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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #926
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Another great (and entertaining ) review The Mike, thank you for that and I do hope to see many more from you in the future

    My computer is currently on its deathbead and is slowing to an unusable crawl whenever I try to open photoshop after a block of memory died.. I just ordered a new system that should be here within the next few days, so when I have it built and online directly after it gets here I'll be back to posting tons of reviews and screens along with the photoshop tutorial and such.

    My thanks to those of you who have been contributing things to keep the thread active and very entertaining during my difficulties!

    We've still got hundreds of fan missions to cover and I'm not stopping until we do.

  2. #927
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2007
    Location: Germany
    It just came to my mind how independent this community is:
    We have people creating custom objects, textures and sounds. Then there are people building FM's or entire addons. There are many talented writers who create Thief short stories, poems as well as paintings and video clips, to make it: short fan art. And finally you guys and the people at the Circle writing reviews on all that!

    This is really awesome! I'm pretty sure we'll go on like this for at least another decade. So please don't stop writing reviews as long as there is something to be reviewed

    What I like most is the different style people are reviewing FM's here, no matter if it's "just" text or text + screenshots...

  3. #928
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Definitely, I agree with you. I'm very much enjoying other folks taking the leap and jumping in with reviews of their own, regardless of the format you choose.

    I very much hope that the list of contributors will grow even larger and that we cover each and every fan mission eventually with multiple reviews - more than one opinion is always a good thing.

  4. #929
    Member
    Registered: May 2003
    Location: Normally I'm in the batcave.
    It took a little longer to get ready, but I just completed my review for "Broken Triad". It might not be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I'm pretty sure it has "the wheel" beaten.



    Broken Triad

    When it comes to FM creator "Eshaktaar" I'm more than a little bit of a raving fan. Maybe not quite in the loiter-in-the-bushes-outside-his-house kinda way, but more in the I-would-totally-give-him-a-high-five-if-I-saw-him-on-the-street kinda way (on an entirely unrelated note Eshaktaar, you should have less of those painful rose bushes outside your house). I'm keeping myself from reviewing "Ominous Bequest" because it would most likely just be an overly long string of never ending positive adjectives, most of which towards the end being made up. No really, I tried it- by the time I started describing the level design as "sexytastic" I realized it was time to review something else. AND HEY- lucky for me there's a sequel out there ripe for the reviewing! Unfortunately I find myself stuck between a rock and a awesome sauce covered hard place, because this one is just as amazing. However I think I can get through this with my new found skill for constructing clever analogies- if this FM were a bag of doritos, it would be an industrial sized bag of cool ranch flavor (which is the best kind and if you don't agree with that I will fight you).

    At the start of this FM, Garrett finds himself in a town where the local museum has labeled itself "burglar proof", which is thief for "Please, PLEASE rob the s*** out of us". While he's at it he intends on stealing a statue known as "The Sleeper" which looks a lot like a statue of Cthulhu from those books I haven't read because they have no pictures and/or Batman in them. Of course, he succeeds in stealing the statue and has a big ice cream party with all his friends. Then there are, of course, zombies...because Garrett apparently sprays himself down with zombie pheromones before each and every job he takes on.

    I have to take a time out here to say that the one thing that I love about Eshaktaar's missions is the way he effortlessly intertwines the storyline with the gameplay. The story truly drives the mission, and the pacing steadily increases before exploding into what is practically an action movie climax near the end. Also halfway through Garrett's motivations for saving the world are explained directly in a readable which states that "If everyone is dead, there's no one to steal from", which is brutally cold hearted- just the way I like it! This ain't the happy go lucky tree hugging, puppy kissing, flower smelling, children's hair playfully tussling, Danielle Steel novel reading, power of love believing-in patron saint of some other FMs. This is the Garrett who says "Hey, I'm only saving the world because I might find the smell of your rotting corpses unpleasant whilst I'm stepping over them in the street on my way to rob your now unguarded homes". I'm not saying I'm an emotionless robot here, just that....actually that is exactly what I'm saying. Kill all the humans.

    Then there's the level design, which is so amazing that if you asked me to describe it in real life I'd be so lost for words I'd launch into a Jerry Lewis style "OOOY, LADY!!" rant. Both of these missions look fantastic- and there ARE two missions in this FM by the way, something which a lesser reviewer would have mentioned in the first paragraph (I'm extremely adverse to being "informative" in any way). Mission one looks great but mission 2 is eye poppingly amazing in a way that I didn't even know the Dark Engine was capable of. You know an FM looks great when you can't leave the first room because it would mean you would have to stop looking at the glorious...glorious ceiling. Also, on top of looking great mission 2 is also full of zombies, which is like giving me a sports car and then having it transform into Optimus Prime. Zombies make everything better- videogames, movies, college rave parties on secluded islands- everything.

    If I had to complain about something in this FM (and OH I do) it would be that it really pushes the believability factor about as far as it will go. In service of the adventure game style "Use item A on shiny thing B" puzzles, Garrett frequently crosses the line here from simple kleptomaniac to bizarre pack-rat. OOOooo, a tree branch! THAT WOULD BE PERFECT IN MY "USELESS OBJECT" GALLERY! Oh God, a pile of sawdust- JACKPOT! This also results in your inventory getting so packed that trying to cycle through it towards the end leads to a whole lot of covering your hands over your eyes and softly weeping. It's not just that though, at one point the villain comically leaves behind an "Evil Plan" checklist (Phase 1: raise demon. Phase 2: ........... Phase 3: PROFIT). Obviously when it comes to entertainment there's a measure of suspension of disbelief necessary for everything, but just making a few objects frobable only when it made sense and then having them disappear after being used (to be fair, some do) would have fixed a lot of this. Of course this might have made the second half of the first mission far more frustrating, but that isn't going to stop me from whining about it (no force on earth is powerful enough to do that).

    So, "Is this FM better than Ominous Bequest" you ask? Normally I'd answer that question by flipping a table and yelling "Them's FIGHTIN' WORDS." and challenging you to a duel in town square at high noon, but honestly in this case it just might be. Blasphemy, I know, but this is one hell of a mission pack. The story isn't quite as contained as the one in OB and it takes a little longer to really get going, it's also never quite as suspenseful but the gameplay is just as solid. This is one incredible, great, capital, satisfactory, up-to-snuff, ace, commendable, gratifying, stupendous, sexytastic sequel.



    And now I'm at a loss for what to review next. I'm thinking I might head to nostalgia country and review "Inverted Manse"...

  5. #930
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: in your second eyelids
    Quote Originally Posted by The Mike View Post
    Also, on top of looking great mission 2 is also full of zombies, which is like giving me a sports car and then having it transform into Optimus Prime.
    Classic!
    Quote Originally Posted by The Mike View Post
    And now I'm at a loss for what to review next. I'm thinking I might head to nostalgia country and review "Inverted Manse"...
    That would be cool. I'm slowly playing through it. :P

  6. #931
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2009
    Location: Situation's changed, Tom.
    Couldn't agree more with you, The Mike. Broken Triad will always be number one in my top ten. (Of course OB is number two.)

    Greetings from A Night In Rocksbourg 3
    Last edited by PotatoGuy; 20th May 2009 at 16:26.

  7. #932
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2008
    Location: Braunschweig, Germany
    Quote Originally Posted by The Mike View Post
    While he's at it he intends on stealing a statue known as "The Sleeper" which looks a lot like a statue of Cthulhu from those books I haven't read because they have no pictures and/or Batman in them.
    http://www.hello-cthulhu.com/?date=2003-11-30
    ...well take a look here and tell me batman is as cool as HIM =)

    Mike, your reviews getting better each time, i really enjoyed this one keep on!

    Turcaill

  8. #933
    Member
    Registered: May 2003
    Location: Normally I'm in the batcave.
    Thanks for comments everyone- and Turcaill, that Cthulhu comic almost killed me with all its awesome. All the encouragement is keeping the creative juices flowing (or at least I hope that's my "creative juices", otherwise I think I have to see a doctor).

    Also, given a recent new release, I think it might not be "Inverted Manse" that I'm reviewing next...

  9. #934
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2006
    Location: Great. Now I can't get back in
    See you managed to squeeze "sexytastic" in there - now we know you're a great reviewer.

  10. #935
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Another great read, thanks The Mike. As someone with a very dark sense of humor I enjoy your writing style a great deal

    I'm in the "Operating System Install" phase of getting my new PC working after building it last night, so I'm hoping to test out the new build with Hammerite Imperium. Should be back to reviewing and screenshots and such within a few days

  11. #936
    Member
    Registered: May 2003
    Location: Normally I'm in the batcave.
    Well, it's a long one (be brave) but I finally have finished my review for Hammerite Imperium Mission 1. Grab a glass of your finest chardonnay and enjoy:



    Hammerite Imperium Mission 1: The Seven Shades of Mercury

    Hey, did you enjoy reading the title to this mission at the top of this review? Good, because I'm never typing it again, every time I do it would be using up energy I could be expending on talking about something important (like this morning I woke up and saw this mole on my foot and I swear I don't remember it being there yesterday...). From now on this mission shall be known as "Longy McTitle" unless I deem otherwise. Okay, so, what exactly IS this mission, and why should you care about it? Well, L. McTitle has a bit of a story behind it, so sit down children (and stop eating that paste!). It started with a team of talented level designers, writers, and artists wanting to make a hammerite based campaign which would act as a prequel to the Thief games. This campaign ended up being in development for years before someone saw that the whole thing was just becoming too overwhelming and decided to just finish up and release the first mission and call it quits (hopefully temporarily) on the campaign itself. Actually...that's pretty much it- I guess I could have made that story a little more exciting by throwing in a car chase or two. Just re-read those last few sentences, only this time get someone else to stand in the room and make explosion and gunfire noises. Anyway, the result is that we now have a big pretty mission to play- BUT IS BEING PRETTY AND BIG ENOUGH TO SAVE IT?!? Yes- absolutely.........God I suck at suspense.

    You play a Hammerite who's name escapes me (we'll call him Sneaky McHammerite), who is a student at a giant school for Hammerites which is kinda like Hogwarts only for big manly men with beards and instruments of crushing. As your final exam you have been thrown into what is essentially an elaborate game of capture the flag in which each team has to steal a relic from the other teams, because they wear different colors than you so obviously must stand for everything you don't (also they told me you guys look like dorks!). You are part of white team, and have just been betrayed by team Gold and ambushed and thrown into a river by the jerks in slitheren...I mean, uh...black team. But thanks be to the God of impossible coincidences, you wake up near a corpse that happens to be wearing a cloak of invisibility! Unfortunately Sneaky M. still has no weapons, so it's up to you to get some from that cowardly gold team that betrayed you (lousy MUGBLOODS).

    The first thing that you will notice about this mission is that it's *sob*...SO...*SOB*...HARD. The first ten minutes will be spent almost entirely with you gnawing on your keyboard in frustration. First you come to two hyper-aware and impossible to sneak by guards in a small room, so you run by them down a hallway and get zapped to death by an electrical barrier you tried to jump over. Then you reload. They you run by the guards again and instead of trying to jump over the electrical barrier you head up a ramp, which as it turns out leads to a dead end, you turn around and the guards who were chasing you the whole time pin you in the corner and brutally own you. Then you reload. Then you try jumping over the electrical fence twenty more times, only to realize it's always an instant kill. Then you notice the lever that turns OFF the electrical trap, you have time to just barely start your happy dance as you run past it only to be gassed to death in the next room for some reason. Then you reload. Then you realize there was an impossible-to-see-unless-you-know-it's-there tripwire in that next room that triggers the gas trap. Then you run down the hallway and realize in order to proceed you have to make a perfectly angled jump down into a small watery area about 30 feet below you. Then you miss and smash your leg bones into a fine powder. Then all the women who have ever rejected you throughout your life appear over you and tell you all the things about you they find unattractive. Then your car gets an extra 70,000 miles on it, all of your hair falls out, and you gain 30 pounds.

    Of course, then you get your equipment and things become manageable and at times, downright forgiving. It's almost like the FM sees all of your suffering and grows a soul. I finished with 30+ water arrows and gas arrows to spare. Even with all the tile flooring I didn't use up my moss arrows until the very end. This all amounts to the difficulty never really feeling quite right. That, and the fact that the game never really makes the most of its promise of giving you the chance to play as a hammerite (Where the HELL is my hammer?! Who took it!? It was Voldemort wasn't it!?!) are really my big problems with this FM. But luckily the game makes up for these problems entirely plus infinity by LOOKING EFFIN' GODLY. Not only is the architecture huge on an epic scale and minutely detailed, but the texture work is brilliant- with almost every wall being scrawled with a giant religiously themed mural. It's amazing. Despite my issues with the difficulty, the gameplay is excellent as well, and it does a good job of taking over when the visuals start to get just less impressive enough that the electricity in your brain starts working again and you snap out of your trance, only to wonder why you're drooling and, more pressingly, why you're no longer wearing pants (this might be exclusive to my playing experience).

    Part of what makes the gameplay so engaging is all the different groups of hammerites, which not only wear different colors than you but also each have their own way of speaking (the BASTARDS). The blue team talks in this put-on duddly doorite sounding tough guy voice, the snobby silver team goes on about how great their family lineage is, the black team talks in an almost alien sounding whisper, and the purple team sounds like they're probably part of the "special" branch of hammerite school (they have my personal favorite new line, "Meh...it was probably just a big rat holding a sword.") Not only that but each color coordinated group of hammers requires a different strategy for taking them out (or sneaking by them if you want to be a wuss about it. Just ask yourself, what would Thor do? Oh wait, you can't because you don't have a FREAKING HAMMER). Dealing with silver team is especially tricky, but I'm sure you will figure it out (-I say as I stroke my white cat and begin a long stretch of Bond villain style laughter). Of course these new hammers are also a bit heavy on the whole repeating-themselves thing, especially purple team, possibly for reasons discussed earlier.

    So, you ask, is "Sneaky McHammerite and the Seven Shades of Mercury" worth my valuable time? First let me say YOU'VE GOT SOME NERVE MISTER, and second let me say, yes- absolutely. Grit your teeth and press on through the punishing first 20 minutes or so and you will eat up everything after it with a big golden spoon that runs on awesome (Why would a spoon have to run on anything, you ask? You know what...I don't like your attitude). It's not only ridiculously good looking and massive (like yours truly *flex*), it also plays great- even with it alternating between being painfully hard or strangely easy. Download this mission- and someone please help me find my pants.



    Next I'll probably get around to reviewing "Inverted Manse", unless I'm distracted by something shiny and new again.
    Last edited by The Mike; 23rd Aug 2009 at 17:36.

  12. #937
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2009
    Location: Situation's changed, Tom.
    Well, you managed to not end your review with the word 'pancakes.' Looking at the replace ment I suggest you do it next time again - it makes me more hungry.

    Another great review The Mike (review...or stand-up comedy?).

    And I know why you didn't want the whole title - you just typed it once and you made a laughable mistake in the name.

  13. #938
    Member
    Registered: May 2001
    Location: Italy
    Quote Originally Posted by The Mike View Post
    The first thing that you will notice about this mission is that it's *sob*...SO...*SOB*...HARD. The first ten minutes will be spent almost entirely with you gnawing on your keyboard in frustration. First you come to two hyper-aware and impossible to sneak by guards in a small room, so you run by them down a hallway and get zapped to death by an electrical barrier you tried to jump over. Then you reload. They you run by the guards again and instead of trying to jump over the electrical barrier you head up a ramp, which as it turns out leads to a dead end, you turn around and the guards who were chasing you the whole time pin you in the corner and brutally own you. Then you reload. Then you try jumping over the electrical fence twenty more times, only to realize it's always an instant kill. Then you notice the lever that turns OFF the electrical trap, you have time to just barely start your happy dance as you run past it only to be gassed to death in the next room for some reason. Then you reload. Then you realize there was an impossible-to-see-unless-you-know-it's-there tripwire in that next room that triggers the gas trap. Then you run down the hallway and realize in order to proceed you have to make a perfectly angled jump down into a small watery area about 30 feet below you. Then you miss and smash your leg bones into a fine powder.

  14. #939
    Vertical Contest Winner 2009
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: The Great White North
    i want to weigh in on a few issues regarding the hammerite imperium: the seven shades of mercury.

    1) if this is a graduation test why are the potential legionnaires killing each other? seems really stupid to have your best and brightest in a game to the death. the story doesn't seem to fit into the world of the hammerites that we were presented with in the rest of the official thief cannon.

    2) the architecture, i was, disappointed.... seeing the screenshots on the imperium website, the cloister of st. lazarus, and the architecture tutorial that alexius penned i was expecting a lot more.

    some of the textures were "muddy" and in places didn't provide the detail i would have expected.

    they never used the multiple wedge trick for arches, making the them with 8 sided cylinders in places.

    the water brushes on the waterfall were square with a clearly visible edge that is an detail i would have expected to see. also, there was no spray from the waterfall, have you ever seen a waterfall that tall without a massive cloud of water spray at the bottom?

    i also felt like the very tall interior spaces were lifeless. the level lacked good use of the vertical dimension. the were designed to awe us just like a medieval cathedral.

    finally, there are problems with the arrangement of the spaces, that are very, very impossible. there is a crypt area directly underneath the river. the river empties down an impossibly narrow drainage tunnel.

    3) its very very very hard at the beginning, and that tainted my opinion of the mission. i felt like i was placed in a trap designed to kill me. that made me mad. i would have preferred a gentler lead in to the mission.

  15. #940
    Desperately Dodgy Moderator
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: Fields of bluegrass
    All good points, Jason. A few responses:

    1. We thought about trying to make it appear that the AI are only subduing you, ie rendering you unconscious, when they pummel you with their swords. After all, if they kill you it's breaking the rules and they'll be punished. But aside from trying to prevent bloodstains from showing, we weren't really sure how best to convey that.

    2. I get the sense from the HI team that much of the best architecture was in the later missions. I think the cathedral in 7SoM was very impressive, but I prefer Frobber's from KotP to it. I think the catacombs were also wonderful, although those are some really high ceilings for catacombs. As BT pointed out in the FM thread, the starting area and academy were certainly, well, didn't live up to the expectations probably.

    Good call on the waterfall spray. I meant to add that but honestly it slipped through the cracks with all the other bugs we had to track down. I may add it to the update if I can make time.

    Generally agree on the tall interior spaces.

    3. Agreed that the first 10 minutes are the hardest (possible exception of the black team area). We became a bit desensitized to it perhaps in testing since we went through it so many, many times.

  16. #941
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2003
    Location: Southquarter
    Quote Originally Posted by Ottoj55 View Post
    i want to weigh in on a few issues regarding the hammerite imperium: the seven shades of mercury.

    1) if this is a graduation test why are the potential legionnaires killing each other? seems really stupid to have your best and brightest in a game to the death. the story doesn't seem to fit into the world of the hammerites that we were presented with in the rest of the official thief cannon.
    Uhm, noticed the wooden swords? No one dies for real.

    Many areas might feel lifeless because we had to delete TONS of objects and rooms so the whole thing would actually run. Bad size judgment from the original dromeders, I guess.

  17. #942
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: in your second eyelids
    Edit: hmm, my english really is terrible.

    I know nothing of dromed, but i just assumed the muddy textures are because of the incredibly large map, which would force you to make the best of use out of some limited amount of polygons (or however you call it). This is just wild guessing from my insane mind.
    Personally, i loved it simply because it's something diffrent from most other FMs.

    I do kinda disagree with you about the architecture, Ottoj55. In fact i salute it (especially all the ceilings) for being so good for such a large map. Then again, i think i might've been bought by those ceilings.

    Oh and the beginning with the further thing contrasts indeed. If this was presented as a random FM, i believe people would've been absolutely shocked with how great it actually is.

    I ghosted past silver guys, pretty much robbed them enough and i'll find the icon on my way back. The black guys are just awesome. This is probably my favorite part of the map. It's kind of funny, because i expected it to be less fun. The black guys are practically the ones in control and who know everything... until suddenly you own the sh** out of everyone.

    I must say the difficulties are well balanced.
    If i'm correct, on normal you don't even need to enter the Cathedral (the f***? O.o). On hard you play what would seem enough for many (me too, but i asked for it, again... and glad i did). On expert you also play the most difficult part of the map.

    Anyway, please don't murder me cold blooded. Maybe just hit me on the head. Just sharing thoughts.

  18. #943
    Member
    Registered: May 2003
    Location: Normally I'm in the batcave.
    Quote Originally Posted by PotatoGuy View Post
    And I know why you didn't want the whole title - you just typed it once and you made a laughable mistake in the name.
    What, you never go shopping at the Hammerite Imporium? You get such great deals there.

    Also fixed. God I feel dumb.

  19. #944
    Desperately Dodgy Moderator
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: Fields of bluegrass
    Phenomenal review again, The Mike. I laughed the whole time! By the way, the whole beginning part gets a lot easier the second and third time. Even more so if you use TaterMan's shortcut up the waterfall.

  20. #945
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2009
    Location: Situation's changed, Tom.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yandros View Post
    Phenomenal review again, The Mike. I laughed the whole time! By the way, the whole beginning part gets a lot easier the second and third time. Even more so if you use TaterMan's shortcut up the waterfall.
    Still laughing about that. I wondered in the beginning why I was the only one that had so much trouble finding the rope arrows...

  21. #946
    Quote Originally Posted by The Mike View Post



    Next I'll probably get around to reviewing "Inverted Manse", unless I'm distracted by something shiny and new again.

    Ahh, one of the very first FMs I ever played.
    I remember I really loved the music inside the Hammerite Cathedral, and if I thought the music in the Pagan sanctuary was awesome, it was totally topped by playing on Expert (one of the few FMs I've encountered where the gameplay was vastly different according to the difficulty level) when I got to the Room of Doors. Jeez, that part was frightening. .

  22. #947
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    After the hilariously long process of building my new computer, getting thief to work in vista and look decent (including fog, hooray!) and installing all my needed programs (including photoshop) I'm back in business.

    Now to get that darn tutorial finished and get back to reviewing and posting screenshots

    Again my thanks to everyone that posted reviews and contributed to the great conversations during my downtime - I hope that you continue long into the future

  23. #948
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2007
    Location: Germany
    I'm glad you got your new computer working, I'm eagerly awaiting your next reviews

  24. #949
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2009
    Location: Situation's changed, Tom.
    I second that.

  25. #950
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Thanks fellas, I very much appreciate that.

    I do hope that folks like Intruder, Tannar and The Mike continue posting their reviews along with me, the more the merrier so to speak

    Decided to test out the new card and system on my (up to this point) favorite FM Pirates Ahoy to see how the screenshots would turn out using the new card and DDfix, and I think they came out looking great.













    I know that lighting and colors are definitely much better with my new card and I'm thankful for that - and sound is much better (I'm hearing tons of little things that I never heard before in the game, its like playing it for the first time all over again - which is great!) so this only fuels my fire to get every fan mission reviewed at some point

    Edit: Just noticed that DDfix leaves a faint gray line at the top of each screenshot - thats odd.
    Last edited by SneakyJack; 25th May 2009 at 18:13.

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