'Trouble in Town' by Owl
|Review machine: Athlon 950, 256Mb, ATI Radeon 64Mb DDR @ 1024,768 Reviewed 03/11/01
|Download (UK) (Russia)
Trouble in Town is Owl's first level for Drakan and its a good first attempt considering the complexity of the level editor! There are a lot of new buildings making excellent towns and a castle which are very detailed, the only downside being that it can be very slow in places even on my machine.
The storyline behind the level is fairly straightforward; it has been 9 years since Rynn and Arokh defeated Navaros in the rift. Rynn, Arokh and Delon found a new home near their old hometown which was destroyed during the conflict against the Dark Union reborn. Peace has reigned for the last few years but now there appears to be a new problem, strange things have happened such as people have disappeared and village supplies cut off. One morning, Arokh did not show up as expected and Rynn set off to find out why.
On starting out on your quest to find Arokh, you will notice the huge amount of detail in the buildings, for example Rynn's home has an upstairs floor, decorated with furniture such as a bedside cabinet, an ottoman, bookcase etc. Downstairs you will find little details like a kitchen area complete with kitchen sink and a dish drainer! These sort of details are not present in the game and other PCL's I have seen and it looks much better than a bare house with nothing but a bed and bookcase inside. The only downside to a lot of detail is slowdown but in the village area it seems to be kept to a minimum.
About half way through your quest, you will come to the region's main town which has become overrun with Orcs, this is where you will notice the amount of work and effort that has been spent on making it as realistic as possible. A lot of the buildings can even be fully explored and inside there are individual rooms completely furnished, the best example of this is the town's hotel. The houses, like the ones in Rynn's village are very detailed with one particular house having complete kitchen units (see screenshot below)
There was however, a lot of clipping errors in the town area making combat inside the buildings difficult if you were in the wrong place but thankfully most of the combat was outside. Exploring the hotel was difficult in places though due to these clipping errors, sometimes you would disappear through the floor and reappear elsewhere.
The final thing I want to mention to do with these new buildings and structures is the castle at the end; the detail here is absolutely superb but it comes at a price - a very very low frame rate. In places I was getting 5 fps with the fog right in even on my Athlon 950Mhz. This made combat very difficult but you were provided with lots of heath potions - more on this later though.
The rest of the level architecture is fairly average, landscape wise, it was sound but there was a lot of odd looking areas such as parts where the lighting and textures would suddenly change making it obvious that the level has been put together in sections. For example it would suddenly go to very bright to very dark in just one step e.g. at the entrance to the cave just outside the village. I also noticed there were odd polygons totally lit inside the caves and at one point, it was even snowing inside the tunnel! This area also has a few clipping errors where you will get stuck, so save often.
I also found that there seemed to be an odd use of textures throughout the level, at the beginning it was 'mountain world' but as you neared the end, tropical world textures were used giving an uneven feel to the level. The other textures however within the castle for example (see screenshot, left) were chosen well making some of the interior rooms of the castle look fantastic.
On to gameplay; well, you will find it very easy; the enemy characters seem to have very low hit points, whether this is the case or not, I don't know. There are a lot of health potions so you will be never short of them and you can get away with using one to restore a small amount of health. The weapons you will find are standard ones from the game with the exception of the goblin gun which was a cool weapon. Basically its the flame thrower gun that the goblins used during the game. One other thing is that you come across decent Armour early in the game which makes you more resistant to attack.
Putting these problems aside, you will still find the level enjoyable and you will appreciate the amount of time and effort that has gone into this level. I did find one or two things that were well, gross, the wartocks were having humans for dinner, ugh!
Mind, this added more atmosphere to the game as you felt that these people were probably the missing villagers from your village and it made you want to take revenge. Talking of atmosphere, it was tense and I enjoyed it; creeping round the castle's dungeons in the semi darkness was cool.
So overall, Trouble in Town is a good level with outstanding details and its an enjoyable adventure. The only downsides are that it isn't much of a challenge and its very slow in places.
Rating; Architecture & lighting: 9 Texturing: 7.5 Item & enemy placement: 6
Atmosphere: 8 Gameplay / new ideas / enhancements: 9 bugs: clipping errors, slow
- Click the images to enlarge.