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Two Strands


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ROSYCAT

 

Average

 

Absolutely lovely use of DRX DRAXIS' cool desert graphics. Nicely corrupt atmosphere, if a bit exaggerated, although TM managed to ruin the feeling with the "I'm the designer! I'm God!" text messages in the pass with the nagas. Frame animation sequences bump it up a few tenths of a point. Combat - er, combat was designed by Terror's Martyr. Need I say more? A very beautiful looking scenario, one of this designer's best.

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STAREYE

 

One of the best uses of a custom terrain set I've seen. Custom graphics and dialogue used effectively to set a mood for the storyline. Plot well thought out and executed, although unoriginal and predictable at points. Excellent nodework and encounters although the 'designer is a god' part detracts. Although a bit cookie cutter, combat is challenging and far from unreasonable but the treasure dropped by monsters a bit excessive. Overall a good solid adventure.

 

Good

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DRAKEFYRE

 

I played the beta version of this a long time ago - it looks like the wait between the contest version and the beta payed off. It's definitely one of TM's better scenarios, although it does become rather predictable. It does not have the complexity of Echoes, and in losing that it does seem to lack some edge and authority, but it does well despite that.

 

The environment is good, but the plot and combat are and become stale. Still, it's miles better than Roses of Reckoning and the scenario is proof that TM can do more than Echoes.

 

Good

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ALCRITAS

 

The plot lacks subtelty or surprise, but moves forward at a brisk pace. Early attempts to set the mood were quite good (especially the two beggars in the opening town), but later the scenario degenerates into an unintentional parody of itself- the preaching would be too heavy handed for a propaganda film. Nothing in gameplay really stands out or detracts. The two movie sections were very nice, although I don't understand why I was "shocked" to discover the Church of $$ was bad and out to get me after I witnessed them actually do it before.

 

The graphic conversion is phenomenal. My only complaint is that two wandering encounters appeared on cave floor terrain (the DotS problem).

 

Average

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BOOTS

 

Good

 

That sure was an oddly redundant dream: some sort of lesson in dialectics? Everything in history happens twice . . .?

 

But aside from that, and a general ragged looseness (I ran into a bug of the crashing sort and a node or two weren't as clean as they might have been), Two Strands doesn't commit any sins not common in scenarios by less, umm, ostentatious designers. Propagandistic? Well, the Blades world seems in a mind to preach lately -- for that matter, it has been since Spiderweb injected muddled libertarianism into the Exile series. I can't say I did much more paging through world-historical lesson after lesson in Two Strands than I've done elsewhere. Dull plot? If so, it's founded on what seems the standard contract these days: "here, little player, you occupy yourself killing something or other so I can get back to writing my perhaps-related short story." I could have done without being bombed by a special spell in every round of the big fight, but special spells are the SUVs of Blades -- flabby and pointless, and nobody feels complete without them -- so TM can't be particularly blamed. And since I'm pretty clumsy at combat, I didn't find that it got stale throughout: at least a little bit of tactical thought was required each time.

 

Maybe the story should have tried even less to be subtle and surprising. There's some intrigue in arriving in a world in which nobody misrecognizes how their thinly disguised capitalism operates: the beggars declare themselves to be the indispensable prey upon which the rich dine; meanwhile, the Lucrists declare morality to be obsolete, and so forth. But then (to state generally the problem of that awkward dream) why have the plot designed to "reveal" the workings of the corrupt system? Why not have the Lucrists say from the get-go, "The only way to get ahead is to help reproduce our corrupt, exploitative social structure, for which favor, as every child knows, we will inevitably betray and exploit you. But maybe you can be the one who beats the system! Have fun!" I don't know what sort of story would have followed from that, but it would have had a mad consistency to it. Ride on, son also of Brecht, you have only begun to go crazy enough.

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WILD KARRDE SMUGGLER

 

Good, but unpleasant to play. The part where you fight your way out using a dinner knife was quite tough. I missed the symbolism while playing it, but I don't think I missed much of it. Still, it deserves credit as TM's first (and arguably only) scenario with a plot that makes sense.

 

Good

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