|The Downward Spiral
||Age of Kings
|Number of scenarios:
8 detailed scenarios
Custom music providing a mood to each scenario
A spine shivering plot
Edge of your seat gameplay
Two cutscene episodes, six playable episodes
Several custom made AI files
Download the primary zip first. Once that is done, it is highly advised that you download the Nexus campaign's music pack. Although it is probably about a hefty 20 megs, it is definitely worth it. If you have a fast modem (or you can deal with long downloads), please download this file.
Once these two (or one *sniff*) downloads are complete, extract them into your primary "Age of Empires II" folder. All required files will be automatically placed into their required destination folders. Afterwards, run Age of Kings and select "Single Play >> Custom Campaign." (Duh :-))
It was the year 1281, and chaotic turmoil had extended over the all possessions of Japan. First, a bloodline of profligate unmoral Mongols had been invading faultless villages and raiding military encampments. Although Japan was a hearty nation, the never-ending Mongol attacks began to whither down on the country's defenses. Second, a dire cupidity for power caused profound corruption within the midst of the church. A silence of dark secrecy was hidden completely from all who inhabited Japan except those of superior rank. Lastly, a tattle of archaic immortality, The Nexus, danced across the lands of Japan and continued to be the topic of converse.
About a decade ago, the Emperor of Japan made the determination to win Mongolia. His son, Prince Kushluk, and the mercenary company The Dogs of War led the skirmish. Prince Kushluk hired Siegfried, leader of The Dogs of War, to aid him in assaulting the Mongol capitol city, Ulaanblaatar. The raid was a triumphant victory, and Mongolia was left in a dirt-poor rupture. Since then, the Mongols held a bloodthirsty loathing toward the Japanese. Years later when Mongolia mended itself, petite attack parties were quickly and continuously sent to Japan. Before the Emperor could believe himself, Japan's military had unnerved precariously. Citizens of Japan dispersed throughout the city streets. Some said Japan would be conquered by Mongolia. Some said that all should disappear or go into concealment. Others said that the mythical act of savior, The Nexus, would liberate Japan from the Mongols.
Not only was the occupancy of the ravaging Mongols an immense fear in Japan. A faint wind of corruption swept across the fellowship of Japan. Valued forerunners were committing illegal crimes, striking ghastly lies, and disrespecting their own kin often. The higher ranks were utterly corrupted. There were many theories for the root of this corruption. Gossip and propaganda dispersed inside and out Japan about the causes of corruption as fleet as a comet soaring through the sky. Many thought that the Emperor was just an amoral man. Others thought that the Mongols had threatened the Emperor to do many of the things he had done. However, those who were more innovative thought that there was a "lost belief" of Japan that still existed among the higher ranks of their nation. In reality, this lost belief did exist. Only the armed forces and monks of sovereignty were told of this lost belief. This lost belief claimed many things. It claimed that there were two spellbound currents that ran through everyone and everything. There were luminous currents and unlit currents. Those who could receive luminous currents could use their powers to benefit others. Those who could capture unlit currents could use their powers to harm others. This lost belief was known as "The Transcription." The Transcription stated that only the chosen ones could harness the currents of luminous and unlit powers. There were gathering points sprinkled throughout the world where these currents could be drawn. Many knew of The Transcription, but not many were "chosen" to have the power to harness these currents.
Among the upheaval of the Mongols and The Transcription, one last thing concluded the anarchy of Japan: The Nexus! This legend had been passed down for generations, but there was always one thing that remained. Everyone who made out the words of The Nexus had no concept of what it was, what is was for, what it looked like, or if it even looked like anything. All they did perceive is that it was theorized to hold the capability to attain any devoir anyone ever wanted. To this year, 1281, the legend continues. As the legend continues, defiant souls continue to search for the authentic actuality of The Nexus.
Many characters are soon to embark into quests of dreadful importance. Twin warriors of great respect are soon to reveal hidden words of dark secrecy that will make a complete turning point in their life. A religious leader and the son of a great ruler are soon to face what the least expected. An honorable mercenary is soon to engage in a mission of more importance then he ever expected. Lastly, a religious preacher is soon to cross the eyes of two innocent warriors in search for their destiny. Follow these characters in their question salvation in The Nexus Campaign!
First I'd like to thank all of the playtesters for the Nexus Campaign: The Great Alexander, Jan Van Rio, The Loco Snake, Elite Raider, El Cid, Raziel17, SiLg, Dr. AoK, Unworld Man, David, Shadows, MIB Mats, and last but definitely not least, Cat ;-). Thanks guys, everything was greatly appreciated. Now, here is a list of some additional credits:
Ex-T - Fixing a bug in Episode II and finding music for Episode I and II.
Mark Stoker - Fixing a bug in Episode III and letting me use some sound effects from his masterpiece "Tamerlane, Prince of Destruction."
Wild1234 (A special thank to this guy) - Making all of the AIs (except idle ones) for the Nexus campaign.
Magnus - Letting me use his "em1idle" AI.
Strider - Finding me the drum sound effects featured in Episode III.
The Rasher - Helping me with the intro .BMPs for the Nexus Campaign.
Shadows - Bein' there to talk to when I REALLY got bored of the Nexus Campaign ;-)
Cat - Sending me a copy of Episode V when my stupidy drove me to delete it off of my computer :-)
Angel Spineman - Uploading this to the Blacksmith even though its approximately 20 megs ;-)
Well thats it. I hope ya' enjoy the campaign! If you liked the Nexus try some of my other works. Currently, I have one other scenario entitled the Curse here in the Blacksmith. I have two projects planned for the X-pack (AOK: TC) as well. Please send me some feed back here, or simply submit a player comment. Thanks a bunch!
|Author||Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )|
This campaign blew me away! The Downward Spiral really outdone himself this time. The Nexus is the most epic story that I have ever seen in a campaign. I mean, you never know what you will find out next!
The playability is just awesome. There were lots of trigger tricks and if you are not careful you are in risk of losing everything. The playability is super rich and two thumbs up for TDS!
The balance was a tad easy and almost got a 4. After considerable thinking I came to the decision that it counts as a 4.5. Of course at a .5 I always round up so the campaign got a 5. The reason for this is that sometimes a scenario can transform from a B&D to a RPG with the snap of a finger and that's pretty darn frustrating to get around to. But the general balance is very good.
The creativity will blow you away! For you RPG types this campaign's got lots of side-quests and some concepts that I have hardly ever seen! Like that time when you travel through a path and meet some enemy soldiers and then a pack of wolves kills them all and allows you to pass. Also, the train thing is also something that's not seen everyday. Plus the "movie" scenarios are just phenomina! I mean a prologue isn't as uncommon as it could be these days but movie scenarios? Not something you see everyday.
The map design is probably the worst part of the campaign. The design of many cities are pretty darn average and the map could use a lot more eye-candy. But the balance of the terrain and some eye-candy got the map design to a 4.
The story is just so deep! I can't believe that a non-professional writer (unless TDS really is a professional writer) can come up with such a fantastic story! I mean the twist and turns and the deep plot and all that cool stuff that you find in good books. Though the story lacks an overall lesson, it is still, in my opinion, the best fictional story ever in the world of AOK design. All the scenarios come with sufficient instructions to get you through, and you always know just who the BH is talking.
-Excellent use of triggers
-could use a bit more eyecandy
-other than that, none!
Final thoughts: TDS (by the way this is just my own opinion) has always been one of the best scenario designers out there, and "The Nexus" campaign really deserves this mark. If anybody dares to give the campaign anything lower than this, you are just nuts!
Playability: 5. The 8 scenarios are very funny to play again, and again and again! That's why it deserves a 5.
Balance: 5. Sometimes I lost, but after trying extra hard I got through (to a new problem).
Creativity: 5. In one scenario I thought The Nexus was going to be an RPG, but then it became B&D. It also includes many new concepts (aahh, refreshing), I smell a 5 here.
Map Design: 5. It may just be me, but I think the maps are very good, detailed, realistic, etc, etc, etc.
Story/Instructions: 10. If I could give it a 10 I would give it a 10, cause the story is a masterpiece and probably one of the best stories ever made in an AoK scenario. Remember if you disagree, this is just my own opinion.
Score: 5.0. The Downward Spiral blows me away with this campaign. The cut-scenes (oops I forgot to mention that) are Very good, with a cap. The story is great.
So why are you standing here? Download this masterpiece now or you will live to regret it!
I played this campaign on hard,and found it to be entertaining and interesting.The game play was sometimes easy,but the great story helped the playability.I never encountered any bugs or lag.
This was a role playing campaign with strategy,and some build and destroy aspects.The heros and opposition were balanced fairly well in most instances,but I felt as though the A.I. could have been more agressive.The great story did however take up any slack in the balance.
There was alot of good,original triggers,but the story held the most creativity.The many cut-scenes also aided the story.
The map design was not on the same level as the triggers or story.Although a good map,it could have been made better with the use of more textures,additional eye candy and more diverse use of terrain.The trails and roads were sometimes vague.With this said,this is the one catagory which I can deduct a point,and justify myself.
The Nexus was a great,original story with alot of coherent content.There was alot of good dialogue,with good hints and scouting.The only problem i ran into was due to the amount of content,it was sometimes hard to play and keep up with the dialogue.This however did not take away from the campaign.
In closing,I would recommend downloading this campaign.
This great campaign consists of three cut-scenes and five playable scenarios; it is a mix of RPG, RPS and B&D. The Nexus is a classic, one of the best campaigns at the blacksmith; nominated for the Orion Award 2002 as best campaign and the Blacksmith Feature on June 20, 2002.
The campaign plays in 1281 during the second Mongolian attempt by Kublai Khan to invade Japan. In this fiction story, you play two Japanese samurai twins, Minamoto and Kitabatake; send by the Emperor of Japan against the Mongolian invaders. It was the time of profound corruption amongst the higher political and clerical ranks of Japan, caused by a dire cupidity for power; many theories for the root of this corruption were developed. Only for those of superior rank, the armed forces and monks of sovereignty, the "lost belief" of Japan still existed; known as "The Transcription" and was about lit and unlit currents that ran through everyone and everything. Those who could receive lit currents use their powers to benefit others, but those who capture unlit currents use their powers to harm others. The Transcription stated that only the chosen ones could harness the currents. There is a legend passed on for generations, known only the word and that it holds the capability to attain any devoir anyone ever wanted, but not what is was or what is was for, the Nexus!
PLAYABILITY: The Nexus is just awesome, its epic story keeps you interested throughout the campaign, great cut-scenes as prologue, epilogue and to connect the scenarios, as well as many smaller ones which either helped the story or were solely done to entertain the player. There are some playability issues, which will not spoil your fantastic experience if you know how to avoid them. Episode I, save the game before you approach a monk in Port Hakone. After talking to him, Minamoto can retrieve the relic alone, but the scene looks better with both your heroes. If you do not get the relic, it is a random bug, load the saved game, it will most likely work. After you get 200 of gold stockpile for the relic, do not click the second monk/fortune teller outside town again, buy first a boat and visit the fortune teller afterwards, the other way around the harbour man will not sell the boat. Episode II, do not build a harbour, you do not need one and it might hurt game play. Episode IV, the cut-scene has a random bug, when the sheep load, a lumberjack “dances” with a pile of wood, in another try, the sheep block him and the cut-scene would not continue. Episode V, change your diplomacy for North East Hakone to ally. 4
BALANCE: I played the campaign on hard and hardest, and the scenarios were well balanced and challenging. The author joins difficult parts to easy ones; like Episode I, which starts as a puzzle, a RPG with no warfare ends in a B&D where player 1 cannot advance past the feudal age and your enemy has a castle. Episode III and V are excellent, challenging, with reloads and strategically demanding, while Episode VI brought you to the climax of the story, revealed the secrets of the Nexus and the excitement of warfare dramatically replaced by the cut-scene supported story telling. 5
CREATIVITY: The fantastic story, with a surprising twist, is very creative and on the same high level is one of the best music adaptations at the blacksmith. Every scenario has its own music file to give a special atmosphere. The variety spans from “Love of a princess” to “Song Number Two” by Blur, I increased the volume when I heard the later together with the attack of The Dogs of War, hilarious. The author provides some custom made AI files, which could be more aggressive. I spotted new items like a train-station; actually, there were even rails, a palisade gate for a sheep yard, units hiding in a canon, collecting resources by clicking them, time travel, a fearful troll and a side quest where a pack of wolves clears your path. 5+
MAP DESIGN: The maps are above average, towns as well as the landscape are pleasant to look at, without an overuse of Gaia. The maps have many elevations and give a good and realistic feel for the campaign, but especially in episode one and two you have the impression to be on an English lawn or on a golf course as there was a total lack of terrain mix, the author only used grass one. The map design skills of the author improved while making this campaign. The maps for episode three to six have everything you need to score five; I rate the first two with four and the overall score for the six different maps with 5-.
STORY/INSTRUCTIONS: The story, one of the best of AoK, keeps you at the edge of your chair, is interesting, well told and developing in game and between the scenarios. The objectives are clear and the hints helpful. 5
OVERALL: The campaign deserves an overall rating of five after fixing the bugs.
SUGGESTIONS: Episode I, under “Sceneo” 4, trigger "Find Relic" condition 2, the set area for the champion is too small with one tile. He stops slightly to the left, never in the middle, and when he is off the tile, the player cannot retrieve the relic. Same trigger, condition 0 is identical to condition 1, to have both heroes at the scene, change condition 1, with object Kitabatake, same area as condition 0 for Minamoto. Trigger "Talk to champion with gold" condition 0 accumulate attribute player 1 gold stockpile, reduce the amount from 200 to 150 to make the triggers with the boat, the relic and the fortune teller run in all sequences. Episode II, disable harbour for player 1, it spoils the game when the player spots the two clones at the opposite shore and gains control of two Kitabatake and Minamoto as well as Harold Hadraada. Avoid that the player trains an army on the Mongolian side, do not change ownership of the transport to player 1, keep it to the green player and disembark the five units near the flagged, revealed area. Episode IV, the heroes should stand still more to the right, so they do not block the lumberjack. Episode V, change the diplomacy of player 1 to player 2 to ally in the editor. Player 1 has to defeat player 4 including his galleons. Because of the inexact objective to destroy the two enemy camps, Player 1 galleons destroy buildings and units in reach on the opposite shore of North East Hakone including Player 2 who is ally to player 1. The player probably destroyed the market before the objective says to reach it. Finally add more terrain mix to the earlier maps.
OBSERVATIONS: The campaign is not easy to evaluate, it seems to me that episode one and two date of an earlier stage of the author’s design career. The later scenarios improved in all of the above categories. The above is an edit of my review originally posted 2002-10-25.
IN CLOSING: Nobody should miss one of the best campaigns of the blacksmith and I strongly recommend downloading the Nexus with the music files.
[Edited on 07/27/08 @ 07:17 AM]
Well I don't need to say much on this, read all the comments so far.
This was the best campaign I've seen yet, rivaling the work of Ingo Van Thiel and the maker of Tamerlane. It had everything in it. It went from a small RPG with a couple of guys to a battle of immense size in about 10 minutes. The unexpected twists and turns gave me many moments of enjoyment and fascination. I played twice in a row. I did not eat, drink or sleep. When you've played 10 times you still get that sense of enjoyment you got the first time you played. For me there were no bugs. I had a great time playing this.
Well, it's somewhat hard to rate this because a lot of the time when you have freedom of choice as to what units to train it depends. But from my perspective, it was an epic struggle with me a millimetre in front. Your heroes always were wobbling on the edge of the Abyss, yet they always miraclesly come out of it, barely alive with gave a huge surge of excitement. A massive amount of playtesting obviously. Well done.
You must be a RL writer. How you came up with all those ideas was completely beyond me. The music added hugely to this, exactly what was right for the scene. They're worth the download.
Map Design: 5
There were so many different locations, each having it's own special feeling. There are some complaints about the lack of eyecandy, but in my opinion, it doesnt need it. There are forests, open plains, a train track, great open seas, and simply gorgeus tropical islands with wonderful little primitive villages. Not to mention big cities. I loved the city on the island of Sado, could you please do a solo on that where you under attack by so and so but can actually command the troops? It was awesome!!!
This fellow sure knows what he's doing. With a bit of filling in, editing and illustration this could be one ripper of a book. But the best thing about it is that the although it is essentially the same, the story will change slightly everytime.Congratson this map
You know its pretty obvious what I'm going to say. But i'll say it anyway. YOU NEED TO MAKE MORE MAPS LIKE THESE!!!!KEEP IT UP!
When I had won the seventh scenario and headed for the Epilogue, I was moved. No other campaign I've seen has been centered around time travel, portals, mysteries and new worlds as The Nexus. This must truly be one of the best campaigns ever made, and it has given me much inspiration for my future work
From the very beginning, The Nexus was a great campaign. With a really mysterious story, magic mixed with reality, a superb story, themed music, The Nexus is an ultimate campaign. I was captured by the story from the very beginning, and even if the map design didnt always reach my expectations, it was still realistic and beautifully detailed, without making the maps cluttered. This made the whole campaign really funny to play and it was easy to manouver through the whole campaign. I was confused a few times, but I cannot blame the authour for this. The Nexus is one of the few campaigns that doesn't build on obvious stories or clichés, it's really original. It was like playing something you've never seen before. The only thing I can imagine that makes a slight drawback was a bug I found on scenario seven. I got Kitabatake, Harald and Siegfried and I went to the japanese army since I assumed that was where I should go. I met Subotai and the rest and I got control of them. Then I bombarded the now empt camp with the cannon and walked on with everyone to the train station. Well here, it was like Harald and his company ignored Subotai and the others. I went back with Subotai, Minamoto and William to where they started, went back to the train station and now it worked somehow. This doesn't make the game unplayable, but it was rather strange. Another thing would be the rapid dialogue, but since I could lower and raise the speed it wasn't a huge problem.
The Balance of this campaign was great. Every fight, every stealth operation, everything was perfectly balanced. It wasn't all too hard but it still took a few restarts and I had to use my brain a lot to make up the correct strategies and balancing of the armies.
This is an exemplary scenario when it comes to creativity. Made for the original Age of Kings, in a time when many of the tricks used in newer campaigns weren't discovered, the authour has succeeded in using loads of tricks and techniques to make the campaign perfect. One thing that makes this possible is the usage of the original AoK, where you couldn't rename units, making the heroes in this campaign more flexible since the authour could remove them and create new ones as he wished, making the field of possibilities much broader. A big creative aspect was the realistic enviroments. All scenarios has lots of elevation, making them more realistic with hills and heights. Also, many of the forests are packed but they are still walkable since there are paths in them. Then comes the railroad and a load of other tricks that I cant remember all of. This really deserves a 5+.
MAP DESIGN: 5-
The weaker part of the campaign as a whole, even if the design is exemplary in many places. The first two scenarios look like they were made a year or so before the third and the rest. They're much more flat and undetailed that the rest, but they still have the elevations making them realistic. This can be used as a trick. The player starts playing, find the story very interesting but the map quite mediocre. But as the story developes, the map design does the same and it all comes to its climax, the player is totally captured by the whole campaign. At least this is how I felt. The scenarios 4 to 8 where very well made with mix of terrain, realistic hills and eye candy in good ammounts, making an impact but still not making the maps look cluttered.
The story and the instructions are superb. A totally unique story with plot, twists and action, mixed with calm moments and emotions, mysteries and ancient legends. The story can be confusing at start, but it clears more and more the farer you get into the story. The instructions are good too. They're easy to understand, and the few times you dont then the scenario fixes it by itself, bringing you further into the campaign. So if you follow the instructions and read carefully, you wont encounter any problems. All scenarios also have bitmaps, and although they're simple they spice the whole campaign up a little. So for a summary, this campaigns really deserves a 5.0. Even if 4.9 is still a good result, I'd say 5.0- would be better ;)
[Edited on 07/28/07 @ 12:31 PM]
The playability of this scenario was excellent. The only problem was in the beginning scenarios, the instructions went by too fast and not enough explainging was given. Other than that, i had a lot of fun playing this scenario.
This scenario had excellent balance. I needed to save very often to complete it, but i didn't need to restart so often that it was unenjoyable. This scenario was definetely not too easy, nor too hard.
The author of this scenario has an excellent imagination, and was able to create a scenario like which i have never seen before. The plot was interesting and itriguing, and was not boring at all.
Map Design: 5
The map was excellent, and looked very realistic. The author obviously put a lot of time into making sure that the map looked good. the lack of eye candy was not a major fault, because the map had the perfect amount of complexity and simplicity.
The storyline of this scenario was captivating, and kept me entranced. I couldn't stop playing this scenario once i started it. The twists of the plot kept you playing to find out what happened next. The end of the storyline was amazing, when you find out what the nexus is.
This scenario is definetely worth downloading. I look forward to more works by the author.
The Nexus is a very enjoyable campaign. It starts off as RPG but then suddenly it changes into a ruthless, bloodthirsty battle. The story was extraordinary and the twists and turns gave it so much more. I played again and again without getting bored.
The Nexus is a very challenging campaign. The difficulty level rises in every level. I played quite a while ago on Standard, it took a quite a few restarts but I finally got through. You have to use a lot of tactical thinking in the battles.
The Nexus was made for the Age of Kings which means that there aren’t as many civs and units, not as many tricks were known and not as many could be used. But that doesn’t stop this campaign from being absolutely awesome. The campaign has a huge Music Pack and some custom AIs. The plot was outstanding and the game-play kept me on the very edge of my seat. There were so many twists and turns I almost got lost.
Map Design: 5
The Nexus has 8 beautiful map designers; from small Pacific islands to Huge Asian cities. They all look very realistic and made me feel like I was actually there. There is a great use of terrain mixing and Elevation, along with a whole range of GAIA items.
The Nexus has an extraordinary plot which kept me playing for hours on end. The twist and turns were taking me in all sorts of directions I didn’t know were I was. The end of the campaign where you find out what The Nexus is (no spoilers) is mind blowing. Occupying the Great plot are the Terrific Instructions. They helped me along and were really clear.
One of the Best Campaigns in the Blacksmith! A MUST Download!