So we are now on the second part of the Ras el-Hadid mission (no indication of how many parts there will be). If we considered Part 1 as RtCW on training wheels, here we get to take them off and play the game as it’s supposed to be. While we are still in the city or whatever this is, the vibe of the next level is different from the last one. This is the first screen that we get. I didn’t include the second or third as they are the same as the previous level.
Our first objective, to contact Agent One by radio is something that we were told to do from the beginning. After destroying the radio in the first level, now it seems we’ll get to actually use one. The second objective implies that there are at least two courtyards in this level and there will be some sort of challenge to get to the second one. The last mission tells us that we will be moving up the weapons hierarchy from hand guns and rifles, which is where we currently stand.
The level starts exactly where the previous one finished and we soon reach the top of a flight of stairs. When we descend to the bottom, we encounter a soldier on patrol. After dealing with him, it’s time to look at where we are. See below.
What we are looking at here is a large two story structure that sits in the middle of a courtyard. The building is large and it leaves a path, maybe 12 feet wide that stretches almost all the way around it. While the first level seemed to be the living area of the average person, if this is too a living area, this seems to be for a higher status level people. Alternatively, this may be closer to the administrative center. As we join this pathway in the middle of a straight, we have an equal option to go either left or right. As it will turn out, it doesn’t matter which way we go first so I will choose to go left.
Taking the left path doesn’t show too much of interest or Nazi soldiers. On the far side of where we entered the courtyard is a door that is unlocked and should get us into the central building. There is also an entrance that takes us away from the courtyard but it appears to be locked. So, it’s into the building …
The building is not empty; it has one soldier in the smaller room to the left behind what looks like a bar listening to the radio. In the second longer room, that can be reached from the right of the entrance or on its far end that joins the left-hand room is two more soldiers that are eating. Whatever room we start fighting from causes all the other soldiers to come running, so just deal with it. When they are down, we can work out where we are.
Firstly, the music still playing on the radio (assuming you didn’t shoot it in the firefight!) is Für Elise by Ludwig van Beethoven. More technically it is named Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor but only a classical music fan would use that name. There isn’t an especially strong Nazi association with this piece but any music by a perceived Arian archetype would be popular with a true Nazi believer.
Next is the room that radio is in (see below left). It looks like a bar and that might be how the Germans set it up to be but good Muslim Egyptians would not have an alcoholic drinking house in their town. More than likely, this was a coffee house somewhat like the stock Reuters picture, shown further. Notice the bar in the back of the picture.
The other room seems setup as a room for cooking and eating. On the wall is the strange Enochian poster (above right) but unlike the other, this one hides nothing behind it. That isn’t to say that this room doesn’t hold a secret because it does. If you compare the sizes of the two rooms, it is fairly easy to see that the eating room end wall seems shorter than it needs to be. That is because it hides a secret panel. It isn’t so obvious how its door opens but there is a red button on the inside of the food counter near the hot meal. It is only the dimness of the room that hides what should be a very obvious button. Inside the compartment are two gold bars so our character Blazkowicz takes on another 55lb (24.8 kg) taking his additional pack weight to 110lb (49.6 kg)! What we don’t see is any way to go to the upper level that we saw from the outside.
So it’s outside again and as the path away from the courtyard is still locked, we’ll have to go back the way we came. On the way back, we see the arch pictured below which explains how someone would get to the upper level of the building. Now we are not going to go up there at any point but it’s nice to know that the level designer at least made it theoretically possible. Looking between the arch in the distance is an entrance where we are going to go but if we check out the fourth side of the courtyard, we find a lattice which can be broken to find secret grenades and health. Probably another stash of the locals?
As we enter this new room we hear a conversation:
Remote soldier: Hans, have you heard from Otto? … He’s not checked in.
Radio Operator: I’m not sure. My radio was acting up a few minutes ago. But … I haven’t been able to contact him either. I’ll inform the captain.
At this point, the radio operator leaves his post and walks up the stairs.
Now we have several options. The first was to interrupt the conversation and give the radio operator a knife in the back while he is busy talking. This, in theory would alert the soldier on the other end to us (BJ) though in practice, it makes little difference. The second option is to wait until he stands to leave and finish him before he has a chance to tell the captain. The third option is to let him go and see what happens. It’s a bit disappointing that he doesn’t go through the door at the top of the stairs to actually talk to the captain that is outside but he just hangs around waiting for something to happen. So much for talking to the captain!
Whatever we get rid of him, we can now take a look at the radio set. This one looks generally similar to the fir one we saw but has two key differences (picture above). Firstly, there is a red button on this one just asking to be pressed. The second is that this radio is indestructible! Well, at least at the moment. So when the button is pushed, a short animation is played. As usual, the film is below (starting at 2min 4sec) and you’ll want to stop it at 2:21.
Agent One: Come in BJ, are you there?
Blazkowicz: I’m here.
Agent One: The next courtyard has a lot of activity, so be careful. And be mindful of the locals too. They don’t seem too happy to see us either.
Blazkowicz: Roger that.
So, we’ve had two conversations; what do we now know? Well, the first seems to answer a question we had from the previous level. If we remember back, Otto, for we now know his name, tried to make contact with someone before we could stop him. The question we had was whether his message got through and we are now discovered. Well, the answer is that his message didn’t get through because the radio operator’s radio was “acting up”. Still, there is still some concern as he hasn’t reported in. We can also conclude that there are at least three radio stations operational in this town.
Now onto the second conversation. I guess it’s hard to understand how it took place. Did Blazkowicz and Agent One decide to meet up at this time and place? What are the odds of them just randomly coming across a radio set at exactly the same time? Agent One wasn’t carrying a portable radio set so they both have to find radio equipment. OK, ignoring that, are they talking on an effectively public radio frequency? They may have agreed to switch to a frequency that the Germans don’t use but there would still be a high risk of being intercepted.
Assuming it’s all secure, Agent One is telling us that the next courtyard is loaded with Germans and likely some of the local Egyptians working for them. What’s missing is what Blazkowicz should have said to Agent One. If I was Blazkowicz, I would ask the following:-
- I thought you were going to the archaeological dig. Why are you still in the village?
- Since you seem to be further ahead than me, you seem to be on a faster path than me. Can I go your way?
- Since we seem to be going the same way, why are we traveling separately? Wouldn’t it be safer/faster to travel together?
- When did I let you start calling me “BJ”? Seems unfair that you not only know my full name but also give me a cutesy nickname while I don’t know any part of your name.
I guess our character isn’t as smart as he looks.
Once the conversation is over, the magical aurora of invincibility leaves the radio set and it can now be destroyed. We only have one remaining place to investigate and that is up the stairs where we assume the captain is.
When we open the door at the top of the stairs, an officer stands motionless by a table on what appears to be a roof top (see below). If the officer was not staring at something on the table, he would have been able to snipe down on us while we were going around the courtyard below. He can be taken out with a Mauser rifle from a distance as he waits and that is probably the best option.
At his death, a check is made. If all the Nazi in the building, the one on patrol, the radio operator and the captain are dead and, the call to Agent One has been made, everything is set for a new soldier to emerge from the formally locked gate leading to the next courtyard. If any of these things aren’t done, we have some more killing to do. The new soldier says “I know he’s here!” but we don’t have any idea of how he knows what he knows. He says “he’s” not “they” so he seems to know that there is a lone gunman on the loose. So we are back to the uncertainty of whether they now we are here or not.
Before jumping down (or taking the stairs down if you are not the dynamic type), it’s worth checking the note that the captain was intently staring at. The two pages are shown below.
OK, maybe it wasn’t that important after all! I suppose all we really gain is that the reason they know about us is that the locals are acting as the eyes and the ears of the Germans. Possibly, someone saw us from one of those upstairs rooms and passed on the intelligence to their pay masters. Well it wasn’t like we trusted anyone else anyway.
Once the new soldier is taken care of we can get through the now unlocked gate getting the second of our objectives met. Before we get to the second courtyard, we hear a voice which should give use warning. As soon as we enter this courtyard, a soldier is already shooting at us with what appears to be an automatic weapon. Once we defeat him, we can get his MP40 which completes our third and final objective.
The MP40 (MP stands for Machinepistole in German which should be obvious what it means) was a sub machine gun generally issued to a more elite soldier. This elitism was simply because there were never enough to go around. Popular culture seemed to imply that almost every soldier had access to one but even at the end of the war when there were more of them about, standard issue was a Karabiner 98k rifle. So either we are at the MP40 stage to inject more fighting action with popular culture or, we are entering an area where more senior soldiers are located. As it turns out, probably both are true as we will see a little later.
The picture above is of the second courtyard as we first enter it. It is also close to the picture in the background of the mission screen. Our general direction will be up the steps on the far right and through a series of buildings, across the back and then we can optionally re-emerge in the courtyard by the door partially shown on our left. It is likely though that we will be so disoriented that we won’t know that it is the same courtyard!
Before making that journey, there are some more things to check and more bodies to take down. The first is a sniper in a window just visible in the picture above (partially visible on the back wall on the right side of the central building). This sniper is our first Egyptian adversary but as the game engine removes dead characters after a period of time, it is likely that by the time you get up to that room, his body is already gone. If you don’t shoot him now, you’ll get to face him up close when you are in an upstairs room.
You’ll also get some more action from between one and three more MP40 wielding soldiers now depending on if they get disturbed from their posts. Next, there is a new notice on the wall, as shown below.
This message from the major states that the buildings are closed but he uses the work “premises” to describe them. That choice of word implies that these buildings are a place of business or some sort of government building; this matches what we suspected earlier. Finally, I’ve puzzled over what that structure in the middle of the courtyard is (beyond it being a good place to hide/shoot around!). If this was the Far East, it could be some sort of temple or shrine but that doesn’t fit into the Muslim culture. Perhaps it’s just a place to take refuse from the heat of the sun.
Going up to the right, there is a corridor that leads to a billet. This houses multiple beds in double bunks, so this would be sleeping quarters for the grunt soldiers. This room gives us a top up for health and armor but also contains a secret compartment which has additional ammo. It isn’t particularly clear why the ammo is hidden away.
Returning back to the main passageway, we turn to the left and enter an area as shown below left. I included this one just because it is one of the nicer scenes on this level. The sweeping stairway takes up to the room where the sniper was stationed. There is also a soldier with an MP40 pointing it toward you. He isn’t too difficult to take out – it’s just that he is waiting for you. Once past him, there are a few more rooms and turns and you will reach a hole in the ground as shown below right. This picture makes it look like a no return drop but there is a ladder that can get you back up if you want.
Once down, it’s worth just standing and listening to a conversation in progress somewhere near.
Soldier #1: Haven’t you heard … Helga! … is here … now! … she just flew in.
Soldier #2: Ja. I’m sure the Major is overjoyed to hear that.
Soldier #1: Nein. (laughing) He’s been hiding in his office all day.
Soldier #2: I would be too. I am glad we are not stationed in the tombs today.
This gives us some valuable intel. We have confirmation that this Helga character is actually here and we also can assume that she is in the archaeological dig rather than in the compound. Since Agent One should have gone there, he should have her captured by now. We also learn something of her reputation. She seems to be feared by everyone, including the Major it would seem. Why, we do not know.
The two soldiers talking are each on separate sides of a hatch. Again not too hard to take them out though it can be a bit confusing if you don’t understand where the second one is. This place is also set up a barracks but with individual bedroom, this is not the grunt soldiers. In the first room, we find a letter on the nightstand.
It’s from Helga von Bulow but this time we see here full title: Oberst Helga von Bulow, SS Paranormal Division. An oberst is the German equivalent of a colonel which places her above a major. Her arrival makes her the senior officer. The letter is to Professor Werner Schmidt and we must assume that this is his room. He seems to be leading the efforts to find some tablets that are buried somewhere in the archaeological dig site. She also threatens to come to Egypt to ensure the tablets are found. She seems to have carried out that threat. So we now know why they are here but now we don’t know why the Germans, or more specifically the Paranormal Division of the SS, want the tablets.
The walls are decorated with more of the Enochian posters which should tell us these are not ordinary soldiers. If we were still in any doubt, each of the rooms has a bookshelf loaded with books but rather than them being only for show, the bookshelf in the last room has a secret when a certain book is pressed. The picture below shows a hidden compartment. This one has a flak jacket and some ammo. Perhaps the archaeologists were not issued with them and this person just wants to be safe. Anyway it’s ours now.
We now have two ways to go. One is the optional return to the second courtyard and the second takes us to the end. While optional, it’s worth going back to the courtyard. Assuming we didn’t get to see the sniping Egyptian, this will be the first time we see the Egyptian mercenaries. A couple of them are hidden behind the overturned cart and they are armed with Mauser rifles. What is interesting is that there is an additional one hiding on a balcony above. We only get to find this out when Agent One shouts out “Look out”, he shoots the guy and he (the Egyptian) falls to the ground. So, after claiming to have split up, Agent One is with us here somewhere in the shadows. What happened to him going to the dig site? It’s good that he found that guy above but, come on, help me out here!
That’s all there is here but if you are disoriented and don’t realize where you are, you’ll be off on another lap of the courtyard! Assuming you don’t (or after you do), there is one other exit. This leads to some different but unoccupied passages such as the one below. Once through this one, we are soon at the exit of the level.
Since we are still going good, we’ll finish off the first part of Mission zero. After that, I’ll probably write about Nazi treasure as we are starting to accumulate some now. Then continue with Mission Zero.