Posted 03 August 2011 - 06:18 PM
From Kelandon on the CSR:
At its best, Mad Amibition reminds me of the fun parts of Emulations: you are a specific character with a detailed background and very definite feelings and attitudes. At its worst, it reminds me of the most incoherent parts of Canopy or NTH: nothing makes sense, and the dialogue is bizarre. The thing is, Mad Amibition is at its best a lot more than it's at its worst.
A TM SCENARIO
This is still a TM scenario, which means that the writing is a bit coarse (people described as "anal," one of the first characters using the word "pissed"). Also, the grammar is at times a bit off (comma splices), and the ellipses are excessive. There are miscellaneous typos, but I suppose that is to be expected (Malachai in Ivalice: "Everyone who Marched with me") and a few peculiarities of orthography (capitalization after ellipses).
And dammit, some of the diction is just bad (politesse, perturbed instead of disturbed, ginormous).
Item rewards are still more generous than I would like, but eh.
MA also suffers from TM's standard Too Many Names Syndrome (TMNS). When Military Rank Someone revealed himself to be Somebody Else I don't even remember, and I just finished playing this scenario five minutes ago this was supposed to be shocking, but I couldn't even remember who these two names were. The excess of names often seemed pointless, too: Zenbu is also named Casimir? Why would anyone care?
The characters are at times inhuman (Lloyd), and many of the women are reduced to unfortunate lines and unfortunate roles (Janet, Acacia) this would be okay if TM didn't do it in every scenario.
Overall, this plot makes a fair bit of sense and was pretty compelling. I actually cared when my character told his story. This was good.
However, several critical plot points didn't make sense or were odd. For instance, right after Zenbu battles Malachai for the first time, he threatens my character and suddenly I want to be friends with him. Er, what? This sort of thing happened repeatedly.
And there are a few things that are worthy of comment that are neither good nor bad, such as that at one point, my character said, "Chika? No!", despite the fact that I, the player, had no idea who Chika was. I had a very bad feeling that this would be another "You are RATATOSK" moment, like in Canopy a totally random name thrown out as if it were supposed to have impact but has none due to its randomness. Fortunately, the flashback sequence followed, which explained enough.
And I don't know if anyone else had this feeling, but I was a little frightened when Malachai wanted to go to bed with my character, especially since he started saying, "You know, you're a lot different from the other troops I have...." And then I woke up in his bed that morning!
And finally, something ought to be said about the ending, which I found rather unsatisfying. It left a number of loose ends, and the narratorial voice, which seemed somewhat insane throughout, pulled out yet another wacky one that went completely unexplained at the very end. I just didn't like it. And I'm tempted to say that it loses several tenths of a point simply for this sentence near the very end: "This is the end of your ethnocentric, authoritarian drama." (WTF?)
GAMEPLAY - COMBAT VANISHES
As far as gameplay, TM did something interesting here: he cut out most of what would normally be combat, replacing it with movement and cutscenes. I appreciated this, since I normally hate his combat. And yes, sure enough, I found the climactic two battles to be annoying. Puzzle combat just doesn't sit well with me, I think. But again, there are only three genuine combat situations in the scenario that I remember (possibly more that aren't sticking with me).
I liked it. I found myself having fun, which I didn't in Canopy or (really) in RoR, either. It was still a bit too uneven to strike me as really superb, but it was good. The flashback was effective (if strange), and I distrusted Malachai throughout, which I think is evidence of good writing. I actually remember some of the characters, which is unusual.
So I give it a rating of GOOD: brushes the edge of outstanding at times, but the net effect still isn't strong enough to convince me to give it higher than that.
EDIT: Yes, TM, I know that "perturbed" is a word (and so are the others). You merely used it where "disturbed" was obviously what you were thinking and would've suited the context a lot better. I cited "anal" and "pissed" as examples of coarse writing, not incorrect writing. I was merely attempting to point out that "politesse" and "ginormous" are from opposite ends of the spectrum (pompous and slangy, respectively), and using them together creates the impression that you don't know the connotations and weight of your words. And I did cite one of the miscellaneous typos ("Marched" where it should've been "marched"), but as I said, they are to be expected in a scenario with this much text.
EDIT 2: Apparently there are a number of features that are not obvious upon initial play-through. For that, I'll give this the benefit of the doubt and bump up the score a bit, but not much, because I'd prefer that the features be more obvious. At least include a readme or something.
(Tyran- I remember this review when it was first posted. It's from Kelandon -Bain)