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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #2301
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Yes, excuses, excuses!

    I saw these reviews but I've been travelling today and the brakes on the car went so it was just a tad exhausting getting back so I'm saving them for my morning cuppa when I can concentrate properly.

  2. #2302
    Registered: May 2003
    Location: Normally I'm in the batcave.
    That's really nice looking actually...yeah, consider me bought.

    Thanks to everyone who read/will read later (promises, promises...). Thanks especially for the screenshot compliments, I take this as high praise as my screenies are normally terrible. I found it helps if, while I'm taking them, I chew a cigar and yell "I WANT PHOTOS OF SPIDERMAN!!" at myself.

    And nice review Phantom, once again. You might as well copy/paste all of the other reviews you have sitting around the forum on this thread- it would give us more content and be easy as pie (with the exception of meat pies of course, those things are an ordeal).

  3. #2303
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Hopefully I don't make any promises I can't keep!

    So, more first class reviews from TM and Phantom. Hugely entertaining as always. Sitting in early morning quiet, reading Thiefy reviews and drinking tea from a giant Thiefy mug has got to be one of the best experiences! I must put Just Take a Look on my replay list - it's been a long time since I last played it. It's funny about the crashing in Little Fly - after the first couple of tests when I had about 3 random crashes, it was completely stable on my pc. I think it's hard to pin something down when it's random though.

    And about your screenshots TM - this is the first time I found them a bit on the dark side and needed to use Gapa to see them properly. But they certainly highlighted the craziness of this mission, that's for sure.

    First post updated.
    Last edited by nickie; 9th Jul 2012 at 03:36.

  4. #2304
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: Museum of the Ancients
    Mission title: A Smuggler's Request (for Thief 2)
    Author: Richard "RiCh" Cull
    Release: January 2001

    Call me a taffer for having never finished Richard Cull's "A Smuggler's Request" before. I do feel like one, actually, for realizing now that it's in fact a great mission I ignored all those years. It managed to amaze and entertain me for many hours. Old missions often still manage to appeal many years later, and it turns out A Smuggler's Request, released in 2001, is no exception .

    In the introduction we read that Garrett received a plea for help from an old friend of his. The local Captain of the Guard (Ash) suspects that this Quinn is involved in some shady business and has arrested and incarcerated the captain of his ship to beat a confession out of him. So Quinn, fearful the confession means his downfall (and the gallows), turned to Garrett for help. The player begins the mission hiding at Quinn's attic, with the latter's letter on a table that explains what is requested: kill the captain of the ship, retrieve the Captain's log and kill the Captain of the Guard who causes your friend so much trouble. At least, that's the job to do on Easy difficult, which brings us to one of the strongest points of A Smuggler's Request.

    Gallows... heavily guarded

    The game is surprisingly different on each difficulty setting, and not merely in the usual way. On Easy the player can kill/knockout everyone he likes and it is required to find a minumum of 1600 loot. On Expert difficulty meanwhile, not only is killing prohibited, bluecoats can't be knockout and is the loot goal higher (3100), but the whole gameplay is altered. Objective numbers go up from 6 to 10 on Expert and the goals have significantly changed (instead of killing the Ship's captain and Captain Ash, it is now your job to rescue the first and dump the unconsious Ash in the sewers. Furthermore writings are different, routes are cut off and a large part of the map, inaccessible on Easy, is opened up for the player to explore. The difference is just remarkable and I can't recall coming across a mission before that did such a thorough job . Players are strongly recommended therefore to try out Expert after finishing on Easy, not only for extra challenge but to explore the large and spectacular areas that opened up, notice all the changes, and finding the extra loot and secrets . You'd miss a lot if you don't.

    Sewers.. home of will o' wisp's and spiders

    Expert difficulty is quite a challenge as it forces you to avoid the bluecoats (some carrying lanterns) as much as possible (no kills/knockouts) and to make good use of your equipment, which is delivered to you one piece at the time, hidden at the most hard to reach places, while your main stash (hidden at a secret spot by Basso) isn't very easy to retrieve.
    The mission consists roughly of city streets, a guardhouse/prison and docks. Don't expect beautiful visuals (although the latticed houses and stone textures look nice) but this is more then compensated by it's size, another strong feature of Smugglers Request. It does a great job in opening up with each progress, making it way larger then the player imagines at the start. The single available map does a convincing job in hiding this fact. While it's size comes at the cost of detail (don't expect mind-blowing architecture) it's hardly missed when there's so much to explore and to do. Every part of the map brings something new and the author surprises us with some memorable settings later on, like a large ship to explore and a bridge crossing a harbour, showing us (as he does in "The Art of Thievery", his 2nd and last FM) he has a talent for creating wide, open and appealing scenes.

    Vantage point.. one of the those foggy settings

    Plenty of climbing, mantling and swimming opportunities are present throughout the mission, and a large number of secrets is available for the player to find. It makes up for hours of thieving fun on Expert. The mission is pretty linear, most notably at the first part of the level, but more (alternative) routes and shortcuts open up later on. Some clever technical effects are implemented which works really well, like thunder and lightning (triggered at certain points), the way to rescue the captain and the presence of rain and fog in a seperate part of the map!
    Beside all this some unexpected scripted events are implemented, providing a welcome twist to the story. Ghosting seems to be supported (save for the part where you have to knock out Ash and the imprisoned captain) although it's extremely difficult, especially inside the guardhouse. Until you know the place and find out what equipment to spend (and when) it can be done, but not until a second playthrough on Expert as in my case. It's quite a challenge, having to rely on equipment you never use otherwise (invisibility potion), although it's also a fun excercise to cause mayhem by locking up AI in all kinds of places (like the cells in the lower dungeon) or letting them fight eachother .

    Murder.. forensics at work at the crime scene

    I've played through Expert two times and very much enjoyed it . Overall gameplay is absolutely superb, especially on Expert which provides more exploration and more difficulty. Naturally there are aspects that aren't that strong. The way Garrett is lured into a cell was a bit annoying (when passing so many locked doors) and too much pushes the player in a certain direction. I also expected more from Captain Ash, taking him for a tough warrior instead of the harmless nobleman it turns out he is, and some objectives tick off as completed while the exact task hasn't been properly executed yet,
    But these are minor complaints considering the effort the author put into this mission. It's expending size and story progression, the striking difference between Easy and Expert difficulty, and some impressive locations to explore make this one of the best and most complete FMs released in the first years of the last decade. It delivers many hours of exploration and while using some elements from the Originial missions (conversations and Garrett sounds mostly) it also does a great job in turning in new directions, setting a standard for later missions to come. And all of this
    packed in a less than 5 MB free-download, ladies and gentlemen.
    Now it's time to drink some of that booze Quinn promised me if I did a job well done, and so I did.

    Square.. fountains make a nice decoration

    Thanks for making this and keeping me immersed for hours, RiCh . I wish you were still around to know that your work is still enjoyed over a decade later.

    Difficulty played: Expert (2 forced KO's)
    Time: 3 hours 18 minutes 35 seconds
    Loot: 3757 out of 3977
    Secrets: 8 / 11

  5. #2305
    Registered: Aug 2006
    Location: Great. Now I can't get back in
    Another thoroughly-informative, in-depth & entertaining review, Phantom I, too, think of A Smuggler's Request as an often overlooked classic - & quite a standout among very early T2 releases. Thoroughly recommended! (both FM & review )

    Just one thing: you might want to increase brightness / contrast in your screenshots - dunno about others, but I find them too dark to see much detail.

  6. #2306
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Very nice review, Phantom! A very enjoyable read. I also think of this mission as one of the classics.

  7. #2307
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: Museum of the Ancients
    Glad you enjoyed reading it. Thanks for the feedback. I'll get some more reviews up at a later time.

    Sticky Fingers: I'll see what I can do to get them better visible .

  8. #2308
    Registered: May 2010
    Location: Taffer's Inn
    Reading The Phantom's review a few hours ago i realized that i never finished "A Smuggler's Request" on expert and never knew about the extended area.So i played it today and it was simply amazing! I played "Art of Thievery" on expert so i should have expected the same "expert treatment" from the author.

    Better late than never i guess and i too would like to thank the author for creating amazing missions.

    Cheers Richard Cull and thanks The Phantom for this review!

  9. #2309
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Great review Phantom. And I'll have to put the expert level on my To Replay list which is getting longer and longer by the minute! First post updated to include this review.

    I know I've said it before but, if you want to temporarily raise the brightness to see a screenshot, then Gamma Panel is very handy.

  10. #2310
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: UK
    Don't you hate it when you play a mission for Thief 1, write out the review, including problems you faced, only to later notice there was an updated version for Thief 2?

    Edit: Not to say it's the author's fault. Just a personal annoyance with myself not notcing that. Either way, checked it and made a note of this in the review and will post it up on Thursday.
    Last edited by quakis; 23rd Jul 2012 at 10:57.

  11. #2311
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    So glad to hear you're still doing reviews, quakis. Look forward to reading it.

  12. #2312
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: UK
    Last edited by quakis; 26th Jul 2012 at 12:12.

  13. #2313
    Registered: May 2003
    Location: Normally I'm in the batcave.
    Cool reviews Quakis, those are three great under-appreciated missions. Circle of Strain gets better with each sequel, and Dr. Dragon...I just...I love that mission. I LOF IT. Did you by any chance smash one of the stained glass windows with a picture of a haunt on it? If you didn't, go back into the mission and do it right now, and prepare yourself for the greatest thing ever.

  14. #2314
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: UK
    Quote Originally Posted by The Mike View Post
    Did you by any chance smash one of the stained glass windows with a picture of a haunt on it? If you didn't, go back into the mission and do it right now, and prepare yourself for the greatest thing ever.
    Yes, and it was probably one of the best surprises. When someone tells you not to smash something in Thief, you smash it!

  15. #2315
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Abominable Dr. Dragon is a definite quirky classic. I remember playing it right after it came out and realizing right off that it was special.
    Edit: But I didn't have the issue you ran into reading key readables too early.

  16. #2316
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Great reviews quakis. I was just thinking about playing Shadow Politics again. I got distracted before so I don't think I finished it or I wasn't in the right mood or something.

    First post updated.

  17. #2317
    Registered: Apr 2011
    Location: Montpellier, France
    Thanks for the review, quakis. Very appreciated.
    My next mission will hopefully be better with tighter city streets and a higher emphasis on verticality. And of course lots of nooks and crannies to explore.

    Oh and concerning the embassy front gates, if I added doors the game just crashed as soon as they opened. Too many polygons.

  18. #2318
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: UK
    Quote Originally Posted by skacky View Post
    Oh and concerning the embassy front gates, if I added doors the game just crashed as soon as they opened. Too many polygons.
    That explains it then, if it's a technical bug then there's not much you could have done about it. Nice to know you thought about it though. Looking forward to your next project!

  19. #2319

  20. #2320
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Thanks for the reviews quakis. I really like having something interesting, but not too long, to read first thing in the morning. Having just downloaded a new texture pack, I'm inspired to replay some of these older TDP missions. I remember I was a big wuss when I first played Shunned but undead don't scare me now - much!

    And thanks to TM for the reminder, first post updated.

  21. #2321
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: UK
    Cheers for the kind words nickie!

    Here's one more review for the list, this time for Thief 2. I didn't quite enjoy this one as much as I could have, hopefully this explains my reasons why, while noting some of its strengths;

    Cataclysmic Revelations @ the abandoned workshops
    Last edited by quakis; 9th Aug 2012 at 18:50.

  22. #2322
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: in your second eyelids

    Reviewing TDM for a change: "Somewhere Above the City" by Grayman

    Sorta inspired by quakis I wanna share some thoughts too. I have a burnout on Thief right now, but I have been playing a bit of TDM lately. (But, I swear, only a bit!)

    And I believe I have most thoughts (and screenshots ) on something unfortunately reviewed 2 (if not 3?) times already, but perhaps I'll offer something new anyhows. Without further adue - Somewhere Above the City by Grayman! Might contain SPOILERS, though.

    This was a really nice one. Started off in a fairly simple place, but it immidiately got me interested, when a guard, just sitting by himself was "thinking out loud" aka talking to himself, while also telling me a whole story, while the visuals fit perfectly. [Some blood all over the ground and a corpse nearby, but you don't need to know about that!] This mission's off to a nice start!

    Then the environments change several times with scripted events following one another. It never became boring, I must say. Each place had something to it, some history or something. This was released back in the day for the vertical contest and it really *was* vertical. You'll see it in the screenshots.

    2nd environment - mining-shaped complex!

    Heh but the tunnel is too perfectly cylinder-shaped, don'cha think? Burries part of the rood too, half-conveniently.

    This is just the beginning of how Vertical this mission's gonna get!

    I say, that's a mighty nice staircase. Except perhaps the silliness with wood planks parting in the middle of a stair block, but I'd say the fine lighting reflecting on the brick texture makes up for that.

    Just having some fun - surprised at how nicely the guards hands just go about those benches. Loving this engine/mod.

    Well that's a surprisingly orange and bright room after all the dark ones + thunder outside! I like it tho.

    This area is simply cool-looking. Notice the glass panel in the roof on the other end of the room.

    That... is... AWESOME! I wonder if it's an object or actual seperate brushes, as that would be simpler.

    All the previous reviewers have also got this moneyshot so I must absolutely also have it, right? Well no, it's just really, really, really awesome.

    The freaking culmination of Verticality. *faints* ... *also falls down from the place*

    Now that I reviewed the mission mainly by screenshots, I also want to make one final remark on the end of the mission. It had an ehm... what looked to me like DarkMod's equivalent for a Thief camVator scene. That was great and first time I see it done in a mission (though maybe I haven't played enough of them) and it featured more great voice acting like the one in the beginning. For me this was the most inspirational moment, cause this really holds some potential for fantastic storytelling and epic adventures. Yum. Nicely done. Not much of a visualisation, but here's a screen of a part of this scene.

    Thou can guesseth who is so fancy and rich. Oh I gave it away didn't I. Or *did* the Builders actually speak in old English like the hammerites? Hm... *scratches head*
    Last edited by Thor; 9th Aug 2012 at 17:48.

  23. #2323
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: Museum of the Ancients
    Mission title: Out for a Revenge (for Thief 2)
    Author: Istvan Varga
    Release: May 2004

    I always knew "Out for a Revenge", Istvan Varga's 2004 FM, was one worthy to try out. But until recently I've never managed to get far, let alone actually finish it. My previous attempts failed, probably due to it's difficulty, but third time's the charm and I'm glad I finally managed to get through it. This is one hell of a fan mission and only adds to my conclusion that 2004 was a fruitful year for this community, with a lot of excellent FMs being released .

    A cave Garrett has to cross during his adventure

    As far as the story is concerned, in rough lines it doesn't differ much from the two previous missions I've played recently, save for the fact that both in HipBreaker's Retaliation and Tomi's Profane Ascension your goal was to kill the bad guy. Even though Garrett considers this option, it's all about stealing some incriminating evidence from his main antagonist, Lord Ramsden, this time around. In the description through DarkLoader we read that this nobelman offered Garrett a job, which he refused. Garrett was ambused and incarcerated into the Lord's prison as a result. Our hero escapes however, and is now... Out for (a) Revenge. It seems that a certain noblewoman dissapeared in Lord Ramsden's mansion recently and rumour has it the latter has something to do with this. Your job is to get inside, steal some evidence about the Lord's involvement, rob the place while you're there, and head back to where you started.
    This isn't easy to accomplish. Lord Ramsden mustn't get aware of your plans or it's mission failed. While pretty easy to achieve on Normal, it's the Hard and Difficulty settings that pose a tough job. On expert you're not allowed to kill any humans, be seen by any of the unarmed residents, knock out more then 10 people and when you decide to purchase a blackjack at the start, you've got no money left for other equipment. Pretty hard, and it might scare some people off, but it delivered me one of the best thieving experiences in a long time .

    Maps are lovely detailed

    It struck me what a complete job the author did in creating this mission and I can't even think of anything significant the author could improve, save for minor things. Well, maybe one: don't let me die so often, but in fact that's simply my fault for being so hasty, impulsive and simply choosing Expert difficulty . Because playing on this difficulty isn't like playing on Expert as in, well, almost any other mission I came across. It requires what it says it requires: expertise! The player is forced to use the shadows to full advantage, plan your every move (scan the patrol routes and now when to cross a hallway), make good use of eavesdropping and equipment as the scouting orb, consider when to use arrows and blackjack, and make use of your maps and compass. Not something most thief players require to use all this combined in a regular mission. But in doing so it gave me an experience I haven't felt since playing the original missions. Until the moment I started this mission some days ago, I felt the last time I put my skills and experience to good use was too long ago; playing Istvan Varga's mission that gave me the ultimate thief experience once again. It was rewarding and I loved the thrill and tension of it . To hide in the shadows and seeing a guard pass just a metre from your location, just listening to his mumbling for minutes until it's time for a next move. From this point onwards I'd prefer a FM to be too difficult rather then too easy. Not only because of the abovementioned but also as it allows you to appreciate the other strong aspects of a level; and in Out for a Revenge there are plenty.

    Fountains can do with one guard

    There are various settings to explore, like a city neighborhood, sewers and a large mansion. The AI is remarkably intelligent and sensitive. We can see them closing a door that is left opened, run to a nearby gong to wake up their sleeping colleagues, and they can even manage to spot you when their side is turned your way. Through the course of the game we notice the player has different paths he can take to move through the level (the city has several handy shortcuts and there are several access hatches from which he can enter the mansion through the sewers). Another thing that draws attention is the detail of the maps at your disposal. Not only nicely scetched, they reveal every niche and porch the player can use to hide in. And by looking at the maps (especially those of the mansion) it is clear to see it's intented to make the layout as real as possible, displaying all kinds of rooms one can expect in such a place. Lovely work The mansion's architecture looks very good (notice the nearly seamless round arcades above doorways for example), the texturing is convincing and the cherries on the pie are all those small but incredible pieces of detail that make this level rise above the regular mansion exploration: we see residents sleeping on back, belly as well on their side, lights that dim only one side of a room while lighting the other, a combined use of T1 and T2 AI skins (and how convincing the first still look). It makes this one of the most vivid and convincing manors I've ever had the chance to explore. And beside this I love the medieval feel of the place, with the wall tapestries, interior and use of stock textures.
    Some things could've been worked out better, like with the presence of the craymen wandering the sewers. No one (not the thieves nor the inhabitants of the manor) make any mention of it, which seems a bit odd. I also found it unconvincing that when Garrett locates a blackjack in a couple containers throughout the level, he can't take these with him and they only count as "junk". A decision of the author I don't really understand. Wouldn't it have been better to scrap the mention of this in the readme, make the in-game blackjacks really difficult to acquire (as an extra incentive) but usable, and let the player decide at the start if he wants to spend all his money on this weapon? Still, these are only minor nitpicks for an otherwise excellent level.

    Sewer... no rats here

    In my opinion this mission didn't receive the attention it deserved. Could it be because, when searching for the title, only "Revenge" (being quite common) is a searchable option? I doubt it, although I did added some tags to make this thread easier to find in the future. The fact remains the mission only sporadically draw replies since 2005 and no one even bothered to post their remarks over the past 3 years, which is undeserving . This mission by Istvan Varga is a lovely piece of work and strong on multiple aspects. There's a difficulty choice for all kinds of players (a walk in the park for novice taffers to a hardcore thief experience on expert), features well designed settings like a city and manor, there's plenty of loot and secrets to be found, includes several lovely attention to detail (quite remarkable for a mission of it's age), and brings us a varied collection of opponents to deal with. Overall this mission it makes up for an excellent gameplay experience, that I would recommend to play on Expert for extra challenge and immersion. Crap, managed to finish on Expert, nearly 3 hours of playing and still missing 3 secrets. Oh well .

    Lord Ramsden's library... terrible secrets

    Difficulty: Expert (4 of 10 KO's)
    Time: 2 hours 50 minutes 3 seconds
    Loot: 2115 out of 2200
    Secrets: 2 out of 5

  24. #2324
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Nice review, Phantom. I like this mission too.

  25. #2325
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: Museum of the Ancients
    Thanks Tannar. I've got another one ready.

    Mission title: Profane Ascension (for Thief 2)
    Author: Tomi Vaisanen (Tomi)
    Release: July 2004

    Say "briefing video" and "screaming ghost" and it's instantly clear to me, and many others for sure, of which FM it's about. At the start there's the stunning briefing video by Izeman (sadly no longer around), that captures the feel of the Original Missions very nicely and features the voice by Loanstar (the guy who did Garrett's voice before SlyFoxx took over). And during the play, you'll undoubtly end up at the cellar door for a good freight (which is only one of the frightening classic moments, but probably the most memorable). Two powerful elements of the FM Profane Ascension by Tomi.

    A still from the briefing movie by Izeman

    The story doesn't disappoint either. Garrett recieves a letter in which an old friend of his, Lacatar, Grand Master of an Academy, tells of a terrible accident that took place at the Academy. Our hero, of course, has no problem to rescue his old friend, armed with his Holy Sword to deal with the undead (that's right folks, our nasty rotten enemy has resurfaced). That doesn't sound overly complicated but the story is carefully told and expended during the course of the mission however, by reading various journals and scrolls; we learn more about the events that preceded the accident, the presence of the Hammerites (who remain unbothered by the undead) and the cause of the disaster that struck the Academy. PA really manages to put the pieces of the story together and keeping the player submerged to the end Well done Tomi .

    Lacatar's letter, telling of an evil Garrett has to deal with

    This mission is clearly a haunting, morbid and frightening one. We see surviving guards battling the undead, dead bodies all around the Academy rooms and corridors, and scripted events resulting in extra tension and excitement (I won't name them here, that just spoils part of the experience). There's a nice variety of undead present, like zombies, fancy coloured haunts and ghosts. I haven't tried to ghost my way through but I guess I shouldn't bother, as the ending and the availability of a Holy Sword speaks volumes. The undead can be dealt with swiftly, leaving a lot of body parts behind. Awesome A word of caution: while the undead itself aren't that hard to deal with, it's the explosive effect of using your weapon one should pay attention to. It killed me a couple of times. I had a lot of fun with the AI btw, by firstly blowing up the mosquito infested undead in the lower levels, then luring some Hammers through the remaining swarms, and watch them being stung to death .

    After the party things got out of hand

    PA convinces less in terms of graphics. The Academy is clearly well designed, and there are some interesting locations present, but the design overall is a not as spectacular as in other missions of that period (f.e. objects are a bit crude). This could be due to the fact PA is a remake of the author's earlier FM for Thief Gold, Deadly Darkness.
    But luckily good storytelling (involving honor, tretchery and revenge) and atmosphere (undead, freaky moments) more then compensate the less appealing visual element. Profane Ascension is just a very good mission that combines tension, undead combat, and some classic moments in FM history with a solid story that really opens up with each progression. I enjoyed playing the mission a second time . At the start there's a beautiful briefing video and at the end a powerful villain to deal with. A fine undead fan mission, one of 2004's best releases and certainly recommended.

    Some sort of ritual

    Sadly also the only T2 project the author ever released to the community. Tomi, you taffer, do release another sometime.

    Difficulty: Deadly
    Time: 1 hour 58 minutes 55 seconds
    Loot: 2007 / 2007
    Last edited by The Phantom; 29th Sep 2012 at 10:05.

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