No I haven't done it yet. I've got some beta testing I need to do first. If you do have a chance to check some, I'd suggest making a new post for what needs adding and keep editing that and I can let you know what I've copied for adding in.
No I haven't done it yet. I've got some beta testing I need to do first. If you do have a chance to check some, I'd suggest making a new post for what needs adding and keep editing that and I can let you know what I've copied for adding in.
OK. Testing is off the schedule for a bit so from this post you made intruder, I've now double checked all of them and this is what I've got.
11th May 2012
A Dire Return and the rest of the contest missions
And Summer has 3 on one page which I've lost so I'll copy it to the special section when I find it.
And there are a couple of other ones I think which could go into that section too.
Last edited by nickie; 21st May 2012 at 11:11.
So I felt like making another review and feel more productive about this day and to also finish reviewing the main things I've played on Thief this year!
And since nickie liked the colors and "!" marks and since I like them as well, I'll happily continue that-a-way!
THE BLACK FROG by gaetane
*Thor starts up The Black Frog* A slow cool piano melody... YUUUUUM! I like it! *Thor clicks to start and play* Also MAY contain spoilers. We'll see how well I manage to contain MYSELF. *note from the future* Yeah... read this when you've played this fine piece of art.
Songs and Laughter
Songs & laughter indeed. That this mission has plenty of. There is cool folk music playing in some places and people are drunk and dancing or sleeping or chasing! I don't think I've seen such a well job done before at making a city look so lively in Thief. Maybe in different ways, but this mission sure gave me a relaxing kind of feeling. And visually it looked just flawless, really. But that can be said about pretty much all of the Black Frog missions.
This mission's start was like a nice slightly misleading intro of what this story is really gonna be about. Cause this stuff gets pretty dark pretty quick. Like, realy quick - as soon as you go to a bar somebody already gets shot. And The Songs and Laughter weren't even done being cute. AAARGH! So I'll take that as a great contrast made on purpuse, possibly being a part of some deeper thought! Who knows (well, gaetane (probably))
Oh right, the actual story... I think I'll just go ahead and SPOIL so I can freely talk of the story. For mission 1 it's fairly simple. You go and meet a guy for an inn for another casual job. That's about it! I'll speak more of the story later on.
But for the actual gameplay it's actually a nice warm-up for your thieving skills (minus the sneaking, but let's face it that isn't very difficult in thief after 10+ years of practice!) - a lot of secrets were to be found in this map. If I recall right, I found only about a half or slightly more secrets, so it is not too easy to find 'em (or maybe it is for a more skilled finder!). So I enjoyed the exploration and the flavour in both visuals and readables that this mission contained.
Mansion time! And if you've been paying attention to Gaetane's previous FMs, you should probably recognize which mansion that is! Now I honestly don't remember the story of the previous time I raided this mansion but this time it was some deep stuff, man! The story took me here and I have to steal a portrait here. Well I guess I'll just beat the campaign in 2 missions, eh? Why need 5, right? Surely it's gonna be that simple...
Really though, nice mission - I got really immersed and enjoyed the whole atmosphere that the mansion with it's fine textures, architecture and varied characters gave. I particularily enjoyed Garivaldi's workshop for some reason with it's grating-for-a-ceiling-window in one room and it felt like the place had some air to it. Plus the whole story starting to unravel itself, but making more questions than answers. Like how come Garivaldi got driven to such a dramatic end? Really, the west tower there left quite a mental-picture in my brains.
What else... Did I mention the aesthetic beauty? A balcony there just made me want to sit down by the table and relax like I own the place. Also I ghosted the mission, but it required 1 invisibility potion (and I never really use those!). And... Well I guess I don't have much left to say about this mission (maybe cause I played it quite a while ago already) but it felt like a strong mission that defined the campaign for me before I got to the later missions, so it's definitely up there with the quality!
Tears and Sorrow
The complete opposite of Songs and Laughter! And purpusely so... G-man is revisiting the same town, but this time it looks very grim. Partially cause it's dark, ofcourse, but also because there are some scary doggies running around. Storywise it turns out The Opposition is quite unhappy with my theft so instead of dealing with me it dealt with the town and failed to deal with me. Yeah, GOOD ONE, Mis OPPOSITION VICTOR.
At first I thought I'd have to avoid the doggies and so I did but when I actually got an objective to just murder them all, I made a big ol' backstabbathon! (Like a marathon but with backstabbing!) But the outrageous part is the self-assured manner in which my employer asked me to kill those doggies in! It made me want to backstab HIM! I did actually enjoy the keyhunt gesture in which this FM presented itself. Somehow the hints were just vague/percise enough so that an average thief, like I hold myself to be, could find everything needed. Well I guess that's all for this one. It was relatively short.
The Lady and the Thief
Story follows us to an island, so you know it's gonna be good. Turns out the Keepers outbid the previous employer so we work for them now. It seems they want this Black Frog and so did the previous employer! You start out in a bunch of caves, but, surprisingly enough, it was only for the beginning part, and later on it mostly took place in wild places with open sky, which was quite awesome. This mission was JUST LIKE SOULFORGE... in the way that the way that the main gameplay went! Yup, switching towers from A to B, where A means on and B means off. Each place was different and concealed from the rest so you know that you have to do 1 thing in 1 area or something like that. One of the places had a switch in an inconspicious very dark area that I just couldn't find, but otherwise it was all great.
On some personal, unrelated notes, I even found all secrets, to my surprise! I also found all the loot, but honestly, gaetane took this mission from the realistic perspective and counted valuables as food and equipment, instead of loot, so it was easy to find the little bit of loot that there was in this map. I liked this touch though!
Also after I ghosted most of the areas through pain and suffering, I hit a breaking point eventually and just killed everyone still standing. Even the guards. Yep! Garrett the murderer. But I only did that after I realised this mission wasn't supposed to be ghosted unless one hates him/herself.
So more about the mission (I'm sure using green a lot but this whole mission is very green so it's completely legal)... Many areas felt really climactic and endgame worthy (especially the Old Temple of the Black Frog or something up in the very north) and I ended up thinking that a bit more story or flavour for each individual area would have been nice, cause while the whole conceptual idea for the goal was clear and told quite nicely, the each individual areas lacked a bit of that. I feel like I'm forgetting to tell something else, but I guess I won't remember that so easily with this amount of concentration I have today.
The Black Frog
The FINAL mission! Finally everything becomes unraveled, story finally progresses at a rapid end and the adventure is coming at an end! The previous missions were like a nice gate and adventure and finally we've come to our goal and things progress much more quickly! Ahh! DO YOU FEEL PUMPED UP? I DO!
So last mission ended with Emilie being a predictable girl and leading G-man into a trap (which seems like a hobby to her) so now you awake in a sunny aristocratic looking apartment. Turns out you're in the castle place (looked more like a manor to me but still) you've been wanting to be all this time. Emilie really is quite fond of you, isn't she. For an antagonist, that is.
- Hold on... did you say "a sunny aristocratic looknig apartment"?
Awesome, huh? The most climactic mission and it's all bright and sunny! That was really something awesome for me cause I loved sunny missions in Thief and cause it didn't feel quite as dark anymore. And how come these simple sons of fishermen (you'll know what I'm speaking of if you played it WHICH YOU SHOULD HAVE if you're reading this) got themselves such a fancy looking place? *scratches head* Well either way - cool!
So I MacGyver myself out of this house arrest before antagonist comes in for a friendly chat and get rid of everyone (since, knowing gaetane, everybody's gonna die anyway!) and then I finally get to see the stuff of legends - Emilie herself and her dawg, whom I've read about so much in various journals; ladies and gentlemen - the one and only BAZIL! He really is quite tall and scary, but also lovable. Right so afterwards I get into Emilie's place and hooray - I hear the same piano theme from the main menu! Brilliant, an emotional callback to the beginning, gesturing that things are slowly wrapping up! But then... SURREALITY ATTACK! Whoah, whoah. Rocksbourg? Yello? Oh mother of all that is psychedelic, surreal, crazy and the overused word - epic. Truly a fascinating place. Maybe I am too easy and some others may be less affected, but I personally felt quite uneasy and wanting to get out of the surreal world quicker and yet at the same time I enjoyed the hell out of it! And in one instance in a rocksbourg environment there was a fireball-like enemy with a creepy face on it. Were they hostile? Oh, yes, they were, but you wouldn't know until you already died. They emitted no sound and killed instantly on touch. That made it arguably the scariest enemy I've faced in a videogame for some reason, cause the one time I tried carelessly running away from it like I would from a haunt or anything like that, it catched/killed me and I almost got sick to my stomach! Haha, that was new. So I decided to just acknowledge their creepiness and get out!
Not to mention how nicely gaetane merged both Garrett's past traumas (Constantine's manor elements & G-man's eye AND KARRAS QUOTES with stained glass windows! Awesome!) and Emilie Victor's traumas (her doll, all the tormented souls that looked into the black frog, chakara and Garivaldi who wasn't a skeleton just yet! That's some attention to detail, again, seeing as he as a special part of her tragic life.) into one creepy world. And if it's hard for you to follow the sentences with the long-winded brackets, then be assured, that it's even harder for me to make coherent texts after those.
Well after that it's all sunshine and beautiful again! Also murdering guards again cause I learned to enjoy it a lot from the previous mission. While still on the topic, let me just say that leaving that one doggy roaming in the garden was a real treat! I positioned myself nicely in a dark spot and waited for him aaand... YEAAAAAAAAH!
This time the Charaka made an especially tension-making appearence. I was supposed to see a ladder which I just didn't for a good while! I felt like a royal fool (if such a thing is even possible) at that point, but anyway all was leading to the final confrontation. And by this ending resolve I already got attached to Emilie and felt sorry for her. But to be fair, I never really hated or disliked her. Sometimes I feel like she in her own inconspicious, possibly self-unaware way kept letting Garrett live so he could destroy her existancve and her misery. And when she sadi to Bazil to murder G-man, really she knew that G-man would just sneak around the big fella and fall into her next trap. Yeah, I think I'm done rambling. Hope you enjoyed reading and now I'll try and cook up some screenshots.
*note from the future* Some of the screens turned out a bit weird in the quality but it'll have to do. :>
A family enjoyin' their day (and a creepy guard staring at me strangely!).
The cute mansion mission. Ah, I loved this balcony a lot. Wouldn't mind one myself.
Fear and misery Rejoice!
That's some attention to detail! Wait... how did he get up there?! (Probably thrown by one of the doggies but still awesome.)
Long time no see, friends! *hug*
Facepalm taken to a whole new level.
I could have delivered an epic moneyshot here instead of this one, but nope, I had to take a plant growing at a vertical stone wall instead. Yup, totally just did.
This is what I mean by grand finale worthy areas. Here's your moneyshot.
The stuff of Legends!
And another excellent review Thor, thank you! It's a funny thing about Bazil though, I got quite upset when he was killed. And I agree about Emilie - I couldn't quite dislike her either. One of the many things Gaetane is marvellous at is creating believable characters with real personalities. Even the bit parts were created with care and attention to detail. I particularly liked the couple running round the town in Mission 1. Just brilliant stuff!
It is very great to have the feel back of the players and your review on the BF is very interesting and nice I loved to read it.
Thank you very muchThor
Last edited by gaetane; 17th May 2012 at 13:23.
Thank you, nickie and gaetane (the author ) !
One thing I want to mention now that if you read quakis's review as well then I just want to say that The Portrait was by no means the weakest mission. For me it was actually the most "proper" mission with all the nice, normal, less supernatural elements in it. It is also the only mission of the 5 that I actually ghosted (and I enjoyed being creative with that)! It seemed to be the most polished mission to me as well, though maybe I'm just being defensive now and they're all brilliantly polished!
According to your review, the same location was used in an earlier release? I'll definitely need to check that out one day, it might very well help to confirm my thoughts on this. Things might be different with an alternative objective to do.
Why, yes, I believe it was previously a mission by the name of "Emilie Victor" by gaetane. At least I really hope I'm not mistaken. It's been so long since I played it that it demands a replay by now.
Just got a look at the new index on the first page- looks great nickie (and others who helped)! Adding the reviewer's names was a nice touch, there were some that I completely forgot I reviewed.
I guess now that the thread looks all sexy I should spruce it up with a review of something!
You've just had a month's holiday (supposedly) - how can you be tired?
It was Tannar's idea to link the names which meant we could get rid of some of the duplicated entries and generally tidy it up a bit.
That would make sense - I've just spent a day with mine and I'm shattered.
The original post updates look great. My thanks to Nickie and Intruder for updating this thread. My apologies for not being able to keep it updated myself - due to a few serious issues my Thief time (and free time, for that matter) have drastically gone down and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future. I still drop in to read the new reviews and see what new missions have been released when I can.. unfortunately there are still a half dozen or so that I haven't gotten to play much of. (The Black Frog included and I've been waiting for that campaign to be released for quite a while!)
Mainly just wanted to take a minute to thank Nickie and Intruder - As much work as it was keeping up with the thread when I was able to do so I can only imagine how much work it was to update more than a year worth of fan mission releases. Well done!
Well you did a cracking job Sneaky - it would have been a shame to let it fall into complete disarray and I'm just so sorry you can't keep it up together yourself. Be sure I'll be
bullyingpersuading whoever I can to keep on adding to it. It's a great fan resource.
I'm playing Black Frog right now and am doing The Portrait and really liking it. I was just going to add that I also recognized it as the mansion from Emilie Victor... I was thinking so from the upstairs layout, and then when I saw the front entrance it clinched it. But it seems like some areas are a little different too, and you go through it in a different way than I remember.
Well, I got a new thing if Nickie would stop YELLING AT ME. *sniff*
The Mike’s Top Fifteen FM Storylines
When I started this, I thought it was going to be another top 10 list. As it turns out…there are a LOT of storylines from FMs that I’m really attached too, and I’m extremely indecisive. So, though it is sacrilegious and an abomination to all lists that came before it, I’m making this a top 15. May God have mercy on our souls. Oh and before I start, a few disclaimers:
DISCLAIMER THE FIRST- this is not a “My Top Ten Favorite Story-Driven FMs!” list. Here I’m ranking just individual plotlines from FMs (that includes character arches, subplots, backstories, unrelated tangents that were incredibly awesome, etc.) according to how memorable and involving they were. Bonus points for making me cry man-tears (which are like regular tears but with more chest hair).
DISCLAIMER THE SECOND- This is just my opinion, and I in no way think this list is “definitive”. There’s just too much great stuff in this community for that, and actually, I’d really like to read everyone else’s opinions on this subject with some GOOD OL’ FASHION COMMENTS (be sure to mention how great I am for extra points).
DISCLAIMER THE THIRD- Some of these storylines were too deep in the mission or too abstract (see #4) for me to take a related screenshot, so therefore, not all of them are accompanied by one. That’s probably a good thing, because otherwise this crap would take like a thousand years to load.
15. From “Garrett and the Beanstalk”: Garrett buys magic beans, hilarity ensues.
Everyone knows the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk”; guy named Jack goes to town to sell cow, makes horrible financial decision involving magic beans, said beans grow into huge beanstalk, Jack climbs and finds a family of giants, Jack steals their stuff and runs, one giant tries to get a description of Jack for the police and Jack murders giant by cutting beanstalk down. It’s one of those stories that you read as an adult and think “wow, the main character is way more of an asshole than I remember.” With that in mind, why not replace him with everyone’s favorite asshole: Garrett! The FM basically makes itself at this point (after 900 hours in DromEd). Sure the actual storyline isn’t exactly an edge of your seat roller coaster, but sometimes a great concept is all you need. Also killer dwarf cooks…you need those too.
14. From the “Circle of Stone and Shadow” campaign: Sheam and Dante in “FORBIDEN THIEF LOVE”.
You may notice that on the first page of this thread, there’s a link to a conversation titled “Garrett the romantic” wherein everyone talks about how much they love mushy subplots and I act like a big jerk and say I hate them. Well, here’s some proof that my heart isn’t pure black, but rather, a healthy shade of dark grey. Why is it that when I play “Gathering at the Inn” I always make sure to find the token of affection to give to Sheam? Why do I always go out of my way in “Mission X” to finish my part of the heist first so she’ll be impressed? Dante and Sheam are the Jack and Kate of the Thief community (or Ross and Rachel if you’re into that sort of thing. I DON’T TIVO ‘FRIENDS’ RERUNS). Not that I’m some pathetic shipper and refer to them as Deam or anything…all I’m saying is, if the campaign doesn’t end with them running out to each other in the rain while a Sarah McLachlan song plays in the background I will FLIP A TABLE.
On the other hand, her giant silver belt buckle is pretty tacky...
13. From “The Korrigans”: What the hell is a Korrigan anyway?
The City is under attack by a group of miniature monsters who arrived by sea known as the Korrigans, and now they’re waging an adorable, tiny cloak and dagger war on the city. Of course, none of this matters to Garrett because his only concern is robbing a local warehouse; what are the odds that this unrelated plotline will affect him (now go back and read that with slightly more foreboding)? I don’t think I’ve ever been so wrapped up in one specific element of a mission’s plot before. By the halfway point, I was DIEING to know what a korrigan was. They’re fast as lightning! They can disappear! They live in another dimension! They’re small and green and can jump like velociraptors! They know what the ending of “Inception” means! GAH, I WANT ONE. The mission keeps them either out of view or merely in your peripheral vision for so long you would shove your way through a crowd of elderly nuns to get a good look at one. Of course, then you finally see one and you’re like “…huh.” But the build-up…God it’s brilliant.
Nick Nolte's mug shot just looks worse everytime you see it, doesn't it?
12. From “Happy New Year Mr. Lambert!”: He’s dead and he got revenge…GOOD FOR HIM!
Recapping the plot of “Happy New Year Mr. Lambert!” almost demands that you turn off the lights and hold a flashlight under your face. It’s classic “Tales from the Crypt”. Also, its title is so deceivingly happy for something so dark; it’s like if “Fables of the Penitent Thief” were about an alcoholic ex-con with a pill problem. So basically, a guy was killed for overhearing the conniving plans of some local nobles and his body was walled-up in a nearby work shop. Only, now his body has mysteriously disappeared from its prison and the people who murdered him are turning up dead; victims of murders even more grisly than the one they themselves were responsible for. And is anyone else suddenly looking over their shoulders while reading this? Because if someone were to grab my arm right now I would sh*t actual bricks. This is just a fantastic old-fashion campfire ghost story given the Thief treatment, and it’s so freaking awesome.
11. From “The Inverted Manse”: …So you’re saying there’s a place WORSE than this haunted smelting factory?
“Rose Cottage” did a damn good job establishing tension, but none have done it better than Sledge in his zombie FM magnum opus. While the over-arching plotline and various subplots were fine, the story told through various pants-filling ghost sightings of the fall of the Hammerite factory due to an undead invasion from some horrible place below ground was the cold-sweat inducing type of TERRIFYING that no other FM since has fully recaptured. It all works towards establishing the titular underground dwelling as the baddest place on earth, the Rock n’ Roll Café of evil if you will. It’s a place so horrifying even the zombies were like “NAH BRO, I’M OUT” as soon as the doors opened. And you have to go there. The dark zone from “A Night in Rocksbourg 3” was far more disturbing than the manse itself, but the difference is, I didn’t know enough to be afraid of the dark zone the first time I swan-dived into it. In this mission, every time I went further underground my fight or flight impulses kicked in and begged me to choose the latter. That is some quality tension establishment.
"Alright, let's run through our death scene once more, and don't ham it up this time!
10. From “The Seven Sisters”: This is why there should be burrick leash laws!
Oh boy…this is an emotional one for me. I’m gonna have to take deep breaths and bite my quivering lower lip to get through this. Ah God…okay, okay…okay. So in mission one of the “Seven Sisters” campaign you see a notice letting you know that someone’s baby burrick has been stolen. At first you’re like, “HAH! What a hilarious joke that note had on it! WHEW!” Then on night two, you find a butcher shop, where burricks are being sliced into pieces and you think “Wow…that’s dark.” Then you go outside and you hear this horrible, pitiful moaning noise coming from a nearby shed. You open it to see the baby burrick mentioned in the note, still alive. You free it and follow it as it runs home back to its master’s house, where she rushes out to meet it and…*sniff*…and…
…AND IT’S JUST FREAKING BEAUTIFUL, OKAY! NO I’M NOT CRYING SHUT UP.
9. From the “Thief 2X” campaign: The revenge even Tarantino described as “a bit much.”
If a story is only as good as its payoff, then the story of Zaya’s revenge on the smugglers who killed her cousin is “A Tale of Two Cities”. Zaya, the female Garrett equivalent from somewhere vaguely Egyptian, is so psychotically single-minded in her goal for bloody revenge that she has you frothing at the mouth for violent comeuppance as well, even if you weren’t all that attached to the character of Kadar (who dies so early in his character arch it can’t even be called a spoiler). When said revenge reaches fruition…oh wow. The level of violence is so spectacularly terrible it’s hard to put into words. People are blown up, stabbed, stuck to walls, shot with canons, thrown in to the sea, and generally meet just about every horrible end you can imagine. You don’t know whether to cheer or be deeply disturbed, and that’s what makes it so perfect! The fact that the revenge gets so out-of-hand, and goes so overboard, and then (spoilers) YOU FIND OUT THE SMUGGLERS DIDN’T DO IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. Oops, sorry dudes, my bad! Let me pick that spleen up for you!
I love this storyline so much; the only knock against it is that it’s SO compelling and rewarding that T2X seems to have reached its climax four missions before it’s actually over, which makes the over-arching story feel like it’s dragging somewhat. But I can’t stay mad at this plotline…it gave me exploding pirates.
8. From “Broken Triad”: From heads to necks around the world- "We miss you."
Here’s an example of a subplot that’s so freaking amazing the main storyline seems to get in the way. So Garrett is going on a museum heist in hopes of stealing a Cthulu bust (because it would be really cool to bring to Comic-Con or something), oh, and also, there’s a mysterious murderer running around town separating heads from bodies and writing foreboding messages in blood. Okay sounds gooAWWWHAAAAAAaaAAT? It’s just so crazy and terrifying that the whole time I was doing the museum heist I was like “Yeah, so, about this ‘mad beheader’ guy…” Though it might distract at first, it ultimately enhances the overall story in a way you probably won’t predict, which just makes it all the more memorable. And as a bonus, this one takes on a whole new meaning on your second playthrough.
...Well that's just the worst haircut I've ever seen.
7. From “Rowena’s Curse”: Don’t toss CRAZY into a well.
The over-arching storyline of this FM is good enough to go on this list as a whole, but being as I wanted to be more specific, I have to narrow it down to your pen-pal dealings with a pissed off ghost witch. The plot of “Rowena’s Curse” is built on a tragic and scary-as-all-hell ghost story, but the best part about it is, you don’t know it’s a ghost story until it’s too late to go back. Y’see, you’ve been getting taunting messages from a mysterious stalker who signs all their notes with “R”. As you explore, you hear stories of the ex-owner of the mansion’s wife who was executed by being tossed into a well long ago along with her supposed lover. Then you find out her name was Rowena…with a capital “R”. AW HELL NAW. I just saw “The Ring” like last week and now you’re throwing THIS SH*T AT ME? Bye forever, sleep!
Rowena is not only a great pen-pal, but also a master of witch-jitzu.
6. From “Eclipsed”: How Garrett got his rude back.
The problem with beloved well-established characters is that writers rarely take chances with them. Enter the gutsy characterization of Garrett from “Eclipsed” by Hipbreaker. Oh wow is Garrett an unlikeable bastard here. I mean YEESH. He’s portrayed as a hopeless danger-junkie who goes on jobs just to spend his hard earned loot on equipment for other, even more life-threatening misadventures. Ultimately he decides on a job that’s so dangerous and stupid that the Keepers have to send an envoy to his house to tell him to call it off. Of course he doesn’t, and the whole world ends up paying the price. The unsettling thing about this character study is…it actually makes a lot of sense. The thing is, when studying the actions of any videogame hero in real-world terms, you could probably diagnose all of them with some form of psychosis or sociopathic behavior. Having it done to Garrett makes you really uncomfortable, and oddly, that’s why I love it. Now let’s see a Mario game where he’s portrayed as a racist drug-addled white guy obsessed with Italian stereotypes who steps on baby turtles for fun. Bye forever, childhood!
5. From “Ominous Bequest”: This is why I don’t read about my ancestors on familytree.com
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what a backstory should be. It’s not necessary to know what’s happening in the story, but it lets you see things in a whole new light once you know it. The family history of the Farringtons is slowly revealed to you over the course of Ominous Bequest in just the right order; it knows when to tease and when to explain. The centerpiece of it all is a long journal found in several pieces scattered throughout the mansion which tells of a man’s obsession that ultimately cursed him and his entire family. The non-sequential order in which you get these journal entries is nothing short of brilliant storytelling. I’m being really dramatic here, but THAT’S WHAT THIS MISSION DOES TO YOU. I’m just recapping and I’m invested all over again! That’s some crazy mind-control voodoo you got going on there, Eshaktaar! The greatest moment though is when you find out that the woman who once lived in this house hung herself in her bedroom…that bedroom upstairs you can’t get into that has a strange “creaking” sound coming from the other side of the door. Oh wait you just found a secret passage leading into it! Yeah…I’ll pass.
I SAID "I'll pass"!!! AHUH-HUH *sob*...
4. From “The 7th Crystal”: The worst marriage in the history of ever.
There was precisely one time in all of my FM playing where I actually felt bad about the imaginary people I was robbing because they had it so freaking rough. That was when I was filling my loot sack with the income of the Saturnine family from “The 7th Crystal”. The Saturnines lost their daughter at a young age, and now both have become self-loathing and spiteful of each other for no reason. Lord Saturnine has become crazy obsessive with digging up the ruins below his manor, and his neglected wife is stuck in an affair with the abusive asshole captain of the guard. In short, their marriage has evolved from a “Dr. Phil” to a “Jerry Springer” situation. On top of all that, their daughter is haunting the mansion big time and constantly guilt-tripping you for stealing stuff. It’s not long before that *BRRING* loot sound effect is like a knife in your conscience.
3. From the “A Universe Sundered” campaign: When someone asks you if you’re a god, you say “YES!”
My favorite FM storylines are the ones that build upon the pre-established mythology of the Thief games. Haplo’s campaign which consists of “Unholy Vivid Innocence”, “Insanity’s Crescendo”, “Of the Sinister Awakening”, and “A Sorrowful Farewell” goes one step further and connects the Thief universe to our own in a crazy fourth-wall breaking mind eff of a story. The biggest idea in the campaigns plotline is that all of the god’s (the Builder, the Trickster, the newly introduced “The Warlock” among others) split off to rule over separate universes, ours included, where they would rule and occasionally mingle by taking the form of a man (the Trickster/Constantine). Whenever they cross over into each other’s universes, it starts a cosmic shoving match as one god gets mad at the other for touching their stuff.
When you find out in “The Dark Project” that the Trickster was real, it seemed to open a whole can of worms for story possibilities (was the Builder out there disguised as some random noble biding his time as well?) that hasn’t really been touched until this campaign. That’s also why I refer to it as “The Warlock Series” despite Haplo officially naming it “A Universe Sundered”, and will continue to until he literally punches my face.
Hey you two! Share the universe or I'll put it on the top shelf where NO ONE will get it.
2. AW SNAP, IT’S A TIE! From the “A Night in Rocksbourg” campaign and “Vagabond”: The Order vs. The Night Masks
One of my favorite aspects of the lore behind the Thief games is the various factions in The City. Hammerites, Keepers, Mechanists, Thieves, Mages, Pagans…each one of them is like a group of old friends. But like a group of old friends, you start to form a clique, and anyone from outside seems awkward and out of place. That said, I have to give a shout out to two new factions that fit right in and didn’t crash the party with a 24 pack of disgusting light beer and an Ipod full of dubstep (you know who you are). Specifically, The Order from Dr.K’s “A Night in Rocksbourg” series (occasionally called Bob for some reason by weirdos) and The Night Masks from Random_Taffer’s “Vagabond”.
First, “The Order”. I love these guys so much. I’ve never described a group of people as “endearingly creepy” before, but it fits here. They wear dark Grim Reaper style robes, have glowing eyes, hire huge faceless Silent Hill monsters as bodyguards, constantly talk to themselves (“Curse these glyphs, they make a FOOL of me!”), line their halls with sentient statues, and keep portals to hell locked away in their libraries. They’re like the Keepers as reimagined by H.R. Giger. I hear death metal in my head every time I look at one, they’re fantastic.
The Night Masks are, if possible, even more mysterious. All we really know about them at this point in Random_Taffer’s story is that they’re a notoriously secretive group of thieves with a penchant for wearing creepy dead-eyed porcelain masks. You barely get a look at them in “Vagabond” and yet they manage to make a massive impact on you. I NEED to know more about these guys! It might be a little shallow of me to place a plotline this high on the list just because it introduces a faction with a completely badass look but IT’S MY LIST SO HAH.
We have got to get these two kids together!
1. Yet another tie! From “Embracing the Enemy”, “The Burrick’s Head Inn” and the “L’Arsene” campaign: Thief vs. Thief (vs. Mothra!)
Though my favorite overall storyline archtype is definitely “mansion with a dark secret” just because of the gameplay possibilities, there’s another type of storyline that always gets me engrossed almost immediately: Garrett going head to head with a rival thief. This type of plot has been done spectacularly three separate times, hence, it’s a three-way (giggity) tie.
Let’s start with the first mission to try this type of story. Kung Fu Gecko’s “Embracing the Enemy” absolutely floored me when it was released. For the first time it didn’t feel like I was alone in sneaking through some poor nobles house. Not only did you occasionally catch glimpses of the mysterious assassin “Alex the Grey”, but you could see signs that he had passed through an area (broken windows, KO’d guards, and in one instance that blew my mind- a rope arrow someone else had fired *GASP*). The moment where you see Alex sneaking up on the guy you’re supposed to protect (and it’s clear you have to make a move quickly) is still one of the most pulse-racing moments from any mission I’ve ever played. On top of all that, it's an interesting twist that the noble whose life you’re out to save is seriously F’d up to such an extent that you don’t really want to help him.
Next up, Yandros’ “The Burrick’s Head Inn”. This one probably does the best job of really selling that you’re competing with another skilled thief. You see your competitor use moss arrows, water arrows, rope arrows…it really stirred up a "This guy is stealing my act!" territoriality in me. This is a nice compliment to the previous mission, because once rival thief and target meet up, you really have no stake in the battle’s outcome, so you can just lean back and watch. The use of dramatic music throughout the mission makes it all seem so damn operatic!
Finally, the daddy of all thief vs. thief FMs, Gaetane’s “L’Arsene” campaign. An epic that spans four massive missions (including one with plot #13 on this list), this campaign covers Garrett’s battle against fellow thief and overall jerkface L’Arsene. It all culminates in “The Den”, one of the best mansion-with-a-dark-secret missions ever. The final battle with your arch nemesis is so dramatic because he’s been built up to such a degree in the previous missions and given such a snide personality (he even has his own theme song, SINISTER!); stabbing him hardly feels like a chore when the task falls on you. L’Arsene is the Moriarty to Garrett’s Holmes, someone who’s such a great villain because he represents a dark mirror to our protagonist (and Garrett is already kind of a dick anyway).
There’s nothing better than a little hot thief on thief action, and that’s why these three FM plotlines are sharing first place (and they’re just going to have to get along, or start filming a hilarious roommate sitcom).
Can you see the thief on the right slowly sneaking up on this guy? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON'T CLICK THE SCREENSHOT, IMAGESHACK WILL EAT YOU.
*SINGING* AND THAT'S THE EEEEEND! Yeah, that's seriously all I have for an outro. Thanks to those that read the whole thing! Leave comments, let me know your favorite stories, someone make me a sandwich!
You wanna a beer with that sandwich? And I wasn't yelling at you. I was tapping my foot quietly!
I don't know why it is TM, but whenever disaster is staring me in the face, I log on here and find something you've written that makes me laugh and relieves my gloom and despondency.
That was to your usual high standard although I'm sure I only understood half of what you were waffling about.
Seriously though, L'Arsene has always been the most enduring character for me. There's something about the whole story that captured my interest and still holds it. At any given time if someone asked me to name an FM character, it would always be L'Arsene. But all your choices were great and doing a top 15 storylines was an excellent idea. And I also think I need to replay some of those you mentioned that I haven't played for a while - just to see whether I agree.
And now I shall go and do my duty and put this on the FRONT PAGE!
First, you're great! Gimme my extra points.
Second, that was a great read, The Mike! What a great idea! I'm surprised no one has done this before but I'm glad you were the one to start it. That was very entertaining. I'm not sure I agree with all your choices but I'll have to give some thought to it. Then I'll post my top 15.
A very interesting read, as always, The Mike! Thanks.
It's okay Nickie, I can take both his praise and your beer- everyone who's me wins!
Thanks for reading you guys! And yes, the topic of favorite storylines is extremely subjective, so I figured that no one would agree with this whole thing, or even most of it actually...
Yeah but Tannar got points - what did I get? Nowt. And talking of newts, I do have the memory of one but what you said about each mission mostly struck a chord. Not all of it, obviously, but the outstanding missions for me have always been about story.
Yes, memorable missions have to have good gameplay and reasonably interesting surroundings but, if you've been keeping up with this discussion it will be clear why playing Fan Missions rarely make me feel uncomfortable in any way. But if the vast majority didn't have some kind of story, I would have lost interest a long time ago.
A great read Mike and what a nice idea to review your top FM storylines