The Death of the Bandits and Ottomans is a self described simple B&D scenario, where you must defeat the bandits and the Ottomans. Its style is entirely B&D, beginning with the act of building a town center, then immediately cutting to the chase: your main goal to defeat the two enemy players. The gameplay is entirely limited to attacking the enemy; there is no hint of any defending, as the players are far away, insulated from you by a large bamboo forest, and entirely defensive. The level lacks some dynamics, i.e. things changing, new objectives, changes in your surroundings and such. From the start to the end it’s just a case of your building up and then defeating the enemy, while they, and your whole outlook, remain the same.
The game’s balance is very weak, there is no sense of urgency, no sense of any danger at any time, and winning is largely inevitable. I didn’t even consider saving my game. There is the possibility of John Fastolf dying, but he isn’t really required to take any active part in the mission. I suggest using hero related objectives when you have a hero in the mission – e.g. using the hero to kill enemy leaders. Involving the unit in the scenario and forcing them to lead from the front makes the scenario more difficult, as there is that element of risk that gets taken away completely when you can just leave the hero back in the home base. As for the CPU players’ defence, the Ottomans offered at least a bit of resistance, but by the time you were in the Imperial Age, they were never going to stop you. I played the scenario on hard and beat it the first time easily, so I can only give this a 1 for balance.
The games objectives, gameplay, and general outlook are fairly dull. It’s not a scenario with a lot of creativity and flair, with a very simple story and a well worn style of mission. The map design does offer some creativity, with some individualistic designing in the cities, and a unique overall map look, with a strong bamboo theme.
Map Design: 4-
The map is the strongest point. The level itself is not constructed very well, leaving the human player wrapped up in layers of terrain based defence of cliffs and winding paths of forest. The visual appeal is quite strong though, with some nice terrain rendering in the paths, and features not seen in a random map like mountains, rocky mines, flowers etc. The city design is above average, with some nice areas like the stables. The cities lack in eye candy a little though, I’d suggest decorating them up a bit more. I see some use of map copy there too, keep at it and build up on that skill. Concerning the terrains, it would be good to build up a bit more elevations over the map, e.g. making the paths nice and bumpy instead of all flat, or giving it a depression in the middle.
Concerning story, I don’t think it deserves a 4, but I fear I will lose my review if I give it a 3, so I’ll go with a 4 here. The scenario has a very brief and simple story, made up of 2 sentences in the instructions, and no history, bitmap, hints or scouts. The story is briefly carried on at the start with a brief conversation at the beginning of the level between Fastolf and Richemont, basically summing up the requirements of the level. I really think a story should have a lot more depth and development than this; it barely even is a story, more a simple reason to defeat the Ottomans and bandits. Just some basic development of this plot, like explaining why these parties need to be destroyed, would help a lot. It’s difficult to mark it down though, because it does have some story, and bitmap and hints are not necessarily required, while any story at all is supposed to score a 4. The spelling is fairly good - I don’t think it would be fair to mark it down for only one small spelling error.
I noticed that your ally player’s farms are exhausted, and then they all abandon the area and cut wood. I’d suggest you take a look at Infinite Farms Tutorial by Magnum Pi (url for it is just below) - it shows how you can make farms that never run out of food, so the villagers will keep farming them forever.
A simple scenario, map design is especially strong, but the scenario is rather uninspired and not very exciting to play. Work on making the level more dynamic and stimulating, and put a lot more effort into the story in future works.
[Edited on 02/06/06 @ 05:51 PM]