A Pirate's Tale Level 1: The Escape
Mission Type:
Post Date:
Level Review
Overall Score:
Date Reviewed:
75 / 100
July 27, 2001
80 / 100
76 / 100
65 / 100
First Impressions
Ahoy, matey! This here's a seaworthy level, with a couple different styles of play and a challenge from fore to aft! It's no small level either: plan to spend a solid half-hour or more getting through this one. However, it's not without its share of barnacles. So, you scurvy dogs, you can either walk the plank or you could just continue reading...
Review Screenshot 1
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Design / Visuals
The architecture in "A Pirate's Tale" is pretty good from beginning to end. Even though you spend a lot of time in air ducts, when you exit them, there is lots of detail. Many rooms having upper floors that overlook a common area, and complex beams and pipes hanging from ceilings. In fact, a lot of the detail is involved in the gameplay, often needed powerups were to be found in the nooks and crannies in the rooms. One noteworthy area is in a cantina-type section of the barracks with a very nicely arched roof and a smooth, curved pipe in the wall. There were lots of details that kept the eye busy and certainly no sense of boxy-ness. The layout of the level was good as well. I felt like I was traveling through a tall building. But part of the layout was troublesome. In a few places the player is forced to fall a long distance and takes damage. And I understand that this was probably intentional, but when your health is dangerously low, and you drop from the ceiling to the floor and die, you have to start over. An improvement might be putting beams and such for the player to land on and break the fall. Anyway, the architecture had a few flaws. I noticed several paper-thin walls (usually where an air duct would connect to a room), and stairs were often too small which made them difficult to climb. Texturing on the other hand, was pretty good. I didn't notice many stitching errors, but there were several misalignments, mainly on the floors. A variety of textures were used, which was nice, and they seemed to work well together, but sometimes the choice of textures was lacking. For instance, there was a large section of ductwork lined with a texture found on crates, and it simply didn't look like ducts. On a positive note, there were some 16-bit mats in the Command Chamber and I thought they looked quite nice.
Dynamics / Interactivity
The enemies, their placement, and powerup placement all add up to quite a challenge in "Pirate's Tale". Most of your weapons and ammo come from dead opponents, so you have to be conservative with your shots. Occasionally, ammo can be found in secret places. Health, on the other hand, is almost exclusive to the secrets, which means you're going to die a lot. More often than not, though, I stumbled upon some health right before death and was able to keep going. There was also one revive, which was a sight for sore eyes. My only complaint about the powerups would be a lack of batteries. I would consistently run out, and have to rely on my weapon flash to light the way. The only other alternative was to get my hands on a saber, and use it for a flashlight. I played through this level four times, and basically, my levels of health and shields determined the route I would take through the level. Through the first part of the level, you can either sneak your way through ducts or try to blast through the hallways. Guarding the hallways were lots of Rebel troops. These were slightly harder to kill than a stormtrooper, and that added to the challenge. Taking the suicidal hallway route also makes a new weapon available: the flame-thrower. The sounds associated with the flamer are cool, and the particle streams that come out of the gun are equally cool. The gun, though, wasn't too terribly useful. For one, I could fire the gun and run past the flames. Also, it's ability to damage wasn't very consistent. You could take down an AT-ST with it, but it wouldn't open a grate to a duct. Besides the new weapon, there were some other cogs that kept things interesting. A couple of cutscenes at the beginning set the story in motion, as well as a working bacta tank, a forcefield, a hundred doors (ok, I might have exaggerated a little), elevators, "friendly" enemies, a couple of switch puzzles, and the occasional passing ship out the window. One of the switch puzzles though, was quite confounding. You press a switch, a door (the only apparent exit) opens, and troops enter through the door. But the door closes long before you can get there. Next time, a verbal hint or something similar would be in order to help figure out what to do.
Playing Experience / Atmosphere
This is where the level had some problems. Lighting in APT ("A Pirate's Tale") was average. Colored lighting was used to a great extent, but often the varied colors come off rather like a discotheque. One room might be purple, the next a peach color, the next green, and so on. Colored lighting is great looking when used sparingly and when there's a source for the color to come from, like maybe purple light fixtures on the ceiling. Keep in mind, though, that purple ceiling lights will still look strange. This is a prison, not a dance hall. Anyway, there were lots of shadows, and the light intensity does vary from place to place which adds to the realism. Ambient sounds were used a lot to add to the atmosphere. Rooms with lots of computers had the technical sounds in the background, and rooms with machines sounded like they had machines. Believe it or not, these types of things are very noticeable and quiet levels just don't hold a players interest very long. Along with the ambient sounds were some sound problems. For one, the custom voices were difficult to understand. Now, I understand, that English is probably a second language for the author, so next time, audition for voice actors. Also, sometimes, one voice sound would occasionally play at the same time as another, rendering both completely unintelligible. As far as other errors go, there were several Hall of Mirrors (HOM) effects, many around doors, with the worst being in the room adjacent to the location of the saber. Speaking of doors, there's a bug during the cutscene where the camera swoops around the prison building and into the hallway. Sometimes the rebel guard will open your cell door and start shooting you during the cutscene. Fortunately, I took off running. All of this happened out of view, and by the time the viewpoint was restored to the player, I had no shields left and had lost about half my health. The strangest bug, though, involved the switch puzzle mentioned earlier. Sometimes (not always) pressing the switch caused a random sound file to be looped in the background through the rest of the level, or until you died. Very strange. On a more encouraging note, the game didn't ever crash and I didn't notice any framerate problems either.
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Final Thoughts
If you've been wanting a challenging add-on, "A Pirate's Tale" fits the bill. It will command your attention for a while and will force you to be curious to stay alive. There are some bugs, but I still managed to enjoy myself. I look forward to part two, and I look forward to the author's continued effort toward interesting gameplay.
80 / 100
76 / 100
65 / 100