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Ephesos   

Mad Ambition

Mac/Windows

 

Author: Terror's Martyr

Difficulty: 10-18

Version: 1.0.0

 

[composite=eyJ0aXRsZSI6Ik1hZCBBbWJpdGlvbiIsInRpZCI6IjEyMzQwIiwidGFncyI6WyJkYXJrIiwiZGVzaWduZXItc3BlY2lmaWMgdW5pdmVyc2UiLCJkaWFsb2d1ZSBoZWF2eSIsImRpZmZpY3VsdCIsImlubm92YXRpdmUgc2NyaXB0aW5nIiwicGxvdCBoZWF2eSIsInNlcmlvdXMiXSwiYmdhc3AiOnsiNSI6NiwiNCI6NywiMyI6MiwiMiI6MiwiMSI6MH19]

Composite Score: 4.0/5.0

 

Best: 35.29% (6/17)

Good: 41.18% (7/17)

Average: 11.76% (2/17)

Substandard: 11.76% (2/17)

Poor: 0.00% (0/17)

[encouragenecro]

 

[/composite]

 

Keywords: Dark, Designer-Specific Universe, Dialogue Heavy, Difficult, Innovative Scripting, Plot Heavy, Serious

Edited by SylaeBot
Automated Sybot edit; worker IPB::csrThread/vanadium

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Ephesos   

(re-hashes old review)

 

Okay, this is a good one, and reminds me why I didn't stand a chance in the contest. Good story, great landscaping, good characters, good cutscenes, and useful stashes of items aplenty.

 

Downsides include the murderous combat, the lack of participation by PCs 2-4, and some pervasive weirdness that is endemic to TM scenarios set in his own private setting. On the whole though, it can't bring down the scenario as a whole.

 

All in all, it's downright incredible, and it's probably due for a playthrough on Never Say Die.

 

Rating: [rating]Best[/rating]

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Mad Ambition, one of the earlier TM scenarios for BoA is decent. It has decent graphics, challenging fights with a unique fight with Chika. The plot was interesting, if bizarre, and the scenario seemed to have a pretentious atmosphere. The ending seemed a bit of a letdown as well. It was fairly interesting and worth playing.

 

I rate this scenario [rating]Average[/rating]

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Smoo   

As usual TM has made the towns and dungeons pleasing to the eye. The outdoors use a seldom used tile set which made the scenario look unique when it was first released.

 

I liked the flashback cut-scene, although it could have been less "let's walk over there" narratively speaking. One nagging little thing regarding general design: could the caches of useful items at least be in someplace remotely plausible instead of the "right here before the big boss fight in some barrels" or "at a corpse in jail?" Why did a prisoner have that many potions?

 

I counted three fights, including the boss fight. Still those three got me killed a lot more than some other scenarios. It took me forever to figure out how to beat the (first?) puzzle fight. You'll know what I mean when you see it. You cannot kill the enemy with conventional means.

 

I do not really think this a spoiler, but you could skip this paragraph just to be sure... I think TM rushed a bit to kill off everyone, I mean sheesh, when I first played through I didn't even bother to talk to the other twelve guys at the fort. Malachi was a bit too nice, how does a guy like that rise to be a Dervish? By being competent? I think not. I really didn't get the villains motives but who am I to understand the mind of a... That kind of thing.

 

The plot was entertaining, although I think that Canopy had a more enthralling plot (meaning I had to play forward

just so I could find out what was going on.), although at least the jist of the story was easy to follow. It's the fine details that get you. It's neat that the PC was implemented to the plot, but could the player have at least some saying to what the characters says? This isn't a book, you know. Why couldn't the player decide if the PC was good or evil in stead of it being decided randomly?

 

Despite all my complaining (Oh, and the ending sucked! Boo! What a mood whiplash!) Mad Ambition is one of my favorite scenarios. Hence:

 

Rating: [rating]BEST[/rating]

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I'm really disappointed with myself that I never finished this scenario back when it was first released, because it really is beautiful. This was definitely not for lack of trying, though. The first combat encounter is incredibly difficult to surmount with a party at the lower end of the level recommendations, effectively denying my attempts at playing through the scenario over the years.

 

I really don't have much to say about anything else, other than that this scenario makes me wish I was a better story teller and that I wish BoA had attracted a larger community. I think that this scenario marks an end of an era that a lot of current players never had a stake in. It's like an effigy to the kind of thought and detail that used to go into these adventures.

 

The final fight was total ass, though, since I couldn't figure out what to do with those runes and stairs, so I ended up just leaving combat and jumping off the edge. Ingenuity like a hammer.

 

[rating]BEST[/rating]

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From Salmon on the CSR:

 

Caveat - I'll ignore any coding errors, as this was a contest submission that got limited beta.

 

Another typical TM scenario, like an American freeway with limited access and no hitchhikers. I had no problem knowing what to do when, all the special combat features seemed like common sense at the time. Not sure why I wanted to drink poison, but perhaps it was the obvious antidote to the insanity of the offense. Perhaps in that light, it could have been more opaque, but that may have been part of the design.

 

The interactive cut-scene was ... um . . . just freakish. Really.

 

I am torn since I happen to like aspects of the open-type scenarios, but I appreciate the technical aspects of TM's work. So, I give this effort a [rating]GOOD[/rating].

 

Well done and very worth playing.

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From PoD on the CSR:

 

My, does this rule. The following review is spoilerific, so let me tell you, if you haven't, to play the scenario as soon as possible (with a level 16 or 18 party). I caution, however, that this is not an example of open-ended gameplay. Just so you know. It's set in Jeff's world, but it's not an homage to Jeff. It resembles one of the better Final Fantasy games (7 or 8) much more than the Avernum series.

 

Technically, this pushes the envelope so far that it almost falls off the table. I didn't dock any points (obviously) when the 1 PC + Malachai party showed up as four people, and the technical apologies to the player all showed up before the plot picked up and grab me, so it didn't ruin the mood.

 

Graphically, this thing is beautiful. The custom trees and outdoor wallset really gave the area a flavor all its own. The terraining was nigh-on perfect; I liked that I didn't have to wander around too much, although I recognize that some players love that. I had my doubts about Frahhamn's Nephil graphics, but they looked great in-game, and the mounted ones looked awesome. All of the soldiers with you in the fort had dialog pics, which was a nice touch, although I do have the minor gripe that Malachai should have had a more distinctive one, and I humbly suggest that, with future versions, TM include a few similarly-themed graphics to substitute for the lead PC's.

 

This scenario also had a very good story, which is improved by the fact that TM really restrained himself on the philosophizing. It's there, but it's implicit in the story instead of explicit in the dialogue and the narration. The information is revealed at exactly the right pace, and there's a well-placed flashback sequence that's very trippy and FF7.

 

Combat-wise, it was probably a little too difficult, but I really liked the ideas behind all of the combat. The problem is not repetition or tedium, so a party at a level higher than 11 probably would've been more enjoyable. Still, the Luthair fight was somewhat unremarkable. The best part about the combat was that it was always important to the plot and always introduced with narration. No generic baddies sitting around waiting to be killed here.

 

Finally, I thought that this scenario, though shorter, was more polished than Canopy, especially because all of the characters are directly involved with the plot, so there are no impatiently designed civilians to distract from the immersion.

 

[rating]BEST[/rating]

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From Wotan on the CSR:

 

This is certainly my favorite BoA scenario to date. As others noted, it has a feeling of narrative cohesion that has been lacking thus far. I should note that this review contains some small spoilers.

 

This scenario has been well debugged and spellchecked, which is already a great improvement over the last lot I played. The only glitch I encountered was the error that occurs when your lead character leave your party and attempt to exit town with Malachi. As this is a non-critical glitch (you can still play the game) and TM already acknowledged this in the game, I don't find it very troublesome.

 

Graphically, MA manages to capture the right sense of atmosphere without being cluttered. The custom graphics look good, although I thought the mounted Nephils were a bit awkward in appearance. As this is a TM scenario, you can expect several unique NPCs who glow, grow, and perform other feats of visual wizardry.

 

The plot was a significant improvement over Canopy. I found the story fairly engrossing, but more surprising, coherent. The philosophical message of the story finally manages to take a backseat to narrative flow, and the result is a huge improvement for TMs storytelling abilities. This isn't to say that the story lacked any meaningful message; rather, the idea is told through actual gameplay instead of gratingly out of place monologues. I also enjoyed the scripting for the various cut scenes. We're finally beginning to see what can be done with this engine in terms of storytelling.

 

I also enjoyed how the lead player character was integrated into the story. Rather than being a passive observer of the actions of others or a nameless group of 'adventurers,' MA actually utilizes your lead character as a critical plot element, even crafting a relationship between you some of the NPCs. This was a great idea that did wonders for holding my interest in the story. I'd like to see more of this in the future, as it seems to mark one method of creating a more immersive gaming experience in BoA. That said, it's probably best to play this scenario as a Singleton, if possible.

 

The major flaw I found with Mad Ambition was the pacing. While I'm well aware of the competition-fueled urgency with which this scenario was completed, it doesn't take away from the fact that MA moves from scene to scene far too quickly. Once you take off with Dervish Malachi, try not to blink. If further work were to be done here, adding perhaps a few additional missions that would allow you to interact with the Malachi and the other soldiers, it would be a great improvement. This brings me to my second criticism. Unless you seek them out and speak with them, the other soldiers are essentially filler, albeit filler that TM saw fit to craft interrelated backstorys and unique character graphics for. I think that as things stand, this is a huge waste. Most, if not all of these characters were intriguing in some way, and to casually discard them after only a brief introduction creates an unpleasant gap.

 

Overall, I'd say that this is worth a [rating]GOOD[/rating]. While I liked it quite well for a number of reasons, the hurried pacing and the failure to develop on the initial characterizations of a number of NPCs were significant flaws.

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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:

 

Mad Ambition, well I feel it is perhaps the best scenario thus far for BOA. The story is compelling drawing your group along to every turn. It truly is a great narrative. I especially enjoyed the atmosphere of the fort. It seemed almost romantic, I only wish more time could have been spent there perhaps fending of an attack or two.

 

For the first time every character in a scenario seemed real they all had back stories and and distinct personalities. Combat is far too hard for a party starting at level 10. I could not progress past the first fight at that level. However, level 17 proved more reliable. The initial ambush and fight sequence also shines greatly enhancing the overall story.

 

Mad Ambition really does deliver a great sense of atmosphere. The darkness of the fort upon your initial entry adds greatly to the atmosphere of intrigue. I would liked to have been able to progress into Nephilim lands more to see what their side in everything was. In some ways I felt cheated as much of the scenario had nothing to do with the Nephilim. The addition of some refugees in the fort would also have helped this scenario. I am not saying a whole mass of refugees perhaps one who could at least identify the equipment you get.

 

The implemented technology unlike previous TM scenarios really helped the story it is not overdone, but still shines. The landscape was also used to its fullest. Heights were rendered beautifully and the forests along with surrounding fort area brought once again a sense of realism. I hope future designers remember what BOA can do landscape wise. Well, done all around great scenario.

Rating iz [rating]BEST[/rating]. REsPeK,,,,,,,

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From wz arsenic on the CSR:

 

(WARNING: SPOILERS)

 

The first thing that really annoyed me about this scenario was the way TM put words in my character's mouth. Not that I object to this in principle, but the way my character reacted to the soldiers in the fort seemed forced; until then, there hadn't been much development of my character's personality and something like "Go to hell" jumped out as a wtf: why would the character say that?

 

However, after I completed the scenario I went into the scripts because it seemed as though I had missed a lot. Only then did I realize the true extent of TM's dedication to the story, and my character's reactions to others suddenly made a lot more sense.

 

While I am still unsure why TM felt such a drastic design choice was necessary, I can't deny it sheds a whole new light on the story. I advise everyone to go and play this scenario again. Twice if you have to.

 

As this scenario stands, I give it a rating of [rating]GOOD[/rating]. I will revise this score once the numerous bugs and spelling/grammar mistakes are fixed.

 

Some errors I noticed off the top of my head (there were more than these but I wasn't taking notes on them as I was playing):

 

- Does "pounting" mean anything? (intro text 3)

- If you're in combat mode at the end of the mines, Anthony will not be able to join you. I'm not sure if this actually makes a difference when you go on, since I went to an earlier save, but it's ugly cosmetically.

- The first time you meet Anthony, if you talk to him again after he tells you to go talk to Malachai, he says something nonsensical.

 

This isn't exactly a mistake, but I think the character's soliloquy about ambition could stand to use a few less "stereotypes" just to be more intelligible. If, on the other hand, it was meant to be obtuse to reflect what the character's ambition is, then never mind.

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From S M Adventurer on the CSR:

 

Well, this certainly was a very intriguing scenario. It had many interesting challenges and some interesting combat. I loved the little cutscene at the end.

 

Combat wasn't too difficult, although those Nephil Elders kind of summon a little too much.

 

The scenario had a very interesting story placed within it, using your first PC in your party as the main character. The story was told really well and they were some cool scripting sequences.

 

Overall, this is a very good BOA scenario and I recommend it to everyone.

 

[rating]BEST[/rating]

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From Kelandon on the CSR:

 

OVERALL

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.

 

CHARACTER PROBLEMS

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.

 

PLOT SUCCESS/FAILURE

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).

 

IN SUM

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 [rating]GOOD[/rating]: 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)

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From Drakefyre on the CSR:

 

Mad Ambition is the best third-party scenario available currently. That said, it is not the best BoA scenario available either.

 

It had fast-paced action that I appreciated, although navigation through the Nephil camp was frustrating. I like the cutscenes in here better than in Bahssikava, but the writing and detail were a little sparse.

 

I didn't notice anything special about the terrain or custom graphics - I thought that the custom face pics were nice but not very appropriate to the medium. The dialog pictures for the intros seemed good, though.

 

The effect-reversing fight is the best fight/combat/puzzle I've seen in BoA. Congrats.

 

Malachai does seem creepy, but that's character development, not something wrong with the scenario.

 

[rating]GOOD[/rating]

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From Pinchy the Crab on the CSR:

 

How on earth this scenario got above average is beyond me. Yes, I realize that TM can script. He is very good at scripting. But we're not rating TM, we are rating his scenario. From start to finish, you are led by the nose so badly that even the option of taking the 10-day journey isn't really available. Some of this is understandable in any scenario, but this hit me so hard it was like playing a bad rpg (such as final fantasy). (Spoilers ahead)

 

Right off the bat in the intro text, TM hits us in the face with text. It was too numerous and far too wordy, so much so that it was obvious he was trying to sound deep (A pregnant pause?). He tries very hard to make us care about the 12 soldiers from the beginning, but they said so much that the player begins to feel overwhelmed, and is soon just skimming over the dialogue. It was very clear he was trying to make a final fantasy game (edge swords, anime portraits for even the most worthless characters, etc), but in the end the only real action happened when I spammed the 1 key.

 

As for the fighting, it was very noble that he removed meaningless wandering monsters, etc. Unfortunately, the only fights either have 1 villain who is easy to take out or many enemies and one character. Woe betide the player who has a caster in their first slot, since TM felt the need to make every enemy very resistant to magic. The fight with Chika was frustrating, to say the least (then again, the entire Chika subplot was a bit much). It seemed like every villain that could talk was being mind controlled, duped, crazy, or just plain confusing. A scenario filled with intrugue as creative and moving as when it turns out a party member betrayed you in just about every FF.

 

Overall, when I managed to figure out what was going on and finished it, my party level about 3-4 times instantly and became dervishes... Thank goodness we got separated and I walked around a jail cell, the empire was in danger...

 

All in all, [rating]SUBSTANDARD[/rating]. Cool scripting tricks, but this would make a better scinematic then a scenario (then again about half of it was scinematics). Also, the loot was quite overpowered for the level I got it at. Either raise the scenario level, or lower the difficulty.

 

 

EDIT: I just found out that Ivalice is some world in FF Tactics (serious points for originality thar). I may be being hard on him, but the scenario was fairly insulting to have to sit through. It didnt play like a first scenario, but it basically held the party's actions at gunpoint (literally, do something wrong and you would die, die, die). Also, what was the deal with randomly deciding whether the party was good or evil at the start? All that is changed was whether or not you could read a book, and if you knew a bit more about that posessed beetle nephil that got rid of itself for us (mercifully).

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From Nioca on the CSR

 

And by ouch, I'm talking about Pinchy's review. Sure, this scenario has it's downfalls, and they are numerous, but the overall plot line is fairly decent. I don't think I could say anything that hasn't been said, but I certainly think this is worth far more than substandard.

 

[rating]AVERAGE[/rating]

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From Jemand on the CSR:

 

Yipes! I didn't think too much of this scenario at all! For one thing, it was basically asingleton scenario, but you could go in with a full party. The plot is stupidly depressing and makes no sense. TM has this thing with Rakshasi, which are supposed to be magical, rare, tiger people; not Teh uber el destructo cat gods.

In standard TM style, Mad Ambition is so linear that TM might as well include a text file of what keys to press how many times to win. (Go left twice! Shoot only the third nephil! Go right once!) Furthermore, the stuff about your main character's early childhood was abominable! I want to decide what my character is like, I don't want someone else to do it for me!

This scenario appeals to some people, but not me.

 

[rating]SUBSTANDARD[/rating]

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From Nikki on the CSR:

 

I loved this. The technical aspects are great - TM could have just forced us to use a singleton, but by splitting the party, I felt I was being taken through a brief history of my character.

 

The graphics were awesome. The whole scenario has a very palpable atmosphere that just draws you in and spits you out when its done.

 

Oh, and the random flag call at the beginning of the scenario was inspired.

 

[rating]GOOD[/rating]

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From DarkSideTemplar on the CSR:

 

Ooh, what I can say about this scenario. Mad Ambition is a Fire Emblem lover gone mad with Avernum. TM, I give you all the props in the world because I love Fire Emblem too...but honestly, the not so subtle hints went over most peoples heads.

 

But trust me, it had me laughing my figurative rear off.

 

The led by the nose feel really did not appeal to me, as a few have said, it really was just an interactive movie. Entertaining, horribly so at times, but also kind of irritating. Annoyingly good scripting technique. In fact, I'd have to say that with such talent, might as well keep on going. March right onto into Elibe, start some crazy cross-continental sparring with crazy cat people.

 

Other than that, I'll mention that the characters were a little too unhinged. They felt too in character, like that little chip of humanity (maybe inconsistency is a better word?) got sucked right out of them. Or maybe that was just the FE portraits getting to me.

 

Overall? Gah, entertainment value 9/10

Scenario grade? [rating]GOOD[/rating]

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