Posted on 10/29/09 @ 06:08 PM (updated 11/04/09
It has finally arrived! I wonder how this took me 6 months...
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The Age of Ice: Dawn of War, developed under the name Ice Age hunting day, is a scenario set in the late Ice age, food is scarce and fierce super-animals inhabit the world. You have to find the leafy forest warm enough for you to survive to win. However, you're not alone on this quest. Good luck!
Update: Scenario was updated to change some things mentioned in Gumbles review.
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SPOILER WARNING! – game secrets may follow
Genre is historical fiction (A take on the Ice Age period)
Time span for this scenario varies from 1 hour to 3.
Difficulty is from hard to incredibly hard depending on the user’s gaming experience
Game Style is mainly build-and-destroy with exploration and intensive resource management elements
Playability – 4.4
Wow real good works like this don’t come around very often. A nearly completely flawless piece of work from Fruktfisk, from besides being a skilled gamer has created a scenario that effectively communicates an obscure age very a high quality and a very real challenge for AoE Gamers. Well done indeed. The style is simple but shows a lot of design expertise. Simply build up from next to nothing into a slightly better army and defeat all your other opponents in a very stark and desperate landscape. Immediate death is always around the corner and when you’re finally feeling confident you will get mauled by a combined army of raiders and ‘squirrels’. Clever added features included the necessity to explore this violent place to advance to the next stage which forces new enemies to your list. Resources are very lean and intense micro-management and reaction skills must be invested simply to stay alive. This is a scenario where EVERYTHING MUST BE HARVESTED, which makes for a very engaging game. There are several relatively minor trigger bugs that need to be seen to for this scenario to receive that rare and hallowed ‘5’ score. First, the weird cliff temple thing is a fail. Gumble’s troops destroyed the temple and the nuke trooper without the ‘unknown’ player doing anything about it. Obviously the nuke trooper is meant to mince you when you try, but they are stuck on ‘change allegiance when attacked by an ally = no.’ setting. This was after the mammoth trap was sprung so whether that influences it is also ‘unknown…’ The mammoth trap itself is a mystery. Frutkfisk never mentioned it properly in the ‘hints’ section and leaves it to the player to work it out. A novice playing would probably never guess that by attacking the grey wall the trap would kill you and the red guards. An actual bit of advice would suffice for the less knowledgeable players using this scenario. That said, the trap is a very clever and creative addition to this scenario. Finally although this is a very skilled and unique take on the ‘build-and-destroy’ style it isn’t quite sufficient to achieve perfection. As it is 4.4 is very high score for a single style. Try adding in a small puzzle to kill the village shaman that requires finding a secret market to upgrade your bows so they have the range needed to kill him. Something like that would tip the balance of the score. OR, a defence objective for those uber cave paintings would also be exceptional.
Balance – 4.4
This achieved this same rating for several reasons. First, an excellent and clever challenge for a veteran AoE Player. The Balance is not perfect because it is quite frankly too hard for the amount of initial information available. A common trap for experienced gamers like Fruktfisk when designing. Yes its hard and fun for good players but Balance also means that its fun and challenging for totally novice players as well. As it currently is, Gumble can imagine too many new AoE players fresh from the default campaigns, coming to this scenario and failing 10 times and finally chucking the scenario out of frustration because they don’t understand the finer aspects of AoE. The Bitmap is sweet of course but since general layouts of enemies verse resources aren’t given on the map or referenced in the ‘hints’ section they will get very confused, very quickly. It took a total of two attempts for Gumble to win this scenario, and that is chiefly because A) he has a lot of experience in this type of stone aged scenario, and B) he tried to settle east instead of south on top of the poor cobblestone tribe who quickly got butchered. A lot of the resources needed are to the south near the squirrel tribe and in the cave BEHIND the mammoth trap. Most new gamers upon seeing a heavy catapult will turn and run in the opposite direction instead of investigating what is going on. Also since some of the time one is teetering rather close to extinction, running into upgraded tool age and even Bronze Age units is rather discouraging. Fruktfisk needs to either add extra map information in the ‘hints’ section or tone down some of the combat elements concerning the squirrel tribe. To cite the review guidelines: ‘If you had to build and upgrade your units between battles, was this done well and fairly, not attacking you with too many powerful units before you could fight them off?’ In a resource stark map where the buildings for upgrades is also at least partially behind enemy lines this makes it extraordinarily difficult for a new player who isn’t used to this type of thing. And in just a matter of consistency, it is interesting to note that when food is scarce, why have all the other players allied against a single player who only begins with two villagers anyway? The difficulty is otherwise very well made. Different players attack at different times with various triggers affecting their moods. When they do attack they fight with varied tactics and arms which are all hallmarks of a well-thought out map. The Gaia player even gets in a few kills with the crazy cave bears and the psychotic mammoths. Very fun, engaging and challenging provided you know what you’re doing.
Creativity – 4.8
The strongest element to this scenario and probably the best. Using existing resources Fruktfisk has successfully carved out new and different style of rugged and varied landscapes that captures the essence of a receding Ice Age. Frigid snow caves, cold water geysers, barren plateaus, shaded meadows, beautiful valleys, cave paintings (grrr.. Gumble has a similar idea), a believable story, and an excellent bitmap canvas. All interwoven effectively and skilfully. Andrea Rosa was probably the first to really use the snow mountains idea, Fruktfisk has doubtlessly mastered it. The added language.dll file also adds a real personal touch, even the trees have had their name changed! Well done Fruky, well done indeed. One issue and only one. Because this is a scenario and not a proper campaign there is no central visual piece that marks this as unique. What Gumble means to achieve that perfect ‘5’, Fruktfisk needs to provide a memorial and a first-of-it’s-kind visual item to embody the Ice Age. This is probably just a personal thing but every scenario needs to have its own signature item that separates it from others. Fruktfisk certainly has a one-of-a-kind scenario but it lacks just that single X-factor that defines it.
Map Design – 4.6
Probably one attempt at this scenario is simply an exploration mission to find out where everything is otherwise one faces death rather quickly. The detail of this Map is sick. From personal experience, Gumble sympathises with Fruktfisk in what must have been hours simply laying down rocks for the snow caves. A mammoth effort for a mammoth scenario, which one mainly spends hunting mammoths! What was EXTREMLY ANNOYING AND FRUSTRATING was the beginning location of the towncenter. A lot of TEDIOUS AND UNNESSARY micro managing could easily be removed simply by adding a second entry point to the water geyser side of the cave and widening the existing one to allow two villagers to walk past each other. If Fruktfisk thought that by adding this extra work of selecting, reselecting, tasking, ret-asking, and ordering of stupid, retarded villagers who get stuck on everything was going to boost the difficulty or creative score then Fruktfisk, you were DEAD wrong. It only served to aggravate and annoy the player which adds and extra 30 minutes onto the length of the scenario when the work could have been done in 5 minutes. Villagers also constantly get stuck on the invisible tree which is underneath the fire. Get rid of it, it is evil and satanic. Also widening the river near the squirrel archery range would be appreciated. Having 10 archers sniping villagers desperately close to starvation is no fun at all. Other than these transgressions Map Design was elite. But seriously fix those bugs, they are massive kill-joys.
Great starting story which provides a convincing glimpse of possible life in the Ice Age. There are several albeit minor spelling and grammar mistakes that could be seen to however. Again the bitmap was interesting but the lack of a unit layout in ‘hints’ was sorely missed. Extra hints on the mammoth trap and location of the gaia buildings would also be useful. What the instructions failed to achieve was in the meaning. Who are the sun warriors? Why were the heroes cast out of their valley? Why do you have to slay the shaman? Why does everyone hate you? Where is some background information on the Ice Age and what it is? Add these features to get that perfect score.
Suggestions for improving:
1. Fix those stupid map issues. An extra, wide entry point would help as is getting rid of the evil tree.
2. Widen the river near the squirrel tribe so the Irish elks can be hunted in peace.
3. Expand on the scenario’s objectives and why they are important.
4. Background information on the Ice Age would be helpful.
5. Add map layout information in the ‘hints’ section so newbs won’t get pwned so readily.
6. Mammoth trap is very cool but a hint on it’s purpose would be useful.
7. An overall added walkthrough would really help those newbs…
8. Get someone to help with those grammar and spelling errors.
9. Two game styles are always better than one.
10. Squirrel tribe in conjunction with Raiders are over-powered. Either tone them down or make them enemies of each other.
11.An epic design piece would certainly add a completeness to this work.
Fruktfisk should be proud of his work. A really unique piece that of its kind has never been seen since the beginning of AoE. This is the highest review Gumble has given to date. It deserves to be a perfect ‘5’. But simple errors have cut this chance. Update this file and see to some of these suggestions and even a critical and stingy reviewer like Gumble will give Fruktfisk a ‘5’. No hesitations.
As it is Gumble highly recommends this scenario to skilled and experienced AoE Gamers.
[Edited on 11/03/09 @ 12:44 AM]
This map is amazzing!! Download: definitely It the scenario itself very creative and involves a lot of hardwork and detail.
The story is very good aswell and has instructions that suits the background. And getting to the language file you have made to go along with the scenario is very interesting and definitely makes the scenario more fun and realistic while playing the scenario. Great scenario and on my rankings probably the = 1st best I have ever downloaded :)
And just one question. Are you making more scenarios to add to this campaign?