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Thread: Old Southquarter FM Reviews

  1. #51
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Deceptive Perception 2: Phantasmagoria
    By The MikePublished: October 20, 2009Posted in: Thief 2 FMTags:

    Deceptive Perception 2: Phantasmagoria
    Created By: Yandros

    The original Deceptive Perception is the FM that has the distinct honor by many of us as being the single scariest FM ever created. To me personally it has the distinct honor of being the reason I scream every time I see a crate AND the reason why I never turn around after reading a note left for me by someone (if I don't notice the zombie hoard that probably just appeared behind me, they wont eat me though I have to wonder why I would think a letter reading GET YOUR DAMN STUFF OFF THE COUNTER would trigger a swarm of hungry zombies, but better safe than sorry). Enter Deceptive Perception 2: Phantasmagooglia (spelling of actual subtitle may vary), created by The Man Himself, Yandros, which comes before me claiming it is the spiritual successor to Deceptive Perception, and that it will both scare me as much as the original and is much larger and more involving and will make me lose 10 pounds in 3 days. Does it accomplish all this? Well, you better read on, because I'm not giving it away in the first paragraph this time (It does. GODDAMMIT!).

    The story has you playing as Garrett as he recalls a mission he took on a night ago. Some guy was all There's a big expensive relic in this Warehouse but its crazy haunted and anyone who goes in there is dead and sucks at being a thief and Garrett was all NUH-UH!!. Long story short his face was gnawed off by zombies. THE END. Well okay, there's a bit more too it than that but Garrett in a haunted warehouse is the basic premise that the FM runs with for about 1/4 of its I guess it runs with it and then right near the end zone passes it to some kid with A.D.D. who catches the premise and drives away with it to Vegas before ultimately ending up in Mexico. What I'm saying is its all over the place- but in a good way! Like if chocolate were to get all over the place on your face, except in your eyes because that would sting. Maybe I should just stay away from analogies because I think I'm horrible at them.

    The emphasis in DP2: Phantasmalicious is of course on scares, like the original you're meant to move slowly through each room taking in the jump moments and scripted events which normally involve ghosts throwing stuff at you or singing creepy nursery rhymes (since all ghosts are either in a perpetual state of arrested development or big stupid jerks). There are also some points where ghosts will actually chase you down and try to kill you while you have no way of defending yourself, at which point you get to live out all of your action hero fantasies of seeing something scary and running away screaming. All of the scares work in either making you jump or in looking just plain awesome. There are probably more on the just plain awesome than jump side, of course its also possible that I just have nerves of steel and am all that is man. I DO go cliff jumping and shave with a giant hunting knife, so that is very possible.

    If this mission has one major flaw its probably that it just cant choose what it wants to be about. Its at its best when it just has you nervously walking through a haunted warehouse getting the bejeebus scared out of you, but this part amounts to little more than an introduction. I don't mind all the changes of location, but at one point it tricks you into thinking its going to become a legitimate sneaking mission by introducing guards you have to creep by and an interesting alternate world gameplay mechanic and then it goes back to a linear corridor crawling spook house. The thing is I love the whole spook house thing, but this sudden transition to actual gameplay which only disappears moments later just comes off as odd, even though the gameplay itself is very good. Its like someone giving you an apple pie only for you to bite into it and realize its actually a steak sandwich or something that makes much more sense than that but is also jarring (CURSE YOU ANALOGIES, why must your art escape me?).

    Actually the mission has one more problem, its a bit buggy. This is to be expected from a mission with so many complex scripted events and none of them are game breaking. One I found had me refusing to stop walking forward after being magically transported to a new area unless I started walking backward and jumping around, which made me look like a TOTAL dork around all the ghosts (they'll never allow me to sit at their lunch table now). Another had my sword still being held out in front of me after a cinematic where I was suppose to have it taken away only I couldn't put it away or swing it, which not only made me look like a dork but pretty much solidified that the poltergeist who calls herself the White Lady would totally never go out with me (she had hurled some skulls at me before, but I know that was just her style of playful flirting- the tease). Overall none of this was much of a problem, but if I don't pick these nits who will? YOU!? PFFT, Id like to see that(YOU STAY AWAY FROM MY NITS)

    So, if I were a tree, would I download DP 2: Phatasmastablishmentarianism? I would go as far as to say that I would download it even if I wasn't a tree. In fact I did. And I loved it. And you will love it too. I haven't even mentioned the fantastic level design (no really, I haven't. I'm actually THAT bad at reviewing) or the great voice acting. Both are just more icing on the cake! Hey that was an analogy that actually made sense! Maybe I'm getting good at this? Let me just finish then by saying, playing this FM is better than flying through a galaxy sized Krispy Kreme in a spaceship made out of pancakes.

  2. #52
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Chronicle of the Metal Age : Chapter I - Clefts in the Hammer
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, City, Hammerite, Church
    July 22nd, 2006 by russellmz

    Authors :
    Sir Balu : global architecture, AI, storyline, scripting
    Jano : custom skins and textures, voice acting, beta testing
    Date of Release: Aug 2003

    Too easy.

    Just kidding. Never let it be said this one isn't a challenge. Very large and diverse. I WANT to ding the mission for the fact I only finished the last objective due to massive spoilers. But I cant, since after reading the spoiler necessary for the objective I cant help but say, Oh yeah, I should have noticed that.

    A few minor map quirks, such as an enemy who I couldn't kill/knockout and some doors that you cant open, lockpick, or find keys for by design. Plus, a book that lights up as if it can be read but had no text.

    Very good attention paid to the journals, they told a coherent story about characters you don't even meet (alive at least). There was some clever AI guard placement/patterns. One managed to pop up behind me and squeeze me against another guard. There did seem to be a minor problem where as soon as you pop open the door it would reveal a guard who had been walking around and whistling but not heard before the door opened. The opening was nicely done, not a traditional briefing, but one that provides some connections from Thief I and Thief II.

    The huge map and clever plot make this one a winner.

    Tip that would have saved me 30 minutes when I had to back to a hard save: save at least one water arrow.

  3. #53
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Burglary in Blackbrook
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 1/Gold, Crypt, Hammerite, Undead, Church
    June 28th, 2006 by Morrgan

    Garrett has been asked by an old friend and fellow thief to help out with a job. To meet up with his old pal, he travels to the city of Blackbrook. The plan is to break into a local Hammerite compound and steal everything not nailed down; a job that requires Garrett's special skills.

    As I read the mission description for Burglary in Blackbrook by John D., my hopes were set high. A great prologue explains the background and Garrett's reasons to do this job in a personal way. The style of writing hinted that some enjoyable reading could be expected. It gave a fine start for the mission by getting me into the right mood for a night of good old-fashioned thievery. Feeling the atmosphere of a mission even before the game has been fired up is something I take as a good sign. However, when I started on the mission the first view was disappointing. The starting area is plain and together with a starting sound that keeps playing again and again, it made me doubt my pre-play impression. As I continued I found that both first impressions were close to the truth.

    As far as reading is concerned, my hopes were not let down. For the most part the texts are written well. A very nice detail is that some new hymns and sermons can be found. The mission is set after Thief 2, and some writings are about the current struggle for power between Mechanists, Hammerites and more mundane authorities, in both the City and Blackbrook. They explain what is only hinted at in the prologue, presenting a link between it and the mission itself. Other texts hint at events taking place in the compound; they provide an interesting subplot and bring the level and its occupants to life. In my opinion, the best about the writings is that as you play you will find the results of the actions described in them. This serves as a good way of making the surroundings seem real. The only thing that irks me about the writing is something connected to one of the objectives. Incriminating evidence has been written down on paper; not for example in a letter that has accidentally not been destroyed, but in personal notes nobody else should read. Why would anyone take that risk? This is something Ive often encountered in FMs before, and it lessens the believability of the events.

    I noticed that a lot of thought has gone into the mission. None of the rooms and areas seem out of place, nor inappropriate for their function. The compound contains everything you might expect from a place like this; it has chapels, barracks, separate rooms for higher-ranking Hammerites, a library, sparring areas, crypts etc. The impression that this is a properly thought-out mission is further enhanced by what the texts tell you about the residents. The main characters are individuals with their own views, conflicts and morals. As it is, most of what you learn about them comes from diaries; perhaps it would have been more realistic to use letters and other notes to convey their personalities.
    Architecturally the mission could be improved. Some nicer spots exist, for example a chapel with red and yellow decor, but in general the architecture is plain. Most outside locations feel too cubic and have little to offer in the way of details. The choice of textures is appropriate for the setting, but they could be used better; there are several areas where the same one is used for both ceiling and walls. Perhaps the most distracting is that the compound has no general theme. It feels like it consists of many different parts glued together into one building. The layout of the compound can be confusing at first and there is no map to help you out. The area is not that large though, and after some exploring I was able to find my way without much trouble. Also, once I knew my way around, the layout seemed more logical.

    What the mission lacks in architecture, it makes up for with atmosphere. What primarily adds to atmosphere is that the place feels like a Hammerite compound, just as it should. Admittedly architecture matters in this aspect too, but for instance ambient sounds can help a visually plain area. The use of ambient sounds in the level is mostly good; for example it has beautiful chants that made me stop to listen for a while. Generally the sounds fit in with the setting and their location. A minor problem is that the change of sounds is usually abrupt and sometimes too noticeable as you play.

    The mission presents few challenges and is quite easy to finish even on Taffer (Expert). The lack of puzzles may be a minus for some players, but personally I found that learning more about the subplot as I progressed in the mission was enough to keep my interest up. AI placement is somewhat unbalanced; the mission contains both areas that are, as far as I know, impossible to get to without alerting guards and patrols that are very easily avoided. Not having a don't kill objective even on the hardest difficulty is a refreshing change and allows several gaming styles, something I personally appreciate. The mission was clearly designed with sneaking in mind, and is at its best when played that way. Still, if you feel like knocking everyone out or behaving like a homicidal maniac, nothing is stopping you.

    Burglary in Blackbrook doesn't offer anything new or spectacular and has no puzzles, but it has no serious problems or bugs either. The worst I found was that the player has unlimited rope arrows. Naturally, this discovery set me off on a mad climbing frenzy. My frenzy was rather short-lived though, since there are few opportunities to use them. In other words, this little bug doesn't have much impact on gameplay. Sound propagation needs some fixes and it is possible to get stuck in some of the more cramped rooms, if you make an effort to. Also, the lighting on the ground doesn't always correspond to what the light gem shows, which caused a few unintentional confrontations with the AI for me. Despite its slight shortcomings, I enjoyed playing the mission. If you like Hammerite missions and think atmosphere is more important than gorgeous architecture, give this one a try.

    Pros: The subplot makes the mission more interesting; well-written texts.
    Cons: Architecture is plain; some AI placement could be better.
    Bottom Line: Don't let the lack of eye candy scare you off. It is not the most outstanding FM out there, but it has the atmosphere of a true Hammerite mission.

  4. #54
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    All Torc
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Campaign, Mansion, City, Guards
    June 28th, 2006 by Morrgan |

    All Torc by R Soul is a mission pack that contains three playable missions and two camvator sequences: Shalebridge, Welcome to Robington, Are We There Yet?, Fort Montoya and Supply and Demand. The first and the last missions are the camvator scenes. Although I like the use of camvators to set the mood and introduce the mission, in this case the introduction was less evocative than it could have been, due to the fact that not a single gesture or motion was used in the conversation at the start.
    Id rather not describe the story in too much detail, because part of the charm is watching the camvator introduction. Suffice to say that Garrett has been warned by the Keepers and needs to relocate for a while. He ends up in a place called Robington and soon finds a job opportunity for a talented thief.

    Overall, this mission pack offers one of the best gaming experiences I've come across during this year [note: this review was written in 2005]. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect is the authors commendable attention to detail, regarding characters and events, but also architecture in Fort Montoya. The technical gimmickry is very impressive, ranging from what you'll see in Are We There Yet? to the guards custom reactions, such as investigating and closing opened doors. I was especially pleased to find interesting and often amusing readables, something that is given too little attention and effort in many other FMs.

    The first playable mission, Welcome to Robington, takes place in the streets of Robington — apparently a nearby city, though this isn't made clear. Unfortunately, the mission gives a bland first impression for the series. It does have some good locations that have attention to detail and fun gameplay; lighting is solid overall and the effect of the pouring rain is enhanced by thunder, flooded areas and even the sound of raindrops pattering on the roofs. However, most areas are visually plain and there is little excitement to find in the streets, as most guards patrolling them are friendly. Although there is some good sneaking at the end, most of the mission is just wandering around the city, wondering where to go next, which isn't terribly exciting. The street layout is sufficiently complex to make it interesting, but with the lack of an automap it is easy to get lost. I think it would have been a better idea to have a smaller city with more detail and with more buildings to break into.

    Are We There Yet? is more of a small interlude than a real mission. Its not a difficult mission, nor is it meant to be. The atmosphere is cozy, as this is a fun and relaxing break before the real job begins in the next mission. The technical side of this mission is well executed; you'll know what I'm talking about when you get there. As a fun detail, the servant woman in this mission can be seen in the previous one, giving her a reason to be here.

    Finally we get to Fort Montoya, which I have to say has become one of my all-time favorites. The mission takes place in a manor with a renovation of the interior decoration taking place: there's paneling waiting to be placed on the walls, some lights aren't fully functional yet and carpets wait by the walls to be rolled out in their place. Together with good use of lighting and ambient sounds, this makes the place feels very realistic and tangible. The unfinished feel of the building adds an interesting aspect to atmosphere, as do the eerie scenes you see at times, which make you wonder what the building was previously used for This mission is simply fun to play, with a good balance between lit and shadowy areas, although here too there is a risk of getting lost, as the place is a maze and there's no automap.

    Once the missions are completed, there are still some questions left unanswered, both concerning plot and the scenes you witness in Fort Montoya. R Soul is working on a sequel and has hinted that these questions may yet be answered. Im especially interested to see what role the Keepers have to play in all this and what their motive is for helping Garrett this time.

    All Torc is a solid mission pack that gets better with each mission and contains one of the best missions released in 2005. In short, All Torc is well worth downloading and playing.

    Pros: Commendable attention to detail; mostly well-written readables; excellent architecture in the last mission and parts of the other missions; impressive technical gimmickry; fun gameplay in the last two missions.

    Cons: The first playable mission could have been better, especially in terms of architecture and gameplay; the lack of an automap can be irritating at times.
    Bottom Line: Despite the bland first impression from the first playable mission, this is a very well-made and enjoyable mission pack that gets better with each mission you play.

  5. #55
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Tears of Blood
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 1/Gold, Campaign, Hammerite
    June 27th, 2006 by Morrgan

    Tears of Blood by Sperry has been updated and re-released several times. I played both the version released in 2001 and the one included in the Shadow of Doubt campaign for this review. The 2001 version has a very evocative introduction in the readme, giving a good start for immersion and atmosphere. I know some people don't want to read these kinds of introductions (I'm one of those people at times), but in this case its worth the extra time spent before getting to business. The version included in the campaign has a cut down introduction, which is a shame. On the other hand, this version has a few minor fixes and improvements on the mission itself.

    In this mission, Garrett has been caught by the hammerites and must escape from Guilesatpeak Prison. The first thing you'll notice as you start playing is that the prison is dark. Really dark. There is no ambient light set, which means shadows are pitch black even if you turn gamma up to maximum. Fortunately this doesn't cause any problems as you play, since the author has made sure there's always enough light for the player to find their way around. As an added bonus, the darkness makes the prison seem more threatening: its a place you really want to get out from, making a big difference for atmosphere. The darkness, the feeling of vulnerability, the tense moments during the escape This is how an escape mission should feel.

    Theres another matter that stands out. At the end of the mission I had a whopping 14 types of keys and more than one of most types, which has to be the highest number of keys I have ever seen in a FM. On the bright side, the mission never turns into a key hunt, for the keys are easy enough to find when you need them. There are also several pickable locks and these are very well-timed for just the right amount of tension, knowing that a guard might come back any second. Long lockpicking times are often a nuisance, but in this mission they are used properly in combination with guards patrols to create suspense. At times the guards pauses feel too long though, slowing down the pacing. The new lockpicks are a cool detail: Garrett's lockpicks were taken away, so he has to find suitable substitutes.

    Guilesatpeak isn't an ordinary prison. Keeping prisoners is not the buildings primary function, although what exactly the main function is remains unclear. The levels below ground are used for storage and the upper floors have barracks, a kitchen and a library with rather important tomes. There is also a sort of sewer system control connected to the facility. In other words, there are several different areas to explore, making it more interesting than most other jailbreak missions. Architecture is solid throughout the mission. There is enough detail to please the eye, yet not so much that it would seem inappropriate considering the rooms function. There was one spot I managed to get myself permanently stuck in, so be a bit careful when exploring.

    Oh, remember to check all nooks and crannies for loot as you proceed, otherwise there is a risk for the mission to turn into an annoying loot hunt in the end.
    Overall, Tears of Blood offers challenging sneaking, many tense moments and good visuals. This mission is fun to play and does a great job with the jailbreak theme; a theme which is more difficult to make interesting and fun than one might think. All in all, its a very satisfying mission.

    Pros: Great introduction in the readme (for the version released in 2001); tense atmosphere; enjoyable sneaking; architecture is always appropriate.
    Cons: Nothing major, although there is the risk of an annoying loot hunt at the end and the amount of keys is ridiculous.
    Bottom Line: One of the best jailbreak missions, offering challenging stealth, tense atmosphere and decent architecture.

  6. #56
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Transitions In Chaos, Part I: Conspiracies In The Dark
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Campaign, Mansion, City, Sewer, Guards
    June 25th, 2006 by Renault

    This is a fantastic new mission by Ramirezs Old Fat Burrick, author of Komag’s Contest 5 mission The Focus. It’s excellent in almost every way, and should not by missed by any enthusiast of Thief FMs. The first thing youll notice is that it looks amazing, not only the texturing, but the complex architecture as well. The main setting is a large and often times confusing mansion, and the attention to detail is phenomenal. This is one of those missions that contains so many little touches of realism that you might be convinced you are actually there. The layout of the mansion is odd and complicated, making exploration a blast, but also sometimes confusing. In fact, most of the time I had a hard time figuring out which floor I was on. In addition, there are multiple points of entry, creating an nice non-linear environment.

    In addition, the plot and story is interesting and lengthy, in the form of a murder mystery, and you are continually fed new objectives, creating a fantastic trip that should take even most veterans several hours. There are quite a few secrets and a decent amount of loot – in all honesty, I can’t think of much bad to say about this mission. Maybe the excessive use of light shafts, but they still look very cool. They contribute to the dark and dreary mood of this FM, which isn’t a bad thing. The tech in this mission is also very good, with some interesting puzzles and bonus objectives. Sound was very good, with nice environmental sounds, although some transitions between areas sound abrupt. AI placement was a bit sparse in areas, at times it felt as if the mission was too easy, even on expert. Also, the provided map is slightly confusing. These are all very minimal criticisms however, they should not deter anyone from playing this mission immediately. Ill be very anxious to see Part II, hopefully in the not too distant future.

  7. #57
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Saints and Thieves
    Posted in Reviews, City, Warehouse, Thieves, Guards
    July 29th, 2006 by dlw6

    Play it, play it now!

    In Saints and Thieves, Spitter gives us everything that makes Thief great. This mission has all the essentials: interesting architecture with alternate routes (I found four ways to get into the Redblades compound), an automap, good puzzles, surprises, interesting gameplay to accommodate a variety of play styles, and a story revealed through action, conversations, and books/scrolls.

    But Saints and Thieves goes well beyond the essentials. The puzzles are very creative, there is a ton of new content (graphics, objects, sounds, skins, conversations), there are weather effects, and the story is well developed. The architecture makes sense. The Redblade Smugglers Guild is not just a bunch of AIs with new skins, they have names, group culture, and group dynamics which give them reasons for what they do. The main puzzle of the game varies with difficulty level and provides a technically innovative use of objects. The mission includes AI who are interactive. And, it provides a challenge for those who like to find all the loot.

    There is very little to criticize in this mission. A few lines of conversation sounded stiff, and there is a spot or two where you can get stuck on the terrain. The outdoor warehouse areas seemed too large. These are very minor things in an excellent mission. I gave it 9 out of 10; GarretLoader reports 12 ratings with an average 8 out of 10.

    Disclaimer: I voiced Deryns lines. Since the rest of the story was unknown to me until playing the mission after its release, I consider myself unbiased enough to rate it. Your mileage may vary.

  8. #58
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Snobs Part 2
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Series, Mansion, City, Guards
    July 22nd, 2006 by Renault

    This city FM by Naks ( friends) is unique in that it doesn't actually take place in The City that we know and love from the official Thief games, but a separate fictional city known as Richpoor. We get an overview of Richpoor right from the beginning, in the form of a camvator sequence (accompanied by a rather cheesy guitar soundtrack). While I'm sure the author enjoyed showing off his technical prowess in getting this feature to function properly, it really doesn't serve any purpose to the mission as far as setting a mood or telling a story. In fact, if anything it detracts from the overall fun of the mission by way of eliminating the excitement of exploration. By the time the camvator has finished, the player has seen nearly the entire level of the game. In any case, Richpoor is constructed fairly well for a city level, providing some alternate routes throughout that will take you both high and low before reaching your ultimate goal. Youll also find an abundance of fancy custom textures, objects, and models, so many in fact that at times you might not recognize this as being the work of the dark engine. Snobs2 also serves up some challenging objectives, as well as providing some unique and interesting ways of accomplishing them, which will keep you challenged and busy. All told, you'll likely spend just over an hour moving Garrett from start to finish.

    How much you enjoy this mission, however, will depend to a great extent on how wiling you are to accept the unfamiliar setting presented within. While I can appreciate the new objects and textures, this “city” is not the world of Thief that most players have become accustomed to. Gone is the medieval mood, the dark and dingy streets and alleys, and the sinister atmosphere of The City. It has been replaced by a antiseptically clean version, which feels more like a town and has far too many modern touches, including refrigerators, TVs, and real life movies. To further kill the immersion factor, the author refers to not only themselves openly within the mission, but also to the actual title of the FM. Given this fact, I suppose the mission should not be taken too seriously from the onset. If you can get by items like this, and simply enjoy the mission for what it is, then you should have a great time with Snobs2. I, on the other hand, had a difficulty time accepting Richpoor as a place that Garrett would inhabit. This type of environment doesn't cut it for me, as I crave the mystery and intrigue of the typical Thief world. This isn't to say that this FM is not fun – it is. It just isnt my style, which doesn't necessarily mean its not yours.

  9. #59
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Crypt, Undead, Contest, Mages, Underground
    August 10th, 2006 by Weasel

    Keyhunt by Eshaktaar, original release date March 17, 2006

    This mission was created for the Small Stock Resources contest. It consists of one walled-in tomb building and the crypt (or is it?) below. Despite the size limitation, the areas all feel sufficiently spacious. The gameplay consists mostly of puzzles, with a handful of AIs (the number varies with difficulty) and a few traps to mix things up.

    The puzzles are not overly difficult, but some of them do require a little observation. Readables give useful clues, and there's a hint room cleverly placed where those who need it most will be the first to find it. There's enough challenge to give a sense of accomplishment by the end.

    The construction is varied without feeling disjointed, and proportions and texturing are excellent throughout. A lot of thought was put into the lighting, with thin beams of stray sunlight heightening the mood of the interiors. Most of the light sources (candles) can be extinguished and relit. Its not always necessary, but it adds a touch of realism.

    The story is sparse and comes mostly at the end, but it serves the mission well enough.

    The mission does very well with the restriction to stock resources, and makes everything seem new again. Eshaktaar won the contest with this mission.

    Once you know everything that has to be done, the mission is small enough that it can easily be completed within 15 minutes. The first playthrough will take a good deal longer than that as you work to solve all the puzzles, but its still a good mission to play when time is limited.

  10. #60
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Hightowne Museum
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Contest, Museum, Guards
    July 3rd, 2006 by Morrgan

    Garrett has been hired to steal a valuable gem called the Serpents Eye. The stone is on exhibit at the Hightowne Baronial Museum, a building with few guards but an elaborate security system.

    Visually, my first impression of Hightowne Museum by Spitter didn't overwhelm me; however, the mission starts in the basement floor in a storage room, so in this context the somewhat bland opening view is justifiable. As I moved out from this room and further into the building, I soon found my initial impression had gravely underestimated this little mission.

    Overall the visuals are very appealing, especially on the top floors. The museum isn't large, since this is a contest mission with a size limit, but as I played I never felt any area was too cramped or lacked correct proportions. The rooms are pleasantly detailed and are for the most part something other than regular cubes. The textures are chosen well and set a mood one might expect for a museum building with wooden interiors. They aren't always aligned optimally, but this seems to be mostly due to the complexity of the architecture and the need to fit the rooms inside the contest limit.

    As the mission takes place in a museum, it contains exhibition halls with many items on display. The texts associated with them add to the believability of the setting, both by placing the objects in the Thief world and by being appropriate for a museum. In addition, many of them are an amusing read. The more personal writings are few, but give some idea of the traits of the main characters. They also hint at the consequences of Garrett's job tonight, helping to immerse the player further.

    The gemstone is protected by a pressure plate system, so getting to it means taking special measures. The only problem I could find with the level presents itself here. Not wanting to reveal too much of how the security system can be bypassed, Ill just say that it took me over a dozen reloads to get it done even when I knew what to do. A dozen reloads didn't exactly fill me with joy. Still, even this very frustrating episode didn't harm the mission too much for me. Because of its small size, the reloads take only a few seconds. Also, if you do manage to get the gem without too much trouble, accomplishing your goal feels quite satisfying.

    Hightowne Museum is the winner of the 2nd small FM contest and in my opinion it deserves its title. Many contest missions only have one or two features that are polished and may seem more like demos than missions, but Hightowne Museum is complete. It is very good in all aspects, even excellent at times. The level is impressive as it is; taking into consideration that it was built with both time and size limits, it is quite an achievement.

    Pros: Excellent architecture; fun gameplay; interesting security system to beat.
    Cons: Getting the gem can be truly frustrating.
    Bottom Line: This is a very pretty-looking and fun mission. Considering its small size, it has a lot to offer.

  11. #61
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Sir Lector Comes to Dine
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Mansion, Contest
    June 28th, 2006 by Morrgan

    Sir Lector Comes to Dine by William the Taffer was made for the 2nd small FM contest and with this in mind, choosing to set the mission in a single building was a good idea. This is one of the few contest missions that feel roomy, with suitable proportions and good layout. Its a pity that the choice of textures is so limited; even a log house could use more than one texture for walls and ceilings. Decoration is sparse with only one or two visually pleasant locations. Still, the only real construction problem is a set of unrealistic stairs with such high steps that theyre difficult to traverse.

    Reading Garretts journal at the start of the mission fills you in on the events earlier in the evening. The journal gives a detailed account for what happened, but its written in a style that doesnt sound like Garrett. In fact, I cant imagine Garrett sitting down to write things in a diary in a situation like this (or at all, for that matter). However, if you ignore the part about it being a diary and instead read it as an introduction, it works better.

    This missions strongest aspect is its tense atmosphere. The readables are few and not very convincing; instead the suspense is created with the anticipation of what lies ahead and having the deceptive quiet interrupted by sudden startling traps. However, this means most of the tension will be gone the second time you play, as you already know what will happen.

    The mission is short, easy to finish and offers little to do apart from getting to where you're supposed to go, making the ending pretty anticlimactic. Still, if you're looking for just a few minutes of play and enjoy tension built up from sudden and unexpected events, you might want to give this one a try.

    Pros: Great suspense the first time you play.
    Cons: Plain visuals; not much in the way of gameplay.
    Bottom Line: A quick and easy mission, but with a suspense that makes it worth playing despite its shortcomings.

  12. #62
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Outdoors, Undead, Creatures
    July 5th, 2006 by Preno

    Once again, the Keepers have a job for Garrett. As the title of this 2002 mission by Sharga suggests, he finds himself in a nameless swamp, filled with omnipresent fog and inhabited by craymen, treebeasts and frogbeasts. His task - to find and retrieve a journal kept by a certain Keeper Newton which is of vital importance to the Keepers. For the most part, you will be wading through the bog or finding your way through the forest, but you will also have the opportunity to explore ancient crayman structures or the ruins of an abandoned village. This mission is for the most part rather sparsely populated, so the gameplay generally consists of freely exploring the surroundings and pits the player more against the terrain than any living/undead enemies. This concept - a highly non-linear FM set in nature - still seems to remain quite unique, the only similar mission that comes to mind being Schwaas excellent Left for Dead (if you liked the swamp part of Left for Dead, you'll probably enjoy Swamped, too, and vice versa). It really is quite possible, as the readme says, to miss a huge part of the mission and yet manage to successfully finish it - on Normal, in fact, there is only one place you need to find and most of the areas thus become optional.

    And precisely in this lies a big part of the missions appeal. You can get the hell out of the place as fast as possible, if that's what you want, but you may also choose to take a closer look at the bog - who knows what you might find? There is an optional objective involving locating 3 gems on Expert (or Even Harder) and despite there not being any explicit loot objective, you can find a lot of swag lying around. There are also 3 secrets to be found, one of them featuring a puzzle of sorts. In other words, a plenty of opportunities for the ambitious thief-explorer. Furthermore, the non-linearity gives Swamped a relatively high replay value, since the player has to rediscover most of the areas anew each time (in fact, it is one of the few FMs I have replayed).

    The thick white fog present in almost the whole mission accounts in part for the eerie atmosphere (both metaphorically and literally) - the silhouettes of craymen and treebeasts are appearing and fading again in the distance, with usually only their characteristic clicking and growling giving evidence of their presence. The ruined village and the occasional crayman idol all contribute to a sense of mystery that seems to pervade the mission, and authors good choice of ambients further enhances this atmosphere of a god-forsaken swamp - of which, as he soon finds out, Garrett is not the only human visitor. The story of the mission centers around a group of unfortunate (ex-)thieves, who, as Garrett soon finds out, fell into the marsh while fleeing the bluecoats. Scattered around the mission are scrolls describing their fate that add to the atmosphere of desperation, well-written, believable and on occasions funny, too.

    My only significant criticism of this mission has to do with the architecture, which sometimes lacks sufficient detail and variety of texture - which is understandable in natural environments (how can one judge the architecture of a swamp, anyway?), but it makes the village, for example look somewhat cubish. The AI could also have been more challenging, but given that traditional sneaking is not the premise of this terrain-oriented mission anyway, this doesn't really have any negative effect on the gameplay.

    All in all, Swamped is a unique, highly non-linear mission with lots of places to explore, eerie atmosphere and enemies that are rarely given such prominence in other FMs (craymen and treebeasts). If you're looking for something non-traditional, definitely give this one a try.

  13. #63
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Forgotten Forest 2
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Series, Crypt, Undead, Underground
    July 21st, 2006 by Renault

    Lets be clear from the beginning - this FM by Timon is not for the faint of heart. Youll be hard pressed to find a more complex series of corridors, passageways, and tunnels than in this large mission which will undoubtedly take you many hours to complete (I clocked in at just over five). There is a lot of thieving here, and you cant help but appreciate the intricate design and construction of this level - I cant even fathom how long it must have taken to create. Just the number of objects alone is amazing (according to Dromed its around 3500!), and there is a considerable amount of custom work within. One of the best features of this FM is that as you play, a multitude of additional objectives are revealed, continually extending the story and providing new hurdles to the player. The same was true for the original Forgotten Forest mission, and the plot proves to be just as complicated here as in the first chapter. In the bang for the buck category, FF2 maxes out in a big way. Theres a lot going on and tons of places to explore and visit.

    That said, as previously mentioned this is not a level for everyone, and many players will just find it completely frustrating. I gave in to a walkthrough early on because I really wanted to finish the level. But after getting stuck, the layout was just too overwhelming to try and figure out exactly where I should go to continue. Others may simply consider this a challenge, but for me, it was just annoying. Despite the intricacy of the mission, in many ways I found the architecture of the sequel less interesting than the original, with many extremely vanilla hallways and rooms. Also, the abundance of readables can be daunting, and some are difficult to find to keep the story going. There are many secrets to be found, which has its pluses and minuses. Perfectionists will want to find them all, but this is a incredibly challenging task as most are tiny switches located in very obscure and out of the way positions. Providing the player with a challenge is one thing, but great FMs achieve a balance between difficulty and player success, and this one leans much too far in the wrong direction. Simply put, the level is just too hard for your average player.

    In the end, the only way to know if this FM is for you is to try it out. There are far too many positives here to dismiss it, and its obvious the author has invested a huge amount of their time in bringing this level to life. Just don't be afraid to give in as I did if your head hurts from banging it against the wall too often.

  14. #64
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Ominous Bequest
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Mansion, Crypt, Guards
    July 7th, 2006 by nicked

    From the opening few minutes of Ominous Bequest, its clear that one is playing a very well designed mission. We have an excellent premise - a rich Lord has died and Garrett must retrieve his will and then find all the valuables mentioned in the will. However, this is just the beginning of this expansive mission. The storyline progresses a long way until by the time you reach the spectacular finale, you'll feel like you've played a three-mission pack.

    Amazingly, all this detail is crammed into one mission. However, rarely does the gameplay drag at all. The storyline is engaging enough that you don't get bored, even when stuck. And the mission feels huge. It features a mansion and grounds, a vast underground church, and an extensive crypt. And although the actual size of the mission is not that big, the emergent nature of the gameplay and excellent recycling of space means you could easily spend three or four hours playing through the whole level.

    The excellent storyline would be irrelevant if the design was not up to scratch, and here again Ominous Bequest excels. The atmosphere and tension is superbly executed. For example, eavesdropping at a boarded up bedroom door lets you hear the strange noise of a creaking rope. You wont get access to the room until later in the level, by which time your imagination has run riot as to what you might find. Well written books and scrolls also help to promote a believable and absorbing atmosphere of mystery and suspense, while almost every one has a clue relating to something in the level. There are in-depth characterisations, and one can really understand the motivations behind the characters and their actions.
    There's also a lot of humour, from the satisfying bonk made by the blackjack replacement that you find early in the mission to the diary of recovering alcoholic Benny.
    The architecture is well made, and although it is not as detailed or outlandish as some missions, it always feels in keeping with both the storyline and Thief's official missions. The texturing is good and well aligned, with a good use of default textures mixed with a smattering of custom textures in keeping with the style of the mission. There's a healthy load of other custom content as well, including some new AIs and weapons which add longevity to the mission. Viewing the levels statistics reveals very few areas of high poly count - only one area crept into the 700s. This means that even users with slow computers should get a good frame rate at all times.

    Gameplay is also fun and rarely frustrating. Playing Thief can get tedious when you creep up behind a guard, knock him out, hide the body, steal the loot, over and over again. Ominous Bequest uses some ingenious mini-puzzles to break up this potential monotony, such as turning on a sprinkler system on the lawns (using a very nice particle effect) to distract a guard. The use of numerous secret passages also helps add excitement to the treasure hunting. The difficulty is also well implemented. Its a challenging level, but you never find yourself knocking out six guards in a row because of poorly designed patrol routes, and equally there's nowhere exceptionally difficult.

    In such a fantastic mission, its difficult to find criticisms, but if I had one, its that when you boil it right down, there's a lot of Find the key, open up a new area, find another key, open up yet another area etc which can drag a little. However, this is a minor complaint in a mission which otherwise stays interesting and fun for hours on end!

  15. #65
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    The Gallery
    Posted in Reviews, Museum, Guards
    August 10th, 2006 by russellmz

    Version 1.2
    Author : David Letersky
    Date of Release : June 26, 2003

    A nice little map. You go into this mission light, your inventory is small: I didn't even get a compass (not that it was needed)! No arrows either. If any troublesome guards (orother) are at a distance you need to either use stealth to avoid them or get up close and personal to dispatch them.
    Took a satisfying 30 minutes to complete. The initial starting point seems to be a bit bright and leaves you a bit exposed, but the light crystal remained dark. Also, the trees are a bit too close to the wall, you should be able to squeeze through instead of having to go in front of them. The inside of the museum is a bit sparse but there was an interesting story to go with the map.

    I like how at one point the mission basically makes you the dumb babysitter in a horror movie that makes you scream don't go in there, at the screen yet you go in there anyway.

    Definitely download. Pacing done very well with a nice easy start, then a build up in suspense, then an exciting run to freedom.

  16. #66
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    The Blackhearts Recording
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Mansion, Guards
    July 22nd, 2006 by Renault

    With this release, Ogi has delivered to us a medium-sized mansion trek, where the goal is to not only find a special musical recording, but also discover why it is located in the aforementioned building in the first place. Using a direct reference from the Shipping Receiving T2 official level, the plot has the potential to be unique and clever, but never fulfills its potential. Throughout the level, we are given glimpses of strange and unexplained phenomena, yet by the end, most players will be extremely frustrated after realizing that none of it is ever explained. The architecture of the mansion itself is fairly average, and that would be OK if some of the mystical side of the mission would live up to its promise. Sadly, it doesn't, and in the end, the mission would have at least felt more complete if it all the teasers would have been left out. The is the epitome of a dangling carrot that will always be just out of reach.

    Not helping the situation are the glaring flaws at seemingly every turn within the level. There are far too many unmarked keys (and strangely enough, some of the other keys are identified), and we fall victim to the infamous omission of a “return to where you started” objective. As Ive mentioned previously, this potentially kills the level for any fans who like to collect all loot, but in this case its even worse. I was able to attain my final objective, which consisted of picking up a readable, but I was unable to read it before the mission ended! Its also worth mentioning that there is a “tip” provided within the inventory right from the start which is both laughable and nearly an insult to anyone who's ever played a Thief FM before. This mission has the undeniable feel of a project that was rushed out the door in order to meet a deadline. All in all, I think most players will feel a sense of disappointment when this mission ends, not because it was necessarily bad, but because of how good it might have been.

  17. #67
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Heretics and Pagans
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Outdoors, Hammerite, Pagan, Undead, Underground
    July 4th, 2006 by Renault

    If you're like me, you love those crazy hammers, and in this unusual scenario, youre actually aligned with them in their fight against the Pagans. This mission by Spoonman starts off in a mountain pass which eventually leads to an overrun Pagan village, and its one of the most realistic outdoor environments I've seen using the dark engine. But this only serves as an introduction, as further exploration reveals an extensive underground cave system including a ruined building complex which provides an excellent contrast to the previous setting. The overall level is designed extremely well, at one point providing two distinct ways of reaching your end destination. The level feels extremely large, and when you're done you'll believe that you've traveled great distances even though the overall playing time will probably be around one hour. There's also some good custom work here, providing some variation on the standard enemy AI and instilling some much needed color to the typical underground canvas.

    There's an engaging story here as well, and you're thrown into the fray right from the start. However, the plot is a bit confusing at the beginning and there's really never any explanation as to why Garrett has been thrust into his current position. The players main objective is to return to The City, but given the events unfolding around you (which includes conflict between three separate factions) and the overall size of the mission, more objectives would really have helped to drive the narrative. At one point, you are given an objective when you are only about ten feet away from where you need to be to complete it. If the player had received this sooner, there would have been a greater sense of purpose and motivation in reaching their goal (as an aside, this particular objective launches a great scripted sequence that is not to be missed). Lastly, there is loot to collect along the way, but strangely enough no loot objective to reward the player for their hard work.

    In the end, this FM will provide some solid entertainment, with a focus on exploration and discovery. Several of your objectives are optional, which actually opens up the possibilities for alternate playing styles and potential for re-playability. And, there's burricks, which is always a good thing.

  18. #68
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    The Power Of Suggestion
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, City, Keepers, Guards
    June 25th, 2006 by Renault

    Another fine mission by Uncadonego, the maker of both Thieves Highway and Chain of Events (among others), this is a nicely done and somewhat complex City mission that involves some initial sneaking without your weapons. Architecture is good and well thought out, but the look suffers just a bit from the lack of any custom textures. There is a fairly unique feature to this FM however in the ability to explore both the ground level and rooftops. The story is slow to evolve, but by the end of the mission it is wrapped up very cleanly and efficiently. One criticism however, is that throughout most of the mission, the player is not given much direction on where to go and what to do. Some may see this as a positive, creating an open-ended area to explore, but a few more clues and possibly a map might have made this venture far less frustrating. I admit I almost gave up a few times when stuck. At times, some backtracking is necessary, which can be annoying.

    Some players will also complain about the multitude of jumps and falls (and the necessity of continual reload), but not me. When playing a rooftop mission, this type of danger is expected, or at least should be. I didn't think any of the jumps I made were all that difficult. One thing I thought could have been improved was ambient sound – the only thing I remember hearing throughout the mission was crickets, and if you're a blackjack fiend like me, The City can become a lonely place after a while when everyone is knocked out. Still, overall I really enjoyed this FM, and I would recommend it highly. If you get stuck, just grin and bear it and use the forums to help guide you through to the end. You wont regret it.

  19. #69
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    A Guard Called Benny
    Posted in Reviews, Mansion, Thieves
    August 5th, 2006 by russellmz

    Author : Dark Arrow (Jari Mäkinen)
    Date of release : February 29, 2004

    You are Benny! Despite your failures you are hired to protect Lord Myrdon and his prized possession upstairs. Think the AI guards are dumb and you could do better? Here's your chance to prove it.

    The missions provides a lot of replay value. Not only in difficulty levels, but there are different plots, different mission times (during a party, afterwards, or working the late night shift). You can also choose your weapon: bow arrow or sword. Amusingly you can play poker with your cheating buddies.

    There are also some areas you can explore beyond the mansion if you feel adventurous. The AI(s) coming at you are tricky and dangerous if you're not prepared. Your opponents are very good stand-ins for Garrett.

    There are some quirks in the mission: a key which opens nothing, a door which cant be opened, and some objectives are fulfilled without anything you did. For example, find out why you were hired is sometimes an optional goal but sometimes this is not explained fully yet the objective is fulfilled.

    Supposedly there are secret play modes, but I couldn't find out how to trigger them. Certain scripts are required, read the readme.txt for details.
    Worth a download, short but you can replay multiple times to get different results.

  20. #70
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Your Last Breath
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Mechanist
    July 6th, 2006 by Preno

    Your Last Breath is the second FM by John D. and the first in his Mechanist-themed series that also includes A Brawl in the Tombs and Island of Iron. It starts on a wooden raft in the middle of the sea, from where Garrett dives down towards the lights on the ocean floor to infiltrate a Mechanist underwater facility, equipped only with a sword and his trusty blackjack. The sea has nothing spectacular to offer, so you soon find yourself inside the base. From now on the mission boils down to exploring the installation.

    The first thing that strikes you is the omnipresent greyness. Grey metal, grey carpets, grey ocean floor, grey everything. However, this is exactly what you would expect to find in a mechanist submarine base and it fits the setting of a Mechanist base. The textures (of course metal- and mechanist-centered) are chosen with care and the combination of hard (metal) and soft (carpet) ones is well-balanced, thus avoiding frustration on the players side. The architecture creates an authentic and logical image of the base (I mean, I haven't been in any secret Mechanist underwater base myself yet, but this is how I imagine they might look).

    The major setback is, however, the difficulty, or perhaps I should say facility: Easy, Thief and Top Taffer are the different difficulty levels called but they all feel like Normal from the OMs. Due to the complete absence of No killing objective, the player can always hack his/her way from trouble even on Expert (Top Taffer), and on Easy, the mission can be finished in about a minute plus the time you spend diving and swimming up again. Even if you choose to refrain from using your sword, what you get is quite an easy mission to finish. The straightforward gameplay prevents you from getting stuck and guards usually conveniently keep facing the other way. Thus, the exploration does not take too long and 20 minutes should be more than enough for a full tour of this small installation.
    This missions strength certainly doesn't lie in stealthy gameplay - it has to offer something quite different: atmosphere. The feeling I got while reading the introductory text that readables are going to be a strong side of this FM proved to be quite correct. The scrolls (mostly diaries of sorts) are realistic and well written in the appropriate Mechanist style, and they all manage to evoke the feeling of a cold, damp place at the bottom of the ocean. The amount of books and scrolls is higher than in most comparably sized missions and together they fit together well, often referring to each other, and depict the life down there quite believably.

    Your Last Breath doesn't excel in terms of challenging gameplay, nonetheless, as an attempt at the recreation of a Mechanist underwater base with its particular atmosphere, it is successful. If this premise sounds appealing to you, it might be well worth it to download this small mission not exceeding 1 MB in size.

  21. #71
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Hidden Agenda
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Mechanist
    June 27th, 2006 by Morrgan

    The Mechanists have built a new seminary in New Market. Before the seminary was built, the Hammerite temple that used to stand in the same location mysteriously fell into the ground. Garrett suspects that the Mechanists had something to do with this. They have been causing him a lot of hassle lately and he thinks that if he can prove his suspicions to be true, they will get into too much trouble to be able to concentrate on him anymore. Tonight he will infiltrate the seminary and try to dig up some dirt on the Mechanists.

    Hidden Agenda by AsyluM starts out in the seminarys inner yard, near the tiniest graveyard I have ever seen. From here the player can choose between several directions to proceed in, though on Expert the choices are more limited. Visually, the first impression is very good. The architecture is enjoyable to look at and fits in with the Mechanist theme. The same quality is upheld throughout the seminary. The areas never have too little detailing and what is there is always appropriate for the location. On higher difficulties the player is allowed to venture underground, and here the quality suffers somewhat. Spatially the construction is excellent, but the lesser amount of detailing stands out compared to what has been seen so far and the texturing could use more diversity. The areas still seem realistic and fit in with the story.

    I finished the mission on Expert the first time and was quite impressed with the overall design, but it wasnt until I replayed it on the other difficulties that I understood just how meticulously it is planned. The choice of difficulty has a significant impact on how much you will see of the level. Only Expert gives the player access to every area and the full story; on Easy about half is available and the storyline is incomplete. On Hard the granted access is intermediate, both in terms of gaming area and story. For those who start on Easy this means a great replay value, as they have missed out on much the first time. There is also a real difference in difficulty; Easy lives up to its name, Hard is tougher and Expert is very challenging.

    Hidden Agenda contains some noteworthy additions, such as a Mechanist invention, new types of AI and custom textures. These seem neither implausible nor out of place, and are seamlessly combined with elements from both of the original games. Several new conversations are also present. At least one of them is easy to miss, since it is triggered in an unusual way. It wasnt until the third time through that I refrained from using the blackjack and was able to hear all the conversations. It is almost a shame that these new features may pass unnoticed. The invention mentioned earlier can only be found on Expert, and if you are careful you might not meet one of the new AIs (an AI that is quite startling and creepy, and therefore worth seeing, I might add).

    The only reservations I have are about the story. On the positive side it is imaginative and many of the details fit in with the original games. The story is also skilfully incorporated into the mission and is advanced by both texts and conversations. The deeper into the level the player progresses, the more they learn of the plot. Still, the premise has a few weak points, leading to some inconsistencies with information found in the mission. Also, it is unclear how the evidence Garrett wants to find will help his situation. Who will he present it to? The Hammerites? What will they do about it?

    All things considered, Hidden Agenda is one of the most enjoyable FMs I have played. It is a pleasure to look at, polished and planned in detail. All aspects of the mission are well thought-out, creating immersive surroundings that I gladly explored for a few hours.

    Pros: Great architecture; balanced use of AI; well-designed flow of gameplay; the seminary feels like a Mechanist facility in every detail.
    Cons: The story has some inconsistencies due to weaknesses in the premise.
    Bottom Line: This polished and well-designed mission is among the finest FMs out there and can be recommended to every Thief player.

  22. #72
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Karras Apartments
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Mechanist
    June 25th, 2006 by Renault

    Very simple and small FM that can be completed in about 10 minutes. Simple loot and escape objectives and a small handful of AI in a Mechanist setting. No real plot to speak of, and no custom material. This is the third FM released by Bronze Griffin.

  23. #73
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Mansion, City, Warehouse, Mechanist, Guards
    June 25th, 2006 by Renault

    Brought to us by Ravenhook, this FM is a little hard to define. Ashcourt appears to be some kind of an underground town or small city, and while the setting doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, this is a very large level with lots of areas to explore. You can count on at least two hours of gameplay here if its your first time through. That said, the mission seems a bit long and since there is a good story contained within, I think the level would have benefited from having several more objectives to guide the player along and create a more adequate sense of accomplishment. As it is, we only get four objectives, two of which are of the standard loot and exit variety.

    Architecturally, the mission has its ups and downs. While there are some interesting settings such as the theater and a large ship, there are also many long, uninspiring hallways with room after room that all look and feel the same. Also, we get overly long corridors and hallways between the major activity areas, which ends up feeling more like traveling than it does exploring. Some new and updated texturing would have been helpful in all of these areas, but there are none to be found. Sound is adequate, with the usual assortment of standard thief ambients. One thing that bothered me was the large loot requirement. I had already covered the entire mission at one point, but had to backtrack and search every little corner to find several hundred gold to reach my limit on expert. Normally I wouldn't mind, but given the large size of this mission, it was frustrating. In this scenario, some shortcuts near the end of the mission to reach the previous areas would have been appreciated.

    I don't want it to appear as if I didn't enjoy this FM, I did. The AI here are placed well and provide a good challenge, in addition to having many good readables and multiple areas to navigate. But there were also enough noticeable faults to make me notice and kill a bit of the overall immersion.

  24. #74
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Dracula - Part 1: The Love Thief
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Series, Outdoors, Undead, Underground
    July 4th, 2006 by Renault

    I admit that at first I thought the Dracula theme would be an odd setting for a Thief mission, but in the end, this level by Sensut actually turned out to be quite fun. Right from the start, you get some cool custom material in the form of a werewolf AI (which actually should have been used more) and some very dramatic music (I'm guessing its from the most recent Dracula movie soundtrack). You're immediately placed into a spooky environment up in the mountains, and the overall mood is quite tense and dark. However, while the dark setting fits the theme, most areas of the level end up being too dark, making evading AI far too easy. In most places, you can just run by all the bad guys without anyone even noticing you. This is especially amusing in one area where Garrett remarks how “difficult it will be to get through here undetected.“ In any case, your main goal is to rescue Mina from the clutches of Dracula, and escape with your life. I originally thought the subtitle of this level was rather lame, but in the context of the plot it ends up making perfect sense. There is a decent story here, and many readables to browse and enhance it. However, any native English speakers will probably cringe and frown a bit as the translation is sloppy in quite a few areas, embarrassingly so in some parts.

    The layout of the mission is inviting, with both outdoor and underground areas to explore. Design is very good for the most part, with a small fort to infiltrate and an subterranean lair, but there are a few places that could have used some additional detail – specifically a long hallway near the end that is just completely straight (strangely followed by a pretty spiral staircase). Outdoor areas are tough to do with the dark engine, and these look very good considering. I noticed a couple of technical glitches throughout the level (including a well you can jump into but cant get out of), but most are fairly harmless. Back to the sound, we get music throughout most of the mission, but at times I found it a bit too loud and I couldn't hear the AI around me. The original Thief relies more on subtle ambient noise for this very reason. I think the music would have been OK however if the volume had been lowered and if some of the transitions had been less harsh (maybe a fade-in/out?). In any case, its not a major deal, and you get used to it after a while.

    This FM starts with such an epic feeling that I thought I was in for the long haul, but the level finishes surprisingly quick, in just under one hour for me. The author has stated that a sequel will be released soon, and hopefully it will improve on some of the weaknesses stated above. But overall, this mission proved to be an intriguing episode that's got far more pluses than minuses, and I look forward to continuing the experience in Part II.

  25. #75
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Orthodox Wedding
    Posted in Reviews, Thief 2, Mansion, Outdoors, Undead, Guards
    June 25th, 2006 by Renault

    This interesting FM by TDBonko has a unique outdoor environment, although the structures and buildings within tended to lean towards the boring side, being very square and blocky. Some of the colors were a bit drab as well, but given the setting it’s not that unreasonable. The whole wedding scenario did not make logical sense to me, and I thought it was a weak premise for an FM, but it was able to rebound with some cool supernatural twists near the end of the story. The most noticeable feature of this FM was some of the outstanding technical effects and custom AI. They provided more than an occasional scare or two.

    On the downside, the beginning of the FM, in which you are a spectator to a cutscene via the camvator method, proves to be tedious and could have been half as long. I noticed several sound brush issues as well, where sound did not travel fluidly. Finally, there is a particular spot in the mission that will make many PCs slow to a crawl, and this could have been avoided. Overall however, this is an entertaining FM, and will keep most players busy for around an hour. Both the AI configuration and a couple of intriguing puzzles make the level a solid challenge that make completion quite satisfying.

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