A view of the starting area
The lady of the manor
The mission, as seen from the roofs above
Review by Anarchic Fox|
Mission Name: Chasing Sergeant Chase
Author: Long Finger
Mission Type: Police Manor/Factory
Map Size: Small
No. Times Played: 2
Difficulties Played: Normal and Expert
Loot Found: 2193 out of 2443
Secrets Found: 6 out of 6
Pros: Nothing really comes to mind.
Cons: Dull architecture, poor gameplay, numerous annoying aspects
Bottom Line: A deeply flawed mission. Probably not worth playing.
Your nephew, lately of the prison of Pingham village, died of food poisoning. You are aware of the negligence that is common in prisons; but this time it's unforgivable. Find Sergeant Chase, the man who presided over your nephew's death, and kill him. Oh, and while you're there, steal the Horn of Quintus again. That thing sure gets around.
From time to time surveys of annoying features in fan missions show up on the TTLG forums; if the most common complaints found in these surveys were to be tallied up, Chasing Sergeant Chase would end up guilty of many. It has sounds which go through walls, guards and servants who stand in full light (and cannot be snuck past), no less than two hammers in (locked) chests in a room full of sleeping guards, long lockpick times rewarding you with mundane items like apples (or the aforementioned hammers), many locked doors of which almost none can be picked, a huge number of keys which are used once and then sit around in your inventory, the ability to easily get on the roofs and to the edge of the world, a worthless secret or two, and a main objective which requires finding minute switches in odd places. This mission could have benefited enormously from some (or more) betatesting and feedback before release.
The architecture is far too plain to look good. Nearly every room is built from a single air brush, the most detail appearing being different textures for ceiling, walls and floor; sometimes even this is abandoned, leaving you inside a box with all six sides bearing the same texture. The lack of detail wouldn't be so bad if it was only occasional (say, limited to passages and the smaller rooms), or if the texture was detailed enough to make up for the simple brushing, but when this lack is the norm it just makes it seem as though little effort has been put into the mission's visual quality. Textures are sometimes poorly chosen, and often misaligned; for instance, a window texture appears on the inside wall of one house (already a shaky idea), aligned so that the floor meets the midpoint of the windows. The outside shows a little more variety (some effort has been put into the roofs, obviously, and the textures there are slightly more varied), but they still tend to be very dull. Object placement is alright (the rooms would have looked far worse if empty), but nothing astounding. The layout of the level shows more creativity, but suffers a bit from being rather nonsensical.
The level's gameplay is also problematic. While there is plenty of loot to find, it is unevenly distributed; the living room, as well as a few other places (not always obvious) have a large share of the loot, while many other locales have none at all. Most of the AI stand in place, rarely even fidgeting; combined with placement in a brightly-lit area, this can be very aggravating. Some forms of AI behavior that usually get neglected are present in Chasing Sergeant Chase; for instance, in at least one place cops will relight doused lamps. Unfortunately, this also happens to take place in a spot where it's impossible to sneak past with lights on, and tends to leave several of the AI standing on a table. One patrol (that of the first bot) has the merit of forcing the player into adjoining rooms, and keeping a close watch on the bot's proximity; nonetheless, the other patrols are uninteresting (and in one case his patrol causes a cop to perpetually walk into a bookshelf). Finally, the main objectives are hampered by the difficult switches and key-hunting mentioned above. Except for a few mines, there is only one equipment stash to be found in the level, and it is enough to completely ruin whatever balance the mission previously had (though to be fair, this cache is also hard to access).
As I've made clear in the overview above, Chasing Sergeant Chase is a deeply flawed mission. I would not recommend it for play, though it's not so bad that you can't have fun with it.
Story: 3 -- There is a story, along with a few accompanying readables (though these are poorly written). It is also the first time I've seen this particular motivation for Garrett. On the other hand, there are some outright plot holes (Garrett has a nephew? The Horn of Quintus is nearby? He owes Basso a favor?), along with the most awful names I've yet seen in a fan mission.
Atmosphere: 0 -- Not only does the level lack those things which help to build atmosphere (good use of ambients, setting-building readables, novel locations, and conversations, for example), its careless readables, dodgy gameplay, and lack of a convincing setting will probably kill whatever immersion you might have in it.
Gameplay: 2 -- Uneven (and for me, unsatisfying) loot distribution, poor placement of AI (sometimes forcing confrontations), potentially very aggravating main objectives.
Architecture: 3 -- Excessively plain, often with poor choice and alignment of textures (this is more important than it sounds). It's not, however, outright ugly. The layout of the buildings are interesting in some ways, but very arbitrary.
Reviewer's Score: 2 bronze ( 2 on the ten-point scale)
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