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Thread: Old Southquarter FM Reviews

  1. #26
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Bestest FM 3: In a Link of an Eye
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Series, Outdoors, Mechanist
    August 16th, 2007 by Ganac

    Number three by guess who. Released on July 30, 2007.

    If you are dim, then you wouldnt have known by the first two reviews that this is novelty only.

    For number three, you are in a dream world, full of swirling things, Mechanists, and floating eyeballs. Depending on the difficulty, you have different weapons to kill these mechanists, ranging from hundreds of fire arrows to just your blackjack. The only secret is a dewdrop under one of the links. The only way to get out of crate stacking.

    While playing this FM, the amount of stuff flying around can bog down even powerful machines.

    Enjoy! If you can/care/want

  2. #27
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Bestest FM 2: Fairground Attraction
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Series, Outdoors, Undead, Sewer, Guards, Underground
    August 16th, 2007 by Ganac

    Part two of Sluggs epic saga(June 14, 2007). If you read the review for the first one, you would know that this is novelty only.

    The fairground attraction is built off of the same model as the first, but of couse, with fairground attractions. Such attractions include:

    -A merry-go-round with a sitting zombie
    -A gigaintic ferris wheel
    -A very high obervation tower
    -Two cars with passengers in them
    -A fairly decent haunted train
    -And other weird crap

    The point is to search the grounds and the sewers for some hammer haunts. Thats it. The briefing also contains info about some loot at the bottom of a lake. And guess what? There is. Thats why the guards stayed.

    There is also a huge ladder and some guy on top the hotel.

    So I guess I should tell you to have fun with this.

  3. #28
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    SSDD: Tipping the Scales
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, City, Mechanist, Bank, Guards
    September 21st, 2007 by theImmortalThief

    This mission is the long awaited first part to the SSDD project, by Apache and garretwannabe.
    Playing it I could kind of feel the difference between old style FMs and new ones. Where in new ones a lot of the focus seems to be on custom content and detail, the old style goes for gameplay, as could be seen in the carefully set patrol routs and the way the design was done with thieving in mind and not necessarily realism. It was a refreshing and fun experience.

    The mission starts in the streets of the city. The city area is rather small and most doors can not be opened. Compared with the later parts of the mission, this section seems a bit unpolished. The layout of the city doesnt seem very logical. For example, the casino grounds and the whole second half of the city can only be accessed by walking through the watch station. The second half of the city consists of a few areas, each pretty well designed but not very logically connected.
    The mission starts with only two objectives. As you advance in the mission, more objectives are added. The plot is not very complex; its a classic break in mission. The readables in this mission are very short and simply state a Hint and do not have much personality. While this is a plus for non English speakers who might get frustrated reading long texts to find a tiny clue, it makes the story lose its depth and harder for the player to get immersed in.

    There are two main locations that have to be hit; the first is the casino, followed by a visit to the bank. The casino is well designed as far as architecture and has multiple entry points. The actual game room in the casino is very small and overall the building gives more of a Hotel impression. The rooms are great. Each has a story to tell, especially room eight which is the site of a terrible murder.

    The bank, in my opinion is the high point of the mission. The layout is well thought out and the architecture is very good. This building too has multiple entraces. Scouting the area before entering can lead to an easier break in. The rooms all have windows and the main hall is marble and the place is equipped with a few cameras that all add to the challenge.

    One of the interesting points of this mission was the attention that had been given to patrol routs, especially in the bank. The pouses and the rotating enhanced the challenge of passing unobserved.

    Overall this mission was very entertaining. The architecture was mostly well done with the only main problem possibly being the overall layout. I recommend it to any one looking for a couple of hours of relaxation and good old thiefy fun.

  4. #29
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    The Hidden Stone
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Church
    July 2nd, 2006 by Renault

    This is an short but mildly entertaining romp from Drysils Chosen that will provide most players with a good 30-45 minutes of simple fun. Most of the architecture and layout is fair to average (there are actually two spots where the stairs are too tall for Garrett to smoothly travel over – Im not sure how that got past the best testing phase), and the plot is a bit cliched (the old seven deadly sins routine), but the author seems to be leaning more on their abilities in the tech area anyway. The techinal effects are not overwhelming, but they do make the level somewhat unique and interesting (especially during the ending). On the other hand, the level is far too combat intensive for a typical thief level, requiring you to kill multiple times with no alternate “sneaky” way of accomplishing your goals. The story actually had some potential to be solid, if the author had expanded and put a bit more thought into it. As it turns out however, this FM falls a bit into the novelty category. Hopefully this author can focus on some of the additional areas mentioned above the next time around to provide a more complete experience.

  5. #30
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    A Living Nightmare
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Crypt, Guards
    July 2nd, 2006 by Renault

    This mission by John Denison was frustrating and a mixed bag for me; I found parts of it amazing and worthy of classic status, and other parts nonsensical, confusing, and downright absurd. But first the good stuff – this mission looks great. Although there are some very good custom textures and objects used here, the main strength of this FM lies in the construction and design of the main building - a hospital. At times it seems more like a church or cathedral, and I found myself often just looking around at the makeup of the structure, which is always a sign of good architecture. The building is just about the right size for this setting, not huge and overwhelming as seen in many FMs that try to be too ambitious. This feels like a building that could actually exist. In addition, ignoring the actual plot (Ill get to that in a second), there are plenty of objectives to accomplish here, and some good tech to back them up. There's one “room” in particular that most players will replay several times just for the novelty factor. There's a good sense of achievement here as well, while the objectives keep the player active and convince them they are actually doing something. All told, youll probably spend about 60-90 minutes on this FM, and you wont be just collecting loot (although there is some of that).

    Right from the start, however, the player will likely be confused as to what exactly is going on. I often skip a missions readme file, wanting to jump right into the action. In this instance, there's almost no way you can. A few of the plot points are strange and convoluted, and frankly don't make a lot of sense. Furthermore, there is some “adult content” here (and to be fair, the player is warned in the readme), and in my opinion, this type of material doesn't have a place in the world of Thief. There are many readables here to give clues for completing the mission, but I thought they could have done a better job of pushing the player in the right direction. None of them were renamed (i.e. Freds letter to Bob), so going back and rereading them for information later proved to be a tedious exercise. This mission just didn't flow right for me, and I found many times when I needed to consult the forums to finish it. It wasn't that it was unusually difficult - it was more a case of that I wasn't exactly sure what I was supposed to be doing. Also, there were several attempts made at humor, which I thought for the most part fell flat.

    Reviewing a level like this is always very difficult, primarily because you can visualize how the mission could have turned out. In the end though, this one is definitely worth playing, despite its glaring flaws. Other players may not even see this these weaknesses in the same light as i do, as I tend to lean towards FMs with a good plot. No matter where you fall in this spectrum however, you should at least give this mission a try and decide for yourself.

  6. #31
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Mann Mansion
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Guards
    July 2nd, 2006 by Renault |

    Very simple beginner FM by Tithian, only has about 5 rooms, one AI and one loot objective. This can be finished in all of about 3 minutes if you take your time. For die hard completionists only.

  7. #32
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    The Cell Next Door
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Hammerite
    June 30th, 2006 by Morrgan

    Garrett was on his way to meet a friend after a job in order to split the loot, when he was arrested by Hammerites and is now locked up in a cell. Garrett plans to leave, but not before he finds out where the loot from the previous job is and how the Hammers knew where to find him.

    According to the readme, Frank Mitchell used Lord Baffords Manor from Thief 1 as inspiration, which is apparent from for example the sewers in the mission. Those of you who (like me) lovingly played the Bafford demo and Thief 1 to bits all those years ago, will appreciate the nostalgic memories this mission brings back. Otherwise though, The Cell Next Door is quite different from Baffords.

    Gameplay focuses on stealth, especially at the start, but at times you run into the irritating problem of shadows on the ground not corresponding to what the lightgem shows, making the sneaking a matter of trial and error. Some reloading is practically inevitable at the start, as you have no equipment and avoiding an alert guard in a small space is almost impossible. (Still, there's fun to be had even in these circumstances. How about locking up those pesky guards in their own cells, or perhaps squishing them underneath an elevator for the more sadistically minded?) The somewhat unpredictable shadows become less of a nuisance once you’ve found your equipment and have more options for what to do if you're discovered.

    This mission is generally well-built – there are no exceptionally pretty scenes to be seen, but the architecture is solid throughout the mission, with no plain areas either. I especially appreciate the little details one can find. Many of them tie story and location together and do much to make the mission seem like a real place with a life of its own.

    The Cell Next Door is simply a charming little mission. It wont take very long to play through it, but with a file size that’s as tiny as 685 KB and more enjoyment than many larger missions, there’s no reason not to give this one a try.

    Pros: Solid all around; many ways to play the mission and have fun while doing it; nice details both architecturally and storywise.
    Cons: Some unpredictable shadows; few challenges; some risk of the mission turning into a loot hunt if you're not observant.
    Bottom Line: A fun little mission, offering more enjoyment than you might expect from such a small download.

  8. #33
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Saturio Returns Home
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Mansion, Crypt, Undead, Guards
    June 30th, 2006 by Morrgan

    A woman has contacted Garrett, offering him a reward in shining gems if he will accept the job she offers. She wants Garrett to find out what happened to Saturio, her bridegroom.

    At the start of Saturio Returns Home by Robin G., Garrett jumps down the chimney of the gardeners house and gains access to the mansion grounds in this way. The gardeners house is small and looks simple, but once inside the courtyard the view becomes very pleasant. The architecture is clean and stylish, and the main building is effective in an unpretentious way. This style is continued throughout the level. Several more unusual architectural features can be seen in the screenshots: details like these give the mission a personal look and atmosphere.

    One way into the main building goes via the catacombs. Here we have something that I have seen before in other missions and always wonder about. Why are they haunted? People don't rise from their graves without a reason. Call me overly nitpicky, and I admit I am, but I like explanations even for something like this.

    Inside the mansion I got sucked into the quiet atmosphere of the building. The combination of an irregular but easily navigated layout, logical room placement and very nice architecture makes this seem like a real location. The ambient sounds are subtle, with a few enjoyable intermissions in the form of guitar music from the victrolas. Although I normally wish for a subplot or two to follow as I play, the lack of any in this mission didn't make me feel like anything was missing. The story itself was enough to keep my interest up this time. Romance, conflict, deception, greed Its got just about all that is needed for a good story.

    There are alternatives for how to proceed, but especially on Expert they are restricted. As I played I sometimes got the feeling I was following a planned route. On several occasions I had only two options: the straightforward approach that would most likely lead to bodies piling up, and a way to sneak past unnoticed. On Expert no kills are allowed, and I prefer to avoid confrontations anyway, so for me there was just one path to choose. Adding to this feel of limited options is the fact that many tempting wooden surfaces exist, but there are no rope arrows to use. Getting past guards by using higher ground would have been a welcome option. Other than this, I have little to remark on as far as gameplay is concerned. A few clues regarding the main objective can be found, and together with the map they give enough information to have an idea of where to go next. The necessary keys are conveniently found on the way. There are no hints concerning the whereabouts of the keys though, so if you don't keep your eyes open as you advance through the mansion then you will end up backtracking until you spot them.

    Finishing this mission was quite a satisfying experience and made me feel like I had done a good deed; a rare and refreshing feeling to have after a night of sneaking and thieving. As unbiased as this may sound for a reviewer, Saturio Returns Home is one of my favourite FMs. It is well-designed, fun to play and has all the elements needed for a good mission.

    Pros: Personal and very pleasant architectural style; the objectives are of the more unusual kind.
    Cons: The mission has no significant weaknesses.
    Bottom Line: A very good mission in all aspects. It has the gameplay and atmosphere of an ordinary mansion mission, but a story and a style that stands out a bit from the other FMs out there.

  9. #34
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Hedgerows & Hammerites
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Crypt, Hammerite, Undead, Contest
    June 29th, 2006 by Morrgan

    Garrett has a group of Hammerites on his tail; in an attempt to escape, he enters a hedgerow maze owned by Lord Rickshaw. He must now find a way out of the maze, and at the same time both avoid his pursuers and grab all the loot he can find.

    I must admit I was a bit worried after reading the word maze in the mission description. I have never had any good experiences with mazes; most of them have been unnecessarily complex and I have usually ended up completely lost, feeling more than a little annoyed. However, there is no need to worry about that in Hedgerows Hammerites by Gumdrop. As I soon found out while venturing further into Lord Rickshaws maze garden, the maze is fairly simple and easy to navigate in. It contains some unusual elements though, mainly for the puzzles. The oddities are explained by the eccentricity of Lord Rickshaw, of whom we know nothing except that he owns a maze garden and is supposedly rich.

    The mission has no weak points as far as visuals are concerned; though not fantastic, architecture and terrain is pleasing to the eye all the way through. Also, even though this is a contest mission with restricted size, none of the areas make this fact obvious.
    The mission relies heavily on puzzles, which are compulsory for finishing the mission. These puzzles are varied, original, and not overly difficult to solve. Theyre not easy either, and in many cases the solution is not obvious. Fortunately there are hints that guide you in the right direction, and usually this is enough to figure out the rest. Still, if the hints dont help, it is easy to get stuck and this is potentially frustrating for the player. This is especially true if the player is not too keen on puzzles. There are also a few secrets the player must find with no hints at all. This is not as irritating as it may sound though, because the secrets are not too hard to find if youre observant and the missions small size leaves little space to hide them in.

    Garrett lost most of his equipment during his attempts to get rid of the Hammerites, so at the start of the mission he has only his blackjack (and sword on normal) and a couple of scouting orbs. This is not much of a problem as there are plenty of shadowy areas to hide in, balanced by well-lit spots where good timing is needed to get past unnoticed. One thing that may annoy quite a few players is that it is impossible to advance at certain points without alerting the AI, and may mean having to wait for a bit to let them calm down.

    One minor gripe is with the amount of loot. The 4000 that is needed on Expert would be a high amount for any ordinary mansion; in a small mission like this it is unbelievable. The high loot requirement on Expert also means that on that difficulty gameplay risks turning into an irritating loot hunt. Another complaint is that story-wise the mission has little to offer. However, this didn't lessen my enjoyment of this particular mission, as story was never intended to be one of its strong points. Overall, Hedgerows Hammerites is a well-made mission that provides about 20 minutes of fun.

    Pros: Solid architecture in all areas; several interesting puzzles.
    Cons: Not much of a story; the interesting puzzles can turn out to be frustrating.
    Bottom Line: A well-made but small mission, worth the download. If you like puzzles, this is something for you.

  10. #35
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Unfinished Business
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Series, City, Guards
    June 29th, 2006 by Morrgan

    A certain Cooper Barlett tried to have Garrett killed but failed. Its time for revenge. Barlett has managed to piss off the Downwind Thieves Guild as well and you have made a deal with them - kidnap Barlett and drop him off in their capable hands. However, Barlett decided it would be a good idea to go underground for a while and left the City, so you need to find him first.

    Unfinished Business is the sequel to SlyFoxx's first FM called Fletchers Final Mistake. Playing that mission first gives a sense of continuity, but isn't strictly necessary as the introduction provided with the readme of Unfinished Business quickly fills you in on the previous events.

    You've followed Barlett to a small town called Dunshire, so its fitting that this mission has its own style when it comes to visuals. Architecture is generally decent and detailed, although some choice and alignment of textures is questionable. Even the streets have received a fair amount of attention: many of them are uneven to walk on or consist of a pathway with raised edges. Lighting is generally used well enough, with a good balance of brightly lit areas and shadows, but the coloured lighting is way overdone in certain areas.

    The missions strongest appeal is its variety of traditional gameplay styles. The layout is excellent, using all three dimensions and offering several routes to choose from as you proceed. I particularly appreciated the roof-hopping. The many options for dealing with the guards give room for variety when it comes to playing styles. Its even possible to go on a murderous rampage if that's your thing. The guards are not too difficult to avoid but still provide a decent challenge, making stealth fun even for someone as blackjack-happy as me. The goals are varied and there are also a whole four secret bonus objectives to find.

    Overall though, the mission is a bit unpolished. While its a solid mission in most respects, it suffers from little technical glitches and inconsistencies (albeit ones that are easily overlooked). For example, the artefact that is the goal for one of the objectives can be dropped from the inventory, the use of ambient sounds seems a bit random, and although I got the impression that Dunshire is a small town, the sky art shows a big city.

    Storywise, there's much intrigue in this small town. All the characters in the mission have their own backgrounds and motivations, and many of them are involved in tonight's events in way or another. Even the guards have names and are mentioned in readables once or twice. This kind of attention to detail is rare and commendable, but its a pity that most of the information comes in the form of diaries, which makes the presentation of the story a bit one-dimensional. The mission also suffers from a bad case of bad guy needlessly writing down incriminating information in diary, which reduces the credibility of the characters in question. This is especially an issue in the case of the judge; he of all people should really know better. Additionally, many texts seem like they are there just for the sake of the player.

    Still, don't let the previous paragraph keep you from giving this mission a try, for the gameplay is certainly worth it. Unfinished Business is a fun mission to play, offering an hour or two of good thiefy entertainment. The lack of restrictions combined with the different routes to choose from should appeal to a wide range of players with different playing styles.

    Notable Bugs/Problems:
    Up on the rooftops you can get a long view of most of the map. In some places this can cause weirdness on your screen or even make the game crash.
    There's a long conversation that starts once you get close to Barlett, but it triggered only once during the three times I played through the mission.
    Although I never encountered this particular problem, some people have reported that the mission wont end for them due to the kidnap objective not ticking off.

    Summary:
    Pros: Fun gameplay; good use of all three dimensions to create layout with multiple ways of getting from one place to another; intrigue among the characters.
    Cons: The readables have believability issues; writing could use some variation in style; odd use of textures at times.
    Bottom Line: A detailed city mission, although a little rough around the edges, with an individual feel and very well-executed traditional thiefy gameplay.

  11. #36
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Curse of the Hammerites
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Crypt, Hammerite, Guards
    June 29th, 2006 by Renault

    In reality, this isn't so much a mission as it is a series of walls and doors all lined up next to each other. There's no real attempt at serious architecture in this FM by Henri the Hammer, and I think the author would be the first to agree. The same goes for plot, and what little story there is seems to be based on inside jokes known only to the author himself. There are a few simple objectives, but they're pretty basic, mostly just the “steal an item” variety. One positive might be that there is a considerable amount of loot to discover, if you're into that kind of thing. A classic objective blunder is made here, however, as there is no “return to where you started” objective, which may prevent players from being able to maximize their loot count.

    You'll find many different types of AI throughout the level, but they are set up so that there's not much of a challenge in defeating them. Most players can fly through this entire mission in about 30 minutes, max. The sound is pretty awful in most areas, allowing you to hear AI in adjacent sections that you probably weren't supposed to. Although I praise Henri for what appears to be his first full mission release, if youre a discriminating FM player with limited time, you probably will want to pass on this one. However, if you've got a couple of extra hours to kill, you might get a few moments of simple pleasure from Curse of the Hammerites.

  12. #37
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    In dubio pro Garrett
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Mansion, City, Sewer, Guards
    June 29th, 2006 by Renault

    In case you're wondering, the title of this FM translates to “giving the accused the benefit of the doubt.” I have to admit, I'm not completely sure how that applies to this FM created by the team of Dainem and MH.TheFreak, but it sounds cool. These guys have released an entertaining mission that provides a nice jaunt through The City and should keep the player busy for over an hour, at least. The story is quite good with a couple of fun twists, and the player is given a generous variety of tasks to complete along the way. There is some treachery in the air tonight, and of course Garrett is caught right in the middle, as usual.

    The layout of the mission is good, with several key locations to check out, including a mansion, sewer, police station, and some standard City streets. Architecturally, things could have been a bit more diverse and creative; there are far too many right angles in the mission and most of the buildings are the same height. A little variety would have enhanced the atmosphere, but that's not to say that you wont enjoy the journey. There is some custom texturing apparent here, but overall the mission doesn't look that different from whats in the standard Thief2 package AI placement is good, and will provide a nice challenge, especially if you play on hard (5 KOs) or expert (ghost). Sound was decent throughout, except for one specific area when we are treated to a sort of techno soundtrack, which I personally found annoying (but maybe you wont). Still, there's lots to do and explore here, and the mission will definitely keep you moving. Just a side note, I had to laugh near the beginning, as you overhear a shorted version of a conversation from Thief2, where one woman states “The City Watch are all over the place!” Funny thing is, they aren't. In fact, they're nowhere to be found except in the Police station.

    The only “deal killer” with this FM was that I wasn't able to complete the mission on “hard” when I returned to my starting point. This might be a glitch on my particular system as I did not see it mentioned on the TTLG forums. Even so, if you're able to make it this far, it likely wont spoil the satisfaction and fun you'll have in getting there.

  13. #38
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    The Haunting
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Mansion, Contest
    June 28th, 2006 by Ganac

    Revenge for murder.

    This mission is one of a kind. Not only do you not play a thief, but you dont even play Garrett. You are a ghost, and you are going to do what ghosts do best.

    A man has been offering a lot of money to buy your home, but since you love this house, you are not going to give it up. His offers become higher and higher, until they become threats.
    These threats lead you to a gaping chest wound in the middle of a back alley. He quickly moves in and steals your home. Now, as you find yourself a ghost, you will do anything to get him out.

    In this mission, there are so many things a ghost can do in this house. I would leave it up to the player to find all of them.

    There is a lot of new and custom textures, scripts, and things never seen in an FM before. Its worth a laugh the first time around, although it does get a bit tedious after awhile.

    My only real complaint that there could have been more in this mission, for example, hallucinations, flying books, falling pots, etc. But the best part is, you can walk through walls!

    If you want a different taste for Thief, I would highly recommend this FM.
    Nameless Voice submitted this for Komag's Contest 5.

    Happy Haunting!

  14. #39
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Reflections
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Mansion, Outdoors, Guards, Underground
    February 28th, 2007 by Renault

    You probably don't want to wander into this FM looking too hard for a plot. That really isn't Ricebug's intention anyway with his recent release, Reflections. As anyone could figure out by the title, this level is more of a showcase for some fancy reflective effects, seen throughout the mission in water, shiny floors, and furniture surfaces. And they are impressive, if not a bit overdone (I know, that's the point). In order to avoid releasing a pure demo, the author did at least make an attempt to insert a minimal story, some loot, and a few hidden areas to keep the player interested beyond just the fancy effects. Overall, you should be able to wrap this one up in just under an hour. There's an amusing area that not-so-subtly takes a swing at bad dromed mission practices, including weak plots (oh the irony), and this just confirms that Reflections isn't meant to be taken very seriously. The players best bet is to know this going in, and just enjoy the scenery.

  15. #40
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Dracula Part 4: The Darkthrone
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Campaign, Mansion, Crypt, Outdoors, Undead, Mages
    February 25th, 2007 by Renault

    This is a fantastic FM put together by Sensut, fourth in the Dracula series, and in my opinion, the best of the series to date. Truth be told, there's not much to criticize here, and one has to wonder where the author is finding time to put out such quality FMs so frequently. Seriously, this mission has it all - a strong (albeit confusing) plot, a huge detailed castle to explore, dark moody music to accompany the theme, some technical wizardry fully integrated with the story, and plenty of custom material to please the eyes. This fairly long level will take a good 2-3 hours to complete, and while the primary setting is the aforementioned castle, the path to get there is very intriguing and spooky in itself. Sensut has obviously put a lot of time and effort into this FM, and it shows in multiple areas. The Dracula series was originally a bit of a departure from the standard Thief setting, but The Darkthrone brings the player back a bit closer to the origins of Thief. I think the only downside here may be that there is too much to live up to when we finally see the next installment.

    Back to the plot - it is a perplexing one. Ill admit when I got to the end of this mission, I wanted to say what did I just do there? Part of this originates from not having played the previous three chapters recently, but I think another part is the authors extreme enthusiasm for the material. He probably knows the story so well in his head that he forgets sometimes that the player does not. Even so, this is a extremely minor criticism, and the player can still achieve a great sense of accomplishment without knowing the intricate details of the storyline. All in all, this is one of the best FMs to come out in the past year, and should be on any fans short list of levels to play.

  16. #41
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Torben - The Traitor
    Review posted on July 27, 2008 by Sperry
    Tagged with assassin • German • Guards • guild • Mansion • Sewer • sword • Thief 1/Gold • thief1/gold

    Torben - The Traitor dates back to some of the earliest days of fan missions - July 1999, long before Digital Nightfall's Silver Age of FMs - and as such deserves an important place in the genesis and evolution of Thief: the Dark Project FMs. Torben is among the first complete and high quality (although small) FMs to be released. With English and German multi-language support, and a functional map, Tony Klüver clearly strived to provide the budding community with a simple but effective FM exceeding the standards of the time. This mission is among the very first Thief FMs I've ever played - and enjoyed -, along with Gathering at the Bar, so this could influence my review.

    As the letter in your inventory explains, you have been charged by the Guildmaster with the task of killing a traitor responsible for the death of two guild members. This first element alone is quite interesting in the light of actual Fan Mission humanities, as we can wonder if you actually play as Garrett, or some anonymous thief part of a (thieves) guild. This guild is also a mystery, as the name of the Guildmaster isnt indicated. Apparently, the author leaves these questions to our own discretion. The letter goes on precising that the traitor is under the protection of a certain Lord Unger's and his guards, and is residing in a house near the city border. The Guildmaster also wishes you to steal your targets sword, the member sign of the guild. And last but not least, you are to meet a character named Theo in the sewers.

    The atmosphere is reminiscent of the first missions of TP, as you make your way through a small well into the back yard of the house, before entering the house itself. The varied mission environment unfolds as you explore your surroundings. While the plot isnt very elaborate in the light of today's standards, the few books and readables in this mission are simple but effective. They just about all convey some kind of information on the setting, such as the letter containing Torbens last thoughts, or the city watch notice about neighbouring zombie problems. These documents emphasize your place in a much larger and immersive environment.

    The architecture is, just like many aspects of the mission itself in fact, simple but effective. Its nowhere near todays standards, but is relatively polished for 1999 and lives up to the original missions well enough. There are several location where torch dousing can interestingly alter gamplay. However, there are a few minor letdowns. First of all, some of the stairways are clumsily built: some of them do not respect the conventional 0.75 unit stair height, making it difficult for the NPC to use them or for you to go up or down quietly. The room databases are quite clumsy, and as a result, you can often hear guards through walls, floors and ceilings. Also, the final City area might appear too basic for the taste of some of todays players.

    There are quite a few guards around, but they are generally placed in clever locations, making this a challenging mission to ghost. Breaking things down, however, we can see how this mission is simply composed of different sections with a key holding guard and a locked door at the end. The gameplay is quite linear, despite the few ornamental rooms and loose loot objective. The kill a specific NPC objective - and the context in which it is convincingly presented to you - is rather original for the time, as I recall all Thief 1 OMs avoided such an objective. Torben himself is no challenge to kill, but getting to him without being spotted can be quite difficult, although certainly not impossible. And look out for the emergency switch near the guildsword in the basement: its the only way Ive found to open the front doors of the house in order to escape.

    Overall, Tony Klüvers Torben - The Traitor is a great first-generation FM (definitely one of my favourites). Less complex than was Gathering at the Bar (the ancestor of the CoSaS mission Gathering at the Inn), it still offers in my opinion a unique thieving experience, somewhat comparable in style to more recent T2 FMs such as Polygons Ack! Theres a zombie in the basement (2004).

    Pros: Simple and effective layout, AI placement, and plot. Everything works. The loot objective isnt impossible to reach.
    Cons: The global gameplay elements might appear too linear, too simple or too easy to some more experienced players. The stairways are slightly clumsy to use. The emergency switch in the basement can easily be overlooked.
    Bottom Line: A classic small sized first-generation Thief experience worth remembering. Challenging yet simple.

  17. #42
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Mann Mansion
    Review posted on July 27, 2008 by Username
    Tagged with Guards • Mansion • Thief 2

    If you're new to DromEd, you should stick to doing simple things and save advanced topics like custom textures, scripting or weapon replacements for when/if you get good. Tithian's first-time effort does just that. It focuses on getting simple things right, hence the rather basic setup that has Garrett looting a small mansion. There isn't much to the mission save for avoiding a lone guard and robbing the residents of their possessions, so if you're expecting anything earthshaking, Mann Mansion probably isn't for you. The readme file even mentions the lack of security as Garrett's motivation for breaking in in the first place. On the other hand, it is well worth checking out if you're looking for a positive example on how to tackle your first Thief fan mission.

    Besides keeping things simple, Tithian took his time to polish the environment. The version of the mission that is available from most download sites is v. 1.1 for which the architecture was refurbished and refined. The mansion might not be particularly exciting, however, the effort is certainly passable. There are more than a few first-time authors out there whose ambitions to create mindblowing experiences were shattered by a lack of skill and a lack of time to learn the necessary skills to transform their ideas into a playable mission. A generic mansion surely is preferable to a sloppily constructed city district extravaganza.

    The downside of Mann Mansions small-sized area of play is: there isn't enough room for sneaking or hiding in shadows, nor is that lone guard much of a challenge. Since the three civilians in the mansion all have their back turned to you, they can easily be avoided. This lack of proper gameplay could have been avoided with better planning. Whats more is that a playthrough of Mann Mansion takes five minutes to complete if you don't know layout. Ghosting on the second playthrough can take as little as two minutes.

  18. #43
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Bestest FM4 - Wishy Washy!
    Review posted on July 2, 2008 by Bulgarian_Taffer
    Tagged with • Bad Mission

    This is a masterpiece! The newest and bestest fan mission by sluggs rocks! Of course its total crap, but there are two good things there.
    1. The custom menu and its music. I was dancing all day while listening to it!
    2. The storyline. Just read:

    After breaking into a stately home, you discover a rather odd smell! Trying to ignore it, you continue to look for glittery things
    Unfortunately, the smell is far too strong, and makes you feel all giddy! About to puke, you try to find a bathroom, only there isn't one! Then it hits you Without a bathroom, how does everyone keep squeaky clean? Answer: They don't! Its now obvious what that terrible smell is
    Its the occupants!

    You run back out to the rear of the lake, to think of a plan
    When you start playing the first thing you see is a giant pool with water and a whale (?!?) swimming there. This is where you should place the bodies of the occupants. The exterior of the house is not that bad, but when I got inside I quit playing. There's a huge stairway that's impossible to climb.

    So, to sum up:

    PROS - The custom menu and the overall idea
    CONS - Everything else in this mission is poor.

  19. #44
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Mission With No Name
    Review posted on January 7, 2009 by Melan
    Tagged with City • Contest • Guards • Thief 2

    Mission With No Name by mopgoblin

    This mission, created for Komag’s fourth contest, is an excellent demonstration of just how much game content can fit into a restricted space. The playing area is just one tiny city block with a few housefronts, but there are so many ledges, nooks, crannies and balconies, and they are interlinked so well that despite the limitations imposed by the contest, the web of possible routes is so highly interconnected that the FM feels larger than you first expect. The exploration can even take you to places that have no in-game reward, but getting there feels cool nevertheless; this is very much a climber’s delight. What I also found positive was that the architecture is quite imaginative - instead of the repetition of stock features, there is a good level of formal variety (something not always easy to pull off in a contest). A puzzle related to trying to read a book in a dark room has an obvious solution, but the fact that the puzzle is there is still so clever that you end up feeling pleasantly surprised. All in all, this little gem is very much worth the attention.

  20. #45
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Gellers Pride
    Review posted on January 7, 2009 by Melan
    Tagged with City • Guards • Mansion • thief1/gold

    Geller’s Pride by Spitter

    Here is a classic recipe: break into a guarded mansion, steal another fat nobleman’s priceless trinket, and leave quietly. This could be Lord Bafford’s Manor, or several other mansion missions, but Geller’s Pride - created at a time when Dromed 1 editing was already winding down - is just such a good example of its kind that it deserves review. It is, essentially, everything Bafford was, but larger, nicer and just a bit more complex. You start out on the city streets, and have to find one of several ways into Lord Geller’s rambling old house, all leading to different challenges. Some approaches are more open, and require you to time your movements between patrols, while others are easier, if you just find them. This is nothing new: find weak points on a fortified structure and exploit them. Classic thievery. But because it is done so well, it does not seem tired - just comfortable. A handful of shops and side areas also allow opportunities to steal a bit of cash before trying your main target: small but pleasant diversions from the central objective.

    Inside, the variety of approaches and strategies again becomes apparent. The mansion’s layout is pleasantly nonlinear, with plenty of circular routes, hidden niches and lots of old-fashioned sneaking. Since this is not a very hard mission, ghosting should not be a problem; I am certainly not a professional, yet found it eminently doable. Note that there is an interesting secret area that opens only on expert difficulty.

    The visuals are varied and interesting. The City is believably dark and imposing, the mansion rich yet thankfully devoid of the Victorian level of luxury we find in so many Thief 2 fan missions. This is the home of a mediaeval lord, not a 19th century dandy; a place of flickering torchlight and the odd electric fixture, not sophisticated gas lamps and modern faucets. There is a nice visual cohesion to the place which I find pleasing. There is even a Thief-style in-game map which might as well have come from an original level.

    I think this is one very decent mission. Maybe some more exploration in the city could not have hurt: I cannot but wonder how it would be if it had been built into a complex web of apartments, ledges, secret ways and climbing opportunities No matter. Geller’s Pride offers a fine playing experience, something relaxing, comfortably familiar, but polished and refined enough to stand on its own. Highly recommended when you need an hour or two of exploration and thievery.

  21. #46
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Raid on Washout Central
    Review posted on June 21, 2009 by Dan7
    Tagged with City • Guards • Rain • Sewer • Thief 2

    The fan mission Raid on Washout Central was released on the 31st December 2000 by Steven Hindley aka Belboz. It is a good example of some of the earlier Thief 2 Fan Missions. It uses the weather effect capability of the game and introduces the old favorite “free City Streets exploration” like in the Assassins mission in Thief the Dark Project.

    Background

    The mission was supposed to be an entry to one of the old “the Circle” site FM contests that took place way back in the year 2000. The contest however got canceled in October, because of lack of entries. Exactly two months later Belboz released the first version of Raid on Washout Central. A month later came the first patch, fixing some bugs, and on June 8th 2001 the final version was released. Other missions by the same author include Garretts Revenge and Dock Land both for Thief Dark Project and the Tricksters Gem Mine series for Thief 2. Steven Hindley has a site called “Belbozs Thief Gateway” that includes conversions of some Thief 1 and Gold canon mission to a format being able to be run on Thief 2. The author definitely has experience with mission building and this is show in this particular mission as well. As far as rating goes The Circle gives it 9 out of 10 Hammers, which is among the top; Cheap Thief Missions gives it 9.5; but the Keep of Metal and Gold focused on some of its flaws and gave it a 7.

    The Mission

    As far as the story goes you’re not playing as Garrett. You’re Ryalla and that is also confirmed by the female sounds when you climb, attack and take damage. You start at Ryalla’s house and to find out what’s going on you’re supposed to read her diary. It turns out that she was visited by and old friend who wishes her to help him with a guy named Jakku. Ryalla’s supposed to go to the local inn find this Jakku and follow him to his home. It doesn’t sound too difficult. There are also optional objectives and other objectives that are found in the course of the mission. That is where the story actually gets interesting. After you red this (or just skip trough it) you go the Ryalla’s secret weapon stash pick up your weapons and head for the street.

    The map’s design is definitely on the level. The combo of rain and fog compliments well the dark atmosphere of the streets. Belboz has gone beyond the basic weather effect capabilities of Thief 2 and made it feel a lot more immersing. The water is dripping from the rooftops and surrounds you from every direction. This is the best rain effect I have seen in a mission so far. The outdoor areas are a mixture of mainly stone buildings and vegetation areas here and there. There are lots of explorable buildings that don’t connect to the main objectives like Estates, a Brick Factory, shops and small locations like mechanist chapels and guard post buildings. The indoor areas are mainly wooden rooms plus sewers. Jakku’s house is more like a horror house and you’ll see why. The rooms are not very well furnished and feel quite empty, but that is compensated by the inventive light source angles and the original room structures, that gives a thiefy atmosphere. The City as a whole does not present any spectacular architecture and is quite simple in fact, but it has its unique design and a mysterious concept. The downside is that the streets are as confusing as hell and the map doesn’t really help on that matter.

    What the Raid on Washout Central has undoubtedly got is atmosphere. The rain…it really makes you feel wet just by playing the mission. The ambient sounds are well picked for the different areas and you can go from a nice evening at the inn to a scary experience in some basement. Before I played the mission I heard it had some wacky stuff and now I know why. Some of the character’s behavior is quite funny, Jakku himself is really weird and you’d find stuff in place you’d not expected.

    The gameplay has nothing particularly special to offer. You just have a ton of areas to explore, lots of keys, plus some secrets. Still, some of the City Watch patrols have lanterns that illuminate their surroundings and that adds to the challenge. And there are a lot of guards. A fun fact is that if you start running around the streets you can get a lot of Guards to follow you and I do mean a lot. Most of the buildings’ rooftops are accessible via simple climb, but are too steep and one can easily fall off. The downside is that the game feels somewhat slow at times. It is one of those missions, like Ranstall Keep, where at the start you are required to read someone’s long diary – not my idea for the beginning of a mission. And although Ryallas house is well done, it takes some time to get out of it to just start the mission itself. Another example is when you follow Jakku to his home. I know it doesn’t take that much time to do it, but I still get the feeling that it is longer than it should be. And the map, like I mentioned, doesn’t help a lot, since you can’t make out what is where and which lines are buildings or plain streets.

    There are some know bugs, like the dropping of a key may make some objectives’ completion impossible. Some times an objective might no thick. Also there is a chance of SHAS (sudden heart attack syndrome) in one of the areas, but although I deliberately tried to achieve it I couldn’t.

    Conclusion

    The pros of the mission are the interesting story and events, very original design of some of the city areas, lots to explore and of course the awesome soaking rain effect.
    The cons are the confusing streets and somewhat ordinary gameplay. It may take you half an hour just to find a building you’re supposed to go to.
    Still it is a fun experience, a big map with lots of side stuff to take your time and a mission I’d suggest to most taffers.

  22. #47
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    The Affairs of Wizards
    Review posted on June 17, 2009 by Dan7
    Tagged with Mages • Mansion • Thief 2

    The Affairs of Wizards is a small mission done by Nameless Voice, especially for the Thief 10th Anniversary Contest. It won 4th place out of 13 based on the community’s voting. Although it didn’t qualify at the top 3, I will try to do it justice and explain why it is a great piece of work in my opinion. Plus I haven’t seen a review on a mission from the contest.

    Background

    At the end of September 2008, a mission making contest in honor of the upcoming 10th anniversary of the release of Thief: The Dark Project was announced. The two major fan mission sites The Keep of Metal and Gold and Southquarter teamed up to present this event to the community. The mission authors had two months to produce their projects based on the theme of classical Thief gameplay. But there was one specific rule – every mission must be completely contained within an area in Dromed no larger than a “64 cube” (64 x 64 x 64). I have not created a single mission (yet), but I have used DromEd for various projects and tasks and believe me a “64 cube” is not a large area. The idea was to copy the same rule of The Keep of Metal and Gold’s first map contest. All of the missions were released on the 30th of November. I personally was surprised how all 13 of them showed that a lot of content can be introduced in such small dimensions. After that community voting took place, based on the categories Design, Story and Gameplay and by the 8th of January 2009 the results were in. The winner was “The Tower” – a fine mission done by Lady Rowena. The Affairs of Wizards placed 4th overall, but it was 2nd place considering the Design rating category.

    The Mission

    The story behind the mission seems simple based on the “read me” file. In a few words Garrett is contacted by someone who represents someone who wants a rare collection of unusual keys owned by mages of the Hand Brotherhood. The actual employer for the mission prefers to stay anonymous, but Garrett is tempted by the pay in advance if he accepts. The mysterious man doesn’t know where the keys actually are, but he tells Garrett where he can find out – in the mansion of a member of the Brotherhood, Lord Velleme. So far the back-story seems standard, but I like the deviation from the traditional objectives like “go inside and steal the thing”, which is replaced with the rather interesting objective of “go inside and find out what is going on”. The basic goal is to find the map of the key inside the mansion, copy it so the mage that owns it doesn’t suspect anything, don’t kill anybody on the way and get back to the start once completed. The only thing that changes between difficulty settings is the loot objective

    The mission starts right from the action. At the beginning Garrett finds himself at the mansion’s kitchen – no infiltration required. And from this first room one can see how much effort Nameless Voice putted in the details. You get this nice fade-in like effect where at the very beginning the screen is black for a moment and the image comes afterwards. All the mansions rooms feel well furnished and complete – with lots of both interactive and background objects. The ambient music made by MAYAR grabs the player and is very well suited for a thief mission – short and atmospheric. The mansion itself is filled with guards wearing the Water Element symbols on their uniforms, suggesting that it is in fact a Water Mage that owns this house. So you spend your time exploring the mansion, stalking guards and gathering valuable items and when you go to the top floors where the actual owner of the house dwells, you would expect for the mission to be near its end. But that is the point where the plot turns and Garrett gets an interesting surprise. I dare not spoil the story for those who hadn’t played the mission, but it involves going trough portals and entering 3 separate remote areas. Yes, the “64 cube” is well used here as there are actually 3 new areas, separated from the mansion where Garrett completes his goals. This again shows just how much content one can insert in such a small map.

    The map design, or architecture as some call it, is magnificent. The whole mission is done quite compactly. The rooms are not any wider than they are supposed to be. The extra remote places make you feel like the map is a lot bigger than the other missions that entered the contest. All the rooms are well completed, with furniture, lamps, paintings, books, carpets and more. The custom objects, textures, unique feel to every separate area plus a nice lava effect in one of the areas are all worth playing the mission just to view them. There are lots of places to explore and even the extra areas have more than one floor. There is hardly a place not worthy of a screenshot. Still, there are some problems concerning the graphics. There are lots of books which look like they can be read but in fact can’t. I was also surprised by the number of doors that look like all the others, but can’t be interacted with and are just a part of the background. Still those things are not very annoying and should be passed by. There are also reports of some bugs, like guards walking trough walls, and events triggering before they are supposed to, but I personally don’t experience any of those. Besides, the author stated the he didn’t have the time to polish things around the map the first time, but he released a patch later on. The frame rate gets lower near the end of the mission. The areas there just seem to give even high-end machines a struggle. But this is not the only mission that experiences the same problem (e.g. Mission X of the CoSaS project). The only thing that bothers me is the possibility to get stuck or die near the dumb waiter.

    The atmosphere and mission presentation is also up there with the high level of the design. Anybody who loves the “Mages theme” from Thief Gold will enjoy its return to this Thief 2 mission. Both the sound and custom graphics make you feel that there is magic floating in the air. Each one of the map areas has its own unique sound and feel. It’s like they don’t even belong to the same mission. There are lots of atmospheric custom paintings on the walls, plus lots of unique loot items that appeal to the gamer’s taffing tastes. You can also enjoy the return of some classical Thief Dark Project enemies. The storyline takes more than one twist which keeps the player surprised till the end. All of the Books available to read are fun and in particular the diary of one of the guards which is written in a well placed Benny-style. Some of the books offer background information, but some are crucial in order to understand what you’re supposed to do. Add some very well done custom voice acting to all of that and youll get the nice atmospheric experience that is The Affairs of Wizards.

    In the terms of gameplay, this mission is fun and yet surprisingly difficult to complete. Nameless Voice has done his best to set up the Guards in a tactical manner and some are particularly difficult to avoid. And even if you don’t consider the guards, most objects that you need to complete the mission (keys, loot, objective items) are well hidden or are so small they are hard to spot. Also some areas are very tough to pass trough. Everybody that likes puzzle solving gameplay will be nicely surprised. It turns out that Garrett has to solve some very original puzzles along his path and the way most of them are solved surpasses even the original Thief missions. What really surprised me however were not one but two boss fights. Yes, you get to battle (not sneak by) powerful characters in order to complete your objectives. That plus some little gameplay elements, like a Fire Mage lighting a torch after Garrett has putted it out with a Water Arrow, give the mission a very unique gameplay feeling.

    It turns out however, that it was the gameplay difficulty that hurt the Anniversary Contest score of this mission. You might get a headache trying to figure out where some of the items you need are and how to pass some of the areas. Some people report having to restart the whole mission in order to make the ending work properly and most that have played it have different objective problems. In response the author released a patch that solved a lot of these issues. I downloaded version 1.1 and was able to complete the game from the first try. However I still had to spend a lot of time looking for some of the items and secrets.

    Conclusion

    On the plus side you get a well designed mission, with custom textures, models, sounds, challenging gameplay and for a 6464x64 dimension mission you get a ton of areas to explore. The Mage and Puzzle loving taffers will enjoy the mission a lot. But I definitely recommend it to any fan of the series as it achieves a Thiefy experience.

    On the minus side you get some bugs here and there, really slow frame rate at some areas and sometimes one can experience a dead-end. It takes a lot of time to figure out where some of the items are and some of the puzzles are a bit overdone considering difficulty.

    At the end I can say that if you feel like playing a fun Fan Mission and you have the time to play The Affairs of Wizards, definitely do it. It shows some of the most interesting gameplay, beautify areas and twisting story found in a fan-made mission.

  23. #48
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Turning the Tables
    Review posted on May 9, 2009 by Sperry
    Tagged with • assassin • Crypt • Guards • Hammerite • Mansion • Thief 1/Gold • Thieves

    In May 2000, shortly after Thief 2: the Metal Age was released (i.e. March 2000), Daniel Corder, aka Thiefs_Pawn at the TTLG forums, published Turning the Tables, his one and only fan mission for Thief: the Dark Project. The mission itself was to be remembered by Thief fans as one that had pushed the boundaries of technical effects in FMs, much like, just a few months earlier, The Treasury by Bryan Matthews and Rogues Honour by Triston Attridge, aka Totality. Just like these last two FMs, Turning the Tables provided the community an experimental FM experience, and has been both acclaimed and criticized for this reason. The author apparently wanted to break free of traditional Thief gameplay conventions. Nine years later, its possible to look back on this FM and understand how it influenced later FM designers. This is mainly why Ive chosen to review this FM.

    Garrett was spending some time at his favourite pub when Skeller, presumably a familiar thief, attempted to assassinate him. Garrett unyieldingly killed his opponent, and discovered with amazement that his victim was carelessly carrying a note from his employer, a certain Lord Bifford. Thanks to this letter, he learned that Lord Bifford had hired Skeller to kill him after he had declined joining his crime ring, much in the same way Lord Ramirez attempted to kill him in one of the original Thief missions. He decides to return the favour by assassinating Lord Bifford himself and placing both his and Skeller's corpses in Bifford's treasure room so as to make it look like they killed each other for money. The fact that the main plot elements are so close to the Assassins OM may allow the player place this mission in the Thief timeline continuum: because the player already has lockpicks, and since there are no references to the Pagans, the Mechanists or the Keepers at all, one may assume this mission takes place sometime between Assassins and Garrett's first encounter with Constantine (unless one assumes that Garrett once had lockpicks before his confrontation with Ramirez but never used them in the OMs). And finally, despite the text briefing justifying Garrett's killings through legitimate self-defence, one may argue that such aggressiveness is nonetheless unusual, and that perhaps the young Garrett from the earliest days of FMs is more reckless than the more experienced Garrett from T2 and beyond.

    The first thing that might strike the player at the outset of this mission is the unusual lack of luminosity; one feels completely surrounded by the menacing, strange, pitch black obscurity of the depth of the night. The atmosphere is definitely darker than any of the original Thief games. In the garden, which is the missions starting point, one may even welcome the lantern guards that slowly trudge through the hedgerows. Furthermore, the sense of a cramping obscurity is intensified by Skellers corpse which obtrudes the players view when carrying him all the way to Biffords treasure room. Other aspects of the mission, especially the constraining objectives as well as the unguarded state of Lord Binford and his room, are rather unusual. All of these factors combine to create a sensation of unease and paradox. Yet the mission itself is very well built. The intricate rafters in the attic-like sections of the two wings of the manor in particular are very convincing, and also darken the setting by casting black, gothic shadows. While the garden area includes a straight-forward maze, with only one way out, the manor offers interesting strategic possibilities thanks to its many entrances and constructions. The handful of key characters are more or less well conceived, although some of them Brother Larson, Captain Bill Tyler, etc. lack depth and sometimes feel as though they have been placed in the manor just to fill it up. The readables are rather useful, especially regarding the particularities of Biffords Hammerite-built alarm system. Also, some of the key readables content change from one difficulty to the next, in order to convey the most useful information for the objectives. However, one might feel there could have been more of these useful readables in this mission, especially regarding how to access the treasure room. This is very unfortunate, because the solution is really quite simple, and there is a fair chance the player will feel compelled to frob every nook and cranny in Biffords room in a frantic button-hunt. I myself stumbled upon the solution by sheer luck. Fortunately, there is one very excellent conversation, although only present on Hard or Expert difficulty levels.

    The architecture of this mission is definitely one of its strong-points, not so much because of its aesthetics, but because of how creative it is and how it increases the potential variety of strategic gameplay. The most impressive structures are probably the rafters already mentioned, and the manor itself, especially its multiple entrances, large rooms and massive rooftops; in each case, the player has almost complete freedom to wander about and use these structures as tools in order to complete the mission. Also, there are some great opportunities to use rope arrows in this mission. All of this increases overall replay value. The claustrophobic garden maze, on the other hand, might displease some players; this is unfortunate because its unavoidable and at the very beginning of the mission. Overall, the level of architectural detail of this mission subtly surpasses that of the OMs, and it has a very unique style throughout. The lightmaps (static lighting) are simple, but rather effective. One might have wished for a bit more variety, but then again the chosen obscurity also sets the mood, if one can get used to the darkness. The room brushing (sound propagation) is good, without being exceptional. There are a few rare areas where AI can hear the player through the walls and especially the roofs; but this is more or less compensated by the fact that they have rather low hearing abilities. The mission has both map and automap features, which is a very nice touch, but the maps themselves are unfortunately not very pleasing to look at.

    The dynamic aspects of the mission are probably the most interesting and the most debatable. First of all, as already mentioned, this mission introduced ground-breaking technical effects: it is one of the first Dark Project FMs ever to use dynamic lighting capable of affecting the players visibility (via the on-screen light indicator); hence the lantern guards can spot the player even in complete obscurity. Secondly, Lord Bifford's manor is endowed with a special electrical power system which can be switched on or off in an electricity control room. All electric lights in the manor, in theory at least, are linked to these controls, except for the ones in Lord Bifford's treasure room. The alarm system is also connected to the electrical power system, so the anticipating player can actually disable the entire alarm system if needed, which can tremendously change the gameplay experience for this mission. This is very fortunate, since the mission becomes impossibly difficult and even quite ugly if the alarm is triggered due to the amount of hostile AIs and the almost exaggerated amount of alarm lights. One can only regret that the AI is not more reactive if the player disables the power; the one guard responsible for the electricity control room does not budge at all when the player flips the switch. More generally, AI placement is also rather unusual, as the player might feel there are often too little or too many opponents; but this isn't necessarily a bad thing in itself, as it makes the mission less predictable. Furthermore, one may find that the objectives pertaining to each difficulty level are not very well balanced. For example, the player is actually only required to bring both corpses to the treasure room on Normal difficulty; on Hard and Expert difficulties, a special event occurs which ultimately rids the player of the corpses in the treasure room objective. One of the objectives on Hard and Expert, which has been lively criticized by Thief fans, forbids the player to steal any loot from the manor. This unusual objective which is justified by the fact that Garrett seeks to carry out his mission completely unnoticed in order to clean his slate has obviously been well thought-out by Corder, since the player will find absolutely no loot hidden inside containers, footlockers and such, in order to avoid picking loot up by accident. Yet the sheer unorthodoxy of this challenging objective might be enough to displease some of the less open-minded Thief fans. There is also a no blackjack/no killing/dont be seen objective on Hard and Expert that may discourage some. Finally, the mission is only truly ghost-friendly on Normal difficulty level, due to an unforeseeable special event on Hard and Expert difficulty levels. This being said, the AI placement and large rooms generally give the player enough slack to be able to find a way out of more than a few tough situations. Yet this event, despite having the merits of being well executed and rare enough in FMs, has the potential to confuse the player, who might not know at this point what to do and especially when to do it. Perhaps more indications should have been provided to guide the player through this new type of situation for example, by having Garrett comment to himself something like I've got to get out of here.

    Overall, Daniel Corder's Turning the Tables presents a very unique Thief: the Dark Project experience, with many technical oddities and a very innovative design. The mission has some very unpredictable elements, too. There are some really good things here. Thief fans, especially those interested in older experimental missions, will want to give this one a try.

    Pros: A very original FM, with a good setting, unusual objectives and interactive architecture. A working automap feature. Good replay value too. Some large, complex areas to explore and to use to carry out the mission. Many opportunities to use rope arrows. Very dynamic, with good technical effects for the time and changing objectives. Lord Bifford's voice is very well recorded and very convincing. Good replay value.
    Cons: Too dark at times. Somewhat lacking character development. Some players might not like the objectives. There is no alternative to the garden maze puzzle. Some puzzles lack clarity, such as how to access the treasure room; this one in particular can potentially become a frustrating button-hunt. A special event on Hard and Expert difficulty levels may confuse the player. No multi-language support. No custom AI skins. AI are not very reactive to the players crucial actions. The maps are not very pleasing to the eye.
    Bottom Line: A surprising and experimental FM, with many very original gameplay elements, but somewhat lacking depth.
    Last edited by Brethren; 9th May 2017 at 14:52.

  24. #49
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    A Night in Rocksbourg 3: Ink and Dust
    By The Mike Published: September 19, 2009Posted in: ReviewTags:

    A Night in Rocksbourg 3: Ink and Dust
    Created By: DrK

    Again I find myself reviewing an FM that pretty much everyone has already unanimously agreed is fantastic and almost everyone has probably already downloaded. That's okay though, with the fact that its really good out of the way it gives me room to talk about other stuff in my review like..uh did anyone see Star Trek yet? What was up with Spock and Uhura?! There's some sorta thing goin on there. You know when Kirk gets the Vulcan death grip? That's exactly what should happen to anyone who doesn't download this FM (GOD that was an awesome segue).

    A Night in Rocksbourg 3 is of course the sequel to A Night in Rocksbourg 2 which was itself a sequel to A Night in Rocksbourg 1 (I know, my head is spinning too). The campaign starts out with Garrett taking a much needed vacation to Rocksbourg only to have his plans ruined by a zombie invasion because like all videogame characters he is the single most unlucky bastard in the universe and God hates him with every fiber of His being. By this point in the series, Garrett is in the sewers running from zombies and haunts and really big icky rats when hes taken in by a dude who comes out of a giant white doorway and talks like Darth Vader's big scary uncle. It turns out hes from a mysterious faction simply called The Order.

    Let me stop right now and say this is one of the things I really loved about this FM, this new faction is stupidly awesome (that's a good thing). Now I love the factions in the Thief series as much as anyone (if they sold keeper or hammerite plushie dolls I would be on that like some sort of analogy about something being on another thing. Bobble heads? I would say Id be on that even faster but frankly I think my head would explode from all the awesome) but frankly, its time for some new faces. Dr. K brings us a brand new faction here thats equal parts creepy and intriguing. An easy way of describing them is that they're basically keepers if they all became groupies for a death metal band and you dipped them in a giant vat of dirt- but EVEN THAT isn't doing them justice! But you want to know what does do them justice?

    The voice acting (man, TWO amazing segues- there aren't enough high fives in the world for how great I am). The voice overs in this FM are without a doubt the best I've ever heard in a fan project. Much credit has to go to Quincy Jones Wannabe (dude, we all want to be Quincy Jones, but chasing this dream will only bring disappointment and a restraining order, trust me) who turns in such a fantastic performance that its a shame more people wont hear it- this is just a fan mission with a limited audience. This guy needs to get into professional voice acting. In fact I'm going to be his agent. THIS KID IS GOING STRAIGHT TO THE TOP I TELLS YA. Also I get 30% of everything

    You know what though? WAY more than 30% of everything in this mission looks absolutely amazing (Ill stop now)! The level design is beyond fantastic. The first room you enter in The Order compound is legitimately breathtaking, and while it isnt ever quite that grand in scale again, it doesn't get any less impressive from that point. All new textures are used and for the most part, new objects are used as well. What this all means unfortunately is that you need a decent computer to run this FM properly. On my last machine, a pentium 3 with 512 megs of RAM, my computer saw the first room and I started to smell something burning. Any modern machine will handle it fine, but be warned that if you're running thief on a dinosaur system, this FM will go all hungry lion on the unassuming grazing gazelle that is your computer.

    And now we come to it, the one thing that everyone has to talk about when they mention A Night in Rocksbourg 3: Ink and Dust (Im getting tired of typing that, I think I'm just going to call this mission Bob from now on). The Dark Zone. This small bit of the mission has to be the single most crazy scary section of any FM I've ever played. Mind you the mission up to this point is unsettling in a I feel like I have to take a shower after playing this kinda way, but nothing can prepare you for the full out mind ravashing you're in for once you take the elevator down into what is essentially hell near the end of the mission. There's a scare near the beginning that worked so well I didn't just jump, I jumped and made some sort of girlish held back shrieking noise. I also may or may not have actually physically yelled GET ME THE F*** OUT OF HERE through a fit of tears near the end of this segment when you hear a siren going off and getting louder and are trapped in a pitch black maze. I'm pretty sure that if I went to a doctor immediately after playing through this I would have been clinically diagnosed with the heebie-jeebies.

    So is Bob worth downloading? Oh, you better believe it is sir. Its not quite perfect- the excessively dirty looking textures make it a little too difficult to find certain hidden switches necessary to proceed and it gets a little maze heavy in its second half, but these problems don't really matter much in the end. Like all truly great FMs this is not only a great gameplay experience, but also an excellent piece of fan fiction. You know what else is an excellent piece of fan fiction? My The Seven Sisters review which is also on this site that you should totally check out (SWOOSH, and I score again).

  25. #50
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    The Seven Sisters
    By The Mike Published: September 17, 2009Posted in: ReviewTags:

    THE SEVEN SISTERS
    By: Lady Rowena

    Long ago I promised in this FMs thread over in the TTLG forums that I would review it, and being the predictably lazy bastard that I am, I never got around to it. Why am I doing it now when everyone already knows its phenomenal and absolutely worth the download? Why!? Why did Columbus sail across the sea to discover America when everyone told him it was suicide? Why did Louis and Clark explore whatever it was that they explored that made them so famous (I'm sure Ill get around to wikipedia-ing that before I post this)?? Why? WHY!? Because I'm an asshole- that's why.

    The Seven Sisters is of course the sequel to Rowena's Curse, which was created by the FM making hive mind that calls itself both Lady Rowena and Eshaktaar but is actually a single highly advanced being with pure awesome coursing through its veins (Eshaktaar would be the creator of Ominous Bequest and Broken Triad, two missions which are extremely close concept-wise to Lady Rowena's missions yet were created at exactly the same time eliminating the possibility of one of them influencing the other. Maybe the idea of them being a singular giant pulsating brain in a jar hooked up to several computers running DromEd is a bit of a stretch, but I'm not ready to take off my tinfoil hat just yet). Actually its more of a follow-up to Rowena's Curse than a full out sequel, the story of the previous FM only influencing this one in minor ways. The story here is a tale about a happy marriage and the zombies that tear it apart. That's what I like about Lady Rowena, she gives the ladies their romantic subplot and us guys she gives the zombies, gore, and one-liner spewing robots on motorcycles.

    Actually, while Im on the subject of the story, this is a perfect time to discuss my one and only problem with this mission. The characterization of Garrett. Now first of all, I'm all for FM authors re-interpreting Garrett a bit to match their writing style, but if you don't stay true to the heart and soul of the character you might as well just change the main characters name (this is an easy fix that for some reason not many authors think of). Garrett in the original games was a total dick who only was saving the world because his own ass was on the line. In The Seven Sisters Garrett is a big huggable softy with a heart of gold that believes in the healing powers of love and probably owns The Notebook on DVD and sobs into a tissue at the end of the movie while shouting GO TO HIM! at the screen. Saving your friend Basso because he is an old reliable accomplice is one thing, and I could totally swallow that when it happened- on the other hand, having an objective appear that tells me to let someone know that they're loved is totally another thing. Why would Garrett care?! Why would he risk zombies eating the area in and around his face just to play love connection!? Why must you threaten my masculinity by putting me in dangerously close proximity to emotions!? But GOD if it wasn't adorable when I reunited that baby burrick with its owner but that's COMPLETELY different!

    As far as issues with this FM go, that's about all I can think of. Id nitpick but this FM is completely nit-less and any attempted picking of said nits would be fruitless. The level design is absolutely gorgeous to the point where you could mash the print screen key the entire time you're playing it and end up with about 4,000 worthy desktop backgrounds. Not only that but the levels are built in such a way that it plays as good as it looks. I didn't even mind the occasional too brightly lit street full of patrolling guards. We Thief players are getting too damn good at this, I like it when an FM actually tempts us to use the tools we have at our disposal (even if it means ruining our perfect ghost and subsequently being exiled from our hometowns leading our children's children to look at us in disgrace while we sit huddled under a tree for shelter while the rain beats down around us, all the time wondering what life would have been like if we hadn't used that moss arrow).

    Actually I just thought of another problem. There are a couple doorways in the mission with metallic frames around them, but soft flooring on either side, so of course sneaking isn't on your mind until you walk through them and CLANK! everyone is unsheathing their swords and giving you that You'd best quickload before our terrible fight AI kicks in and things get awkward look. I'm not happy that I had to make myself look like an ass for bringing up something so inane but this is cheap. That, however, is about the last possible problem I think I can come up with. I'm pushing my whineiness about as far it can go and I swear I just cant think of anything else to cry about you know what that means, get out your hymnbook because I'm about to sing some more praises.

    The game has 4 missions (It almost seems like I should have gotten to this earlier in the review?), one is an introduction which is uneventful but pretty, the other two are basically the same town mission split into two parts called nights one and two, and the last is something completely different I wouldn't spoil here (Ill just say get ready for some HARDCORE NUDITY). The idea of exploring the same level twice might sound tedious, but missions two and three really feel completely original, and stand on their own surprisingly well. Most buildings are explored only on one specific night, meaning that other than the main streets, you aren't just going through the same old places again on the next mission. Night One does a great job of teasing you as far as whats in store in the next mission by giving you only one lockpick which means that doors you can only half pick you will have to come back to on the next night. Unlocking those doors on the following night results in much giddy giggling followed by a whole lot of nervously wondering if anyone heard you. In short, there's a whole lot of gameplay here, and its all brilliantly planned out and fun.

    So, is The Seven Sisters worth downloading? As I said in the second sentence which you all probably got to before you stopped reading, yes. Is it one of the greatest FMs of all time? Definitely. Is it THE greatest FM of all time? I'm not so sure but if it and Ominous Bequest and Calendra's Legacy had a cage match, it would certainly be the one holding the foldable chair.
    Last edited by Brethren; 9th May 2017 at 22:46.

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