|Al_Kharn the Great
Posted on 05/31/14 @ 06:20 PM (updated 10/21/15
"This love wounds my heart
||Age of Empires II (2013): The Forgotten
with a sweet taste, so gently,
I die of grief a hundred times a day
and a hundred times revive with joy."
- Bernart de Ventadorn (1130-1190)
Experience a vivid re-telling of history's greatest story of forbidden love. Co-Winner of the Age of Forgotten Historical Scenario Design Contest!
Requires AoK HD and The Forgotten DLC to play.
Praise for Tristan & Iseult
"The deft use of skilled voice acting, multiple creative objectives, a unique design style, and masterful work in turning a romantic tragedy into a fun scenario make this an obvious perfect score [in creativity]. -HockeySam18, Lead Campaign Designer for The Forgotten development team
Watery cave in the Irish mountains
An Irish monastery
The rocky beaches of Cornwall
The forests of northern Cornwall
A guarded cove
The town of Tintagel
The castle gardens
Discussion on AoK Heaven
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Having played some of the author’s previous work, I can only say that my expectations were met. I was astounded by the quality and variety of several of the objectives and tasks, many of which I’d never have thought of myself, like herding cows and dragging a canoe. The only issues I found were that sometimes the computer unit tasked to follow it could block the player’s character, but that issue was rare.
Absolutely perfect. Aside from fun and challenging battles, the trigger tricks used in several of the duels were awesome and fresh to see. The battles with Morholt, the Irish Champion, and Melot were all carefully triggered so as to be both fun and realistic. The stealth scene inside the castle and the cattle herding also deserve recognition as nothing short of exemplary!
The deft use of skilled voice acting, multiple creative objectives, a unique design style, and masterful work in turning a romantic tragedy into a fun scenario make this an obvious perfect score.
Map Design: 5
As aforementioned, the author’s unique design style truly lends itself to an enjoyable experience. I’ve seen design tricks in this scenario that I’ve never seen before, and the variety is truly amazing. Also impressive is the author’s skill in designing all portions of the map, whether it is the forests, towns, paths, or fields, and still having them cater beautifully to gameplay. Well done!
Although by itself a touching and poignant tragic romantic classic, the tale of Tristan and Iseult is truly brought to life in this scenario. The previously mentioned voice acting lends much to the atmosphere, as do a myriad of sound effects, intro and outro .avi films (created from scratch by the author if I’m not mistaken), and bitmap. The ingame dialogue is nothing short of spectacular- the relationship of characters is developed by a mix of dialogue and narration- for example, after the first stage, I really got the feel that Tristan and Marke were best friends. Instructions and objectives were clear as day and the hints were completely adequate.
Great work on turning a timeless classic into an AoE2 masterpiece. You know a job is well done when the story is accurate, poignant, fun, and you feel like you’re watching a top-tier film. Hats off.
I hope a review from a fifteen year lurker isn't particularly frowned upon, but I came back to this website with the release AoKHD to stumble upon this gem and I thought it a shame that there weren't more comments and reviews.
Altogether, I was very impressed with this scenario; it was an incredibly relaxing trek through a pretty map with a handful of creative ideas accentuated by clever scenario design that made for a pleasant hour or so of gameplay. Tristan & Iseult exemplifies a lot of the best aspects of RPS scenarios, and while I think it could use some tweaks, I was altogether happy to have experienced it.
Fair warning to those who haven't played the map yet -- this review contains some spoilers, particularly in the Playbility section.
Tristan and Iseult was altogether very entertaining, but was not without its issues. One of my favorite parts of this scenario was the use of dialog, voice acting, sound effects, and music to enhance the experience. I'm not a fan of B&D scenarios (I'm not terribly good at playing the macro game in RTS's), so I was overjoyed to see the mixture of crisp RPS and Fixed Force gameplay implemented into Tristan and Iseult. And as I said above, I had a great time playing it. This scenario very much plays like an interactive cutscene; one that embroils you in the plot with its gameplay as much as it wishes to tell you a lovely story. There were times where there was no chance of death or difficulty that I found myself enjoying the sheer experience of it all.
However, I had a few issues that hampered my experience. This is mostly for the designer, so prospective players tread with caution.
First, a minor complaint: The dialog doesn't quite line up with the voice acting. Often, display instruction triggers will go off too early or too late... or they will linger too long after the narration ends... and so forth. It occasionally took me out of the experience.
Second, there was a joust about halfway through the scenario that I completely missed a cutscene for. As soon as the arena comes into view, there's a long period of music playing (with units occasionally moving about) that I saw zero dialog for. I'm not sure if anyone else had this issue, but it took me a few reloads before I realized what was going on and realized I didn't know how to fix it, so I simply waited throughout the (blank) cutscene and moved on with the scenario.
I felt the duels represented the weakest selection of gameplay in Tristan & Iseult. They were arguably necessary to the story, but were set up in a way that the scenario had to give specific instructions (attack once, click the enemy twice) in order for the player to succeed. In this sense, they served as interactive cutscenes, but it was unfortunate that one was used as the finale of the scenario.
I also found the treatment of the monks at the beginning strange. There was the suggestion that they were going to come with Tristan, but never did. I would have greatly preferred there was a triggered full heal of Tristan and Marke rather than having to wait around to be healed in anticipation of the final battle of this section.
In the final encounter in the first part of the scenario, I seemed to be able to double-up on the charge bonus, so that I had +500 for a couple of attacks, and +250 for another couple after that, resulting in an easy finish that I don't think was intended.
I would have liked to see a little bit more dialog from Tristan as he explored his home. Other than the dialog that triggered at the bard's college, he mostly fell silent, and I was disappointed that I didn't get to hear more from him as I wandered. Fanfare from a citizen who recognizes him, perhaps?
I felt that the scenario was easy and could have used a bit more challenge throughout, particularly the Fixed Force sections. I played on Moderate at first, then on Hard, and it didn't feel too dynamic in difficulty. Both of the Fixed Force sections were like relatively straightforward encounters with few losses. For instance, on the banditry section, I didn't make use of the towers the first time around, and never felt in danger of defeat. Other than the aforementioned issue with Part 1's boss, I thought the beginning was perfectly balanced, and the more RPG-centered sections felt very appropriate.
Tristan and Iseult is lush with creativity. I was especially impressed by the tactful use of narration, music, and sound effects to enhance the experience. I also really appreciated the use of dialog -- more on this later. The gameplay didn't feature a wealth of new tricks or creativity, but the author put together classic situations implemented well with good atmosphere to create a unique scenario.
Map Design: 5
The map design was laid back and subtle where it needed to be, but popped where it had to. I loved the environment of the final act, where the environment around the castle was used to great effect throughout the telling of the story. There were certain pieces -- the mountain climb, for instance -- where the attention to detail was pristine, and really enhanced the overall feel of the scenario. I was happy that there weren't any unnecessary nooks and crannies to explore for 'bonuses' or side quests. Everything flowed well and looked good.
One of the highlights of this scenario was the way dialog was implemented. Rather than utilizing time consuming cutscenes, dialog occurred over the course of the scenario during gameplay. Characters would talk to each other as they walked. A monk would give a bit of expository knowledge as he was guided up a mountainside. A character would engage in internal dialog while they wandered. It was really clever, and kept things moving almost constantly, which was a nice break from overlong five minute cutscenes. The writing was good, too -- a nice translation of Tristan and Isolde into AoK, with writing that was superfluous and hyperbolic at all the right moments while being quick and crisp during the rest of the scenario. Add to this the great use of narration, and Tristan and Iseult definitely deserves a high mark.
The instructions served well. The map was linear, so it was difficult to get lost, but I was never want for more direction.
I'm glad I stumbled on this. Thank you for a Sunday afternoon with an entertaining scenario!