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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #2976
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    Played all the 1 Million Units contest levels, like the other contests I just rated out of 30 with no categories.

    Alcazar - Thief Gold

    I'm not sure on the exact limits of this contest, because they seem semi-flexible, with this level focusing heavily on the vertical aspect; you start at pub and some surrounding building, but there's a large vertical area with a mine leading down into a tomb that is your goal (nicely taunted with a view near the start, but much harder to reach than it looks). The street area is mostly neutral, with only a couple of people bothered by your intrusion, but does a good job getting stranger and more dangerous as you descend, with the bottom areas having multiple threats in a small area. It also includes multiple modified enemy models, including a couple of unexpected surprises. There are multiple ways to access things despite the small size, and also a couple of puzzles and other obstacles later on. I'm not sure where the other entries will take the concept but this seems like a very strong start.


    Your goal is right there near the start, getting there is another matter...

    Rating: 28

    Nightwalk - Thief Gold

    This is a straightforward city streets robbery. The space is mostly horizontal with some vertical space for the rooftops; while a small area it's convincing enough, although the architecture is relatively simple, with some cubic interiors and one or two rooms with repetitive texturing I found a little unconvincing. There's plenty of darkness and lots of water arrows lying around, so none of the enemies pose much of a threat, and I found the Expert objectives during casual exploration. The closest thing to a surprise is one target building having a locked front door, but that's circumvented easily enough. Pretty simple, but, unless you really need a challenge, there's nothing notably bad here, although I'm guessing it's by a relatively new mapper.


    The higher points have some nice views across the area

    Rating: 17

    Recipe for Turmoil - Thief Gold

    Another city map; while relatively horizontal the design is quite intricate with organic (if quite confined) streets and rooms that snake through the central parts of the map. The visual standard is high and does a lot with the small space it has, along with giving each house it's own flavour of atmosphere (there's also a cool rain effect). The gameplay is pretty simple stealth-wise, with few actual threats around; the main focus is the exploration, as the space flows in a way that creates a pretty complex warren of rooms to decipher the path through, and also contains a couple of nice secrets (including one that adds a little twist to part of the story). In the end it's small enough and has enough distinctive views to get a feel for the structure. I actually had the most problems with the loot objective here, but after finishing the level and seeing how much loot I had missed I went back and found a couple of caches I had overlooked that would have made it much easier. A great looking map with rewarding exploration and some nice environmental storytelling, even if the actual stealth is a pretty small part.


    The twisting, confined streets weave around the main building

    Rating: 25

    A Midsummer Night's heist - Thief 2

    This is a mansion infiltration. Despite the small size this is one of the best looking mansions I've seen; namely due to the lighting, which has some of the best shadow casts I've seen in Thief, which is notable for a game that's all about that. It also makes some tasteful use of extra features like bloom on brighter lights. Gameplay-wise there's a good mix between darkness and more dangerous lighted sections; it's made a bit harder by an optional pseudo-ghosting objective to only knock out a couple of people maximum, which I went with and it was pretty reasonable to accomplish while having some breathing room between the well-trafficed areas and plenty of different approaches. One secret switch (that's basically needed for Expert) felt a little obscure to find even with a text hint, but I did stumble across it eventually. Another great entry, and any other mansion maps will have a tough time matching it. I also liked that this one had a full intro.


    Some of the great shadow work in this level

    Rating: 27

    The Cinder Notes - Thief 2

    This is a town area, with the twist being that it's actually in a daytime setting. This is another beautiful map visually, with dramatic shadow casts and the daylight giving it a different atmosphere, along with some great looking high-detail textures. The later part of the map is in a church being converted into something else, and it also follows the rest in having a great level of detail, along with a big lighting shift if you take a certain action. Despite the day setting there are plenty of shadows to hide in, but there are a decent amount of guards for a relatively small area. You have plenty of ways to get around and multiple approaches for the target building, including the potential to darken the place a bit (although you probably won't know about it the first time). I did find one Expert objective worded a little strangely on the briefing, as "don't harm anyone" suggests ghosting is needed, but it's actually just the standard "don't kill anyone" in-game. The modifed wood footstep sound was also weirdly loud, despite wood not actually being louder to walk on. A very good map, although I did expect a little more of the slightly foreboding area the main objective is in.


    The daylight gives this level a unique style

    Rating: 26

    Sabotage in Eastport - Thief 2

    This is set in a sort of fort with the two main buildings very close to each other and a few extra areas around the perimeter. There's a nicely vertical feel that's amplified by the relatively confined horizontal area, and that also leads to some interesting exteriors. The interiors are fine, but simpler looking than the exteriors, although areas like the Mechanist building have some nice object usage. This is a bit more challenging than most of the other levels I've played so far, with confined spaces, lots of tile and multiple guards in close proximity. Most areas are a bit less intimidating than they look when you realise there are usually ways to turn off some of the lights and other security features, but outside of Alcazar this is one of the first times I've had to think a little about how to safely handle certain situations. While not as visually appealing or full of content as some of other entries this has some of the most engaging stealth gameplay so far.


    The vertical design leads to some impressive views from the top

    Rating: 21

    Sinister Night - Thief 2

    A mansion horror setting with a heavy Amnesia influence. The detail is great and lots of nice objects are used to enhance the setting (along with a pretty smothering black fog), the Lantern you are given does seem to illuminate objects a little strangely though. Since you have almost no equipment you are essentially ghosting, with a bit of a puzzle focus, but the darkness of the setting gives you plenty of hiding room despite the confined areas. I did feel the obvious Amnesia assets lowered the fear a little; at that point I knew more of what to expect, but they are well implemented, I did feel there could have been one or two more surprises though (though there is a nice moment to take you off guard later on). A great looking level, although relatively straightforward in gameplay.


    Not a very welcoming place...

    Rating: 25

    The Perdurance - Thief 2

    In a break from more traditional themes this takes place on a ship; the briefing suggests a Mechanist infiltration, but it quickly becomes clear that something has gone very wrong... The Mechanist style is executed well, and the setting is appropriately cramped but still has a few more open areas (also making use of dark fog like the previous level). There are also plenty of new objects to sell the carnage of what happened before your arrival. After buildup the main stealth is actually quite challenging as you have few resources and threats are very fast, which requires you to act quickly, especially given the confined quarters and low visibility. There's also quite a lot of metal and tile to be careful of too. Another good horror entry, although I think I slightly preferred Sinister Night.


    The Mechanists might not be your biggest issue here

    Rating: 24

    The Turning of The Leaves - Thief 2

    This is set in a forest and some man-made structures within it. While the forest corridors linking things are quite confined the area as a whole feels large, to the point this is the one level I wouldn't even have a hunch was limited in some way if I didn't know it was part of a contest. Every area looks great, and locations are quite varied despite the theme, including a couple of parts that might be a slight surprise. There are also some good custom models and objects to give everything a unique feel, it's also backed up by more nice rain effects. The gameplay has a heavy adventure feel, with the main mission (which itself has a small but very well executed twist to it) only taking up a small part of the map, and the rest being optional objectives (loot goal aside). Each area also has a different feel to the stealth, with the main goal area being quite challenging, with a lot of light and blind corners and doors to be careful of, but the other locations have their own challenges too, some of which are pretty unexpected. While you start with nothing, another interesting aspect is a way to combine various ambient objects into usable items (if you find it anyway). As I said above, this would feel like a full mission if released without context, and it's definitely my favourite of them all.


    One of the various buildings in the forest

    Rating: 29

    The contest has multiple good missions, and the smaller size means that none get to outstay their welcome (even if also leaves you wanting more with some), there's also an excellent visual standard to the majority, with some of the best looking areas I've seen, which I guess is helped by the small size allowing tons of detail to be crammed in. The Turning of The Leaves is my favourite, with Alcazar as second, and A Midsummer Night's Heist and The Cinder Notes follow close behind them.
    Last edited by Mman; 13th Jan 2021 at 19:45.

  2. #2977
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2003
    Location: Phoenix, AZ, USA, Earth
    Thanks! I agree with all of your scores (+/-1) except for Sinister Night, which for me came much lower. I haven't played Cinder Notes yet, but looking forward to it.

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