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Lamentations


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TERROR'S MARTYR

 

I really liked the 'passing through walls' section of this scenario, but the entire 'witch is needed' portion really bottomed out. The Jayhawks were unoriginal and unexciting, and the final bridge battle is nothing that we all haven't seen, before. Extra points for the juggler from Ultima, though. Average

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STAREYE

 

This scenario, simply put, is not Alcritas’s best work. In fact it does not even come close. There are a few points that are intriguing and creative, but they are definitely overshadowed by the negatives. I was able to beat the whole thing in about twenty minutes. Now I know that the purpose of the scenario was simply to extend the plot. It serves kind of to fill in the cracks, so to speak, by introducing a few elements to prepare us for the finale, Falling Stars. I does a good job at doing so on face, however the real effectiveness can only be judged after the release of the aforementioned.

 

However, I will simply judge the scenario on its own merits and try not to allow the overlaying plot of Alcritas’s scenarios to intrude. My impression after completing the scenario is that it leaves me empty. In fact, the scenario seemed to have one theme: Go in, hack up a few monsters, do whatever you came to do, and get your asses out. I was expecting more from a skilled designer such as Alcritas.

 

Now to the meat of the scenario. I think the most effective way to review this is to flow through the story line. Note that if you have not played Lamentations, you may wish to discontinue as this will probably spoil the plot for you. Besides, if you’ve read this far, you already know my impression.

 

With that warning aside, I shall begin at the beginning. You begin returning from a difficult intelligence mission and are immediately thrown into combat. This is generally not something that is preferred, but it seems to go with the plot. Also, this accomplishes the more devious goal of telling the player if the party is at an appropriate level.

 

I would say the fort in Xancrest is the apex of the scenario. The creative dialogue, superb graphics, and uses of special nodes really made a good impression on me and redeems some, albeit far from all, of the disappointment.

 

On a side note, there was even a bug that allowed the player to get into the blank outdoors with the employment of a flight spell! In fact, you could potentially not visit the fort at all and wander into the rest of the game. I was surprised by how much of the outdoors was wasted, but oh well.

 

I felt a lot of what came after was just filler and an excuse to extend the plot. The Jayhawks felt like such. Although this can be forgiven by the reason given for having you do the mission: To play along for the time being so Cornell does not suspect you. Yet what cannot be forgiven is the Jayhawk dungeon which consisted of: going in, killing ten or so Jayhawks, they flee and light fire to the base, and you escape. On my replay, I searched the outpost, but found nothing of value. Needless to say, I was kind of disappointed by this.

 

Renalda’s murder is definitely the next high point of the scenario. I thought, after the Jayhawk’s disappointment, that things were going to pick up! Yet, I turned out to be disappointed again. Instead of just being able to get into Cornell’s home to get the banner, we have to do another plot filler mission with Hegla’s Brew. I can forgive the Jayhawks because they had some reasoning, but the Hegla’s Brew mission seemed to be so contrived and pointless. Basically: you go see Hegla, she makes you go out to the swamp to get some ingredient, you go there, slaughter a few Moss Fiends, find the ingredient, and bring it back to Hegla. This seemed so pointless! Going to the swamp felt like an excuse to extend the story line. However, I will say that the nodes and concept of the Brew itself were what impressed me most, the last real high point of the scenario.

 

Cornell’s Mansion was two steps above a cookie cutter dungeon. I thought the use of nodes with the Marble Guardians was all right and the Shades of Anger and such were creative. Yet, it felt like the aforementioned theme held through here as well. There were no logic puzzles to speak and it was pretty much just hack your way through. The one part where the plot has a hole is this: If the Banner you were sent to retrieve was so valuable, why didn’t Cornell take it with him when he fled? I hope this question is answered in Falling Stars.

 

Anyway, the scenario ends with one final strike back by the Jayhawks at the bridge. Why they would waste their time on you is beyond me unless, of course, the UNL put them up to it. Anyway, it was a nice tactical puzzle, but still left more to be desired. The ending is not all that satisfying, but then it was not meant to be.

 

Perhaps I missed something, but I’m reviewing on the basis of what I saw. I think the scenario could have been improved if the dungeons had a bit more substance. But, there were things I liked such as the bridge and the use of stairway graphics to replace the silly white dots. There is little more to be said except the my final score of Average

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You know, I couldn’t wait to sit down with this one. I was really angry that AOL was so messed up that I couldn’t download it, but in the end I got it. I sat down with a cup of coffee and a bagel and worked myself up for an Alcritas Experience.

 

In situations like these, I love to say that by the time I was done, the coffee was stone cold and the half-eaten, stale bagel was left forgotten as I sat immersed in the scenario. However, as I finished the scenario in just under fifteen minutes, that was somewhat hard to accomplish. Don’t let it sound like I penalize the scenario for this — I don’t; I was just making an observation.

 

As scenarios go I really can’t complain too much about this one. Alcritas delivers just about par for the course, but I can’t help thinking that maybe the workers changed the sign in front of the tee. A bad analogy, but you get the drift. This scenario delivers all that it was promised to be. It was not hyped or glorified. In fact, Alcritas himself expressed the opinion that it was not as good as his previous works, and it’s not. However, on a comparative scale, this scenario was relatively decent.

 

I liked several of the elements in the scenario, one being the plot, which, although fair at best, does exactly what it promises to do: advance the storyline. The other thing that I liked were some of the concepts involved. The bridge, the murder of Renalda, the Shades of Anger, and especially the custom spell were all pretty good, but when an exceptional designer like Alcritas does a scenario, you expect more...fire, more fleshing out. In fact, once I finished this scenario, I was left with a big empty feeling, which I hope will be alleviated by the final scenario in the series. Many things could have been done to improve the quality of this scenario. Every time I walked across the bridge I expected some sort of attack. Every time I walked through the forest, I expected a fierce battle with Jayhawks. But there were none.

 

Normally, the good designers either get a lot of breathing room in average scenarios, or they get beaten and hounded mercilessly for their less-than-par scenarios. In this case, I’ll have to take the latter option, because I found myself desperately searching for some strong redeeming quality in this scenario. But it remained empty. After I was done, I finished my coffee and wondered if I had done everything possible in the scenario.

 

Now, as I sit and write this review, I realize that there has to be something more to do, I indeed must be missing something. In fact, I’m going to go replay Lamentations right now. Perhaps if I find something else, this scenario won’t be deserving of my score — Average. One point for every minute that wasn’t wasted on this scenario. No offense, Al.

 

Already waiting anxiously for the conclusion.

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