Review followups: Tower 57

Tower 57 has changed quite a bit over a small handful of patches, but while more such updates are supposedly planned that will revamp areas so that the eventual game barely resembles its original incarnation, the modding tools that were promised and then quietly swept under the rug remain undelivered. It seems counterintuitive to revisit the levels (and suggest that more levels may eventually be added) in order to address the game’s short length while totally ignoring how much user-made content a level editor could allow for, but it’s not like the changes are bad or anything. I’m just becoming more and more convinced that the modding tools aren’t coming at all, and that’s disappointing. But hey, there have been some interesting changes over the last couple patches, so let’s get into it.

The biggest changes are at the beginning

Upon getting off of the train at the very beginning of the game, I realized that I had no idea where I was going; the train station has been totally revamped, and the same goes for the sewers. Personally, I like both of these changes, as this provides a much more fleshed out tutorial for the game in addition to being more interesting than these two sections originally were. There are also some strange changes that I can’t really get behind. For one, the little gray worm things that sometimes come out when you destroy objects can now damage you, which effectively punishes you for destroying the environment. Another is that you can switch between your three characters at any time rather than having to find a changing booth (which are now littered throughout levels and function solely as save points). This eats up half of your special bar if you change, but what really bugs me is that it seems to be mapped to R3 for some reason. I kept hitting it accidentally while playing, which became a constant irritation. A chaotic twin-stick shooter is one in which you’re bound to be frantically hammering on both sticks, and it shouldn’t be necessary to rebind the controls to avoid potentially wasting half of your special meter.

There’s also visual feedback for the dash’s cooldown that’s been added so that you know when you can use it again. I wouldn’t call this either good or bad so much as “probably unnecessary but ultimately harmless,” as dashing was one of the more simple things to wrap your head around when the game first released.

The other changes are more subtle

That “nothing to hack” popup seems new to me, but some things never change and that goes for bugs, too. You can see the hacking tutorial pop up despite these videos being chronological and this tutorial already having been completed. This was a helpful bug (because it gives you a guaranteed hack) the game had when it first released, but it seems to be even more prevalent now, as I received this hacking tutorial three times over the course of a single playthrough. Another thing I noticed here is that the hotel clerk’s explanation of what things do is currently outdated, as he can tell you (if asked) that you sleep in a bed to save and use the changing closet to switch characters, neither of which is true anymore. That’s a minor fix, though.

Then there’s the slot machine. Before, each spin cost 5 dollars and hitting the jackpot gave you 800. Now each spin costs 10 dollars and the jackpot is 200. I know some people complained that it was too easy to make money, but this really only slows down the inevitable; the timing is still the same for all three columns, so aligning them allows you to win jackpot after jackpot, quickly earning enough to max out all of your weapon and body improvements. And that’s not a bad thing.

The rest of the levels are all the same, with the exception of a few minor changes. For example, I don’t remember that cheeseburger lying around in the sweatshop level. Another change is that mid-level changing booth saves have been added in various spots, which is a good thing for the most part. The only time when it isn’t a good thing is when a save that used to be automatic now requires running back to a booth. This is the case with the final boss fight—where before the game automatically saved right beforehand, you now have to run to a nearby booth and save manually, and if you die, you start off back at that booth and have a slightly longer trek back. Another minor problem is that level transitions don’t work for a short time after saving, so saving booths near doors can cause you to go up stairs without triggering a level transition. That could become confusing for new players.

Old bugs and new bugs

That bug where you obtain a lot of money and the game’s ammo/health machines subsequently refuse to recognize it remains intact, which is a little surprising. Given how often this happens to me, it must have something to do with the slot machine.

(Warning: the video below covers a bug that happened to me in the final boss fight, which means spoilers for anyone sensitive to that sort of thing.)

I found an entirely new bug, too, and this one is so significantly buggy that it’s actually baked into the save. The above happens to me 100% of the time when loading this particular save, while loading a save from a previous playthrough causes the cutscenes and camera angles to play out correctly. Basically, everything is off-center, and this causes some weirdness; at one point the boss teleports in a blink to another spot rather than moving there naturally, and once he’s dead, the glass that breaks happens in the wrong spot because of the camera’s orientation.

Be sure to grab the minigun

When Tower 57 first released, it was possible to get the secret ending by lugging the chainsaw you can find in the sewers around through the entire game, and that felt like a nice reward for avoiding other weapons for such a long time. Then one of the first patches nerfed its damage. Now the only way to get the secret ending is to get the minigun in the labs instead, which can only be reached by grabbing a bunch of key cards and then taking a lift up to a random empty platform where you get warped to it despite there being no real indication that this is possible or otherwise reasonable to expect. Needless to say, it doesn’t feel quite as rewarding.

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