The Duty of a Saviour
An excellent Japanese-themed scenario, recieving near-perfect marks from Nacht Jager, this great scenario recieved praise for excellent gameplay. The only fault was a slightly low creativity score, but it's more than made up for by the map design and gameplay.
This entry got second place the Microscopic Map Contest. Only contest reviews will be allowed and any other reviews made will be changed to comments by the Granary moderators. This will be moved to a permanent section when it is created.
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Review of Revenge of the Aggrieved
This was a very fun fixed force secenario. I was sometimes short of units, as mine were gaia and fighting upgraded troops, but I never had less than I needed to win. Be warned, though, that in the beginning it's very easy to take a wrong turn and lose a lot of critical HP, as there is no healing in this scnenario.
Very good, very nicely balanced, it must have been playtested a lot. By the end of the mission, I only had a handful of units left. The only thing was that killing the enemy hero was a bit too easy, all you had to do was keep an archer and a few swordsmen alive, but that can't really be helped.
Good creativity, all the stuff is pretty original, it's not like there's something exactly like this in the granary. VC's were pretty creative, but could have used something more, like "Leave none in the town alive" instead of just killing the hero and taking the artifact.
Map Design: 5
Zammy excelled at map design here. Beautiful forests, great rivers, awesome cities, and well-made rivers and shores. One thing that really got me were those fountains by the city's entrance. They were nearly perfectly symmetrical!
Very well here also. Zammy's pulls off a very, very good 2nd-person story here, immersing you into the world of his scenario. The hints are useful, as well as a very nice bitmap.
Official Review and Scoring
Alakazam's "Duty of a Saviour"
First Thoughts: I did not know what to expect from "Duty of a Saviour". At a glance, judging by the name only, it seemed that the single-scenario campaign (refered to as 'scenario' from this point on) is going to be a regular Fixed Force, or Adventure-Fixed Force map. Well, I wasn't wrong. It is as much an A-FF map as one can get, which was ultimately revealed by the scenario instruction bitmap. Bored of macro, missing the micro? Well - let's just see how it goes.
1: Playability (4.5)
I was thinking about giving the map a 4.6. Then I modified it to 4.4 - and in the end I settled with 4.5. Playability is -almost- flawless; the greatest problem is once again AoE's pathfinding system, which is not the author's problem at all. The scenario itself only has a couple, minor flaws on playability, one of which is the lack of space. Being a microscopic map, we have to rethink this 'fault', though. After checking the proportions of the map dedicated to certain gameplay parts, we can safely say that there is already the most available space given for the final battle.
Another minor flaw was the building placement. During the final battle, once you make your way all the way to your enemy, you will find that he is -blocked- by a temple, which you have to destroy. This is no real problem (though a small passageway would have been much appreciated) - but then again, you have a sentry tower firing at you at the same time. If you position yourself on the wrong side of the temple, you get two sentry towers firing at you. This, even though not an issue directly affecting gameplay, is still bothersome. Why not travel beside the temple? Why -destroy- it? I will return to this at another point, too.
2: Balance (4.1)
Not for beginners! Oh, and once you free the prisoners, punch the save button. Well, I do not clearly understand the author's instructions - he tells you, that for the greatest challenge, play on hardest. As far as I'm concerned, the only difference between hard and hardest is the fact that the computer player gets extra resources - and I did not see my enemy's training sites in action. I mean, no troops were produced, so those extra resources don't mean much a difference. If my memory serves me correctly, the only "tactical" difference is in "Easy" mode or so.
Whatever the case, back to topic - I did play on hardest. Yea, your units seem to be a whole lot shinier, your cavalry are plated, your phalanx stand firm - but this is just an illusion. Enemy forces not even outnumber you, but they even take you out head-to-head. A single enemy cavalry is stronger than one of your heavy cavalry.
Despite being terribly hard, I did manage to find the appropriate tactic for victory - and no, there is no weak spot anywhere.
3: Creativity (3.8)
It is definately better than a three-point-five. Seamless execution of a nice idea, with river guards, prisoners and a castle attack style finish. Why doesn't this scenario get more, then? Well, I do not know what the other judges would say, but all this has been done before. I played heaps of similar scenarios, that are only slightly different to this one. I could not spot anything new, to be honest - the rafting, the prisoners, the dashing in among sentry towers - it's all been done before.
I have to say, though, I was pleased to find language AND languagex dynamic-link-libraries in the package. This tells me the author did want to go for perfection. The scenario instruction bitmap was one of nice detail, and that also adds to the overall creativity scrore. Nevertheless, the scenario could have been spiced up a little bit more.
Oh, by the way, ever since when are prisoners equipped with armament that outshines that of a professional army (the enemy)? By this, I mean the cavalry. Your ones shine in a golden glitter whereas the opposing cavalry looks somewhat ragtag in comparison.
4: Map Design (4.7)
Not an Andrea Rosa, but finally something that's somewhat similar. Nice, relatively mixed forests, dirty roads, nice coastlines, fountains - it's all here for you. On the other hand I did miss some of the advanced things - bridges, caves, something-something-something... unique. The stone road was something I have last seen on a screenshot somewhere, but it was a very nice touch, so in a way I got something that's somewhat unique.
The terrain however, is anything but Japan. I know, it is hard to model a Japanese environment in AoE, but it IS possible. Some more reeds, please. But then again, why would I have such high expectations?
5: Story/Instructions (4.5)
Not a four, not a five, exactly inbetween. The story is well-scripted, lets you keep on thinking, and basically kick-starts the scenario before you actually gain access to the controls. Very clever. The way the story is handed over is fine as well, though I personally find it a bit, ehm.. dramatized. It is like sitting in a theatre watching a play of some sort. Sure, nice as it is, but it's a bit more like a theatrical play than something that's like -a part of history-.
The instructions were clearly given, no doubt about that. I only had to check back once, because I forgot about the artifact; yes, it would have been nice to see the story wrap around the artifact a bit as well - but nevermind.
-- Overall (4.32)
Even though the scenario is not entirely original, and the microscopic map screams out for just a bit more creativity, I let the points speak for themselves. This is an impressive scenario from a designer with great potential; add some deeper gameplay with more challenging twists, some new, original things, and a couple more maps; the result is, ladies and gentlemen, a campaign to be remembered.
I strongly encourage the designer to keep it up and release something similar, if not better. Just refine your original skills, learn to better utilise the PC player's expectable behaviour, and you are just there. Good work.
Playability: 4.9 The AI acts a little bit wierd, the first time it goes relatively easy. When you try it again it is much harder and requires an organized assault. This works extremely nice if the player is out for a real challenge, but others might just think that they’ve beaten it once and don’t bother doing it again... The enemy bowmen just can’t be still, either following me while shooting or fleeing while shooting, which means I’ll either get hit a couple of times or have to fight their friends too…
Balance: 5 Difficult… but possible to complete, The way it’s easier the first time also decreases the number of upset noobs :P The scenario is a great challenge and I’m never really sure I’ll make it… The balance is simply perfect!
Creativity: 4.3 I actually don’t find this a very Creative Scenario, Most things have been seen before, although I like the way they’re used. The Pond might be one of the biggest ever seen in AoE, and has stone edges instead of the regular stumps. I have no idea how the prisoners got horses and armor, but I’m glad they did! :p The brown bandits are hiding in the bushes to ambush me, wich is also a good thing, but I don’t think it’s very creative… I killed those poor old men, they were annoying! That’s the first I’ve seen a specific “civilians” player.
Map Design: 4.1 The forests are very dense pine forests, And the Ponds use the same shallow patches over and over again, so does the stone path… A little variation wouldn’t hurt, things I liked were the nice path next to the map end and the river banks, but these don’t make a whole map look good…
Story/Instructions: 4.8 A good story, the first time a long story didn’t get me bored. There’s a bitmap, which is made with the In-game grass as background. The river looks a little sharp and trees a little discoloured, but that’s everything I could think of…
[Edited on 10/25/08 @ 04:49 PM]