Author Topic: The Thief Review Resurrection Thread: Preface (i.e., Read This Post First)  (Read 5530 times)

Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 002: TTGM: Errand Boy
« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2019, 12:16:18 AM »
T2: The Trickster's Gem Mine: Errand Boy

Game: Thief 2
Title: TTGM: Errand Boy
Author: Stephen “belboz” Hindley
E-mail: N/A
Homepage: N/A
Filename: errand.zip
Filesize: 5,173k
Download: Cheap Thief Missions
Rating: N/A

Note: [screenshot note]

Abstract: Bats!
People talk about how tough they had it as kids, but they never had my childhood. Me, I used to be a bat wrangler for Ozzy Osbourne...a “bat boy,” in a way. On tours, I had to break into the local zoos and steal every bat they had -- I still hate the Giant Madagascar Fruit Tree Bat** for very specific reasons -- and then cart them all to the show. After the show, I had to sweep up their still-twitching, headless bodies and dump them all into a big Tupperware container. What was disturbing was the odd night when Randy Roads would hang around and swat me on the ass repeatedly with that big polka-dot guitar of his.

[** That was the bat stolen in the movie Dragnet.]

Anyway, after gathering up all the bats, I would have to take them to the tour cook. Touring with Ozzy was a never-ending hell of bat cuisine. We had bat sandwiches, bat goulash, bat cocktail, bat roast, bat soup, Bat Suzette, bat almondine, bat cereal (“Lucky Bats,” “Cap'n Bat,” “Bat Pops,” “Bat Krispies,” “AlphaBats,” etc), bat candy, bat cookies, bat juice (with 10% real bat), bat tortillas, bat enchiladas, bat tacos, bat chimichangas, bat quesadillas, bat guacamole...
[To Be Continued!]

[I continued this Bats! thing as a weird little running gag until The Lord Ashton Series review (#016), from which I omitted the Bats! Abstract. (The reviews between #008 and #016 were never submitted/posted on the Hangar or the Foxhole, as far as I can tell.) The next two reviews were Bats!-less as well, but I resumed the inanity for #019 and finished it on #020. No more Bats! after that. Happily.]


The Basics:
Equipment Store: Yes
Skill Settings: Yes
Map/Automap: Yes/No
Puzzle Difficulty: Medium
General Difficulty: Medium-Well
R_speeds: Good
New Stuff: Some
Nude Female Cop: Yes
Gameplay: Live AI; town-fu/exploration-fu/cop-fu/Keeper-fu/Hammer-fu/hooker-fu/naked-lad-cop-in-shower-fu/bank rob-fu/difficult key puzzle-fu

[Fu me.]

Briefing/Story?
The Place: An unfamiliar part of the City
The Time: An early spring evening, about six-ish

The scene opens on a City street; Garrett is strolling along, stealing candy from babies, harrassing small children by jabbing some of them in the back of the neck with his lockpicks and giving others frogbeasts to play with (“My God! Where did Billy’s head go?!”), when he finally remembers what he was supposed to be doing: meeting with the head Keeper at the local Keeper HQ, where he will be briefed about a missing person they want found.

Executing a well-aimed kick at the backside of an unsuspecting Hammer standing beside a fountain, Garrett heads for the HQ. The Hammer, wet, spluttering and about as angry as a wet, spluttering Hammer is prone to become, climbs out of the fountain and focuses on a laughing child. Little Timmy does fifteen years in Cragscleft.

But Garrett’s never been to this part of the City, since it’s heavily-guarded. Thanks to its role as a major port, a curfew is in effect, and anyone caught out on the streets after sunset is liable to become stew meat. So he’s going to have to be a little careful in getting to the meeting with the Keeper.

Onward!

“Hmmm...I thought I spied something. It was no doubt noOOWHAWHAUGH!” Thud. That’s right, I started out next to a Hammer compound of sorts, adjunct to their bank (but I couldn’t do anything about robbing that YET). I don’t know about you idiots (no offense, idiots), but I like the Hammers...they’re so easy to rob. And I (eventually) robbed them blind, I tell ya. I kicked their ecclesiastical butts into a cocked hat and made them wear it. In other words, I KO’d every one of them and left their bodies in a neat pile. God, I’m good.

On my list of Things To Do was nothing in particular. Oh, sure, I had a loot objective and a goal to meet a Keeper in a room above some arches, but I was in no particular hurry to get there...there was so much to loot and guards and cops and others to club and generally embarrass in various ways, that I didn’t get to the Keeper for a long while. But I did enjoy the trip there. I’d like to recall a Rush lyric on the subject...there. Now, moving on.

[If you must know, they Rush lyric in question was from "Prime Mover": The point of the journey / Is not to arrive]

Or how about a bit of moving back, instead? This mission is essentially a full-bodied remake of the author’s “Garrett’s Revenge” for Thief 1. When I first played that one, I vowed the ultimate destruction of the author, because I could never fulfill the !!#$%!! loot requirement. But that’s all changed with this release, and I am currently having screenshots from his various Thief 2 missions rendered in stained glass for installment in a modest little cathedral I’m building in the backyard, right next to the Cynthia Watros-plex (“Come ride the Erin-O-Lator!”).** This version is a whole lot more fun, and with an achievable loot requirement; plus, a lot of areas that were closed off are now open, adding greatly to the experience. Some things are moved around, and the clues, hints, etc. essential to progress are a lot clearer.

[** Cynthia Watros is an actress. She played "Erin" on "Titus." I was enthralled by her, apparently.]

Now we move forward to the present. Now we move back. Move forward. Move back. Now we’re doing the Cha-Cha!** Anyway, back in the present: as I mentioned above, instead of your usual shopping list of objectives, you’re given just two to begin with (depending on difficulty); fairly straightforward goals with the assumption that you’ll be given more once you meet with the Keeper. If this weren’t the case, you could just speedrun this thing (relatively speaking, since Garrett runs about as fast as a sloth with no legs and serious cranial trauma) and be done within minutes. So here’s to making your stay worthwhile. Along the way, poking around the various buildings and residences will yield some optional and not-so-optional objectives. And that’s what makes this mission so charming: instead of a set of rigidly-defined objectives that you HAVE to complete in a certain order, you’re given the blessedly flexible option of making it happen your way.

[** Real Genius.]

And that I did. I put everyone in town (besides the Keepers) to sleep with visions of stars and planets dancing in their bruised little skulls. Now, I make it a point to avoid killing the human AI -- as long as you can evade them and hide, it’s always possible to KO them when they’re looking around. No need to kill them...unless they piss me off. (You wouldn’t believe how often that happens. I especially like throwing people in canals.) ANYWAY, the reason I bring this up is because you should keep my playing style in mind so as not to think that you must play like me: KO everything that moves unless they’re friendlies, kill every burrick, hell-beast, bot, what have you, but at least try to avoid killing humans. And speaking of things that come from Hell, you’ll find a few spiders here and there, so you arachnophobes will find something to screech about. I don’t blame you one bit.
 
As with most Thief missions of good quality, there’s a sinister undercurrent to the quaint atmosphere of the sleepy city streets at night. You know there’s always going to be some knuckle-knob screwing around in the Builder’s domain, but this time you’ll benefit nicely from it, should you figure it out. No hints from me.

There are several things to work out if you want to get into certain areas, or acquire certain items; for instance, getting into the Hammers’ bank vault involves a curious quest to find some keys, PIN numbers, etc...and it isn’t easy to find them. Hooray! After getting to the Keeper, you’ll receive an additional goal or two...yes, even more to do. I’m very happy at this point. My life is bleak and dull, without texture, joy, love or light. Please feel sorry for me. Thank you.

The first-time player would do well to head for the arches first (either avoiding or disposing of the cops along the way, needless to say), read the scroll, grab the key to your room at the Inn (you’ll find useful equipment there), read the notes in the Keeper library to find out what the deal is with the missing guy they want found, and go on from there.

An important side note: for those of you who like playing on Expert, you’ll find that you are prohibited from knocking out cops (you know, the guys in the blue uniforms?) or backstabbing them. However, if one attacks you first, you may defend yourself. This is why I didn’t play on Expert, simply because I have very little patience for non-KO restrictions. I’ll follow my own curious moral code, thank you.

As for immersion, good attention is paid to details via books, diaries, journals, etc; they add depth to the proceedings, giving the impression of a living city district. Read everything legible -- most things are informative, some are hilarious.

The architecture is very city-like; that is, I didn’t feel as if I wasn’t in a part of The City. Take that as a strong compliment. From the buildings accessible only via a rope arrow in an overhanging beam to the surreptitious picking of a lock,* it’s entirely believable and appropriate to the Thief 2 universe (such as it is). Looting places, of course, is the only way you’re going to fulfill the loot requirement, so you might as well sit back and enjoy it. I did, and I lived to tell the tale. Or maybe I’m writing this from Beyond! Woooooo!
[* Needless to say, if they find you in the street picking the grocery store’s locks, they’re gonna send you back to mother in a cardboard box.]**

[** You'd better run. *sigh* Pink Floyd. "Run."]

Naaaaaaah.

So what’s left to tell? Bugs? Didn’t really find any of serious note (very minor ones -- sound glitches, etc.). Streets? Narrow, kind of dark, a few cops patrolling, otherwise quiet. Buildings? Tons of them. You get to visit the grocer’s, a weaponsmith’s shop, a Tinker** and so on, so you should have your hands full just breaking and entering. Hammers? A few, mingled with a couple of Mechanists (read the notes in the Keeper library for the reason why).  Puzzles? You bet. Esoteric things that may take a little skull sweat to figure out? Sure. Keepers? They’re there, too. A talented electric bear on a unicycle? Y--oh, ha HA. Funny. Anyway, play it. It’s one of the better missions released for Thief 2, and a lot of fun.
[* Insert your own Time Of Their Lives reference here. Odd’s bodkins and copper pots!]**

[** Time Of Their Lives is an Abbot & Costello movie, one of their best. I saw that movie repeatedly when I was a kid, sometimes even against my will.]

I would like to mention the nude lady cop taking a shower, and also the presence of a brothel. Truly, life is grand.

Funny Thief Moment, #808,420:
I opened the front doors of the bank; at the same time, the combat bot on guard spun around and saw me. He backed up in surprise while I beat cheeks back to the outside arch. He followed me out, and I used the wall to my advantage -- he blew himself up with his own bombs -- and I waited for a couple of Hammers to wander outside to look for me, since it was a hellacious racket. One Hammer walks out, looks around, then says “I suspect there’s someone in the building!” No shinola, Sherlock...

Summary?
City streets with plenty of places to rob and people to club; a ritual to perform if you want a nice new weapon, and plenty of spiders to kill. Sets you up nicely for the next installment, “Shore Leave” and “Up Shit Creek”.

Annoyance Rating: Low, but that’s because I’ve played it quite a few times and know where everything is.

My Level Stats:
Skill: Hard
Loot: 5935/6210
KO’s: 44
Kills: 16

[This mission was the first of many. You can find the rest listed on this page at Cheap Thief Missions.]
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 003: Saturio Returns Home
« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2019, 02:01:07 AM »
T2: Saturio Returns Home

Game: Thief 2
Title: Saturio Returns Home
Author: Robin G. (Roberto García)
E-mail: N/A
Homepage: N/A
Filename: saturio.zip
Filesize: 5.1mb
Download: Cheap Thief Missions

Note: I use my own custom recolored skins for Thief 2, but the AI models (besides the Haunt) in the screens belong to this mission.

[And that's a "no" on the screenshots.]

Abstract:
[Bats! Part 2]
... bat con carne, bat alfredo, bat al fresco, bat in a distinctive sauce, lemon-pepper bat, bat casserole, bat nachos grande, bat pie, bat yogurt, bat ice cream, rum and bat, mango bat, bat juleps, whisky sours with extra bat, martinis that were shaken and not stirred but with plenty of bat, bat fruitcake, bat pudding, pepperoni pizza with double bat, chipped bat on toast, Bat Brulee, cheez ‘n’ crackers ‘n’ bat, bat cake with bat icing, bat chops, bat rump roast, bat ‘n’ chips, batburgers, bat ‘n’ bacon batburgers, roast bat sandwiches, bat gumbo, “bat”balaya, hushbatties, bat strips, ham ‘n’ bat on rye, bat water, bat Kool-Aid, cherry bat soda, bat ‘n’ tabouli, Pop-Bats, granola bars with 87% bat, bat burritos con guano del batto, a Bat Mac with special bat sauce, bat dogs Chicago style, bat jelly, bat jam, bat marmalade, bat cocktail, batcorn, Oolong bat, zucchini wrapped in bat wings, barbecue bat, bat calzone, teriyaki bat, bat-fried rice, bat with noodles, General Tso’s Bat, sesame bat, Cleopatra Bat, Sweet ‘n’ Sour Bat...
[To Be Continued!]


The Basics:
Equipment Store: Yes
Skill Settings: Yes, all three
Map/Automap: Yes/No
Puzzle Difficulty: Easy
General Difficulty: Not too tough
R_speeds: Good
New Stuff: Yes
Gameplay: Mostly live AI, some undead; mansion breaking-in-fu/finding info-fu/rescue-fu/sewer escape-fu

[Just say NO to fu.]

Briefing/Story?
You -- Garrett -- have been hired by a lady to find her significant other, Saturio Machado. Saturio had been away for a few months, fighting in some little war somewhere (I imagine it has nothing to do with that little dust-up in Phu Bai), and just a week before, he had returned...they spent their reunion evening together, reading Donald Duck comics aloud to each other. Then they retired to separate rooms and dreamed wholesome dreams of chastity and purity. Either that, or they spent the night taking turns Oiling Up The Great God Pan, so to speak.

[I prefer the term "greasing the satyr."]

In any case, the next morning Saturio went off to visit his sick -- as in “ill”, not “morally reprehensible” -- mother at his family’s estate. That was the last time the lady had seen him, and so she went to the authorities (really just a chunky guy in a shed by the canal with a bucket of herring and a badge) instead of Saturio’s mother, since Lady Machado had always thought Saturio’s little love muffin was just a cheap tramp. A gold-digging hussy. A gutter-slut. A whore to all nations. You get the idea. The lady was quite acerbic in her referrals to Saturio’s mother in turn, referring to her several times as “that wretched old hatchet-faced prune”, and oddly, “the best sex Satan ever had”. Clearly, this was a woman not prone to forgiveness. Anyway, the police informed her that Lady Machado’s nephew, Sigfrido, had reported him dead in combat a few weeks before. Now, it could be me, but something ain’t right here. So the lady has hired you to get into the Machado mansion and find out what the hexadecimal is going on.

Onward!
Lovely. There are a couple of ways to get into the mansion, which I will list in order of non-feasibility:

1) The front door

2) The side door

3) The family crypt

Going in through the front door denies everything that Thief is about, plus there’s an archer there. The side door has possibilities, but as you’d be running past a couple of guards, an Eye and a turret, you might have some difficulties. That leaves the crypt.

As you can guess, the crypt holds some...unsavory...residents. Do you like crypts? Zombies? Haunts? Yes? Well, take a refreshing stroll through the family ossuary, and breathe deep the vapors of things that usually cause a nasty flesh-eating bacteria in most people. On the whole, zombies are easy to elude, so if they see you, just keep running. Just...um...just don’t piss off the Haunt; he’s a bit more tenacious. However, if you do, just run outside and to the front of the mansion where a couple of guards are, get *their* attention, and then book it over to the well and hop in. Carnage will ensue. Then after the Haunt is dead -- in my dealings with this mission, the Haunt *never* wins against two or more guards -- just run back into the crypt. The guards, if they see you, will chase you, but I don’t think they can enter the crypt through the front. If by some fluke they do, just lead them to the zombies.

Four guards killed, yet I killed no one. How? I lured the guards in the mansion down into the crypt where the undead are...it’s fun, efficient, and makes the mission last longer than it normally should. Caveat: don’t lure the zombies inside the mansion; they’ll become obsessed with the Mechanist turrets. plus the halls are a little narrow for dodging. The crypt has more room to maneuver, and it has dark corners where you can watch a guard get gooshed by three or four undead (there are five total zombies, one laying down; but one -- in the sewer -- doesn’t want to get up). I lured the Haunt into the mansion, where he put the hurt on several guards, but ended up getting his ass killed. There was a servant running around whining, and the Haunt went after him instead of the guards. Yeesh.

Another caveat: to lure the guards down into the crypt, use the chapel access. They’ll follow you into the crypt if you go that way. Just make sure you’ve opened all the doors first. So with a combination of blackjack work and zombie-baiting -- oh, the screams -- I managed to make the place very quiet, indeed.

But if you decide to take the more traditional route, i.e., sneaking, then by all means...although if such is your intent, then I can guess that your home life must be equally dull. Brown paint, tan car, gray cat. Tell me: when you first played Quake, did you go into shock because all that brown was too much for your deadened sensibilities? I spit upon you and your sensible shoes. You make me sick.

Okay! Now that I’ve alienated most of my audience, let’s talk a bit about the map. Since Garrett is there to find out what happened to Saturio and not make the place an abattoir, it’s advisable to keep the killings to none or less. Plus, you can’t kill anyone on expert. I usually chafe at such restrictions with little grace, as I provide my own morality in these games; that is, I only kill when I’m backed into a corner. However, with the undead thrown into the mix, I felt I could hang up my sword for just one mission. I mean, is it possible to *not* kill, for once?

So with the entire local residents either unconscious or dead by misdirection, I could take a look at the mansion: well! While not a huge structure, it’s richly appointed, with a good eye towards textures; the rooms are lavish and ornate. However, the third floor, ostensibly an attic space, is a little sparse in design...which makes a lot of sense, seeing as I myself don’t keep valuable works of art in the crawlspace over my bathroom. No, I keep spiders and insulation there, which are a poor substitution for elegance. The attic looks just fine is what I mean, so I don’t even know why I brought it up. Also, I commend the idea of keeping a torture chamber and a couple of holding cells...if I had such things, I’d never have to worry about Jehovah’s Witnesses ever again.

[I think what I meant was that I would welcome them into my home and then torture them to death; the idea, apparently, was that they'd keep sending more until they ran out, or something. Then I wouldn't have to worry about them anymore, as they would all be dead. At my hands. I'm not sure that I really understand my thinking here...I confuse myself a lot. I am not kidding in the slightest when I tell you that when reading these things, I often rub my forehead with great weariness, feeling very tired and very much alone.

I am sure that you, the reader, can relate all too well.]


As with many mansions in the Thief universe, this one is crammed with carpets and tile. While I am a big fan of tile in real life -- it’s blessedly cool in both summer and winter and feels good against the forlorn cheek (both ends) -- in this game it’s a challenge that must be dealt with. I prefer to make a racket and blackjack the poor clods who come to investigate, but for the rest of you who are such stinking traditionalists that you cannot begin to visualize making a noise, I suggest creeping movement.

Oh, and as for Sigfrido? As it’s a no-no to kill anyone, I simply blackjacked him and left him in the crypt. With the zombies. Mu-hahaha.

By the way: is it possible to ghost this level? And, who cares? For an answer, refer to your handbooks, chapter 37, page 433, paragraph six, section ii-a, seats 13 and 14: “Answer unclear; ask again later.” As with all things related and not, this paragraph speaks with non-forkéd tongue.

["seats 13 and 14" is a direct ripoff of a similar Dave Barry joke. Sorry, Dave.]

So what do we have here? Among other sundry items, we have a lovely mansion, attractive grounds, a haunted crypt, a conspiracy amongst the nobility, escaping through the sewers, spiders, guards, undead, evil and good nobles, bots, turrets, cameras, keys, loot, outdoor toilets, tiles, carpet, a wine cellar, a well, a sky, grass, hedges, windows, doors, arrows, readables, and most importantly, a starting point. You’ll be playing in no time, unless you’ve forsaken Darkloader and are playing this with the aid of your imagination and a Ouija Board. (“Look! It’s spelling something...‘L-O-S-E-R’? Whatever can it mean?”)

I might mention that around the mansion are wax cylinder players, stocked with the author’s own renditions of John Dowland’s work, as played on classical acoustic guitar (as opposed to an ocarina and a dented tin cup). Quite beautiful; the mission is worth playing just for that.

Summary?
A mansion to infiltrate, people to knock out, and things to steal. What else do you need?

Annoyance Rating: 1 out of 10. [Not the fault of the author, but Thief 2’s AI are just *brain dead* at times.]

Final Tally:
Skill: Expert
Loot: All loot found!
KO’s: 13
Kills: 0 humans, 3 spiders
Bots Junked: 2, plus 1 Eye

[...next...]
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 004: Benny's Dead
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2019, 09:58:18 AM »
T2: Benny’s Dead

Game: Thief 2
Title: Benny’s Dead
Author: The Gingerbread Man
E-mail: N/A
Homepage: N/A
Filename: bendedv2.zip
Filesize: 5.8mb
Download: Cheap Thief Missions

Note: Some of the models depicted in the screenshots are my custom recolorings. The cops, the Mechanists, the player weapons...everything else belongs to this mission.

[Screenshots be like, not here.]

Abstract:
[Bats! Part 3]
... bat kebabs, bleu cheese batburgers, Bourbon Street-style New York Strip Bat, broiled bat, Broiled Sante Fe Bat, Butterflied Curry Bat Tenderloins, Cajun Barbecued Bat, Caribbean-style Jerked Bat, bat jerky, Cinnamon Chile Crusted Bat, Cranberry-Glazed Bat Ribs, Caribbean Bat with Tropical Salsa, Creamy Curried Bat with Grilled Pineapple and Even More Bat, Grilled Bat Teriyaki, Eggplant and Bat Parmesan Sandwiches, Bat Flank with Horseradish Sauce, Fruity Grilled Bat Tenderloin, Grilled Asparagus with Orange Wasabi Dressing and Plenty of Bat, bat salad, Grilled Bat with Orange Cilantro Salsa, Indonesian Bat Satay, London Bat Broil Sandwiches with Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce, Mustard-Glazed Bat Skewers with Apple-Apricot Chutney...
[To Be Continued!]

The Basics:
Equipment Store: Yes
Skill Settings: Yes; Cakewalk, Normal, Extra Spicy
Map/Automap: Yes/No
Puzzle Difficulty: Mild
General Difficulty: Depends on skill setting
R_speeds: Good
New Stuff: Yes
Gameplay: Live AI/hotel-fu/sewer-fu/all kinds of stuff-fu

[I'm killing me with this fu thing.]

Briefing/Story?
[deep breath]
AfterKarrastriedtokilltheCity withthenecroticmutoxgastheHam mersandMechanistsworkedtogeth ertobuildawalltokeepthatregio nclosedandthentheystartedkill ingeachotherandthentheCityWat chgotinvolvedandnowtheyhadath reewaydeathdealgoingandyouGar rettdecidedtogetoutoftheCityu ntilthingsdieddown(maybeyouevenmeantitliterally)andsoyouwenttostayinaboringli ttleminingtowncalledMothatthe placeofanoldacquaintanceandpo sedasavisitingtailorandthenyo uwerevisitedbytwoofthelocalSe erscalledIdsusandMopsuswhower ebrothersandtheysawrightthrou ghyourdisguiseandlaughedatyou runderwearwiththeredrocketshi psandthengaveyouajobdespiteth isandthejobhastodowithbreakin gintoalocalhotelandfindingout whokilledBennywhowastheCaptai noftheTownWatchanditsreallyfi shyandcomplicatedbuttheywanty outogettothebottomofitandisan yoneelseseeingtheseblackspots becausethey’remakingithardtotypeand

...thump...

Okay. Now that I’ve had my potassium and the saline drip has been set up, I can tell you to read the story for yourself, because it’s far more detailed than I can render here.

Onward!
Since I’m such a stickler for using the blackjack at every opportunity (I’ve even used it on Constantine...not that it did any good), I played on the middle skill setting, “Normal”. On Extra Spicy, you’re supposed to ghost around the cops and can only KO five people or less...so I played on a lighter skill. Ghosting isn’t my forte, to say the least. On Normal, I opted to kill only one guard (out of the concept of lackadaisical manslaughter, I suppose), but I vented my spleen upon the non-human AI.

So here we go...on to the hotel! Well...okay, maybe not yet. See, it’s not exactly a straightforward proposition to get into the hotel; you’ll need to do a bit of roundabout-way-ing, including a pleasant little trip through the sewers, to even get *close* to the hotel to investigate Captain Benny’s death. It seems the old boy shot himself in the neck while cleaning his bow, and you’ve been hired by a couple of Seers -- who have themselves been hired by the City Watch -- to find out the truth of the matter. So it does make sense to avoid the cops, but I still can’t let one go by without giving them a headache. There must be *something* inside of me that makes me act out like this, and I suspect it may have something to do with the little Indonesian girl I pushed off her bike when I was four. No, it doesn’t make any sense to me, either, but it’s a great way to go through life: always have a childhood excuse.

Where was I? Oh. In the sewers, you will meet some decidedly unsavory things, and praise the Builder’s nubile nieces, you can kill them!

Again, this is probably something I need to work out for myself.
 
The sewers are infested with Bogeys! Great! One question: what are Bogeys?? It’s explained in-game, so if you’re looking for actual information from me, then you’ve obviously stumbled onto the wrong website. Anyway, they are quite amusing creatures and spout some of the most colorful metaphors this side of an Andrew Dice Clay monologue. Not that I was offended, no...in fact, one of my favorite phrases ever uttered dealt with using the “f” word -- not “fantabulous” -- in such a way that it was used as an adjective, a verb *and* a noun,** all in the same sentence. In any case...if you’re overly sensitive, then poke yourself in the eardrums with an icepick, or something.

[** It was a National Lampoon piece...I can't remember the author, nor can I find the book that anthologized the story ("Short Eyes?"), but I think the phrase was "F___ you, you f___in' f___!". Something like that.]

After mild ordeal to keyhunt through the sewers, I finally made it to the environs of the hotel. Ehh...that is, I was *almost* there. First, I had to get into the Police station for a good reason, and it wasn’t for the free strip-search. Afterwards, I got to rob the Thief version of a fast-food joint...and it *was* pretty fast: it kept getting underfoot and I had to chase it with my sword.

Now, with obstacles gone, I get to...go to the hotel! Oh, but I killed an archer before actually entering...I admit, I need help. Inside the hotel lobby are shops accessible via floor-situated maintenance vents that bear scrutiny; one of them is a vault of security boxes, and you’ll probably want to come by later and close some accounts when you have some more info on the vault combination.

So I get into the hotel, muck about, make note of the blonde in the paintings, and beat the love of the Builder into every single person I meet. After gathering info, looting and other furtive things, some of which involved the kitchen (advice: don’t order the “pudding”), I finally came to the end. It’s not exactly heralded when you reach the room where the ending occurs -- it’s downright unassuming -- but the ending has a surprising twist, so don’t freak out when you get there and things happen. I understand that there may be a sequel,** so don’t feel down when it’s done. You can *get* down (although I do support the death penalty for Rick Dees and his Disco Duck thing), but don’t harsh your own buzz.

[** There wasn't.]

Yes, I have no idea what I’m doing.

Anyway, as for gameplay: there are several instances where you *may* have to alert an AI or two just to progress. Or not...I suppose it all depends on how well you play. My knuckle-dragger technique works fine, but I play a little differently than average...so my results may vary from yours. It may be a bit tough for the novice player to get through without alerting several AI; tiled floors in some areas with guards don’t help one bit.

There is one unavoidable instance where you *must* kill. Rest assured that it does fit in with the plot, and it’s not a matter of poor design. On the contrary...

I might as well go ahead and mention the architecture while I’m here. The sewer is, oddly, nice. I mean, I’m used to tromping though sewers with so-so stone work and organic floors, but this one is well done. So it isn’t the Waldorf...but at least the Bogeys like it. The streets of Moth -- the town you’re in, remember?** -- are at least laid out where you’ll run into someone before long. Please don’t ask what I mean, because my neck is killing me. The hotel is exquisite...tile, good texturing, rich appointments...however, when you get to the guards’ quarters, you’ll see how the lowly guard resides in relatively spartan conditions. All a guard needs in life is a bed, a chair, and a sword...***

[** Apologies. You would only remember it if I had, in fact, mentioned it clearly and not in that wall of "breathless" text in the Briefing/Story? section.]

[*** Reference: Steve Hackett, "A Bed, A Chair and a Guitar."]

Probably my favorite part of the hotel was the pool area. Even though the pool was empty for cleaning, it still made quite an impression with the lights turned on. I wonder how it would’ve looked with water? No matter. Actually...if it had water, I could’ve dropped the entire populace of the town into the pool and--

Once again, something evil peers through these eyes. Excuse me while I use some Holy Visine...

IT BURNS IT BURNS OH MY GOD NOOOooooooooooo

Summary?
Is this a perfect mission? No...but it is good enough to be considered one of the best I’ve played. The streets of the town, the sewer system, the hotel...beautifully done. And I think I saw Courteney Cox’s face on one of the female civilians. I just hope anesthetic was used.*
[* Is this a good time to mention Slayer’s “Dead Skin Mask”?]

Annoyance Rating: Hmmm...low?

My Level Stats:
Normal (skill 2)
Loot: 2109/2209
KO’s: 30
Kills: 14 (2 guards, 7 Bogeys, 3 spiders...and two kills I can’t account for)

[...next...]
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 005: Art Of Thievery
« Reply #18 on: December 26, 2019, 03:53:51 PM »
T2: The Art of Thievery

Game: Thief 2
Title: The Art of Thievery
Author: Richard Cull (RiCh)
E-mail: N/A
Homepage: N/A
Filename: art.zip
Filesize: 5.5mb
Download: Cheap Thief Missions

Note: I use custom recolors -- health shields, visibility gem, weapon & AI models -- so what you see besides architecture is probably not what you get. Please remember that before e-mailing me to ask why your health shields aren’t black. Some of the recolors are modifications of elements found in Purah’s “Calendra’s Legacy” (which were too cool *not* to use), and some are my own dabbling with colors. Oh, and I use the new, *dark* health shields and gem so they don’t dominate the screenshots. Thanks goes to Purah.

[So much effort went into that explanation, it's a shame that it's wasted. No screenshots, see.]

Abstract:
[Bats! Part 4]
...Savory Grilled Bat with Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, Andouille and Bat Creole Pasta, Green Curry Bat Meatballs, Vegetarian Bat Casserole (it was a Vegetarian bat), Bat Masala with Jeweled Rice, Cajun Style Blackened Bat, bat canapés, bat dip, New Orleans Barbecued Bat, Asian Barbequed Butterflied Leg of Bat, Bat Chops in Duck Sauce, bat cobbler, Bat L’Arabique, Moroccan Bat with Shiraz Honey Sauce, Portofino Bat and Artichoke Risotto, Bat Soup with Cream of Mushroom and Celery, Slow-Cooked Shredded Bat for Tacos, Sloppy Bats, batschnitzel, bat stroganoff, Bat L’Orange, Bat Salad with Wild Rice, Pecans, Grapes, and Orange Dressing, Peking Bat, Grilled Bat with Prune Stuffing and Gravy, Bat Under Glass, Asian Bat Barbecue on Sesame Scallion Toast...
[To Be Continued!]

The Basics:
Equipment Store: Yes
Skill Settings: Yes; EaSy, HaRd, GhOsT [sic, sic, sic...sick.]
Map/Automap: Yes/No
Puzzle Difficulty: Varies
General Difficulty: Varies
R_speeds: Boggy on slower systems
New Stuff: Yes
Gameplay: Live AI; mansion looting-fu/finding stuff-fu/getting lost-fu

[I hate the fu thing. Have I mentioned that?]

Briefing/Story?
Taking place sometime around the beginning of Thief 2, you’re about to rob a certain Lord Bradford’s mansion. You had intended to do so earlier, but you had some complications, what with having to save the world and all, not to mention league bowling night. So tonight, you’re about to break in and put a major dent in some guy’s equity. Since Bradford’s made some large contributions to the Mechanist order, he’s in the good books of Karras, who has given him an important position in the Mechanist ranks...but like Queen Victoria, we’ll hear NO talk of positions!

[I think that a Monty Python joke? Or was it MST3K? I seem to recall Kevin Murphy's voice...]

Your goal for the evening: steal several paintings, a jeweled sword, and a bunch of other stuff. Simple, eh? Good luck, son...you’re going to need it.

Onward!
This is what I get for wishing for a comprehensive mansion-rob. This one beats the stuffing out of everything similar and snags in its soup.

Here lies this metaphor. May the grass grow green over its heart.

Anyway, if you like breaking into a massive mansion and doing illegal things, then this is your FM. Put the Rice Krispy Treat down, kid...we got stuff to filch. Let’s begin with getting inside, hmmm? I don’t know why, but most of these rich folks hire people with the worst eyesight and even worse peripheral vision. Not to mention that they put windows all over the place and climb-able drain pipes...it’s a thief’s paradise.

The first question is one of entry: how do I get inside the mansion? Well, you have all these windows, drain pipes and guarded doors, why not pick one and hop inside? But use the brains God gave you; don’t just run for a window, start lockpicking madly and hope no one will kill you! Scope the place out...pick a few pockets. A couple of the Mechanist guards have useful keys on their person, one of which will prove invaluable in this mission. A wonderful beginning: give the player some breathing space and let them decide how they want to enter.

Now, here’s where I might mention the true genius of this FM’s gameplay: flexibility.* Playing on the highest skill of most FMs usually entails some seriously draconian guidelines -- don’t kill anyone, don’t flash your pasty white butt to the third floor maid, etc. -- but while you’re encouraged to play stealthy and unseen on “GhOsT” (ugh) skill, you’re not required to do so. For example, you’re given the option of keeping your KOs to a minimum of five or less. After 5 KOs on GhOsT (ick), Garrett will say “Oops!”; upon alerting guards for the first time, Garrett will mutter “Damn! Didn’t mean for that to happen!”, but you won’t fail the mission in either case. Of course, you still can’t kill anyone or set off any alarms, but we’re good enough at this game to avoid bloodshed, aren’t we? Of course we are.
[* So you know a girl from Thailand who is flexible to the point of being able to stand on her own head...so what? We’re talking about Thief here.]

This is the epitome of what I consider good gameplay in a Thief FM: give the player the option of utilizing his or her own personal level of sneakiness. My usual method is to clock everyone unconscious and loot the place at my leisure. But be warned: there are a couple of AI walking around with those damned non-KO helmets; but there are gas-related items (arrows, mines, chicken quesadillas) to be found, so all is not lost. But you’re probably better off avoiding those guys and saving your precious gear for more deserving targets.**
[** I’m still waiting for a non-Japanese FM that provides 900 broadheads and rewards the player for using all of them on guards...and especially servants.]

Since my coordination is right down there with your more rudimentary annelids,** I kept alerting the stupid guards throughout the mission. No, it *isn’t* tough to play stealthy, but sometimes I play these things in a rotten mood and just give up all pretenses of being a Master Thief. Before long, I’m jumping up and down on tile in my tap boots and screaming, “I’M CLUMSY, OKAY??” So having a positive outlook is key. Or not.

[** I'm not sure what I mean, exactly.]

But enough about my shortcomings as a thief and as a human being. Let’s talk about the most important thing: large, firm, perky breas...er...*architecture*. Perky architecture. That’s exactly what I meant. Yes. Okay, so architecture *isn’t* the most important part of the game, but a well-planned and attractive layout does help a great deal.*** If you were looking for the largest, most convoluted, confusing mansion in The City, then you’ve found it. The architecture is top-notch: grand staircases, rich, luxurious textures, woodwork, carpeting...it’s the sort of place someone tags with a name like “Tara” or “Whispering Acres”...or even “Slubberdegullion** Drool-Factory”. Whatever. Anyway, what with the place being worthy of its own zip code, there are times that you will get utterly lost. “Where am I?” I asked in a little boy’s plaintive voice a couple of times.
[*** So speak-um Chief Big-Thing-Fall-On-Head.]

[** Genesis. "The Colony Of Slippermen." I wandered lonely as a cloud / Till I came upon this dirty street / I've never seen a stranger crowd / Slubberdegullions on squeaky feet]

The map is not a lot of help, really; it just shows where the main rooms are. Since this is such a large mansion, an automap would’ve been helpful; however, since Garrett really doesn’t know the layout 100%, the vagueness of the map makes sense. Aren’t you glad I approve? But it’s little comfort. Let me reiterate: this place is enormous...the bill for the tile flooring alone would buy you Napa Valley, with enough change left over to have the palace of Versailles brought over and rebuilt in the back yard for your own personal use as a very large, very beautiful bathroom.

And speaking of bathrooms...where are they?? I don’t recall seeing one bathroom in the mansion proper, and they can’t all be downstairs, can they? Picture it: you’re Lord Bradford. You’re suffering from a bit of tainted spider meat at dinner, and now circumstances dictate that you’re about to become the unwilling main character in a new off-Broadway production entitled “Bowel Blast Bonanza!” You’re in your third floor office the North Wing library, and the closest thing approaching a biffy is the pool on the second floor in another part of the wing (seeing as water equals relief in any culture). So you hobble over to the lift, butt sealed tight with the Clench Of Death, and as you reach the lift, you remember that it’s out of order. So you face the prospect of walking all over that wing of the mansion to get to the second floor...

So the question arises: what should you do? Remain stock-still by the lift, sphincters locked, praying to the Builder that someone will fix the lift before you die? Or will you inch over to a window, bash the glass out with your mace, stick your butt through the window (at the risk of deep puncture wounds in embarrassing places) and let the Shi’ite** fly? No, the answer here is to call over one of those guards with their stupid non-KO helmets, appropriate his helmet, and...well, you know. So the bottom line is: plan ahead for this type of situation...install bathrooms *everywhere*.

[** It's associated with an old joke: "Didja hear about the Iranian terrorist who got sucked into the engine of the airliner he was trying to hijack? The Shi'ite really hit the fan..."]

Which brings up the subject of your real-world comfort. Since this mission is massive and somewhat complex, it wouldn’t do for you to try to play this thing in one go-through. I mean, Garrett doesn’t have to take naps or face society in general, does he? No! But you have to do so. Plus, there’s the problem of tiredness creeping in around the fiftieth Mechanist bludgeoned...I suggest pacing yourself. I mean, it’s all fine and good to have Garrett running around like a monkey on a leash****, but try to take a break from your marathon and...I don’t know, take a pee break, call your mom, make untoward sexual advances at a pile of high heels...whatever.
[****  Of course, not all monkeys will run...sometimes you must foment the “Furrowed Earth Policy”. In all, it really depends on the monkey, the course being run, and the length of the leash. I suggest a gentle warm-up first, followed by a brisk drag around the foyer to get your monkey’s heart rate up. Here’s a tip: I suggest trimming the monkey’s claws (nails?) so he can’t get a definite hold on rough surfaces. So have fun, and remember to have your monkey rotated every 3,000 miles.]

See, for me, ennui sets in after a while. It’s not the mission’s fault by any means; I just have the attention span of a Mayfly. So long, involved missions are usually pretty interesting for me the first time, but sometime around the third or fourth playthrough, the whole thing gets kinda old. I’m sure that’s true of most people, but since I’m so self-absorbed and selfish, I can only relate this in terms that make sense to me. Besides, you people don’t exist anyway.

Illustration: The previous day, I got to the point where it didn’t matter if I alerted the guards or not. It suited my then-rotten mood that Thief 2’s handling of doors-and-AI-alertness would make damned sure that when I opened a door guarded by a Mechanist, he would immediately go into search mode...which meant that I failed the ghost goal completely. But so what?? At that point, had it not been for the no-kill restriction, I would’ve charged into the hallway and killed every one of those bastards.

As long as I’m here, I’d like to ask a question: just who are these nobles running around the mansion? House guests? This is one of several missions in which I’ve encountered such a population in a noble’s mansion. Another thing...where are the servants? Are they all out for the evening, doing whatever it is servants do when they don’t have boots to lick? I didn’t see one servant, but I did see a LOT of Mechanists. Do they do windows?

Mechanist: [smashes window with mace] “Mine instructions are clear: no streaks shall pass!”

Clarification: the absence of bathrooms and servants is okay. It doesn’t bother me...but those elements do add depth. Also, I’m perfectly okay -- you might even say uncharacteristically enthusiastic -- over how terrifically huge this mission is.

But back to the mission itself. Gameplay is terrific; patrol patterns are in effect (except for one poor schlub who got stuck walking into a rail), and some observation of routines will enable KO success. The mission is overwhelming if you look at the big picture...which is why I avoid doing so. Compartmentalize, and you’ll be just fine. Probably the biggest obstacle I faced was remembering that I had forgotten to pick up a bit of loot in one part, then having to trek waaaaaaaaaaay back to get it.

And now, puzzles: what do they mean to me? The puzzles in GhOsT (aaaaargh...) aren’t of the “Gleefully Spitting Upon The Corpse Of The Player” variety...most of the difficulties you face will be in figuring out how to do something, or how to get to a certain location without breaking your fool neck. But actual puzzles do exist in the form of the elemental stones, and how to get them. See, Bradford’s hidden the jeweled sword he was planning to give to Karras (in an attempt to bolster his position in the Mechanists) in his Super Secret Vault somewhere in his mansion, and you have to find the vault. Okay, by reading books here and there, you’ll find out where the vault is, and how to open it...but the fact remains that you need the four elemental stones to open *another* door to get inside the vault. So you need to find the elements -- that’s a day’s task in itself -- find the place where you use them and get a combination for a safe, then get to the vault and...well, it’s a real chore. I had a blast.

Another set of goals involves finding several valuable paintings. These differ in name and location depending on skill level; a nice touch. What else is there to say? You can turn off most of the security cameras (hooray!), you have a lot of water arrows, there’s plenty of people to KO...what else do you want? Just play it...it’s great.

I’m out of words. The review must be over.

Summary?
A fantastically gi-normous mansion to rob, a load of Mechanists to beat senseless, and lots of loot just laying around. Oh, and a couple of puzzles, too. One of the most massive mansion-robs yet. Enjoy!

Annoyance Rating: Low

My Level Stats:
GhOsT (Expert) Skill
Loot: 6695/6935
KO’s: 91
Kills: 0

[I will admit that this is one of my better reviews...]
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 006: Calendra's Legacy
« Reply #19 on: December 26, 2019, 07:43:27 PM »
T2: Calendra’s Legacy

Game: Thief 2
Title: Calendra’s Legacy
Author: Purah (Anthony Huso)
Filename: Calendras_Legacy_v1a.zip
Filesize: 322.8mb
Download: Cheap Thief Missions
Walkthrough: at CTM
Lootlist: at CTM

Note: This is a “mature” mission...violence, profanity, partial nudity...you know, the good stuff. Don’t let your mom know you’re playing this.

Abstract:
[Bats! Part 5]
...Tangerine-Glazed Bat, Baked Ziti with Bat Meatballs, Cherry-Pecan Stuffed Bat, deep-fried bat, The Colonel’s Original Bat Recipe, Green Bat and Cheese, Hearty Bat Soup with Parsley Dumplings, Apricot-Glazed Bat with Roasted Onion and Shallot Gravy, batloaf, Bat Tetrazzini, Bat and Pumpkin Lasagna, Bat and Spinach Alfredo Lasagna, Broccoli Pesto Angel Hair with Bat Chunks, Four Bat Ravioli with Artichoke Hearts, Olives, Pesto and of course Bat, Black Pasta in a Pink Gorgonzola Sauce With Too Much Bat, Black Pepper Angel Hair Pasta with Smoked Bat, Bat And Artichoke Penne With A White Sauce, Fettuccine And Bat with Sweet Pepper-Cayenne Sauce, Fettuccini with Mushroom, Bat and Rose Sauce, Pumpkin And Bat Ravioli with Hazelnut Cream Sauce, Smoked Bat in Vodka Cream Sauce, Barbeque Bat and Black Bean Burritos, Cottage Bat Cheese Enchiladas...
[To Be Continued!]

The Basics:
Equipment Store: Yes...to all missions
Skill Settings: Yes; Footpad, Cat Thief, Garrett
Map/Automap: Yes/No
Puzzle Difficulty: Depends
General Difficulty: Somewhat difficult on even the easiest skill
R_speeds: Good on a PIII 1.13ghz; rough on a PII-350
New Stuff: The Magic 8 Ball says...“Yes”
Gameplay: Live AI, Undead; surreptitious-fu/intrigue-fu/betrayal-fu/Night of the Living Dead-fu/vampire-fu/zombie-fu/ultimate revenge-fu/kicking various kinds of ass-fu/thief-versus-Hammer-fu/Keeper compound-fu/great mysteries-fu/prophecy-fu/et cetera-fu

[fu me sideways.]

Briefing/Story?
The story of Calendra’s Legacy picks up right where the first installment, Calendra’s Cistern (for Thief 1), left off...you had just given Mercedes a jolly good rogering, then you snuck out with the Cylix of Jortul to meet an interested buyer.

Waitaminit...who is Mercedes? What’s a Cylix? Who is this Jortul and why does he have a Cylix? Rogering??? Okay, okay...here’s the deal: the story of this installment is dependent upon your understanding of the previous FM’s story. So here goes: Mercedes Lexus [yes, really] is an old “friend” of yours (meaning, you know what she looks like naked) from your Keeper days.** She contacted you to help her steal the Cylix of Jortul -- hell if I know what a Cylix is -- from a nefarious no-goodnik named Lady Calendra. Calendra was a member of the Larloch Society, which wasn’t exactly dedicated to helping the poor crippled children of the world, if you know what I mean.

[** So does everyone else. IIRC, the model Purah used for her in the artwork was Playboy model Angel Boris.]

Calendra was giving a party for the Society under the tavern she owned (it was all for nefarious reasons...play the first part for *definitive* details); Corvette Camaro infiltrated the party, gave you some information, and you went off to do the various things that would let you find the Cylix and get out; Challenger Charger would help out where she could (which was, what, twice?). After you had the Cylix, you and Hupmobile Prius went back to her apartment and played “Find The Gunboat”** until, exhausted, you both shucked the sailor suits and engaged in the weirdest sex this side of Aleister Crowley’s wildest nightmares.

[** A line from Doctor Detroit, I believe. Don't ask for details. I'm too tired to care.]

And after this vile, disturbing, yet totally unrecorded encounter (imagination...piffle! We wanna see the goods!), that’s where this part begins. As Impala PT Cruiser sleeps the sleep of the auto-erotic asphyxiation aficionado, Garrett spits out the ball-gag, slips out and goes looking for a fence for the Cylix of Jortul. Jortul, it turns out, was an ancient wizard of some sort. The Cylix is an ancient relic with the power to...I don’t know, master the undead or turn your green Christmas tree lights blue...whatever. Garrett ends up at a pawnshop; the owner says he can set up a meeting with a very interested buyer named Duchess Suedomsa. Of course, Garrett being the fun, paranoid guy that he is, arranges to have Basso drop some weapons ‘n’ stuff off at his rented room, just in case something goes wrong.

Onward!
I’m splitting this thing into sections, as there are, of course, four...er...*three* missions. I played on different difficulty settings for the review, since I’ve played them all on each skill anyway. It’s important to note that a couple of the .avi briefings are huge, which is a large part of the reason this thing passed the 300mb mark.

The first mission is...

A Meeting With Basso
Your main goal for the mission is to meet with Basso in order to work out where he’ll leave your equipment so you can pick it up after your meeting with the buyer.

You start out on the Lampfire Hills side of a bridge. You’ve seen this bridge before if you’ve played the author’s “Autumn In Lampfire Hills” (for Thief 1).** If you haven’t, then too bad. Anyway, the first thing you notice about this mission is the incredible attention to detail. Plus, it’s just downright gorgeous. Purah has a distinct knack for making beautiful missions, and this one is probably the prettiest of the lot.

[** You can find my review HERE.]

The problem with being a thief here is that you really can’t let anyone know you’re a thief. I mean, why invite trouble? If you’re tagged as a thief, you fail. So don’t do anything stupid. On higher skill settings, your KO’s are limited severely, with the “Garrett” skill showing no tolerance for any blackjacking whatsoever. And here’s the thing: you don’t *need* to bash anyone’s head in, or really anything extra-curricular at all. All you have to do is find Basso, let a conversation play, find a way into the restricted Murkbell district without being seen, and get to the inn and go to your room. Simple.

Of course, you don’t play Thief for an easy ride...right? Right! We want to do things the hard way. So find all the loot...figure out how to loot Arkhyn’s tomb without getting killed...pickpocket without being seen or exposed as a thief...break and enter, but quietly...get into the police HQ and crack open the safe for some info...find an interesting way to get into Murkbell...make it your mission in life to doggedly follow that guy wearing the barrel. It’s the side quests that will keep you busy with this one, so have a blast.

And by the way, there are five ways to get into Murkbell, some easy, some not so easy. My preferred method involves taking the scenic route through a wizard’s tomb, but you don’t have to do that. It’s up to you. Personally, I prefer to skip the Police station, as the AI are so twitchy; I’ve done it a couple of times, but ghosting isn’t really my Cup O’ Beanie-Weenies.

[I hate Beanie-Weenies.]

A side note: if you want to KO a few people on the easier skill settings, the Dark engine shows its flakiness. Sometimes you can successfully KO, sometimes you fail the mission. Why? It has something to do with AI awareness, etc. The best method, in the end, is to be sneaky and avoid knocking anyone out...you can hide in the shadows for a *reason*, you know.

Besides the multiple-choice entry into Murkbell and other things, you’ll notice that a blue fog hangs over the area. Even though Thief 2 doesn’t do fog too well, it looks pretty good here. It really makes the rainy weather more “there”....or “here”...whatever. Thunder cracks overhead, lightning flashes...very atmospheric. This mission is a terrific prologue to the meat of the matter, and worth your while to dilly-dally...although if you’re expecting a huge chunk of change every time you pickpocket someone, you’ll be sorely disappointed. No, if you want the big money, you’re going to have to jump through some hoops.

[12/21/19: I decided to play through again, just for...what, fun? What else could it be? Anyway, I found that I absolutely could not get out of the wizard's tomb. At all. Even though I solved all the little riddles and suffered no missteps, I could not loot the final area without waking up his skull, nor could I deactivate it; running for the boulder that triggers the exit ladder was futile, as the ladder never lowered at all. I don't know if all of this is due to scripts and other crap that's changed in the last decade-and-a-half, but it's just easier to forget the whole thing and avoid the tomb altogether.]

So you meet with Basso, get into Murkbell, find the inn and hit the hay. Next up is...

Midnight In Murkbell
You begin the mission with a conversation with the buyer...or so you think. Actually, she’s representing Cardinal Alcandor, who is *very* interested in buying the Cylix. She gives you 25,000 in advance; the rest upon delivery of the Cylix to the Cardinal at St. Trinnet’s cathedral. Downside: you have ten minutes to get there, and you can’t alert the Battle Priests while getting into the Cathedral.

I played on the middle difficulty, since it’s 1) slightly easier to get around the place than on “Garrett”, and 2) you have more weapons at your disposal. I don’t want to give one iota away as to this mission’s surprises, but I will say this: the evening is about to become...interesting.

Since you have ten minutes to get to the Cardinal, you need to become familiar -- I would suggest becoming *extremely* familiar -- with the layout of the area. Use your map to orient yourself (an excellent map, by the way), and don’t be afraid to screw up. Save often. It got to the point where I could do quite a few things along the way to meeting with the Cardinal, and still have some time to spare.

After meeting with the Cardinal (the less said about that, the better for your enjoyment of the mission), you’re supposed to grab your stash -- your *weapons* I mean, not that other crap you keep in your underwear drawer -- from your rented room. Since accomplishing this goal triggers a rather surprising complication in fulfilling your planned activities for the evening, it’s possible to lean into the room and grab some essentials without tripping the goal. There’s an invisible trigger in the room, about halfway in, that sets certain events in motion, but with some trial and error you can edge up to the trigger, lean in, and grab your blackjack and some of your arrows without a major plot point occurring.

This is good news, as moving about after the “event” becomes a little risky; before that, it’s bad enough...after, it’s a lot worse. So I recommend accomplishing as many of the side explorations as you possibly can first; some useful items are either moved around or removed entirely, so grab them early on. Afterwards, you can go back to your room and spring the trigger* to get on with the story.
[* No, that isn’t a metaphor for something furtive.]

As with the first mission, there’s a lot to do...if you want to do those things (and also depending on skill level). There’s a missing amulet somewhere, there’s talk of some weird gemstones, there’s a wizards’ guild that’s just begging for robbery, a museum ripe for plundering, cows wanting a good milking before exploding all over the local gentry in a disgusting, yet completely cool, display of milk and blood**...no, scratch that...and a few other activities. I found that if you go ahead and accomplish the amulet quest, it makes it so much easier to fulfill one of the major goals later on, although again, it’s not necessary. Supposedly, it’s possible to ghost this mission, but I have better things to do with my time, like making sure my cat gets enough fiber in her diet, or seeing how many Chee-tohs (TM) I can eat before I throw up.
[** Cue Scatterbrain: “Milk and blood...blood and milk...MILK AND BLOOD!”]

[Scatterbrain: "Drunken Milkman."]

Since this is supposed to be a city, the architecture is essentially buildings and streets. Join me next time as I observe that the sky is a color akin to blue, and that grass is a decidedly “green” color. Besides my penchant for making a big deal out of the painfully obvious, the streets roll and slope with incredible realism...it’s a quaint town, and attractive to boot. There’s a canal running throughout the district, and I’ll tell you right now that you will be spending most of your time swimming. Why? Well, it’s just easier, isn’t it? A great dead Greek once said, “The shortest distance between two points is a hop in the canal.” Not to mention safer than the streets, I’d say...

Anyway, this mission is the main course of the campaign, and it’s tough...even on Footpad. You’ll find your survival skills tested, but rest assured that a panicked leap into the canal can do wonders for your health. Just...avoid letting archers shoot you. That’s bad.***
[*** Although, I like leaving the human AI alone...because it brings me joy unspeakable as I step over their crumpled, lifeless bodies later on.]

In short, this mission is a remarkable achievement. There’s tons to do, more to see, and it features perhaps the most curious collection of AI in an FM yet. If you like using fire arrows, you’ll like this one. After accomplishing your goals, you’re all set for...

A Winter’s Eve
Taking place a while after the events in Murkbell (a month or so?), Garrett agrees to meet F-250 Tundra in a bad part of town, ostensibly for getting him into the local Keeper compound to find out a few things. It’s also important to note that there are a couple of great encounters between Hammers and thieves right off, so don’t miss out on those. I don’t know what it is about watching AI fight each other, but it sure beats the hell out of watching Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger talk at each other. “Do something! Shoot her! Shoot him! Blow something up already!”

But enough of my unfortunate decision to watch 10 excruciating minutes of L.A. Confidential.

[I find that the more critics love a film, the greater the chance is that I'll hate it.]

As the previous two missions were set in an autumnal atmosphere, it makes sense that in this mission, you’re up to your flashbombs in snow. Trundtrundtrundtrund through the snow, since Garrett dashes about as well as a quadriplegic reindeer. Again, most of the side quests -- depending on skill level -- are largely optional. All you have to do in the beginning is to make it to the bridge and meet Murcielago Testarossa...which is easier said than done.

The Hammers don’t like you, the local thieves are your enemies, and they’re all at each other’s throats. So you need to keep to the shadows and avoid the warring parties. Of course on “Garrett”, you have to kill the leader of the local thieves’ guild, Gaston the Red, as you’re bitter enemies; it’s an ongoing war of one-upmanship: he’s hired people to kill you in the past, and you probably stuck an arrow point-up in his toilet, or something like that. Being forced to kill someone in a mission is not something I like, really.

[pregnant pause]

Had you going there, didn’t I? I’m pretty friggin’ happy that I get to kill someone. I *love* having no-kill restrictions! The more bodies I have piled around my big noisy boots the better!

Yes, I intend to seek help...once I make parole. I suppose it makes sense that there are no kill restrictions (besides not killing Q45 Weinermobile) in this mission, as just about everyone is out for your blood. It makes it easier on me, anyway...I like using my arrows.
 
By the way, this is the perfect mission to play on an irritatingly clear and sunny day, with highs above 75. Close the blinds, draw the shades, staple the drapes together and shatter every light bulb in the room, because you need a break. However if you’re playing this in late Fall and, like me, happened to accidentally tear off a good portion of your left big toenail in an unfortunate grooming incident,**** then it might become a little chilly in the room, not to mention the painful throbbing from the toe. However, if your toes are fine, then you might want to wear just a light jacket.
[**** Perhaps you think I am joking. Perhaps you are a fool. But not as big a fool as I.]**

[** I don't remember any of this.]

The first half of the mission is spent outside -- in the snow, natch -- where you can lurk in the shadows and watch the thieves and Hammers encounter each other in the most violent way (as opposed to, say, getting frostbite in embarrassing places despite the heat of their passion). There are several unique setups here: one has a thief pickpocketing a Hammer; another involves two thieves putting out their makeshift fire when a Hammer approaches. It’s the little touches that help make this one memorable...try to find the flying scroll!

Side note: there’s a pretty nifty Easter Egg in this mission...although the payoff would’ve been far more useful in the previous mission, I think. Oh, well...massive rewards are massive rewards, no matter what.

If you have to eliminate Gaston the Red, you’ll have to get into the thieves’ hideout and lay the smack down -- or not -- on a bunch of your competitors. I liked the idea of luring them all into one tight knot and gassing them with the Taco Bell Arrow (never mind).

But the most important thing is to meet up with Pimpmobile Station Wagon...and to protect her. She has this little job for you to do, namely, sneaking into the local Keeper compound (Keepers’ Local 311...motto: “What Are YOU Lookin’ At??”) and performing a few tasks. Just...uh...just don’t get caught, eh? The Keepers wouldn’t be too happy to see you screwing around the premises.

And there’s quite a sight in store for you...the Keeper compound is massive, and it’s beautifully done. According to the text file, it was Saturnine -- author of the excellent “The 7th Crystal” FM for Thief 2 -- who built a large part of this portion of the mission. An incredible piece of work. And when you’re there, you won’t meet just the green-robed Keepers, but also specialized Keepers who...well, I’ll let you see for yourself. Just don’t alert them, or you’ll have a speck of trouble actually finding ‘em.

Mental Burp: if you’re supposed to be the guy that all the prophecies are talking about, does it make sense that the Keepers in this mission try to kill you if you’re discovered? Never mind, never mind.

What was great was the Keepers’ new voices and their reactions to external stimuli. One knew I was around, and he was searching for me; right out of the blue, he says “Garrett? Is that you? If it’s you...don’t hurt me.” I just about fell out of my chair. Which brings me to the voice-acting of the whole campaign in general: the voices were excellent. (There’s some of my patented “Hyperbole In The EXTREME!!!!” for you.) Some of them are dire in nature, some are hilarious, and all are nicely done.

Back to this mission. Ehh...maybe not. Because if I say anymore, I’ll ruin the surprises. Let’s just say that there are some incredible discoveries to be made in this mission.

...But Back To The Big Picture
Overall, the maps are high quality, visually stunning, and eminently playable. Scripted sequences abound, plot points are logical, and the whole story spins out beautifully. There were few bugs to speak of (most of them were, again, due to the flaky behavior of the Dark engine), and the only trouble I had was trying to remember my limitations before I got myself killed with some stupid stunt. The missions are so open-ended in terms of procedure and advancement that I was never 100% sure if I should quicksave as normal, or just quicksave in a safe place and use the other save slots for trying out risky things. The answer is...it’s a good thing there are a lot of save slots. The second mission in particular is exquisitely nerve-wracking, what with the new, unpredictable (and quite nasty) AI running around.

Besides the eye-ear-gameplay candy of the campaign, there is the fun of doing and seeing the zillions of things no average FM author puts into a mission. Most people would be satisfied with creating a straightforward mission -- and I enjoy those greatly, myself -- but this campaign is something different. While the first part of the story, Calendra’s Cistern, sets the story up, Calendra’s Legacy takes it to the very end. Calendra’s Cistern was a huge, involving mission, but it certainly had its share of bugs, missteps and annoyances. Calendra’s Legacy shows that lessons were learned well. It’s big, it’s ambitious, and it’s beautiful.

If I asked for a group hug, would it happen?

[I changed my mind. Keep your distance, you disease-spewing snot fountains.]

Btw: if you get stuck, there is a walkthrough available...and in case you want to do some weird things, try this thread -- TTLG Forums - Easter Eggs-Special Quests in CL. Have you ever... -- for some extracurricular activities.

So after all is said and done, one question still remains: what the hell IS a Cylix, anyway?? No, don’t answer that...I may not like the answer.

[After all this time, I finally looked it up. "Cylix" is actually a form of "kylix." So:

kylix - noun, plural kylikes. Greek: kýlix meaning "cup"
1. a shallow bowl having two horizontal handles projecting from the sides, often set upon a stem terminating in a foot: used as a drinking cup.]


Summary?
Possibly the best -- certainly the most ambitious -- FM released for Thief 2...so far! [It was at the time, that is.]

Annoyance Rating: Medium, if you know what you’re doing.

My Level Stats:
A Meeting With Basso
Skill: Footpad
Loot: 1443/1605
KO’s: 0
Kills: 2 (spiders)

Midnight in Murkbell
Skill: Cat Thief
Loot: 4645/5115
KO’s: 9
Kills: 219
Backstabs: 179
Damage Dealt: 24,473

A Winter’s Eve
Skill: Garrett
Loot: 6398/6658
KO’s: 31
Kills: 8

[...next...]
It is the scent of garlic that lingers on my chocolate fingers

Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 007: The 7th Crystal
« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2019, 12:15:16 AM »
T2: The 7th Crystal

Game: Thief 2
Title: The 7th Crystal
Author: Saturnine
E-mail: N/A
Filename: T7Cv-2.zip
Filesize: 25.7mb
Download: Cheap Thief Missions

Note: I use custom recolors -- health shields, visibility gem, weapon & AI models -- so what you see besides architecture is probably not what you get. Please remember that before e-mailing me to ask why your health shields aren’t black. Some of the recolors are modifications of elements found in Purah’s “Calendra’s Legacy” (which were too cool *not* to use), and some are my own dabbling with colors. Oh, and I use the new, *dark* health shields and gem so they don’t dominate the screenshots. Thanks goes to Purah.

[Who cares?]

Ah! But this FM will replace most of MY replacements, so it’s a moot point. This is so confusing...

Today’s (Looped) Soundtrack: Jade Warrior’s “East Wind”.

[Huh. I hadn't listened to that one in a long time.]

Abstract:
[Bats! Part 6]
...Orange Bat and Mushroom Pasta, Cinnamon Bat Roll, Buttery Bat Crescent Rolls, Potato & Rosemary Bat Biscuits, Blueberry Walnut Bat Bread, Garlic Bread With Bat Chunks, Raisin ‘n’ Bat Bread, Rum Raisin And Bat Ice Cream, Banana Chip Bat Muffins, Blueberry Scones With Bat Marmalade, French Toast With Grated Bat, Bat Jelly (!) Doughnuts, Amish Cinnamon Bread With A Surprise Bat Center, Apple Cinnamon Batmeal Bread, Applesauce/Batsauce Jamboree, Corned Bat And Hash, Batbrowns, Basil, Roasted Peppers, Seared Bat & Monterey Jack Cornbread, Argentine Chimichurri ‘n’ Bat Bread, Buttermilk Bat Fritters, French Bat Toast, Bat Sopapillas Rolled In Processed Bat Powder & Drizzled With Bat Honey, Bat Balls In Blankets, Bat Bavarian Torte, Apple-Cranberry-Bat Relish, Bat Mincemeat Crumble, Cantaloupe Bread With Bat Praline Glaze, Persimmon -- And Bat -- Bread, Banana Date Flaxseed Bat Bread...
[To Be Continued!]

The Basics:
Equipment Store: Yes
Skill Settings: Yes
Map/Automap: Yes/No
Puzzle Difficulty: Mild
General Difficulty: Medium
R_speeds: Good...but don’t use a P2P program while playing. Learned that the hard way. [Hmmm?]
New Stuff: Indeed
Gameplay: Live AI; mansion rob-fu/great mystery-fu/a noble’s anguish-fu/deceit-fu/manipulation-fu

[Just fu it. Fu it all.]

Briefing/Story?
It’s all explained in-game, so I’ll keep it short: Garrett’s been hired by a woman named Seraphina to break into a certain Lord Saturnine’s mansion and steal the Cerulean Sapphire. You primary goal is to get to the place where Seraphina hid your payment for the job and a note (maps, info, etc.). As you sneak through the mansion and find out more about this Lord Saturnine and the inhabitants of the place, things soon become...interesting. As if *that’s* an odd occurrence in the Thief universe.

Onward!
Ah, the twisting, convoluted world of a Master Thief: if it isn’t one thing, it’s another. This time, it’s a woman who wants you to do a bunch of illegal things. Can I just say something here? Thanks.

RUN GARRETT RUN! SAVE YOURSELF!

Thank you. But does he run? Noooooooooo. He takes the job and before you know it, he’s embroiled in something more complicated and dangerous than he originally thought. But let’s not spoil things, huh? After all, Garrett is the type of guy who shows no fear and will jump headlong...into...danger...is it just me, or does this sound like a setup for Daredevil? And why the [CENSORED] would anyone even *consider* Ben “AFLAC!” Affleck for ANY role? Okay, okay...never mind. The point is, show Garrett some money, and he’ll do all kinds of things. Waitaminit...I just thought of a way to get my bathroom cleaned...

Actually, I really should mention this instead: the “mission” is actually in four acts; Act I is a narrated (by MsLedd) tour through ancient Hammerite catacombs...introducing the Cam-Vator! (You’ll see what I mean when you play.) Then you get to meet Seraphina at a bridge and find out a few things. Act II is the actual hit-‘em-over-the-head-and-steal-their-gold mission. Act III is a trip into the catacombs to find something mentioned in the previous mission; it’s pretty short and painless (he says, with a wicked gleam in his eye). The last act, Act IV, is another “hands-off” mission, with the storyline developing further...with a cliffhanger!

So this review mainly concerns itself with Act II. Why? Because the other three acts are more or less concerned with story elements instead of gameplay, and I don’t want to screw up your experience. Yeah, yeah...I’m 10lbs of nice in a 5lb bag.

So I get inside, find out something has gone wrong at the party Saturnine is giving, and I’m prowling through this mansion. I’m looking for the East Gate Conservatory where I’m ‘sposed to be, when I run into the first obstacle in every Thief mission: dumb AI. Since I played on Expert, I was bound -- morally, as well as in gameplay -- to not kill anyone. Okay, I can handle that usually, but...

[This bitter rant about “no-kill” restrictions has been deleted for reasons of peace and harmony amongst the Peoples Of Earth, whoever they may be.]

The reason I bring up my bitter loathing of no-kill restrictions is because sometimes, the AI were even dumber in this mission than usual. However, I don’t believe for an instant that it was the fault of the author, so he shouldn’t take this in a negative way. One idiot guard even got stuck on top of a table in the hallway, shouting “I’ll find you...just you wait!” It was about that point that I was forced to reload, as I had gone completely out of my friggin’ mind and had cut the poor dumb clod into bite-sized chunks.

It felt good, but I really need to watch myself. Anyway, let’s take a look at the mission and try to answer the questions that plague us: why you should download The 7th Crystal,* how good it is,** and what I’m wearing right now.***
[* Because you have nothing else to do.]
[** Pretty good.]
[*** Clothing.]

All right...architecture. The first thing you will notice -- besides the snow -- is that a lot of effort went into making this mission absolutely gorgeous. So much attention is paid to the little details that you may find yourself gawking at your surroundings, instead of stealing stuff. And tile...everywhere...but not really annoying. I shoulda gone into the tile business. Anyway, take the tour: see the Conservatory, the staircases, the library, the guest bedrooms, the nursery, etc. You’ll love it here.

The outside of the mansion, as well as several rooms (especially the gazebo in the snowy yard), reminded me of Thomas Kinkade’s paintings...so is Saturnine now “The Dromeder of Light”? Let’s go into the audience, and...

[I'm not sure where that was going.]

Anyway, there is new voice-acting: from the ubiquitous Loanstar as Garrett (sadly, he’s left the community, so he’s not so ubiquitous anymore) and as Captain Lorcan, to Wynne’s performance as Seraphina (and others?), there are new conversations and lines being thrown about here, rather than having Garrett blurt out something we’ve all heard before, or worse...complete silence beyond your own monotonous footsteps. MsLedd deserves a pat on the back for her narration, as well.

Gameplay -- that is, interaction with the AI -- is pretty much just “sneak up on guard and put out his lights”, with the ever-present “look for stuff with monetary value”. Of course, it’s not all so simple as that. There’s a story to be had here, and you find out just how deep this plot goes as you explore the mansion and plunder diaries and ravage letters to steal their thoughts and unearth their plots.****
[**** Cue Marillion: “INNOCENCE?!”]

[Marillion: "Emerald Lies."]

And speaking of the interwoven gameplay/plot combination, it becomes clear that you really have no choices (beyond spite-induced suicide) in this mission. I mean, sure, you can vary your strategy in dealing with the guards, but once you perform a certain task, you are duty-bound to perform the next task, and the next. It felt as if I were acting out a script. I say this without rancor or malice, as I realize that I’ve played this mission several times now...so I know intimately what happens next.

But the funny thing, the really funny thing is, this by-the-numbers plot is, I assume, *meant* to feel contrived. Events are too coincidental, and it appears that someone is giving you a helping hand here and there. If you aren’t suspicious by a certain point, then there’s something really wrong with you. Keep your attention on the plot, as it becomes painfully obvious what the deal is.

As a side note, I was a little surprised at the changes in the current version (v2); I had very little trouble with the previous versions, but the changes -- no spawning guards, easier-to-find important keys, etc. -- are pleasant.

What else is there to say? If I say anything more specific, it will pretty much ruin the plot, thus your enjoyment will be as ashes. So in short, if you like beautifully-rendered, highly-linear missions with intriguing storylines, this is your mission. Although I like my missions a little looser, this mission is so charming and so well done that I can’t help but like it.

Oh, and play Act III with the lights out. [insert the most evil-looking grin imaginable here] But first, make sure you have 911 on speed-dial...you know how hard it is to find the “11” when you’re in a hurry.

[An audio joke. "Where's the eleven on this phone??"]

The good news is that Saturnine (the author, not the noble in the story) is in the process of making a sequel. This apparently comes as a sort of relief to many, as he stated that he wasn’t going to finish the story. So the cliffhanger will have a resolution sometime in the future.

[It didn't. I don't recall the exact events, but the author had a ton of shitty things happen to him in real life, so there was no sequel. He did, however, eventually release the exquisite Rose Cottage.]

Finally, how do you reconcile being given morality lessons from a dead kid?

[I'm not sure that's even a thing. I'm not sure what I MEANT, for Christ's sake. Just...just ignore it.]

Summary?
Beautiful, Hitchcockian...it’s The Big Big Mansion Of Secrets And Lies. Have fun!

Annoyance Rating: Low.

My Level Stats (Act II):
Expert Skill
Loot: 2253
KO’s: 27
Kills: 0

[...next...]
It is the scent of garlic that lingers on my chocolate fingers

Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 008: A Keeper Of The Prophecies, Book 1
« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2019, 10:39:31 AM »
[Well. This one...this is only a couple of missions from what turned out to be a much larger campaign. I found that the mission pack that I reviewed -- two missions -- doesn't actually exist anymore, so this review is way, WAY outdated...and considering that the full campaign was released sometime back in 2005, it's a safe conclusion that most, if not all, of any info I provide is even less accurate than usual (this is why I try not to provide any useful information whatsoever). This release included what turned out to be episodes 2 and 3 in the final version; the whole thing encompassed nine episodes in total. I don't intend to review the whole thing, so I'll just leave it in this state. I will, however, point to the most current version download on Cheap Thief Missions.]


T2: A Keeper of the Prophecies, Book 1

Game: Thief 2
Title: A Keeper of the Prophecies, Book 1
Author: frobber (Ken Ramsley)
E-mail: N/A
Filename: N/A
Filesize: 213.5mb
Download: The full campaign at Cheap Thief Missions
Rating: 5 / 5

Note #1: I use custom recolors -- health shields, visibility gem, weapon & AI models -- so what you see besides architecture is probably not what you get. Please remember that before e-mailing me to ask why your health shields aren’t little skulls. Some of the recolors are based on work by Purah (here is where I should probably say “thanks!”), and some are my own dabbling with colors.

[Someone out there cares. Lord knows, it isn't me.]

Note #2: The reviewed campaign is a combined-mission release of two earlier missions, “Hallucinations” and “The Insurrection”. They both make up the first part of a larger work in progress.

[No kidding.]

Note #3: Oh, and by the way: there’s a warning about being careful if you are subject to visually-induced seizures. He says he’s not joking, and I believe him. I believe a lot of things, some of them even true, but this in particular I believe.

[There were a lot of flashing lights in the second mission.]

Abstract:
[Bats! Part 7]
...Basil, Bat & Sun-Dried Tomatoes Bread, Cranberry Pignoli Bat Nuts Bread, Garlic Bat Bubble Ring, Herbed Bat Cheese Whole Wheat Breadsticks, Italian Bat Cream Cheese Pinwheels, Kalamata Olive and Garlic Bat Bread, Sun-Dried Tomato and Asiago Bat Cheese Bread, Fruitbatcake, Bat de Muertos (Mexican Bat of the Dead), Oatmeal Chocolate Bat Chip Muffins, English Saffron Bat Bread, Multi-Bat Seeded Bread, Vegan Bat Muffins (these bats never ate dairy or meat in their lives!), Almond Bat Rum Cake, Roast Bat Stuffed with Chorizo Sausage, Portuguese Kale And Bat Soup, Tea-Smoked Bat With Chilled Noodle Salad And Hoisin Sauce, Kiawe Wood-Smoked Bat Chops With Green Apple Chutney And An Apple-Soy Glaze, Bat And Sweet Corn Pozole With Foie Gras, Sauteed Rock Shrimp In Creole Cream Sauce In A Puff Pastry Vol-au-Vent with Chunks Of Extruded Bat, Rock Shrimp And Mozzarella Bat Strudel With A Smokey Tomato-Butter Sauce...
[To Be Continued!]

The Basics:
Equipment Store: No
Skill Settings: Yes
Map/Automap: Yes/No
Puzzle Difficulty: Not too hard
General Difficulty: Medium
R_speeds: Good on a P4 2.4ghz
New Stuff: Oh, I suppose so...
Gameplay: Very different. Hurry...

[No fu! Yay!]

Briefing/Story?
Continuing from where “The Enterprise” (for Thief) left off, Garrett is in trouble. He’s been mysteriously poisoned with a slow-acting poison (duh) that will turn him into a zombie if it succeeds, a dead lover has been haunting him, and worst of all, the cleaners shrunk his cloak...now it can best be described as “an amusingly big collar.” But no worries...Garrett knows what to do: curl up and die. However, the Keepers and Alisha -- for that is the ghost of his dead hoochie -- are dogging the hell out of him for their own purposes. See, Alisha was the daughter of the high muckamuck of Solustice Industries, a rather nasty gentleman who wanted Garrett to take over the company when he died. Garrett had no interest in becoming a CEO, which only goes to prove a point, although I have no idea what that point may be.

Anyway, Alisha has taken it upon herself to help Garrett out through his time of trouble; Garrett, meanwhile, doesn’t trust her one bit. Will Garrett ever trust Alisha? Will Alisha ever be free of the stain of being the daughter of that Solustice guy? Will Garrett find his long-lost Siamese twin? Will Alisha reveal to Garrett exactly what rough beast crawls towards Bethlehem to be born? Or will Garrett say “because it is bitter, and because it is my heart”? Tune in next week for the shocking conclusion that will blast you out of your seat!

[All next week on "As The Stomach Churns."]

Er...back to the story: so Garrett is slowly dying, and he’s only kept alive by quaffing health potions periodically. His main goal is to find a cure, and to do that he has to jump through some hoops...which entails stumbling into the middle of some twisty, diabolical plot, not to mention being caught up in a turf war between the Hammers (the Bloods) and the Mechanists (the Crips). The Hammer cathedral is the local 7-11 where they smack each other down, and Garrett’s only there for an Icy and a novelty lighter that doubles as a switchblade. I think I lost control somewhere, and I’m not sure where. Well...needless to say: since this is “part one”, we aren’t going to see a resolution just yet.

Onward!

[A possibly relevant note, first. The author -- frobber -- originally released the first part of this story, "The Enterprise," for Thief 1. That version has since disappeared from Cheap Thief Missions, although it may exist elsewhere. The full campaign contains that mission (either converted or entirely remade for T2) as the first episode, so you won't miss out on anything.]

As a responsible reviewer -- I’m responsible for a lot of things, some of them even good, sorta -- I feel that I must point out the clincher for these two missions: they’re timed missions. But this actually makes sense, which is more than I can say for 90% of the timed missions in Grand Theft Auto III.* The time allotted is dependent on the skill level chosen, so you masochists out there can play in the 60-minute time limit of expert, while I will be stretching out a bit in my full two normal-skill hours. There are several lengthy conversations in the first mission, so don’t think that just one hour will be all that easy.
[* The ending mission, for example. Yiiiiiiiick.]

[Obviously, I was also playing GTA3 at the time. I sure knew how to live.]

And since there are two missions, I’ll divide the review up accordingly.

Hallucinations

You start in what is referred to as a “briefing mission”...no, they aren’t going to rip off your underwear and spank you red...you’ll have to go elsewhere for that.** The voice you’re hearing is that of Alisha. The sensation you’re feeling is called “The Camvator”, and believe it or not, it was invented by a third party (SilentSleep, I believe). Thanks to LGS’s complete disregard of the concept of “noclipping”, someone had to invent what other games could achieve just with a simple console command. But my griping aside, you’re given the grand tour of various places, including a trip through a breath-taking cathedral (which is where you go in “The Insurrection”), as well as a bucket-full of back story. If you don’t like long soliloquies, then you will probably become antsy...but hang around, because there’s some important story info to be heard here. After the briefing, the main “Hallucinations” mission loads.

[** And that would've been funny if it had been called a "DEbriefing" mission. Oh, well. Not every swing for the fences connects, I guess.]

“Hallucinations” starts out in a very familiar cemetery; if you’ve played the original Thief 2 (I suppose I shouldn’t assume, but...), then you’ve been here before. In fact, a good chunk of the level takes place in surroundings provided by Thief and Thief 2’s original missions. And this harkens back to the author’s “The Enterprise” as well, as far as your apartment is concerned. Specifically, the graveyard and closely surrounding streets from Thief 2’s “Tracing the Courier” and the street and canal section intro from Thief’s “The Lost City”. The rest of the mission’s locales are totally new. I must give props to frobber right off, using familiar scenery. It makes the mission seem more real, and closer to the original games...even though the storyline is probably something LGS never had in mind for their master thief.

Which is not to impugn the storyline. The story takes off from the author’s own Thief 1 mission “The Enterprise” (which in turn takes place after Thief), in which Garrett, depressed and uncaring about whether or not he gets his new mechanical eye, finds that his lover, Alisha, has been killed by agents of a local company called Solustice Industries. Alisha got fed up with Garrett’s inaction and decided to get the new eye from the Hammers, who made the eye for Garrett in recognition of his role in killing the Trickster (Mister G popped a cap in his ass, yo!**). They gave her the eye, and as she was within sight of Garrett’s apartment, she was murdered and the eye stolen. “The Enterprise”, subsequently, was Garrett’s infiltration of the Solustice compound. It ended with Garrett being offered to take over as owner of Solustice Industries.

[** So to speak.]

Oh, by the way: if you haven’t played “The Enterprise” yet, don’t read the previous paragraph. [chuckles]

Garrett had no intention of accepting the offer (apparently), but one thing was haunting him: Alisha. Literally. So here we are, where we originally came into this review: the cemetery. Alisha’s ghost appears just as you, as Garrett, are doing the Technicolor Yawn;** you have conversation with Alisha -- the first of several inconclusive palavers in this mission -- wherein she informs you that there are Keepers in the cemetery, wanting a word with you. So you have to find the Keepers. Once found, they tell you that to find the cure for the poison, you has to leave this world via a dimensional teleporter that the Precursors made, which is in the hands of the Hammerites, who in turn are set to destroy the thing at midnight. As for your ghostly friend Alisha, they dismiss her as merely a hallucination. But you know how those Keepers are...

[** Meaning, he was vomiting. Throwing up. Tossing cookies. Spewing a light brunch. Paying homage to the Porcelain Pope. And so on.]

So your purpose is clear: get to the Hammerite cathedral by 10pm, which is when they lock the doors for the night. However, you need to perform a few preliminary tasks first. One of these is picking up the local mortician’s pocket watch, which doubles as a compass. Another is finding out who killed your wannabe-benefactor, Funnyname Solustice, who turns out to be...BUM BA BUM!

I’m not going to tell you.

So in between unraveling the plot against yourself and having these cryptic conversations with Alisha, you make your way across town to the gates of the Hammers’ cathedral. But first, you have to stop in at your apartment and get your gear...a very nice touch in an already-great mission. All geared up? Great. Next stop: stuff!

Along the way, you’ll encounter dead townsfolk in alleys (who have obviously been poisoned, too), witness an encounter between a Hammer and Mechanists, enjoy a hilarious family dynamic in the form of a drunk guy asking you to help open the door to his apartment while his shrieking harridan of a wife gives him what-for the whole time, find out how tricky it is to walk on ice, visit a funeral home, avoid the locals, listen in on some intriguing conversations, infiltrate a few places where you shouldn’t be, witness a “hallucination” or two, generally admire the architecture, and essentially piss off Alisha to no end with your mistrust.

The gameplay is typical Thief: stick to the shadows, avoid interaction with anyone beyond beating the love of the Builder into them, etc. Of course, this is why we play Thief in the first place, so it’s nice to see some things staying constant in this world.

The architecture, on the other webbed hand, is simply beautiful. I think I spent more time admiring my surroundings than paying attention to what the guards were doing...which led to a reload or three. Those of you playing on the easiest skill will get some time to look around a bit, while on the hardest skill, you’ll be somewhat pressed for time. A good part of this time is spent in conversations, whether Garrett’s directly involved or not. The loot goal is nonexistent, as you’re just passing through after all. I recommend playing on “normal” skill first, just to get a good look at the town, as well as learning the local landmarks.

I must point out an important element here: you lose health periodically from the poison. Garrett cries out in pain, coughing...and you need to pay attention to your health and drink potions accordingly. You’ll find them scattered around, so don’t worry about running out...and this way, it’s probably a good idea to avoid getting into fights.

Side note: there are four secrets to be found, but I only found one out of every single time I played with this version of the mission. And for the record, I never did find out the answer to the easter egg riddle found in the readme. I’m terrible at riddles and logic puzzles, so even the most rudimentary riddle hurts deeply. At any rate, it’s a shame that the version of Hallucinations found in this pack had the egg changed from the previous version; in that version, I actually figured out the riddle (hooray!) and found the secrets...pretty great secrets, really. But that’s changed now, and I feel a bit depressed over the whole thing. Maybe I should go sit in the backyard and eat crickets for a while.

Continuing... Even though I’m usually wary of timed missions in general, I enjoyed this one mightily; and despite my reservations about playing on expert, I found that once I knew the layout of the map perfectly (via several playthroughs), I was able to coast through easily on that skill. Although there are a few more guards and...other things...I’ve been playing the game long enough not to wet my pants and scream like a little girl when confronted with problems. No, I reserve such unseemly conduct for when Mistress Kiki TELLS me I should.

[It finally dawned on me that the key to the enjoyment of being dominated is actually submitting; all this time I was just looking at the leather-clad mean ladies like they were nuts and telling them to stop hitting me, why do they keep hitting me?!? Then they would look at *me* like I was nuts (hey, I didn't dress up like a superhero/nun hybrid and come to YOUR house and hit you with a riding crop, did I? Why am I the crazy one??) and they'd just sigh put their clothes back on and leave and I could finally go back to sorting my Transformers in peace.]

By the way, watch out for zombies.

But as much effort has been put into this mission, your main goal is to get to those cathedral gates as soon as you’ve put some clues together...which takes us to:


The Insurrection

At the end of Hallucinations, you blacked out. You awake at the insistence of a Keeper, and find that you’re under the bridge leading to the cathedral’s front doors. A cache of weaponry is nearby, the water in front of you is frozen, there’s a dead guy on the ice, and a loudspeaker above you blares with a Hammerite call to arms. It seems that you’ve stumbled upon a nice little holy war between the Mechanists and the Hammers**...which means that you’ll have to take especial care in not getting your ass killed.
[** A typical church schism. The town where I spent a few miserable school years had a similar problem. It wasn’t a very large town...and it still isn’t; but as it stands now, they have something on the order of 65 distinct churches, most of them established by breaking off from other churches. We Protestants are a happy, cooperative lot...]

[Had the Catholics been players of the Long Game, they could've just waited for us to wipe ourselves out.]

What’s even better is that you’ll finally be able to take a firsthand look at the cathedral in the briefing mission. My expert (ha ha ha) opinion? Yikes. Now, I will not recommend this mission for people with low-end machines, because the sheer size and the level of detail would make my old P2-350** explode, sending case shards in a deadly twenty-foot radius. However, if you have some processing muscle, the mission will play just fine...although there’s a place where the author warns you to save before accessing -- the towers that you can climb to look at the outside -- no matter *what* you’re running.

[** I used to know exactly what I had in my CPU case. Now? Who knows.]

Anyway, this mission is a little more convoluted than the first; there aren’t any lengthy conversations that you *must* listen to...however, the way to the Precursor device isn’t straightforward by any means. Thanks to the Mechanists, the Hammers are jumpy, and you’ll never know just whom you’ll bump into when turning a corner, be it a gear-head or a Hammer...regardless, they’ll both want to introduce you to the Builder, but you have other plans.

So it isn’t going to be easy (unless you’ve played through three times as I have). The focus is more on finding and accessing the device, instead of the exploration and plot establishment of Hallucinations. But you have enough time to watch the Mechs and Hammers whomp on each other, if that’s your fancy. Anyway, the two hours you get before midnight -- I’ll explain that in a moment -- are better spent finding clues and navigating this mother of a church. You’ll probably do some walking along a ledge or two outside, but it’s good exercise (if you don’t fall off and splat courageously on the ground below), and you can pick up some most helpful supplies left by the Supply Fairy, who comes and leaves gas arrows and health and invisibility potions on windswept ledges for the good little thieves of the world. I’m not even gonna ASK why this stuff is on the ledges, but I suspect Alisha.

You’ll eventually find that Karras and Cavador are involved, and they’ve been misusing the device for their own purposes***...they’ve fled the scene, as they were going to have a few Hammer boots shoved up their woofters. By the way, since this is set before Thief 2, this mission is filling in the sketchily-drawn past of Karras, as LGS didn’t consider it important enough to tell us about Karras’ stint in the Hammerite order.
[*** Needless to say.]

On another note, do these two guys remind anyone else of Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank from the pre-SciFi channel incarnation of “Mystery Science Theater 3000”? Once in a while, I’ll think of things like Karras taking all of the money from Cavador’s 401K and investing it in something called “Unhappy Meals”...or just using Cavador’s blood to power his desk fan, or something, and inadvertently killing him for the three hundredth time.

Of course, the main premise is that Dr. Karras “Firebrand” Forrester and WCM’s Cavador**** have trapped Garrett in a small room at the top of Soulforge Cathedral and make him read badly-written scrolls while they monitor his mind. But he takes a couple of dead bots and turns them into wise-cracking companions, and they all sit around in the light of a candle and make fun of the scrolls with short breaks for impromptu skits and commercials. Now that I think about it, MST3K and Thief 2 really aren’t that far apart, once I twist it around a bit...
[**** WCM: Wax Cylinder Machine. I couldn’t say “TV’s Cavador” now, could I?]

[I'm surprised at how well that crossover premise turned out...]

ANYWAY, while you’re avoiding the various fanatics, you’ll be trying to get into the laboratories belonging to Karras and Cavador, as the device needs to be turned on before it can take you to this “other world”...and you simply can’t turn it on by flashing Cristy Thom** pictures at it (although that works on most of us); no, you’re going to need something more potent: Petra Verkaik.*** Unfortunately, she won’t fit in your inventory...so you’ll have to use masonry blocks on some pressure plates.

[** Cristy Thom was Playmate of the month in February of 1991. She's now an artist.]

[*** Petra Verkaik was Playmate of the month in December of 1989. She's still modeling nude.]

Somewhat Irrelevant And Stupid Side Note That Derails My Train Of Thought: Like Hallucinations, I was somewhat reluctant to play on expert...but I did it anyway. My knowledge of the cathedral’s layout allowed me to complete the mission in about 39 minutes on a 65-minute timer, which is actually pretty good for me. Granted that most of my time on the other skills was spent in killing Mechanists and blackjacking Hammers, so this time around I simply avoided them when I could. It goes that much faster, but I wasn’t as impacted as much by the whole thing that way. I recommend taking time to explore, as there’s plenty of fun things around every corner, some of them non-lethal!

Anyway...after you’ve activated the device, you’ll have to beat cheeks to where the device is, since the Hammers have had it with time tables and are...well. why should I give *everything* away? You’ll see. Oh, and may I give you a hint on how to get to the device (since I’ve seen many posts questioning how to get there)? Drainpipe. That is all.

So you’ve gotten to the device and jumped in...this is where you should quit if you are susceptible to seizures. For the rest of you, enjoy the credits. Hopefully, Book Two will make us happy very soon...but I doubt it. So much for my optimism therapy...didn’t have much hope for it anyway.

Finally, a note on the screenshots: I found that I had taken quite a few in Hallucinations, but not so many in Insurrection. Why? I have no idea, but it doesn’t matter; the screenshots I took in Insurrection couldn’t do it justice...you’ll just have to see the cathedral to believe it.

[In person. I provide no screenshots.]

Summary?
Two incredible timed missions with awe-inspiring architecture and beautiful texturing work. The cathedral, by the way, is to scale.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Annoyance Rating: Low

My Level Stats:

Hallucinations:
Normal Skill; Expert Skill
Loot: 998/1173; 998/1173
KO’s: 13; 13
Kills: 2; 12

Insurrection:
Normal Skill; Expert Skill
Loot: 1806/1956; 1848/2013
KO’s: 16; 8
Kills: 17; 5

[...next...]
It is the scent of garlic that lingers on my chocolate fingers

Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 009: Island Of Iron Series
« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2019, 09:50:27 PM »
[Another "rescue"...I posted this in the main Foxhole reviews, but for this version I restored the original "Bats!" (part 8) Abstract. And so on. At the end of this post is the replacement Abstract. Because why not.]

[And I feel I should, in the spirit of honesty, admit that for this post I've rewritten small bits here and there. Nothing major, just some of the more awkward passages that made me feel more sad and tired than usual. (For example, the bit about wrestling.) Some tightening up of throwaway jokes, minor deletions of some truly unnecessary asides, and so on. It's all to make it read better...and to alleviate (if only a little) the psychosomatic aches and pains I experience when dealing with this shit.]

[An Important (at least, to me) Note: In the years since I wrote these reviews, the author -- John D. -- had been banned from the TTLG forums, and gave over his work to a third party (Dark Assassin) to make updates, etc. I'm not sure of the details, but I do know that after his banning, he asked *me* (as the Hangar had hosted one of his later FMs, we were apparently sympathetic?) to plead with the TTLG staff for reinstatement. They laid out a firm and reasonable "no." I thanked them for their time, informed him of their decision, and that was that; never heard from John D. again.

Anyway, it seems that since I wrote these reviews, the FMs in question were "improved"...what those improvements entail, I'm not sure. From the scant bit of research I've done -- life lesson: only learn enough to make you dangerous, but not enough to make you successful -- it seems that whoever "improved" them added in voice files for the Hammerites in "Brawl In The Tombs." Also, that same missions seems a little less populated with the undead. Beyond that, I don't know. As that mission was really the only one with any change in filesize, I've changed the info to reflect the newer version.

Something that may also be of pertinent interest is that the first mission of this review, "Quick Cash," is also part of a three-FM pack of John D.'s earlier missions ("Quick Cash," "Burglary In Blackbrook," and "Shadows Of The Past"); that pack can be found at Cheap Thief Missions under the name "Dark Beginnings" (48.9mb). "Burglary In Blackbrook" is a good-sized remake of his T1/G FM of the same name, and it's worth the download. The other two missions are short and interesting.

So now you know. And knowing is half the battle.]



T2: The Island Of Iron Series


Game: Thief 2
Title(s): Quick Cash, Your Last Breath, A Brawl In The Tombs, Island of Iron Part One: Fortress of Steel, Island of Iron Part Two: Confrontation
Author: John D. Productions! (John D. Head)
E-mail: N/A
Filename(s)/Downloads:
quickcash.zip (312k)
yourlastbreath.zip (959k)
brawlinthetombsV2.zip (48.9mb)
Islandpt1FOS.zip (8.7mb)
Islandpt2.zip (17mb)
Overall Score: 5 / 5

Note: You know the drill...custom recolors, health shields, what have you. Thanks to Purah and others for providing the basics of what my custom interface has become.

[That should mean something to me, and yet...it doesn't.]

Abstract:
[Bats! Part 8]
...Baked Louisiana Blue Crab Imperial With Caviar And Sautéed Pea Shoots Smothered In Bat Chutney, Smoked Sturgeon Napoleon With Caviar Cream And A Lemon-Bat Gastrique, Country Bat With Redeye Gravy and Buttermilk Bat Biscuits, Country Bat And Apple Slaw Sandwich With Baby Swiss And Bourbon Mustard With Little Minced Pieces Of Otherwise Useless Bat Parts, Crawfish And Artichoke Risotto With Crispy Eggplant And Soggy Whole Bat, Smoked Bat And Scallop Koulibiaca With Spinach And Black Truffles Wrapped In Phyllo And/Or Cellophane With Truffle Beurre Blanc, Gnocchi With A Garlic Bat Cream Sauce And Balsamic Glazed Pearl Onions, Pumpkin Gnocchi With A Brown Bat Sauce With Crisped Sage And Shaved Parmigianno-Reggiano, Warm Porcini Mushroom Flan With Wild Bat Confit, Bat Emulsion and Crispy Bat Wings, Nimbu Rice: Rice with Indian Spices, Cashews, A Buttload of Rabid Frothing Bats and Chiles...
[TO BE CONTINUED!]


The Basics:
Equipment Store: No across the board.
Skill Settings: No/Yes/Yes/Yes/Yes
Map/Automap: No/No to all except the last, which has a placeholder map but no automap.
Puzzle Difficulty: Easy/Easy/Medium/Easy/Medium
General Difficulty: Easy/Easy/Medium/Medium/Hard
R_speeds: Adequate, even though the last mission may make your system hiccup like a mother.
New Stuff: No/Yes to the rest
Gameplay: Undead versus living AI-fu/exorcizing the fu-demon once and for all-fu

[And good riddance to the fu.]

Briefing/Story?
I take care of the story in the individual mission entries. Enjoy.

Onward!
Since I hate spreading things every which way for thousands of pages, I’ll be reviewing all of the FMs in the series right here...which may take the focus off a thoroughly in-depth look, but since when did my reviews ever achieve anything approaching depth? Don’t answer that!

So on to the review. Read on, and try to comprehend me.


Quick Cash
Nice and short. The whole idea here is to break into a Hammerite barracks and pick up some loot...very simple. The fun part comes when you enter a chapel filled with Hammers, and you notice a note tacked up by a side door, a dire warning to not open the door.

So of course I had to open it.

Hint? Leave the Hammers alone, open the door and shoot a noisemaker into what lies beyond. Rewarding.

As for the technical side of things, the architecture isn’t ambitious by any means; the layout is rather plain and workmanlike. But the whole idea isn’t to wow you with special effects, or a show of technical wizardry...no, it’s more or less a setup for the AI to fight each other. This is a hint of things to come in later missions, but this is a good start.

In short, it’s adequately named.

Score: 2 / 5


Your Last Breath
It’s your intention to hop off your raft (that thing you're standing on) and find out what the Mechanists are doing on the sea bed. If you know what you’re doing, you won’t drown...but there are plenty of breath potions on hand, just in case you don’t know what you’re doing. There are a couple of structures to peruse, but the only one of any especial importance is also the most heavily-patrolled (isn’t that always the way?). Before swimming over there, you can investigate a lookout post with its solitary inhabitant, investigate a corpse a short distance away, or get your ass perforated by a Mechanist in diving gear. "Stay away from him," is all I’m trying to say in my own crude, uneducated manner.

Once you’re ready to head over to the main building, remember that you’re carrying flash bombs...because you’ll probably need them. The whole point of this exercise is to find information; it seems some Mech-a-muck* named Friend Arbez has been pulling some mysterious crap...the Mechs are also putting together a plan to retake the Island of Iron, a former Hammer possession that was overrun by the undead.
[* Oh, I’m SO clever.]

So as you’re finding all of this out, try not to disturb everybody with your Zildjian-brand Cymbal Boots, which react quite harmoniously -- if loudly -- with the largely metal floors. Look around, gather some info, and put everyone to sleep.

I liked this one, if only for the tranquil underwater jaunt...you know, when I wasn’t frantically swimming for air. The author mentions in the readme that he had problems with adding a starry sky texture, so enjoy a kind of blocky black sky. It doesn’t really bother me, except that I have my gamma cranked up (I find squinting is not inducive to enjoyment), and it gives the impression that it’s in a subaquatic cavern with a pretty good air pocket above me. Again, this is my own strange little hang-up and shouldn’t be construed as actual fact.

Also, the architecture is improving; the underwater terrain is well done (and spiky), the buildings are Mechtastic, and the water is quite lung-filling. Glub, glub.

Score: 3 / 5


A Brawl In The Tombs
Now we’re getting somewhere. After your ordeal ‘neath the bounding main (or whatever), you decide to take a vacation from the City and go to Lithscon (not to be confused with Lithone, the planet Unicron destroys at the beginning of Transformers: The Movie), a small town not far from the City. You had gathered some info, but were unsure of what to do next; hence, your vacation. It seems the Mechanists are eager to conquer the Island of Iron, a former Hammerite possession that was overrun by the undead. At this point, it’s unclear to you why they want to do this (maybe somebody lost a contact lens), but someone called Friend Arbez is heavily involved.

Anyway, while in Lithscon you meet up with an old friend who tells you of a series of ancient, forgotten tombs beneath the town and the problems that occur when you let a fourth-rate wizard try out a few spells. Instant zombie overrun! This presents no end of frustration to the living, who on the whole don’t like being gnawed upon by shambling undead horrors.* So to combat this unseemly rotting riot, the Hammers have sent Thoren, a legendary fighter of the undead, as well as a few hired mercenaries, to clean out the tombs once and for all. Caught up in this mess is a band of thieves who were making their base in the tombs; their leader, Willy, is a good friend of your friend and he’s agreed to let you have free passage through their hideout. They’ll also let you have your pick of equipment and all the loot you can carry from the tombs, as long as you give them a cut. Seems fair.
[* Some people are so picky. “Oh, boo-hoo, I don’t wanna be a zombie’s lunch! I hate it when my undead grandma eats my brains! Waaaaaah!” Buncha babies.]

Also, you hear that there are Mechanists operating in a section of the tombs, and they’ve been seen slumming with a Lord Linus, whose mansion’s basement is connected to the tombs themselves. Until recently, the thieves have been plundering his home with great success. Maybe the Mechs will have some important information just laying around for you to read. You wonder if this Friend Arbez is as dangerous as he seems. You also wonder if people can hear you wonder, because there seems to be a LOT of echo in here. Hello! Is this thing on? Now-ow batting-ing for-or the Yankees-ees...

So in short, you’re supposed to meet with the thieves and pick up some equipment, then do a few errands...which also involves looting what you can and causing as much chaos as possible for the Hammers and Mechs. There are also rumors of some Keepers down here somewhere...

...and with the exception of the Keepers (as they are far removed from the action), perhaps you could get them all to join together in peace, joy and harmony; become one in a common goal of fostering a better, brighter world for our children and our children’s children and our children’s children’s children.

Better yet, you could simply get them all to kill each other in a bloody explosion of unparalleled pain and brutality. Your choice, but guess which option is more fun? John D. knows the path to true Thief happiness, and he sets the game board admirably: is there an area that’s too full of undead? Lure them into an area with living AI. Are you being chased by a Hammer? Run through the middle of some zombies. Pesky Haunts? Run around one of the manned posts where holy water-carrying archers are stationed. Troubled by ghostly hemorrhoids the size of ripe grapefruit? Buy some Apparition-H!

[I finally got to use that joke. Yay.]

Besides the ulterior motive of the mission -- loot the tombs and find information about the Island of Iron thing -- the author taps directly into a furtive part of every person on the planet: [the joy one feels] watching people (or things) kick the hell out of each other. This is why televised professional wrestling exists, friends. But when you come down to it, wrestling is really just a bunch of sweaty guys touching each other. No thank you.

But at least the women get involved once in a while, or so I've heard. Ask yourself: when’s the last time you saw a woman slam another woman’s face into a turnbuckle and keep slamming until there’s nothing left but chunky brain salsa smeared all over the canvas? Probably never, but...

Uh, the point I was trying to make is that you come for the loot and stay for the carnage. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing Mechanists slaughtered by the score, or zombies exploding in a crowd of Hammers, Haunts whomping on a Mech turret, or telemarketers being drawn and quartered. Spring traps or set your own, you can do it all...with your new hair!

[slaps forehead...which is much higher than it used to be]

Um...anyway, you will see/do these things and more. I’ve played this mission many, *many* times. I just can’t get enough of watching the AI fight each other...so just sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

What’s interesting is that, among other projects, this Arbez fruit loop has been tinkering with a new kind of Mech soldier that’s fairly effective at fighting the undead. Of course, this spells bad news for *you* if you run into one, but you won’t have that problem just yet...for now, watch what happens when they go into action. Observe by watching, someone once said,** and damned if that isn’t true.
[** I think it was Yogi Berra...or Yogi the Bear...which one hung around with Boo-Boo?]

Caveat: seeing as how you are equipped with a holy sword, you may be tempted to kill supine zombies. Yes, that is possible...but be careful of Thief 2’s tendency to treat the flying zombie parts as potentially fatal projectiles. Find a good angle to strike from; I prefer standing in the collarbone area, then swinging for the body. Splorch!

Also, try to *backstab* ambulatory zombies; the same death-by-flying-rotting-torso rule still applies here.

Another thing I must mention is the fact that the thieves get involved at a certain point. If you see a thief or two attacking a zombie and you decide to jump in, they might take it the wrong way and turn on you. Leave ‘em alone; let them work and continue looting. Speaking of the thieves: before you do anything, try to visit the thieves’ hideout for more equipment; be careful, as they’re friends...you won’t fail the mission if you kill them, but why should you kill allies? So don’t attack them!

As for what the place looks like, come on: it’s a series of tombs. I mean, you aren’t looking for anything Bonehoard-ish I hope, because you aren’t going to get it. That is to say, the architecture isn’t overly awe-inspiring -- it’s downright utilitarian in places -- but it isn’t exactly sithspit, either. There are several pleasing areas, but the overall theme is one of *dark* tombs. You’ll probably still be squinting a bit...however, I found that if I maxed out the game gamma (as I usually keep it anyway), I was able to see perfectly well. The bottom line is that it was dim, but still perfectly playable. My eye strain was minimum, but turn up your gamma if you have problems.

One other minor quibble concerns the ambient sounds in the tombs. They were well-chosen, but a little...um...LOUD.

So now that you’ve caused an unholy amount of carnage and can barely stand from the sheer amount of loot you’re carrying, it’s time to head for the exit.

Score: 4.5 / 5


Island of Iron Part One: Fortress of Steel
That was interesting. After your little jaunt in the tombs, you made good on your deal to give the thieves a good cut of the loot you found, as well a couple of gifts to their leader, Willy. This allowed you to make your exit in one piece. Whilst snooping in the Mechanists’ HQ, you found sick experiments being carried out on both the living and undead, and the one responsible is that Friend Arbez guy. It seems Arbez has been trying to control the undead for some unfathomable reason. All you know is that he made some allusion to being expelled from the Hand Brotherhood, and that’s probably fuelled his badness...this guy is a real character, an “interesting” guy. Remember Constantine? He was interesting, too. You’ve had enough of interesting people.

You’ve rowed out to the Island of Iron (in a rowboat no less*), in hopes of catching Arbez at the Mech outpost. The Mechs are ostensibly trying to reclaim the island from the undead for the glory of the Builder, or some such thing...but more likely because there are quite a few exploitable natural resources to be had. Even so, you believe that Arbez has a sinister ulterior motive for being on the island. You’re here to find Arbez and kill him...although if it were that easy, there wouldn’t be an “Island of Iron Part Two.”
[* As opposed to a quinquereme.]

While this installment does indeed feature an area wherein Mechs fight the undead, it’s only one occurrence, albeit memorable. Your goal is to essentially find out a few things...oh, and to loot the place. That’s understood. This mission also introduces a new Mech toy in the form of the Firebots, which is a new type of combat bot...and of course, it’s impervious to fire. So much for those mines and fire arrows you’ve been squirreling away. Fortunately, they still work on soft targets...

This place is a fortress, manned with all manner of Mechs armed to the teeth and ready for a zombie attack. Sneaking around, you’ll find a few readables pointing out that these people are horrified by the whole thing...but you don’t give a crap what Mechanists think, right? I left the fortress littered with dismembered bodies and mangled bots. But you may choose the wholly sneaky route, which is perfectly okay, but perhaps not as much fun. I prefer striking from the shadows and throwing them into utter confusion and horror as I pick off their companions one by one until the last one left realizes he or she is alone...all alone...

Okay, perhaps I need to get away from the computer for a while...or stop reading Lovecraft.** But whatever you enjoy doing with your equipment, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try out your new offensive dinguses. Or not. Your choice.
[** “...I heard it well up from the innermost depths of that damnable open sepulcher as I watched amorphous, necrophagous shadows dance beneath an accursed waning moon. ‘You fool! Disco is DEAD!’” -- from “The Statement of Donna Summer”]

And what’s new in the area of your equipment? Well, for starters, there’s the firebomb, a curious flashbomb-like device that sets someone on fire (or as close to such a thing that the engine can claim). Another delicious item is the flash arrow, which is essentially what it sounds like. To get that arrow, use your “next weapon” key, because it replaces nothing in your inventory. I might also mention a new sword at your disposal that you can pick up at some point; up to then, you’ll be carrying a little dagger. This is good for lancing boils and pricking your finger for diabetes testing, but I prefer a sword that takes both arms to lift.

I hope that doesn’t say anything weird about me.

After the last mission, a live-AI jaunt might be to your liking, perhaps. Destroying the hopes and dreams of the living is my immutable goal, and this I accomplished with a grin on my face and a spring in my step (or was it the other way around?). It’s good to be able to familiarize yourself with some of the new items and tools at your disposal, as well as what you can expect in possible AI in the next mission.

But what about the fortress itself, you may ask? It’s...well, it’s pretty much a Mech base. There it is. If you’re expecting flying buttresses and soaring colonnades, then you’re in for bitter disappointment...but it’s your own fault, since you’re not here to sightsee. The Mechs aren’t exactly interested in needless decoration, so count on utilitarian architecture and a lot of metal.

As for the mission itself, your main goal is to kill Arbez, all the while avoiding the Mechs and their toys (or clubbing the Mechs and breaking their toys) in an attempt to gather information and do some irreparable harm to the Mechs’ island-reclaiming agenda.

Like I mentioned earlier, things aren’t as cut-and-dried as they look from the outset; complications present themselves...but it’s nothing you can’t handle. That said, most of the satisfaction you derive in this mission is of a spiritual nature: by sabotaging the Fortress’ security, you’re putting the Mechs all over the island into severe peril. Allow me to laugh in the manner of Vincent Price. But that’s all you get in this one; however, you do see the result of your handiwork in the conclusion, which is where we’re going next.

Score: 3.9 / 5


Island of Iron Part Two: Confrontation
This is it. In your quest to track down Arbez and plant your size 11 boot in his groin, you’ve reached the most dangerous part of the Island, the former Hammer cathedral/fortress. The Mechs have reclaimed the place and have set up housekeeping, etc. They infest the place like the dogma-spewing cockroaches they are and, well, gee...wouldn’t it be a *shame* if they were overrun by the undead?

Ask not for whom I cry, I cry not for them. Anyway, your first task is to travel through a sort of sewage/drainage system to the actual cathedral -- noticing from the resulting carnage at a nearby outpost that your actions in the Fortress of Steel weren’t completely in vain, ha-ha! -- and find a way inside.

I’ll leave this up to you. Hint: there is another way in besides the doors.

Once inside, you’ll discover that your task may be a bit tougher than you thought. Or maybe it’ll be *easier* than you thought. It’s all based on your expectations and inherent personality defects, but never fear: there’s always free therapy at the local colleges. Just look for the guy with the tweediest clothing.

So let’s look around. An impressive cathedral with crumbling masonry giving a general impression of neglect and despair which is being renovated by a bunch of gear-obsessed idiots? Check! Mechs patrolling the halls, descanting the fundamentals? Check! Mech bot experiments at the ready for the purpose of smashing and killing? Check! Slyfoxx, my favorite Garrett impersonator, returning to the role? Check! Loot? Check! A needlessly elaborate, monolithic taxmatic bureaucracy dedicated to constricting your every financial step forward in an attempt to squeeze more blood out of your personal budgetary stone? Che--uh, no. That’s just in real life. Try not to think about it. Carry on.

As you sneak through the fortress’ upper levels, you’ll find that Friend Arbez has been tampering in the Builder’s domain. Once you get into his laboratories, in fact...but I’ll let you discover that on your own. But here’s the kicker: even though there is no undead-human interaction in the first part of this mission (a single event divides the mission), the second part more than makes up for it. In fact, you’ll be interested only in escape the first time you play, which is just too bad if you hadn’t fulfilled the loot objective yet.

And while this mission owes at least a spiritual debt to Purah’s “Midnight in Murkbell,” (the second mission in “Calendra’s Legacy”) it isn’t really a rehash at all, despite Garrett’s comment: “Oh, shit...looks like Murkbell all over again!” Granted, both involve a lot of undead...however, in “Murkbell,” You had to perform certain tasks in the middle of a hellish (but fun) “Night of the Living Dead” scenario, while this mission doesn’t require you to do anything but escape when it happens (even though I decided to hang around and clean the place out), as you’ve probably completed all of your objectives by that point.

And what is that point? Sorry, but you’ll just have to find out for yourself...but it isn’t too hard to figure out. Until you get there, you’ll be...well...delighted and/or horrified by the readables and atmospheric situations you encounter. There are some truly disturbing things here and there (such as the old nursery or the ground-floor generator room), all of which makes me extremely happy. Remember, I’m the guy who used to consider books detailing the forensic analysis of serial murders as “light reading”...anyway, Arbez would never be considered a nice guy with whom you’d leave the kids while you and the ol’ ball and chain go out on the town. That’s a warning, by the way. Don’t freak when you find out how dire a warning it is.

I’ve mentioned this previously, but the architecture in this mission is top-notch; the previous installments were more utilitarian, but workable; featuring some good-looking cathedralism and a host of nasty surprises for the slow of heel, the author’s shown stellar improvement in his building skills, and I eagerly await his next project. I also eagerly await the day that I acquire complete One-ness with the Universe, but in the meantime I’ll settle for Subway hiring people with a reasonable amount of intelligence. Hope springs eternal...

[...and I keep hoping...]

When I first played this mission, the game crashed several times for a couple of reasons; one, there was a lot going on at once (which is anathema to the Dark Engine; the undead being a particular beam in Thief 2’s eye, specifically exploding zombies and Apparitions dying), and two, I had a stupid tendency towards quicksaving and then quickloading in the middle of large confrontations. Crunch. For the review, however, I performed a few hard saves in my progress and experienced no crashes.

I must stress again that quicksaving and quickloading in the middle of complex undead/human fights is not something I recommend, and should be avoided. Otherwise, you should be fine.

And speaking of conflict, there are a couple of precautions you can take to make your exit easier. For one, try to avoid killing or blackjacking the Mechs. They’re easily avoided, even on Expert. (Although the Mechs on the top floor and in Arbez’ lab I neutralized gleefully.) Another thing is that you don’t *have* to visit every single area in the place before fulfilling your primary goal, although it’s better if you were to perhaps open all of the doors so that the Mechs will hear any...er...disturbances. Remember that if you do take the sneaky non-KO, non-alerting route (kind of like ghosting, but with exceedingly malicious intent), it will be extremely difficult to get the required loot without alerting the Mechs. But with any luck, both parties will be so weakened by combat that the remaining AI (undead or alive) will be fairly easy to finish off with a minimum of effort, leaving you pretty much the run of the place.

With that said, don’t be too sure of yourself...there are a couple of undead horrors who are a little too tough (and quick) for mere dilly-dallying. I laid a sunburst device trap for a couple of them, and they actually survived...

So even though you can almost ghost the first half, it’s really not the type of mission that lends well to perfect ghosting. Your (evil) intent in ghosting is to keep the undead busy while you escape/fulfill your loot requirement. So if you enjoy strolling easily past scenes of carnage (hi!), this mission will enthrall you.

In short, a fine end to the series.

Score: 5 / 5


Final Series Score: 5 out of 5 for the whole package. Yes, I’m a nice guy.

Summary?
A series of missions with 1) the intent of killing a madman with all kinds of interpersonal problems, and 2) AI fighting each other to your great amusement. The author’s architecture improves progressively (some might say exponentially) over the course of the series, so it’s interesting to see. Fun and funny, give them a try.

My Level Stats (Ha-ha! Fear Me, Fools!):

Quick Cash
Skill: Easy (Normal)
KO’s: 5
Kills: 0
Loot: 502/502

Your Last Breath
Skill: Top Taffer (Expert)
KO’s: 10
Kills: 0
Loot: 1365/1365

A Brawl In the Tombs
Skill: 1 Man Army (Expert)
KO’s: 11
Kills: 71
Loot: 5070/5420

Island of Iron Part One
Skill: Killer (Expert)
KO’s: 32
Kills: 24
Loot: 1405/1405

Island of Iron Part Two
Skill: Killer (Expert)
KO’s: 10
Kills: 42
Loot: 1662/2127

The Grace Scale
Grace gives it a... [...I don't know. She never told me.]

[And now, the Abstract I had originally replaced "Bats" with. You're welcome.]

An excerpt from Die In A Pit Of Lime, Mr. Bahnd!
by A. Gardner

Bahnd parked his Fermari Tuscalahoosa next to the Ifrit doublewide trailer. The sleek elegance of the Fermari contrasted starkly with the breath-taking trashiness of the so-called "mobile home". Bahnd winced as the driver's side gull-wing door scraped up the side of the trailer, leaving a red streak of paint far more expensive per gallon than the entire fleet of similar rolling domiciles produced in a year in the great doublewide factories of Omaha. "Well," Bahnd thought with a smirk, "perhaps this will add class to the residence."

It was a matter of seconds' work to break through the flimsy screen door and the pressed particle board door behind it. Bahnd grimaced as he stepped into the trailer, sickened by the horrors of the tacky orange 1978 Sandersonville shag rug (stock #3030722-A) lashing mercilessly at the soles of his Italian Sonata No. 5 Gumchi loafers. When he stepped in what could only be the gastro-intestinal output of a rather large dog with a healthy appetite, he lost it completely.

"Who thuh hell are yew??" a rough voice exclaimed from the kitchen/bathroom suite, interrupting Bahnd's freak-out. The voice belonged to a thoroughly inbred descendent of hardy, semi-intelligent pioneers that, inexplicably, settled in what is now West Virginia. He was holding a double-barreled Riffington shotgun, which was pointed at Bahnd's Armafia tuxedo. Bahnd considered his options: he could either 1) fake left and roll right, pulling his Schliss-Zevart .22 pistol (called "The Pussy Popper" by derisive gun aficionados) and putting a tight groupings of rounds into the man's chest, or 2) talk to him first. He decided on the second option.

"Bahnd. J--" he managed to get out before a large dog pounced on him from behind, sending him sprawling ingloriously to the floor. The dog, obviously quite friendly in many ways, finished licking Bond's face, then began to methodically rape him.

Bahnd whimpered.

[For some reason, the current owners of the 007 series have never tried to contact me about writing a script.]

[...next...]
It is the scent of garlic that lingers on my chocolate fingers

Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 010: Bloodsport
« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2019, 10:53:12 AM »
T2: Bloodsport

Game: Thief 2
Title: Bloodsport
Author: Metalhead
E-mail: N/A
Homepage: N/A
Filename: Bloodsport_hibr.zip
Filesize: 27.7mb
Download: Cheap Thief Missions
A List of the Secrets: at CTM
Score: 4 / 5

Note: You know the drill...custom recolors, health shields, what have you. Thanks to Purah and others for providing the basics of what my custom interface has become.

[It would be truly something if it really mattered.]

Abstract:
[Bats! Part 9]
...Baked Bat In Shiitake Wine Sauce, Zucchini-Smothered Bat And Bell Pepper Frittata, Bat Roast Hash with Fried Bat Eggs (unless bats don’t lay eggs), Apple Pie with Bat and Walnut Streusel, Chocolate Bat Pecan Pie, Grits with Tasso and Bat and Poached Eggs, Potato Bat Saffron Omelet, Asparagus with Gruyere and Tarragon Bat Souffléd Omelet, Bat Tortilla Espanola, Herbed Bat and Cheddar Frittata, Fried Eggs over Warm Lentil Salad with Bat, Aunt Mary’s Old Fashioned Stacked Double Crust Batsauce Pie With Tangy Bat Ice Cream...
[TO BE CONTINUED!]

The Basics:
Equipment Store: No
Skill Settings: Yes; Easy, Expert, Nuckin’ Futs!
Map/Automap: No/No
Puzzle Difficulty: Mild
General Difficulty: Eek. Hold on to your knickers.
R_speeds: Good, except for one specific instance (more below)
New Stuff: Yes, indeedy
Gameplay: Live/Undead; blood-obsessed cult-fu/zombie-fu/weird Haunt & Apparition variations-fu/spider-fu/bot-fu/tunnel-fu/sewer-fu/secret passage-fu/massive explosion-fu/I’ve had it with this “-fu” thing-fu

[I hate the fu.]

Briefing/Story?
Well, this is a fine pickle. You -- Garrett -- have been captured and thrown into a cell. But this isn’t any ordinary jail, no...you’re a guest of the Brotherhood of the Raven, a shady cult who will eventually toss your butt into an arena to fight to the death with...I don’t know, an accountant from Dayport, or something. You’re just a source of amusement to them, but they’re damned picky as to what that entertainment entails, as they’re interested only in your fighting abilities and show no interest whatsoever in your soft-shoe skills.*
[* As if Garrett were capable of that.]

[I may have screwed that up. What I meant was that since Garrett's boots are (from the sound he makes moving) made out of extra-loud concrete blocks, he has no "soft-shoe" skills whatsoever.]

So you know that since you’re a lover and not a fighter, you have to escape. Luckily, a guard with a key walks too close to the bars, and there just happens to be an outward-leading tunnel near the back of the cells. Talk about your lucky breaks! Plus, since no one in the Thief universe but you knows how to crouch... But escape isn’t all that’s on your mind, no! You’re going to make them regret they ever interrupted your evening with the charming Lady Francine Dee, the widely respected import cart model.**
[* Her detractors call her “a glorified horse ornament,” but they’re just jealous of her enormous...er...abilities.]

[I don't want to explain that. Do I have to? Yes, I left the goddamn thing in there, I should explain it. Okay. Francine Dee was an import CAR model, and they often spent a lot of time polishing hoods for the camera...that is, they posed on/in/around the cars, often wearing very little clothing, if any. So an import CART model would, of course, be posing draped all over the horse(s) in a similar fashion. Thus: if she were on a CAR, she would be a hood ornament. On a CART, she's a horse ornament. Can I move on now? My sinuses hurt and I'm starting to taste metal.]

Onward!
From the “I Know This Came Out A Couple Of Years Ago, But I really Don’t Care” retro reviews file.

[Try nineteen years ago (as of this post), bub.]

So there’s the guard, making his rounds. Sneak up, grab his key, then consider your options. You could scoot out of the cell when no one’s looking and grab a sword in a nearby room, or you could crawl through the tunnel and find a blackjack somewhere. It’s your choice, really, but it is possible to get the sword without too much trouble. The blackjack, on the other hand, desires some sneaking skill to acquire.

You see? It’s these type of missions that force me to actually think...and it isn’t all that easy, either (the thinking, I mean...although the mission is pretty tough itself). In fact, I hated this mission when I first played it...because I didn’t know what was going on, I had no weapons, and it was damnably difficult. But now I enjoy it *because* of these things.

Donations to the National Fund For Silver Sorrow’s Sanity are welcome, but not necessary. I know what I’m doing.

[The craft may be in flames, but I know exactly where I'm headed: right into that there mountain.]

That said, I still find this to be one of the longer marathon-like missions I’ve ever played. Part of it is the layout of the map; no short walk to get where you’re going, no...you’ll need to hoof it, no matter where you want to go. But don’t despair, ass-- uh, *grass*hopper, the place is honeycombed with connecting passages, etc., that you’ll find at least two different ways to go wherever you wish.

At any rate, I suggest playing on the easiest skill first, just to get the hang of it. And even though I’ve played through a few times, this mission still kicks me in the head...all the secrets, the weird new AI, the traps...this is one of those missions you either love forever or hate with the heat of a thousand (give or take a few) suns. Strangely enough, you really don’t have to visit all of the map; you can fulfill most (or all) of your goals without ever finding one secret or encountering anything undead.

So as jail cells go, the one you start out in is fairly straightforward: bars, stone floor, there’s a ceiling in there somewhere, guards outside, fellow prisoners standing around, etc. It’s when you get out of the cell that the architecture picks up. As you go further into the mission, you’ll see some pretty interesting stuff...although the author doesn’t go overboard with the gee-whiz visuals, there are still some nice sights; the arena, for example, the gigantic inverted question mark in one area,*** and let’s not forget the Brotherhood’s chapel.
[*** Agnostics find the inverted question mark highly offensive.]

[A little riff on what might be the agnostic's wishy-washy equivalent of religious iconography.]

One thing that *does* go overboard, and this has become something of a trademark of the author, is the Massive Framerate-Killing Explosion Of Hellfire And Death And/Or Permanent Disability. You’ll know it when you see it...but let me describe it anyway. On a higher skill level, one of your goals is to “ransack the [Brotherhood’s] supply room and plunder what you can.” Which means that those barrels of explosives aren’t there just for show. You can also pick them up and put them where you wish...so I suggest putting a couple of them in the hallway, just in case you might need them for other things, like setting traps for combat bots. I’m not sure, but I think the “ransack” goal won’t check off until you destroy all of the barrels...again, I’m not sure. However, a few of the crates have useful contents, so check the text description of each crate...and if it’s something useful -- such as a crate of gold nuggets -- then break the crate against a wall, or something. Watch out for crates that contain things like explosives or spiders, or even hammers...ouch.

Okay, ready? All right: now stack the explosives and the questionable crates against the large immovable crates. You can use a fire arrow, but a flare will work just as well. Stand waaaaaaaaaaaay back and...

...well, it’s one of those things that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. Your game will become a slideshow, many things will go flying, and you will find yourself praying to your own personal concept of a Higher Power that your computer doesn’t explode as well.

But besides the “Well, I’ll be hornswoggled, Martha...did you see that??” special effects, there are other things to contend with. See, it’d be one thing if you were just creeping through a compound filled with humans and robots (more on them in a minute), but how about facing a few perversions of nature?

No...I’m not talking about a naked 70 year-old Yoko Ono,**** I’m talking about Haunts that explode into a group of spiders upon being killed; zombies that look oddly familiar (if you’ve played System Shock 2); a new version of the Mech combat servant that is impervious to everything but mines and fire and can go anywhere a human can; cows that, when naked flame is held close to their bottoms, are capable of shooting flames up to *eighteen feet*! Well, maybe that’s something else. The point is, the new AI show a lot of imagination.
[**** That feeling you’re experiencing? It’s your genitalia shriveling up in an attempt to get back home.]

[And she's 86 now, so try to get THAT image out of your head without resorting to an icepick. Sleep well, kids!]

As for the combat bots, there’s only four of them (besides the new one mentioned in the last paragraph*****). They’ve been modified by the Brotherhood to reflect their order’s embrace of the four elements, and they’re somewhat troublesome. One shoots rocks, another shoots poisonous water worms, etc. The Brotherhood itself, by the way doesn’t react normally either. The regular guys, as characterized by their green robes, look a bit like Keepers, except for the designs on their clothes (Morbid Angel shirts?). They will go through the motions of a magical attack and will launch arrows, razor blades and whatnot at you. The Grand Liege, their complete puss of a leader, looks like Garrett in a dress.
[***** I’m not sure (third time this review...a new record!), but I think the new combat bot may count as a human kill. So care may be required when playing on Expert.]

So as you navigate this maze and encounter the denizens both normal and not (do thieves with unearthly running speed count as “normal”?), you’ll find plenty of secrets, massive explosions, heart-stopping surprises, inexplicable oddities (hint: glowing rats be different from normal rats!), and a shopping list of goals as long as your arm. Some of the goals may be a bit buggy, such as the Expert-level goal of dropping the Grand Liege in the middle of the arena...which works most of the time. On the whole a fantastically difficult and convoluted mission.

This mission is followed by “Dyer’s Eve,” which is yet another adventure in keeping all of your parts and wits in the same self-contained structure.

Summary?
Hell on earth, but fun once you know what you’re doing...say, by the third or fourth playthrough.

Rating?
4 out of 5

Annoyance Rating:
Let’s say this grape represents your patience, and this sledgehammer represents this mission. You make the connection.

My Level Stats:
Skill: Nuckin’ Futs! (Expert)
KO’s: 39
Kills: 18
Loot: 2715/3095

[For some reason, I had Pink Floyd's "Have A Cigar" stuck in my head while formatting. I suspect that I could have been listening to that when I wrote the review way back when and I somehow remembered? It would be...interesting...if that were so, but I think it may be just another brain fart.]

[By the way, which one's Pink? Never mind. Next!]
It is the scent of garlic that lingers on my chocolate fingers

Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 011: Dyer's Eve
« Reply #24 on: December 28, 2019, 11:49:18 AM »
[I can't believe that back when I reviewed this, I made no reference whatsoever to Metallica's "Dyer's Eve." I mean, I LIVE for that shit, you know?]


Dyer’s Eve

Game: Thief 2
Title: Dyer’s Eve
Author: Metalhead
E-mail: N/A
Homepage: N/A
Filename: DyersEve1.0.zip
Filesize: 5.72mb
Download: Cheap Thief Missions
Score: 5 / 5

Note: You know the drill...custom recolors, health shields, what have you. Thanks to Purah and others for providing the basics of what my custom interface has become.

[Yipee-skip.]

Abstract:
[Bats! Part 10]
...Pickled Bat and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie, Cauliflower Cheese ‘n’ Bat Pie, Spaghetti Pie with Bat-Shaped Bat Meatballs, Curried Bat Pie with Sweet Potato Rosettes, Butterbat Squash Soup with Croutons and Extra Bat, Old-Fashioned Bat Noodle Soup, South American Hissing Death Bat and Creamed Corn Soup, Shrimp and Spinach Noodle Soup With Big Meaty Chunks O’ Bat, Soba Soup With Spinach and Tofu and Enough Extruded Bat to Feed a Platoon of Starving Marines...
[TO BE CONTINUED!]

The Basics:
Equipment Store: Yes
Skill Settings: Easy, Hard, Nuckin’ Futs!
Map/Automap: No/No
Puzzle Difficulty: Medium to Hard
General Difficulty: Evil Incarnate
New Stuff: Most likely.
Gameplay: Undead. Sheer hopelessness. Joy!

Briefing/Story?
After escaping from the sanctum of the Brotherhood of the Raven, you (Garrett) holed up in a village local to the Brotherhood’s arena. You have no idea where you are, exactly, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to lose sight of what’s important: all the cookies you can eat! Uh...no. I mean: getting your revenge! A helpful local...er...businessman has offered you a deal concerning information; if you get an ancient navigation globe for him, he can tell you where to get more info. So it’s no surprise that this globe is inside a haunted temple that once belonged to the Brotherhood before it was overrun by -- you guessed it! -- the undead. So you gotta get inside and start crossing things off your shopping list...but it won’t be as easy as you think. Isn’t that always the way?

Onward!
Imagine a young man of reasonable intelligence; he is a Thief aficionado, and he has become more or less proficient in surviving on the hardest skill levels. Now take this poor dumb clod and drop him in the front yard of a haunted church, and watch him pull out his sword to backstab a curiously-dressed Haunt. Now watch him break a finger in surprise over what happens next. Isn’t this fun?

You bet.

Like this mission’s predecessor, “Bloodsport,” this place will either turn you into a quivering glob of insecure jelly, or it will drive you completely batshit. I’ve been to both, and I can testify that multiple playings do not make things dramatically better in any way. The atmosphere is oppressive, the odds are seemingly insurmountable, and the monsters’ sounds (both inarticulate and not) are downright blood-curdling.

Add to this a shopping list of objectives designed to make you visit every square inch of real estate available, and you’re looking at the FM that ate the Fortress of Sorrowtude. So as a gift to you, I give you this boon: play on the easiest skill first. You won’t regret it. Play on the hardest skill when you know your way around and you know how to deal with the new Haunts.

The multitude of shambling resident horrors aside, this mission will test your puzzle-solving mettle. At one point, you will be required to acquire all four of the elemental wards -- there’s a reason -- and each poses its own set of unique problems. The puzzle of the Air talisman, for example, deserves its own place in self-sacrificial history. There isn’t a puzzle that’s 100% obscure, but you may feel some distress at certain points. It is doable, in short.

If the Addams Family went to church, this would be the place. The author shows a curious knack for presenting the player with overwhelming quests detailed by seemingly hopeless tasks therein. In the back of your head, you’re thinking that it *may* be possible...but how the hell are you going to do it?? The place is crawling with zombies and a new kind of Haunt; will I have enough equipment to deal with them all? Answer: probably not. But don’t worry...zombies are still susceptible to enforced napping via sword slashes, so the real problem is in dealing with the Haunts. You’ll probably figure it out, so I won’t go into that here.

But if there’s something everyone needs, it’s a glimmer of hope. And lo, from the dumpster** came the reviewer with that glimmer: the one thing that makes it all easier on the soul is found in the church’s sanctuary. No, I won’t tell you what it is.

[** Fortress of Sorrowtude, the dumpster...tiresome. But I aim to chafe.]

But what about the place itself, you ask? It’s evil, in a great way. Pieces of masonry are scattered everywhere, the aftermath of some horrific battle; gaping holes in the walls, utter destruction in places, signs that perhaps the Youth Group meeting went horribly, horribly wrong. Inside, you’ll read accounts of people about to die, writing down their thoughts as the Evil Ones battered down their doors. You’ll come across the last missives of heroic warriors who fought to their last breath. You’ll go swimming in an inundated basement and probably drown, so for God’s sake, stock up on breath potions!

Once again, the author puts another trademark into the proceedings: The Framerate-Killing Explosion of Grisly (and Fiery) Death. Now, the task of getting the means important to this explosion lies within *your* purview; meaning, you’ll have to figure it out for yourself. But it is worth it AND necessary to winning? Just don’t stand too close when you launch that fire arrow, eh?

In addition to the physical aspects of the mission, you also catch a glimpse at how much depth this mission really has; the readables belonging to the Brotherhood are surprisingly detailed, and the scriptures bear a striking kinship to fundamental ecclesiastical thought...perhaps intentional, perhaps not.

[Sometimes when I'm formatting these things my mind will wander (I'm always tired), and then I'll snap back in the middle of a paragraph and, bewildered, wonder what's going on. It's like stumbling into the middle of a conversation between several three year olds.]

Now for the bad (sorta) stuff: the objectives are somewhat buggy, but just ignore them if some things check off or not...they work. Sometimes while I was cycling through my inventory, the water talisman would leave a particle effect where I was standing; it would go away eventually. I received a new objective while killing a zombie, not after reading a particular scroll where I should have received the objective; it occurred in the general area of the scroll in question, so...I don’t know. And those are really the worst problems I encountered...to compensate for these minor quibbles, exploding zombie parts don’t zero in on the player like Patriot missiles in this mission.

Speaking of patriotism, try to find the uber-tough-to-find secret, which gives a touching tribute to Osama bin Laden...in hellish torment. Where he belongs.

The mission ends with Garrett leaving this world in a portal-type way, which is the signal that there is supposed to be a sequel...except this mission was released back in October of 2001. This means that this series is probably dead. Oh, well...another series bites the dust.

In closing, I highly recommend this mission to anyone who has grown jaded to the horrors of “Return to the Cathedral” in original Thief. I even recommend it -- somewhat reservedly -- to those who just couldn’t handle that mission at all. If you’re into undead missions, this is a pre-“Calendra’s Legacy” undead Holy Grail, of sorts. Have fun, and don’t waste those flashbombs.

Summary?
The horror....the horror.

[So...Dyer's Eve, eh? Dear mother, dear father indeed.]

Rating?
5 out of 5.

Annoyance Rating:
Low, but has potential for escalating exponentially.

My Level Stats:
Skill: Hard
KO’s: 0
Kills: 15
Loot: 1590/1805

[...next...]
It is the scent of garlic that lingers on my chocolate fingers

Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 012: Ominous Bequest
« Reply #25 on: December 28, 2019, 07:06:36 PM »
[Whilst idly skimming through a list of FMs (at about 3:30am, which explains why it's taking me so bloody long to type this), I discovered that this mission was updated several years later, so this review is of an older, non-improved version. I'll play the new version, but I don't expect that the review needs amending. So I'll update the links and the general info that needs attention.]


Ominous Bequest

Game: Thief 2
Title: Ominous Bequest
Author: Eshaktaar (Renzo Thönen)
E-mail: N/A
Homepage: N/A
Filename: OminousBequestGold.zip
Filesize: 19.5mb
Languages Supported: English, German, Spanish
Download: Cheap Thief Missions
Walkthrough: at CTM
Lootlist: at CTM too
Vault Switch Hint: at CTM as well
Score: 5 / 5

Note: You know the drill...custom recolors, health shields, what have you. Thanks to Purah and others for providing the basics of what my custom interface has become. Although this time, the shields and 99% of the models belong to this release.

[Unbridled applause.]

Abstract:
[Bats! Part 11]
...Moroccan Rub Bat Chops, Grilled Halibut and Bat Sandwiches with Tartar Sauce, Grilled Honey Lime Bat Sandwiches, Bat Tikka Kebabs with Charred Tomato Chutney and Warm Flat Bread, Israeli Spice Bat, Rosemary Grilled Bat Thighs and Wild Mushroom Sauce, Bat Brutus: Caesar Salad with Sliced Bat Sirloin, Sliced Bat Sirloin Smothered in Onions with Roquefort Potato Pie and Spinach Salad with “Baco-Bats” Dressing, Maple Mustard Barbecued Bat Chops, Grilled Bat Fillets and Asparagus with Orange and Sesame, Grilled Spanish-Style Bat with Tomato and Green Olive Salsa...
[TO BE CONTINUED!]

The Basics:
Equipment Store: No
Skill Settings: Yes
Map/Automap: Yes/No
Puzzle Difficulty: Fiendish
General Difficulty: Convoluted
New Stuff: You bet.
Gameplay: Thieving. Stuff.

Briefing/Story?
You’ve been contacted by an antique dealer named Grimworth, who has hired you to break into the mansion belonging to one Lord Robert Farrington: stereotypical eccentric collector, known supporter of the Hammerite order and a fine individual, hey let’s bring him out now, whatta great guy, I--oops. Well, it seems the old boy has dropped dead without his Last Will And Testament being found, and now his two sons are wrangling over who gets to keep Aunt Tiffany’s antique chute-menderer. Since they’re worthless estate-wrangling scum (not that I’m biased or anything), they’ve refused to pay the guards, many of whom have either quit or gone on strike. Plenty of guards remain however, so it won’t be as simple as walking through the front door.

Your main goal this fine evening is to find and steal Farrington’s Will; Grimworth believes that the Will lists all of Farrington’s most priceless collectibles, and thus will give you a shopping list of items to collect. Hell hath no fury like an antique dealer scorned, eh? In addition (commence groaning), Grimworth wants you to investigate the possibility that the rumors of an ancient Mages’ dwelling beneath the mansion might be true. He wants you to find documentation to this effect, and possibly even a way in, should it be true. This will most likely lead to a further job, entailing your entry into these alleged ruins. A large bonus is involved, which makes your eyes turn into dollar signs as the “ka-ching!” of cash registers goes off in your head.

You can trust a guy named “Grimworth,” right?

Anyway, as you clamber over the wall surrounding the Farrington estate, you slip on some loose bricks and fall. You klutz. You’re fine, but you’ve lost most of your equipment on the other side of the wall, including your blackjack. Typical. You have no other choice but to get into the mansion and hope to find a replacement blackjack.


Onward!
Ah, the life of a thief. Being able to steal into some rich guy’s home and riffle through his sexy young trophy wife’s panty drawer...chuckling evilly while peeing in the pool...the simple joy of abusing the already-downtrodden servants with something sharp. Yes, once again, you’re set to break into a noble’s home with the intent of doing all of these things and more!

The only problem is that in climbing over the wall, you lost most of your equipment, including your precious blackjack...again, you’re a klutz. Oh, and the night just gets better from there. Your main concern is finding a suitable skull-bonking replacement...or you could ghost the mission entirely.

As I sit here, blinking the tears of hysterical laughter from my eyes, I am reminded of a poem by...by...actually, no. I’m really reminded of the Faith No More song “Ashes To Ashes,” due to the fact that it’s currently stuck in my head. “I SEE YOU!” Help me.

Moving on.

Okay, first off: this is one of several absolutely stellar missions -- instant classics, if you will -- released for Thief 2 lately, along with “Rowena’s Curse” and “Lord Fishkill’s Curse”...all curse-related, I suppose. Things don’t turn out the way you expect, and there are so many surprises to be had that you may as well just give up trying to be in control and let the thing sweep you along to the very satisfying conclusion. I would make minor comparisons to the equally-entangled FM, “The 7th Crystal,” but that would be a disservice to both missions...I might say, however, that this mission is more or less a free-form mystery, as opposed to T7C’s rigid Hitchcockian structure.*
[* Stop giggling. It isn’t funny.]

[Okay, maybe it is.]

The first problem you face entails finding a way into the mansion itself. There are several good entries, but nothing so obviously appropriate as the coal chute. In fact, the setup to using that entrance is so funny that it’d be a shame to use such a mundane entrance as a side door. Annoy the guard indirectly, and all is well.

Once inside, you face the monumental tasks of acquiring 1) a blackjack replacement (if you so desire), and 2) Farrington’s Will. Be aware that all (or most) readables contain clues to what you seek. A new “blackjack” is easy to find (so it really isn’t all that monumental a task after all), and you should be able to do that very quickly early on. Let me state that it’s probably the best replacement for that hallowed instrument I’ve seen recently. Bashing guards is *much* more fun now.

[Spoiler alert: it's a frying pan. Love it.]

As for Farrington’s Will...well, that’s the monumental part. I balk at revealing anything as to the puzzles or the plot...to do so would kill your enjoyment of the mission, and I just couldn’t live with myself if I ruined it for you. Okay, that’s a lie. I *could* live with myself; furthermore, I’d probably laugh in a bizarre mix of pure joy and overwhelming spite as I see you frustrated beyond all measure. Please, don’t take it personally...I was an only child.

No, really: I’d just ruin it if I told you specifics. And it would take a lot more typing, which is an abomination. Let’s just say that you need to be extraordinarily alert for clues in the readables. Several of the puzzles themselves have shortcuts to solving them on easier difficulties, but be a man -- or a woman -- for once and play the mission as it’s meant to be played: on Expert! I admit that I first played on Normal, and yes...the puzzles were easier. But on Expert, I was forced to retrace my steps over and over, to re-read scrolls, to comb the entire mansion seven thousand times...and to actually win by paying attention to clues was a beautiful thing.

[Sadly, it actually didn't improve my life one bit. So much for the alleged rewards of engaging in character-building.]

Speaking of difficulties...for this review, I played through for the third time. However, this time I knew where everything was, exactly what to do, and where to go. It still took me somewhere in the neighborhood of an hour and twenty minutes, so count on being in the general area for quite a while. I know it may be frustrating at first, I know you may want to rend your garments and tear your hair, I know it may force you into buying questionable items on eBay,** but persevere: it all makes sense, and the clues are there to help you along. Once you figure everything out, you may feel like punching yourself in the head repeatedly, if you haven’t done so already in trying to solve the puzzles. I recommend an ice pack.

[** By the way, will there ever be an end to the sheer amount of Raquel Welch memorabilia available? I'm asking for a friend.]

I have to mention that some puzzles are a little obscure -- the switch puzzle in the vault comes to mind, without the solving of which you absolutely cannot win -- and may force you to search the TTLG FM forums for help. This is perfectly reasonable, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of doing so.

["without the solving of which you absolutely cannot win"...this seems somewhat awkward. Perhaps it should have been: "...the switch puzzle in the vault comes to mind; you absolutely cannot win without solving it..." See? Kept it simple AND was able to use a semicolon. Win-win.]

So instead of talking about puzzle and plot specifics, let’s look at our surroundings. The mansion is a grand affair, with plenty of space. It isn’t anywhere near the scale of, say, the mansion in “Art of Thievery” (few mansions are, really), but it isn’t a Contest Four entry, either. It’s more like a summer mansion than anything else...as if I could relate to such a pronouncement.

The outside of the place is appropriately outside-ish, what with grass and trees and plants...and a bunch of guards in the gazebo, obviously on strike. You can tell by the banners. But, uh...don’t get too close, as they’re still guards in their hearts. You’d think they’d let me pass, but noooooo! “I hope you don’t get severance pay and your dental insurance collapses!” I shout as they chase me, adding “I hope your 401K turns out to be nothing more than an elaborate money-laundering scheme perpetrated by the Hong Kong Triads!”

Inside, there aren’t all that many guards to bother you, but there are enough. I had the strange good fortune of taking care of most of them when I made the (seeming) mistake of having a male servant surprise me as I KO’ed another servant in the kitchen. He cried for help, alerting the nearby guards, and I retreated down the back stairs (after beating him like a red-headed stepchild, needless to say). They hadn’t seen me, so I ended up just luring them down the stairs and bashing them as they approached. So it all turned out well. I love this job.

So with the guard problem (largely) taken care of, I could turn my attention to finding that Will...hmmm...

The rest of the mansion isn’t too strenuous a place to orient yourself; the layout isn’t needlessly complex, and it looks as if someone genuinely designed it for human habitation and people actually live there. At some point, you will have to venture down into the Hammer church, and beyond that...things get a little bizarre. Fair warning.

This is exactly the sort of mission I enjoy the most: a mansion with all kinds of horrible, eldritch things waiting for the unsuspecting thief to stumble into. Plenty of mind-bending puzzles, lots of loot, and plenty of opportunities to use the new equipment (the legendary sword available further into the mission is quite cool) and to show a bit of style on top of it all.

What makes it all worthwhile is the mixture of humor and pathos. Benny savagely guards his locker...why? What’s behind the barred door on the second floor? What’s so important about Elizabeth? What’s cursing this family? Where’s that damned pole so I can get into the attic?? These questions and many more are answered in time, so just be patient.

This mission also contains some of the funniest moments and/or elements seen thus far;  from figuring out why Benny’s uniform doesn’t fit anymore, to the Karras “I Want Thee!” posters, to pissing off the Hammers by playing the pipe organ, humorous touches such as these make this mission one of the best out there.

I leave you now with two words: Holy Sponge.

Summary?
Subjecting Garrett to a complex plot wherein plot twists and turns...although your new “blackjack” will make you absolutely fearless...probably. Enjoy!

Annoyance Rating:
High, until you know what you’re doing.

Score:
5 out of 5.

Level Stats:
Skill: Expert
KO’s: 26
Kills: 8
Loot: 7690/8000

[...next...]
« Last Edit: December 30, 2019, 03:36:52 AM by Silver Sorrow »
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 013: Rowena's Curse
« Reply #26 on: December 28, 2019, 09:24:55 PM »
T2: Rowena’s Curse

Game: Thief 2
Title: Rowena’s Curse
Author: Lady Rowena (A.M.I)
E-mail: N/A
Homepage: N/A
Filename: RowenaV2.zip
Filesize: 12.6mb
Download: Cheap Thief Missions
Loot List: at CTM
Score: 5 / 5

Note: [Tiresome custom stuff note.]

Abstract:
[Bats! Part 12]
...Portobello Bat Burgers with Roasted Pepper Paste and Smoked Bat Cheese, Pasta with Pumpkin and Bat Sausage, Pasta Bat-tanesca (“It’s Bat-tastic!”), Spicy Bat and Spaghetti Aglio Olio, Bat with Herbed Bat Cheese, Seared Bat with Mango Salsa, Lemon Bat Angel Food Cake, Chocolate-Dipped Bat Chunks, Tropical Bat Smoothies, Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Bat on a Stick, Watermelon and Bat Salad with Mint Leaves and Minced Bat Wings, Orange Walnut Salad with Sweet ‘n’ Sour Dressing and a Frantic Bat Stuffed Down Your Underwear As a Malicious Prank, Warm Apple and Bat Cheese Salad, Dry Aged Standing Bat Roast with Sage Jus, Bat Vinaigrette with Grilled Radicchio, Curry Bat Pot Pie...
[TO BE CONTINUED!]

The Basics:
Equipment Store: No
Skill Settings: Yes
Map/Automap: Yes/No
Puzzle Difficulty: Medium
General Difficulty: Twisty
New Stuff: Yipper
Gameplay: Complex plot-ness

Briefing/Story?
Set during Thief 2, this mission takes place before the death of Truart. You’ve been contacted by one Lord Carlysle, who wants you to go to the country mansion belonging to Lord Bafford’s great-grandfather. Carlysle’s daughter, Isabella, has been married off to Bafford’s son, Cedric, and they moved into the mansion. The past few months, however, strange things have been happening; two maids have disappeared and a troop of Bluecoats from the City Watch were sent there to investigate. And a few days ago, Isabella vanished too.

Carlysle received an odd message from the caretaker, Barker, who is sure that Isabella is still alive. Your mission, should you choose to...accept...it...*sigh* is to get into the mansion, find out what Barker knows, if Isabella is still alive, and find out what the hell *else* is going on out there in the country. You just hope that it doesn’t involve banjo music and squealing like a pig.

Onward!
Screw reading books. I now get my mystery novel fix from the Thief FM community, and I am one content psychopathic loner. See, it isn’t enough to merely read anymore...no, I gotta DO something at the same time (shut up, it’s not what you think); that’s why interactive TV is such an intriguing concept, as it allows the viewer to choose who lives and who dies in their favorite sitcoms.

Wait...it doesn’t?! Then what the hell good is it, anyway??

[As fun as it would be deciding who dies on various TV shows (I didn't mean it literally...probably), I just know that every week when the votes are tabulated, my expectations would be crushed due to my opinion being so outside the "norm" of mainstream society. For example, I would have voted to throw Baby Yoda into a woodchipper.]

Well, it’d be that way if *I* were in charge. Anyway, my point is that thanks to the efforts of some talented individuals, PC gaming is as valid an art form as any book. Sure, unmitigated trash exists in the video game genre, but the same is true of all art forms. Ballet blows, interpretive dance is for idiots, Jennifer Lopez is an embarrassing, mentally-inept hack, and Robert Mapplethorpe is an ass-munch.* But in sifting through these execrable offerings, we are able to catch a glimpse of something good.
[* However, if you like any of these “art” forms, be aware that I and the rest of the Hangar staff support you 100%. After all, it’s the least we can do for the less-fortunate among us.]

[You have our support, retards.]

A bit overwrought for an add-on to a First Person Shooter, I admit...but where else do YOU have to be right now?

In short, the melding of great mysteries with the possibility for (skull-bashing) interaction has always fascinated me; and when I can solve these mysteries without being assaulted by mindless hordes of pink demons, so much the better. But I don’t mean to chastise Doom, even indirectly; thanks to that game, here we stand in a beautiful time: the ability to merge storytelling with kick-ass graphics. And though Thief 2 may be showing its age -- we want Thief 3 NOW!** -- it’s still sufficient to graphical immersion in addition to the *possibility* of intellectual immersion.

[** We eventually got it. I can't say that we enjoyed it greatly. (This is Royal "we," of course.)]

Again, a bit overwrought for a Fan Mission, but it’s all I have...sorta. Hold on, leg cramp.

But what does this have to do with this mission, you’re probably screaming?** I bring this all up because I am happy to be here, in this mansion. I know horrible things are happening to the residents...I know that terrible things await me as I unlock the secrets surrounding this house...I KNOW that I use too many dots to convey a particularly trenchant thought and/or a thoughtful trailing off in a tired attempt at breathless drama...see?...but it’s okay. It’s okay because I know that...that...

[** Fuckin'-A.]

...fudge. Forgot what I know. Regardless, I’ll show you around the place. Hop the wall...watch the--! Crap. GOOD one. All my equipment is in shatters, thanks to you. Well, I have my blackjack, lockpicks and compass. Thank the Builder for small favors. No, no...don’t worry about it. Let’s go inside. We’ll need to come up through a hole in the basement and make our way through the nitre-scummed walls and the dank, fetid air to an inner courtyard...where some cop is watching a woman through a window. How charming. Whilst dragging his bludgeoned form to a dark spot, know that cops patrol the area; also, some of the servants are pretty high-strung as well. In fact, a lot of the AI is a little jumpy. Put it to nervousness, whatever. All this means that you need to be a very quiet little tour group, m’kay? ‘kay. Let’s continue.

This is of course the ground floor of the estate. That doorway over there leads to the patrolled front yard -- nice exteriors, I know...lovely and lush, isn’t it? -- and that one leads to the caretaker’s quarters. There are several other doors, so let’s try one. Okay, let’s move briskly past the servants’ quarters and kitchens -- remember that like all good mansions, there are several secret passages in the place -- and take a look at the opalescence of the manor itself. That’s a lot of marble flooring, huh? I bet the cops love that. Yes, it’s a beautiful place, and some of the color-theme rooms are absolutely gorgeous, especially Lady Isabella’s room, the White Room. She’s gone missing, you know.

What’s that? Oh, no...we couldn’t possibly. No, you have to do a couple of things first before you can go in there, you morbid freaks. I’m just your tour guide, not a locksmith. But I can give you a glimpse or two of the other features of the place via this color brochure. See? Looks great...bad angle, though. Sorry about that. Here’s a picture of the back garden -- lovely, isn’t it? -- and that’s Lieutenant Wilson, head cop on this case...handsome fellow, yes.

*sigh*

Yes, we can go look at the garden now. Criminy, like I have nothing better to do. Follow me...now, avoid the guards and you should be okay. Madam, control your children. All right, here we are. Lovely, isn’t it? What’s that? Yes ma’am, that door is locked...but I do happen to have a key. That’s right, step inside, but --

[sounds of many people screaming in various languages as they fall a very, VERY long way to their doom]

-- but watch out for the giant hole in the ground. Well! That does it for the rotten tourists. Now I can get back to the review itself.

As I mentioned before, the place is lovely; the White Room** is a triumph of white marble, etc....it’s how I’ve always wanted my bathroom to look, but instead I have to be content with cheap, peeling wallpaper. There are other similarly-themed rooms: Blue,*** Yellow,**** Red*****...but you just can’t get into those without following the rules. You need to use clues and logical progression to find your way throughout the mission; there is no “fire arrow-jump to the altar and snatch the Miter of the Most Extravagantly Plumaged One and beat cheeks out the side door” type of action, no. If you’re familiar with “The 7th Crystal” and “Ominous Bequest,” then you’ll understand the compelling need to be patient in reaching the end. There is a story here, and you’re living it.
[** It contained no black curtains, nor was it anywhere near a station...although as I walked out I *did* feel my own need just beginning. Weird, huh?]
[*** A room of dancing shadows where the heartache disappeared...from the glowing tongues of candles, I heard a whisper in my ear: “j’entend ton coeur”...]
[**** Wherein a yellow-clad jester did not dance, but gently pulled the strings, smiling as the puppets danced...]
[***** Where the Red Death held sway over all...or not. All I know is that I’d want to kill myself if MY room were that red.]

[Cripes. Okay, the references: Cream's "White Room"; the "Blue Angel" segment of Marillion's "Bitter Suite"; King Crimson's "In The Court Of The Crimson King"; E.A. Poe's "The Masque Of The Red Death."]

And just what is this big mystery? It’s not that easy, buckaroo...you’ll just have to play it for yourself. Let’s just say that the author is devious and she enjoys pulling the player’s strings...dance puppet, dance! Yes, I’ve been to the Yellow room.

[Callback to the Yellow Jester of "In The Court Of The Crimson King."]

Okay: the architecture is perfection. There is a terrific plot. Now what about the other stuff? The intangibles...sure thing. The mission is not boring in any way, as even the Thief players with the most rudimentary intelligence will be enthralled by said plot. You may disagree with me, which is fine...but keep in mind that in doing so, you run the risk of being identified as a useless lackwit.

Some other miscellaneous things of note: when playing on Expert skill, you have no sword. You can pick one up almost near the end of the mission, but since you’re an Expert you won’t need it until then. ‘Course, you can’t kill anyone human either, so that’s another factor.

[One thing I do recall is that all of the guards can be KO'd, even though some of them are wearing those non-KO helmets that drive me absolutely batshit. Someone asked about them in the TTLG thread for this FM, to which Lady Rowena herself stated that all of the guards can be blackjacked. (Regardless of helmet choice.)]

There is a secret panel in an armoire (no, I’m not telling you where), that reminded me of a similar secret in the second Gabriel Knight game, “The Beast Within.” Just thought I’d mention that.

[I am currently drawing a blank.]

The only thing that brought the mission down for me *slightly* was the mini-quest I undertook to acquire four Elemental keys. Two of the key-centric areas (water and air) required I submit my mortal flesh to the horrors of the jumping puzzle, while the other two didn’t. Of the four, I preferred the Earth key, as it needed some amount of finesse to obtain. But I did more or less enjoy myself, and it did give the mission an added facet, so I have no real problem with it, now that I really think about it. Aren’t you glad I work these things out beforehand?

As for the ending...no. I can’t really mention the ending without ruining the plot, so I’ll just say this: it’s intense. When a mission so successfully meshes elements found in both of the original games *plus* something that the original games avoided without devolving into a tired FPS cliché, then you know you have a winner. This plus the fact that the many readables bear the plot along nicely in an interesting and well-written way makes it a worhtwhile experience.

And when you find the occasional threatening note, directed squarely at Garrett, i.e., YOU, that experience is unsettling in a personal way. Obviously, something is going on here, so you’d better watch it. To quote Vincent Price to Peter Lorre: “What did you STEP in?!?”

[It's been a while since I made reference to "The Comedy Of Terrors," aka The Greatest Movie Ever Made.]

Indeed. Just what has Garrett stepped into this time? I could tell you, but I won’t. I’m not helping you one bit; enjoy your sojourn alone. Never fear, though, as I’ll be nearby to jump from the shadows at purely random intervals and shout “BOOGA BOOGA!” at you when you least expect it. Ciao!

["Ciao" because Lady Rowena was Italian. I am ten pounds of cleverness in a five pound bag.]

Summary?
A great mystery, a nasty curse, and a fine evening for dancing under the moon with the corpse you love.

End Note:
That Lady Rowena in the painting? Wow! Um...and when I say “wow!” I mean that in a purely professional sense. I hope you buy that.

[You should. I meant it in all admiration.]

Annoyance Rating:
Low, once you figure out what you’re doing.

Score:
5 out of 5

My Level Stats:
Skill: Expert
KO’s: 60 (!!)
Kills: 60 (??)
Loot: 8974/9074

[...next...]
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 014: Lord Fishkill's Curse
« Reply #27 on: December 29, 2019, 12:33:10 PM »
[Never was too happy with this review. For this post, it took a bit more work than I like to get it to a point where I found it just passable enough for others to see it. I had to rewrite almost all of the Briefing/Story? section, because...well, it sucked. And I performed further (minor) (and major) surgery on other bits, because...well, they sucked too. Maybe I should've just scrapped the whole thing. But if you play the mission and have fun with it, I guess that's the real point.]


Lord Fishkill’s Curse


Game: Thief 2
Title: Lord Fishkill’s Curse
Author: Randy Sybel (Shadowspawn)
E-mail: N/A
Homepage: http://www.angelfire.com/games4/shadowspawn/
Filename: LFCurse.zip
Filesize: 34.8mb
Download: Cheap Thief Missions
Score: 5 / 5

Note: Custom interface note.

Note #2: This mission is prefaced with an excellent camvator introduction; it’s also capped off with another camvator sequence after the main mission has been won. So don’t freak at the unorthodox beginning.


Abstract:
[Bats! Part 13]
...Bibb Lettuce with Albino Midget Bats, Asparagus, and Chive Aïoli, Balsamic- and Dijon-Glazed Bat Rump with Roasted Pearl Onions, Bat and Fava Bean Soup with Carrot ‘n’ Bat Cream, Bat Flan with Pink Grapefruit and Mint Syrup, Almond-Crusted Bat with Leek and Lemon Cream, Roast Bat and Root Vegetables with Mustard-Rosemary Sauce, Autumn Pears in Mulled Bat Squeezings, Sweet and Sour Swiss Bat with Dried Currants, Herb-Coated Bat with Port-Red Wine Sauce, Scalloped Potatoes with Bat Cheese and Herbes de Provence, Smoked Bat Hash with Red Potatoes and Fennel, Mixed Greens with Bat Cheese Crostini, Bat Short-Rib Tangine with Honey-Glazed Butternut Squash...
[TO BE CONTINUED!]

The Basics:
Equipment Store: No
Skill Settings: Yes
Map/Automap: Yes/Yes
Puzzle Difficulty: Mild
General Difficulty: Medium at first, easier on subsequent playings
New Stuff: Don’t be daft, lad! Of course there’s new stuff!
Gameplay: In the rays of the sun I am longing for the darkness.**

[** Reference: Opeth's "Closure."]

Briefing/Story?
It’s tough having enemies, isn’t it? Take Lord Fishkill. Back in “Lorgan’s Web,” [the author's T1/G mission] you broke into his manor and looted the place. Now, after the events of Thief 2, Fishkill has decided to make you -- Garrett -- an offer you can’t refuse: work for him as his chief of security; the alternative is being cursed. But of course you refuse...you're just like that.

As a result, Fishkill cursed you with a nasty spell: whenever you venture into bright light, odd monsters appear and try to kill you (as opposed to attempting to sell you a timeshare in Florida). So you have to watch yourself even closer than usual...right, stop that. Too close. Give yourself some space. Geez. Anyway, your purpose tonight is to meet a Keeper friend who may have the answer to removing the curse, as well as a pair of utterly FANTASTIC fuchsia flamenco boots you’ve been dying to borrow.


Onward!
Opeth said “step into the light,” Rush mentioned the “limelight,” Martin Page had a “house of stone and light,” Genesis told about “the day the light went out,” Beethoven had his “moonlight sonata,” Steve Hackett played “black light,” Iluvatar was “dreaming with the lights on,” Carcass had their “black star” with light that never shines, and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band was “blinded by the light,” whereupon they were “revved up like a deuce” and fell down the stairs and died. Good riddance. I’ve had that stupid song stuck in my head for over 20 years, and dammit...they must pay. Most galling is the fact that until very recently, I thought the line was “revved up like a *douche*,” so you can imagine my distress.

[Jesus Marimba. Okay, references: Opeth "To Rid The Disease"; Martin Page "In The House Of Stone And Light"; Genesis "The Day The Light Went Out"' Beethoven "Moonlight Sonata"; Steve Hackett "Black Light"; Iluvatar "Dreaming With The Lights On"; Carcass "Black Star"; Manfred Mann’s Earth Band "Blinded By The Light."]

Anyway, most bands have a penchant for dealing with light in some way; they embrace it or flee it. Me, I dislike light that shines on my monitor, obscuring the wondrous things there. Some people are even allergic to sunlight. Take Garrett, for example: light is his enemy, as he can be seen by the average nose-picking, scabies-infested denizen of the City where he plies his trade, thieving. Ordinarily, his penalty for being seen on the streets is a brisk jog and a refreshing dip into the canal.

Canal water. Yum.

This time, however, it’s much more complicated. Okay, how would YOU like it if every time someone turned on the light, unholy demons from the Hoary Underworld appeared and tried to kill you?

...judging from my e-mail, this happens to quite a few of you. But this is Garrett’s plight and he has to find a cure this fine evening, or at least a useful workaround. So it’s off to meet up with a Keeper and...Builder’s Little Boy, do they HAVE to turn on every friggin’ light in the place??

[It's too bad that Thief never featured the ability to extinguish all light sources, rather than just a select few. Imagine being able to put out a streetlight with a simple rock. How great that would be. But no.]

[Oh, and "Builder's Little Boy" is just my idiotic attempt at an in-lore "Jesus H. Christ!" exclamation. I shouldn't have bothered.]

[And just what does that "H" stand for, anyway??]

Yup. You’ll be cringing with delight [no pun intended] as your light gem flares, thanks to some very bright lights here and there. You do have two comforts: one, the evil things are limited to three varieties, and two, you aren’t totally defenseless. They react to standard anti-undead weapons (flashbombs, holy water), and they’re short-lived. Merely running for your life works wonders, and it saves on equipment, too.

Here’s the deal: the first time you play, you may find it a little difficult to keep spirit and body intact, at least until you figure out all the angles. The second playthrough will be a breeze, as you know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re going. At least *I* did...I don’t know about you idiots--er...fine folks, but my progress was made so much easier by the fact that I already knew the map’s general layout intimately.

Right, stop that. I don’t mean “intimate” as in “I was intimate with her until she found out about it.” No, what I mean is that I’ve been this way before...in the original T2 mission, “Life of the Party.” That’s right, this mission’s architecture is largely LOTP’s but with important new things. For one, some previously-inaccessible locations -- such as the streets -- are open for your ambulatory enjoyment, as are a couple of other places. It’s more like LOTP would have been, had the developers been less worried about framerates.

But since the whole thing takes place after Thief 2, the places that are familiar to you have changed a little. For one thing, the Carlysle armory, the greenhouse nearby, the building where the thieves’ hideout was, the Necromancer’s tower...all are there, but changed for the better (well...mostly). Time stumbles on, y’know.

So if you’ve ever wanted to get to the streets in LOTP and walk around -- or run like hell through the streets with some insane armored skeleton in hot pursuit -- then this mission is for you. This part of the City has been fleshed out and made more organic, more likely to house people...which is both good and bad. Good, because they don’t think you’re a threat, right? Right. The cops ignore you if you don’t do anything stupid. But people like to have some amount of light -- unless they’re Ray Charles -- so as to be able to avoid stumbling into deep dark holes and dying. And light, as I’ve pounded into your head previously, is BAD for Garrett.

So it’s off to find a cure. Since you’ve seen most of the scenery before, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the Keeper’s place. Do a little reading, find out a few things, etc. In fact, you will learn that there are certain *types* of light, some of them not harmful to you. I might as well reveal that you’ll end up in a compound belonging to the Mages, for various (or maybe just one) reasons. Of all the sights to behold there (besides the metabolically-challenged mages and the Mage Who Is An Orangutan), I couldn’t get over one thing: bunnies!

You’ll know them when you see them. Hop! Hop! Hop!

I know, I know. Shut up.

Anyway, this mission contains some serious humor potential as well, which would be totally freaking astounding if “serious humor” wasn’t such an oxymoron. Plenty of funny setups abound (such as Garrett chuckling about being reduced to stealing the silverware), all serving to support a solid storyline. By the way, I might get into trouble for saying this -- although I don’t see how -- but I think the supplemental architecture is better than the original mission’s architecture. The Mages’ kitchen and dining room? Wonderful.

So it looks and plays great. There’s only the small concern of the voice acting...which is excellent, too. Slyfoxx, my favorite Garrett, returns. The voice acting is a delight, what with some truly funny lines. The sub-plot situations were nicely implemented as well; the guy wanting to hurl himself off the balcony due to a bad relationship, for example. I went with my instincts on that one, and got a nice reward (as well as a good laugh) for being a nice guy.

I don’t know if you caught my earlier statement about “Lorgan’s Web”: this mission is a sort of sequel to that fine release. This one ends with a cliffhanger, and I HOPE that we see a sequel. Remember “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins”? There was never a sequel to that, and I’m still bitter.

[As for this mission, there was no sequel. I know: shocking.]

I found a way to enjoy the mission without too much frustration. My method -- and feel free to ignore it -- was to get to the Keeper and then the cure right away; that way, I could freely explore the town without being rendered into my component parts by cackling demons. The mission ends only when you wish it to end (i.e., going back to your room at the inn when all of your goals are complete), which is always my favorite aspect of large, well-crafted missions.

So let’s see: good plot, good story, good everything else...what’s left? Nothing. Play it, you fool.

Summary?
Finding a cure for what aileth Garrett. A really big sun hat, perhaps?
 
Annoyance Rating:
Low.

Score:
5 / 5

My Level Stats:
Skill: Expert
KO’s: 39
Kills: 1
Loot: 3865/4255

[I gotta just post this and be done with it, or I'll end up rewriting the whole stupid thing. NEXT!]
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 015: Relic: Left For Dead
« Reply #28 on: December 29, 2019, 08:10:34 PM »
[This was one of the unfinished reviews. However, as I reflect in my notes at the end, it really doesn't need much more than what I had.]


T2: Relic: Left For Dead

Game: Thief 2
Title: Relic: Left For Dead
Author: Schwaa (J. Knez)
E-mail: N/A
Homepage: N/A
Filename: Left4Dead.zip
Filesize: 23.8mb
Download: Cheap Thief Missions
Score: N/A

Note: The models...what you see is what you get. This time.

Abstract:
[Bats! Part 14]
...Seared Bat Salad with Haricots Verts and Truffle Oil, Young Bat Rib Chops with Caramelized Fennel and Figs, Smoked Bat and Walnuts with Winter Greens, Roast Prime Bat Rib with Madeira Sauce and Horseradish Sauce, Mashed Bats with Jerusalem Artichokes and Chives, Bat Sprouts with Shallots and Mustard Seeds, Roasted Bat and Amaretto Trifle, Warm Bat Cheese Salad with Grilled Olive Bread, Herb-Crusted Bat Flank Steak with Cherry Tomatoes and Olives...
[TO BE CONTINUED!]

The Basics:
Equipment Store: No
Skill Settings: Yes; Easy, Hard, Difficult
Map/Automap: No/Yes (WHAT???)
Puzzle Difficulty: Medium
General Difficulty: Medium-Tough
New Stuff: You bet, wabbit
Gameplay: Swamp. Thieves. Hallucinations. Undead. Good night, nurse.

Briefing/Story?
You -- Garrett -- awake in a shallow grave in the swamp. Apparently someone’s done you in, and now’s the time to drag yourself from your winding sheet and wreak some good old-fashioned unspeakably hellish wrath upon the ones who done you wrong. You also wonder if that Crest Whitening stuff will work on skeletons, because you seem rather yellowed without your protective covering.

Onward!
A unique setup: wake up in your own grave, exact your revenge. Okay, this *may* have been done before -- usually in any sitcom that features a former Saturday Night Live cast member** -- but not so well done. I’m speaking, of course, about walking around without any...you know...skin.

[** What?]

First of all, let me caution you: this mission may not work on your computer. Some have had problems rendering the thing -- it is an extremely large mission, after all -- and it may just be too much. You have water, trees, massive architecture, plenty of strange AI...in short, it’s a processor’s worst nightmare. So if it doesn’t work for you, then...well, I’m sorry. Tell the author about it (NICELY, people...nicely!), not me.

Okay, so you’re a corpse. So what are ya gonna do, cry about it?? Unfortunately, you’re not the type of corpse who slaughters the living and sucks their brains out through their eye sockets. I’d like to think that if I had to unearth myself, I’d at least eat a few brains to compensate for any inconvenience...in the woods, shambling after screaming co-eds who twist their ankles...tormenting the comic relief with his own splintered femur...refusing to pay sales tax for sundries...it’s all good, or so I imagine. But I just KNOW there will be some jackass with holy water or a shotgun who insists on ending my reign of messy terror...lousy rotten busy-bodies. Go rain on some other zombie’s parade, willya?!?

Uh...anyway, I *suppose* you could play this mission as a Haunt; there’s an optional no-kill objective on Hard and Expert, so there may be some sort of plot point that may reveal something interesting about your current circumstances...but I won’t give anything away. In the meantime, however, you have to deal with the distressing fact that your arm is...well...you know, that’s pretty damn cool. I mean, I wouldn’t like that *personally*, but in-game, it’s rather interesting. I can also choose my own head from my inventory and throw it to look around corners...isn’t that just *disturbing*? I like it.

But it all comes down to the fact that you are still more Garrett than, say, Caleb.* You still have to be careful, you still run as fast as a gut-shot clown (a pleasant thought, indeed), and you’re still as strong as a room full of Eddie Deezens. In short, it’s best to stick to Thief’s particular playing style, instead of rushing into the room with a Tesla cannon in one hand and a voodoo doll in the other.
[* I made up for this long ago by bolstering the blackjack impact sound with a nasty laugh from Caleb, so there you have it: the best of both worlds.]

[By the way, Caleb is the main character in "Blood." You may have known that already, but I try not to assume as much as I used to.]

[And as I pointed out in another review, there's nothing more indicative of timely relevant wit than an Eddie Deezen reference.]

Okay, enough of that. Let’s look at the mission itself. If you like large, non-linear maps with a zillion things to do that aren’t necessarily connected to the main goals, then you’ll most likely enjoy this mission almost beyond your capacity for enjoyment. You have the swamp, which bears exploring, there are lots of trees to scrutinize (short on loot? look up!), there’s a thieves’ compound to raid, some guy with goat legs is wandering around the swamps, and...are those dragonflies?

I’d be doing this mission a disservice if I made an attempt to explicate it; it just *is*.

[And that's where I stopped. I suppose, looking at it now, that it really didn't need more than that. Knowing me, however, I figure that I would've gone on for a dozen more paragraphs.]

Summary?
[BLANK.]

Annoyance Rating:
[BLANK.]

Score:
[BLANK.]

My Level Stats:
Skill:
KO’s:
Kills:
Loot:

[BLANK.]

[...next...]
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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T2 016: Lord Ashton Series, Part 1
« Reply #29 on: December 30, 2019, 10:59:54 AM »
[I've previously posted this review on the main site (with screenshots, even!), but I'll put it here (without screenshots!) just for...fun? Aggravation? Whichever. I also updated the relevant links in the info.]

[And due to the length of the review, I've split it into two posts.]

[Also: The version of this review posted at the Hangar is also available at Southquarter, so a big thanks to everyone involved in that. Especially for preserving my screenshots.]

[Another Also: the "Bats!" Abstract took a hiatus for a couple of reviews, picking up again with "Lord Alan's Basement."]


T2: The Lord Ashton Series


Game: Thief 2
Title: The Lord Ashton Series
Author: Christine Schneider
Homepage: http://www.southquarter.com/christine/
Filename: Lord_Ashton_SeriesV2.zip
Filesize: 39.8mb
Download:  Full campaign at Cheap Thief Missions
Walkthroughs & Loot Lists: At Southquarter (Click on the link to the mission you need help solving.)

Important Note: You can download the missions individually or collectively; there are eight missions, so if you’d like to play them one by one without involving yourself in a 40 megabyte download (Ha! Dial-up wimp! Get a real ISP!), you can do this by doing a search at The Circle or Cheap Thief Missions.

Ever-Present Custom Stuff Note: If you play this pack and things aren't exactly as they appear in my screenshots...well, there's a reason for that: I use custom HUD elements, and this pack does not. I can't help myself. It's a sickness.

[...and if you do see screenshots here, you're hallucinating and possibly a danger to yourself and others. Seek professional help.]

Abstract:
Some of you -- and here I can't think of any one individual in particular -- may have noticed the kills, KOs and loot totals at the end of my Thief reviews. Instead of bragging, the real purpose of these tallies is to give the reader an in idea of how much violence and/or loot to expect in a given mission. (If that final tally of KO’s is ridiculously enormous, then so much the better.) As for the loot total, it’s supposed to be an indicator as to how difficult it is to acquire all of the loot; you’ll notice that I don’t always get all of the loot, and I freely admit that, so you can put away the knitting needles and the Vaseline (but stick around...I’ll see you later). If you can exceed my total, then well done. If not, don’t worry about it.

The Basics:
Equipment Store(s): No
Skill Settings: Yes
Map/Automap: Not really
Puzzle Difficulty: Fluctuates
General Difficulty: Mild-Medium
New Stuff: yup
Gameplay: I cover that in the individual entries

Onward!

This is a compilation of eight individually-released missions, now together in a single campaign. Previous to the final version, the author kept us on our toes...just when you thought the series was over, here comes another mission! Not that I’m complaining one bit, because I love them all. Anyway, all missions were played on Expert skill, because I’m just that kind of guy. I’ve included my level stats at the end of each mission section, with the cumulative stats at the end of the review. I’m curious to see how much loot I missed.

By the way, these missions were translated from the author’s native language (German), so the English translation may seem a little quaint and/or quirky in places. That’s perfectly fine by me, as I don’t usually play these missions for the prose (I also don’t go to steakhouses for the fish, and vice-versa...if that has anything to do with it). Despite that, the translations were done very well.

Speaking of reading, you should read Garrett’s diary at the beginning of every mission; this will expand upon the goals and story and such.

Each section hereafter represents an entire mission review; each mission included in the pack is a full-length level (theoretically), and deserves an appropriately full-length review. Why don’t I just review them individually and release them as such, you ask? I like to keep all of the reviews for mission packs in one review, even though that review may be broken up across several pages. So are you happy now, Mister or Missus Question Everything Silver Does??


A Visit To Lord Ashton’s

Gameplay: Humans, a treebeast; mansion robbing...and, well, that’s it.

First off, read your diary and Lady Helena’s letter in your inventory.

Since Lord Ashton is one of the richest and most respected men in the City, it’s about time you broke into his home, tormented his servants, creeped out his guards, ransacked his possessions, and rubbed your naked butt all over his silverware. And while you’re in there, you might as well pick up a few specific items for one Lady Helena, who has given you a shopping list of things *she* wants from Lord Ashton. Isn’t that just like a woman? “Oh, and while you’re out, here’s a list! Don’t forget the gem-encrusted skull formerly belonging to a long-dead technomage AGAIN, you bastard!”* You’ve “worked” for Lady Helena in the past, and it’s always proven lucrative...so you decide to pick up her requested items (and the dry cleaning and the Meow Mix and the eggs and...); she tells you to go to the Ashton cemetery for further instructions when you’re all done.
[* For real-world comparison’s sake, insert “milk” or “bread” or even “diapers” for “gem-encrusted blah blah blah”.]

One thing I will not dwell upon like some cheesy female-worshiping lech is that the author is a woman. Thief is a curious game in that it attracts the distaff side more than other FPS games;** I think it goes back to the early hunter-gatherer phase of human history, where men would go out and get stomped on and partially eaten by prehistoric wildlife while the women stayed in the cave and played Thief.
[** Yes, Thief is an FPS, no matter how you define the “S”...deal with it, ya poncy elitist pansy.]

Anyway, this mission is essentially a mansion-looting fiesta. You get to prowl around the grounds of a large mansion, shamelessly abuse the guards’ sensibilities, and just be the most amoral shadow-skulking weirdo that you can be. And you know? There’s something appealing about that. For a first (released) mission, it’s mind-blowing. Many first missions built in Thief 2 are visually stunning anyway, thanks to the wonderful textures available, but this one plays nicely as well.

Your main problem here is actually getting into the mansion. You’ll have to do a bit of circumnavigation*** -- literally -- to find clues on how to get inside. All you need is a key, and that’s found...hey, you actually thought I was going to say where to find it, didn’t you?
[*** Shut up, it’s a real word! It also makes me hunch over protectively for some reason.]

The mansion -- both inside and out -- is picturesque, not to mention quite spacious. It’s not Art of Thievery big (although how many are that big, really?), but it is a walking tour nevertheless. And really, how can you disparage an estate where the caretaker is Gordon Freeman and the captain of the guards is Adrian Shepherd? No, really! Some of the guards, by the way, carry shields. Okay, not that they help them one bit (they’re just decoration), but they do look nice. The greatest thing is that you can pick up the shields and simply let go of them, whereupon they will float in mid-air. I had a little fun with this, culminating in my “shield tree”...I know, I’m pathetic.

[There was a screenshot here depicting a tree with shields "hanging" all over it, like flat metal fruit.]

I did start off with plenty of equipment (and even acquired more later)...but I didn’t use it all. I can usually get by in most human-oriented missions with just my blackjack, but it was nice to have an impressive arsenal anyway, just in case I wanted to go off my nut. I had plenty of opportunities to do just that, but since I was supposedly an Expert (at least for this review), I had to keep my cool, which didn’t involve scrambling onto a roof and playing my favorite game, "Let's Shoot Everyone Who Looks Like People I Knew In High School!" My mettle was tested somewhat by the presence of a buttload of tile, which is even more daunting when you understand that I had Jennifer Lopez’s**** butt in mind for that particular metaphor. That equals a LOT of tile. Since I’ve played through this entire pack several times, I can safely say that this will not be the end of your tile frustrations, oh no. The author’s just getting started.
[**** I refuse to resort to using that insipid moniker “J.Lo”; however, I will call her “untalented moron” if I must refer to her.]

My only real challenge, besides the tile, was outside: there were guards carrying lanterns. Hiding from them is one thing, while hiding their bodies after cracking their skulls is quite another. It’s a task unto itself, requiring one to drop the body so that the lantern clips through the wall, removing it as a light source; walls that converge at acute angles are most helpful. It all adds to your extracurricular fun value. I eventually made it inside the mansion and proceeded to sit down with Lord Ashton and listen to his fascinating views on revised gender roles in the modern world.

Or maybe I just gave him a concussion and stole all of his stuff. In doing so, I gave myself a serious hernia...there is a *lot* of loot just laying around. I mean, SCADS of valuable items, over 13,000 worth, some of it hidden quite well in secret areas. Speaking of which, there were a few “secrets,” but in this mission (and subsequent missions), secrets are not counted as “secrets,” if you get my meaning.** No, it’s not a problem; I just like hearing that chime when I find a secret. Again, color me pathetic. Some of the hidden switches were a little on the obscure side: hard to find, behind curtains, etc. I don’t mind that, but the first time I played this mission, I missed a ton of loot hidden in one room because I didn’t see the switch, so deviously hidden. It’s a good idea to scrutinize your surroundings like a good little thief.

[** I'm mystified, myself...I think I meant that something that might appear to be a secret isn't actually marked as as secret, so you don't get that nifty little "secret found!" notification for finding, say, a well-hidden stash of gear or loot.]

And now for a list of curious (or not) things:

1) If you have "Attach Ladders" set to "Jump" in your options, it’s tough to get down off the low roof where the archers are standing (outside the mansion) without losing a chunk of health. Jumping onto the cart below is not a good idea, as it still hurts. I recommend setting "Attach Ladders" to "Touch"; that way, you can climb down via the ladder and avoid consequently being mistaken for a Toulouse Lautrec impersonator.

[Do I really need to explain that one?]

2) One female servant, when knocked out, is described as a “corpse” when you pick her up. This is an error, as she is still very much alive. I know: I tested her with my sword until she stopped screaming. Of course, I had to reload, but that’s the kind of selfless sacrifice a scientist/thief must make.

3) Objects/items that aren’t necessarily valuable in some missions will show up as such in other missions, but this isn’t 100% consistent; sometimes they’re valuable, sometimes they’re not. This adds to the fun.

4) When entering the sparring room with the treebeast, Garrett suddenly exclaims “Damn! I didn’t mean for that to happen!” What? What didn’t he mean to happen? Probably nothing to worry about. I hope. I panicked anyway, just be safe.

5) Benny by the pool. Don’t fall in, Benny...mu-hahahahaaaa... (“I shwim better when I’m drunk...it makesh me float! *hic* If I shee a fish, I jusht point my shword at him and saaaaaaaaaay GLUB! BLUB GLUB glub glub glub...”)

6) Mah homey Biggie L.O.R.D. Ash-baby likes hangin' wit' his peeps, da Keepahs. (Translation: Lord Ashton is an aquaintance of the Keepers.)

7) Shepherd (aka, “The Hoochie-Coochie Man”) proposing to his delicate flower by the fountain. How sweet. I just had to take a picture. Then I HAD to club them both and arrange their bodies in amusing positions.

Level Stats
KO’s: 37
Kills: 1 (treebeast)
Loot: 13,577 / 13,677


A Night’s Stroll

Gameplay: Humans, burricks, two zombies; strolling / hunting lodge looting / Texas Chainsaw Burrick Massacre (I wish) / brothel-looting / well-diving / et cetera

After successfully robbing Lord Ashton and burning his mansion to its foundations and dancing around it totally naked save for being ritually decorated with the guards’ blood -- or perhaps your experience was a bit different than mine -- you headed for the Ashton family cemetery. There, you found further instructions from Lady Helena. You’re to make your way to the local village and meet her at a pub. Oh, and watch out for the burricks.

Pffft! They should watch out for *me*. Wait...that could be misconstrued somehow. (“The City: Where Men Are Men And The Burricks Are Nervous”)

Of course, your equipment doesn’t carry over from the last mission, so if you were hoarding your gas and water arrows (like I usually do) in hopes that you’d have them in the next mission, then you are now probably kicking yourself for not using it all when you had the chance.

This map is, essentially, what its title implies. There are a couple of hunting lodges along the way to town, as well a some very nice scenery. The two prime attractions of Christine’s missions are her meticulous attention to detail and her penchant for using custom objects. Fish in the pond, cool new loot, toilets, psychedelic mushrooms (some of them frobbable), etc. I’ve always found these things reason enough to download her maps, because they just look so freakin’ good.

You’ll eventually find the hunting lodge belonging to a very familiar guy, Lord Bafford himself, although he’s called “Bufford” sometimes. Poor Lord Bafford! You ruined him when you looted his mansion, and he still hasn’t recovered financially. That says something about how he invests his money (he was the primary backer of both Glitter and Gigli), but never mind. To recover from his downward spiral, he’s been courting Lord Ashton’s daughter in hopes that the dowry would get him back in the black, but she turned him down cold. Blueballs for the blueblood! Ha-ha!

Ashton’s daughter, by the way, lost her ring while taking a stroll of her own, and a notice to this effect is posted at Ashton’s lodge. I mention this fact only because that ring meant two things to me: one, I could never remember where the ring was hidden without referring to the walkthrough, and two, that ring represents the author’s enchanting tendency (read: maddening habit) of putting very tiny rings into her missions. I found myself wading through shallow pools of water and bathtubs, poring over bathrooms, staring at window sills, looking under furniture, etc., all in an effort to find every last bit of loot...but I enjoyed it, oddly enough.

I probably shouldn’t have bothered with trying to find all the loot because I didn’t need it to buy equipment, but that really isn’t the point, I guess: I’m a thief, therefore I should bleed the town dry. And speaking of which, once you reach the town you’ll have the chance to rob a few fine stores. There’s a butcher’s shop, a bakery, an apothecary, a weapons shop, a Victoria’s Secret, a Christie’s Toybox, the DMV (Department of Mobile Villagers), a Dairy Queen and seventeen Starbucks. It’s all here, a testament to human ingenuity, made even more impressive when you consider the fact that the denizens of the Thief world have yet to perfect strip mall technology.

In a previous incarnation of this review, I had mentioned that there is no way to return to the first part of town before going down that well in the middle of the square (the rope is short and the only exit from the area puts you in a gated-off part of town). It turns out that I was being a monumental dumbass -- business as usual -- and you *can* return there easily if you make it a point to actually LOOK for a lever to open the gate. I'm like an idiot savant at being an idiot.

You'll also need to visit Madame Kira’s House O’ Ill Repute (yes, it's a brothel) for a few items. This includes her diary, which details some interesting dirt on a few prominent citizens...wouldn’t that be useful to have? Obviously, it takes in plenty of money -- hey, it’s the nicest place in town, friendlier than the church by far -- and it’s ripe for a bit of larceny.

Speaking of brothels... [NOTE: This paragraph has been expunged from existence. It was merely yet another self-indulgent exercise on the part of the reviewer to somehow tie together the concepts of whorehouses, the Asian girl he was obsessed with in his senior year of high school, and a long-closed, suspicious “massage parlor” in his hometown called “Oriental Tokyo Health Massage.” I, the reviewer’s real-world alter-ego, have undertaken this task in an effort to keep the review more or less focused on the subject at hand. However, I did find the phrase “Cherry Chung’s Hot Chinese Taco Eat-Out Fiesta!” to be amusing enough to mention here, although it is completely out of context and not intended as a racist or sexist comment in any way...or so the vicious little beast claims. -- E.]

Okay, you’ve clubbed all the girls and the boys, you stole everything worth stealing, and you got all the stuff on your list. Now it's time to head for the other part of town where the pub is located to meet with Lady Helena. But wait! Hear that? Two cops having a conversation. It seems that they're on the lookout for YOU. Why? That’s an interesting question. Too bad the cops don’t talk after being bludgeoned. Oh, well. Perhaps I should kick them a few times...nope, nothing.

Hey, there’s the local Hammer church. They’re having a few problems, what with the Mechanists recruiting their high priest and all. There are a couple of shops...private homes...a small graveyard...six more Starbucks...not a bad section of town, really. At the end of the street is the pub. But wouldn’t you know it, things don’t run the way you planned them in the humdrum...

[Reference: Peter Gabriel's "Humdrum."]

And now for the list of what could be interesting things of note, but I doubt it:

1) Even though the previous mission had a decently-rendered kitchen area, this mission begins to reveal the full extent of Christine’s obsession with elaborate kitchens.

2) There’s a lot of food laying around, isn’t there? ...ohhhh, man...anyone got a box of Gas-X? *burp* Maybe they should *urp* call the next game "Thief: Massive Bloating." I shouldn't have eaten all that cheese...I hope they have some of those exploding barrels in the next mission, because I will definitely need a couple. Oh, god. Never again!

Oooh! Cheesecake! Yes, please!

3) Burricks can’t be killed with the sword after they’ve been KO’ed, unfortunately.

4) Like the previous mission, some things are a little obscure; secrets, keys, switches...but hey, it’s Thief. If you’re playing this, you’re used to such things by now.

5) I killed seven rats, which counted in my kill tally. Weird, yes, but not excessively so. What’s *really* weird is that the two zombies I killed didn’t show up in the stats.

Level Stats
KO’s: 49
Kills: 9 (7 rats plus the 2 zombies the game ignored)
Loot: 9287 / 9287


Escape!

Gameplay: Humans, bots, spiders; imprisoned against my will / Papillion / Escape From Alcatraz / Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption / Attica! / Attica! / Attica! / you get the idea / escaping / seething resentment / revenge / vault-plundering / teddy bear kidnapping / stowing away

You’re in trouble. At the end of “A Night’s Stroll”, you were captured by the local excuse for a police force...of course, it took 127 of them to corner you, but it didn’t end there, oh no. After an intense and extremely bloody three-day standoff -- during which you tossed out a body every fifteen minutes -- they called in the National Guard and local SWAT, but to no avail. It was only after they devised a giant, six-story papier-mâché mockup of a jewel-encrusted vase that they finally apprehended you. Although to your credit, you still managed to fit it in your pants.

So here you sit in this dank little cell, singing Beatles songs ("'We can work it out, we can--' HEY! Why isn't anyone singing??"), waiting for your chance to break out, to wreak unholy vengeance upon your captors, and probably even force a select lucky few to listen to your “poetry”... ‘twas an evening of horror...the horror...

‘Twere worse fur twerp thrice inches taller,
Fewer than thripster wurthel fwap-a-doo nap...
Wouldst nipper a tweet a few woot?
Hip hup hop hap hep hemp in my TWINKIES
Mother? Mother? WHERE ARE MY FINGERS!!?!?


You’ve also been eating the mushrooms growing in the corners of your cell, which may explain a few things.

Aha! So you’ve finally escaped from your cell, thanks to your friend Leon’s bribing of a guard to give you a lockpick and a letter. Your next step is to sneak into the sewer (stumbling across Ben’s big brother**), whereupon you find your way to the morgue. Gather up thy equipment, ye fusty black-cloaked lurker, because you'll be needing it. Here’s the plan: knock out all the guards, loot the joint and get out to Lord Ashton’s yacht as Leon mentioned in his letter. Got it? Terrific! Let’s just get up these stairs here to...wow. Pretty fancy for a police station, huh? Looks like Truart really went all out!

[** You know, Ben? The movie about a boy and his killer rat? Yeah. That one.]

Of course, the good Sheriff has an ulterior motive for fixing up the place, and it’s probably a good idea for you to find out why. Oh, and you need to get back all the loot you got from your previous jobs, not to mention doing a couple of deliciously mean-spirited things, such as robbing the vault and kidnapping Truart’s teddy bear...but oddly enough, I enjoy doing bad things to bad people.

[Not as much fun as doing bad things to good people, but we find our fun wherever we can.]

There really isn’t a whole lot to say about how complex the mission is: you escape from jail and stow away on Lord Ashton’s yacht. Okay, yes, you steal everything from the station’s vault and require a back operation after lugging all of the valuables out, but essentially it’s an escape map. But a very good one.

There is an underlying story which adds depth, however, dealing with Truart’s reasons for renovating this small out-of-the-way police station, the local cops who are suspicious of his motives, and Truart’s obvious “evidence relocation” program. There’s also the question of who betrayed you to the cops in the first place. Was it Leon? Was it Lady Helena? Was it Dr. Clayton Deborah Susan “Firebrand” Forester?** You’ll find out eventually. Perhaps as soon as the next page.

[** MST3K reference. Of course.]

And yes, everything looks stunning, as usual.

The obligatory list of stuff only I care about:

1) Lots of tile. Oh, complain, complain. It’s fine.

2) The familiar names continue. There’s a Sergeant Bronson, a Dr. Crusher, a conscientious cop named Denton...

3) I managed to KO about 45 AI, but a lot of those were my fellow prisoners. What I won’t do to increase my noggin-crunching total.

4) No kill restrictions! Woo-hoo!

5) The poor cook’s had enough of burrick, I guess.

6) That’s a lot of books for a police station.

7) Sushi??

8) I wonder if Truart ever gets the quality tech support he needs for his PC?

9) Benny! Again! Being picked up by a (possibly infected) lady of the night! Let’s give ol’ Benny a hand! Clap clap clap clap...[clever smirk]

(You got the joke, didn't you? Normally I wouldn't ask, but sometimes I wonder.)

Level Stats
KO’s: 45
Kills: 5 (3 spiders and 2 Bots)
Loot: 7664 / 7764


END OF PART ONE
It is the scent of garlic that lingers on my chocolate fingers

 

everything