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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #2851
    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!

  2. #2852
    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.

  3. #2853
    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.

  4. #2854

    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.

  5. #2855

    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.

  6. #2856
    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.

  7. #2857
    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.

  8. #2858
    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.

  9. #2859

    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.

  10. #2860

    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.

  11. #2861

    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.

  12. #2862

    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.

  13. #2863

    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.

  14. #2864

    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.

  15. #2865

    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.

  16. #2866
    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.

  17. #2867
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    Whenever I did my last review here I think I said I'd have another within a month or so... It's been a bit longer than that, but as I also said back then, as long as this thread lived I would post reviews when I got around to playing more maps, so here's another:

    Search For Crom's Blade:

    This is set in a castle buried under ice and the caves around it. In execution it's quite a unique theme, and there's quite a bit of variety too. The organic nature of it really makes it though; it's actually designed as if a castle was snowed over and buried for an untold number of years, with only a small segment of it truly intact, and most of it is only accessible through non-straightforward means or the multitude of caves that have formed around it. Despite it's age it's one of the most convincing portrayals of a ruined, lost place I've seen in Thief, and it also has a lot of non-standard geometry and organic looking caves (though most of the interiors are quite simple, with a few more detailed parts here and there). The downside of said geometry is that it does lead to some awkward movement at times (some of the icy tunnels are a very tight squeezes and frequently at angles on top of that). The level is pretty huge and it's so interlinked it can be easy to lose track of where things are, or discover that an area is linked to another half and hour later. The map being near-useless doesn't help; it mostly only shows areas of the castle that are intact and easy to navigate, with the complex tunnel systems and ruins that make up the majority being non-present or only vaguely hinted at.

    The main task is finding the titular blade, and there's technically not much you have to do just to accomplish the base goal, though it's unlikely you'll find that out without replaying. As far as the actual stealth goes it's not too tough, and despite not playing thief for ages and going for Expert there's little that gave me trouble; there's plenty of shadow and the abundance of snow means walking is quite silent in most areas, with marble being quite rare. In the few brighter areas most enemies tend to wander into the dark areas at some point like foolish horror movie victims so it's not too tough to whittle their numbers down, with a few helmeted enemies being the only obstacle to that. One part has a lot of marble, but the map is very generous with Moss Arrows if you explore elsewhere so that issue can be got around. Traps aren't really present either, and you can explore quite freely once enemies are taken out. There's a nice use of enemy variety with mechanists in the more intact sections and "natural" enemies and undead in the more hidden parts (including some nice reskins), there's even a chance to cause some in-fighting (although an enemy in a cell just ignoring a nearby mechanist when freed seemed odd, but maybe it's an engine limitation). The exploration is the real meat of this level; as mentioned above there's a complex setting full of things to find, and exploration is almost always rewarded with something. While the search for the blade is the main mission, the "real" task on the higher settings is the search for up to nine gems, which are extremely well hidden, and require you to scour every inch to find them without help, it doesn't help that they blend in with the snow so there's a risk of overlooking them even if you are in the right place. At least Cheap Thief Missions gives a guide to the gems on the level page if you get too stuck. There's some good use of ambience to add to the cold, abandoned atmosphere as well, and music tracks are used as ambient themes. The music helps convey the overall feeling of going on an adventure, which supports exploration being the central theme. The main story is relatively minimal but conveyed well with messages, and there are various clues required (at least for first-time players) to solve the main task. I did have a problem where a couple of scrolls were blank, I thought this was part of the mission and you had to do something to get their contents, but I couldn't find any mention of this while looking for help (as a result of that), maybe a Newdark issue or something?

    If you want something more straightforward this probably isn't for you, but if you like more complex designs then this is an explorer's paradise. as someone generally a fan of the latter I like it a lot. I played it the first time years ago and this map is one of the more memorable ones I've played in setting despite the general visuals being relatively basic. Looking through the older threads on it the designer hinted at some sort of "gold" edition years ago, but it seems that never happened, which is a shame.

    Screenshots (not sure on the brightness since it's been so long):

    All the icicles can be smashed, which is quite satisfying.

    A less icy cave segment.

    This main hall is most of what the level map is comprised of, despite it being relatively simple to navigate.

  18. #2868

    Thief's Den (TDM)

    Now weíre hitting some classics.

    Thief's Den might not have been the first mission ever made for The Dark Mod, but as far as I'm aware, itís up there. The mission was made by Fidcal, but Bikerdude apparently tweaked it, to what extent Iím not sure.

    The plot is simple: Our fair-play loving hero has stolen a scepter for a certain Mr. Creep, but got backstabbed, as should have been obvious by the name. Now Not-Garrett intends to slip into Creep's hideout and steal the scepter and anything not nailed down.

    I know that Bikerdude worked his magic on this mission after release, but if what we have is anything like the mission was before then itís quite impressive. Itís a short mission, but thereís a fair bit of parkour and knowledge of the mission as a 3D space, if that makes sense. The loot is well-hidden/difficult to get to in some places (curse that vase), and thereís a bit of searching that needs to be done to complete the objectives.

    All in all, itís a pretty good intro to The Dark Mod, even if it seems painfully short nowadays. Recommended.

  19. #2869
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    Journey Into The Underdark:

    As the name might suggest to those who know of it this is a Dungeons&Dragons based level; while pretty small it's a semi-conversion, with several new items and tweaks to give things a different flavour. As a result of the changes it also breaks away from general conventions of Thief, and things like non-lethality aren't really present (although the Warrior class can technically knock some enemies out). Stealth is also reinterpreted a little, and, while it's still important to not get slaughtered, it feels like it's based around a more aggressive (based on newer games, you could even say "modern") kind of stealth where you set up combat advantages rather than try to avoid it altogether, even if you probably can if you want.

    This was apparently intended to be a contest map originally, as a result it's relatively small and focused, with the creature interactions being the main new aspect, and there only really being one real puzzle outside of finding/using items lying around. Said contest was a verticality-based one, and that certainly shows in the layout here, with quite a bit of ascending and descending. While most of the geometry is relatively small caves, there's a fort later on that's quite impressive, and a few other nice sights too.

    Like the famous Inverted Manse, the big twist of this map is that the difficulty settings are reinterpreted as play-styles instead. Normal is "Warrior," and probably the most traditional, as you have a sword and blackjack equivalent, but you have no bow and instead get expendable daggers as a ranged attack. Hard is "Archer," and you only have a bow with various special new arrows to defeat enemies with. Expert is "mage," where you have no weapons at all and rely entirely on consumable scrolls, it's actually more of a summoner though, as your main spells are helpful monsters who fight for you. Having played through all three, while they aren't intended to be difficulty settings, I do feel the difficulty order is the most natural way to play them; Warrior feels closest to standard Thief, with a melee weapon always available and a more direct stealth approach (plus the daggers emulate ranged attacks and there's even a kind of summon). Archer has no defenses if arrows run out, but the modified arrows have powerful effects and it's not too hard to clear things out once you know what's coming. While Mage can mostly avoid direct combat, you also have be careful not to waste your good monsters on weak enemies, and you have to have an idea of what summon is the best counter to different enemies to be as efficient as possible. Even when they're not trying to kill you you also have to deal with the inherent jank of trying to get the monsters to actually go after each other, which can be like herding cats at times. Despite knowing what was there I still ran of resources clearing the map on Mage (technically I didn't finish that mode as an enemy got stuck in a way that trapped me, and I had nothing to kill them with, all that was left was backtracking though so it didn't matter much).

    Beyond that bug (which is more of an unlucky dark engine flaw than a specific level issue) the main issue I had is that it's really dark; if I hadn't played Crom's Blade before this I'd almost think something was wrong with my brightness settings, as every shadow is almost pitch black. You are given an infinite light source, but that means you have to put yourself in danger to actually see things. It probably doesn't help with the AI on Mage mode either, especially as the light becomes an essential tool for pointing out foes to your summons on that mode, whereas if it was a little brighter I imagine the AI would get on a bit better too. I'll also warn that the level comes with some NSFW nudity if that matters for you.

    Beyond the somewhat irritating darkness this is a good exploration of a different approach to thief, and it stayed enjoyable over the three playthroughs, and required me to rethink my approaches for each.

    Screenshots (if you can barely see anything that's basically how the level is anyway):

    This is an area that shows some of the main vertical design in the level (if you can see it)

    This is one of the main impressive views of the level.

  20. #2870
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    A Night In Rocksbourg 1: A New Beginning:

    This first map in the set is a city streets type map; in terms of overall area it's actually relatively small, but it's very tightly designed with narrow streets and lots of interlinking paths that make it feel complex. There's also a lot of focus on small details, and even parts you never access have lots of detail in them, making a great looking map. The briefing sets you up as robbing a cathedral, but that's a bit of a red-herring for this map, where you don't reach that destination, and are mainly wrapped up in another quest that comes up. There's also new voice acting, and while some of it has questionable sound quality (although others sound fine) it's translated from a mod that was initially non-English, so I can give some issues a pass. I didn't have too many difficulties with the stealth here as there's quite a lot of darkness and little metal/marble, but the small scale does mean it can be easy to alert multiple nearby enemies if you aren't careful with the noise you make, plus there's one or two surprises that mix things up. You can actually miss most of your supplies if you aren't thorough at the start, but I did like how it was in-character (because Garret wouldn't hide his stuff in the open).

    The Rocksbourgh set is known for it's horror elements, and, while I haven't reached the meat of that yet, this level does a great job of conveying the feeling of something being wrong under the surface, despite only having a few overt nods to that. The small details help add to the creepiness of the spookier parts, and the new ambient noises create a feeling of paranoia with stuff like footstep sounds mixed in. As well as the mystery/horror story this level is based around, the backstory of being in another part of the Thief world post-2 is also well executed, with details like the leftover Mechanists "rebranding" to try and hold on to their last bits of support, along with the explanation for why the area is closed off. The only real issue I had is that a couple of keys are extremely obscure, in fact, it seems like you can only get the clues to one after you've already found it? And I'm not sure how you'd stumble across it without help. Some of the lockpicking also seemed almost obnoxiously long, though that's a pretty minor problem. I did find the lack of map a little odd, but the small size means it's not too much of a problem. This set is known as a Thief classic and this level certainly lives up to that.

    The gates out of this segment of Rocksbourgh are heavily guarded, and dealing with them basically counts as a bonus for those who want a tougher challenge.

    This level has enough attention to detail that even the cobwebs have a certain relevance to the backstory.
    Last edited by Mman; 6th Sep 2017 at 16:59.

  21. #2871
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    A Night In Rocksbourg 2: Discovery:

    This is mostly streets based like the first map, but improved in almost every way; the settings keep the same flavour while being more varied and open, and there's other themes mixed in. One nice touch is that there's actually a friendly (or, at least, not directly hostile) section of the city that's one of the most well executed attempts at a populated area I've seen in Thief. Now the story has developed, the focus is on finding the cause of an undead plague that's taking over the city, which happens to involve a new faction added to the Thief world. As before there's a lot of attention to detail in where things are placed, and one thing I forgot to mention with the previous is that every NPC in the set has a name when knocked out/killed, which supports the backstory elements and even gives clues to certain things. Like the first map the general stealth isn't too challenging, but the addition of more Mechanist and... Other elements makes it tougher overall, along with a slight increase in noisy surfaces. The area being bigger means exploration is more challenging too, but there is a map provided this time. As before the atmospheric and sound design is excellent, and the horror elements do a lot with relatively little. The flaws are pretty much the same as the first map, with some slightly overlong lockpicking (although the bigger size means it's less of a factor here), and a few incredibly obtuse things need to be found to make progress that basically require you to look things up unless you run around frobbing the whole map. A bigger, better level than the first, though it's unfortunate that the occasional obscurity issue wasn't improved.

    I haven't mentioned the briefing videos either, which are well done and make good use of a combination of new and original art assets to create briefings in the style of the original ones. I have to watch them out of the game though, as in-game the top and bottom are cut off so some scenes and subtitles don't show properly, but I guess that's a Newdark or general settings issue.

    The populated Inn area.

    Something tells me this area wasn't the nicest even before unknown killers were on the loose...

  22. #2872
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    A Night In Rocksbourg 3: Ink And Dust:

    There's a completely new theme here as you explore the hideout of the new faction, and the surreal void type place it is seemingly built into. The visual design is even higher quality here, and the new setting is very evocative, with a lot of original assets, and even by Thief standards there is some excellent use of shadows and lighting. Said new faction are also fleshed out here (including more "neutral" areas), and manage to be both intriguing and also somewhat subversive of what was implied in earlier maps, given the previous map implied they were something evil, but they're actually a lot more complex than that. The gameplay difficulty steps up a bit more here, with lots of cramped corridors with multiple enemies, along with the things from the void, on the other hand there are also a lot of shadows and hidey-holes, along with some new consumable items, so you have plenty of ways to turn the odds in your favour. The environment is also a bigger threat with the inherently surreal nature of the setting, and there are some nicely-done puzzles too. This level also fixed my issues with obscurity in the earlier levels; the few obscure tasks that are mandatory have clues that localise them much better this time, and all the really tough stuff is near fully confined to optional content/secrets. Like the first level there's no map, but it does at least fit the mysterious nature of the setting here (there's even somewhat of a reason it's not mapped).

    This is also where the set takes a big push towards full horror, and, while the main part of the map is mostly just strange and unnerving, the "dark zone" part is infamous for this, and, well, it lives up to the hype. There's certainly some other stuff outside the main horror part that keeps you on edge though. By extension, the atmosphere and ambient design is even better here, and instantly ranks among my favourites from a Thief level. This is where the set ends for now; it was intended to be a six part series, but this is the last one that was released and that was years ago. On the other hand, while looking for help for the earlier parts, some forum posts suggested some more recent activity on the set from the author, so maybe it can continue one day?... Honestly with how well the details are hinted at, a little creative interpretation of a few plot points does provide a general conclusion to some of the main plot. The first two maps were great but this takes a step further and is easily among the best Thief levels I've played.

    The later areas don't quite match the grand design of this entrance hall, but they're impressive (and/or oppressive) in their own ways.

    A new pair of pants is recommended for what's ahead.

  23. #2873
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    Hidden Agenda (Thief II, 2002), by AsyluM

    I love Thief II’s atmosphere and the Mechanists as much as I love Thief: TDP’s atmosphere and the Hammerites, and when it comes to picking a favorite between the first two Thief games, count me out. If I’m playing The Sword, I like the first better; if I’m playing Eavesdropping, I prefer the second. Ditto for every mission combination, just about. I’m the same way in other areas of life. If I’m petting a dog, I’m a dog person; if I’m playing with a cat, I’m a total cat-lover. If I’m drinking a chocolate milk shake, I love chocolate; if it’s a vanilla one, I’ll swear by that flavor (I also like strawberry). You may call me a flip-flop, but I’m just open-minded. Suffice it to say, when it comes to Thief II-hate, I’m not on board.

    With that out of the way, AsyluM’s Hidden Agenda is Blackbrook for the Mechanists. It’s a simple Mechanist fix and a well-rounded selection of Thief II ambient noises and textures.

    The mission starts with one of the longest drops I’ve seen. Garrett, knees surely hurting, must explore a Mechanist seminary in the New Market District. The seminary was built on top of an old Hammerite Temple, sunk into the ground. Garrett is driven by personal curiosity – he wants to know what these post-Karras Mechanists are up to, especially since they are trying to kill him. Garrett’s also been promised a reward from the Hammerites, who want to know what the Mechanists are up to in New Market as well.

    I played on Expert and was challenged. Well-lit areas forced me to move quickly, darting from one rare shadow to another. Patrols are not tight like in Gathering at the Inn, but are more difficult to sneak around than in Blackbrook. Later areas have cameras and turrets.

    The seminary mixes styles of Eavesdropping and Life of the Party. The outer grounds and sanctuary areas are Eavesdropping inspired, but other interior areas, like the guest rooms, the sitting rooms, the library, and the kitchen, have Life of the Party vibes. Thief II inspiration goes beyond these two missions. One area has ambiance from Framed – one of my Thief II favorites.

    I love Mechanist artwork. The two worship areas – one a large sanctuary and the other a small chapel – are ripe with statues and icons. Outside, visible from the start area, is a Mechanist statue with a gear stained-glass window behind it. As a lover of Eavesdropping and Mechanist seminaries, I think this FM delicious.

    Your goal is a Hammerite Temple buried beneath the Seminary that the Mechanists have built onto like they did the Lost City. It’s an extensive area. Haunts are teased until you explore a tomb where you’ll encounter a few of them. There’s also a frightening sequence when a humanoid clockwork soldier pops up from a table. This happens in a room with an inactive Child of Karras crouching right next to the door – as if that wasn’t enough (I jumped at both these things). AsyluM understood Mechanist horror and the kind of scares Thief II went for. (I think of the moment the bronze robot child creature appeared in Angelwatch.)

    Several users here dismiss Thief II for its lack of horror, but they’re only thinking of the kind of horror in Thief: TDP. Thief II had its own horror throughout. I was chilled when I spied the first watcher in Shipping…and Receiving and jumped when I peered in a box to see the face of a robot. Let Thief II be its own game – its clockwork, mechanical horror gave the game as much suspense and sense of the unknown as Thief: TDP’s dark medieval mood. I love TDP’s atmosphere, as noted, but it’s an apple to Thief II’s orange. I’m glad at least one FM author has realized what to draw from Thief II atmospherically.

    I digress. In the Hammer Temple, you’ll find more quarters and living areas, store rooms, a sewer section, and some work rooms. It’s more difficult to sneak around down here and there is some hard-to-get loot. One hard-earned goblet requires you return to the sewerman’s bedroom with a key difficult to find. I expected a grand reward or secret after backtracking all the way there, but only found this one loot item.

    The mission is large and on Expert will take some time. Objectives include finding incriminating evidence and some blueprints and breaking into the Mechanists’ vault. You’ll come across a few gear keys and, as mentioned, several watchers and turrets. If you enjoy some vanilla Thief II, you’ll eat it up.

    Hidden Agenda is a rare Mechanist FM and a palette of Thief II ambiance. If you don’t want to spend an eve with the Hammers, blessed old brethren that they are, load up a mission such as this one to spend some time with the Children of Karras - blessed be his name!
    Last edited by twhalen2600; 9th Sep 2017 at 00:34. Reason: Changed last screenshot.

  24. #2874

    Thief's Den 2: The Chalice of Kings

    Thereís an Indiana Jones joke, just on the tip of my tongueÖ.

    Thiefís Den 2: The Chalice of Kings, is Fidcalís next round in the Thief's Den series. This time, Not-Garrett is after a tomb robber who shamelessly stole some valuable artifacts before our hero could get at them, the selfish pest. Now, the artifacts; a crown, a death mask, and a chalice, must be stolen.

    The mission is obviously larger than itís predecessor, and more of a straightforward mansion mission. It looks quite good, with nice dark textures. The mansion layout is plausible, which I liked. I admit, the mission is a bit on the liner side, especially when it comes to the path to getting the chalice. I donít have much of a problem with that, but Iím aware that some frown on that.

    Still, I enjoyed it. It reminds me of Briarwood Cathedral (which I reviews back in the days of old), in that thereís nothing to really set it apart aside from being very solidly done. I supposes I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoy room escape games: the idea of starting out confined and slowly but surely solving puzzles and clearing your way though.

    Or itís just good. Recommended.

  25. #2875
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Quote Originally Posted by Thor View Post
    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.
    I'd be more than happy to give him a kick up the ass but I'm a real waste of space myself at the moment so would seem just a tad hypocritical of me.

    Having said that, I would dearly like to read another joint review.

    Hopefully, all the latest reviews have now been added but please let me know if I've missed one or got it in the wrong place or similar, and grateful thanks as ever.

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