Chinese Design Contest: The Voyager
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AOKH Chinese Contest - Design a Dynasty Entry by Vertigo Extremist
"We have, beheld in the ocean huge waves like mountains rising sky-high, and we have set eyes on barbarian regions far away hidden in a blue transparency of light vapors, while our sails, loftily unfurled like clouds, day and night continued their course rapid like that of a star, transversing the savage waves as if we were treading a public thoroughfare."
Admiral Zheng He, 1405 during his first voyage.
"The Voyager" is a three-scenario campaign about Zheng He, the last voyager of the 14th Century Ming Dynasty. In this campaign you must lead Zheng He through three of his most famous voyages.
Unlike my other campaigns, this is a combination of RPG, Build and Destroy, and Fixed Force.
There is also humour that some people may not get or understand for that I apologize.
However, like my other campaigns; This is a self-extracting file that will put all files into their proper folders that AOK was originally installed as.
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Vertigo, the author of this campaign, implemented a clever concept into this campaign. He implemented the concept of naval battle into this campaign. You hardly ever see this in custom scenarios, and it was a nice change.
PLAYABILITY: The fun-factor was average. Two things in this campaign I found very boring, however: the long voyage in the last scenario, and the *LONG* build-and-destroy battle in the second scenario. Nevertheless, there was a nice variety of gameplay in this campaign.
BALANCE: The balance was good. I had no complaints in this area except for one minor request. Lighten up on the second scenario. ;-)
CREATIVITY: The whole concept of naval battles was very unique and creative. I loved it! How many campaigns do you see out there that are filled with naval battles and pirates? Not many! This was a relieving change of concept.
MAP DESIGN: Well this score would have been a lot higher if Vertigo put more effort into the detail of the water. The "Water Shallow" and "Water Deep" terrain tiles clashed often, and they could have been blended better. Eye candy in the seas would have been nice too. As for the land and cities' terrain, it was excellent. If the water was as good as the land, this score would have been a 4 or possibly a 5.
STORY / INSTRUCTIONS: No complaints... your objective was clear and the author through in some appealing intro bitmaps! :-D
HISTORY: No complaints in this area, either. Good job, Vertigo!
Overall, I was impressed with this campaign. One of the best I've seen as of yet in this contest. I'm sure Vertigo will hit the finals with this one!
"The Voyager" is a campaign with a whole lot of potential; Usually I don't like giving out scores like these to campaigns like these. If it were not for a few things that posed an extreme annoyance to me as a player and a reviewer, the score of this campaign would shoot up and the campaign itself would become a sure candidate for one of the top places. Indeed a shame.
I'll start with some up notes: The history sections were all sublime. Hence the 5.
Both playable scenarios (the first one isn't playable) seem adequately balanced. It is impossible to win either on the first try. The second scenario is rather hard, with not a lot of space to expand and the third scenario is rather easy (if it's played right, something I failed to do on the first try).
The maps are a perfect 4: Mostly well done but with some flaws, such as oversimplification. In the last scenario there were vast deserts totally unused.
The Story/Instructions, in general, were superb, with lucid plot and setting descriptions one does not run into very often. Had the first and last scenarios been judged by themselves, they would each recieve a 4 in this category. What spoiled it? An instruction in the second scenario that read something as follows: "Destroy the castle of the pirates in the island Java. The local inhabitants will assist you in your struggle." I launch an attack, thinking to myself how nice it is to have an ally when you need one. When I land on the island, my loyal commander informs me that the natives won't help me out. I'm on my own. At the end of the battle, the castle is half-way demolished but my enemy is the victor.
Another example, this too from the 2nd scenario: The hints say it's vital to click on as many people on a certain island as possible; They hav essential information. Now I don't know what the author meant by "essential information", but none of the people on the island possesed anything of use. Only "I would build a dock if I were you"'s (On an island? odd idea) "Oops! I got to get down"'s (yes, I found that comment rather odd too) and "Welcome to our island! We love it so"'s (I think I'm starting to loathe your island more and more by the minute...)
On a more serious note, with instructions and hints like these, it almost seems as if the author purposefully wishes to throw the players of his scenario off course.
Playability: "Crash and burn" in the first scenario (a bug involving a transport ship makes victory literally impossible). It gets better in the second scenario, however, with some low-resource B&D and cutscenes that are nice to watch. The third scenario composes of some cute quests and side-quests for the old admiral to fulfil.
Creativity gets 4 due to the innovative victory conditions and the whole idea of basing the campaign on the voyages of an explorer. (Like Tyrael mentioned, you don't see many of those in this blacksmith, do you).
Some up notes:
- The bitmaps are splendid
- Installation is a breeze
- Dramatic opening and closing
- Superb aftermaths (even when you lose)
- It's just interesting to be the Chinese equivalent of Christopher Colombus.
Yep, I guess that sums it up: Dramatic and interesting.
Have no hesitations to download this campaign, despite the less-than-glorious score it's truly fun.