Helm's Deep is intended to be an interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien's three-book serioes, Lord of the Rings, depicting the battle of Helm's deep. Helm's Deep scenarios have a bit of a track record for being "newbie campaign" matter. When I ran a search for "Helm", not one of the subsequent hits had recieved a score higher then 3.0. I was anxious to see if this campaign breaks this mould. While the author has a lot of talent and shows promise, I would say the answer is no.
I would have enjoyed Helm's Deep a lot better if it hadn't been rendered almost unplayable by lag. I've always liked to think of my computer as being high-end, but the game ran so choppily and slowly it took minutes to walk from one end of the fortress to the other. There are way, way too many units all on the map at once, and the trigger-generated foes mean soon the orcs have an army hundreds strong. Try getting rid of a lot of the orcs, and make Helm's Deep a smaller conclave, like it was depicted in the book. You could make the battle last longer (eliminating the need for trigger-generated enemies) by giving all units extra HP, MCrnigoj style. Another major fault is that the triggers are garbled. At the beginning, I immediately ran Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn back to the Hornburg to protect them. Obviously the triggers thought that I had come to make the final stand, so a cutscene promptly began that had nothing to do with what was currently happening. I restarted, and defended the walls until all of the troops were tasked to the Hornburg for the last defence. Legolas was killed, but I did not lose. The narrow passageways ended up getting clogged with units, so I had to change diplomacy and kill some elves to get my characters past. When I reached the Hornburg the cutscene began, a few text messages were displayed, and nothing further happened. I played a third time and was able to avoid this random bug, but I ran into trouble again once the army of Gandalf appeared. They were tasked into the battle, and the whole thing degenerated into a chaotic bloodbath with unbelieveable lag. The orcs would be created, and were then promptly tasked into the waiting group of Rohirrim. I waited for 30 minutes for something further to happen, and then gave up. -4
As stated above, I ended up battling more with the scenario's trigger system then with the orcish army. Unlike most other Helm's Deep scenarios I've seen, it is RPG rather then FF, you only control three characters. It is easy to just keep them at the back of the group and stay out of harm. In the three times I played, the enemy did not attack my units once. If you get isolated (which is a bit of a chore, as the whole battlements are jammed with units) then you're in trouble, but there is no real risk to the average player. -3
Helm's Deep scenarios are nothing new, and this scenario has no outstandingly creative sparks or new ideas. However, it's theme is RPG rather then FF, which is something I have rarely seen before, and it contains its own AI files and a sound effect. -4
On a side note unrelated to this review, I was a little confused as to how the orcs managed to breach the fortress's defences. You portrayed the orcs as just appearing inside the walls, as if they had found a tunnel or had managed to scale the battlements in some part of the walls off-screen. I believe that the way the orcs got inside was using a bomb of some sort to detonate the walls, as interpreted in the movie. The books themselves are a little sketchy about what exactly caused the wall to collapse, although Gandalf calls it a "devilry of Saruman", and later on Aragorn refers to it as "a blasting fire". So I guess an explosion is the closest thing that fits those descriptions, and it reflects Saruman's turn to technology. Bleh, guess I'll just have to read the books again. On with the review.
Another weak point. The map is a depressing grass one, with rivers criss-crossing it and some cliffs placed down. The inside of the fortress also needed a lot of work. It was far too flat-looking and spacious. The houses and little ponds in the courtyard looked absurd. However, the swampy-looking ground outside the walls looks ominous and realistic, as was the inside of the Hornburg. Overall, I'd say that the negative and redeeming aspects of the map design even out to a random map score. 3
You might presuppose that Helm's Deep would tell the story of LOTR and the events leading up to the battle, but it does not tell the player anything. No story, no hints, no history. However, it has a reasoneable-quality .bmp, and plenty of in-game dialogue. There were some spelling mistakes, the player named "Uruk-Hia" being the most noticeable. +2
A promising campaign that I sadly cannot recommend due to its numerous bugs. I'd be very interested in playing an updated version.
-- A good effort that shows a lot of promise
-- Map design was extremely good in places
-- Numerous trigger bloops
-- No story or instructions
-- Map design was extremely bad in other places