Apocolypto? by veteran is a short single-player scenario, setting you in the shoes of Azeke, an Eagle Warrior who's racing home to stop the destruction of his village. Just who could this villain be? None other than the Huns, a popular bad-guy for *any* civilization, even if they have no historical presence in North America! Azeke was the only man stopping the Huns from destroying his village in the past, but ever since he left to a distant Fort, his enemies had the chance to strike back. Sound exciting? It may, but unfortunately, excitement is one of the many things this scenario's lacking.
While the concept of racing home is fun (it's almost as exciting as running away from home!), there are no obstacles in Apocolypto. There are no potential rewards for racing home besides a stale victory. What's the reward for racing home fast, or what about if you're too slow? Instead of giving the player a drive to complete the scenario, this scenario turns into a frustrating linear walk-a-thon, despite you being at the helm of a speedy Eagle Warrior. (You also control a villager at one point, but it doesn't appear to have any relevancy towards the plot or gameplay.)
This scenario's gameplay consists moving Azeke close to houses and units, and then clicking on them to get their dialog. It's hard to determine what houses have people and what houses don't; instead, you're left to guess. And what's strange is that this seems to be a superficial feature, intended for entertainment rather than to actually help you complete the game. Towards the end of the scenario, you're asked to find a Motishuma, which confuses the player into thinking this was an actual unit. Rather, you just have to step on a patch of tile in his village to complete the scenario. There's no clear indication that this is how you achieve victory, leading you to scour the town searching for a unit that never existed.
In general, I had no fun playing this scenario. From the stale walk-about in the beginning to the frustrating unit-clicking towards the end, I found myself wanting to achieve victory just so I could get it over with.
I made it a point to play this scenario on Hardest, just to make sure I was getting the worst of what the author could throw at me. Little did I know that this scenario, despite having what seemed to be a giant enemy at the beginning (the Huns), consists of no combat. Not too long into the scenario, the Hun AI even resigned, making me curious as to why they even exist on the map. Of course, there's no problem with the author excluding an opponent, but I was left disappointed that there was nothing to really stop my character from reaching home.
This scenario consists of no difficult gameplay, which I view as a major problem that hurts the entire scenario. I would have appreciated some hardships, like an opponent or maybe an obstacle that could pose a challenge for my character on his way home. But unfortunately, anybody could easily beat this scenario; the only difficult aspect is how long and tiring the journey is to your destination.
While playing Apocolypto, I found no trace of concepts that were creative or interesting, besides the odd decision to place the Huns in North America. The story, the map design and the use of triggers all seemed very underdeveloped, and did nothing to make this scenario stand out.
Map Design: 1
The scenery in Apocolypto is similar to the gameplay, leaving the player wishing there was something to look at while they wander that ugly green pathway. The forests do a great job of keeping Azeke going towards his destination, but at the same time, they look like they were painted onto the map without any regard towards how they look. Thankfully, your eventual destination isn't green; rather, it looks like a blank, sloppy desert town. I did appreciate the intentions of the designer for the two towns; the yellow village was a burning wreck, and Motishuma's village had citizens walking around to give the illusion of activity. But those features didn't improve an otherwise ugly and empty map.
Apocolypto has objectives, hints and a story, but each is poorly developed. The entire backstory is superficial, ignoring character depth and instead making the player improvise while they stroll along the jungle. That concept may have played out better if if there was any dialog that let the player improvise, but instead, Azeke becomes a faceless scout instead of the powerful hero the author intended.
The hints and instructions were straightforward, but at times, confusing. As I mentioned in "Playability", you're given no directions on how to end the scenario, except for a vague hint that the character you're looking for, Motishuma, is in a temple on the other side of town. After searching the town desperately for anything that appeared to be a temple, eventually I found all you had to do is step on an unmarked patch of tile to go to this mysterious "other side of town". The hints and objectives instructed me on what to do for most of the scenario, and although I'm disappointed that this doesn't say much about Apocolypto's gameplay, the objectives/story were the most developed part of this scenario.
Due to the subpar gameplay, I can't recommend anybody download this scenario. I'm aware that this review has been negative, and I'd like to apologize to the author; I don't want to discourage anybody from designing, and in fact, I heavily encourage the author to continue making scenarios. It's clear that he had a more grand design planned for this scenario, and I think that, by practicing, playing the other scenarios in our Blacksmith, and participating in our Scenario Design community, the author can improve upon his design skills and make the next scenarios in this series a *lot* more entertaining for the player. A big thank you to veteran for contributing to our Blacksmith, and I recommend you keep designing, so you can improve your editor skills and come up with a product we can all enjoy. Thanks to you all for reading!
[Edited on 09/30/09 @ 12:12 PM]