Yup, Evil Never Dies.
Is "END" an acronym for his mission's title? If so, THAT SHI- IS OMINOUS.
Yup, Evil Never Dies.
It would rock in case it's END but any mission by Jason would do . Glad he's still building.
I said I'd review the late Reloaded Contest 2 missions when they came out, so to avoid being shot out of a canon for lying, I done gone and reviewed the new one.
"What’ve You Found, Little Fly?" By Xorak
The second “Thief Reloaded Contest” is just the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it? Even when it’s over and a victor has been decided, new missions keep getting released for it! It’s like the Jason Vorhees of FM contests, no matter how many flights of stairs we shove it down it just won’t stay dead. Not that I’m complaining, of course. I love contest missions to the same extent (50 cent has led me to believe, anyway) fat kids love cake. And this contest has been continuously great so far, even over-coming the hurdle of having one mission based on “Running Interference”, an OM that I consider about as exciting as watching a slideshow about Grandma’s bunions. What mission does this FM use as a base again? No…NO…NOOOoooOOOoooOO---!
Yes, RI gets another rebuild here; fortunately, it’s practically unrecognizable. Where once there was a boring grass texture, there is now a twisted pagan forest. Where once there was a courtyard that had like 200 feet of empty space for some reason, there is now a huge skull stuck in a crater with a portal to hell in its cranium. Where once there was nothing at all interesting, there is now an enchanted rat taking on the form of a gorilla playing piano. In other words, where once there was aggressive blandness, there is now awesome.
Dick Cheney's summer home is pretty nice actually...
“What’ve You Found, Little Fly?”* keeps its story simple, yet wide open for wacky gameplay possibilities. I don’t just throw around words like “wacky” either, but when you have magic ape-men and puzzles based around feeding a werewolf some sausage, the W-bomb must be dropped. So basically, Garrett is out to find what happened to Shardhang, his only contact who has insights into the exciting echoey-voiced fireball-hurling world of mages. Old Shardy, or Mr. Hang by his adult-film name, seems to have been captured by the mages living in old Rumford manor. Unfortunately, they’ve gone all “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” on it since his last visit, and Ty Pennington and the gang were apparently going for a “Hell” motif. Also someone may be summoning a demon in the center of the living room, which if you ask me is just rude.
*A title which essentially NEEDS to be said while sitting in a high-backed revolving chair while slowly spinning around to reveal yourself and stroking a white cat.
I love any story where the criminally underused mage faction is involved, because they instantly make the gameplay open to so many possibilities. With the keepers you’re going to get libraries, with the Hammerites you can expect churches and crypts, but with mages? Anything goes. Including piano playing apes (I know I keep coming back to that, but for f**k’s sake, can you blame me?). Most of the gameplay revolves around puzzles, and for the most part, they’re spectacularly weird. I can tell you I never expected to play a game where the central puzzle was based around giving a demon food poisoning. Keep in mind though that “adventure game logic” is in full force here. Garrett will pick up things that will definitely make you raise an eyebrow (I’m still not sure why a thief would lug around a five foot tall strobe light on his back “just in case”), and because of that puzzles sometimes boil down to rubbing two things together and hoping something happens*. Still though, while it’s not always clear how the various puzzle pieces are supposed to fit together, whenever you see a solution play out it always seems to have some kind of bizarre logic behind it that’s pretty damn clever.
*Yes, I saw the innuendo too. Just move along and don’t make eye contact.
While the puzzles are fun and lovably nuts, I have to be honest- for me the leading reason to play this FM is the visuals. First time author Xorak has turned “Running Interference” into this crazy funhouse of a level where there’s a visual surprise at virtually every turn. He may very well be Kfort’s spiritual protégé. The forest at the start of the mission alone has some totally out-of-left-field surprises and is beautifully constructed. Unfortunately, whatever sorcery the author used behind the scenes to make all of these crazy visuals and technical feats possible comes at a cost. To put it bluntly, this thing crashes a lot. It first crashed to the desktop when I pressed my map key, which at the time I saw as a punishment from the man gods for asking for directions, but this then continued to happen when accessing the menu and, most buzzkill-ey of all, during gameplay. It’s never unplayable, and quicksaves and loads always worked fine, but it’s an unfortunate black mark on an otherwise top quality FM. Here’s hoping for a “version 2” so less patient players can see it through to the end, because holy hell is every second of this worth seeing.
Overall, while some of you might want to wait for a cleaner, more bug free version of this one to be released, I say just go play it now. Mind you I’m also a man born without patience, but the truth is nothing in this FM is outright “broken” to the point where you can’t enjoy it as a whole. If looking at your desktop fills you with white-hot rage you should hold off, but for everyone else this is just too entertaining to wait around for a hypothetical version 2.0. And I mean…an ape playing piano. Where has this mission been all my life?
SCREENSHOTS! SCREENSHOTS EVERYWHERE! THEY’RE COMING OUT OF THE DAMN WALLS! WE NEED BACKUP!
Here's some nightmare fuel, kids!
"I've been inside too long. I'm a different person now. Also, a crab."
SING US A SONG/ YOU'RE THE PIANO APE/ SING US A SONG TONIGHT
Thanks for reading guys. Be back whenever Yandros finishes his Reloaded mission (GLARE. )
Last edited by The Mike; 8th Jul 2012 at 12:12. Reason: Y'know when spellcheck autocorrects something to the wrong word? Yeah...
Thanks for reviewing my little mission Mike. I laughed quite a few times. Especially when reading, "Mr. Hang by his adult-film name". I thought I was the only one who saw that movie.
That first screenshot in the review looks awesome, as does the demon walking in front of the player, as if you're spying on it from behind the curtains.
Interesting and entertaining read, The Mike. Nice review I love those screens.
I've got another review ready myself.
Mission title: Just Take A Look (for Thief 2)
Author: Don "uncadonego" Adams
Release: December 2003
Just Take A Look by Don "uncadonego" Adam is not among the other's most well-known fan mission releases. A status undeserved as this 2003 mission, that uses a base mission made by Komag, is a enjoyable mansion infiltration that offers plenty of elements that make it worth your time. I decided to re-play it and write the following review.
Karras; a keen fan of vegetation
Just Take A Look takes place one day after the events in the T2 mission Life of the Party. Garrett decides to infiltrate one of Karrass' guest homes to find out why he's given the nobles these Servants and to fill his pockets. Your main goals are to grab 3000 loot and to "Find a connection between the Servants and their owners". It's a nice idea to create a FM set between the events in the Original Missions, in the form of a guest home Garrett has to ransack while a ceremony attended by many nobles is in progress. In a few writings the player reads about how glad the nobles are with their new servants and there is also one Mechanist conversation implemented (well recorded by, supposedly, the author itself) that refers to vegetation needed for the rust gas to work. It completes the main objective although the connection between the Servants and their owners doesn't exactly becomes clear just by listening to it. Not entirely convincing therefore, but well recorded nonetheless by the actor, who speaks clearly and manages to mimic the tone of the Mechanists quite well. Do you still voice act these days, Don?
After this objective is triggered, no new objectives open up and during the rest of your stay it's about exploring the building for loot while listening to the beautiful melodies of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, reverberating through a large part of the mansion . Not a difficult task, especially not on Normal difficulty when there are scarcely any guards present.
The prominent portrait of Karras overlooking his visitors in the main hall
Unfortunately, Just take a Look isn't ghostable. Unaware of this, I gave it a try and it went pretty well at first (many rooms can be explored by dimming lights or dousing torches) until I came across some areas that are virtually impossible to pass while staying undetected, like the library, the kitchen and the main hall . So what started as a "leave as many unharmed as possible" attitude resulted into "bonk everyone who starts screaming" play style. I wish there was some way to turn off the main power to darken the house, there were more water and moss arrows around, and that the Mechanist mage in the library walks away when their conversation ends (to make it easier to pass by). A missed opportunity but I guess the author can't be blamed, as ghosting wasn't widely taken into consideration back in 2003 when building a mission.
The Master bedroom; lovely decorated
Something that the mission doesn't lack is a good attention to detail. The guest home, consisting of a basement and two floors, has the characteristics of a roman villa (with it's columns and typical facade), and is lovely designed and furnished . The selection of stock textures used to decorate the interior looks excellent and each room has it's own feel and design. I also like the abundance of plants in and around the building, the art and glass windows build in the ceilings. Also very appealing is the sunset, visible by the red/purple colors that illuminate the plants and walls in the gardens around the building. Something I'd really love to see more commonly used .
Furthermore the guest home has plenty of secrets to be found, in the form of several tiny switches (similar as in the author's "A Thief Nonetheless"), a rotating torch and hook, or a frobbable book , revealing large collections of valuables, a secret passage or a compromising letter. I especially liked the original lowering staircase-secret. Lucikly uncadonego included a lootlist (available on Thiefmissions) as one of the secrets is virtually impossible to find unless you know where to look.
Conversation under an appealing sunset
Visually Just Take a Look does a great job in providing beautiful interiors (filled with plants, art and displaying a clever use of stock textures) and a pretty design of the mansion. It also convinces in creating a pleasant ambience, thanks to the beautiful supporting grammaphone music by Vivaldi and the sunset that covers many surfaces in red shades. Plenty of secrets can be located, of which the lowering staircase is quite special. While not so strong on the story element and sadly not ghostable, it offers a welcome and entertaining interlude between two original T2 missions, taking place right after Garrett's visit to Angelwatch.
The mission thread doesn't show up in a keyword search (probably explaining the lack of replies since 2006) but a tag search for 'uncadonego' or 'just take a look' will work.
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes 9 seconds
Loot: 3338 out of 3639
Secrets: 5 / 9
Last edited by nickie; 9th Jul 2012 at 03:22. Reason: Finished off the word 'present'
In the interests of appeasing you, good sir, I humbly offer up a new screenshot.
Although it's not new to my friends on Facebook.
Nice reviews, The Mike and The Phantom! I enjoyed reading them.
@ The Mike: You know the old saying, "Good things come to those who wait."
@ Yandros: OK, I see how it is.
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.
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN BUY ME WITH SCREENSHOTS, EH YANDROS!?
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).
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 04:36.
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
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.
Very nice review, Phantom! A very enjoyable read. I also think of this mission as one of the classics.
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 .
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!
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.
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 11:57.
So glad to hear you're still doing reviews, quakis. Look forward to reading it.
Three reviews this time, to make up for the lack of updates to my site recently.
Circle of Strain @ the abandoned workshops
The Abominable Dr. Dragon @ the abandoned workshops
Shadow Politics @ the abandoned workshops
Last edited by quakis; 26th Jul 2012 at 13:12.
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.
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.
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.