The Mantis Imperative (Fallout 3 Mod) review…

The Mantis Imperative (Fallout 3 Mod) review after the break…

The Mantis Imperative (Fallout 3 Mod) review…

There’s a fine line between clever and obscure; The only difference between the two is that one is slightly more apparent then the other but that difference is striking – One is considered brilliant while the other is considered worthless. It is one of many lines that creative individuals must dare face whenever they create anything worthwhile.

“The Mantis Imperative” is a mod for the computer game “Fallout 3.” The mod is made by someone calling themselves “Puce Moose” and I reviewed version 1.071.

In the mod, you are tasked to gain entry into a mysterious building left untouched by the whims of the post-apocalyptic rage outside of it’s walls. Once inside the building, you are given a series of increasingly difficult puzzles to solve. The final puzzle brings you to a disturbing revelation concerning how the building came to be and why.

As I’ve written earlier, mods can be deceptively large in size despite not being very large in terms of new playing area. Items like new textures and audio files can be very large without a substantial impact on playing time or intensity. An earlier mod that I reviewed had most of it’s near 40 megs of size comprised of a single video file lasting barely 2 minutes and doing little to involve the player in the mod. The Mantis Imperative uses it’s 100+ megs a bit more economically but not by much.

To my admission, the game was fairly entertaining early on. The game uses voice acting (a machine-simulated voice) to good effect. It is not long before some deficiencies emerge in the mod, though; Two raiders can clearly be seen generating out of thin air if one carefully moves into an unexpected location while the automated voice is giving one of it’s many soliloquies. This is not the only break in immersion, though, but was one of the few unintentional times.

The puzzles in the game range from cutely ingenious to simply annoying and not all of them are iron clad. I had to cheat simply to get into the building; I had the medallion and the pictogram describing what to do but a giant radscorpion killed the NPC that these items belonged to before I could. Did that break that particular puzzle? I’ll never know.

One puzzle that I especially enjoyed was the amperes and volts puzzle once you are inside of the building. It is a refreshing different type of puzzle then one is used to while playing ordinary “Fallout 3.” The puzzle had me searching through an old book I possessed (outside of the game) to uncover a vital clue in order to solve it. The puzzle made good use of the unique textures of for that mod.

Unfortunately, the game quickly descended into a repetitive pattern: Enter room, enter “teleport,” enter a testing area, figure out the riddle of the testing area, regain all of your possessions, exit the testing area, walk down a hallway, enter room, etc… so forth. Some “testing areas” were more intriguing then others but all began to feel a bit bland – I would have enjoyed the riddles if they had been naturally integrated into a lab complex that didn’t need the teleportation gimmick that the mod used.

Another point of contention that began to work against the mod was the “big reveal” which, quite frankly, any seasoned gamer (and especially one who has played the computer game “Portal”) could have figured out long before it was formally unveiled. Modders would be wise to accept the reality that the “crazed computer” plot gimmick has long been overused (2001 – A Space Odyssey and the pen and paper RGP “Paranoia” quickly comes to mind) far before “Portal” ever got it’s hands on it and that it’s “shocking” value is highly diminished.

Finally, the last puzzle of the mod (or not, depending on a decision that you make) is far too clever for it’s own good. The player must get a pig to ram into an otherwise inaccessible doorway in order to open it. While I would not dispute that a number of people who correctly solved this puzzle with no outside assistance, the puzzle was overly complex and not exactly fool-proof in it’s approach. The puzzle proved just how difficult it is for the light RPG/Action title to emulate a classical adventure game that combines inventory items.

While I ended the mod such that I could have it continue outside the borders of the lab, I never got the opportunity to investigate the “anomalies.” Here is where the mod, already leaving me feeling a little disappointed, left me completely cold without any enthusiasm to continue. In order to investigate the “anomalies” and something to do with “Jello,” the computer voice must inform you of it while you are listening to an unique radio station with vintage music and commercials. There’s no “fast forward” button for this – It’s merely song after song with the occasional commercial or momentary commentary by the computer thrown in. I’m not a fan of listening to the in-game radio and I especially don’t enjoy waiting. Sorry. I want my quests now.

The Mantis Imperative, without a doubt, has some clever puzzles but it’s marred by a ho-hum plot who’s reveal is hardly revolutionary (and, no, it doesn’t get bonus points for the System Shock 2 reference) and some overly clever puzzles that distances the player rather then engages them. The result is enough frustration to delete the mod which is unfortunate – Had this mod been half the size and a bit more economical with it’s cleverness, it’d be far more appealing. There’s a fine line between clever and obscure; Like a classic adventure game, this mod crosses that line too many times for me to see it through to the end.

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6 Responses to “The Mantis Imperative (Fallout 3 Mod) review…”

  1. teknophilia Says:

    How DO you solve the level with the pig and the door?

  2. Lutonaut Says:

    Thank you for reading my blog.

    Place the bowl and at least one box of pig chow into your inventory. Walk to the test lab door (the one with the yellow signs). Once there, a screen will pop up and an object resembling a bowl filled with pig chow will appear on the ground. Take the other box of pig chow, open the door with the pig currently in it, “tcl” yourself and then run towards the bowl with the pig chow. If all goes according to plan, the pig will run at the bowl, triggering an explosion that opens the door. I was never able to accomplish this feat without receiving some damage, so this is probably not the optimal way of accomplishing the goal.

    Once the door is opened, there is another puzzle concerning scientists and what aspects of designing a teddy-bear shaped robot they are assigned. You can accomplish this puzzle by looking at the objects in each room (which should now be accessible).

    I hope this has helped. Again, thank you for reading my blog.

  3. Kevin Says:

    How did you get in the building? You mentioned that the NPC that had the pictogram had been already killed, I fear that has happened to me as well.

    • Lutonaut Says:

      Hi Kevin and thank you for reading my blog.

      I must confess that I can not quite remember exactly what I did. It was a long time ago since I have played that mod. My first guess is that I used the console command “unlock” on the door to get past it.

      Unfortunately, my memory of the particulars of this mod are very faded at this point.

      Again, I thank you for reading my blog.

  4. A. Says:

    The reason why you didn’t get inside wasn’t because a giant scorpion killed the guy. You said you had the insinia, you had to go in front of the door, drop it on the ground, grab it with Z, crouch for 3 seconds. This all was described in the picture in your notes. I didn’t get it too… *lol* Funny how I arrived here because I googled how to enter in the mantis lab, before deciding to open the GECK. But then I was lucky and I found there’s a FAQ on nexus 😉

    However, the reason of my “intromission” was just a regard about this “review”. I agree, some puzzles are definetely too much hard. And the problem is not the difficulty itself, you could even decide to struggle behind a puzzle for a month, just like you could struggle to solve some hard sudoku.But in this case, the problem with hard puzzles on a mod is that the player is stuck at some point and starts to think things like “awww did I break the mod maybe? do I have some conflict with some other mod?” which is pretty frustrating and leads the player to grab a FAQ / walkthrough to see if something broke. So yeah I’m not a fanatic too, especially when you see how easily mods can break.

    But excluding that, I just wanted to say I don’t agree with the other concepts, what I’ve read got me sad. Quests are the hardest and longest thing to do, and they actually introduce new gameplay which is a bless for people who already finished vanilla many times. But why working 500/1000 hours (because this is the time necessary for some decent quest mod) just to read comments like this one? Why do that, when it’s pretty obvious that people prefer skimpy mashups and ports from Oblivion, or copy pasted companions? yeah, things like these are what remove in me the will to mod quests, really

    • Lutonaut Says:

      Hi A and thank you for reading my blog.

      I’m not certain that I understand you; I’m guessing that you are disagreeing with my review and that is fine. Different people are entitled towards having different opinions about the same entity (in this case, a mod for the game “Fallout 3”).

      As a reviewer, I make an attempt to be fair with my assessments and, as that is a subjective goal, it is to each person as to whether or not that fairness is achieved. To give no feedback, though, or to give clearly biased feedback aimed at placating the mod author would not be fair to the mod authors as well. The mod authors have worked hard on their mods and it is up to those who assess their mods to make observations that the mod authors may not have realized about the mods that they have created.

      I have not played “The Mantis Imperative” in many years at this point and I am not about to restart or refine the review that I have previously written.

      Comments that I or others may write about mods should not discourage anyone from engaging in mod creation or publishing their works towards a broader audience.

      If it is any consolation, though, to any mod authors fearful that I may be critical of their mods, I have no plans on reviewing mods written for other Bethesda titles such as “Fallout: New Vegas” or “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” which are Steam-only titles for which I feel no desire to purchase.

      Again, I thank you again for reading my blog.

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