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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #2876

    Let Sleeping Thieves Lie (TDM)

    I’m finally about done with my replays! Though I still have a few to go, such as SirTaffsalot’s Let Sleeping Thieves Lie.

    Jack Blackthorn used to be the feared leader of the Unseen Thieves guild. Used to be, because our hero put an arrow in his heart. However, it seems that Jack has come back from the dead, forcing our hero to investigate. And steal a dagger, just for good measure.

    This is a rather small city mission, mostly taking place on one street, with a divergence into the sewers to slip into the Unseen Thieves’ hideout and the tombs beneath the chapel. It’s not visually stunning, barring the outside of the chapel, which is appropriately massive. I heard complaints that the sewer area didn’t look that good, but I felt it was fine, if a little basic.

    I enjoyed the more atypical story for the mission, as well as a creative objective you get after your sewer travels. The main gripe I have is with the loot goal, as you have to get the vast majority of the level’s loot for expert, and a few pieces are quite small and hard to notice. That’s a bit of a petty complaint, I admit, but it brought my playthrough to a screeching halt.

    All in all, a decent, but slightly underdone mission. Recommended, but with caveats.

    Added - nickie

  2. #2877
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004
    T1: A Noble Death - Ishy

    Playing through the early FMs can be fun dive back in time to the early days of Thief Fandom. These were generally smaller and simpler FMs that were almost entirely Stock Resource. It was not long before the use of custom resources actually became so common place that it inspired a contest with the restriction to use only use Stock Resources in 2006.

    The smaller though not always so tight FMs of yore can be quite enjoyable, though sometimes the small size can prove its own challenge as in this FM.

    This fan mission sets you with the task of killing a noblewoman - a rather ignoble and incongruous task given you are a thief. This type of objective was unusually common during the first year or so of Thief FMs, but thankfully we started getting a mixture of larger, more complicated FMs and simpler steal-the-object(s) FMs. As you are here to kill someone, sneaking seems less necessary. This is not true, however, given the manor house is packed with guards - at least 14 of them. Further difficulty comes from the tighter spaces, limited hiding spots/ambush points, paired patrols, and most of all - the use of only one sound brush. This is a double hit as it makes it really hard to detect guard location (like which floor they are patrolling on) and easier for the guards to hear you.

    And hear you they will if you make any noise. Your best bet is to find a decent hiding spot, wait for the guards to pass and ambush one of them. The place is packed with marble floors, so no running to hit the second one on the head. Good sneaking is needed here. You have some water arrows but there are only two moss arrows in the crystal "armory" on the first floor, so no real softening is possible. Strangely, there are plenty of fire arrows, which implies a more Rambo slaughter-your-way to the top style mission than one of stealth.

    There is a second option to getting to the top, though it is not obvious. There are two rope arrows available, however, the wooden part is on the top surface only of the balcony ledges. Once you are on the second floor balcony, you can more easily rope up to the third floor with an obvious wooden overhang. Once you are in this space, you can sneak in and snipe the target. Of course this will alert the guards, making the rest of your objectives more difficult. So in general, a tough mission for sneaking, but years of thiefly training have honed my skills enough to make this a slow but fun mission without any of the frustrations I had the first time I played it years ago.

    For the architecture, it is not great, but it is pretty decent for its time. The area is rather flat with ridiculously high walls bordering the area. The entry/exit area is nicely designed, though, and the mission zone has multiple texture entrances that give the illusion of this map existing in a larger world, which is not something that is always implemented in missions, especially during the first few years of FMs.

    The textures are nicely placed, the layout also looks good and is logical though simple. There a few nicely decorated areas like the roof garden. The decor is limited for most of the mission, though, leaving some areas a little plain. The overuse of marble is a bit excessive, but not completely out of place. The Ramirez-inspired peep-holes are a nice touch, but unusual.

    The story is simple fair, but there are a few readables to give the place a bit of life. There is a dead hammerite novice, though whether he was set to dead or killed by the thief, I do not know. It is the latter, than that might explain the rather jumpy guards here. The loot is good for the mission size while also being well-placed and sparse enough to be believable.

    In conclusion, this is a simple FM that will test your thief skills while still being able to get home in time for dinner. Just it comes with an annoying kill objective. Fortunately, you can just knock her out and kill her on the ground before you leave.

    Added - nickie

  3. #2878
    New Member
    Registered: Sep 2017
    Location: Coveting hither and yon

    For behold, it is I, the Covetous Carcass, taking a break from coveting golden skulls to present my review of a golden oldie mission and one of my favourites, previously briefly reviewed by Unkillable Cat in this very thread.

    Durant

    (Thief II, 2001) by Donald F. Mazur

    I love "what if" fan missions which connect to the main storyline. I also love "fanon" missions - those which flesh out people and places which the canon only mentions in passing. Durant does both, altering the original story from when Viktoria gets Brother Cavador to "spill his guts" (not literally, of course). As before, Garrett suggests that Lord Gervaisius might be able to provide a precursor mask for their investigations. Now, though, while Viktoria's agents know that Gervaisius will be holding an exhibition of precursor artefacts, they know neither where nor when. Garrett therefore has to embark on an intermediate mission to get this info, bumping into a few old acquaintances along the way.

    The mission is named after a certain celebrated artist of the same name, who gets a couple of passing mentions in the original missions, and one of whose paintings several people seem keen to acquire.

    As the prologue suggests, a good place to start investigating is Gervaisius' art dealer - our old friends Grimworth and de Perrin, who operate in East New Market district. And so begins a mission which is twistier and turnier than a twisty turny thing, involving pagans, Mechanists, thieves (besides our protagonist, that is), the dearly departed, and a lord with an eye for peasant girls (and perhaps an ear for industrial metal), but not necessarily in that order. Oh, and a "street person" named Rosie. And Lord Bafford facing disappointment again.

    I've played through this mission many times, and continue to do so on occasion. It's a mid-sized city mission, divided roughly equally between the streets of East New Market and the mansion of Lord Mani Rammstein. There's plenty of other destinations crammed in as well, though, giving a "Life of the Party" feel, as Garrett quietly intrudes on all kinds of people's lives (and afterlives). The mission is non-linear and has a nice vertical aspect to it, requiring Garrett to traverse both the Thieves' Highway and the extensive, and very tall, sewers beneath the district, with varied locations in between. Garrett's first task is to meet a pagan contact at a nearby safe-house, and after that it's up to him, but he might have to travel light for a bit . Intrigue is waiting to be uncovered as Garrett untangles the recent, and colourful, history of the Durant painting.

    As explained in the readme, the objectives are broadly the same on all difficulties - all that changes is whether Garrett is permitted to knock out or kill anyone (but, I mean, he really shouldn't need to do the latter, should he?), along with some routes being easier to access on the easier difficulties. I've played this on "Don's Style" (Expert) which disallows direct knockouts completely, and which also turns the mission into more of a keyhunt - some locks which can be picked on easier difficulties now can't be, which means it's better to go to some places before others (not gonna spoil anything though!) I really enjoy the story and the characters involved, each one behaving as you'd expect them to, which in the City means that they're generally a dislikable bunch . Although the level's appearance is a tad blocky and basic by today's standards, the gameplay more than makes up for it. For example, the mansion has several approaches and points of entry, and nooks and crannies aplenty meaning a great night's thieving. The Mechanist facility has some clever technical gadgets worthy of their Order, such as a Soulforge-esque machine and a custom arrow type, which, given this mission's year of release, are impressive.

    There are a few minor problems with the mission, which have always been present as far as I can recall - guards ending up standing on tables, that kind of thing. A notable one is that the conversation which starts off the mission seems to restart on every game load, regardless of the locations of the concerned parties. This mission also doesn't like Gecko's HDmod, at least on my machine, as enabling HDmod causes the mission to crash on load, but other enhancement packs work fine.

    Should you play it? Of course you should, it's a classic, and it's got Loanstar doing a voice . I can't believe it's been nearly sixteen years since this mission was released.

    Oh, and does Garrett get the info he's after? Total spoiler: Indeed he does! Thief 2 has to carry on afterwards, y'know...


    The streets of East New Market - and yet another upstanding (just) representative of the City's finest who's taken to the bottle .


    Heed Garrett's warning in this room, and for goodness' sake tread carefully. Two persons did not. They are now very dead.


    Chez Mechanists. That pesky watcher is fixed in place. "Can't go this way!"


    Ho ho h...oh dear, here comes Garrett Claus to relieve you of your trinkets .


    The quarters of one Capt. E. F. Regalio - I say, that name swipes an amulet...


    Grimworth and de Perrin's showroom awaits. What're you gonna do, ask for Roy the guard's permission?
    Have a care if you do - de Perrin is what one might call the jealous type...


    Added - nickie

  4. #2879
    Moderator
    Registered: May 2000
    Location: Thunder Bay, On., Canada
    Very nice review! I love to see these older missions getting attention as they are so often overlooked. Thank you!

  5. #2880

    Vengance for a Thief Part 1: The Angel's Tear (TDM)

    Time for a min-campaign, of sorts.

    The odd thing about SirTaffsalot’s Vengance for a Thief campaign is that part one was the last to be created, kinda like Star Wars only not.

    The Angel’s Tear, our intro, is a basic mansion mission. A merchant is in possession of a valuable jewel, go steal it. The jewel is protected by a security system, forcing your to track down three keys to get your hands on the jewel.

    The main problem I have with this mission is that I feel like I’m suffering from hallway hypnosis. The mansion is very sameish with very little to differentiate one hallway from the next, resulting in one getting lost easy. There’s a lack of map, which makes navigation even more of a pain. Also of irritation is tracking down the lord’s wife, who has one of the keys you need. She walks at a snail's pace, and the large mansion size makes tracking her down a pain.

    The loot goal is fair, and while it does require you to get the vast majority of the level’s loot, most of it is in plain sight. As a bonus, the guards will actually notice when pieces are missing.

    All and all, I don’t feel as if I can recommend this. It reminds me of Lord Dufford’s or Deceptive Shadows, in that the good bits are buried under tedium. For what it’s worth, the other two missions in this series are much better.

    Added - nickie

  6. #2881
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    The Love Thief (Thief II, 2013 - latest version), by Sensut

    The Dracula campaign is one of my favorite FM series and The Love Thief is my favorite mission from it. A good one-sitting mission, it’s shorter than average and is also well-paced, visually chilling, and heavily atmospheric.

    Basing a fan mission in the setting of the Dracula story instills it with fresh flavor. You are in a fictional historical setting, not the City, but a Carpathian mountain range in eastern Europe. The atmosphere is thick and pitch perfect for the setting and period.

    You begin as Gellert, plopped down at the Borgo Pass in Transylvania. I first played this FM in early 2011, and fell in love as soon as I took the first steps forward and a werewolf, howling, attacked a group of soldiers camping in the pass. With the gray clouds above and a gloomy mountain range before me, the werewolf was overload – my rural eastern European adventurer was overwhelmed, and I knew I would not be flinching until I had devoured every bit of this mission.

    Sneaking by the werewolf, since the soldiers never kill him on my playthroughs, you pass through another canyon to where the beast’s lair is. The human self of the monster has left a diary detailing his unfortunate fate, and you’ll discover near it a key you’ll need to pass a gate to the rest of the mission. Some kind of bubble substance sits on the ground beneath this gate, and I’ve never read what it is. Perhaps a ward for the werewolf.



    Once past the gate, your first stop may be the Hero’s Shrine, just to the right. On my first several playthroughs I never knew the purpose of this shrine. When I discovered what secret it held, I could not believe I had missed one of the most-used secret switches in Thief history. Hit me with a blackjack – it’s a frobbable torch.

    Another story bit awaits past the tomb. A band of travelers sit in an elbow of the pass with a covered wagon, Viktrola, and expressionless horse. Read the band’s journal for a sad tale.

    Turn and go further down to see a cross, one of a few religious symbols in this mission, and one of many Turkish soldiers – the first who isn’t being killed by a werewolf. These religious symbols and soldiers lend the mission its historical character, vital to the overall atmosphere. You’re not seeing hammers, but crosses.

    After these scenes you’ll come to a hermit’s hut where you’ll find a crossbow, Jonathan Hawker’s journal, and a diversion to a small chapel. The chapel has the journal of a priest filled with regret over what he has allowed into the chapel. There’s also a secret that you may feel uncomfortable triggering if you’re a Christian – maybe I’m thinking about it in the wrong way. Regardless, on some playthroughs I can’t do it.

    Past the hermit’s area you’ll enter the Turkish camp. I hope you have a rope arrow. If you missed picking up a rope arrow in the hermit’s area – which I’ve done – you have to go back to an earlier save or risk alerting the Turkish soldiers standing outside the path to the camp, whom you bypassed taking the path by the hermit’s area, a path you can’t take back. You may have an invisibility potion at your disposal, but this is best saved for when you are leaving the camp for good on your return to the mission start. It’s possible to find a second invisibility potion, but this is not guaranteed, so always be certain you pick up the rope arrows.

    Once when I missed them I spent more time than I’d like to admit struggling to find entrance to the Turkish camp. Since then, I am always doubly certain to pick them up.

    When you’ve rope-arrowed your way into the camp, you’ll see some interesting scenes and hear some snazzy music. There’s a humorous journal entry about a missing watch; a couple locals skewered on stakes; revelry complete with superb animations (the Turkish soldier tossing back a drink is to die for); and a conspicuous apple tree. Sensut likely was aching to use a climbable tree and concocted the entire scenario here just for it: unhealthy water and a fence around it. Why? I see no reason for it other than to have an excuse to use a climbable tree. Nothing wrong with that, it just feels superfluous.



    Once over the fence and into the water you’ll come up into Dracula’s castle. The ambiance immediately changes and here, like at the first sight of the werewolf, I am deliriously sucked in. You feel that you are in the cellar of a huge castle out of a horror movie. Sensut nails this.

    You’ll eventually enter Dracula’s chambers and find his sleeping brides and Hawker’s lost fiancť, Mina. The beating hearts you hear when standing next to the brides’ undead bodies always perturbs me. The dťcor impresses me, and once you nab the unconscious body of Mina a new, haunting mood piece plays. You’ll sneak out of Dracula’s quarters to the moans and laughs of his brides, the dark lord present too.



    Next comes the weakest part of the mission: the crypts beneath the castle. The repetitive design makes it feel like a later Halo level. Carrying Mina’s body adds to the repetition, as you have to put it down and pick it up constantly to pick up loot. I set her down somewhere, sneaked down a section to nab all the loot, then went back to pick her up. Regardless of the repetition, the atmosphere remains compelling, and there’s a secret to find – if you’ve got the talismans for it.

    Once out of the catacombs you return to the start, Mina over shoulder, to end the mission. If you’ve got an invisibility potion, this is a simple objective. Going back through each area to the start is a satisfying full-circle journey.

    The Love Thief is a great atmospheric mission, it’s uniquely historical, and it’s my favorite of Sensut’s Carpathian missions. For a cool fall night, you couldn’t find a better entertainment experience.

    Added - nickie

  7. #2882
    New Member
    Registered: Sep 2017
    Location: Coveting hither and yon

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightwalker View Post
    Very nice review! I love to see these older missions getting attention as they are so often overlooked. Thank you!
    Thank you Nightwalker - I too would like to give older missions some publicity.

    My second review is of another classic mission, this time from 2007. I think that I originally happened upon this one when browsing over on Cheap Thief Missions.

    Dirty Business

    (Thief II, 2007) by Dr Sneak

    Poor Garrett, always having to clean up after the Keepers' ill-fated escapades. In this mission he is, once again, acting as their reluctant troubleshooter, having been called upon to tie up a loose end resulting from an abortive Keeper foray into the Cragscleft mines. Since his last visit, the Hammers have sold the mines to a mysterious corporation known as the Consordium (yes, with a "d"), and they in turn have engaged the services of the post-Karras Mechanists to help them tame the mines and bring them back into operation once more. There is, it seems, still gold in them there mines. However, the Mechanists have found something in the mine's depths which they want to keep a secret, and, true to form, don't want to let anyone else in on it, including their new business associates. There have been rumblings amongst the Consordium - some employees aren't too happy about being denied access, for reasons unknown, to their latest acquisition.

    This mission is partly based on "Break from Cragscleft Prison" from TDP, and, as you might expect, the Mechanists have given the mines a similar treatment to that which the "KD Site" received, clearing out the local wildlife (well, wild-death) and generally fixing the place up.

    Garrett starts in his pokey lodgings in the "company town" which the Consordium have established in front of the mine entrance, and soon discovers that he isn't the only one who's been snooping around. From there, he has to make his way into the mines to retrieve the wayward Keeper artefact, and, of course, line his pockets along the way.

    This mission has an interesting story with several custom conversations, and several readables which give a good idea of the somewhat strained relationship between the "gearheads" and the Consordium. The "secret" which the Mechanists are guarding will come as no great surprise, but the story does add its own slant, referencing a certain well-known film/TV franchise. It's a shame that what Garrett discovers down there is just for show, though (or at least I think it is...).

    As regards level design, I found the initial town/warehouse area to be a little too bland and empty. I'd have preferred a bit more to do here; a bit more "flavour" perhaps, but it's serviceable as a gateway to the meat of the mission - the renovated mines and what lies beneath them, the latter in particular looking great with some appropriately-themed custom textures. All the familiar locations from the Cragscleft mine are there, but where once undead patrolled, there are now Mechanists and Consordium guards. Speaking of which, the guards won't attack Garrett in the town streets, but once he goes further, he's officially a trespasser and it's (dirty) business as usual. At the top of the mines you can see the entrance which leads to the Hammers' area (and even hear them), but it's closed off in this mission - the Hammers want no part in the doings of heretics. It's worth exploring everywhere as there's loot hiding in corners all over the place, including some which might otherwise qualify as secrets but does not (the mission doesn't have any "official" secrets - well, besides the one the Mechanists are guarding). There are also a couple of conversations which might easily be missed if you don't explore diligently.

    The mission is polished and fun to play. I found it quite easy even on "Jack O'Blade" (Expert), and I managed to ghost it successfully, something that I usually reserve only for small missions as I tend to lose patience otherwise :). I have two nitpicks. Firstly, some of the sound propagation in the deepest part of the mission (where the Keeper artefact is) seems iffy, causing e.g. NPC sounds to cut out and back in again in unexpected places. Secondly, I'm guessing the author did several NPC voices because there's one conversation where it sounds like he's talking to himself :). These really are minor points though.

    This mission is definitely worth a playthrough in your near future. It's one of Garrett's more conventional assignments, lacking the spectacle of some other missions, but it rips a good yarn and isn't too difficult, which is a plus for me. And it's got a golden skull in it! One that you can collect! As a covetous fellow, that floats my boat :D

    So then, screenshots!



    The main entrance. Beyond lies the Consordium's land, and folks like you aren't welcome 'round these parts.


    The Mechanist warehouse. What are they up to this time? It can't be anything good, that's for sure...


    Picking up on some tasty tidbits. That's Special Inspector Logan on the right.
    He is... to be avoided, if rumour's true (which it is).



    Cragscleft entrance by moonlight. Even those two guards have a bit of a natter as you pass by...


    I wish there was a minecart here. And physics. And a rollercoaster ride beyond.


    Mines, Mechanists, equipment... you know the drill...


    We meet again, crappy Cragscleft elevator! I see your buttons are as (dys)functional as the last time we met.
    Hang on a sec, I feel some verse coming on:
    "O Cragscleft elevator, I really hate to hate yer,
    But I'm a-making tuttin's, 'Cause I can't push your buttons."
    ©2017 C. Carcass



    A familiar location in Cragscleft, recently.
    If this location is not familiar to you, stop what you're doing right now and go play Thief TDP/Gold!



    Cthulhu and his brother welcome you to this sacred place.
    Please wipe your feet and try not to release any ancient evils upon the land.



    There it is. IMO that's the real prize, but will you be able to find it?


    Those Mechs done put these things everywhere down here.
    Once you're past this one, you'll be... safe :D



    His Holiness A. Random Mechanist, always on the alert, never to be caught napping.
    Well, who could nap with this guy snoring like a trooper?



    Added - nickie

  8. #2883

    Vengance for a Thief Part 2: A Pawn in the Game (TDM)

    Such beautiful screenshots. I feel so lazy in comparison. :P

    -------------------------------------

    And now for part two of Vengeance for a Thief: A Pawn in the Game. Which was created first.

    When we last left our hero, he had just stolen the Angel’s Tear and was making a clean getaway, but it turns out he was instantly set upon by the City Watch and arrested. Our humble hero, realizing that there’s no way a Master Thief(™) like him could mess up, decides that he’s been set-up and aims to break out, find out what happened, and dig up a little more info on the mysterious “Order of the Golden Lion.”

    This is a much better mission than its predecessor, if just because the environments look different. You start in the City Watch building, and after getting your stuff and getting out, have to hit the city streets. Where Taffsalot shines is in the scale of the buildings you wander around, with good, appropriate music, especially in a local chapel. It’s all quite impressive, and makes up for the straightforwardness of the mission.

    Difficulty-wise, it’s fair. There are quite a few guards walking the halls and streets, but they can be maneuvered around, with the difficulty mostly coming from the strong ambient light that makes it surprisingly easy to be spotted. The main problem comes from remembering that the guards can see the rope arrows that you will end up scattering all over the place. I do have to comment a bit on the coincidence that some of the random houses you end up breaking into have important plot information. The loot goal is also fair, with you having to get a vast majority of it but most being in plain sight.

    All in all, this is much better effort that it’s predecessor/created-later prequel. Recommended.

    Added - nickie

  9. #2884
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    I like Skacky's Quake maps a lot, so, realising he's made various Thief maps have made me decide to go through them all (the main ones at least; I'm not sure if I'll do the smaller contest stuff). I was going to do all of them in one post, but I've decided to split off Chalice of Souls as it feels like the first three releases are part of a design progression/iteration anyway, and I get the feeling that Chalice changes things up the theme somewhat (maybe I'm wrong though).

    Shadow Politics:

    This is mainly a streets map, with the embassy that's your main target and the sewers being the main interior areas. The design is strong, with diverse building exteriors and streets along with the main embassy area having good detail (as well as the most interesting lighting). Skacky said this level was inspired by releases like Disorientation, and, while it doesn't have the grand scale and structure of that map, I can see where that comes from. The gameplay is mostly quite straightforward but there's a difficulty spike in some of the interiors (the actual embassy in particular) with lots of tile and well-lit rooms. The guard count isn't too high and there's plenty of carpet around so it's still pretty managable. I actually found the hardest task of this map to be the Expert difficulty loot goal, and it took me a while of looking over the map to find the last pieces I needed, most of it was hiding in plain sight though. A very good map, but, given the designs I know Skacky is capable of, I feel this was a bit of a starter release to warm up for bigger projects.



    One of the bigger streets.



    The entrance hall of your target.

    Between These Dark Walls:

    The inspiration from Disorientation and similar missions comes through more here, with areas that have vast vertical scale and major height variations throughout. The texturing and atmosphere also take more style from it, and this level looks great throughout, especially within a certain surprise theme shift. In some ways this feels like a pseudo-remake of Shadow Politics, with many of the basic area concepts being similar, but more fleshed out, interestingly connected and with far more vertical space used over horizontal space. Like the previous map there's a difficulty contrast between the street sections and the main mission interiors, with the former being quite easy and the latter having a lot more tile and brightly lit areas. Like Shadow Politics, the main mission is a simple Thief one (infiltrate a place and steal something), but there's a twist that makes the overall development of this map more interesting. It probably helps that I reached the loot goal much easier here, but I was surprised how quickly this level went, and while it's probably bigger than Shadow Politics it didn't feel that way, it's more dense in content though, and full of little details that flesh out the setting. A step up from the first map and a great entry to the relatively rare hyper-vertical streets style.



    Both a long way up and a long way down...



    One of the simpler interiors, with the more elaborate ones essentially being spoilers.

    Endless Rain:

    This is all the best parts of Skacky's first two releases combined and improved into a masterpiece; A large city area full of both vertical and horizontal gameplay, tons of secrets, along with excellent detail and atmosphere. As the name suggests, rain is a big part of this map's atmosphere, and just adds to the already great looking city designs. Like the previous maps, the interiors get more challenging than the streets with lots of light and tile; the difficulty is distributed a little more evenly though, with various houses that require some care to explore safely rather than just the main mission. The subplots and overall narrative is also taken further, with various threads to explore as much as you want, along with a couple more surprises to mix things up. The exploration is also more organically handled, as areas don't always link neatly with each other, and a minor diversion can unravel into a whole new way around the map. As part of this, the rooftops are also more complex, and segment in complex ways that makes exploring the full extents of the higher parts take a lot of attention. One of the best town levels around and exceptional in just about every way, to the point of me considering it a must-play release (not that the first two levels aren't very good too, but this is on another level).



    An even longer way down!



    Hard to hide in here...

    Added - nickie

  10. #2885
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    The Chalice of Souls:

    This is a two-level set, with the base idea apparently being based on part of Thief 4 (where you look for a keeper artifact beneath a clandestine brothel); since I haven't played it I don't know how close/far from the inspiration it is. The first level here is a snowy city area; at first glance of the map and area it seems small, but this turns out to be quite deceptive as there's a very vertical structure with individual buildings quite fleshed out, and that's on top of a surprise second area just when you think it's over (it's not really a twist given the premise, but the segment has far more to it than might be expected). While most of the main city wasn't built by Skacky, the visuals and design feels along the lines of Endless Rain, with fog/weather effects and detailed vertical structures. The setting itself is also very varied, with several separate themes mixed in. By extension this takes the side-stories and exploration elements beyond Endless Rain; almost every building/area has some entirely unique twist that fits the owner's personality, and there are several elaborate sections and scenarios you can potentially completely miss. In terms of difficulty I also feel this level does a better job adding difficulty beyond bright interiors full of tiles; that's still present, but there are also darker areas that still pose a challenge due to tricky enemy placements and some Thief 2 style mechanical objects/traps. While mostly not built by Skacky this level holds up to his maps very well and I might even slightly prefer it to Endless Rain.

    The second level (and the main segment built by Skacky) is the brothel itself, that happens to be built into a Keeper complex. Like the first map there's also a large second section just when you think you're nearing the end. The visuals are great again here, with some of the best looking and grandest Keeper architecture I've seen, especially in the second segment. There's also good usage of elements to sell the exclusive brothel theme, such as the steaming baths, luxurious decor and various custom objects for different bedroom "themes". After the previous map went away from it the first main section here goes all in on the "tiles and light" difficulty aspects of the interior sections, especially as the setting is relatively confined as well, however there is a twist in the form of usable candles which means areas aren't quite as bright as they initially seem with a little work and timing. Outside of that you need some care to handle the main brothel areas, and the less inhabited parts later on are relatively simple to deal with in comparison. This is another level where the loot goal became the trickiest part in the end, with me having to do some trekking around after the main missions to find the last pieces for the goal, it had turned out I had missed some relatively obvious stuff though. Another good level although, it's not as standout as the first, this is a great set though, and both maps together comprise one of the best mini-campaigns around. Hopefully the upcoming multi-level set by Skacky and others won't be overly long in the making.



    The overall detail isn't as high as Endless Rain, but the winter atmosphere is still very well executed.



    The residents have some unique tastes...



    The keeper theme mixed with a lush brothel creates some original designs.



    There's areas with some obvious inspiration from Rocksbourg and Disorientation.

    Added - nickie
    Last edited by Mman; 26th Oct 2017 at 15:15.

  11. #2886
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    Since Yandros will soon release Death's Cold Embrace and Halloween is around the corner, it's an appropriate time for a spooky-Yandros-FM double-wammy: King Abedzen's Tomb and Deceptive Perception 2!

    King Abedzen's Tomb (Thief II, 2015), by Yandros

    In 2015 Yandros released this “Micro FM” that’s jam-packed with atmosphere and has a few just-right puzzles to solve. It took me around thirty minutes to complete, and would take you less if you do not get stumped on one section as I did. It’s quick, but the quality is such I’d hardly call it a fix – this is more like a tiny bit of steak wrapped in bacon you’d get at a fancy restaruant. Now, if you think that’s a fix, my comparison falls flat. My main point is, this is no fast food chicken nugget.

    The start of the mission immediately satisfies me – it’s all you need, really. A heavily atmospheric graveyard in the rain, with a Widow Moira-esque view of the ocean. I spent more time in the graveyard than in the tomb, and not just because I got stumped out there. A part of me wants to retire to a seaside cemetery.



    You’ll need to pass a couple puzzles to gain entry to the tomb, but a scripted sequence gives you a start. I figured out the first puzzle quickly, though what you use does not highlight. The second thing you frob does highlight – I just didn’t see it.

    I also didn’t see the pit inside of the tomb. Falling in, I lost all but two health (playing on Expert). Given SlyFoxx’s line, I bet unaware players falling in is exactly what the designer wanted.

    The pit is in the first hallway after a turn you take right after entering the tomb, just past a small room to the side. To get back out of it you’ll need a rope arrow, but you don’t just pick it up, you have to assemble it. Aim carefully with it. A miss of the wooden beam above means poor Garrett’s no better than the skeleton down there. At least Garrett figured out to put rope and arrow together, unlike this other poor sod.

    Back up in the tomb, you have another hallway that leads to the main room – the one with Abedzen’s sarcophagus. You’ll square off against the old King’s ghost. The treasure isn’t in here, though. Placing Abedzen’s Talisman into a receptacle in the wall opens another room – his treasure room. But it’s been plundered.

    But there is a room the plunderers have missed all these years, and if you’ve picked up some coins and gleaned some clues from a story book, you’ll have access to this room and all its glories. The crowning piece of the collection is a recognizable statue, and there’s an appropriate quip from Garrett.



    Before leaving, you’ll hear the growls of a creature that’s been teased at throughout the mission. You’ll also run into a couple spiders. I thought quick enough to duck into the nearest shadow, but was still too close for comfort.

    On the way out, be sure to jump back over the pit, lest you fall in again (which I haven’t done – but I bet someone has).

    King Abedzen’s Tomb is a must-play FM and a perfect quick treat for Halloween. Though, as I indicated at the start, it’s less a Halloween treat and more like a gourmet brownie dessert, with chocolate candy corn sprinkled on, served under the flickering light of fancy, glazed Jack-O-Lanterns.

    Deceptive Perception 2: Phantasmagoria (Thief II, 2008), by Yandros

    Yandros finished what William the Taffer started in this sequel to 2002’s classic contest FM Deceptive Perception. That little horror mission is one of the best, and the lengthier Deceptive Perception 2: Phantasmagoria is also great.

    Unlike other horror FMs such as The Inverted Manse or Rose Cottage, Deceptive Perception 2 proceeds chapter-by-chapter, linearly. It’s a tall tale told at a bar, Garrett narrating the story to his pal Willick. This bar room conversation is the framework of the mission. It develops the feel of a television show on a late Saturday afternoon, part of a series of Spooky Tales from Beyond or some such program, contrasting with Rose Cottage’s 1960s black-and-white haunted house movie vibe.



    Garrett’s yarn begins with him in an abandoned, haunted Mechanist warehouse. Falling for a rumor of a valuable artifact hidden there, told him by his guard friend Barney, Garrett climbed up into the warehouse on a stroll one night, on impulse, with nothing but a rope arrow. Rope arrow broken, and no way to get out save the high windows up above, Garrett is in a pickle.

    The first part is straight Deceptive Perception. You’re in a haunted Mechanist warehouse, and freaky things happen. It’s all done really well and is great on its own and as a homage to the original. I also like seeing horror done using Mechanist trappings. There’s potential for Mechanists to be as scary as any other group in the Thief universe, but not many authors explore it.



    After this first part, the mission becomes its own experience, though it’s definitely Deceptive Perception-y.

    You encounter the apparition of a woman dressed in white who leads you on with a couple keys and through a maze of stacked boxes. A nice technique was done here with a painting. The ghost lady stepped from the Thief II painting of a woman dressed in white, and after she finished speaking with you, and you walk towards the painting, the woman-in-white portion vanished. Another trick with paintings is done later in the mission: there’s a lively interchange between Keira Knightley and a stock Thief II Renaissance man.

    After dodging some Mechanist Haunts and escaping the woman-in-white, you encounter your friend Barney in an office area of the warehouse. There are more clever jump scares here, and a grim experience with Barney and the ghostly woman. Moving on from that, you get some keys and eventually unlock a sewer door taking you down into the next part of the mission. At this point the game cuts back to the bar room conversation – Garrett’s friend has started to question the progressively weirder story.



    Down in the sewers, you’ve got a rickety-bridge-over-big-pit gag (not a rare scare, but it works – I ran and squealed) and an underground temple. Here the scares are dropped for straight stealth. You help a group of forsaken Keepers combat demons who have them trapped. In doing so, you must find a couple gem stones, a mild break in the momentum. This part is close to padding, and you have to come uncomfortably close to a creepily textured spider, but soon enough you’re back on your way.

    The next and final section of the mission starts with a return to the sewers, where you encounter a baby crayman-esque beast, and a guard – sewer worker? – composing his latest masterpiece.*

    You then come up into a hospital with a few horrifying apparitions, and are introduced to the villain: Dr. Lang. Read his journal to learn of his sick practice; it will remind you of the original Amnesia, if you’ve played that. There’s also a Viktrola with a Sly Foxx-narrated bit of the doctor beginning with one of his unfortunate victims. This hospital area is a sudden dark swing, standing out from even the rest of this creepy mission.



    You’ll be trapped by this Dr. Lang in cold storage. Once you’ve found a way out, the game cuts again to the bar-room conversation. Willick is finding your story too fantastic to believe. After a little more story, the game cuts to the bar again with Garrett telling Willick that the rest will have to wait until the next night. Garrett and Willick depart, and Garrett heads out to a thrilling conclusion of the night’s tale.

    The chapter-by-chapter, linear progression of Deceptive Perception 2 makes it a unique FM experience, and you’ll enjoy this creepy ride and will likely revisit it each year at Halloween. Just be ready to jump and be freaked out – a lot. The stat screen kindly tracks this for you.

    *He meets a grim, unexplained fate, though not in New Dark. At least, that’s my assumption: only in my post-New Dark playthroughs has he been standing up, happy as a lark, even after he screams from the distance.

    Added - nickie

  12. #2887
    Classical Master 2008
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Civitas Quinque Ecclesiae HU
    Quote Originally Posted by Mman View Post
    The Chalice of Souls:
    Excellent review, but just a note: the city proper was mostly built by Squadafroin, and the sewers by Firemage. Skacky did the underground brothel and the Keeper compound.

  13. #2888
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by Melan View Post
    Excellent review, but just a note: the city proper was mostly built by Squadafroin, and the sewers by Firemage. Skacky did the underground brothel and the Keeper compound.
    Oh, it did seem like Chalice was a collaborative build from the description, so I wondered what the extent of that was. I guess I'll tweak the review a bit to account for that.

  14. #2889
    New Member
    Registered: Jul 2013
    Update: rookie mistake-----I guess I should have "replied with quote" to respond to comment #2893

    I played both these missions back to back a while ago and really enjoyed them. Reading your review makes me want to play them again because I think I missed a lot of special details.

    Thanks for reminding me about these great missions!
    Last edited by kerFuFFler; 26th Oct 2017 at 20:20. Reason: newbie mistake

  15. #2890
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2017
    Location: Denmark
    Hi all, Im kinda new to the forum, but just wanted to drop in and say how much I LOVE this thread... It has been my goto source for finding FMs I want to play...
    Super sad to see all of SneakyJacks hard work destroyed by photobucket incompetence
    (googled a bit and it seems they changed their subscription terms august this year, now changing 400$/year for 3rd part hosting... breaking billions of websites, forum posts and blogs in the process and infuriating their customers... nice work.)

  16. #2891
    Member
    Registered: May 2013
    Location: New Zealand
    Poor Lord Bafford by Jordan CS

    As the first proper custom mission within the Thief series period that isn't a glorified tech demo(Guardhouse 1 by Banshee/Down we go! by shadow) or a brief combat-heavy level that was probably made to just blow off some virtual steam(The Deceptive Sceptre by Seb Pedley), Poor Lord Bafford is a fairly decent level that stands the test of time relatively well, despite coming out over 18 years ago!

    Story is pretty much your standard Thief scenario, involving Garrett sneaking into some rich nobleman's place(In this case, good ol' Bafford once again!) and stealing valuables to pay the rent for the week. Tried & true premise, but it works. There is also a side-plot involving Bafford stealing an invaluable Hammerite scroll in the hopes he may be capable of raising an undead army to serve him(being well-aware of Garrett potentially making a grab for it), but it ultimately doesn't really go anywhere, turning out to be a dud. So it might as well be another piece of reading material that our sarcastic rogue picks up along the way, to have a look over during downtime for all the good it does.

    Level design starts off relatively crude with a fairly boxy outdoor area, but does gradually get better once you're inside proper. Sure, corridors can feel a little cramped and the smooth tile flooring a bit much, but I can totally believe this as one of Bafford's storage houses for some of his more valuable belongings, during a grim financial period within The City for him.

    And considering my gameplay style is pretty much knocking every sentient being out and extinguishing torches(with flat-out killing reserved as a last resort), I pretty much adapted to the rules of the level quickly.

    Overall, a mission that I recommend to anyone anchoring for a quick little bit of thieving

    Added - nickie
    Last edited by nickie; 10th Nov 2017 at 14:52. Reason: thank you!

  17. #2892
    New Member
    Registered: Apr 2014

    HushÖ Hush, Sweet Harlot by Ithel, KGoodsell and Kyloe

    What happened to sweet harlot?

    This mission is one of the classic first city levels for Thief 1. Garrett needs to return his lockpicks, which were "borrowed" from him by courtesan ironically named Chance from some brothel. This is simple beginning, at first glance, but plot thickens, firstly, because the brothel is in a separate area of the mission, with some complicated access to, and we need to understand how to find way there which is not so easy. And in the middle of the mission we are faced with a plot twist, connected with Chance’s fate.

    I do not like such rigid division of the mission into separate isolated areas, which can be penetrated in a strictly certain way. Also, we can find fault with the architecture of the mission, which is a bit angular and very simple (almost like “Autumn in the Lampfire Hills” and other missions released at that time), but according to how old this mission is… I think it’s not justified claim. And, finally I found somewhat disappointing its abrupt ending (authors planned a sequel, but unfortunately it was not released).

    However, all these flaws are not breaking the gameplay of “Hush… Hush, Sweet Harlot” which is full by large number of hidings, and secluded places for access to which you need to strain the brain. And, it is not easy to get into each new area, and the process of finding the path itself is a combination of logic and stealth, which further increases the interest in the mission. In addition to the main plot, the mission has several mini-sub-stories and so makes an impression of lived world.

    Also, there are some tense stealth-moments (especially a brothel with guards, courtesans and clients), as well as rather tough moments of the plot. Very good work with scripts and conversation scenes. In general, this is the classic dark atmosphere of Thief 1 may be with some slight feminist motives.

    This short text comes to conclusion in which I can designate “Hush… Hush, Sweet Harlot” as an interesting combination of some adventurous elements and puzzles and sometimes very intensive stealth situations.

    Added - nickie
    Last edited by michael a; 4th Nov 2017 at 10:48.

  18. #2893
    Moderator
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Apologies for delay in adding the latest but they're done now. Thanks very much.

  19. #2894

    Vengeance for a Thief Part 3: The Art of Revenge

    Wow, I'm behind.

    Part three of Vengeance for a Thief is live.

    The Art of Revenge takes place a year after part two, and our hero has returned to Bridgeport to take some sweet sweet vengeance against the one who set him up by re-stealing the Angelís Tear and a valuable painting donated to a museum by the backstabber.

    This is probably the most balanced mission in the VfaT series. It starts out as a small city mission before moving into the museum for the actual heist. The difficulty is balanced, with a fair few guards patrolling but giving you the room to maneuver around them, and making the ambient lighting far less strong outside (though the same canít be said for the inside, lighting-wise). The loot goal is also more relaxed, to the point where you donít even have to take any from the display cases lying around to get to it...which is good, because the guards will notice if any are missing. The mission also assigns you to track down five golden lions belonging to the Order of the Golden Lion. This is optional, but isnít too hard if one is willing to explore a bit.

    The mission continues the trend of gigantic buildings, though a little more controlled than in part two, with most of the massive size being saved for the museum itself. It makes the place look very impressive, though it can make guards hard to see from across the room. The interior is nice and varied, with multiple exhibits to search through. One thing that I liked about this mission was being able to take certain arrows from one exhibit to use, which I only found out you can do in my second playthrough.

    On the whole, this is a good conclusion to the VfaT series. Recommended.

  20. #2895
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    Murder Most Foul (Thief II, 2017), from Death's Cold Embrace, by Yandros, Random Taffer, Polygon, Tannar, Moghedian, R Soul, and Peter Smith

    As this is a recent mission, I have placed spoiler tags where needed.

    Death’s Cold Embrace has a different vibe than most major fan missions. It is repetitious in theme: the same music bits play in and out for the majority of the first few missions, respective to their levels, and you visit the same area of Dayport in the first, third, and fifth missions. This repetitive quality does not mean it’s bad, it just means it has a different flavor than Godbreaker, The Black Frog, or equivalent FM campaigns. Another uniqueness is that the coldness extends from the title into the environment as DCE is set in snow, rare for FMs.

    "Murder Most Foul" is the first mission and establishes the audio style. Rather than standard Thief II environmental sounds for exterior and interior, Yandros has musical bits fade in and out. It feels like exploring in Oblivion or Skyrim while the same orchestral tracks play. You could be out in the town or inside a haunted house, but no matter which the same tracks keep looping. Objectively, it works well in Murder Most Foul and DCE’s other early missions, but for my personal tastes it isn’t as atmospherically effective as standard Thief II ambiance.



    You’re in the city area of Dayport surrounding Fairbanks Manor. There are shops, inns, residences, and a power station. Readables indicate that there is much frustration going around, with insights into economic hardships.

    Thief has real moral dilemmas. You feel guilty stealing from these desperate shopkeepers. After plundering each shop, I felt a foul taste creep into my mouth, feeling morally conflicted more so than in recent games when I’m given a highlighted, binary decision. I had to remind myself that I’m a heartless thief and keep on going – but I don’t think that lowly of Garrett, so still struggled.

    The two apartment complexes in this part of town highlight class differences. The rich one, the Biltmore Apartments, is right across the street from the poor one, Greenwood Apartments, each facing the other. Biltmore is guarded, quiet, and fully functioning. Greenwood is open and guard-less, with loud music blaring from one apartment, a bent sign, a flickering light and a meowing cat.



    The backstory to the mission involves a mythical Keep, an artifact, and competing gangs of thieves. The way the artifact is guarded is clever – they’re paying a man to act as a ghost to keep prying eyes from the apartment where the chest is stashed. From Yandros’ location of the past few months and the title of one of the mission threads, you know that this backstory has ramifications for the campaign in the long run.

    The Trickster’s Tail pub is where you’ll go once you have the research journal Fairbanks wants, so you’ll want to save that place for last. The Harlequin Inn is very difficult to enter save by an upper story window, and no matter how you enter stealing from the main lobby is a challenge.

    Outside this inn is one of the most clever bits of dťcor in a Thief mission: the “Eternal Flame.” Did you douse it out? I couldn’t bring myself to.

    The torch offered another quality moral dilemma. I’m surprised I haven’t seen something like it used in other FMs; it gives non-ghosters a reason to feel guilty for using a water arrow. Let’s hope there aren’t ever any sacred wooden beams.

    The Jewelry store has a tough patrol to dodge, but if you do it, or blackjack the guy, the reward will be enormous. Remember those moral dilemmas I wrote about? Some are easier to quell than others.

    You discover in a readable that the painter has been commissioned to paint a portrait of Karras. I thought, “Is it that one?” When you break into his basement you find out, yes, it’s that one.

    The inventor’s apartment is your main objective, and if you’ve been reading, you have reason to dread entering it. The mystery of a she-beast, you discover, is a Franken-maid monster gone mad, lurking in the inventor’s basement. The basement is one of the most atmospherically impressive moments in a FM. The air is thick with dust, the lights flicker, and the she-beast cries from the distance. I was terrified of the moment when I would finally see it.

    It is built from the cyborg midwife model of System Shock 2, but it’s no less terrifying as it walks with the prance of a bug beast. The cyborg maid has rigged up the inventor’s body in an ironic display of revenge. He’s sitting at a dinner table with music playing as a device sends currents through his body. Take that, you hear the maid saying, see what it’s like to be kept alive past death. Whether he was actually alive or not, I don’t know, but I flipped the switch to free him from potential misery. The maid didn’t notice.

    Further horrors await in the form of a bronze Mechanist child – and I mean the actual child-thing, not the Children of Karras. You can deactivate it so it won’t be alerted – it’s triggered by unlocking the safe with the journal for Fairbanks.


    When you finish this mission, the premise for the next is calmly set. No grand whirlwind of events has started yet. Story-wise, the terror of the maid passed, everything is standard and settled. This being a classical tragedy in three acts, you know that won’t remain the case.
    Last edited by twhalen2600; 25th Nov 2017 at 22:38. Reason: Removed, but then added back in, the spaces before the images.

  21. #2896
    New Member
    Registered: Sep 2017
    Location: Coveting hither and yon
    The Cistern

    (Thief II, 2002) by Gumdrop

    If I might briefly interrupt the warm embrace of DCE reviews

    "Time to go raid some tombs..."

    ...and time to look at the other, less well-known mission involving a cistern . Garrett sets off on a short quest into the sewers seeking out long-forgotten loot and dodging some nasties along the way. This mission is inspired by the very first entry in a certain well-known game franchise starring a certain well-endowed heroine.

    This old carcass well remembers playing the original Tomb Raider on its release, and Gumdrop really captures the lonely atmosphere of this mission's namesake from that game, making good use of its textures, along with some subtle fog. He also uses some of the original incidental music, which, when it plays, adds a wistful feeling and will summon up nostalgia for anyone who's played Lara's early adventures.

    As in the original, there's plenty of swimming, along with gates, switches and water level changes to be negotiated. One maze-like section requires passing some gates, and locating the switches to open them, all while underwater. I've never been a fan of these, but it's apt given the inspiration, and not too long. No breath potions, though (or at least none that I could find), so you'll need to make good use of air pockets.

    There are only two objectives - get both the Hand of Glory and enough loot. The lack of an "escape" objective (even on "Hard" - the highest difficulty) means that the mission ends as soon as you complete the first objective, so, if you so desire, go hunting for loot and secrets before doing this.

    Anyone who'd like a brief reminiscence of what Lara's very first outing was like will find it here. At least Pierre won't be shooting at you all the time...

    Screenshots (brightened because this place is really dark...)



    Just below the surface, and we gotta get through that hatch. The depths await!




    ♫ Don't bug me now, 'cause I'm having a loot time, having a loot time... ♫




    Flushed with success, Garrett starts humming "Cisterns are doing it for themselves".




    They were going to complete the walkway, but they couldn't plug the hole in the finances so the project went down the drain.




    Having considered performing a graceful swan dive worthy of Miss Croft,
    Garrett instead decides on a cannonball into the waters below.




    And here we are, in the tombs at last. And there's loot - let's do some raiding!
    Seems too quiet, though - someone's surely out to put a dampener on things...




    More sarcophagi, more loot, plenty of stone, and still too quiet. But, guess who's about to rain on your parade?




    Three ancient urns, two blank walls, one rotting corpse, and a rolled-up ta-a-pes-try.
    Last edited by Covetous Carcass; 5th Dec 2017 at 15:55. Reason: Tidyin'

  22. #2897

    A New Job/The Tears of St. Lucia (TDM)

    Man, took a bit to get to this.

    A New Job (by Springheel) is the first mission of the official Dark Mod campaign which inverts normal trilogy creep by being planned for three and then becoming two (for now anyway). Our hero, Corbin, has been hired by a client for an unknown job, and while on the way to the meeting, decides to slip into a nearby inn and swipe some rubies belonging to a nobleman.

    A New Job is designed for newer players to The Dark Mod, and is also an exercise in showing off those sweet sweet new models and textures. To the missionís credit, they look quite well, looking sufficiently grimy and claustrophobic to give the impression that the player is crawling around the back alleys of the city. Little touches fill the mission, such as an NPC interacting with a facut to get water. It sounds petty, but itís the first time Iíve seen it in this game. Little touches of worldbuilding and short puzzles are also well done.

    The mission isnít overly hard, with even the loot goal being optional. Considering how some of it is tucked out of the way, this is a good thing, giving players a chance to be challenged without being jammed. I played on the highest difficulty, so I didnít get much in the way of help, but Iím informed that lower difficulties provide hints to help the newbies along, which is appreciated.

    All in all, a short, satisfying introduction. Recommended.
    ------
    And now, a bonus!

    The Tears of St. Lucia, which I reviewed way back when, has gotten an update for the new release, but I found myself mildly disappointed. Itís mainly a graphic overhaul, which looks quite good and looks like it was done by the same guy who did Lords and Legacy. I admit, I wished that a little bit more had been added to the mission. There were some additions on higher levels, such as a few more guards and spiders, as well as an alternate route via an outside duct. Itís also worth noting that on the easiest difficulty, you can get through the front gate, which you couldnít in the original. A hint about those blasted water arrows has also been clarified on all difficulties.

    Most of my complaints come from the fact that Iíve played it before and wished for something new, but in all honestly itís still a very solid and worthwhile mission, and new players will definitely enjoy it. Older ones who donít have the expectation of something brand new will also enjoy.

  23. #2898
    Classical Master 2008
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Civitas Quinque Ecclesiae HU
    Precarious Business by ObservingEye.
    Simple job, fat nobleman, break into, priceless trinket. This is a mission from the well-known Bafford playbook, and the big thing it accomplishes is how well it does it. While made for Thief 2, Precarious Business is a Thief 1-style affair in both style and execution. It uses stock textures and deep shadows to build a dark city and a cramped, run-down mansion where you must find your prize. Now, when I write “dark”, I mean dark dark, Shadows of Doubt -style. This mission is not simply gloomy; your surroundings are mostly barely lit, and finding your way by orienting yourself by the meagre light sources and sometimes the sounds is half the challenge. You will wish you had a lantern, but not having one is the point. It takes some eyesight to find your way through barely lit streets and corridors, and some more to pick up the more carefully hidden loot (as far as I can tell, it is mostly fairly placed, although I also missed almost a thousand golds’ worth of it). This is the core challenge, since you will only encounter tricky patrols in the second half of the mission.

    There are gorgeous city streets here, mostly in the Bafford / Assassins style, built with obvious care and an eye for variety. These are ramshackle, chaotically built houses on the city outskirts, climbing over each other to fit into tiny lots and conserve space. Sadly, the streets are also fairly linear and you don’t interact much with them. Even the tantalising rooms and open windows you spot high above you in locations seem to largely be red herrings, and the patrols are minimal. In some way, it seems superfluous, with precious little gameplay... but didn’t the original game have stretches of empty space which were just there so you could be there? Maybe we should consider it a sign of generosity. And generous it is: there is an entire side mission there, if you can just find it. It is another cool-looking area, and has more good-looking content. Then, we get to the mansion, which is at once opulent and bare; it also has one of the coolest brush-based toilets I have seen in a fan mission (believe me, I have seen some), as well as an interesting possible explanation for Garrett’s visit (nothing spelled out, but you can put things together – that is always cool).

    All in all, Precarious Business is well worth playing. As ObservingEye’s first mission, it is very promising (it would have been a strong contender in the 20th Anniversary Contest). May we see more missions like this!

    Pictures:









  24. #2899

    Briarwood Manor (TDM)

    Wow, I've been behind. I've been busy the last month or so and haven't really played many missions, so I've been behind on my reviewing. Let me fix that.

    Briarwood Manor (by NeonsStyle) has more production values than a normal Dark Mod mission, as shown by the opening cutscene and voice over, which give the plot: Our hero has been hired to deal with the head of Merchantís Guild Morgan Crowley, a complete jerk who everyone wants to stab for one reason or another. Sadly, most of the assassins are in his pocket, forcing our hero to step in himself. He canít kill Crowley himself, since that would leave links back to the clients, so he has to arrange it himself. And steal a crown.

    The manor is quite well-designed and logical, with little touches like the grimy servant and guard wings contrasting with the more opulent family wing. The whole place has a feeling of a rural manor with hints of decadence lurking in the wings, and I admit I like that sort of touch in a mission. When this was first uploaded, the outside had a risk of causing some grinding, but that's been fixed in recent updates. There were a few other bugs, such as scripted events breaking, when I first played, but my replay seemed to show that they had been ironed out, barring deliberate and out of your way attempts to break it.

    Difficulty-wise, itís fair. You start out with little, not even a blackjack, but plenty can be found in the manor itself. I completely missed most of this on my first run, and found the results difficult, but not overly unfair, barring an opening hallway with guards going in and out. The loot is mostly in plain sight, and easy to get, but some of it is tricky to get at if youíre trying to avoid knock-outs. Thereís one tricky bit with a secret passage that might stick some players.

    Thereís more of a story to this than in most missions, and some have murmured about the subject matter. Itís handled about as tastefully as it could, and I personally didnít have much of an issue. I was more annoyed at how one dimensionally evil Crowley is; I donít mind ďevil for evilís sakeĒ villains, but they should at least be entertaining. The voice acting during the climactic scene is also a tad weak, the actor for Corbin didnít do a good job of expressing genuine sympathy, in my mind. Good job on the intro, however.

    All in all, a pretty solid mission, and the creatorís work in fixing bugs and glitches is worth applauding. Recommended.

  25. #2900
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    A Better Tomorrow (Thief II, 2012), by DrK

    DrK of One Night in Rocksbourg fame blessed us taffers with this superb horror mission for the Halloween Contest of 2012. A Better Tomorrow is an I-canít-believe-this-is-a-contest-FM fan mission; DrK whipped this up in four months! True, it is short, as expected for a contest FM, and he used the map from Greenbay as a base, but the unique experience of this one and its atmosphere of dread are top-notch.

    In the beginning youíre locked in a room in the sewers, a Viktrola playing a message from you, Garrett, as the briefing, and an encapsulating ambient noise sounding in the background. The visuals are rendered in black-and-white, adding to the horror effect.

    Some creature has Garrett cornered in the sewers. The most effective line from the Viktrola recording and the most spine-chilling line in any Thief mission is: ďIt knows Iím here.Ē SlyFoxx delivered it just right.

    The dread is thick, and once you unlock the door of your little hide-away room you experience one of the best terror sequences in Thief FMs. Never have I so often escaped to the pause menu, not even in Rose Cottage. DrKís technique here is similar to the start of the third Rocksbourg mission, just a little more in-your-face.



    The monsters that have invaded the City are towering humanoids with no defining facial features. They move fast and emit unsettling growls and yells, and gurgle and slobber when they idle. These things make the hair on my neck stand on end and will freak you out. Scarier is that no one knows where they came from. One journal in town takes stabs at guesses, hoping one of them is true. These are Pagan beasts, right? Undead? Victims of a plague? The disturbing truth is that these monsters donít fit into a comfortable explanation. Theyíre a mystery, an unknown eldritch force that has exploded from beyond Cragscleft mountains.

    Once youíre out of the frying pan of the sewer complex and into the devastated City, you need to find food supplies for your journey to Markhamís Isle, a place Garrett is betting will be safe, and then make your way to the docks. You will pass through ruined buildings Ė homes and shops both.

    Journals relate the final days of normal life in the City. The weight of the desolation pressed heavy on me Ė DrK uses ruined textures, a gloomy sky, and a depressing set of sounds to create a desolate atmosphere. Creature moans in the background enhance a feeling of loneliness. The spooky loop that plays when reading journals is chilling. One of the most important sounds in the mission plays whenever you pick up food supplies. If I were a musician, I could tell you the exact kind of noise it is, but, as the person I am, all I can write here is: itís a dramatic noise that makes you feel that the item you have just picked up is precious. On my first playthrough back in 2012, I paused each time I got a food item. I still do. The noise signals that itís an important event, worthy of a moment of silence. Every bit of the atmosphere creates a feel of desolation, bare survival, loneliness, and abandonment. You feel scared and left behind. DrK did a phenomenal job with this.



    A few scripted events are implemented to make you cry like a baby and even possibly have an accident like a baby. One shop throws a moving statue trick at you. In one home youíll hear a slight snoring sound, and soon hear a door bust open and see the source; your way of entrance now blocked, you slink, terrified, out an air duct in one of the other rooms, creeping under the gaze of the now-woken interloper and praying that it doesnít notice you. When in the Mechanist library, a creature bursts through the front door, jarring you similarly. These well-paced scripted moments keep you unsettled and prevent the tense atmosphere from stagnating.

    The Mechanist library is its own world, separate from the rest of the mission. An air raid siren plays, conjuring in my mind all kinds of associations with bombed cities, wars, panic and doom. Itís the kind of crying that makes one feel all is lost, so appropriately here Garrett mutters to himself ďI guess I really am the last man standing.Ē He has seen the dead body of another holdout, the person who had the key to the docks. You hear this victimís final cries for help as you enter the library. When I heard the creature burst through the door, as noted above, I was ready to bolt this town and leave it far behind. One can only take so much.



    I hope Garrett is right about Markhamís Isle. What if he gets there and, no sooner setting foot on land, hears the sounds of one of those terrible creatures? What if no place is safe from them? What if Garrett is the last man standing, period? Until he reaches the isle, though, all Garrett can do is hope for a better tomorrow, which is all any of us could do in such a situation. Sadly, tomorrow never comes, remaining an elusive time we can keep putting all our hope and plans into, never worrying that they wonít come to fruition, because itís always the next day.

    Donít put off A Better Tomorrow to tomorrow Ė play it today. Whatever else you were planning to do can wait.

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