Rightful Property (Dark Mod mission) review…

Rightful Property (Dark Mod mission) review after the break…

Rightful Property (Dark Mod mission) review…

When a deal goes awry, the dealer runs off with your merchandise before they have the chance to exchange what you’ve stolen for money that is owed to you for the job. Granted, your hard earned money wasn’t exactly ethical in nature but you still want to be compensated and, barring that, you want a return of your… (wait for it)… rightful property.

“Rightful Property” is a Dark Mod mission for the Dark Mod total conversion for the Doom 3 computer game. “The Dark Mod” is a total conversion mod that is meant to emulate the game play of the Thief franchise of computer games (namely, Thief 1 and Thief 2) without the intellectual property. The mission weighs in at 22.5 megs. The author is listed as “jysk” and I played “version 1” of the mission on Dark Mod version 1.07. I played on the “Difficult” setting.

It feels like, every time I review a Dark Mod mission, I’m essentially learning how to play the game all over again. “Oh, that’s how you crawl.” “OK, how do I pick up a body again? Oh, OK. Now I remember.” “Wait… which keys…? Yup. I remember now.” After shaking some of the rust off, though, I was back in the blackjack downward swing of things.

If I didn’t know better, “Rightful Property” plays bigger then the 22.5 megs implies. It’s a large, sprawling map that is essentially cut into two sections: A small port side section and a larger suburban section within some castle walls. Various houses and establishments fill in the rest, as our thief wreaks havoc wherever a door lock may be picked or a wall can be mantled. Sure, our thief wants their rightful property back but if they can also ransack a warehouse along the way… All the better.

The introduction to the mission was adequate, with centered text being supplemented with moving screenshots in the background. Perhaps the only addition that would have made a significant difference would have been a voice over but such an addition isn’t necessary. One aspect I enjoyed was the return of buying your equipment. That was a nice touch.

“Rightful property,” in it’s “Difficult” setting, doesn’t skimp on the enemies – There are guards aplenty to keep you occupied. I knocked out 21 enemies and, truth be told, I probably could have knocked out another 4 if I had the gumption and the patience (not to mention a few gas arrows) to perform that task. The amount of enemies seems daunting until one discovers that the guards are very set in their routines but also follow some of the same patterns, allowing for some blatant weaknesses in their routes that can be easily exploited. For instance, the warehouse had three guards patrolling it that could all be knocked out in one area – Like an assembly line, I would set up a moss arrow area, wait for the target to walk by, knock them out, drag them away, then wait for the next available target to walk over the same moss arrow area… The mission has some very curious “choke points” where I could easily whittle the patrols down with little resistance. Near the warehouse, after traveling through the castle “tunnel” and two places in the Inn (near the bathrooms) were all places where a lot of patrols went through the same area in such a way where all it took was some patience and a little blackjack timing.

The mission is, by no means, clear upon the outset – Complications emerge throughout the mission. You find the person who owes you the money (or, at the least, the merchandise that you stole that they were going to sell) killed and then learn that you will need to infiltrate a bank to acquire your rightfully stolen merchandise. Along the way, at your option, is a side track where a rather nasty spider ambushes you. You also want to uncover why there are so many guards patrolling the streets, although the motive behind this objective is unclear. Certainly, the amount of enemies is uncommonly formidable but the reason never has any resonance with the mission; It’s not as if you can do anything about it and, if you can’t do anything about it, why concern yourself with it? There are readables (books, notes, etc.) to add a storyline concerning a missing girl. Yes, the concept of a young, missing child is heartbreaking but you can’t do anything about it. Had the mission been capable of rescuing the young girl, then perhaps the additional storyline may have had some value (Do you confront the spider and save the little girl? For example). As it was, it was an interesting read… And now back to your regularly scheduled robbing.

It would be wrong to praise “Rightful Property” too much and the mission sometimes plays like a decent first draft of a hypothetically better final mission. A lot of the nitpicks are technical in nature – Elevators, for example, were notorious for not working correctly and only raising the platform part way and would take multiple tries before the elevator ascended (or descended) all of the way as intended. Two guards mysteriously became alert for no reason whatsoever, then became “stuck” in one area, paying attention to something that clearly shouldn’t have set them off. It was possible to see past the map by mantling onto some crates and seeing beyond the wall into nothingness. A tower’s texture was missing on one side, also breaking the illusion of immersion. At times in the later parts of the town, the lighting would suddenly drop or raise. The light gem would sometimes read far brighter then would normally be assumed (one spot in particular was on the balcony of the property where you climb into the window of the residence with the person sleeping on the couch). Some items fell through a desk or a crate. Frame rates cratered in certain spots in the later parts of town to the point where the screen went choppy.

One game play mechanic in “Rightful Property” that bothered me was the tavern. In some missions (I remember the recent Halloween one with the Dragon in particular), you can walk into a tavern and no one really cares – You’re just a patron like everyone else. In others, you walk into the tavern and everyone freaks out. I’d like to know when it’s OK to just walk amongst people because that’s always confusing.

“Rightful Property” also saw the return of what I call the “Thankless Route Around a Column,” in this case, a guard in the bank walking a loop into one door, through a portion of a barracks, then out the other door of the barracks back into a hallway to quickly repeat to process again – In effect, walking around a thin, rectangular column. Yes, I understand the game play aspect of such a guard but, realistically, it was a bit ridiculous:

“Dum-de-dum-de-dum. Back through the door and… Fred’s still sleeping. Yup. And now back out the other door and… There’s the hallway. Just like I last left it. And… Now back into the barracks again. There’s Fred, still sleeping. And now I’m walking back out of the barracks. Still the same hallway. And, turning the corner, I’m back into the barracks again. Fred’s still asleep. Lazy f**king Fred. ‘Oh, take the night shift, it’s SOOOO peaceful.’ Sure, Fred, real peaceful. Oh, look, it’s the hallway again. Hey, hallway, better not run away until I see you again in about five seconds. Hah! I’m back now! Thought you’d get the jump on me, huh? I wonder who did the masonry on this hallway? And Fred’s still f**king asleep, the prick. There’s, like, three or four light sources in the immediate vicinity and Fred is sound asleep. Lazy good-for-nothing. My knees f**king hurt. I wonder if I’d get in trouble if I switched direction and walked in a clockwise direction instead of a counter-clockwise direction? Maybe I’d get sacked like Pete. He was always a rebel. ‘Don’t walk clockwise,’ we told him, ‘Walk counter-clockwise.’ Nope, didn’t listen. Why can’t I just have a chair in the hallway. A chair… A nice book to read… Right next to a torch for reading… Nope, we had to be non-union. Good move. ‘Hey, if we’re non-union, we’ll get higher wages.’ Higher wages, my bollocks. I think I’m wearing out the stones here in the hallway. I’m going to name some of these stones. I’m going to name them all ‘Fred’ because there he is STILL F**KING SLEEPING! You know, at the next guard meeting, I’m going to suggest we not have candles lit unless people are using them. I mean, candles are taken directly out of our supplies fund and they are not cheap! ‘Oh, leave the candles burning,’ they say, ‘It’ll discourage thieves.’ Discourage thieves… How about the two guards at the front entrance and the three guards inside the building as discouragement? Nope – Sword-wielding guards don’t discourage theft, lit candles discourage theft. I keep forgetting that. No wonder I’m not a manager. I’m going to pretend to be chariot. I’m in a chariot race, just riding around on a track. And now I turn the corner to see Fred, snoring. That’s it – One turn will be the ‘Sword turn’ and the other will be the ‘Fred turn.’ Sword and Fred, Fred and Sword. Why couldn’t I have been a musician like my brother? I was pretty good with the recorder in my day. Hot Cross Buns, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Row Row Your Boat… Nope. Join the guards. Excitement and adventure on every shift. Bulls**t. I’m going to start carrying a mace instead. Maces are more intimidating then swords. No one f**ks with a guard carrying a mace. A spiked mace. Not a club. Clubs are stupid. Definitely a mace. A spiked mace. I’m going to get me a spiked mace. There’s nothing in the employee manual that says I can’t have a mace. It just says we need to be sufficiently armed. A double-sided mace. Yeah, a mace on both ends. Like a pole but with a mace head on each end. Spiked. Like a barbell with spikes on the barbells. That would be intimidating. At least I don’t have to carry a torch like the idiots on the castle walls. That’s a lame route. Back and forth, back and forth… Everyone hates ‘torch breath.’ God, sucking in all that hot, dry air… Gee, they’re out sick again with a sore throat, I wonder why? Hey, have you dolts figured out why you have such high turnover on the castle wall positions? Of course, for the money they’re being paid now, I’d have torch breath every single day. The women like torch breath. Pricks. ‘Oh, I guard the castle wall…’ I can’t believe women fall for that line. ‘I get to view the port from my route.’ ‘How romantic!’ Yeah, stop staring at the damn water and do your job for a change, will ya? The goal is to stop thieves, not just walk back and forth like a mindless dolt. I’m hungry.”

Anyway, “Rightful Property” has it’s heart set in the right place but a host of technical glitches sort of saps the mission of it’s potential. The objective of finding out why so many guards are patrolling sort of fell flat and didn’t have any lasting impact on the mission.

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One Response to “Rightful Property (Dark Mod mission) review…”

  1. Springheel Says:

    May or may not be relevant, but this was an entry in the “Beginner’s Contest” for mappers who had no experience with creating TDM missions. It may not excuse the technical glitches but it does explain them.

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