An Unseasonal Adventure
||The Conquerors 1.0c
In this rather light-hearted scenario you will take the role of a rather grumpy turkey, who is by his own admission "too young to die". Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to rescue him from certain death on the farm.
You will meet poachers, obnoxious animals, scarecrows, a pet cemetery and a stash of beer.
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When I first downloaded this campaign, I was cautiously optimistic about it, seeing as it seemed rather original and the designer is a good one and well known. But I was still considerably surprised by how clever this was. Not only is it well put together, it achieves something rarely done well in AoK, humour.
This is a short scenario, and you would be rather out to lunch if you expected anything really long and epic about a turkey named Oswald who keeps a diary and has a rather cynical point of view on life. What is there is about 10 solid minutes of great enjoyment. The scenario is a lot like a playable cutscene actually. The gameplay itself is rather simple; make a wrong move, and you end up next to the pig on the Christmas table. There is no margin for error, and with your tiny LOS, it helps to convey the feeling of paranoia our friend Oswald feels.
The entire experience is different depending how lucky you get in going the right way the first time; you may never be roadside kill if you are fortunate, but play a few times to get the full enjoyment out of it. What really adds to the fun is afterwards you can replay and use the Marco Polo cheats to see the entire map. There are at least a dozen little Easter eggs and punch lines scattered around, most of which I found quite humorous.
I did deduct one point because the scenario really can’t be given a five when it comes to rating enjoyment; it is entertaining, but is a little too simple to justify giving a perfect score here. I am not sure such a simple scenario could ever score a 5 in this category, so I wouldn’t consider it any design mistake to be sure. But the gameplay itself is quite average, and of itself is not particularily entertaining, it is more the story and creativity that makes this campaign special.
Simple, it’s hard. You are not going to win it without having to restart a few times, but that is the way it is when you have no thumbs at all, as Oswald tells us. Life isn’t easy for a turkey, and this scenario isn’t easy. But it isn’t frustrating or anything. Yu just learn where you can and can’t go. It is perfectly challenging for such a small scenario; you don’t want to just walk through it, and you don’t want to waste an hour with it either. There is no reason whatsoever to deduct a point here.
Whatever the highest rating I can give is, this design gets it. The idea itself is wildly creative, and the Christmas theme fits perfectly. The little ideas, like rolling a beer cart at an old hobo or dodging poachers, or even the many strange decorations in the yard all show a lot of creativity from the designer. The turkey is a unit you never think of, yet it is used so perfectly in this short campaign.
Aside from the obvious fact that the whole idea is greatly innovative, the smallest things inside the design itself show good creative thinking. The Rudolf statue, the use of units in new ways, it’s all there. And it is all done with vanilla AoK, no editing. Beat that.
Map Design: 4
This is a very nice design with quite a few interesting things to see on it. It isn’t jaw dropping by any means, but it fits the atmosphere perfectly. Combined with the music and storyline, the map gives quite a Christmas Eve feel. Terrain mixing and elevation and other such tools where all done quite well, although some areas were a bit bland. Places like the large fields were considerably plainer than “high traffic” areas like the farm. Overall the map design is still well above average though.
For what my opinion is worth, this is the best crack at humorous writing in AoK as of yet. The story is immensely clever and witty. You can relate more to this cynical feathered intellectual than you can to most characters in custom scenarios. The opening instructions are in diary form and done very believably. A great job was done of personifying the turkey, while still leaving him feel very much like an animal. The “extras” around the map are also all pretty original and funny as well. But most of all it is the little comments of negativity Oswald makes at everything he sees that make him one funny turkey.
Almost always, when people attempt to make a scenario come out funny, it ends up as just really dumb. But this attempt is pulled off seemingly effortlessly.
As for things like hints and scouting report, the quality is just as evident there as everywhere else. Oswald gives a nice scouting report from his pen, and the hints are few but all that is really needed. Great work all around.
In the style of “Christmas Morning” but way more entertaining, “An Unseasonal Adventure” is one of the most novel and humorous scenarios ever made. It has a cutscene feel, while still being totally entertaining to play. If you don’t play it through at least once, you are cheating yourself out of a lot of fun. Download it.
[Edited on 01/17/08 @ 11:40 AM]