The entrance area

I prepare myself for another run across the ape cave.

He's an alcoholic, but at least he's literate.

Review by Anarchic Fox

Mission Name: The Builder's Hammer
Author: Yametha
Mission Type: I'm not sure
Map Size: Tiny
Difficulty: Hard

No. Times Played: 4
Difficulties Played: Normal, Hard and Expert
Loot Found: 0 out of 50*
Secrets Found: 0 out of 0
* This consists of a gold bottle given to one Freddie.

Pros: Cool effects, a creepy beginning, and solid architecture

Cons: An extremely aggravating apebeast area, unsneakable and deadly

Bottom Line: Actually, the best in this level is to be seen early on, so you might want to play it up to the apebeast cave. After that, well, I hope you're willing to reload a lot.


The Builder's Hammer is far more of a demo mission than a full fan mission, and this shows in the way it treats its plot. While the readme text gives a plausible reason for the undertaking, and emphasizes it with the label on a particular object in the first room, the mission throws all pretense at a plot away once the second room is entered and you suddenly find yourself among oddly-accoutred apebeasts. Here you have to improve an apebeast's liquor selection and find some bow-propelled bombs to aid your escape. While humorous missions have their merits, this level's sudden shift into chaos remains plainly more a vehicle for demonstrating certain effects than one for pulling off gags.

There is something else that also stands in the way of a simple enjoyment of the effects: the frustrating gameplay. The first room requires that you figure out that you must frob a certain teleporter (one of the special effects); this may or may not be easy, depending on whether you correctly note the teleporter's flashing as a world focus (I, unfortunately, interpreted it as an aesthetic detail, and spent some time trying to activate stuff with a bone). When you leave, you must correctly think of shooting the "explosive device" at the exit (whose barrier is probably the first special trick you'll see); this isn't too hard. What is far worse than either of these puzzles is the gameplay in the second room, where four apebeasts (three with blowpipes) stand in a shadowless, open stone cave. On Normal, defeating (note that I don't say evading) them is tolerable, with a blackjack handy and a gas arrow nearby; on Expert and Hard, when the blackjacks and arrow become more distant, the level approaches impossibility (running straight to the goal and back is doable -- but is that Thief?). On Expert, I eventually developed a method that would let me survive some one out of every three attempts. I suspect very few people will manage even this.

If a mission is designed in order to show off some special effects, then it shouldn't make it an ordeal to see all of those effects; this is enough to sum up my review. For what it's worth, though, I did think said effects were neat.


Story: 1 -- The mission throws the story away halfway through the level (and doesn't follow up in a manner that would make me consider this a gag mission).

Atmosphere: 3 -- The beginning is creepy, and some of the early effects (namely the force field) are startling; but again, the mission throws this creepiness away halfway in.

Gameplay: 1 -- Light puzzle solving (for lack of a better term), followed by a completely unstealthy bout with apebeasts. The level does vary with difficulty level; namely, you can choose how annoying the apebeast part is.

Architecture: 5 -- It's solid. This score may seem out of place, but there's no reason for me to let one flaw of a mission bias me against unrelated aspects.

Preliminary Reviewer's Score: 2.5

Irritation Penalty: -0.5 for the irritation involved in completing the mission's second area.

Final Reviewer's Score: 2 bronze (2 on the ten-point scale)

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