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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #2851
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    While the City Sleeps, Thief 2 X mission by Raen (of the Dark Engineering Guild), Thief II, 2005

    Night-time city missions are not in short supply and atmospherically While the City Sleeps is one of the strongest. It is the third mission of Thief 2 X and the first time players take Zaya on a thieving run in the streets. She must infiltrate the Market District, under curfew, and snoop around her cousin Kedar’s shop for some info on the smugglers who killed him. Like The Trials that Shape Us, this nighttime escapade establishes T2X’s mood and style. The City’s guards do this more than anything else. The doofuses in the museum are outdone by the City Watch here – some of my favorite Thief NPC lines ever are in this mission. City Sleeps is small relative to other city missions but with tight design, excellent ambiance and funny guard lines, the small size is easily overlooked.

    The first NPC dialogue you may hear is between a couple guards at the gate to the Market District. One of them wants some “coffees”. (This references a guard’s line from the original Thief II about having had too many coffees.) They deliberate over the matter and then stroll to the nearest coffee shop. While the guards are away you have an opportunity to enter the Market District via the front gate. There is plenty of time – the guards dither unusually long in front of the coffee shop as they realize, painfully, that it’s closed. I think the guards’ absence from the gate, being a ridiculously obvious opportunity to enter by it, was intended as humor by the designer, as if the guards were saying: “Sure hope no taffer tries to shoot that lever, enter in the code we just showed, and go in the front gate! Yep, sure hope that doesn’t happen as we walk away and spend longer than usual noticing a place is closed, nudge nudge.”

    But there’s another way to enter the district besides this gate. You may go around to the area left of the gate and onto some roofs. Getting up onto a ledge above a body of water requires using an Ice Arrow, one of T2X’s unique weapons that’s activated by using an elemental catalyst. I have trouble getting on the icebergs created by these. Jumping onto the ice causes a loud noise but I can’t mantle onto it from in the water. This creates a dilemma each time I play – should I use ice arrows and, if so, should I burn a moss arrow on its surface to land quietly? Whether you struggle with the ice platforms or not, if you pay attention atop the roofs you may find a readable with some chat between the developers. It’s interesting stuff.

    Once in the Market District you have wooden beams, ledges, open windows, locked doors, loot, and even a sewer system. It’s everything you could want in a city mission! You also have some great guards. As I noted above, their lines are some of my favorite. I’m glad the T2X developers made unique guards rather than just reuse the standard Thief II NPCs. There’s the redneck guy, the Scotch guy, the nerdy lady, and more. Some of my favorite lines are, “If I don’t get something to eat soon, I’m gonna lay down and die”, “I hope no one hears me talkin’ to meself” , “…I want a gold sword…a gold sword that smells like coffees”, and the glorious “I was standing here” monologue. Even the batty old Hammerite is humorous talking about his “failing eyes” (more on that when I cover A Question of Knowledge). The voice acting is marvelous. I love T2X for it.

    There are scripted conversations in the Market District. One is between two thieves in a weapon-and-armor store. I like it but it leads to a pet peeve of mine with Thief: rogue AIs alerting guards and causing the guards to then pursue you. It’s a shortcoming of the game’s AI. Guards, I want to say, if you’ve just killed the two thieves who alerted you, don’t keep saying “I know you’re around here somewhere!” and so on. I didn’t do anything – stop looking for me!**

    The Market District’s shops have some interesting names – you’ll want to read them – but you can’t enter every building no matter how tantalizing the sign. A locksmith’s shop is possible to enter, though, and inside you may find a key to the Market Square – where Kedar’s shop is – and one to the Hammerite Crafts Center. If you go to the Hammer place, from mold you may create a lever to open the gate to the Market Square. The central objective is Kedar’s shop, in a cozy attic room, where you learn more about the smugglers that Zaya is after, setting up the rest of the game.

    City Sleeps is short for a city mission – I typically finish in an hour – but the strong content makes up for that. Once you have completed the other objectives, you exit the city via the rooftop area you may have come in at or by the sewers (I’ve never tried the front gate as an exit). The ambiance and hilarious NPC lines make this mission a great one.

    * I recognize some voices here that were also in some of the great early FMs like Seventh Crystal or the recently discussed Gathering at the Inn.

    On my most recent playthrough of City Sleeps I heard lines I had never heard before. This is because I kept playing some even after guards noticed me (whereas before I’d typically hit “quickload” as soon as I got noticed). One of my favorites: “The hourglass of your life just ran out of sand, lady!” I love these guys.

    ** There is a counter to my complaint. If you are a guard and see a thief and then kill this thief, you may stay on alert in case there is another one. But I don’t think this is why the AI in Thief act how they do in these situations. I think it’s an unfair bug. “These two taffers alerted the guards, now the guards are walking around looking for me – when I’ve been a perfect ghost?” And when other guards walk by they say “ah! Murder!” as if they don’t know it was one of their own who did the killing. These moments are one of the technical downsides to Thief along with guards ignoring doors and ropes. However, some fan missions enhance the AI and, otherwise, I’m happy to suspend my disbelief. This is a game and every game has bugs.

  2. #2852

    Old Habits (TDM)

    Itís not a habit, I can quit anytime I want.

    Old Habits (by Obsttorte) is a pretty straightforward mansion mission. Our hero is bumming it at the bar when he runs into an old and recently fired friend. Said friend was formerly employed at the estate of Sir Aaron, and managed to find a weak spot, a weak wall near the sewers. ďThereís a jeweled scepter in need of stealing, now get to work.Ē That sums it up.

    Old Habits is a relatively short mission with a few points of note. For example, the oddly colorful and very nice garden, which has some hidden secrets for those who search it and is probably my favorite part of the mission. Also, the outside yard which is a tad too well-guarded, but offers some nice parkour. Finally, the difficulty. Itís hard. And not in the fun way.

    The second floor of the manor suddenly dumps you in a linear path filled with torch wielding guards (in a hallway thatís already well-lit so logically they donít even need them) who you canít knock out. You are granted some tools to deal with them...if you can find them, and even then itís a trial. I donít mind difficulty, heck long time players of Thief might be rubbing their hands at the thought of a spike like this, but it makes the latter part of the mission far too tedious if you go in unprepared. The loot goal is mostly reasonable, though on higher difficulties you have to find a certain number of specific objects, which is slightly trickier, but still doable.

    All in all, a decent if difficult mission. Normally Iíd recommend it in spite of those flaws, because it is still good, but the author remade this mission and balanced it out and added more to it. Therefore, Iíd have to recommend this only to people who want a challenge.

  3. #2853

    The Builder's Roads (TDM)

    Pretend that I have something witty here.

    Obsttorte returns with another mission, The Builder Roads, which has 100% less roads. This time our hero is a trader whose latest deal has gone sour, leaving him without the means to pay his debts to the Very Nice People. His only hope is to make off with a recently discovered scripture from the nearby church.

    This mission is, like Old Habits, harder than your normal mission, mainly on high difficulties, which forbid anyone from seeing or hearing you. The number of guards you encounter also rises with the difficulty, and those player on higher levels would do well to explore before completing objectives.

    The mission is relatively open-ended, allowing you to explore the church/barracks at your leisure, and with a plausible layout to boot. Little touches, such as transparent windows, help with planning where to go and what to do. Loot can be well-hidden, and on the highest difficulty youíre going to have to find most of it. That being said, the mission is mostly simple in the first part, with only a few guards on patrol, with the difficulty kicking in once you find out where to go. On lower difficulties I think it might be too easy, if just because it wonít take you long to knock out the guards.

    Compared to Old Habits, this is much fairer on difficulty: Itís still tricky, but careful planning can get you through, and the more non-linear layout helps quite a bit. There was a few times when it felt like I had failed the mission for no reason since none of the guards seemed to have been alerted to my presence, but those were few and far between. The last segment could have used some tweaking, since itís possible to do it too quickly and mess up even if the sequence is done right, but even that was a mild flaw, fixed with a quick load.

    On the whole, a very solid mission with a good challenge for those on higher difficulties. Recommended.

  4. #2854
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    Cell 6 (Thief II, 2013) by Yandros, Random_Taffer, and Tannar

    There are choice grim stories throughout the Thief missions, and one of the grimmest begins with Garrett disguised as a cook in the tightly-enclosed corridors of the Baronís Imperial Prison. Itís tightly-enclosed for a reason: released as part of the NewDark 64-Cubed contest, Cell 6 had to fit within certain dimensions. It also had to have a content advisory placed in its info file due to the aforementioned grim tale. Designed by Yandros, Random_Taffer and Tannar, or the ďThree Anonymous AmigosĒ Ė anonymity was a requirement of the contest Ė the mission features solid design and atmosphere start to finish. My only quibble is the ridiculously obscure location of one hidden switch, but we Thief fans have to try frobbing every inch of a room sometimes, right?

    Dark secrets and a cruel warden lord over this jail house. You must be sure not to draw undue attention to yourself or go where you shouldnít, Undercover style. Pull this off and keep out a good eye for keys and hidden switches, and youíll have this dark mystery unraveled. Grab a frying pan and dive in.

    Soon after starting you may overhear a conversation between a guard and a servant, voiced wonderfully by Yandros and Random_Taffer, revealing the problems: a bloodstain that wonít go away Canterville Ghost style and a haunted interrogation room. The two are connected: the bloodstain is in cell 6 and the prisoner who died during interrogation was being kept in cell 6. This prisoner is also who Garrett is looking for: his fence Shylockís father.

    A nearby book, Banishing Evil Spirits: A Practical Manual, details what angry spirits may do: haunt the place of their violent death until they find resolution for the wrong done them. Finding reslution for the ghost of Shylockís father becomes the central objective. You can swipe the key to the old, haunted interrogation room from a guard and in this room meet the ghost of Shylockís father. To release his spirit, you need to give it a signet ring, the same family heirloom Shylock wants you to find. Once the spirit has been appeased, you must find evidence to incriminate the cruel warden.

    The level design is tight, as noted, with lots of steep stairways and narrow hallways. There are quite a few guards on patrol Ė no way Garrett could have snuck through this one. Key areas include the noted interrogation room, the cell block, the Wardenís office, and the records hall. Thereís an optional objective to free one of Sheriff Truartís top officers, a dead rat whose name may be familiar to you, a pet frogbeast, singing prisoners, and a frustrated procurement officer (read his journal). Nice touches also include a Mechanist who will reset the power system once you shut it off Gathering at the Inn style and not just one, but two audio files that had also been used in Rose Cottage. If youíre harkening back to Rose Cottage, youíre making a fine FM. All the audio ambiance is done very well, especially Yandrosí mixing of Thief I sounds. The only sound I didnít like was some of the ghostís wailing you hear early on; it can be cheesy (ďWoooo, woooo!Ē). Custom textures and objects are used heavily to great effect.

    The story resolves itself in a gruesome revelation and youíre left in awe at the abuse of power of a very evil man. Though Cell 6 did not win the 64-Cubed contest it came second and is a great-small FM. Its design, story, and ambiance are excellent. At over four-years-old it can now be considered a classic.

  5. #2855

    Old Habits II

    Itís not a habit, I can quit anytime I want.

    Old Habits (by Obsttorte) is a pretty straightforward mansion mission. Our hero is bumming it at the bar when he runs into an old and recently fired friend. Said friend was formerly employed at the estate of Sir Aaron, and managed to find a weak spot, a weak wall near the sewers. ďThereís a jeweled scepter in need of stealing, now get to work.Ē That sums it up.

    Wait, did that already.

    In my review of Old Habits, I mentioned that Iíd recommend it in spite of flaws if it hadnít been for a rebuild of the mission done by the same author. This is that remake: Old Habits II.

    While the set-up is the same, the mission has gotten a complete overhaul. This is obvious from the very first room. In the original, you had a long tunnel to go through to reach the mansion proper, even though it was established that you could hear the sewer just from pressing up against the wall. Here, the wall actually is next to the sewer. Little things like that.

    The mission also benefits from more non-linearity. The main issue with the first Old Habits was that you had no other options than a linier, guard filled hallway. Here you can do some parkour to find slightly different routes, and the second floor is less guard choked and has multiple pathways to your target. Thereís also a bit with a chapel thatís quite fun, with hints scattered across the mission, though itís a little too easy to lock yourself out of it without knowing, but in fairness the creator gives you a buffer to avoid that.

    Most of this missionís issues are technical. Thereís a non-critical note in one of the bedrooms that sounds like youíre adding it to your inventory when no such thing happens. I also would sometimes phase through a ceiling for a split second in the chapel at times. The main issue is getting the key to said chapel, which, due to the quirks of the physics engine, can very well result in the mission crashing. Iím honestly tempted to just say that you should feel justified in noclipping through the door. Itís a shame, since itís such a smear on a very good mission.

    On the whole, this is a very good mission. The difficulty isnít as high, yes, but Iíll take a solid, challenging but fair mission over something hard for the sake of hard. If you can get get around the chapel issue, recommended. If you canít, it's still recommended.

  6. #2856

    In A Time Of Need (TDM)

    For the record, kyrrma (the creator of this mission) also worked on Exhumed.

    In A Time of Need is about need. Your need. Our dashing hero is targeting a merchant whoís been dealing in spice and has made a bit of money with it. So a simple smash and grab is called for.

    This mission is honestly rather small, which might disappoint those who like voyeuring their way across mansions.. Still, it makes good use of the layout, offering multiple ways into the home and making the layout feel plausible. Another plus is that the mission does change between difficulty levels, though the difference between medium and expert is one of loot goals. Still, itís a nice change.

    Sadly, there isnít much to say about this mission. Itís a good first effort with a non-linear style that I like. Recommended, but more experienced players might be a tad underwhelmed.

  7. #2857
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    Insurrection, Thief II FM by HipBreaker, 2005

    HipBreakerís third FM offering was Insurrection, an undead-apocalypse mission with a cityscape and a manor. Immersive ambient noises and a few areas of appealing visual design are pluses, but the mission falls short of greatness because of a quasi-straight path design with unenjoyable backtracking.*

    Insurretion is a fair mission, somewhere in the good-not-great category. I first played it on a school-day evening when I needed a good FM fix. Insurrection fit the bill and itís been one of my ďcult classicsĒ since, despite the half-and-half design.

    You begin in a sequestered area of the City with a gloomy ambient noise playing. Thereís a quarantine going on, and the undead are rising and spreading an infection. It isnít clear whether people become zombies or not. All you know is that the buried dead are rising and a Lord Krauft has an antidote for when people are bitten by them. The objective is Lord Krauftís manor and the antidote. Being a thief who needs healthy citizens to rob from, you want to steal this antidote and be able to sell it. Krauft only sells to the highest bidder.

    Ghosting is difficult on Expert mode. Design is tight and guards patrol so that breaks to sneak by are small. One drunk guard near the start offers an easy blackjack, if you donít mind doing that. From there you may veer to one of two other areas in the City. The one to the right offers a couple buildings with loot and readables. In one of these buildings youíll discover a man gone inside from the Armageddon around him.

    The other city area offers a couple more buildings without much in them, so youíll want to head down the sewer drain which connects to Krauftís manor. When in the sewers, you may walk up into a graveyard, though it is infested with undead. On the way to Krauftís youíll run into undead regardless, as the sewer has a group of zombies nigh-impossible to sneak by. Once up out of the sewers, youíll be in the backyard to Krauftís manor and may enter by way of a chapel window. The chapel has appropriate ambiance: it feels like a sacred place where one might seek hope amidst the growing darkness of the undead uprising.

    Out of the chapel you enter the manor proper. A nice little tune plays, very fitting for a manor house, like some melody lifted straight out of another game set in a world of lords and castles. However, this little tune may sour as the rest of Krauftís manor gets frustrating. Like the cityscape, the place is tight and well-lit. You have to pull off some Houdini stunts to ghost it, especially in a dining area where a servant NPC sits at a table and a guard strolls nearby. Either one of these NPCs always caught me Ė I gave up ghosting and pulled out the blackjack. Even still, I encountered a bug whereby two guards would spawn in this area out of nowhere, one of them on alert. I think it only happened after I picked up one of the golden candlesticks. Regardless, Iíll chalk it up to NewDark, as I donít remember this occurring on previous playthroughs.

    That wasnít the only unfair bug I encountered. When I first entered the manorís music room, the guards inside were on alert and searching. I think they had been alerted by the harp on stage that an NPC had been playing. Even the NPC playing the harp was on alert! After reloading an earlier save, though, they were all at ease, and the NPC was playing the harp like normal. Iíll blame NewDark again Ė I donít remember this happening before either.

    The design of Krauftís manor is like a straight path. You progress from one point to another, without many directions to choose from. It doesnít feel like a large house the way the estates in Ominous Bequest or Rowenaís Curse do. There arenít multiple, circuitous paths around the house. Youíve got a straight path from the chapel to Krauftís bedroom, with only a few side areas to veer into on the way.

    This straight-path design can work. Deceptive Perception 2 is designed such but the nature of that mission, an episodic tale that gets weirder as it goes, complements the design. Insurrection has a city-manor setup and no tall tale told at a bar. When you backtrack through the manor, the straight-path design is emphasized as you pass the same doorways and hallways all over again Ė the same manor, the same chapel, and the same sewers you just went through, with no alternate paths available, only facing a different direction. Itís frustrating, but does allow for one memorable jump scare Ė the scarecrow you see just outside the dining area has more than meets the eye.

    The reason you backtrack is to get inside an observatory in the city area you started in. In the observatory is the demon overlord responsible for all the undead madness, whom Krauft knew about but kept quiet on so he could keep selling his antidote. Forget ghosting Ė pull out the Holy Water arrows and flashbombs and go to town on the demon overlord for any chance of completing the mission. Odds are youíll need to blackjack the guard at the front of the observatory, too, because of a haunt inside the entryway, though with perfect timing you may slip by the guard and not be seen by the haunt.*

    Insurrection isnít a bad FM. I like its atmosphere and it has some nice secret areas. One of them has an NPC fall out, dead, from within once you open it Ė quite dramatic. In another darkened area of the manor a guard patrols with a lantern, a nice touch, and you may see a zombie walking by through a window, adding to the atmosphere of this manor being the last bastion amidst an undead uprising. But the level design is lacking. Going back and forth on a straight path isnít effective Thief mission design.** If Insurrection was open-ended, the tight design, bright lights, and plentiful AI may have been enjoyable, but as is such difficulty is only frustrating because itís married to weak design.

    Iíve always had a soft spot for this mission, regardless. It gave me a much-needed FM fix back in the day and has remained in my rotation since. Check it out for a fair undead-apocalypse with city-and-manor fix. Youíll enjoy the ambient noises along the way.

    *Thereís another bug I experienced on my most recent playthrough that I donít remember from before. Once you kill the overlord, his corpse starts appearing throughout each area of the mission as you go back through it.

    **Again, I recognize there are some exceptions. I noted Deceptive Perception 2 and another is The Vigil. But neither of these required backtracking like Insurrection does.

  8. #2858
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    And yet again I must apologise for being so slow to add these to the OP (I won't use big words because Purgator gets bothered by them). The reviews are very much appreciated and despite the lack of comment, I can see the posts are being viewed.

    I will try to get them added tomorrow, it's just unfortunate that life gets in the way of the more important things.

    Thank you.

    Isn't it annoying when you think you have an extraneous comma and continually try and delete it only to eventually find it's a mark on the screen. Probably bits of that tomato that splattered everywhere.

  9. #2859
    Registered: Jan 2011
    Location: Wild and Wooly West of Ireland
    Extraneous? Are you freaking kidding me right now?

    Spot on, Chris.

  10. #2860
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales

    I've now got up to date again and managed to read all the reviews - thanks again guys. Great stuff!

  11. #2861
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Thanks for the review of Cell 6, twhalen2600. It was very well written and considered. I think I can speak for Yan and Ran when I say that we appreciate the comments and the critique. And very glad you enjoyed it.

  12. #2862
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    Quote Originally Posted by Tannar View Post
    Thanks for the review of Cell 6, twhalen2600. It was very well written and considered. I think I can speak for Yan and Ran when I say that we appreciate the comments and the critique. And very glad you enjoyed it.
    Thank you for the compliment! I'm always happy to review fan missions and am indebted to the talented and hard-working authors who make them.

  13. #2863

    In A Time of Need 2: Breaking Out the Fence (TDM)

    Technically the full title is In A Time of Need 2: Breaking Out The Fence, but thatís so many words.

    Breaking Out the Fence is a sequel to In A Time of Need. Our dashing hero is looking forward to reaping the gains of a job well done, but the merchant he stole the spice from in turn stole the spice from a ruthless merchantís guild. They want their cut, and have kidnapped Not-Garettís fence to get it, meaning that heíll have to bust the fence out, and implicate the guild in a murder to keep them from retaliating.

    First off, this mission has rain in it, which is automatically a plus. Second, itís more complex that itís predecessor. You need to slip into both an inn and a well-guarded store--and the sewers connecting them--to complete the mission, and while neither area is very big, thereís still plenty to find within. The mission plays around with some different features, such as security cameras around the store, but they felt a little unneeded. Itís easy to get around them and while you can find something to neutralize them you usually wonít need it by that point in the mission.

    Difficulty-wise, itís somewhat high. The highest difficulty restricts your knockouts and the shop has quite a few guards wandering around. Still, I found it more than possible to sneak around undetected, barring a well-lit room which the guards seemed to constantly wander in and out of. There is a slightly obscure key needed, but thereís a visual cue to it.The loot goal is fair, with nothing overly hidden, though the safe you can crack has a slightly tricky combination to work out.

    All in all, this is a small mission, but with quite a lot of content within, even a few creepy bits down in the sewers below. Recommended, even if you didnít play the first one.

  14. #2864

    Window of Opportunity (TDM)

    Window of Opportunity (by RJFerret) takes our beloved charmer to the wilderness, as a rockslide has stranded him in a mountainside town. While there, heís contacted by a merchant who wants him to get an artifact back from a caravan of traders.

    This mission is interesting, even just beyond the more outdoor/wilderness setting. The highest difficulty (which, full disclaimer, I didnít play on), forces you to get by without knockouts. While there are only a few guards to watch out for, the area where all that sweet sweet loot is is small and well-lit, and the people are dutiful about re-lighting them, though you are granted plenty of water arrows to match.

    Where the mission really shines is in the caverns you have to traverse on higher difficulties. The opening reminds me of that one ďTed the CaverĒ creepypasta, and it ends up with you having to stalk dark and deep caves to find what lies beneath. Itís suitably creepy, with good atmosphere, and even something resembling an (easy) boss fight in the depths. Itís quite well-done, especially if you arenít expecting it (I did explain it, but in my defense itís over half the mission :P ). I do admit that the darkness makes moving around a pain, but itís not hard to find the right path. I do want to know why the caves moved on pass the lair though, as there doesnít seem to be much beyond it beyond a nice view.

    All in all, it was a solid, atmospheric mission. Canít ask for much more. Recommended.

  15. #2865
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: in your second eyelids
    Me and a certain shitty-ass potato would do a review for Intruder's latest masterpiece, but the capricious spud needs a little more encouragement. Nickie or someone else, I think it may be up to you to encourage his idle ass to do something good for a change.

  16. #2866
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    Burglary in Blackbrook (Thief, 2003, and Thief II, 2006), by John D. Head

    Occasionally any given eve I like to sit back and spend time with the Builder and his fanatical followers. I love the Hammerites and sometimes just need a Hammerite fix. Burglary in Blackbrook has saved me time and again when the cravings for red-garbed, hammer-wielding zealots muttering matters of faith has struck me. The mission has two iterations, the original Thief version being my preference, and each welcomes you into the world of the Hammerites for a short, sweet, simple fix.

    Thatís why Blackbrook is a good quick-fix mission: itís simple. Youíve got a Hammerite church, all the Hammerite ambient sounds with some additional chants thrown in, basic objectives, access to nigh-the whole level from the start, and not too many AI to get in the way of exploring. John D.ís fan mission is a great way to meditate on the essence of the Hammerites as thereís no complicated design to impede you. The flipside is the mission is shallow and lacks the depth of other Hammer missions, like A Question of Knowledge or The Seven Shades of Mercury. Blackbrook is a light Hammerite snack.

    The Thief version plops Garrett at the entrypoint. The mission-start noise keeps playing Ė this happens when the author has forgotten to add ďRemovePropĒ to the AmbientHacked property. The Thief II version tweaks the intro Ė Garrett has fallen down from the wall due to a broken rope ladder. In this one, the start noise doesnít loop.

    Each version has a similar layout. The Blackbrook Hammerite temple has two chapels, a prayer and meditation chamber, a library, a sparring area, offices and bedrooms, and a prison and a crypt. The Temple proper is filled with delightful Hammerite ambiances from ďDiffuseĒ to everything else, and the holding cells beneath have the same ďAbyss1Ē sound as Cragscleft. John D. hit all the original Thief notes.

    Delightful as this Hammer sanctuary may be, thereís a problem: some dolt went and stole a golden idol from the tombs below. Now undead stir in the crypts and are strengthening for an invasion. As Garrett says, this is not good. The deadís disturbance is central to the missionís story. When you explore the crypts, you get a sense that the Hammerites are losing the battle and that the dead will soon be filling the streets. A scripted engagement, triggered by your proximity, may have either the Hammers or the undead win. Regardless, the dead have the clear advantage.

    The missionís story and backstory are not conveyed very well as John D. loves exposition. A few readables in this level split off into reams and reams of backstory, the king of them all being High Priest Dunwallís journal entry that veers into a narration of the restoration of the Old Quarter.* Priest Dunwall sure can spin off on a yarn. Another highlight is Brother Androsí journal. If this were a TV show you can picture a Hammerite speaking to another, ďOh, him? You mean the one who earned fame in the City incident, that night when, against all odds, the City army did stand upÖĒ or ďThis is a nice chapel, isnít it? A shame that the tomb itís built upon isnít even of Hammer origin. In fact, many Hammerite scholars rumor it was built by a dark Pagan group. One of these scholars is here even now, and wonít explore the tomb. Indeed, he is the same scholar who once sided with the Mechanists, that group whom the Baron now ignores, as he wages war against those outliers inÖĒ and so on. The exposition-heavy journals are a weakness in this FM.

    The missionís design is simple, but the Hammerite charm keeps it intriguing. This intrigue is lost when you reach the cell blocks and crypts below the church. Designed so squarely simple and without the charm of the church above, I always lose interest at this segment. Thereís also an unfair bug each time I play whereby the prison guards are all on high alert, running towards me even, when I leave the crypt. It may have something to do with the troupe of actors held in the prison who are scripted to be on alert Ė there are words between a female actor and a bowman, for example. Whatever causes the bug, it certainly makes getting ďDangerous DaveĒ out more difficult than it should be.

    Thereís another little blemish down in the cell blocks. Youíll overhear a couple of prisoners in an exchange of sorts thatís crass and out of place. Perhaps youíll find it humorous, and it is an interesting mix of Thief sounds, but regardless itís monocle-dropping material. Thereís also suggestiveness about the Hammer of Initiationís use. John D.ís mind must have been in the gutter at times when crafting this one.

    Long-winded exposition and out-of-place crudeness aside, John D.ís Hammer mission is simple, good, and a classic. When I need a quick Hammer fix, Blackbrook is there with all the Hammer sounds, textures, and charm I could want. Blessed be the Builder!

    *Could this priestís name have been the inspiration for Dishonoredís Dunwall? Name dictionary searches yielded no results for it, so I donít know where else this name has come from.

  17. #2867
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    Quote Originally Posted by twhalen2600 View Post
    *Could this priest’s name have been the inspiration for Dishonored’s Dunwall? Name dictionary searches yielded no results for it, so I don’t know where else this name has come from.
    Would be awesome, but probably just wishful thinking. Dunwall is a real name, and is just a combination of old English placenames. Dun=fort. Wall=wall.

  18. #2868

    Samhain Night (TDM)

    This mission (by PranQster) is also called Samhain Night, Samhain:Night on Bone Hill, and just Samhain. Throw a dart and pick a name, just donít break your screen.

    This time, our respectful hero is off for a bit of grave robbing of the Goose family crypt. After a brief opening to show off the then-new plague masks models, Not-Garrett slips in to swipe the rubyÖ.and promptly plunges into a water-filled tunnel, forcing a bit of tomb crawling to escape.

    Samhain Night isnít horror, but more of a B-movie fest, forcing the player to constantly deal with new obstacles, from aggressive spiders to a (simple) maze. Itís quite fun, though some will gripe at the linearity of it all. Others will gripe about secret passages that open without much indication, causing a bit of irritation. Most will gripe about the high loot goals on the highest difficulty, which could force some backtracking, though in fairness the items you have to collect will add to it nicely.

    This mission is difficult, due to the aforementioned high loot goals and due to the fact that the highest difficulties forbid killing any of the undead that clog the tombs. An unhinted at secret room containing vital loot is also a pain to find. And getting a needed crown is an exercise that will require many reloads before figuring out a plan.

    All in all, this is a slightly uneven, but fun mission. It doesnít aim to scare you, but to challenge you, and it does a good job on that front. And I admit a weakness for crypts with secret passages and booby traps. Recommended.

  19. #2869

    The Siege Shop (TDM)

    For the record, PranQster (the author of The Siege Shop) insists that Lowenz be credited as co-author for his help in this mission.

    In The Siege Shop, our hero is sent out to a former Builder training fortress up in the mountains, which has been taken over by a group of mercenaries. Rumors are spreading that theyíre building war machines up there, and a mole sent in by a thieves guild has suddenly cut off contact. Needless to say, Not-Garrett is to find out the fate of the mole and steal any designs he finds. And loot the place, but he didnít need to be told that.

    This is a rather unique mission in The DarK Mod. I donít know of any other mission in Thief fan mission canon that has you infiltrating with a hot air balloon, for one. Small touches fill the place, such as a machine patrolling the bottom floor and archers that actually practice firing. I noticed that on my second playthrough and loved it.

    The mission is quite hard, especially on the highest difficulty, as youíre going to have to get a good 90% of the loot to finish, and a lot of it is quite well-hidden, along with a key for a valuable piece of loot. The mission also requires a bit of backtracking, and it falls a little too hard on the tedious end of the scale, due to a patrolling machine that moves at the speed of frozen molasses, making said backtracking a pain.

    The mission has very nice aesthetics to it, but then I like castle missions. Of particular note is the cavernous workshop on the lowest level and the moat running through it. As said before, the little touches help the atmosphere immensely, and I admit I enjoyed how the leader of the mercenaries was shown as a hard, but actually decent guy. It doesn't seem like much, but I liked it.

    All in all, a fun, though slightly tedious mission. Recommended.

  20. #2870

    Inn Business (TDM)

    That pun is bad and the author should feel bad for making it.

    Inn Business (by RJFerret) is another atypical mission. This time, our plucky protagonist is hired to do a bit inn-based sabotage. The owner of an inn has hired him to sabotage a competitor by breaking in one night, robbing it, then coming back the next after security has been beefed up to rob it again, making people feel unsafe, so theyíll come to second guyís inn. Itís genius, really.

    The mission feels very ďlived-inĒ if that makes sense. The weather shifts over the course of the three days, going from dry pavement to snow everywhere. The guests and other NPCs do not remain static over the course of the three days (special mention goes to a mage whoís constantly coming up with new ways to mess with you), and little touches, such as dogs barking when you approach the church door, help to improve the atmosphere.

    Where the mission falls flat is in the loot goals. The numbers are apparently off, resulting in frustration for looters who want everything in a level. Also resulting in frustration for us underachieving plebs is the fact that loot is well-hidden, with some of it assuming the form of objects that arenít normally loot in ordinary missions, which is most obvious. on the second night which suffers from a low amount of total loot. Said second night also has a unique security system in the form of sound detecting robot which, on my second playthrough at least, was incredibly sensitive, somehow able to tell that a footstep on the first floor was worthy of sounding the alarm.

    The third night changes the rules a bit, as Not-Garrett is summoned by his victim to point out security flaws remaining in the inn. Itís an interesting idea, but it does feel a little tacked-on, as well as flawed. You can ďcompleteĒ the objectives, but if the warning note isnít left in the perfect position, it will be unchecked without warning. The end result is an interesting idea that needed a little more coherence.

    And yet, the mission is fun. There are multiple hidden objectives to be found, although they require a fair bit of exploration to find. The mission has plenty of amusing (and it must be said, adult) moments, and the signs of an author who had fun piecing the whole thing together show through. Itís a flawed effort in places, but a very interesting and unique one. Recommended.

  21. #2871

    Quinn Co. (TDM)

    This is long overdue. Very, very overdue. Apologies to Airship Ballet, the author of this campaign.

    Quinn Co. is split into two missions, La Banque Bienveillante and Chase Mercantile, but since theyíre similar in concept Iíll review them both at once. The summer solstice has arrived, and our hero is intent on robbing some of the local banks, which are storing goods from merchant ships.

    These are some of the more unique missions Iíve played on The Dark Mod. When you start up, you see the normal screen for buying weapons, but itís different. Now youíre not buying equipment, but instead youíre buying equipment drops, keys, different loot drop-off pointsÖ.Heck, you can even choose your own objectives here! The author stated that the missions were modeled after the Payday series, and this choice of ďloadoutĒ gives the missions replayability.

    La Banque is the opening act and does a good job. Itís linear, admittedly, but an absolute blast to play through, with neat touches in the technology on display, such as a very neat bit of food storage in the basement. Chase Mercantile is much more balanced, and once the player gets out of the opening basement they can more or less hit the rest of the bank in any order they choose. Both missions can be considered rather easy for Dark Mod missions, due to the fact that you have no loot goal and thus can technically just do the needed objectives and finish the missions, but they do have a way of discouraging knock-outs: A penalty system.

    Not-Garratt has hired cleaners to fix his ďmistakesĒ and that involves bribing guards and hiding bodies: 500 loot for knock-outs, 1000 for deaths. While this doesn't sound like much, it adds up quick, though in fairness each mission is loaded with enough loot for ten thieves, so even the blackjack lovers will be able to get through. In La Banque, however, there are guards you more or less have to blackjack to get past, which is thankfully fixed (from what I could tell) in Mercantile. This penalty system doesnít just affect completionists, since the loot from La Banque is used to purchase equipment in the sequel.

    The missions are both very fun to play, mainly due to the constant gratification you get from all the loot. I ended my second La Banque playthrough with somewhere in the 20,000 range, and Mercantile has even more loot that itís predecessor. Both missions have creative uses of technology, especially in the vaults, which are loaded down with security systems that you have to maneuver your way around. Thereís a fair bit of characterization in the missions as well, shown by the readables. I actually ended up feeling bad enough for my ďvictimĒ in Mercantile that I left his own personal vault (mostly, manís gotta make a living) untouched.

    Still, the missions arenít perfect. La Banque all but forces you to knock out certain guard to progress, and the linear nature of the mission might annoy. Mercantile also has a very irritatingly placed guard right before the vault, who canít be knocked out (unless youíve bought gas arrows, but the drop still forces you to run for it and then snipe quickly) and you havenít arranged for him to be bribed from his post youíll run into a sudden roadblock.

    This leads into my other main gripe: While the loadout makes for good replay value, it also leads into going into the mission without the proper equipment, which could make the mission tedious, see: the alternate loot drop in La Banque, which is vital if you donít want to make like ten trips back and forth. Mercantile is also a pain if you donít think to/canít afford to bribe the guards, and not having certain keys makes the mission trickier than normal. I fully understand that this is the point (and Iím sure most here will like that), but I find it a tad irritating that you can sabotage yourself without knowing about it.

    All in all, my complaints are relatively minor. My only big complaints are that there isnít a third mission, and that I wish it was possible to replay Mercantile without having to beat its predecessor. Obviously, recommended.

  22. #2872

    The Thieves (TDM)

    Back on target nowÖ

    So, Iím not 100% sure who made this mission. The mission select screen says Silencium18, but the mission page on the Dark Mod website adds in Fidcal and Railgun, so eh.

    The Thieves is a simple and to the point mission. A member of a thieves guild has gone rogue and is harassing merchants and being a general nuisance, thus forcing our enterprising hero to kill him for the reward money.

    Another review I read implied that this was another early/test mission, and it shows in the general bareness of the level, as well as certain quirks, such as a key that doesnít go with anything and a gang leader who oddly doesnít seem to notice you banging about in his room unless you hit him. There are still out-of-way pieces of loot to uncover, and two different ways into The Thievesí(ô) hideout, but other than that, the mission is quite basic.

    All in all I find this hard to rec on itís own merits. Itís fun, but a little too simple to veteran players, and without much to set it apart from something like Awaiting the Storm.

  23. #2873

    Trapped! (TDM)

    Trapped! By Railgun is a short prison break mission. Our fair-play loving hero is hired to infiltrate a hideout of a gang of thieves, but he bungles the job and gets himself knocked out. Now, he must escape, which is pretty easy considering how shoddy the construction is.

    The mission is more stealth focused, as your equipment is hidden deeper in the hideout. You can find some arrows early on (and in my case resulted in a first playthrough with lots of bodies), but your blackjack is only found near the end. The mission looks good, giving the impression of being some long abandoned building turned into a makeshift hideout. The loot goal is fair, with most being in plain sight.

    All in all, a solid, if short mission. Recommended.

  24. #2874

    The Builder's Influence (TDM)

    This mission was made by Railgun, but Springheel did the story. He did a dang fine job of it too.

    The Builderís Influence moves the action to the city of Breaden, where our hero is hiding from the law and assisting a group of smugglers. Sadly, the Inquisition, which no one expected, has come to town and is bringing down the hammer on the local criminal scum, including certain members of City HallÖ.much to the detriment of the smugglers, as they have a bribed man on the inside whoís been fudging tax records for them, forcing Not-Garrett to slip in and steal them.

    Layout wise, itís quite good, not fancy, but giving off the vibe of a government building. There are a few alternate routes around the place, which is appreciated. The guard presence is heavy, but doable to get around, which good, as the highest difficulty forbids knockouts. The only real trouble spot is a set of offices facing each other in a hallway which require pretty good timing to duck between or out of.

    Where the mission shines is in the story: There are quite a few readables lying about to tell you about the progress of the Inquisition and the resulting witch hunt. Personally, all of this was my favorite part of the mission, not only interesting but giving you tips to proceed on in the mission. Though I do question the wisdom of leaving such incriminating notes on oneís desk.

    All in all, a solid mission with good storytelling. Recommended.

  25. #2875
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    It's been too long since I last wrote one of these, and I plan to get back in the swing of things. I'll start again with a recent classic and one I was happy to revisit.

    Endless Rain (Thief, 2014), by skacky

    Skackyís Thief Gold mission is a surreal, moody masterpiece of Thief 1 ambiance and style. It is a refreshing, rare entry to the Thief / Thief Gold FM library and a reminder that great missions can still be made with that gameís assets. The winding streets and towering city structures make you feel like youíve stepped into a fantastic world as from a fairy tale. The streets are wide and areas large such that you may say itís out of proportion, but you wonít Ė it works beautifully.

    The author notes in the readme to play without any HD enhancement packs as the mission was made ďwith the vanilla experience in mindĒ. This warning pertains to the texture alignments, but it extends to the overall mission experience. I am a vanilla enthusiast Ė with only a few exceptions I play games and fan-missions un-modded Ė so I love a mission that recommends vanilla, especially for Thief Gold. I even play with TFix Lite so I may have the original guard models.

    In skackyís vanilla Thief experience, Garrett, fallen on hard times, takes a job from a greasy beggar named Cutty: stealing Lord Monsegurís opal, the Moon Tear. Monsegur is the warden of Stonemarket and his abode looks out over the rest of the district from way high up. Getting there is fun and youíll discover paths and secrets above and below.

    On Expert, I went the longest time without a rope arrow. I finally found one, late in the mission. I wish I had started with a rope arrow Ė not having one for so long in a mission with so much up above is a bummer. On a second playing, I found a rope arrow close to the start, which made the experience much better.

    In Endless Rain, you have to look hard. Finding the next big area or a way up to the roofs and across is not easy Ė no path is obvious. You earn the thrill of finding a wooden beam or an open window. There are also several dark nooks and crannies with loot, readables, and moody ambiance.

    One tucked-away area has a note on which an herbalist or doctor has noted the effects of a deadly tonic. Described as a note that fell down the drain, it must mean someone is up to no good Ė wanting to end someone elseís life, or their own. According to the note, though, it might also mean someone just needs a better nightís sleep.

    Lord Monsegurís manor is a tiny slice of the whole experience. Itís up high and, on Expert, tight with guards. You will find it difficult to reach Monsegurís bedroom. Once there, you need artistry to dodge Monsegur, who patrols around his room, muttering lines voiced by Yandros. You need to find a hidden area that thankfully provides you a straight path back down to the main floor.

    Endless Rain is brilliant but I did experience a problem with sound propagation. Several times a guardís voice or footsteps would cut out once he passed a threshold. Other times a guard nearby sounded muffled. Whether this is due to room brush placement or something else, I have not invested the time to find out. I only experienced it and note it here as the only blemish.

    Endless Rain is a Thief Gold treat. If youíre a fan of the original, youíll love the mood and look. Itís a reminder that the first Thief needs more fan missions. The Black Parade, of which skacky is a designer, will surely answer that reminder.

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