While initially wanting to beat you both senseless, I'm loving the dual-reviews. It's like Siskel and Ebert without all the cancer.
Keep 'em cheesy, and keep up the good work!
While initially wanting to beat you both senseless, I'm loving the dual-reviews. It's like Siskel and Ebert without all the cancer.
Keep 'em cheesy, and keep up the good work!
Dracula series views are on hold, so in boredom I visit you to share yet another Thief mission experience.
I'm going to attempt to review some of the best missions of Contest 4. I dunno, if I'll play them all at once, seeing as there are so many other great FMs out there.
The plan is to do it alphabetically, but I might just screw that.
Hope you guys & gals get both entertained and informed.
Game: Thief II
Contest: Komag's Contest 4
Released: 08th Oct 2003
Being a thief in The City has never been better these days. If only because it's never been worse to be an honest tradesmen. The Hammerites are back, that old religion you thought had gone out of style with buckles on shoes. But while they entice the nobles with new machinery and electric lights, there is another ancient darkness creeping over The City.
Such things don't concern you however; not yet, at least. Right now you're just an average thief, trying to make a name for yourself in the shadowy underground. And you've been asked to do a favor.
The intro video shows you, that your ladder broke and you had a minor fall, but it was enough to get you a sort of an amnesia. Garrett, you could've done better, but I'll scold you later. We have to make yet another group of serious men look silly.
Little missions often have devilishly well hidden secrets too. This is a good example. I had to resort to the FM's thread to find a required thing there, that I would probably never had found on my own. Good thing I'm smart enough to check internet nowadays.
This FM had some cool technically unusual things, like the upgraded use of lock picks or simply the nervously fast patrolling assassins and I assume if you piss them off, you won't last. I never even got the chance to try that, as my reflexes just knocked them cold first. No, they are still warm like hot dogs in a live football game, but I just wanted to say "cold" instead of "out", since that term is a bit overused.
I wouldn't ghost this mission, at least not on first try. Even if I ever replay this mission (unlikely, but possible), I probably wouldn't ghost it either. But nobody cares. Nobody cares...
The FM looks fine and compact overall. It's nicely polished, even if the design and architecture might seem simple. I guess the beautiful lightening make up for it. I have a feeling there is probably some fog in it, but mine doesn't really work, so I'll leave that up to you.
Sounds are well done, didn't notice any problems with them. Plus - the background noise, which reminded me of Eavesdropping, was very likable for my ears, but might be the exact opposite for you, because I am one of the iron beasts, that patrolled in Eavesdropping 24/7 in youth and got adapted to the music.
Frank, they bought the fake jewels! Our first sale, yeehaaa!!
Admittedly, I didn't get too passionate about this mission, but then again - I'm a cranky iron beast waiting for my master to wake me up and take me to the new machine part shop of his.
If You have little free time or will, but you're still good at finding everything in most FMs, and you're a Thief fan, this might satisfy your needs!
P.S. I want my new nick to be The
, but I guess I'm too late for that now. Thor was just being a copy cat, but that nick is something new and original.
Last edited by Thor; 14th Aug 2009 at 15:03.
Game: Thief II
Mission: Eastwater Bank (Gold)
Contest: Komag's Contest 3
Released: 02nd Feb 2004
For some reason I thought it was a Komag's Contest 4 mission, but apparently it was from Komag's Contest 3, at least the original version.
My best fence just tipped me off that the Eastwater branch of First City Bank has recently acquired three valuable artifacts, which they're keeping in their vault. Since the rent's due, this place seems as good as any to hit for some stuff to pawn off for the needed cash.
I managed to get some information about the bank from a guy I know who used to bank there. He said most of the floors are marble, which means I'd better take some earth crystals. Also, all the lights in the place are electric, so water crystals would probably be useless. Good thing, since I'm out of them anyway. Finally, he said the front doors are always well lit, well guarded and well locked.... so I'm counting on being able to find another way in.
The area around the bank is secured with city gates after nightfall, but that shouldn't be a problem for me. I'll slip over a wall as soon as it's good and dark....
This is a fairly linear, but well polished mission. As you might have guessed, it is a bank mission. There aren't many of those, but this is a nice one. Actually it reminded me a bit of a manor mission too. It's small, but it's also made default textures look surprisingly good, by making them smaller. That's how I noticed it. Things, that are vital to complete the mission are always quite well hidden and didn't encounter much personal frustrations. That and the small textures, as I already mentioned clicked me on this mission and made it enjoyable all the way through. There were also some inaccessible areas, which made you wonder... and maybe piss you off.
I didn't like so much, that I couldn't climb the balcony ledges and I didn't even like the ledges either. They made the whole bank feel smaller. Apart from that and the fact, that the bank actually is quite small, I didn't see anything particularly irritating in this mission - I think it's well done for a 2004 year mission, which was really a 2002 year mission. Lol.
Even though I said I didn't like the balconies, I still like them. Just too "not made for Thief". I can't explain it. It's a deeper understanding.
It has some fun little stories, it's beautiful, it's fun. I think this is one of those missions, that balance the main elements quite well.
All in all, I recommend it.
Good day again!
P.S. I'm fairly certain that this review is a lot worse, as people are constantly interrupting me and break my inspiration/concentration.
Last edited by Thor; 14th Aug 2009 at 15:54.
And I will add my thanks and appreciation too for the dual-reviews - highly amusing on a very dull, somewhat stressful day.
And also Thor02 - thank you for the review of Amnesia. I think that reviews of some older, maybe less well-known fms, would be very much appreciated by me at least. I have played some fms from this thread that I'd previously glossed over because the title - usually something involving dead things - has put me off before. I remember one fm, not reviewed here and whose title escapes me now, that I didn't play for a long time thinking it was about undead stuff. I saw a review elsewhere and realised that it had nothing to do with undead at all and greatly enjoyed it.
But I'm not such a big wuss anymore and would very much like to see some more reviews of contest missions, many of which I should and haven't played and some scary, heebie-jeebie undead missions too.
I would gladly review some more contest missions. First I have to play them, though. Also, I have those 6 bigger, unfinished missions, that always beg me to be played but somehow I'm either stuck on them or depressed. Want me to list them? Just as a game.
As I lived till this year's 15th august, I realized it's been a year since the release of Mission X. Shamefully, I never actually finished it. So now I came to replay CoSaS and then Mission X and decided - why not review them? I'll share some screens and thoughts of both missions and together we will make this world a better place.
Yay! *Initiating epic music*
Coincidentally I was and still am listening to Blind Guardian - Nightfall when I posted this.
Game: Thief II
Made by Markus "Mokkis" Lappalainen & Totality, directed by Daniel Todd
Mission: Gathering at the Inn
Campaign: Circle of Stone and Shadow aka CoSaS
Released: 11th Feb 2003
I'll start off by saying, that this mision was based on 'Gathering at the Bar' by Toni "Trimfect" Hollming in 1999. It was a mission for Thief I and it was the first fan mission ever built, to prove LGS, that people are smart enough to grasp dromed. At least that's what I've read in hidden sources.
The story sets out, that you (Dante) had some power, but you ended up being cast down into the streets, becoming a thief, so you ended up at Master Nightfall's doorstep - a warden in the city owner of an establishment called The Circle of Stone and Shadow. Master Nightfall decided do test your skills, so he sent ou out on a mission - break in the Grieving Burrick's Inn and steal the scepters from each Inn's guest, who are staying here for the night. The only scepter Master Nightfall really needs belongs to the Fire mage guest, but you'll have to steal all the others and some extra cash, to make it look like a simple robbery. Also, some of the Inn's guests are bastards, so you're determined to sabotage them. When you complete this mission, you will likely be accepted in the circle.
This mission serves as an introduction to the campaign and Dante, the main character himself.
This is a relatively small mission. I was wishing more houses were enterable, as they looked great from the outside, but then again - you're here only for the Inn's robbery. The good thing is, though, that the Inn offers you various ways to be robbed by. You can climb down through the chimney or simply punch out a window, when nobody's looking. I like that.
This campaign sets difficulty from all hints to no hints. Unfortunately my ego, which is supposed to be low, is high in Thief, so high, that I must always take expert in Thief - it's like a disease I can't get rid of. So That being said, I can only keep imagining, how does the mission look like, when I've got everything told for me.
I don't know, if it's the fog I got halfway working (people call it "The wall of fog") or what, but I was in joy how well everything looked. The random streets, windows, that didn't seem to have much purpuse looked great, not to mention the lights. The Inn itself was only about a half of the mission for me.
This FM sounded great too. The Winter atmosphere really came to me and the peaceful melodies felt good and together with the warm and inviting windows in the surrounding houses established the atmosphere. The voice acting was cool too and I think the guard conversation sounds were revamps of the originals. Seeing a different tone in them for once sure was healthy.
What really amazes me in this mission and the sequel is the quality theire having. Keyrings, OM style maps, not by an inch less good, descriptions about each character of importance, a promissing story, custom resources and ofcourse - the cutscene movies - both in the beginning and end of the mission. Those features were original back in the day, if I am correct and I would have easily bought it, if people tried to deceive me by saying it was released in 2008, unless I knew the truth.
This mission was well balanced in all areas and for some reason it's hard for me to rate it. I think the weakest point might have been the gameplay part, as many other FMs concentrate on that alone, when this one tried to have it all. Still, it totally succeeds as an introduction mission, so I guess that it's one of those missions, where the flaws are tiny and you need a magnifier glass to see them and that way make them bigger, turn them towards sun and make them burn.
This isn't the Inn... Or is it?
This is why people call it wall of fog.
Three guesses how I took this screen.
It's basically a teaser for bigger things to come. Come, Misssion X!
No, no, not yet... I still have to replay it, write the review and spends ridiculous amounts of time choosing and polishing screenshots... This may take me a while.
PotatoGuy: Welcome to this review! This will be a small one that I do on my own, but nonetheless it...
Random Thread Lurker: Wait a minute! You post a review, Thor posts reviews, why won't you continue Dracula? That's a lot more fun than your stupid alone-reviews!
PotatoGuy: You have a point, Random Thread Lurker. Let me explain why you won't see those wonderful, fantastic written reviews for some time: I'm busy. I only got a bit time today to post this small review that I wanted to make a long time ago, and reviewing Dracula takes a lot of time - more than you would think. (And maybe because Thor and me are as slow as zombies.) Maybe the next Dracula will come in a week, maybe tomorrow, but it can take a month too. I'm afraid I don't know when I will have time. And that's why...
...I'll continue this review in my normal style, I hope I don't disappoint too many people. But... there is also good news. This is not an ordinary review, it's...
For the record, ST1MERITT means Second Thief 1 Mission Ever Reviewed In This Thread. I won't review too many Thief 1 FMs, because most of them just don't give that cool Thief feeling as TDP did. However, some do, and I can't see any good reason why they shouldn't be reviewed. FT1MERITT was Returning a Favor by Morrgan, and this one is...
The Gem by Datoyminaytah
This mission takes place in the same part of town as mission 4 of TDP, where you have to bully Ramirez. This mission takes place in the first night after leaving the Keepers, so this is our little Garrett's first job! A simple story: A merchant called Worthington has a gem. You want it. Simple, eh?
The Gem won't take you more than 10 minutes, but still, it's (WARNING - BAD WORD JOKE!) a gem. There is not really something to do in the city itself, there are only 3 places that are worth visiting (The place where you start, a certain weaponshop, and Worthington's.) The reason that this FM is so small: it's actually a prequel to a mission that would take place the next morning. Unfortunately that FM has never seen daylight.
The reason that I recommend this FM is the paradox in it. In one way it's really original and un-Thief: a conversation that you will have in the beginning in the mission full of humour, where Garrett doesn't speak as he normally does. But on the other hand I think Datoyminaytah really places the (can't believe I'm using this word) essence of Thief in this FM, and that in just three lines, spoken by someone you'll see after leaving Worthington's. This mission is a great way to start the wonderful world of Fan missions, but if you're already experienced - please play this. Highly Recommended.
Just some screens, put in for fun...
Well, this looks familiar! Don't worry Garrett, we'll return here...
And this looks familiar too!
Closed due to construction?! I'll get you one day, Ramirez!
This guy is what I was talking about. This beggar should be Thief's mascot.
BIG EDIT: Thor just appeared at my front door, and hit me with the blackjack because I forgot he also reviewed a Thief 1 mission. (Lord Beilman's Estate) So hereby I change ST1MERITT into ST1MERITTBP, Second Thief 1 Mission Ever Reviewed In This Thread By PotatoGuy. Doesn't sound good, does it? Blame Thor.
Last edited by PotatoGuy; 17th Aug 2009 at 12:11.
You're obviously barking Tips ! - I like it. I can't see any pics at all so I suspect you're just teasing us really. Mind you, although I can see everyone else's, as I am currently barred from seeing anything that British Telecom classes as adult content, maybe it's just me that can't see them.
@ Thor02 - I'm wondering how many other fms have got fog that I missed because I didn't realise for a very long time that I didn't have fog.
I am enjoying the reviews of these less-well-known-nowadays fms. When I get some time it will be great to go back through this thread and pick up on some of them.
Lol, I'm affraid it's just you who doesn't see his pics, then, because I can see them.
About the foggy FMs, I think this is one way to find out (Nebel, 2nd post, if I am correct). Looks like I've missed quite a few too, then. :/
And...yes! We caught you by surprise! Didn't exspect that, did you? And where, do you ask, did this pleasant surprise came from? How did this start? Well my friend, let me tell you a story of two heroes facing a giant campaign, and how they with fear still wanted to review that montrosity. Let me tell you the story of...
Traitors of Poenari
PotatoGuy: Say, Thor...
PotatoGuy: Well, I know I just said in the thread that I'm very busy and such, but actually I have nothing to do tonight, so... shall we review Dracula?
Thor: Oh, ok. AND NOW... THE MOMENT YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR... HAS FINALLY COME!
PotatoGuy: A WORLD YOU THOUGH YOU'D NEVER SEE BACK! We present you...
Thor: ANOTHER REVIEW-PREVIEW-HYBRID!
The crowd is going crazy. meanwhile PotatoGuy tries to explain to Thor that weren't actually the words he wanted to have said...rather something more heroic.
PotatoGuy: Let us begin! Onto Darkloader, to play! Very well, as usual Sensut let us start in a location you want to explore immediately, but also as usual: you have a readable of many pages that should be read first.
It seems we could not stop Dracula and he is on his way to England. Instead of chasing him Gellert decides to dig up Dracula's past by GOING into the past! Weird choice, but hey, I'm not the one telling the story...
Thor: As usual, it was hard for me to follow as I am a very slow reader, bad in english and in this case didn't understand much. Well, no matter, I still have a great map to explore and hope for simpler readables!
PotatoGuy: Well, I just got to the past and I have to say - the suspension bridge in front of me is until now the best look I had in this campaign. What a beautiful sight! You better make a screenshot out of this, buddy!
Thor: I did, oh yeah, but really, this guy likes things dark.
PotatoGuy: I managed to get into Dracula's castle (it looks very ominous!) and now I'm looking through a large embrasure. I keep jumping off it, turn around in the air, and then make a screenshot. A photographer even gives his life for a good picture. 'sniff'
Thor: Unless he's spiderman. Right now managed to already get frustrated on a godforsaken ladder drops and it got me so bad I want to punch someone in the face. I think I'll try to relax a little. Oh, all that suffering for nothing. I strongly suggest everyone setting "Attach ladder" to "touch" instead of jump...Seriously.
Up the castle I came upon something rather rare and interesting - a mirror. Meanwhile, explorin the smallhouses and all those areas, I can see, that the author is improving quite a bit and every bit of this FM is nice and pretty, though still fairly linear. That's not so bad, since there are still many areas to explore.
PotatoGuy: What I notice about Sensut's style, is that he tries to build realistic: Many areas are a dead end, but they belong in a castle, so he includes them. In one way you feel like you're in a real castle, but in the other way: it may affect the gameplay a little. Now I'm a bit used to Sensut's style I hurry some more in the rooms, because I know he doesn't hide many loot.
Thor: Yes, he does have his own style. It is fantastic! Athors trying to have the OM style are ok too, but I still prefer each author build what they actually want.
PotatoGuy: Sensut changed the guards from this point: They are unblackjackable again, but like in the previous mission they are easy to avoid. And again, maybe too easy...
And immediately I withdraw that. I entered a room full of tile, with 2 guards that you can't blackjack. Fortunately Gellert has 21 moss arrows and 18 water arrows.
Thor: Just got another objective fullfilled in the library. Everything keeps being awesome and the mission continues!
Also, I've got a theory why there's not much loot in this mission. It is kind of dark there, y'know. I wouldn't like to see sunlight immidiately after playing this.
PotatoGuy: I just saw a note that said: 'I'm so sad! Please don't disturb!' For some reason I laughed out loud when I read it. I mean, which lady would give such a reason to her guards so that they wouldn't disturb her?
Thor: What a wuss! Maybe she also makes the guards watch over her tedddy bears collection?
For those, that like pickpocketing or might like it, this map will be a joy. Almost every guard has something on him and you can pocketpick them all! At least that's how I think.
PotatoGuy: After a scripted event I'm a bit lost what to do. To be honest, I still don't get why Gellert wouldn't want to trace Dracula, but instead of that go back into the past to know what happened to Dracula. Maybe that will become clear in the next mission... Though I'm very impressed in what I've seen so far: Sensut really knows how to decorate rooms.
Thor: I'm still rather confused by the fact, that he makes many beautiful rooms completely dark and unable to be lit. Talk about realism.
I think I just saw the same scripted event. Frankly, the story and all doesn't make much sense to me here, but I love to play through it anyway.
PotatoGuy: I descended into some tombs, but still I have just a little idea what to do there. Until now the story of this mission isn't clear to me, but the design and architecture make up for it.
Thor: There is a code puzzle in the end that was so frustrating I had to give up until I was given the answer directly. Honestly, of all the puzzles, this must be my most hated one like EVER. I only failed to solve 2 things in Ominous Bequest by myself, and even those were hilarious.
The ending was quite fun and I'm eager to play the next mission.
It was a mission with lots of dark atmosphere, some bits of exploration and a... vampiric and mystical story.
PotatoGuy: Fortunately you could get the code from me, Thor. Though I'm a retard in puzzles, I solved this one in a few minutes... but let us not judge Thor. The guy is already sad enough.
Thor: I am annoyed, not sad.
PotatoGuy: Ok, ok. Better make yourself useful by handing over some screens!
I guess thieves aren't welcome here...
One thing is certain - Sensut likes BIG.
An example of how dark this mission is. In fact we're staring at a statue right now.
Hideous statues, blood everywhere, murdered Turk... Ok, Lord Dracula, everything is ready for your party!
This must be the office of Satan's secretary.
Thor: This wasn't our best shot, but hope you liked it anyway.
Fellow taffers, I'm afraid Thor and I have a bit of an argument about the screens. And since you are the ones we make the reviews for, we ask this question to you.
Thor's opinion is that screenies 3,4,6 and 7 shouldn't have been brightened at all (or maybe just a tiny bit), he wants to have the screens show what the mission really looks like. With his own words: "my opininon is that those pics should've been lightened to the limit where they still maintain some halfway natural beauty".
But most of the time I want to brighten them, because imo you can't see a thing if I don't do that. Brighten or not to brighten, that's the question. And you should give the answer.
So, I'll show screenies 3,4,6 and 7 again, unbrightened this time. What do you like more?
Please, give your opinion if you don't want Thor and I fight to death.
Also, I didn't really get why he thought this screen is too dark. The left side may be, but the right is natural.
Edit: Also, I don't think you should keep things totally dark. I think PG overdid it. For example, my churchly-room does seem a bit too dark now, but that was my own screwup.
Last edited by Thor; 18th Aug 2009 at 12:50.
Concerning the screenshots I would suggest using images of better quality in general. To example:
You can see the 8x8 matrices from the jpeg-compression and the whole pictures looks very disturbed. I know that IrfanView allows you to adjust the level of image compression. A 1024x768 sized bitmap-image can be converted into an 150kb .jpg without any noticable amount of data loss due to compression if you set quality to 80%.
I would suggest using smaller (maybe 600 pixels) images of better quality where you can see details in dark spots without changing the brightness instead...
I hope this doesn't sound too harsh
Otherwise it was a nice and interesting review. Keep up the good work, you're a good team
Entertaining as always . I start taking a fancy to my own work .
I've started the 3rd part with a big city map in Moldova, I built and built the city, but the story was 0. I did not can already at this time what I want in this mission. I realised it later, on half way, that not too I want a city and what Dracula would be looking for in a city , so that I left the city building, I parted with Stoker novel and I was sinking into the history a little bit. After all Dracula's history was a curriculum for me in the school. I contaminated a little with the legend and this results from it. Was not in a plan at this time the campaign.
And about the screenshots. I use FRAPS, what is good because of gives back what you see on the screen including the in-game gamma adjustment:
... and of course, because it's a free software .
Thanks again, guys
That's nice, that you made the FM out of history. At first I didn't like the RL type of thing, but now I do. It's like I'm living through an old dark ages story.
I love, that you always include some mountain areas or as background in most of your missions.
Oh and thanks for the tips, intruder! I don't see any harshness in that, but kindness.
I find myself a bit bored on this time the last nights, so I review some things that just... should be reviewed. Though SneakyJack has a good reputation as thief because he stole all the good missions to review (), there are still some unreviewed beauties out there. Like...
Keyhunt by Eshaktaar
Keyhunt is the winner of the Stock Resource Contest of some years ago, and when you play it you can nothing do then agree with that decision. The story is quite simple, though original: In all those years of thieving Garrett has many keys gathered. Your lockpicks are good, but sometimes nothing works better than a nice key. Though most of the keys in that collection are a memory from a job well done, some of them still hide a surprise. Last night you found a key with a skeleton face on it, and the numbers 6 and 7. You recognize the skull symbol as that of the Eastlawn Cemetery, so you head out to sector 6-7 of that cemetery. Maybe the key fits on a lock that holds some treasures.
Everyone that has played something by Eshaktaar knows that the guy really likes puzzles. Though this mission is made with only stock resources it is truly a beautiful sight. You'll venture down into a great looking underground complex with many puzzles, few AI and an occassional loot item. Ghosting is very easy, except in one place with many tiles. But there's a way to gain some moss arrows, if you'lll find it...
There's actually not that many to say about this FM without giving away too much, just remember that this is a small-medium FM with a nice story that has a turn in it. (That's the thing I like most about Eshaktaar's FMs, those turns.) The looks are good, the sounds are good, and the story is excellent. Highly recommended, especially if you don't have that much time and want a relaxing mission.
The place where you start - i actually couldn't believe this was all stock resource.
Wanna go downstairs?
This guy actually was so pissed he forgot his rope arrow and fell down his ghost still haunts. But Garrett ain't that stupid!
Though he hasn't skin, he still has a mirror. Weird haunt.
Last edited by PotatoGuy; 20th Aug 2009 at 18:14.
And on a side note - the thing in this FM that most intruiged me was this; a stone you'll meet in the beginning of the mission.
What would Eshaktaar mean with this? In my mind goes two options.
A. This means that this place where Garrett is now, not actually is a tomb. Maybe it is a fitness centrum, a hiding place of the Keepers, or (spoiler ahead!) this is written by the mage that designed this complex: this isn't a crypt, it's just a giant puzzle test to discover a moral.
B. Eshaktaar shows us he agrees with the surrealists. This isn't a crypt, this is a computer game, and when you play you play in an area that looks like a crypt. You know, the direction of...
Please Eshaktaar, bring me some enlightment.
By the way, before I actually get around to the article, I want to say that even though I've only been lurking lately I HAVE been keeping up with the thread and all of you guys have been doing a great job. Some really entertaining reviews by Thor and Patatoguy- my favorite being the dual reviewer ones (I'd like to try that sometime...). I've been kind of making a habit of starting my reviews with explanations on why the hell they took so long, this time I'll spare you and just say it was a combination of lots of stuff going on in that irritating "real-life" thing and just me being generally lazy (about 50:50).
And yes, I did go the extra mile.
The Mike's Top 10 Favorite Contest Missions
I stated earlier in my review for "Island of Madness" how much I love FM contests. There's a reason for that- most of them kick a ridiculous amount of ass. In fact, I didn't realize how awesome most of them were until I had this idea to make a list of my top 10 favorites. God, choosing which of these FMs to put on my list was like choosing my favorite children and having no ugly ones to make the decision easier (don't be too concerned, I don't have any children and if I did I wouldn't dislike the ugly ones. Unless they were really ugly that is). So, while these are probably my 10 absolute favorites, I wholeheartedly recommend downloading each and every mission for every contest thus far. WHOLE. HEARTEDLY.
It strikes me that I tend to use parentheses a bit much in my writing when foot notes are WAY cooler. Therefore, footnotes shall henceforth be used in my reviews, making them more full of sweet buttery awesomeness than ever. You might be asking yourself, "What does this mean for ME, and should I be scared?". What this means is that when you see a "*", you should look down at the bottom of the paragraph for some kind of extrapolation on what you just read*. And yes, you should be afraid. YOU SHOULD BE VERY AFRAID.
*See? You're learning.
10. Fate of the Art
I included this FM on my list purely because after playing it I cannot hear the word "contest" without thinking about destroying paintings. One day I'm going to be sprawled out on a psychiatrist's couch doing that word game where they name something and you say the first thing that comes to your mind, and they're going to say "Contest" and I'm going to respond with "Stabbing paintings" and then I'm going to have an electric collar put on me and be shipped to a padded cell and it will be ALL THIS FM'S FAULT. Seriously, I have no idea what it is about this FM that so deeply engraved itself into my mind, but whenever I think about FM contests, I get a mental image of running through this FM going all Jason Vorhees on bad paintings and trying to search for every coin of all of its impossible-to-find loot. I mean- there's tiny coins hidden on the top of a counter you have to jump to actually see in a room full of tile flooring where a guard patrols. WHO THE HELL IS THAT EVIL!? Still, I find myself oddly drawn to this FM. What can I say? It appeals to my inner vandal.
Take one look at this painting and tell me it doesn't have to die.
9. Old Comrades, Old Debts
This, right here, is a perfect example of why I love me some contest missions: it's short but uses it's brief length to tell an interesting story and uses its cramped level design to make sneaking trickier than usual- which I admit pissed me off enough that I lowered its standing on this list about 5 notches just because I was so angry at it. That'll teach it to attack MY wavering sense of pride!
What I liked so much about this one is the story- and here it is: So Garrett gets a call from his Old Comrades the Pagans (see what I did there?), after having let all their calls go straight to voice mail for a month since he was tired of them going on about plants and leaves and whatnot (why don't you just MARRY the woodsies already?!?) but finally he answers them and the conversation is all like:
Pagans: Yo, Garrett. Yousie owses us a favor!
Garrett: *your best exasperated sigh*...what kind of favor?
Pagans: Victoria wantsies you to pickses up her dry cleaning.
Garrett: This isn't really a great time for me, I'm in the middle of a job and I'm kinda trying to BJ a whole room full of guards right now.
Pagans: ....uh.....yousie might want to consider just saying 'blackjack' every nows and then instead of going for that acronym.
Garrett: What's that? I was busy BJ'ing someone.
Garrett: And how do I owe you a favor? I killed Karras, you should be licking my victorious rubber-soled boots.
Pagans: Yeah...here's the thing. Remember the time we boughtsies you that Ipod? The big one with the touch screen?
Garrett: Ah, GOD dammit.
So Garrett walked off towards the pagans' meeting site with his head down mumbling something about how he wanted a Zune anyway, when suddenly he felt clammy childlike hands clamp over his eyes and something latch onto his back with inhuman speed.
"Aye now, you remember me boyo?!" said a voice from behind him: suddenly he flashed back to his last job where on the way out he had stolen a bowl full of delicious breakfast cereal and laughed at the fading echoes of "Dontcha be stealin' me lucky charms!" from the angry pursuing leprechaun across the room. He had got away from that encounter, OR SO HE THOUGHT. He went to react, but too soon he felt the poison-tipped four leafed clover stick into his neck; his vision faded into darkness to the sound of now oh-so-far-away maniacal giggling followed by what sounded like a victorious bout of tap-dancing and fiddle music*. Long story short, he wakes up in a prison cell across from a pagan and a whole lot of jail-breaking shenanigans involving ghosts goes down.
Ah hell, now I've spent entirely too long discussing what's most likely the plot and I haven't even talked about the actual mission yet. Better wrap this up quick. Uh...this mission is good and I like it lots.
*This actually might not be the mission's story but rather a particularly horrifying dream I had once.
Despite my persistence, this clearly radioactive spider refused to bite me and give me super powers.
I've stated before that I love me some Eshaktaar missions (I said that in my Broken Triad review on page 38- I heard reading it makes you 26% more awesome and attractive), that said, it isn't all that surprising that his one and only mission released for an FM contest also happens to be one of my all-time favorites. The title actually caused it to be one of the last missions of this particular contest* that I played since it's oh-so-cunningly named after a universally hated style of gameplay. However back then I didn't know that it was made by Eshaktaar; if I had known that, instead of going into it with trepidation I'd have gone into it head banging with one hand held high in the air doing the devil horns and yelling "ARE YOU READY NEW YORK?!" in my best Axl Rose impersonation, because I would have known that Thief was about to RAWK. It might only feature a few actual enemies, but it has some of the most clever puzzles I've ever solved (and incredibly, without cheating). Also, if you don't realize that it was from the Standard Stock Resource contest, it probably won't even strike you that it contains no flashy new textures or objects despite the fact it still looks brain-gooifyingly amazing.
*That would be the SSR contest by the way. See? Even I can be informative sometimes.
Your brain has just been gooified.
7. What Lies Below
If you were to ask me "Hey, do you want to play a Thief mission with a strictly black and white color scheme that takes place entirely in a sewer environment?" I'd probably spray mace into your eyes and run away delirious with fear waving my arms in the air and screaming in horror. That horrifying proposition pretty much sums up this FM; yet amazingly it's not only good despite these things, it's actually better because of them. "CRAZINESS!" you say, "WITCHCRAFT AND SORCERY!". Well, maybe. It's very possible that its author Yandros used his knowledge of the dark arts to twist our perception of what is fun and now we are all his puppets proclaiming how incredible and must-play this FM is while he stirs his giant black cauldron, cackling at us. For whatever reason I love this FM. Also, we should all probably bow down and serve our illustrious sorcerer king Yandros and slay his enemies. ALL HAIL YANDROS.
The Almighty Yandros has demanded that I post this screenshot, and thus it shall be done.
6. Ashes and Dust
Of all my favorite mission types, mansion-with-dark-secret is the one I enjoy most. I love mansion missions as it is, but when they have a gateway to some dark dimension in the basement or an axe wielding haunt in the attic they then earn a special place in my heart normally reserved for large quantities of pancakes or anything involving Batman . That said, about thirty seconds into this mission when a painting hissed "I seeee yoooouuuu..." at me, I knew I was going to enjoy myself. What can I say? I likes my cars fast, my music loud, and my mansions haunted. THAT'S JUST HOW THE MIKE DOES THINGS, BABY. This falling into my proffered setting aside, this is one extremely well-made mission. There's a domed ceiling on the top floor that's so damn impressive I got caught by guards at least twice while staring up at it (as I recall I even continued staring at it while the guards beat me into the ground with their swords, that's one impressive ceiling). Of course, I didn't think to take a screenshot of it because I'm severely lacking in foresight. Guess you just have one more reason to play it now, right?! Right.
There's something oddly hitchcockian about the angle I took this screenshot from. Am I a visionary director in the making? I like to think so.
5. Island of Madness
HEY, I already reviewed this one which means I get to save myself some time and just point you over in that review's general direction. Page 42. Read it. Bask in the six paragraphs of literary above average-ness. Now make me a ham sandwich. With swiss please. Mayo also but don't go nuts. On white. Why are you still here? CHOP CHOP!
The REAL message to be found in this mission is, of course, the dangers of glowstick poisoning.
4. The Tower
The "Anniversary Contest" was full of incredible missions, so when I say that this mission ended up being the winner, you can rest assured that it's more than worth your time. Nevertheless, I've prepared a list of reasons why you should jump on the nearest download link for this mission, I think you will find that they are impossible to argue against and resistance is futile (you will also find that the only exits are lined with explosive charges and the floor is about to open up into a tank of hungry amazonian death pirhanas*). First of all it's created by FM making GOD(ess) Lady Rowena, who brought us the fantastic "Rowena's Curse" (set in a mansion with a dark secret, so you already know my feelings on that one...y'know...pancakes and Batman?) and the even better "Seven Sisters" campaign**. Secondly, it features unusual and extremely cool vertical game play. Thirdly, it had a part near the end that made me jump so badly I nearly broke that pull-out shelf my keyboard sits on and my right leg simultaneously. And finally: it has a great story and ends with a boss fight, which is like reading a good book and then immediately after finishing it...uh...the book turns into a ninja and fights you (it's late and that's the best analogy I can think of, so I'm keeping it).
*Amazonian death pirhanas probably aren't a real animal, but you have to admit they sound badass.
**HEY, I reviewed that one too! Back on page 36! READ. SANDWHICH. CHOP CHOP.
PROOF that there is, in fact, a tower in this mission.
3. Deceptive Perception
Question: are your bowels functioning properly? If you answered "yes" then you clearly have never played "Deceptive Perception", because regardless of how long ago it was when you first played it, you would STILL be soiling yourself unexpectedly. IT'S. ALMOST. THAT. SCARY.* Created by contest mission guru William the Taffer, Deceptive Perception is practically legendary among Thief fans for it's uncanny ability to turn the unsuspecting player into a whimpering child throughout its five minutes or so of gut-wrenchingly terrifying and geniusly scripted spook-house gameplay. Also, with no exaggeration, it has the best ending ever. Seriously. I mean..."Gone with the Wind" was close, but after the "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." line, Scarlet didn't turn around and see 900 zombies lumbering towards her (that would have been awesome though).
*BUT. NOT. REALLY. I'M. EXAGGERATING.
...Can we talk about this?
2. Into the Maelstrom
If you're anything like me then simply describing this mission as "pirates and zombies" is probably enough to get you gasping for breath into a paper bag, hyperventilating from overexcitement. Well...okay...honestly if you were to put anything next to the word "zombies" it would get me all overexcited,* but COME ON, PIRATES! ZOMBIES! It's only one ice cream cake away from being the best birthday party I've ever imagined! Nevertheless, when you peel back all the zombie pirate trimmings what you get is a phenomenally made horror mission that's dripping in atmosphere and extremely fun to play. The loot goal is a little unforgiving as it pretty much forces you to find some irritatingly well-hidden stashes, but considering it features a liberal dose of zombie pirates, I could forgive anything short of it causing me to go sterile by playing it.
*after twenty minutes of hard thinking the only exception to this rule I can come up with is "long division and zombies".
LIKE, SCOOB, It's PUH PUH PUH, PIRATE GHOOOOSTS!!
1. The Burrick's Head Inn
Here it is folks, my number one favorite contest mission of all time. Why do I love this mission so much? Simple- something about it ALWAYS puts me in a good mood. I don't know what it is, even after a hard day at work this mission inexplicably finds that warm and fuzzy feeling inside of me that makes me want to go outside and hug a puppy as opposed to my normal after-work feeling of wanting to fire arrow a zombie to death and stack it's gibs into a pyramid as a testament to my own bloodlust. I think it's because the atmosphere of a ritzy hotel is done so damn well I can't help but find it relaxing. The classical music, those softly fading precursor lights, that freaking mind-blowing fountain in the courtyard area- this is like the Thief mission equivalent of those therapeutic squishy stress relief balls. Alternately though, the thief vs. thief storyline makes it exciting and gives it a propulsive energy while it still keeps a relaxing feel. It's relaxciting*! That is essentially why I love this mission- it's exciting thieving that, oddly enough, you can mellow out too. It also probably bears mentioning that this is the second mission made by Yandros to appear on this list, that either means he is a truly terrific author or that his dark hold around me has started to tighten. YANDROS COMMANDS YOU TO READ MY DECEPTIVE PERCEPTION 2 REVIEW ON PAGE 38. ALL HAIL YANDROS.
*I was about to say "exlaxing" but that doesn't sound like a pleasant feeling.
As it turns out, this slowfall potion did absolutely nothing to break my fall while making my dramatic escape from this high balcony.
THERE YOU HAVE IT, MY TOP TEN CONTEST MISSIONS! Please leave comments- I'm so desperate for your approval. ALL I ASK IS THAT YOU LOVE ME.
Last edited by The Mike; 29th Aug 2009 at 02:03.
Normally I would make a post full of compliments, but I'm ashamed I never reviewed something made by Yandros. I AM NOT WORTHY. THIS THIEF FAN WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN 10 SECONDS.
Lovely stuff as usual guys - just what the doctor ordered!!
As to the screenshots argument I'm afraid I can't help. I find most of them too dark so I have to lighten with gapa anyway. But that first Poenari shot is really amazing. Every time I look at it I see the sky moving.
Lots of great, entertaining reviews lately - well done you guys
The Mike; still in your fan club, always assuming I'm still racking up The Mike points (And I've wondered that about Yandros - so many FMs which are so good; that could be how he's getting help... )
I thought the ones in the post I quoted from were too dark - but now I'm thoroughly confused as to which of you posted which screens...
Perhaps you two should duke it out after all
Edit: have come to really like NV's Dark Theme - much easier on the eyes.