Groping The Map: Pauper’s Drop, Part 3.

“… a whole city tuggin’ at the same dollar bill.”

Pauper's Drop 15
All pipes lead to Skid Row.

Annotated Walkthrough, 2:

Officially designated simply ‘Pumps’ the area known to all as Skid Row, has become the Market district of Pauper’s Drop where what little it’s denizens have is bartered and traded for something just a little better.

In order to gain access to the Sinclair Deluxe you will need to use your newly acquired Genetic Research Camera to learn what you can about the Brute Splicers by recording their actions in combat. The skill you eventually learn, Drill Dash, brings to mind memories of the charging attacks of the Bouncer Big Daddies, so how exactly you learn it from the charge of the Brute Splicer isn’t entirely clear. However from a narrative stand point it makes sense for you to be asked to research the enemy that caused the obstruction in the first place. It doesn’t follow that a Bouncer would do the bidding of Grace Holloway, given her inherent hostility to all Big Daddies no Bouncer is liable to last long enough to be asked.

Pauper's Drop 16
Rosie may need more than a Rivet Gun to get out of this.

This hostility towards Big Daddies is evident when you enter the Market, even without an Adam rich Little Sister to capture the Splicers of The Drop are still willing to attack the Rosie in their midst; the sheer hatred of Grace Holloway towards all of Rapture’s be-suited protectors has clearly influenced the citizens of The Drop.

Visible throughout the Market are the large jacks used to keep the ceiling from falling in, this is an old part of Rapture and the ocean has waited long to reclaim it. As well as being minor narrative beats for the story of Rapture and The Drop in particular, these jacks serve a secondary purpose by breaking up the sight lines in the Market and providing cover, much as the fallen train carriage does outside King Pawn.

Positioned in the middle of what would otherwise be empty space these support jacks naturally discourage the player from taking the shortest route. By channeling movement away from the centre of each space players are encouraged to focus on the market stalls arrayed against the walls and the side exits to secondary spaces. Without the ability to move directly from one side of a space to another it’s much more likely players will  skirt the boundaries and explore any alternate routes that present themselves.

Pauper's Drop 18
I begin to wonder if Big Sister is related to the G-Man.

If you do ignore these diversion and move past the Market itself it’s possible to catch another glimpse of Big Sister, circling, waiting.

Pauper's Drop 17
Another little glimpse of humanity from the Splicers within The Drop.

The Brute Splicer you have entered the Market to confront can be found around the corner from the Big Sister sighting. He seems somewhat lost in his own little world. I’ll confess to feeling uncomfortable attacking him. Like the Big Daddies he seems perfectly willing to leave you alone if you don’t provoke him. However that’s not the way things have to play out, and the fight with him can prove very painful if you’re not careful. Of course he falls eventually, as everybody does, and provided you have been using your Research Camera you are granted the Drill Dash ability. With his new ability in hand it’s time to return to the Sinclair Deluxe.

If you fail to use the Camera correctly there is at least one other Brute Splicer that has now appeared within The Drop. I do wonder what would happened if you failed to research him as well.

The majority of the Market is made up of what I would describe as logical territory. Only a small part of it needs to be visited and although the other areas contain useful items and audio logs, they are almost entirely optional. If you do choose to return to the Sinclair Deluxe immediately after defeating the Brute Splicer you would miss out one of the more interesting sights to be found within The Drop.

Pauper's Drop 19
The Limbo Club, a little bastion of hope for those who need it most.

The Limbo Club was once the domain of Grace Holloway until the civil war came to Rapture and even the forgotten strata of society were finally affected by the machinations of Ryan and Fontaine.

Pauper's Drop 22
A threat meant for Subject Delta, or a warning meant for everybody else?

Not a necessary stop on your brief visit to Skid Row, the Limbo Club  seems to have a much higher level of narrative content than it’s limited size would suggest, behind the stage can be found the dressing room of Grace herself, now abandoned and covered with scrawled threats and warnings. I wonder if at one stage in development the club had a bigger role in the main objectives. This would fit the ‘Film Noir’ theme, I can imagine a situation where the player had to visit the Private Investigator’s office and the Jazz Club before finally making their way to the Hotel.

Inside the entrance is one of Eleanor’s presents to you, and I believe one of the only ones it is entirely possible to miss, given that there is no reason to enter the Limbo Club beyond natural curiosity. She provides you with the Hypnotize Plasmid, which in its most basic form acts similarly to the Enrage Plasmid from BioShock. It can also be upgraded to provide the same functionality as the Hypnotize Big Daddy Plasmid, which had originally only been available as a reward to players who had chosen to rescue Little Sisters and is now usable for any player regardless of their attitude towards Rapture’s youngest citizens.

Pauper's Drop 20
I'd like to think somebody who witnessed this scene simply left them to it.

It would seem that the Limbo Club is not as deserted as it’s abandoned appearance would suggest. Again a little element of humanity in the decay and despair of The Drop. It’s impossible to know what useful items might be accessible in the back rooms of the Limbo Club and in order to find out something will have to be done about the Splicer couple who are clearly not the mindless genetic mutants they are otherwise shown to be.

With a new Hypnotize Plasmid at their disposal I suspect many will have contemplated the manner in which it could be used to break up this touching moment. Though I did it myself I did feel slightly guilty when the woman bludgeoned her lover to death, only to then be Incinerated by my own hand.  In the long run sympathy and altruism aren’t all they are cracked up to be and the Power To The People station in the back room of the Limbo Club proves worth the feelings of unease. Time to increase the Clip Size on the Shotgun I believe.

Pauper's Drop 21
Somebody in Rapture was a fan of the Bradbury Building it seems.

The Drill Dash ability makes short work of the fallen rubble blocking entry to the Sinclair Deluxe, and after finishing off the few Splicers lying in wait it’s time to find Grace and the override key she’s protecting.

Structurally and aesthetically the interior of the Sinclair Deluxe is reminiscent of the Hestia Chambers, Atlas’s headquarters in Apollo Square, and the Bradbury Building. A National Historical Landmark and office building in Los Angeles, the Bradbury has been used in dozens of films and television series, most notable Blade Runner and D.O.A..

Appropriately for The Drop, there is much more to the Sinclair Deluxe than is initially obvious. Though physically short the journey to the top floor apartment of Grace Holloway is packed with encounters, narrative beats and areas of note. Therefore I will continue the walkthrough tomorrow, onward and upwards…

3 thoughts on “Groping The Map: Pauper’s Drop, Part 3.

  1. Enjoying these. I think I’m going to do something similar for the first level of HL2, because I have to admit to myself that I’ll never get around to doing the video commentary I’ve been thinking of for a YEAR.

    I liked your comment on the structural supports also serving as cover. There could be supports off along the wall and rubble as cover, but this is much more elegant. And as my level design bible 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School says: “Any design decision should be justified in at least two ways.” Here we’ve got narrative and combat flow. We also see this a lot with leaking water that tells us about Rapture’s decay but also provides a puddle for electrocutions. But really, every single element in a level should have at least two reasons for existing.

  2. Really enjoying this so far, Justin. Really admire the depth and detail of you analysis. You have both pointed out things that I never noticed, as well as way s that I acted but never consciously considered (such as using the shotgun in the ambush as soon as I obtained it).

    As someone who has played videogames his entire life but never actually studied level design, I think I am going to find this Groping the Map series very interesting.

    Also, I don’t intend to sound pedantic, but thought you might like to know of the single typo I noticed, as you are obviously putting in so much effort to this article: “which had originally only been available as a reward to players who had had chosen to rescue Little Sisters “.

    Anyway, great stuff. Looking forward to Part 4 :)

  3. Part of me feels almost glad to have missed the jazz club, because even though I missed out on the Hypnotize plasmid and a Power to the People station, it’s almost comforting to think that those two spliced up individuals might still be alive, surviving in the depths of Pauper’s Drop.

    I know it’s completely irrational to think this way, but I found Bioshock 2 really quite immersive.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *