Heroes of Meadowkeep
The trade routes between the kingdoms of Udia and Efrana have always been dangerous. Orcs and bandits lurk in every shadow and it is especially dangerous out on the open fields and meadows, where there are few safe places to rest. That is why Meadowkeep, a safe place to rest and relax between travels without worrying about orcs and bandits, was built on Efrana's windswept roads between the Sethinnmor Mountains to the north and the great Udian forests to the south. From the beginning, the town was little more than a tower, barracks and inn. However, with all the trade caravans passing through, it soon grew into the town it is today.
The orcs once had a stronghold where Meadowkeep now stands, and time and again have they been crushed against its walls, while trying to destroy the city. However, they have been relatively quiet since their last defeat, some ten years ago. Maybe even too quiet...
Detailed terrain mixing (tiny map)
Lots of dialogue
A pretty good bitmap
Six and a half minute long soundtrack compressed down to 2 MB (it was 6 MB)
Over 400 triggers
Slow-motion effects (aka lag)
It's not required, but I recommend to use ModRocker's Orc Warriors and Orc Archers Mod Pack.
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Every now and then, when sifting through the earth, suddenly something sparkles and you realise you've found a little gem. Finding this campaign is rather like that, although as I helped to test it I cannot pretend it was a complete surprise (please indulge me with my metaphor). This single-scenario campaign features two large set-piece battles, once again against those dastardly orcs, but there is much else, including a proper, grown-up script with people having proper conversations. This may not be to everyone's taste, but I think the author has struck the balance well so that there is enough talking and enough action.
I enjoyed this scenario a lot because everything in it is well done and there is variety: a plot with a script, large and challenging battles and a good map. I found no bugs (the timing of the music seemed a little askew at times but on balance it added to the atmosphere) and the objectives were clear. There is even a love story for those so inclined so don't forget to keep a box of tissues close at hand. I experienced a little lag during the second battle but it did not seriously detract from my enjoyment. My only complaint is that the first battle is too hard. I'm not a particularly good player but neither do I think I am particularly bad and I struggled on standard level. I've played a lot of scenarios and never before have I struggled at that level so I think it should be easier on standard, although it is fine for hard. Even so, I kept trying because it looked as if there was a way through (as indeed there was). However, I gave up on hard level because it was too frustrating.
As mentioned above, I think the relative difficulty levels are not quite right. The first battle is a little too hard all-round and should definitely be made easier on standard level. I won the the second battle on the first attempt.
One of the most striking thing about this scenario is that it is quite old-fashioned in the sense that there is a decent script, the little pixellated figures are almost real characters which I think is hard to pull off in a computer game. Of course, I didn't cry when I managed to get Thea killed but I was starting to sniffle. As I said, on balance the music added atmosphere, although some may think it a little repetitive and too insistent. There were decent triggers, all well-executed, and nice little touches like the troops changing ownership in the second battle.
The map was fine although somehow it melted into the background with so much else going on. It does not strike one as being particularly eye-catching, but thought has gone into the placement and effect of everything (for example, the differential damage to walls where Thea, Belder and Xarwinder meet).Everything in it looks good and it is not overflowing with unnecessary 'eyecandy'.
In a word, faultless.
Actually, in some ways, I found playing this scenario slightly dispiriting because it made me realise how far I am from being able to produce something as polished. Still, as you may have gathered, I would heartily recommend you download this campaign as I think it has something for everyone. You will not be disappointed. (If you are then please don't come running to me, there's obviously something wrong with you, see a doctor or a psychiatrist.)
‘Heroes of Meadowkeep’ is a single scenario, a FF with B&D elements. The story is fiction, a tale of love and war, vengeance and assassination plots, a tale where good clashes with evil, where memories of old are reawakened with the sword and spear. After ten years when Stormaxe, warlord of the Orcs, lost the war against Meadowkeep, rumours have stirred of another confrontation. As an assassin plots to kill Meadowkeep’s finest, a young man has fallen in love with a princess, who feels as though she is being held back from her true strength. Meadowkeep has been, and for many years always has been, the protector of Efrana’s and Udia’s trade routes where not only bandits lurk, but grotesque and fierce Orcs as well. Meadowkeep is the safe haven of Efrana’s windswept roads, sitting in between the Sethinnmor Mountains to the north and the great Udian forests to the south. For years, however, the Orcs have time and time launched legion after legion against her walls, always shattering against its defenses, breaking like water over sand, and routing before her station’s armies, for it is well known, that the Orcs once had a stronghold where Meadowkeep now sits. It is has been ten years since the last battle with the Orcs, and for some, quiet, but for others, maybe even too quiet…
‘Heroes of Meadowkeep’ is a visually fantastic scenario, with a fun story and overall excellent gameplay. I enjoyed the humour behind Belder, spying on Princess Thea, and the all too human characteristics within each of them; you actually felt for the characters -the story just all too immersing. The opening objectives got me right into the story, right into the intrigue of it all. I found myself needing to use my brain as to find my way around the city, to where I was to go, the story allowing us to control both good and bad characters, which was simply marvelous, showing us how one event led to the other. In addition I enjoyed the battles, of defending Meadowkeep from countless legions of Orcs, and delivering the decisive blow to their army and warlord on the field outside the city’s walls.
For me the scenario was very challenging on standard, probably more so than it should be, which is what I at first played on. Defending was a pain, with the enemy breaching all sides of my city, surrounding my men making their last stand around the King’s tower. I won with quick thinking, quick micromanagement and quick maneuvering of my troops to counter every Orc monstrosity sent against me. The difficulty on the following levels, however, moderate and hard, were simply too hard for me, and though I did win on moderate, I have not yet won on hard. The balance seemingly too great a gap between all three options. One can find him or herself frustrated time and time again to beat the enemy, needing to reload a great amount of times because of the loss of a hero, or because of the loss of too many men, too depleted to take sway over the enemy. Nevertheless, the scenario is challenging, and though sometimes frustrating, fun.
Everything in a scenario factors into creativity and what I found in ‘Heroes of Meadowkeep’ was simply great. Beautiful and innovative map design is what first makes sight, together with creative renaming, a good story and overall good trigger work. The music is great, although it may become a bit repetitive after a while for some people, but it does indeed develop a good fantasy atmosphere. In particular the way the two battles were carried out, the way the plot of the story unraveled and with good humour helped to overall determine a perfect rating for this category.
MAP DESIGN: (5.0) +
The map design was simply gorgeous with a beautiful mix of trees, flowers and Gaia, topped with superb terrain mixing and use of buildings to form the city, outlying farms and ruined wall. Map copying was used to momentous effect, and the ruins beside the river in particular were very well conveyed, forming a house of sorts that had been destroyed by conflict a long time ago. The city lying on the embankment of the long, twisting river looks real, smells like foundry smoke, and looks of the hustle and bustle of busy city life. I like the use of different buildings to form the residential and market area, as well as the ring forming the military district. All looks very appealing, and as such, as everything is so well designed one might even begin to feel dispirited at the sight of it, or inspired. In addition a fantastic use of elevation, adding depth and individuality to the land, and a great marsh.
STORY/ INSTRUCTIONS: (5.0)
As mentioned in the review above the story was simply faultless, polished beyond belief. The characters were incredible, and as mentioned before, you actually felt for them, not wanting them to die, wanting to see how Belder would talk to Princess Thea about how he felt for her. Above from that, the history section was very good with a history lesson of Udia and Efrana and Meadowkeep, which situates itself on Efrana’s windswept roads. The category is topped with an incredibly beautiful and well-designed bitmap together with a nice hint section.
The author suggests to play on the highest resolution, but however it hurts my eyes and to bring out the best in visual aspects I instead played on the first resolution, 800 x 600. I would recommend this resolution to players looking for the best in designs. Also, as the author already suggests, I too would recommend Modrocker’s ‘Orc Warrior and Orc Archer’ mod to make for a more atmospheric play. The link to the file can be found above in the Blacksmith description. In all I honestly recommend this scenario to every single person here, although the scenario itself maybe a tab too hard for most people. ‘Heroes of Meadowkeep’ is not only beautiful and epical in all its sense of map design, story and characters, but polished beyond belief as well.
In a word – Picturesque.
In closing – A must download.
[Edited on 02/25/07 @ 03:58 PM]
[b]Heroes of Meadowkeep[/b] is a single scenario, mostly Fixed Force campaign that forces the player to defend a lovely town from onrushing hoardes of blood-thirsty orcs. This is a very good campaign, overall.
The bottom line is that this campaign, while only a single scenario, was very fun. I thoroughly enjoyed all the cut scenes and was not bored by them at all, and the battle scenes were both challenging and stimulating. There were no noticeable bugs which detracted from gameplay. The only problem with gameplay that I had was near the beginning of the scenario when your main character (the town soldier who's name starts with a "B") must travel the road north of town to find Lady Thea--your instructions were vague so I had to explore nearly half the map just to find her. This was a bit annoying, but wasn't enough of one to warrant lowering your score. Very fun Fixed Force campaign, overall.
There are two primary battles in this campaign. In the first, the player controls a moderate army within the castle walls, and seeks to defend the town of Meadowkeep from onrushing orc hoardes. This battle uses elements of B&D, as you are given a few barracks', archeries & stables to replenish your army. This first battle I thought was noticeably too difficult, even on standard difficulty. It took me multiple attempts to win, and I even had to enter a code for some extra gold (I never usually do that!) in order to replenish my army with enough troops to hold off the attacks. Perhaps if the orcs had possessed fewer siege weapons, I would've had an easier time.
The 2nd battle, however, was not nearly as difficult...almost too easy. I completed it successfully on the 2nd try, with little difficulty. The key is just luring enemy troops to your longbowmen, and micromanaging the fire of those LBs.
So, in summary:
First battle: a bit too hard.
Second battle: could've been a bit more challenging.
This campaign was creative, indeed, but not quite enough to warrant a "5". I appreciated the effort put into crafting a unique story, and your use of elaborate and meaningful cut-scenes, as well as incorporating a love story into the plot, was something I haven't seen much of in AOK campaigns. You did not use any particular trigger tricks, which is ok, and perhaps the only thing docking you from a "5" here is that I thought you could've expanded the story into an extra scenario or two.
[b]Map Design: 5[/b]
VERY GOOD! Quite frankly, the map was beautiful, and you obviously put a lot of time and effort into constructing a land that is very pleasing to the eye! I obviously had a chance to explore much of the map because of my early-scenario struggles (mentioned above), and I was particularly impressed with your designing in the northwestern part of the map, as well as your design of the town of Meadowkeep. Well done!
Good storyline! This campaign includes a brief history/story before you begin the campaign, as well as detailed enough instructions and hints. The dialogue throughout the campaign was excellent, and felt like true conversations rather than the choppy semblances of a conversation you usually see in a campaign. You also incorporated a bitmap image into the intro page which was nice. Very well done here, I was intrigued by the land of Meadowkeep, and even felt like I wanted to learn more about the land and its history after completing the campaign. Perhaps a sequel when you have the time?
Overall, this is a fun, challenging and interesting campaign that incorporates a unique story, cool cutscenes, good dialogue and two hearty battle-scenes into one scenario. I'd recommend this download to all fans of FF and even B&D. Well done!
"Heroes of Meadowkeep" has everything in a scenario that you could want, ranging from to a great and clear storyline to phenomenal gameplay to great map design. It provides what any map should, great entertainment.
This map personally has the greatest piece of gameplay of all the maps I have ever played, the defence of Meadowkeep. It starts of in a mysterious way, keeping the player in the dark. Meanwhile the storyline is developed with a mix of Objectives and cutscenes from both sides of the war. This leads to two wonderfully created battles without so much as one bug or one moment of boredom during the whole campaign.
For me this map had the ideal difficulty level (I played on HARD). Although the battles were challenging, you keep thinking that it is possible, if you only defended that or made that or killed those. The first battle is lots of fun, retreating into various sections of the city once the walls are breached, desperately making one last stand after the other. The objectives are never impossible nor are they very easy. This aspect, for me makes this scenario more than worthy of a 5.
The creativity is one of this scenario's strongest points. It is hard to develop a good storyline in one scenario. But the desginer has gone beyond that and integrated love, revenge and other themes into the plot using very well created cutscenes. Furthermore the effect of the music was used to a very good result.
Map Design: 5
I though the map was very well made in general. The city of Meadowkeep was very nicely made with people walking about doing their daily tasks. The swamp was very well made too, as well as the ruins where Thea is. I also liked the creative use of towers hidden behind the Celtic Wonder, especially during the battle.
Storyline/ Instructions: 5
I loved the storyline from beginning to end. It was developed in a clear and coherent manner gradually during the scenario. It was spiced up with love and humour throughout the game. The instructions were simple and clear at all times.
A very enjoyable 1-scenario campaign that is definitely worth the download.
[Edited on 07/16/07 @ 07:32 AM]