As apart of the Age of Kings Cut-scene Competition of 2006, held within the months of June and August, this cut-scene by Fenrisulfr came in seventh place out of nine qualifying contestants, arriving cleanly with a score of 101 points, the entry running in first place receiving a score of 143 points. The cut-scene was made primarily for the contest, although the author has hinted at sequels, and rules ranged anywhere from the forbidden use of mod packs to the allowance of edited .dat files. Cut-scenes could not exceed ten megabytes in size and had to go for a minimum of three minutes in length, no maximum time limit. The cut-scene contest was overall a triumph, and the other eight entries can be found by typing in ‘ACSC’ in the search bar found above. Now let us get on with the actual review, shall we?
‘Set In Stone’ is a short cut-scene with both fictional and historical elements dealing with a Northman called Jarl Ragnar, the Lord of Orkney, a man sentenced to death by the mad King, Eirik Bloodaxe of Norway probably sometime in the eighth century AD. The cut-scene begins interestingly with the journal of Koenraadt van Leuven, nineteenth century Denmark, and tells of the discovery of a statue in a secluded cave, found upon by the Leuven couple during a downpour, the story then to proceed to the tale of Jarl Ragnar, one thousand years earlier. At nearly eight minutes long, ‘Set In Stone’ will intrigue you, satisfy you and draw you in.
As one of the judges for the contest I came to this cut-scene, and every other cut-scene submitted with high anticipation and a sort of ecstatic thrill. I can say without second thought that no one cut-scene disappointed me, and ‘Set In Stone’ is legacy to my action in saying this. It is a cut-scene with a uniquely presented story that is both enjoyable and atmospheric, leaving you wanting to know what happens at the cut-scene’s end, when you are presented with the words, “To Be Continued”. Everything, from the journal, told from a first person’s perspective, the finding of the cave, to the beginning of Jarl Ragnar’s story kept my undeniable interest. The cut-scene also features an interesting use of sounds, a good bitmap that strongly relates to the title and a terrifically told story, though a bit light in detail, but fulfills the viewer’s expectations nonetheless. My only real hassle, and I suspect it is the same for other viewers, is that the cut-scene overall lacks in the detail and effort it could have had. Furthermore, the story does not work on its own. We need the sequels, since this cut-scene is presented simply as “Part I --- Lost History” to understand the rest of Leuven’s story, told from his journal, and the fate of Jarl Ragnar, Lord of Orkney.
When rating this category, reviewers must take into account the author’s intentions and goals of the design. It is in the intention of the author that this scenario evolves plot and story, and to show a cut-scene whereby the player receives no units to control and no struggle to survive. As such there is no deduction from the overall score because there is no fighting for the player.
Very good, an interesting concept I myself have seen only twice before, quite original to say the least. The way the story was told from a journal, the way nineteenth century Amsterdam was conveyed, the names of characters and the accidental finding of the statue which led to the story of Jarl Ragnar, a Northman who lived at least one thousand years earlier all factor very snuggly into creativity. The whole idea of the mad king Eirik of Norway, interwoven history with fiction, is greatly creative in its own right. In addition a well conveyed storm, with fog falling over the view and the sound of thunder reverberating my headphones was great, however was absent of a rain sound effect itself. I particularly enjoyed the way the title was shown, with a great cave, and a picnic well done with rugs.
Map Design: (4.0)
The map design was overall good, above average, but fluctuated quite badly in more than half the cut-scene. I enjoyed the way Amsterdam was conveyed, the way the cave looked, but overall the city rested as something quite linear, too ‘square’ with no distinct commercial or residential areas, the cave entrance lacking detail and thought. In some areas the terrain was more than great, highly atmospheric, with good use of elevation, terrain mix of snow and grass, and well-balanced use of Gaia and cliff formations. More terrain mix and detail, however would go better to Norway, the land covered almost primarily with snow, the surface simply too flat in most areas, missing elevation to form hills and trees to form forests or at least a few lone pines. In conclusion, a well conveyed burning village with good use of terrain mix, blending and elevation, the design overall topped off by a fairly good placement of buildings.
Story/ Instructions: (4.0)
For me, the strongest part of the cut-scene. The story, set in nineteenth century Denmark told from the journal of Koenraadt van Leuven is an intriguing one, one I myself thoroughly enjoyed. However, it probably isn’t what it could have been, as it falls prey to an overall lack of detail, lack of effort and probably a lack of time. Though it could have done with more, the story, Part I to a chapter of series, is overall very pleasing, with captive, well written dialogue. I felt however that though ‘History’ in the pre-instructions bar and ‘Scout’ were good the way they were, ‘Instructions’ and ‘Hints’ could have been better provided, with detail as to what settings the cut-scene is best played on and what we should do as to not hinder the cut-scene’s progress. Lastly, good work with the acknowledgements. I encountered hardly a spelling mistake.
Overall the city of Amsterdam was a bit too plain and boring. It was no doubt interestingly conveyed and with great potential, the ideas present, but could have been better. In hindsight it looks rather square, too ‘blocky’. Make it more city-like with buildings placed with a purpose, not just there for looks, and with more people, carts and detail to the streets where Petards could be used as workers, War Wagons as Carriages and Villagers as the townsfolk. As it stands it has very little of any of this, just a few idle women and a single carriage. Give us the impression of the Industrial Age at its finest! There would be much smoke, so Blacksmiths can account for this, map copying them to hide behind other buildings to give the impression of chimneys would also suffice and do really well. Perhaps a harbour would do well too, with many ships stationed and with many people walking to and fro, sailors and workers with their supplies. The snowy areas of Norway could have done with more detail as well. More pines, leafless trees, stone and terrain mixing would suffice. There were other areas that could have had more detail as well, but we’ll leave it at that. As for the downpour, you had thunder playing, but no rain. You can find rain sound effects in the games, ‘Ulio’ or even ‘Immortal Prey’ if you are having trouble finding it.
This cut-scene is certainly worth the download, an intriguing watch fit for many. Good work Fenrisulfr! I anticipate the sequels. Just focus on more detail as described above and you will be set for an even better and innovative cut-scene.
In a word – Riveting.
In closing – A recommended download.
[Edited on 07/02/08 @ 10:43 PM]