be so bulky?  Couldn’t they just use a small synthesizer instead?  And if it’s a proper piano, why does it need an electric readout like that?

System Shock 2: The horrors of hydroponics

(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

h1Welcome to deck 3, hydroponics.  Man, at this rate it’s going to take me the better part of 2014 to get through these ships (and there are TWO of them!).  The theme of hydroponics is “aliens, worms, and cybernetic horror.”  Good times.

h2Hydroponics is crawling (well, walking) with midwives, whose speech patterns are even MORE disturbing than the hybrids.  Sample: “Babies love to sleep.  Babies need to rest.”  I’m just about done with the wrench, considering that everything’s shooting at me now.  I’m investing in repair skill so that I can keep my guns up to snuff, but man they degrade really quickly.

h3The main goal of hydroponics is to find these toxin vials (four in all) and jam them into environmental regulators so that they’ll kill off the biomass in the elevator shaft.  Unfortunately for me, this means that I have to figure out the game’s research system, since you can’t use the toxin until you research it.  This involves not only spending precious cyber modules on research levels, but finding certain chemicals and waiting around a long, long time until the research process is complete.  Gameplay!

h4There’s a heavy dose of Aliens (the movie franchise) going on here, because developers are lazy and love to rehash eggs, facehuggers, the whole bit.  The eggs and the little worms that come out aren’t huge hazards, other than jacking up my toxin levels.

I did find this one section, cold storage, to be really beautiful in the design.  Even with the rougher polygons of the late 90s, the ship still looks great.  Character models, eh, but the ship is pretty neat.

h5Through all of the PDAs found on this level, the true horror emerges.  I guess the Many got to at least one doctor, who used his influence to get a bunch of ladies sent up so that he could transform them into Midwives.  Several of the voice logs feature people in mid-transformation, documenting their agony and bliss.  I think we need to plow this ship into the sun and be done with it.

h6At least my arsenal continues to grow.  I not only pick up an assault rifle in good condition and a grenade launcher, but this handy laser pistol.  I did have to dump some points into energy weapons to use it, but I consider that a good investment since the pistol can be recharged for free at any recharging station.  It’s good for a few fights at least, and those are fights I’m not using up the rest of my ammo.  Here I am taking on a mech, and that mech is TOAST.

h7Ew, cleanup on aisle everything.  I repeat, cleanup on aisle everything!

All in all, hydroponics isn’t that tough of a level.  I really have my System Shock 2 game legs now and am not tip-toeing through the levels but striding boldly with the weight of righteous vengeance on me.  With all four toxins injected into the system, the biomass clears up (or so the good doctor tells me over the com) and I’m ready to go meet her on deck 4.  Could the game almost be over?

System Shock 2: Power to the person

(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

ss1My parents always told me that nothing worthwhile ever comes easy, so just suck it up and pay the price.  This is definitely my maxim as I go through the bowels of this starship trying to flip on the power.  You’d think, with video game logic, that there should be one big button somewhere, but no, the developers apparently designed an actual starship in all of its complexity, broke it, and left the players to piece it back together.

So I head to this cargo shuttle bay in my efforts to replace a missing circuit board.  You can’t see it now, as this is the peaceful aftermath, but there were exploding barrels, radiation, turrets, a shotgun hybrid, and (why not) one of those psychic monkeys.  And me and my wrench.

ss2On my way to command control, another one of those ghosts appears and relives his final moments — he blows out his brains to avoid becoming a hybrid like the others.  Hey, that’s encouraging!  Why couldn’t you be one of those ghosts that appears to give me a thumbs up and a “you can do it”?

ss3Circuit board in place!  I wouldn’t be surprised if System Shock 2 demanded that I actually learn a programming language to make it work at this point.

ss4On my way back to fluidics control, I come across this poor creature in a room below decks.  He shuffles up and says his not-so-intimidating line, then just stares up at me, almost begging me to kill him.  I am really impressed that the game has these mobs’ heads track up like that, considering the year this was made.  And yes, I grant him his wish.

ss5Fluidics controls (whatever those are) are now online!  So I’ve got the power back, yes?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

no.  Of course not.  Remember what we’re playing?

ss6All fluidics controls does for me is to flush radiation out of the tubes at the beginning of the level and pave the way to the engine core.  I’ll save you the boring run-around, but this area involves going between the two nacelle sections to reactivate them, THEN turning the core back online.  All this, I might remind you, is done merely to turn on the elevator.

wormsThe engine core is also home to a nest of writhing worms, because this game loves to gross me out.

midThe power does have one added benefit, which is to activate a pair of small lifts that take me down to… I really don’t know what to call this area, but it’s a long, long corridor with windows at the very bottom of the ship.  There are some mobs, some turrets, and some goodies to grab.  It’s here that I bump into my very first midwife, which is a cybernetically transformed lady with a ghoulish face.  Oh, and she can shoot… something… at me, making me long for the days of pipe-wielding hybrids.

At least I can use the elevator now, skipping over levels full of undescribable horrors to get right to level 4 and the good doctor, yes?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

no.  Of course not.

shaftThere’s a “biomass” blocking the shaft above level 3, so the elevator dumps me off at hydroponics.  I’m sure this won’t involve any sort of plant-human monstrosities.  Maybe I just shouldn’t get off the lift?

System Shock 2: Rebuilding the Von Braun, piece by piece

(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

choicesExploring Engineering has added a new wrinkle to the anxiety levels that System Shock 2 produces, and that’s the lack of windows and the abundance of slow-opening doors.  I have to keep opening these doors — slowly — never knowing what’s on the other side.  And since I’m bumping into them everywhere, it adds to a closed-in feeling for this level.

My ammo levels are fine but not great.  I really would love to stumble upon a huge ammo dump, but knowing this game, it’s not going to happen.

droidsTo find a keycard that I need, I dive into this lovely room that’s full of crates and pods that have the potential to spit out an exploding droid at any time.  The whole room is a hide-and-go-seek wonderland, except that the prize for being found is death.  I don’t stick around long, if you were wondering.

runBut that keycard leads to an even bigger cargo bay — more hide-and-go-seek with angry droids and hybrids, yay — as I frantically searched for the one dead body that had a code for the room I needed back in the engine core.  This fellow above scrawled some helpful advice on the walls that I took to heart.  Nice of him, really, although what was I going to do when I came upon a dead body?  Set up shop and raise a few space kids?

My saving grace in this section is the use of a couple of speed boosters to help me blitz past the turrets, mechs, and droids so that I could find the code and get the heck out of there — with one hit point to spare, I might add.  I really need to find a medical bed.

blitzWith that one measly hit point, it takes some creativity to backtrack through a corridor with two shotgun-toting hybrids.  I manage it with the help of multiple saves and by ducking around a corner, waiting until they get caught on the geometry, and whacking them on the back of their heads.  Hey, this game doesn’t play fair, why should I?

offlineNow that I’ve gotten access to the fluidics control computer, I find that it’s… yup, offline.  Because nothing can come easy in this game!  The audio log nearby tells me that this crazy engineer yanked a circuit board and hit it in another room for some reason.  More backtracking!

circuitLots more running around the initial tunnels.  I guess it goes to show how you can get used to anything in a game, because I don’t even blink an eye when I come upon a hybrid.  I either run past or play whack-a-noodle, loot their corpse, and move on.

The good news is that I not only find the circuit board, but a few other goodies in the area.  I’m back to my wrench almost full-time now, because my shotgun’s out of shells and my pistol is in poor repair.  Might as well conserve.

System Shock 2: Freaking out at the bottom of the ship

(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

ss1I hate when I log out of a game in a difficult spot, because then it becomes really hard to convince myself to pick it up again.  Stuck in engineering while facing a few turrets with inadequate hardware made for a delay in my play here.

Fortuantely, after inspecting my inventory I realised I had a few options.  A case of armor-piercing bullets caught my eye, so I loaded those up and easily took out the turrets with a few hits apiece.  It took a few saves to do so, because I kept having mobs spawning behind me — and since I’m made of tissue paper, it takes just one or two whacks with their wet noodles before I went down.

ss2Is that one of the brain slugs?  It’s really hard to tell.  I’m wondering why I haven’t seen any of the parasites try to latch onto me yet.

A security station with a handful of goodies was my reward for persevering through this area.  At least I was able to raise my standard weapon skill to 4, although 6 is my goal since it’ll allow me to use the assault rifle.  Until then, I dunno, my character would probably point it at his face and pull the trigger.

ss3Crossing over into a new section, the screen whites out and I get to take a brief tour of the inside of the Many (I’m assuming).  It’s all biological and yucky, in a sharp polygon way, although the voice that calls to me is far more disturbing.  It asks why I’m fighting against it instead of joining it, why I’m teaming up with “the metal” instead of my former comrades who are now with the Many.  Maybe I’m not fighting for anyone other than myself?  Maybe I’m tired of everyone trying to kill me?  Your recruitment methods are suspect, Many, when they come in the form of lead pipes to my noggin.

I find another PDA that continues this little side story of a lovesick couple who are trying to get together since they’re on separate ships.  I’m betting that doesn’t end well for them.

Since the whole turret section took up a bunch of time, I wasn’t able to progress much further today.  Oh well, you sit tight there Mr. Space Soldier and think pleasant thoughts!

System Shock 2: Engineering under duress

(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

So now we’ve arrived on our second deck, engineering, and are looking for a way to turn on the power to the elevator.  If it was me in this ship?  I’d find a room with lots of food, lock the door, and never move again.  But I’m going to make game-me go exploring through a nightmare ship since he’s got nothing to lose.

en1Right off the bat, engineering is a different animal than the medical deck.  It’s a lot of cramped corridors, exposed pipes, and plenty of radiation to cook me into a Syp burrito.  Being hit by radiation in this game is kind of nerve-wracking, with the sounds and the screen occasionally flashing green.  You know you’re dying, you just can’t see what’s attacking you.

en2I’m not a big fan of the game’s maps, especially running the resolution that I am.  Getting to the core to restart the power is going to be a challenge with so much of the deck shut down and leaking happy funtime radiation rays.

en3“Do you have a radiation hypo?” a ghost asks.

Yes I do, but you ain’t getting any, on account of you being incorporial and all.

en4In a central room I bump into a new type of robot: a protocol droid.  Aw, like C3P0?  Well, only if C3P0 is well-known for trying to give you explosive hugs, I guess.  Xerxes has turned even the most innoculous of machines against me.  I can’t wait to put a bullet in that computer’s motherboard.

en5The doctor comes on the con to yammer about the parasites that were picked up on Tau Ceti V and how they have ways to control others even from afar, but it’s nothing new to me.  Meanwhile, I pick up a radiation suit, make my way up a gravshaft, and find out that I have to hunt down yet another code to unlock an access door to the cargo bay.

This will be a problem, because the path to victory takes me through the field of a couple of really nasty turrets.  I don’t know how to fight these things yet, as my firepower seems a little dismal for the task and I can’t hack the local security system.  WTB higher hacking skill, stat!  So I’m walking away from the game for today in hopes that a fresh perspective will persevere next time.

System Shock 2: Human contact at last

(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

The quick recap: I’ve woken up on board an experimental FTL ship (well, two ships linked together) where something’s gone horribly wrong many light-years from earth.  A disembodied voice of a doctor is urging me on as I duck parasitic hybrids of the former crew, psychic poo-flinging monkeys, and a murderous security system.  I’m feeling very sorry for myself, but at least I got an access card to R&D.

aa1Right from the get-go, returning to the old Medical section puts me in the line of fire thanks to a camera I didn’t see before.  This was definitely a “reload” situation due to the pounding I took, but I thought I’d screenshot it for posterity.  Go wrench!

aa2There’s a weird first-person perspective thing going on in this game.  It’s like I’m at the height of a child, especially when I come upon ledges like this and feel like I’m barely peeking over them.  Maybe I am a kid!  SPOILER!  /TWIST!

aa3As I use my newfound card to access the R&D wing of the medical level, I finally feel that I’m getting the hang of this game.  Slowly unlocking a level with lots of exploration and backtracking, gathering everything I can, unloading jammed weapons for ammo, taking out cameras… I’m a pro!  Well, I’m less of a noob than before at least.

aa4There’s a slightly freaky moment in an R&D corridor where a ghost screams and cries over its former body.  Guess that would be traumatic, what with having to paint the walls red and then dying.

aa5I’ve just about had it with playing wrench jockey, however.  While that weapon has the benefit of no ammo needed, it’s getting me pulverized any time I come into contact with a shotgun-wielding hybrid.  So I’m switching over to a shotgun of my own for now.

This… is my BOOMSTICK!  It looks totally awkward just protruding into the screen like that without a hand supporting the barrel, doesn’t it?

aa6Hey, it’s another actual live human!  How’s it going Dr. Watts?  It’s so great to see… oh, you’re dead now.  Well, that was a nice two seconds of companionship at least.

Dr. Watts does warn me that the host wants to set up shop in my skull and then passes a code to the maintenance room after he slumps to the cart.  His final gift is that yelling all that beckons a couple of hybrids into the room for me to deal with.  Why won’t this game let me use dead bodies as meat shields again?

aa7Speaking of jolly obstacles, now there’s this terrifying mech patrolling the hallway.  As I pump shell after shell into it, I wonder yet again why the ship’s designers felt it necessary to overprepare for a possible bording action.  Man, I wish I could hijack that suit and stomp my way to victory.

aa8And with my new code, I’m able to jump down a deck into Engineering.  My new goal?  Restore power to the elevator so that I can go up to deck 4.  This better be worth it.

 

System Shock 2: What’s up, Watts?

(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

monkeyAlready I’m starting to dread that horrible monkey sound in this game, because I know that before too long I’m going to have some teed off primate tossing psychic poo in my face.  Listen, monkey, I never did anything to you.  I’m an innocent pawn in this messed-up world.

Of course, if I had an angry face grafted onto my belly, I’d probably be indiscriminately angry.  Great PDA quote: “Does anyone have any idea how much crap 150 monkeys make in a day?”

I start today’s session by moving down a corridor, which is obviously a horrible sin because a turret and a monkey start shooting at me.  Then it gets better when I duck into a nearby room, because Mr. Security Camera whips up a gaggle of opposition for me.  So alarms, monkeys screaming, and voices spouting out mad jibberish fill my ears with happy fun time.

It’s also disconcerting when the hybrids attack while screaming, “I’m soRRRYy!”  Sorry doesn’t get me a new jaw, pal.

As I plunge into the crew quarters, the PDAs that I pick up continue to unravel the backstory leading up to the events of this broken ship.  One PDA talks about a guy who dies with the parasite attached and then resurrects (a hybrid), while another discusses “first contact” on a nearby planet.

artIn a neat little touch, the game lets me fiddle with an art projector to show different scenes in a guy’s quarters.  Another room has a grenade launcher, which totally makes me happy until I find out it’s jammed.  I pull out the grenades and toss the launcher — my inventory is too full as it is.  Far better than that, however, is an armory room that decks me out with an assault rifle and lots of ammo.  Have I mentioned that I need more space in my inventory?  I hate not being able to hold everything.

armoryAround the same area are a few upgrade machines.  One gives me the choice between several awesome perks, but I choose to get three more inventory slots because of my whining above.  I also beef up my strength and health.  Watch out world, here I come!

toiletMoving on to more crew quarters, I’m a little dismayed to see the bottom section flooding with water.  Because outer space is a big ocean and the ship is sinking?  I guess?

Or perhaps this toilet is overflowing really, really badly.  It’s all the janitor’s fault, I knew it!

wattsOur goal here is to find the elusive Dr. Watts.  He’s not in his room (really, why would he be at a time like this?) but his R&D access card is.  Score!