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Posted on 04/19/14 @ 05:28 PM (updated 04/28/14
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This is the sequel to Gwyndlegard, its bastard child/spin-off The Epic Adventures of Marvin & Rob, and The Rockspring Revolution. If you haven't played either of them, you might still enjoy this campaign, but the story will make more sense if you play them in the right order!
• A 7 scenarios long campaign!
• Various gameplay styles: pure B&D, Fixed Force, one-on-one boss fights and stealth missions.
• Extensive modding: around 400 new units (soldiers, buildings, eye-candy and other stuff) made uniquely for this campaign.
• An epic in the literal sense of the word - quite likely bigger in gameplay hours than "Gwyndlegard" and "The Rockspring Revolution" combined!
• Emphasis, as usual, on the storyline, humour and atmosphere, although I try to spruce it up with new ideas for gameplay as well!
• A vastly expanded Gwyndlegard universe,
• Music from a wide range of composers, including Ramin Djawadi, Howard Shore, Russell Shaw and Kevin MacLeod.
• A grand conclusion to the Gwyndlegard trilogy!
• Insivible flying bananas!
This campaign starts right where The Rockspring Revolution left off. Our hero Immanuel returns to his home province of Gwynhill, and his soon-to-be-wife Emily. Immanuel longs for peace and quiet, and the opportunity to finally marry his beloved girlfriend, and for a short while it looks as if his dreams will come true. But a campaign isn't very interesting if it's all peaceful and quiet, is it?
Out in the ocean, at a top-security prison, five iron-clad, monstrous ships show up at the horizon. They blast a hole in the wall of the prison, and its most dangerous prisoner escapes. Xaphira, the former Queen of Xioché, is on the loose.
The news travel swiftly to Gwynhill, and the local priest and recovering alcoholic Father Garnas is very troubled by it. For the past two years he has been studying an artifact that was used in the war against Xaphira (as seen in "Gwyndlegard"), The Relic of the Rock, and he has made some astonishing discoveries. He believes that it is one of the four Relics of Athalën, immensely powerful artifacts created by the ancient king Athalën, the man who founded and ruled the Old Kingdom for a thousand years. Father Garnas fears that Xaphira knows of the relic, and that she is coming to Gwynhill to get it. He thinks that she too knows of the power of the four relics: that with them you can shape the world completely as you wish to see it, and possibly live forever. And indeed he is right, and Xaphira comes as a thief in the night and snatches The Relic of the Rock away.
It is now up to you, as Immanuel, to make sure Xaphira doesn't get her hands on all four of the relics.
Gates of the Old Kingdom | An army has amassed | An indoors scene | Up on a rooftop | Into Xioché | A peaceful monastery | Bigass Castle | An abandoned city | A faraway village | Naval action | A quick stop in Arthalien | A monument in the mountains | Mountain stream | Abandoned mineshaft
This campaign requires the 1.0c patch for The Conquerors to work. It is also, from what I hear, incompatible with the UserPatch.
This campaign is brought to you by StormWind Studios!
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I don't know how such a masterpiece like this hasn't been reviewed yet... Maybe this review won't be enough for such a campaign, but I'll try to summarize what I want to say (I'm not a fluent speaker :/).
PLAYABILITY: 6 (if I could :p)
I really have no adjective to describe the awesomeness of the experience I had when I was playing this... I think fun is the main criteria from this instalment, and rightfully so, really, it's the most fun custom campaign I've ever played (unless I'm much wrong).
The addition of a mod changed this pack from "another Gwyndlegard's sequel" to "the final and by far the best part of the saga".
Despite the laggy cinematic (first scenario), the campaign ran very smoothly and almost flawlessly (just some minor bugs here and there). The graphics were also very well made and (more than) worth your download.
BALANCE: 6 (5)
Perfect, just perfect. I saw no impossible part nor too-easy parts... All the challenges were funny and interesting enough to be completed. I also saw many creative outcomes to equalize both forces (yours and the enemy's).
There is one special thing I'd want to highlight, and it's the final boss-battle(s) - They're really the best ones I've ever seen so far, while also being precisely balanced.
I wouldn't call this just a campaign, but a whole new game!
Despite the story seeming to be full of cliches and following the standard "Good vs. Evil" line, it has its own touch of oneness... I really liked the way you told the story, almost like a movie, with no sloppy parts nor akward scenes.
I also really enjoyed the ending, in which Ori reveals to be Athalen himself, I haven't even realized this until I saw it. The little revelation scenes between the scenarios also helped to keep me curious, and making me want to blast throught it as fast as I could.
Ori could have been many possible characters, but you've chosen exactly the best one (according the storyline, of course). He could have just been a bad guy, who just battles with you after Xaphira, or perhaps just revealed himself to be part of her henchmen; or be just the good guy who escapes along with you. In my opinion this was the best moment and best point of the story.
MAP DESIGN: 5
I'm still impressed by the maps' beauty and richness... It's still pleasing to rewatch all their details. I can't even imagine the effort you took to made those seven, I mean, you've had the care to decorate and spruce seven large maps, and (almost) every one with towns, villagers, camps, etc...
The new graphics also helped a lot to increase the realism level of the scenarios, without taking much effort to create ridiculously complicated things (like using AOKTS to change objects POS then copying and pasting them several times). Not to mention the great use of jungle trees and rocks you found!
I also saw no overuse of anything (even the own objects from your mod)!
As I've mentioned previously, the story is not the strongest point from this campaign... The gameplay is.
While not being fully original/bold story, it's still a good one, packed with an impecable storytelling. What I saw is that you sacrificed it a little bit to optimize the playability... For example, without magic and all this b*llshit, you would have never been able to include all those epic boss-battles like you did, or even some whole scenarios based on events that can only be explained by such things.
On the other hand, (in my opinion) it will never be a much serious nor dark story (like the one from Ulio, Blood of the bear and etc). It's a typical fantasy-blockbuster story, written to enable greater enjoyment and fun when playing it. It's not a bad point after at all, it's just not as good as the others.
If I could, I would give a 6 to this campaign, because it's so exceptional, and maybe be a one-time-thing. This is a perfect example of a well-suceeded saga, which suffers a huge change on its third instalment... Really, it's very rare to see a non-sucky third instalment of anything.
A MUST download for anyone who likes a solid gameplay pack with action and fun. Don't think twice before pressing the download button... Also, I don't know how it's got only 220 downloads :/
Well, anyone who didn't download this will be losing simply the best AOK campaign ever made (except in story)!!
[Edited on 04/24/17 @ 08:49 PM]
One of the best Campaigns that I have ever played, yes and I could sadly say that this is better than Prince Ulio ( i know some might disagree but, w/e ). I simply enjoy every moment of this campaign and it is worth spending every single second on it, so I got nothing to say here - simply wonderful!
The balance generally is perfect, I mean you cannot say that 'oh, it is impossible to do this and that' - the balance is simply amazing and you cannot complain or whine on this part, (atleast not me). We all know that the Balance is an important part of any campaign because the Balance is kinda connected with the Playability, because if you do not have the element of Balance settled up, then the Campaign will be less playable. Anyway, I won't extend it further, but as for the Balance - this one deserves a full 5.
What can I basically say here? - Well, we all know Lord Basse as a successful writer as well, I mean it is worth reading these little novelettes' (books) in the game as well, they simply show the Creativity of the author, and his imagination overall. I'd like to add something else here, Lord Basse has some nice writing skills and he could really do something more about this, probably write a book about Gwyndlegard or whatever, I mean it is worth a shot, because you simply never know.
Map Design: 5
PERFECT! - Exactly, perfect! The Design is simply highly detailed and mapped perfectly, I did not see any mistake or lets better say any part that I did not like on the 7 scenarios, Lord Basse received a lot of positive ratings on his designs generally, and yes, I am willing to give him a full 5 on this as well, because this is simply amazing and I got no words to describe it. ( :) )
Story and the Instructions overall were simply great, the story of Gwyndlegard is something that I admired a lot, but coming with this extension 'The Relics of Athalën' is something even more greater that has no- or, zero words of DESCRIBING it.
- I really congratulate Lord Basse for finishing this long project he started, I do believe it required a lot of time and patience eventhough Basse might have been busy with his daily basis routine, but yet he has successfully made it and I am really happy to see this campaign here, I was waiting for it myself for a long time, and I do have to say that I checked the process of the campaign almost everyday, because I knew it was going to be a GLOWING MASTERPIECE :).
Thank you for this awesome project Basse, and take care buddy!
'The Relics of Athalen' is another chapter in Lord Basse's 'Gwyndlegard' Saga. It contains 7 scenarios, wherein your heroes battle the evil guys for control over the powerful relics.
Looking back on playing this campaign, the words 'huge' and 'epic' come to mind. I took around 10+ hours of gameplay to finish it, and it was just amazing the whole time. The author clearly put an incredible amount of hard work into this and the result is a masterpiece.
Note, that I played it without the userpatch, and also not on the HD edition. As a result I didn't face any crashes like many people reported, it worked smoothly for me.
The campaign contains 5 playable scenarios ( 2 cutscenes ), featuring virtually every style of gameplay like fixed force, RPG, puzzle type, defend the spot, build & destroy, boss fights and so on. And everything was just fantastic. I really can't emphasize how much I enjoyed playing the campaign. The action takes place in a variety of locales, such as forest, grasslands, island, big cities, underground, etc., and each scenario is unique and has many novelties.
The campaign has good replay value, as there are some side quests I didn't get around to doing, or other choices ( like going against the cheese cult or w/ever ). And of course, trying it on harder difficulty settings- I certainly intend to get back to the island one for that.
Having said that I did find a few bugs. In the 5th scenario, the whole Night Escapades is a problem because I still have control over all my units- they don't change ownership while the pond romance is happening, or when Ori goes around collecting things ( that part is not explained later in the story btw ). And I also have control over all the B&D stuff while going on to the next area ( over the bridge ), which is.. awkward? I also could not do the reflecting fireballs of Tengil with much success ( and really appreciate the workaround provided ), and the Yelonese swordsman icon reads 'warranty.rtf'. In general however, none of the bugs are game breaking and the playability is just superb.
I played the first scenario on moderate, and after beating pink and orange, I started using the robin hood cheat, because I ran out of gold. After that I played it all on standard difficulty.
Still, it wasn't a cakewalk or anything. Most of the campaign was still pretty hard and especially the boss fights, RPG stuff took many reloads. Either I'm really rusty, or the campaign is a bit on the hard side, I'll have to check out on the higher difficulties. In general the balance is good.
About the RPG parts Felicity annoyed me very much being very prone to dying, lowest hp, lowest damage, melee, seriously fail. Ori in contrast had big ranged damage output and could tank quite a bit- easily the strongest.
Is there a campaign more creative than this?? I don't think there is.
I have played, and designed any number of data edited and mods. And the stuff showcased here still blew my mind, on many, many occasions.
Between fully functional staircases, tunnels, a proper 'wizard' unit, cool underground areas and whatnot it often feels like a new game rather than AOE2. The author has gone to great lengths for little creative details, such as the flagship that fires cannonballs broadside ( like real life historical ships ).
Special mention must be made for the boss fights. Now, AOE2 is a game that is not designed well for bossfights, but people do them anyway, often featuring lame stuff like type a number to cast X spell. Here there isn't any of that, but rather really creative stuff like mirrors, throwing rocks, moving statues! It's incredible.
Map design: 5+
Yet another area, where Lord Basse really hits it out of the park.
The maps are all really well designed, with a lot of attention to detail and does not hinder the gameplay in any way. The mod pack used really makes the map beautiful and the new graphics are of excellent quality. The waterfalls, the indoor areas, the new castle types, underground areas. All excellent.
While I wouldn't call the story a literary masterpiece, this is about as good as it gets for AOE2 scenarios. It is, mostly a simple good vs evil storyline with conflict over powerful artifacts ( rings of power anyone? ). What is notable is the character of Ori. At first I thought he will simply be an evil guy who will try to steal the relics at the end but then it seemed too obvious and I wasn't sure. But the twist at the end was really good and I liked it.
The author has also kept all of his characters and back story consistent with previous other scenarios, which is quite an achievement. Though it isn't really necessary to play those in order to understand this story. Also, there is a lot of bonus materials and history in the optional books that you can find lying around. I would like to suggest something here, why not put all the books into one Word file included, so that we could refer to it. Ofc it still is in the instructions screen, but that isn't very user friendly to read, and some of the books are in really obscure places.
The instructions and hints provided are quite detailed and adequate. I only had one issue here that I didn't understand how to make pink my ally ( first scenario ), and ended up defeating him. But otherwise I was never confused what to do.
In addition to providing a lot of novel and exciting gameplay, this campaign is very polished and professional. By that I mean, there is there very little that is 'half-assed'/requires suspension of disbelief aka 'it's AOE2, what more can you expect' type of mentality. Here, a secret passage is more than just a palisade wall with a delete object trigger, instead a whole thing slides forward revealing the passage clearly. Also the beginning and end credits, it's just a lot more professionally done rather than the usual 'Display instructions' trigger. The author clearly has a lot of passion for scenario designing and I would say keep it up! as it leads to such excellent work.
You absolutely MUST download and play this campaign. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is perhaps the best campaign ever made.
The Relics of Athalën is the long awaited finale to the Gwyndlegard trilogy by Lord Basse. In the works since at least 2011, The Relics of Athalën concludes one of the most enjoyable and creative campaigns I have ever played on Age of Empires. To add to the atmosphere and creativity this installment of the series concludes everything with a bang with the addition of a beautifully constructed Mod Pack. The Mod Pack which takes designs from this very blacksmith allows us to enter a whole new world that nothing the vanilla editor could ever offer us.
First things first - The Relics of Athalën is by far the most enjoyable campaign I have ever played. I hope I'm not being too controversial when I say that it tops Ingo van Thiel's Ulio for the most enjoyable campaign in the Blacksmith here at AOKH, in my personal opinion. The campaign consists of seven different scenarios and each one is entirely unique. There's something for every player in this campaign, there's Build & Destroy, RPG, Puzzle, Cinematic and even some Fixed Force levels. I assure that no matter what your favourite type of game is you'll enjoy this scenario. The Mod Pack takes us to a whole new world that I couldn't have imagined ever being created in Age of Empires. There wasn't a point of the game where I wasn't on the edge of my seat seeing what the Mod Pack would show me next. The only slight problem that I encountered in terms of playability was a few minor bugs which just involved a restart to fix and a slight bit of lag at a couple of times. But that's something that I'm willing to overlook for such an incredible and enjoyable campaign. Anyway I blame the Mod Pack for those flaws, they can be temperamental things to design and play with.
I found the Balance in the campaign perfect. No matter you're skill level in the game you'll have a fun challenge playing this campaign. Yes, there are some parts of the campaign which is very easy to complete, but then there are also some very challenging parts which will take you alot of saving and a couple of restarts before you move forward. The game has its own difficulty dynamics so depending on your set difficulty level you'll have certain advantages or disadvantages.
In the cinematic scenario the balance of the cut-scenes were perfect. When I'm talking about balance here, I'm talking about the flow of the cinematic. The music and text, and what was shown onscreen was in perfect sync and timing. There wasn't anything running off track and nothing overlapped. The text came up at the right speed and was slow enough to read but not too slow that you were there waiting for ages to read the next part. The camera moved at a good speed sop you could see everything that was going on on-screen.
Well, where do I begin? The Relics of Athalën was by far the most creative campaign I have ever played - mainly due to the Mod Pack adding so many different possibilities. But before I go into the Mod Pack, there are still so many creative parts to the campaign that can be done with the vanilla editor. I'll start with the creativity and beauty of the map design in the seven scenarios, as well as the thrilling and entertaining story that took you all over the known world through countries like Gwyndlegard, Xioché all the way to the Inner Sea and beyond to the Forgotten Island of whatever it's called. There are also some incredibly creative duel scenes, which is one thing that Lord Basse is best at, as well as some great dialect between characters and some interesting side quest and RPG bits.
Then there's the Mod Pack. Where do I begin with the Mod Pack? Apart from adding over 400 new units in it also allows us to create a whole new world and improve the RPG elements of the game especially. The game introduces new units such as Xiochian Infantry and Ori the Magician as well as hundreds of new eye candy objects. My favourite bit of the whole Mod Pack though is the special walls that have been included. Simple walls that are huge and create a more realistic scale to the game but they are also walkable which allows archers to stand on them and fire arrows at the enemy. The Mod Pack also improves various cut-scenes with the inclusion of indoor scenery. Other elements that I enjoyed from the Mod Pack are the falling rocks in the final scenario as well as the display of the magical abilities of The Relics.
Map Design: 5
Seven Scenarios - Seven Eye-Opening and Beautiful Maps. The map designs in the seven scenarios are incredible and very, very pretty. The is beautiful terrain mixing and superb placement of cliffs and eye-candy objects that create a world that you'd want to slip into and visit purely to see the beauty of it, even if there's a war going on. The seven scenarios take us all over the world that Lord Basse has created and envisioned for his Gwyndlegard series. Starting in Gwyndlegard, we travel to Xaphira's home of Xioché, and then through the Underworld to the Inner Sea and the town of Yellowside, and then across the open water to the long forgotten island of name of which I cannot remember. We also visit Armaria and get to see glimpses of Elendor, or the Old Kingdom in cut-scenes. Throughout this journey we get to see many different climates of these different countries. We see the plains and castles of Xioché, and the Golden beaches of Yellowside. Then travelling to the island we see a lush mountainous haven which opens up to a jungle-ish centre of the island to the abandoned city from the Old Kingdom. We also get to explore the caverns and tunnels of the Underwold.
The Mod Pack allows this world to come to life. As I've said too many times already, it creates a world that the vanilla editor could never provide us with. The hundreds of different eye-candy objects that it gives us as well as new units and buildings create a unique world that you'll never see in any other scenario or campaign. The new buildings show us how these different countries have such different cultures. The eye-candy objects ranging from newly designed mountains to floating statues creates a magical world that I'd love to get lost in for a very long time. The Mod Pack allows for even a fairly plain and boring place, such as the caverns, to have an entirely new atmosphere that you can't build with the vanilla designer.
This is where the Relics of Athalën really hits the top marks. The story really keeps you on the edge of your seat the entries way through. Even before you start, the cliff hanger at the end of the previous instalment, The Rockspring Revolution, has left you eagerly awaiting what lies ahead for Immanuel and the country of Gwyndlegard. The story is full of twists and turns and a huge backstory from thousands of years ago that keeps growing as you progress through the campaign. The story is full of thrills and humour that will keep you on the edge of your seat but constantly laughing. It's also quite emotional, with the emotional love story between Immanuel and Emily, as well as the tragic deaths of some characters, and the impact they have on others. I never wanted to turn the game off once I started playing; I got so stuck into the story and after even objective you complete, more and more mysteries of Athalën, The Old Kingdom and Xaphira kept cropping up. I couldn't stop until I knew all the answers. I particularly love the fact that you kept all of the main characters from the previous scenarios and the all appeared, even if it was just for a cameo appearance.
The instructions were as clear as gold. I always knew what I was doing and where I was going. Sometimes the Objectives page was not even needed because your mission was so clearly stated in the dialogue between the characters. The Hints were helpful but the one thing I would say is that for some parts there weren't hints when they were needed. I got stuck at a couple of places and the hints didn't really help at all. Apart from that though the instructions were perfect and I don't think that there's any reason to deduct from the score because of this.
Overall the Relics of Athalën is one of the best campaigns I have ever played. I urge you to download it and play it because you will not be disappointed. This is a game for everyone, and one that everyone must play. It goes above Ulio in my list of best AOK scenarios/campaign ever created.
Well Done Lord Basse for this fantastic and creative masterpiece. The most fun I've had in ages.
DOWNLOAD IT NOW!
P.S: this is probably the longest review I've ever written.
Edited for Typos
[Edited on 08/24/14 @ 01:24 PM]