The beginning courtyard

The museum facade

Pagan life, preserved for your viewing pleasure

So I like crate-stacking...

The end of the hedge maze

Review by Anarchic Fox

Mission Name: Museum Heist
Author: Buglesoft
Mission Type: Neutral Museum
Map Size: Large
Difficulty: Moderate

No. Times Played: 2
Difficulties Played: Normal, Expert
Loot Found: 2009 out of 2574
Secrets Found: 4 out of 4

Pros: Fair gameplay, various memorable spots

Cons: Generally poor architecture, minimal story

Bottom Line: This mission probably isn't worth your time.

Brief Description

As the mission description says, Museum Heist is a straightforward burglary set in a local museum. Find an important artifact, meet a loot requirement, and then get out.


Exploration is the strongest aspect of Museum Heist, though unfortunately this isn't to say that said exploration is consistently good. There are several distinct areas to navigate, including a city section, the museum itself, and a hedge maze behind the museum. These vary significantly in how fun they are to look around; the city is exciting at first but soon found to be nearly empty, the museum has nice exhibits but rather boring hallways, storage rooms, and offices, while the hedge maze... well, the maze is not fun. Loot tends to come in large chunks and is rarely well-hidden (except for the five hundred or so that I couldn't find, even after repeatedly combing the area); however, a couple of the objectives do require novel approaches, in the final approach. The secrets are, I'll admit, pretty nice -- one has a clever trigger, and each gives access to several otherwise unreachable rooms. But the good aspects of the exploration of the level don't make up for the flaws that are elsewhere to be found.

The visuals throughout the level are poor. Almost all buildings are blocky, and often no more than simple cubes; much of the mission is distressingly gridlike. The mission does have the good idea of changing elevations, but this is applied no farther than a couple of completely unnatural ramps and a few dodecahedrons embedded in the grass. Utterly simple in their geometry, the rooms rarely add even a small touch like moulding; the object deployment helps, but is generally dull (except in the four themed exhibit halls). The lighting is alright, though in a few rooms the (high!) light level is close to uniform. The textures are usually appropriate for their area, but frequently the textures of the walls, ceiling, and floor will clash severely. Something that makes this poor visual design surprising is the fact that a few spots are of much higher quality -- the exterior of the museum, and some of the exhibit halls, come to mind.

The museum is unconvincing. Everything is misproportioned (most rooms are far too large) and rather empty; the offices, workrooms, and such seem thrown in arbitrarily. The place simply does not give the impression of being an actual museum. There are some outright oddities, such as unsupported marble stairways and lamps mounted on bushes. Worse than these (admittedly small) breaches of realism is the utter pointlessness of some areas. In the city section, you can jump into a drainage ditch, swim down, grab a silver nugget, and emerge in a utility building; this sounds alright, but it is the entirety of the interesting exploration you're likely to do in the city. The museum itself has many storerooms without treasure, readables, or anything else of interest. And of course there is the awful hedge maze, which rewards countless minutes of trawling with a single purple vase.

Too much of Museum Heist is needlessly frustrating; the hedge maze is the worst example of this, though there are other areas which involve walking long distances without reward. The use of noisy floor surfaces is excessive; imagine room after room of nothing but marble. While the moss arrows given to the player will help a little with this, the noisy areas will probably just mean that you'll be doing a lot of sniping and blackjacking from the entrances of these rooms. The lighting is alright, though there's nothing exciting about it; a suitable proportion of the lights can be doused with water arrows. The patrols are wide-ranging, which is good; but they are also simple enough that the guards will never pose a challenge except in the metal- and tile-floored areas. There are three cameras in the level whose triggering does nothing, and another which only controls an arrow turret; an alarm system is present, but is marvelously ineffective. Finally, there tends to be a bit too much equipment in the mission; in particular, you'll probably never run out of water arrows.

There is no backstory, the plot is as conventional as they get, and the readables in the level tend to be fair; though to keep a since of perspective, at least the mission does have a plot and some interesting readables. Museum Heist also has blatant, belief-breaking references to TTLG members; but since no suspension of disbelief is likely to have been sustained to this point, it makes little difference, and won't affect the experience. In summary, Museum Heist has many isolated areas and aspects in which it can provide a pleasing playthrough, but on the whole is a poor mission.


Story: 2 -- It's present, but gives no backstory, no development through the course of the level, and no compelling reason to be undertaking the heist in the first place.

Atmosphere: 2 -- Not much is done to establish atmosphere in the level. Ambients are present, but rather uniform. Readables add the occasional nice moment, but there are also severely out-of-place references to TTLG.

Gameplay: 4 -- Well-done in most aspects. However, the equipment supply is unbalanced, and the level overuses marble and metal floor surfaces.

Architecture: 3 -- Generally far too simple and blocky, though there is the occasional higher-quality area. The texturing has nothing in particular to recommend it. Mission layout is alright in the city (though the steep ramps don't look too good), but rather arbitrary in the museum itself.

Irritation Penalty: -0.25 for the truly annoying, and disappointingly empty, hedge maze.

Reviewer's Score: 2.5 bronze hammers (2.5 on the ten-point scale)

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