Trapped! (Dark Mod mission) review…

Trapped! (Dark Mod mission) review after the break…

Trapped! (Dark Mod mission) review…

In the movie, “The Professional,” an assassin teaches a young protege that the skill of the assassin is measured by how far away the assassin is when he kills his target. In other words, the closer you are, the better you are. Obviously, a prerequisite for this measure is the ability to escape any repercussions that may follow said assassination.

In the “Thief” franchise of video games, there is a similar concept. In that video game, you play as a thief and your goal isn’t necessarily to assassinate people but to steal from them. A player fundamentally has three choices when confronted with people in these games – Kill them, knock them unconscious or avoid them entirely. The default solution in most cases is to use a weapon called a “blackjack,” striking them in the back of the head with this weapon to render them unconscious. Other options, naturally, may be used – Noise arrows to distract adversaries, gas arrows to render targets unconscious from afar, broadhead arrows (regular arrows) to kill them from afar and a broadsword for those few times when combat is unavoidable.

In the “Thief” franchise of video games, the term “ghosting” is used when a player wants to completely avoid all contact with their adversaries. “Ghosting” means no knocking anyone unconscious, distracting them or killing them. It is as though the player is as invisible as a ghost, hence, “ghosting.”

“Trapped!” is a Dark Mod mission for the Dark Mod, a Doom 3 total conversion that emulates the Thief series game play without the intellectual property of the Thief franchise. The mission was designed by “RailGun,” who previously assisted in the construction of an earlier Dark Mod mission, “Thieves.” The mission weighs in at 6.3 megs. I played on the “medium” setting and that is the level that I will be reviewing.

In “Trapped!,” the thief has been ambushed by a group of thieves that he had been paid to follow. Awakening in a basement jail cell, the thief is forced to “ghost” his way out of the situation until he can get back his thieving equipment and escape his environment. Always the opportunist, the thief also won’t mind taking a few possessions along the way for his troubles…

Of the recent Dark Mod missions that I have reviewed thus far, “Trapped!” seemed larger and more detailed then “The Parcel,” a Dark Mod mission of similar size. “Trapped!” takes place inside a run-down mansion of three stories – A basement and two upper floors. Several doors are boarded up, signifying that the rooms beyond are in severe disrepair. A statue on the top floor has been beheaded for reasons unclear and several rats can be seen scurrying about, searching for food or fleeing the prospect of guards with swords.

“Trapped!” is not without it’s limitations, though. In the game that I played, the thieves were constantly interfering with each others patrols, causing for a huge break in immersion. On the middle floor, I watched as three thieves were locked in a stalemate, all trying to walk in a direction that another thief was blocking. Two other thieves on the upper floor also stalemated each other at a doorway, both intent on walking but neither intent on letting the other pass. These unrealistic logjams allowed me fairly easy access to more parts of the mansion then I probably was allowed. Eventually, their patrols resumed normally but not after I had long enjoyed a reunion with my equipment.

“Trapped!” forces the player to initially “ghost” through a significant portion of the level before you begin stealing your equipment back. Players who aren’t acquainted with the Dark Mod’s object manipulation system (picking up, rotating, and placing down objects) should best use a refresher course before starting, as you need to move objects in order to escape your jail cell. The “ghosting” heightens this initial part of the mission, increasing the danger since you aren’t able to defend yourself or remove lighting sources to increase the areas that you can hide in.

One aspect of “Trapped!” that I found curious was that there were no secrets to speak of. Despite a variety of blocked-off doors, there was no secret way of getting into one of those rooms and possibly loot something that not even the thieves were aware of.

Also, not all of the loot is readily accessible to the player. Two cups in a chest were seemingly impossible to grab and two other pieces of loot that are housed inside a crate required some tricky maneuvering before they could be grabbed. I understand the creative desire of designers but hard-to-reach loot when it could be easily grabbed if someone were “in the real world” breaks immersion and frustrates players.

Once you have your equipment back (primarily, the blackjack), eliminating the opponents was a fairly mundane task. The initial opponent practically begs to be knocked unconscious based on the route of his patrol. It felt like a sly decision to tantalize the player with an opponent that would otherwise be an easy target but is pretty much invincible in that early stage of the mission.

One aspect of making the mission more interesting would have been to have created a trigger that has the guard patrolling near your jail cell to walk into it after a certain time while you’re upstairs and alerting others when it finds you missing. Imagine the game play possibilities of a deadline as you overhear guards upstairs declare that its time to get a confession out of you or overhear that you’ve escaped from your cell, madly dashing to the basement to confirm it and then scouring the mansion in an effort to find you.

“Trapped!” has better scenery then “The Parcel” but patrol snafus seriously undermined the difficulty and believability of this mission. The readable scrolls and books of the mission didn’t significantly add to the story or give the player a feeling of advantage in terms of the objectives. The forced “ghosting,” though, does require one to admire those who limit themselves to an admittedly difficult playing style.

Just like the mansion in the mission itself, “Trapped!” could use some fixing up to turn an OK mission into a great mission.

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