About the Order Campaign
||Age of Empires II (2013): The Forgotten
|Number of scenarios:
This is my attempt to combine the experience of the two most influential games of my younger years - AOE2 and Sierra's Lords of Magic. In this campaign, you follow the adventures of a group of knights dedicated to balance and honor as they fight against chaos and evil.
Taking place several hundred years after the last Great Faith War, the people of the lands of Urak have long since dismissed the atrocities of that conflict as folktales. The kingdom of the Archons, a people who worship the balance and Order of the world, have been jostled from their peaceful slumber by bloodthirsty barbarians. Following the exploits of the paragon of the kingdom, Sir Edmund, you will guide the Archons through the darkest time their land has known in centuries - and with any luck bring them to a new era of peace.
- A mixture of RPG and RTS elements
- A simple and story based magic system
- A subtle leveling system for your Champions
- Easter Eggs for anyone else who has played LOM
There is a WIP thread over at the forums for AOKH, check it out if you're curious about the process that created this :)
Screenshots and a readme file are included in this download.
|Author||Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )|
"Order Campaign" is a mixed content campaign by a promising new author which attracted my attention with some creative map designs screenshots, and i found it a quite enjoyable journey through the world he crafted;unfortunately it does suffer from a lack of polish, as feedback and playtesters seemed to be in short supply during its creation. The campaign as is, could possibly be considered partially unfinished, however its been well over 1 year since the author uploaded this work, and i post this review both in order to inform potential downloaders of the contents within, and especially in the hopes that the author finds my criticism both constructive and informative.
I enjoyed the campaign for the most part, the main issue being a slow pacing, especially in scenario one. I would think the first scenario should contain some of the very best gameplay you can offer, so that the player is eager to continue playing. For me, i was intending to make this review regardless so i plowed ahead, and also had the nice screenshots in the authors WIP thread to interest me, but i can imagine many players clicking off the campaign at this point.
I did experience quite a few trigger bugs;in scenario two the triggers for leaving the mage tower can misfire if your units dont enter the spot correctly. After that the tribute we needed to bring back to the start was spawned near a Spirit Warrior and converted to purple, forcing me to set them as neutral and kill that Spirit Warrior. Luckily we could finish the scenario even with our main hero trapped. In scenario three, the king and all your heroes can die and the mission isnt lost. Plus when the dark enemy army arrives, you get a trigger win soon after their arrival;they cannot even reach the city. In scen4 when your on the cattle mission, the control of all my knights got yanked away and they were parked in the path of where the cattle had to go, converting them back. In the finale i killed Cyrax first then his buildings to finish him off, and triggered some events as if he was alive still. After this i got a CTD for finishing off all the enemies.
In scenario2 the witch is derped and you can just sit there shooting arrows;she and her minions dont respond a bit. You can also run up to her with edmund and just kill her. Also when you go into the keep my priest guy teleported into the land and began moonwalking across the world;this happens if he is moving when the castle is selected and isnt close enough to the other heroes. As mentioned already, its very hard to get all three heros to actually exit the castle interior;a default move-to right click will result in this bug repeatedly.
In scenario4 there are a ton of weird task object triggers sometimes firing, making my units go to spots randomly. The poor instructions and some trigger bugs made this scenario really hard to play, and its the only mission i skipped out on midway through.
The difficulty was a bit on the easy side, with the B&D providing the toughest of the lot. The fixed force missions dont put up many challenges to the player, who should have to think carefully and tactically to get through;you can kindof just bulldoze everything with your very high HP heroes. I do prefer higher HP heroes in FF, but its a bit extreme here.
In scenario four:The opening scene fleeing the burning city, the enemy only has a pack of skirmishers and light cavalry, when you have knights etc. Maybe this scene should have had powerful units coming in from the sides and back so there was more tension about escaping.
Scenario Five saw a magic system implemented, but the magic itself is poorly balanced, for example one is a incredibly weak +10 HP while another gave a very valuable +3 defence. Its possible but tedious for the player to kill off the castles without using the mercenaries by luring out the troops, then hacking away with knights at the castles defenseless basepoint.
In scenario six:The +5\+5 defense artifact is overpowered, turning your hero into a tank who isnt taking much damage even from many enemies and you can heal him with the monk. Its also quite simple to march straight to the barbarian base and slay the enemy leader.
The campaign was well varied, each scenario bringing its own concept and spicing up the gameplay with side quests, indoor tower levels, etc. There was a great amount of content throughout. The situations in which you experience defeat was repeated several times, its a good concept that really changes things up but the execution needed to be improved. I was very impressed that this campaign from a rookie was including so many gameplay elements you would come to expect from a good scenario these days. The best of the authors map design tricks using new HD content was also quite nice. Most six scenario or more campaigns tend to lose steam towards the end, but i feel like this author is just building up his stride as the campaign continued.
Map Design 3
Unfortunately i was a bit let down in this department, because when i first saw this campaign in its WIP thread and saw the highlight screenshots i was expecting a really high level here;but well, the map design score must represent the entirety of a 6 scenario campaign, and cannot rest entirely on the few best parts. Making a perfect map for even one scenario is pretty tough and time consuming, and spreading that effort out over 6 scenarios would require an extraordinary investment of time indeed, one of the reasons campaigns are almost invariably of a slightly lower quality than single scenarios. Although this is also an opportunity, as the truly exceptional campaigns with perfect maps then stand out all the more brilliantly. In summary, i would say that the consistency of the campaigns map design is extremely erratic. There are nice countrysides, pleasant cities, and some standout monuments, but there there are areas that have received very little attention and are little more than a random map quality chunk with a trail nearby.
What i liked the most:Scenario5's watery dock city was a real highlight, something you would expect to find in the very highest rated maps. I found myself simply going over the city in close detail to examine every nook and cranny. Two critiques i could offer is to focus on the base of the town center and trade workshop. The base of both is situated oddly on the water, and maybe you could extend the walkways to cover the transition, or just come up with some clever solution of your own, im sure. Scenario4's elven outpost in the woods was excellent as well.
Some points of critique:
Scenario2: Those stumps under the palisade wall, i get that its supposed to be lifting it off the ground but i dont think it works at all. The terrain mixing around the witch tower is too simple, and look at that desert patch just plomped in the grass over to the left. This map also had all the birds and even the stormy dog cheat unit spammed in. I wont criticize the author too much here, as it seemed he was just goofing off and learned himself already not to do this later, but it might be offputing for new players. It creates a busy, cluttered look when the gameplay is literally obscured by birds, and breaks immersion to see flying dogs.
Scenario4: The roads near the penguin monument\easter egg were simple dirt2s with chunky, undetailed forests nearby. The opening area of the same scen4 map was quite spartan and the map design here should have been use to give form to the gameplay, by carefully funneling the player in the right direction;its too open world here. The area beneath the single large pavilion encampment was quite poor indeed, looking like some kind of attempt at a steppe;i recommend the author check out the excellent "storm on the Steppes" for ideas on how to achieve this look.
Scenario5: The little village\city at the start needs some work. The terrain used was straightup road1 which felt like it needed to be broken up a fair bit more with other road types, and maybe some minor elevation changes instead of flat terrain. Also there should probably be 2 tile wide gaps in these villages, it was sometimes hard to move when a unit got in the way. Around the farming area near the market at the start, the farms setup were not made infinite so they soon expire and leave AI farms standing around, and also the road leading up to the market itself is a huge expanse of unbroken road1 terrain that presents a very poor aesthetic appearance. The swamp around the castle is a confusing area for me to assess, but i think the water on elevations should be avoided and maybe work in some oak tree stands.
This campaign featured an epic-style storyline with main characters, plenty of dialogue that was fairly well written if a bit overwhelmingly voluminous, and wove the story from scenario to scenario to lay out its overarching story. It was a good try at making relatable characters with humorous dialogue although i personally didnt get too attached to these guys to be honest.
The objectives were sometimes a bit hit and miss, and left the player scratching his head on what he was supposed to do. The objectives should always be updated with your current sidequest so you can see it there, and not have to dig into the chat window. Sometimes there were only verbal cues, and sometimes only visual cues like LOS markers or flags;should really be both for maximum clarity. The "you must lose to progress" sections should have had something done to make it clear the player wasnt supposed to keep restarting to try and win.
A number of the scenario exits\intros were disjointed and didnt match up very well, or left me scratching my head wondering what happened.
Final Thoughts: Ultimately the campaign is in too rough a shape to receive an endorsement from me that you download. Numerous trigger bugs plague the game and make completing some scenarios very difficult. With some continued effort to update the campaign, i do believe the author could achieve a fine work here and i could only hope that happens;if the campaign was sufficiently updated to warrant demoting this review into a comment, id be happy to see that happen.