Crown of Penitence (Dark Mod mission)…

Crown of Penitence (Dark Mod mission) after the break…

Crown of Penitence (Dark Mod mission)…

Whenever there’s more then one of anything, there will usually be the perfunctory “Which one is better? Which one is the best?” type of discussions.

When “The Dark Mod” modification for the “Doom 3” video game debuted earlier this month, it debuted with 4 missions – The Outpost, The Chalice of Kings, The Crown of Penitence & The Training Mission. I don’t really count “The Training Mission” as an actual mission – Although I’m certain that it took just as much skill & craft to generate a mission about playing other missions, it’s sort of like saying that a movie about making a movie is just as much a movie as an actual movie is. Therefore, I really only count 3 missions – The Outpost, The Chalice of Kings & The Crown of Penitence.

Unlike a “Thief” video game where you must play missions in a certain order, Dark Mod missions are played one at a time in any order you so choose. Therefore, a review of “The Outpost” mission might be different if a reviewer first played “The Chalice of Kings” first as opposed to playing “The Outpost” first.

To be completely fair & honest, I played the missions in the following order: The Outpost, The Chalice of Kings & The Crown of Penitence. My reviews, obviously, reflect the slight bias that I might have for earlier played missions then later ones because of the infamous “Law of Diminishing Returns”: That indulging in your favorite activity, despite the initial pleasure, eventually decreases the joy that you get out of that activity.

In fact, I’m sorry to say that, of the 3 missions available so far, The Crown of Penitence (written by “Jesps”) is the weakest of the 3 missions. That assessment isn’t synonymous to writing that it is a “bad” mission (although, to be fair, I experienced a game-balancing bug in the instance that I played which made for a fairly easy game in the latter half, more on that later) because any classic “Thief-like” game experience is a good “Thief-like” game experience. Perhaps if I had played this mission first & then the other missions, my opinion of it would be different.

The mission story is straight-forward: A wealthy family has come into possession of a crown (hence the title of the mission) & it is your task to rob them of this crown & escape unimpeded.

Despite the mission’s physical size of 12 MB, I really didn’t get the sense that this mission was larger then The Chalice of Kings. It certainly wasn’t larger in the architectural size of the mission, which consists of a small basement, a ground floor & then a spiraling staircase up to a small second floor.

For some reason, I actually tried to “ghost” this mission although, admittedly, I did knock out 3 people. I could have knocked out others but I simply didn’t feel like it & it wasn’t critical to knock them out for the success of the mission. I knocked out the man who enters the basement, the man who patrols the “dirty” part of the mansion & then the aristocrat upstairs. So much for being a professional thief, huh?

Part of my reluctance to score this mission higher might be, in part, due to my sympathies for the family that I was stealing from. The readables in the mission makes the family out to be struggling financially when they discover this crown which, rightly so, they plan to use to shore up their finances. Did I read the readables wrong? Were there other readables that made the family out to be mean or malicious or otherwise unbecoming of sudden fortune? I don’t know. I know that I’m playing a heartless thief who doesn’t care but I’m a player who does care & we live in a world where a lot of people are going without who don’t deserve that fate because a bunch of truly wealthy people thought of short-term gain more then long-term growth. Yes, it’s an once-wealthy family that I’m stealing from but it’s all relative – One person’s “poor” is another person’s “wealthy” & vice versa. Perhaps, in five years, when the recession has finally ended & is far in our proverbial “rear view mirror,” the storyline might not be as provoking but I thought that it was a bit of bad timing on the mission’s part.

The other part of the mission that I thought was rather odd was a game-breaking occurrence. I’m not sure if this happens all the time or if I was just the lucky recipient of a (literal) bad break; One of the guards got stuck on his path & could no longer move. This resulted, in my observations, in a few of the rooms of the ground floor being completely unguarded. I was able to walk around those rooms with complete impunity. Again – It might’ve been a once-in-a-lifetime for that mission occurrence or it might happen a lot more often… I don’t know. However, once I realized the benefits of the guard being stuck where he was, the mission almost felt as though it ended “early.”

Getting the crown itself involved finding a secret switch & I always enjoy, to a certain degree, finding hidden switches if only to flip them & uncover some hidden passage. If someone is meant to “ghost” this section, then they are certainly better then I because I just couldn’t see how someone could “ghost” this section without the A.I. being completely oblivious to reality if they maintained their route.

Also, just who would have the bravery of sleeping with a wooden chest directly above them? That is one confident sleeper.

Overall, I liked this mission but the storyline & the glitch are what sets it adversely apart from the other missions. The other missions had their issues, to be certain, but the issues in this mission seemed to have been more pronounced & it affected, at least, my own game play for this mission. For 12 MB, I just didn’t see the huge difference I thought that I was going to see from The Chalice of Kings, which clocks in at only 3 MB.

As the saying goes, every train has a caboose. For the initial missions, The Crown of Penitence is that caboose.

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