Adventure Series III Doran is a Build and Destroy map with lots of fighting, humour and jokes, challenging sidequests and several creative and funny aspects.
You play as Doran, a commander under a king who's wife has been kidnapped by a Highlander Priest. The king sends Doran north to retake his wife and kill the priest.
And that's where the scenario starts off...
Playing the scenario is hard. Not that its hard to get it to work or to understand how to play. The scenario is very hard to finish and it takes many hours, even when you play on standard. Gathering recourses takes much time and you have to build up an army before the next wave of attackers come. This is however a good style and something I dont always enjoy. This time I did, much thanks to all jokes and things to do. The map held many surprises and secrets to unveil, a part where you played RPG, several side-quests and many comical apsects and pure jokes. Even going through the triggers was a little fun since the triggers where named after the action within them, mostly made funnier than the game would allow in itself!
So the game play is, more or less, pure enjoyment. However, the game might be too hard for newer players to win, but since that's a question about Balance, I'll write more there.
As usuall, your maps are very balanced. Its hard to win the scenario and the enemy forces are strong and their attacks come when you least need them! It takes many hours to finish playing and while you do you get a few smiles on your face thanks to the jokes smuggled into the fighting and building. As it's a Build and Destroy map, mostly but with a few parts with Fixed Force and RPG, its hard to win. You must gather recourses to train your army, and even when your ecenomy is in full bloom your enemies can attack at any moment and destroy every gram of self-confidense you had! Even when you go offensive you get bashed by the enemy and have to retreat to the small base you have. These two combined makes the game hard and very balanced. Even very skilled players will have a hard time trying to win. I see myself as a rather skilled player and it took me several hours, on Standard difficulty, to win! Therefor, to sum, you're a very good designer when it comes to balancing your game.
That said, I have to bring up what made this not score 5. It is the thing I said in the Playability cathegory: it's too hard for newbies that maybe play AoK for the first time ever. As I said, the standard difficulty should be easier to suit more players than this does already. So it gets a 4.
The game does include several creative aspects, but not many or good enough to give the scenario a high rating in the cathegory.
Some good examples are all jokes that were hidden everywhere and the mixing of different game styles, Build and Destroy, Fixed Force and RPG. Then there's several all different terrain types that have good transitions to each other, desert & palms in the south, open grass and dirt areas in the middle with oak forests and mountains with snow and rocks in the north, the Highlands. Every fort had jokes in the speaking of it's own commander, like a warrior commenting his guards why they didnt do their job and commanders that go mad if you click them.
However, apart from these, who actually in game do take small place even if they come up often, there are few creative aspects. The jokes can sometimes get repetative and the terrain mixing is not always that good as in some areas.
The game has creative apsects, but they are too few to give a high score, even if the game is very enjoyable.
Map Design: 4
The map design of this scenario was very outstanding in a few places. The transitions between the different areas were often very nice and the map is filled with surprises and mixed terrain. Even plain places look good when you play and walk the map from place to place. There's eye candy, even it it's pretty sparse in some locations and some places are very empty, only grass 1 or 3 and a forest surrounding it. There is also a lack of elevation in some places. Not saying that you use to little in the map in general, but some spots look strange without some elevations. In a few places the nature is very concentrated into unwalkable forest with only grass around.
But even if it sounds like I gave you a million bad points here, I'm only referring to a few places on the map. The most of the map looks terrific and could hardly be done better, other could need a fix up but still looks good as they are, and in general the map design is high-class.
So summing it, a 4
The story is clear and it's very easy to know what and how to do things. The instructions you get are clear, but few. If you're not careful you'll go towards a certain death after only a few minutes. If you're more careful and wait for the enemy to attack and instead of going offensive immdeiately, start to gather recourses while you train a defensive force, you'll survive the first attacks easier than usuall. Its still challenging and might be hard if you just rush in and kill like mad.
The story in the game instructions is quite brief and not very detailed, even if it explains shortly who you are and what your task is. It's filled with dots everywhere and that annoys me.
But even if the story is brief and the instructions few, the jokes spice it up and makes it both funnier and more rewarding to explore the map, since you'll hear more comical talking if you do!
Therefor it gets a strong 3
[Edited on 01/02/07 @ 04:16 AM]