‘Helms Deep’ is a single scenario, a FF composition and fairly loose adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien’s fictitious masterpiece, ‘The Lord of the Rings’. The ‘Battle of Helms Deep’ which this scenario is loosely based on, is the historical event set in Middle Earth, in the kingdom of Rohan that happened in the year 3019 of the third age, in the days of the 3rd and 4th of March. The gameplay requires the player to defend the fortress of Helms Deep against the might of Isengard, with three given units, the Dúnedain Ranger Aragorn son of Arathorn, Legolas Prince of Greenwood and Gimli, son of Gloin. The player is backed by the shaken and beleaguered rabble of Rohan and their most unlikely of allies, the Elves of Lothlórien, led by their captain and lord, Haldir. The player must hold out until the arrival of the Rohirram reinforcements led by Captain Eómer and Gandalf the White.
Simply enjoyable to say the least. ‘Helms Deep’ is one of those rare siege scenarios hard to come by that truly is fun, tense and unique, one at least different when compared to other scenarios of its context. In the first few minutes of play I was caught immediately vigilant by the thronging hordes of Isengard, battering at the fortress walls and bringing along siege weapons and crossbowman, all of which devastated my allies lines. I watched the enemy cross the walls by ladders, a wall breach, waves of enemy troops surge forward, the men of Rohan and Elves of Lothlórien rush to meet the charge, and just as I thought that we could hold, was more or less taken when we were ordered to fall back, to be met by yet more ferocious Uruk Hai assaulting the keep. Needless to say I was barely holding on by the time of the reinforcement’s arrival. The gameplay won’t last more than ten minutes, but it is fast-paced -expected of a scenario of its kind, tense, challenging and enjoyable with good replay value. My enjoyment would have been better met, however with an actual story, more dialogue, hints, and alas, more detail to the game itself. Some of the enemy troops waited around, no tasking triggers to take them to the battle, and so I was forced to go over to them myself in order to win. Also, the difficulty remained too inconsistent; too easy on easiest too hard on standard and moderate. This effected my fun quite greatly, as the challenging aspect was great just that I could not win. The easy aspect was okay, fun, but I won too easily everytime. Though lacking detail in its entirety, you will find gameplay fun, chilling and fast-paced.
I played on easiest a few times, which this scenario has been designed to be played on, forced by the LOS of the units who you do not control, and won everytime with many allied units left, my three units of Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas left with barely a scrape. It was fun, tense, with many enemy units to slay, to maneuver against, but was probably too easy for my liking. I then played on standard and moderate, which were simply too hard, the player guaranteed almost certain defeat, immensely lucky to pull through by the time of the reinforcement’s arrival. I played several times, and at least a dozen other times many months ago, and have not won, except only once, and it doesn’t take a math whiz to calculate that that was merely by the presence of sheer luck. In short the difficulty levels of standard, moderate and hard hardly pertain to this scenario, as regardless of which of the three you play on, you will most certainly lose, with easiest, though a bit easy, the only recommended difficulty to play on. Still, the difficulty of the scenario on standard, moderate and hard makes it highly enjoyable, challenging, realistic for a siege with room to exercise both skill and strategy alike, the player desiring to play many times so that he may try and win each time.
Creativity is good, ordinary, although probably lacking due to the nature of the game. Nevertheless I saw a wall breach as a saboteur ran into it, waves of enemy troops surging through, the enemy enter by ladders, some renaming, a sound effect or two and a unique design of Helms Deep itself which provides a great atmosphere, creative when compared to other scenarios of its kind. In addition the map design overall was creative with an atmospheric use of mudpaths and flowers, watch towers acting as gateways, and gateways acting as castle entrances, with heroes well awarded, each with unique abilities, with one unit receiving a sword, another an axe and a third with a longbow, all of which the units themselves excel with in character. It is probably a bit unrealistic, however with elephants since elephants themselves did not participate in the battle, nor can they be found in that part of Middle Earth let alone are they brought to that theatre.
Map Design: (4.0) –
Though relatively little of the map is actually seen, let alone designed, however we only rate according to what we see during gameplay, the fortress of Helms Deep is well crafted, creative, developing atmosphere and is certainly one of the most unique designs for Helms Deep that I have ever seen. The fortress is not a cheap knock-off from Peter Jackson’s famed version seen by many in the theatres, but is one entirely made up, and for this, the scenario is made so much more presentable, distinguishable, and enjoyable. The design is still accurate according to ‘The Lord of the Rings’, however, with the Deepling Wall, fortified walls and gates, together with strongpoints and weakpoints. But in hindsight, after all the fun, one realises the absense of a waterway, which was how the fortress, according to the story, was breached –being the weak link in the walls. In addition one can enjoy the view of the White Mountains, acting like a chain of pointed teeth along the outer rim of the map where the fortress of Helms Deep rests snuggly, but in all lacking anything truly great with gaps in cliffs, an unrealistic proportion for a mountainside, lacking rocks, too many trees and an overall lack of Gaia.
Story/ Instructions: (2.0) -
The worst part of the game with no story, no hints or scout, and hardly any dialogue. The scenario absent of a story more relies on the player to already know what is happening from their experience with the movie. The story overall does not work as a 'Lord of the Rings' scenario since primarily the only thing Lord of the Rings-ish is the names. In honest the scenario would work better as something made up from the author's own imagination, not something based on any novel. The scenario was also confusing for me, there was no hint to play on easiest, the difficulty the author set in the editor for testing and the game works best on, to leave standard, moderate and hard for experts since the scenario suddenly became unbeatable on these levels for me. Still, the scenario is to be commended with a few easy-to-read, straightforward instructions, which bring the category up to a clear and weak 2.
Lacking in detail, a story, and some final adjustments, but is fun, tense, chilling and, in my opinion, a good contribution to the 'siege' collection for Heavens Games. ‘Helms Deep’ is simply something that all siege fans such as myself should enjoy.
In a word – Entertaining.
In closing – A must download for fans of siege scenarios.
[Edited on 01/26/07 @ 08:07 AM]