The Three Little Pigs is Darth Sarek's entry to the 2016 Defend the Spot Competition.
This entry follows the storyline of a well-known folktale, seamlessly adapted to the AoK platform. A brief cutscene (with numerous clever tricks, I might add!) tells the first part of the tale up until the flight to the third pig's stone house (wonder), where the player is then tasked with defending it from the nefarious forces of the Big Bad Wolf. The scenario then takes the form of a DTS where the player has an economy and some buildings so as to reinforce the stone house from attack across the river. From the cutscene to the playable portion, I had loads of fun playing, and appreciated the experience of defending from varied groups of enemy troops while building an economy in the background and enjoying a well-paced scenario. My only quibble would be that the scenario was a bit easy, even on hard difficulty, but that was by no means a critical issue. Bugless and well-tested, smooth was the name of the game here.
The only point to be legitimately quibbled at, I felt that the balance could see some improvement. The root of the issue lay in the fact that the AI was easily stifled by fortifications, and in some cases irrationally delayed their attacks once the player's walls were up. One option to improve on this front might have been to use an AI that was better suited to group attacks on walls, or to disable walls for the player altogether. Even on hard difficulty, the attacks were of too low a volume to be legitimately threatening, assuming the player had a reasonably boomed economy, until the final stage of the scenario (or the first attack, if the player is off-guard), and were easily parried by a combination of castles, mangonels, and ships. The pace did pick up near the end, however, requiring dutiful micromanagement of the player's forces to deal with waves of rams, petards, cannons, and the accompanying troops and protect the house from the wolf's final attack.
More than anything, I think I was impressed by the level of creativity that Sarek poured into this entry. Particularly during the cutscene, I saw numerous tricks that I had never seen before, and none felt excessively showy or out of place. The concept of backing your defense with a town and an economy was also pulled off remarkably well.
Map Design: 5
I can only smile at the improvement that I've witnessed in Sarek's map design skills over the past year and a half, from his AVC entry to his PTC and now his DTS. The map was, simply put, drop-dead gorgeous, exhibiting an incredible amount of variety and some excellent, organic design. My favorite part was probably the player's town, which between the mountains, the mines, and the urban layout itself was nothing short of excellent. The areas in which the cutscene took place were likewise well-designed, and the map as a whole contributed in a most positive manner to the gameplay, which was more than enhanced by the design choices that Sarek made. Excellent work!
The scenario was complemented by a fitting soundtrack and several sound effects, as well as perfectly adequate instructions, and I found myself in a fit of laughter as I watched the opening cutscene coupled with the sound effects and certain bits of humorous yet appropriate artistic license. Background was sufficient but not excessive, and was mixed quite well with the gameplay.
[Edited on 04/26/16 @ 06:57 PM]