Mr. Captain Man reviews Redoubt Operations #1: Fires over Kalago

Mr. Captain Man has just completed his review of Redoubt Operations #1: Fires over Kalago on the official City of Heroes forums. With his permission here is a copy of his review posted here on the Depot for your reading pleasure.

Redoubt Operations # 1: Fires over Kalago, Arc ID 1297, by @Andromeda. Very long (1 small, 1 unique, 2 medium maps). 48 plays, 4 stars as I start. Description tells of Impervium deposits in Africa sparking tensions. An organization called Redoubt is asking for help from superhumans. There’s a link to a ‘Virtueverse’ link. I put that in inverted commas because up until I googled it 10 minutes ago, I had no idea what the Virtueverse is (hit my 57 month vet badge this week folks ). For anyone out there who doesn’t know what it is, it’s a ‘library of fan created original content for the City of heroes MMORPG virtue server’, according to the ‘about’ section on http://virtueverse.com. So it’s an RP thing, then

Now, although my home server is Freedom, I’m not averse to the odd bit of roleplaying. I popped over to its site to see if there was anything I needed to know to better enjoy the arc, but it warned me that it was basically a huge spoiler article. It was related to a few more articles, namely one

on a specific character’s timeline,the fictional Southern African country Kalago, the organisation Redoubt,the bad guys page, and a wikipedia page on the chichewa language.

After seeing all that without reading it I am in somewhat of a conundrum. Do I play through and then read, or read first and then play, or just play?

I opted to start playing, and if I was getting into any difficulty, then I knew where to go for a chichewan phrasebook or the shoe size of Emperor Surtr or what have you.

Oh, the arc is lvl 20-35, so I’ll be using Tommy Atkins, my lvl 31 MA/SR scrapper.

“Africa. The last time I was in Africa was durin’ the war. No, not that war, the WAR. World War II. Before I ended up ‘ere, o’ course. Yeah, I did a bit of me service in Africa. Course, that was North Africa, in Tobruk on Operation Crusader. Never bin back…until last week…

“A mate of mine at the UN, Paddy O’ Toole, put me in contact with a Lieutenant Commander Gilgamesh of a UN sub-organisation called REDOUBT. Stands for a mouthful, an’ no mistake. Peacekeepers, they say they are. Needed a bit o’ superhuman muscle ter ‘elp ‘em with a problem in Southern Africa…seems some country in the interior discovered Impervium deposits, ‘an…well, where there’s bubble there’s trouble, as me mam used ter say. The Prime Minister ‘ad bin kidnapped by a bunch of Sky Raider mercenaries workin’ fer a Separatist group.

“They were keepin’ ‘im in a cargo ship in a place called Kbamba bay. Prime Minister Sizwe was in that ship, an’ I ‘ad ter get ‘im out. Fair enough…Gilgamesh couldn’t ‘ave read me file very closely, ‘e seemed ter think I wasn’t used ter extraction missions…I’d soon put ‘im straight…

Mission 1: Rescue Prime Minister Sizwe

“After a long, dull plane flight, I was chucked out over Kbamba Bay at 20,000 feet. Makes my eyes, water, does free-fall. Still, it’s quicker than usin’ a chute, an’ over water there’s no need really…keepin’ an eye on me target ship was the difficult bit. After I’d ‘it the drink, I surfaced and swam ter the ship…a quick shimmy up the anchor chain an’ a little bop on a guard’s noggin’, an’ I was in…

“I squatted on a gantry an’ ‘ad a dekko at the interior of the ship…

“Raiders everywhere…sneakin’ through was goin’ ter be difficult. Fightin’ me way through shouldn’t be too ‘ard, though – there’s only so many bad guys you can fit on a ship, after all…I took a deep breath an’ piled on!

“You ever bin on a picnic with jam sandwiches, an’ the news gets out ter every bee in a ten mile radius that grub’s up? That’s what I felt like. It was nuts! They must ave bin getting’ danger money for this lark, cos they weren’t bein’ shy about ‘avin’ a go, I can tell yer. I usually goes fer the engineers first, before they can activate those bloody force field generators, but with this amount of goons it was difficult even pickin’ em out of the masses! An’ with the bloomin’ teleporters jumpin’ in and out addin‘ ter the chaos, mostly I just kept me ‘ead down and biffed anything that was close…

[Awesome fun!]


“I worked me way through the ship, buildin’ up a sweat, an’ after wadin’ through a sea of Sky Raiders, I found the PM. ‘E was in a spot of trouble, looked like. I soon ‘ad ‘im out of it. Once the bad guys were snoozin’, I checked ‘e was ok, and we started ter make our way back ter the exit…

[The PM says ‘did you hear that?’ to give a heads up to the ‘Enemy Infiltrator’ spawning back on the way, but I’m not sure exactly what ‘that’ is lol.]

“We jogged back through the ship, but soon found our way blocked by some newcomers…geezers in purple armour, either robots or armoured humans, I’m not sure…but they were in our way. I told Sizwe to lie low while I dealt with em. They were a bit tasty, I don’ mind admittin’, an’ half way through the fight a load of their mates turned up! It was a bit dicey for a while…

[Yikes! The initial spawn wasn’t too bad, but then the ambushes arrived! I had to leave the PM there whilst I retreated to recover. I didn’t die, and Tommy loves ambushes, but it felt slightly wrong in terms of the plot to leave the Prime Minister there while I ran off. Technically, they could have grabbed him and had it away on their toes before I got back. Not much you can do about that, though. I’m not suggesting removing the ambushes, anyway.]

“…but not too dicey. After that, it was a short jog to the exit, and the extraction team took Sizwe off me ‘ands…

“Gilgamesh said that the purple blokes were members of a group called The Mechanius Imperium…how come bad guys always choose the stupidest names for their gangs? With a header like that, you’ve gotta expect an Emperor somewhere, right? Self-proclaimed, I bet.

“Anyway, Gilgamesh was worried about the civvies in Kalago’s capital, Lilongsa. Seein’ as ‘ow I was already near, I offered ter go an’ lend an ‘and…

[The briefing etc could make a little more of the fact that I’m already in Kalogo; it seems to suggest that I’ve left there?]

Mission 2: Save the Citizens of Lilonga

“Gilgamesh gave me a file on the Maniac Imperium, as I call ‘em, an’ it turned out they were robots. The group sees itself as an ‘emergent nation of AIs’, it said in the report. I didn’t think much of their diplomacy so far.

“Lilongsa was a madhouse. Gunfire, the screams of energy weapons…the Redoubt heli swooped in low and dropped me off in a position on the edge of town…I ‘opped over a wall and jogged down an alley, then popped me ‘ead out…and ran into a patrol of the purple robot blokes engaged in a full on barney with some sky raiders! Straight into it, as usual!

[oops lol. I saw three mobs a little way away, thought I had CJ on, leapt at them, and SJed way over them and into a massive battle between the MI and the SR!]

“So there I was, neck deep in rampaging robots and the bloody Sky Raiders. I was spoilt fer choice fer targets! The raiders were easy enough, buncha woofs the lot of em. Those robot buggers were a bit ‘arder ter deal with, but, well, when yer bin through D-Day…

[That fight was fantastic. It felt like Rikti Invasion, the sheer number of mobs around me. I was hovering around a quarter health for the last half of the fight. Great fun]

“After that, I took a breather and surveyed what I could see of the city…it was a warzone…I could see a civilian off towards the central square; hiding from the battle…I loped down the slope and into it again, fighting my way to her through the marauding machines and the mercenaries squabblin’ over the territory…bloody bastards, the both sets…why can’t people be left alone ter live their lives, eh? Some little country wins the geological jackpot, gets a chance ter make summink fer itself, an’ the jackboot ‘ordes comes crawlin’ outta the woodwork. Makes me bloody angry…this robot ‘nation’…no home country of its own, so it thinks it can just take one from someone weaker, eh? Not if I’ve got anything ter say about it…

“When I got near to the civilian, I nodded to ‘er ter stay down, an’ cleared an area around ‘er. When she was relatively safe, I ‘ad a think about what ter do with ‘er…I couldn’t take ‘er with me, it was too dangerous. I told ‘er ter keep ‘er ‘ead down, an’ I’d try ter clear a bigger area…those bloody metal sods ‘ad got me right wound up, I’d be ‘appy ter put a dent in their army…

[Tommy’s angry enough to Clear All, and I’m having enough fun to stick with it too.]

[On a more serious note, the rescuees stay where they are after the rescue. I know there’s an issue with hostages on outdoor maps, but it still looks a bit odd for them to calmly stand hands on hips after rescue with more mobs in sight. Maybe you could do something with their dialogue and animations that would help?]

“Street by street…yard by yard…through the shattered ruins of people’s ‘ouses…me fists pounding metal, me knuckles bleedin’, the stink of oil an’ the screech of servos…they found out what ‘appens if yer mess with one of Monty’s boys!

“…I rescued more civilians that afternoon, but not enough…the damn robots and the raiders didn’t care about the civvies in the way of their bloody fight…

[The battles that are spotted around the map are great, but I wish the trigger distances for them were shorter; often I’d see them happening in the distance but they’d be over by the time I’d fought my way to them. Have you filled the map with as many as you can? Is it possible to trigger more from rescues?]

“Eventually, I stood, pantin’, atop a pile of mangled metal an’ dead raiders, sweat drippin’ off me brow an’ blood drippin’ off my fists…this district of Lilongsa was reclaimed…

[I enjoyed that mission, but I think the atmosphere of a city under total attack could be enhanced if the briefing/debriefing made a little more reference to other heroes and/or Redoubt rescuing other civilians in other sectors of the City. I rescued I think 6 civilians, which is a little small scale for what I think you’re trying to suggest. Top fun all the same]

“After that I sat in a medical tent whilst a medic bound me poor knuckles…but I didn’t ‘ave a very long rest. Gilgamesh was on the blower; two of the civilians I’d rescued weren’t civilians at all, but Imperius robots. Two ‘alves of a gestalt wossname, ‘e said. I didn’t pay much notice, tell the truth…I was knackered. But I was the closest superhuman ter the firebase where they were, and they’d started teleportin’ in more Mechanius troops. That firebase was where the Prime Minister was…Well, it wouldn’t ‘ave bin the first time I’d ‘ave rescued a prime Minister twice in one day…time was pressin’, so I got me skates on…

Mission 3: Reclaim Redoubt Firebase 572

“Bloody ‘ell, this was a tall order…I ‘ad 90 minutes before the timelock on the base central core opened an’ the Metal Empire forces could swarm the place. I ‘ad ter get ter those two agents who were teleportin’ the troops in…I wasn’t sure ‘ow many floors there were, an’ there was no way I could sneak through…I ‘ad ter plow me way through them, one punch at a time…So I buckled down an’ started plowin!

[lol 90 minutes, and the briefing seems to suggest that it’s going to be a Clear All…Once I’m inside, the Nav instruction is to Defeat a boss and then Defeat Remaining Enemies…I’m clearing as I go anyway, but I wonder how much time I’ll have. From the looks of the map it’s not a big one]

“As I fought me way onward and upward through the base, I played the wheelbarrow game…yer know what that is? It’s a game ter make borin’ work go by faster…say yer got a hundred bricks ter move, an one wheelbarrer, that takes 20 bricks. Yer load it up, and move the 20, and while yer on yer way back yer think ter yerself ‘alright, I’ve moved 20 out of 100, which is a fifth of everythin’an’ I’ve got 80 left, which means I’ve already done a quarter of what I’ve got left, an’ if I does what I’ve already done, namely another 20, then I’ll ‘ave 60 left, which is only 3 times as much as what I[‘ve done already…’ – yer get me now? All that thinkin’ takes time, yer see, an’ before yer know it there’s another 20 gone, an’ you ‘ave ter change all the maths, an

that takes more time…

“Anyway, while I was deckin’ them metal bastards, I was thinkin’ ‘it takes me around…4…5…6 seconds ter take out one of these metal gits, so that’s 12 a minute, an’ I got 90 minutes left, which is just over a thousand…I ‘ope there ain’t more than a thousand of ‘em in ‘ere’…”

[The maps not too big at all…on the third floor, after about 15 minutes, I find the EB. I’m glad of the generous time limit now, because she takes a few trips back to the vendor for inspirations…]

“I finally emerged from the last elevator to find the main mare and her company tooled up and ready for aggro. The door was there, tickin’ away…She was a big bird, this one…and packed a wallop too…Still, as Benny ‘ill says, I like em big! She was a bit of an ‘andful, but I gave ‘er a spankin’ in the end…I ripped one of ‘er arms off, an’ was about ter beat ‘er about the face with it when the bint teleported away! Then, though, polishin’ off ‘er mates was easy peasy…well…relatively…After that, I just let meself slide ter the floor an’ wait fer the doors ter open…maybe there was a cuppa on the other side of the door…

[Quite a hard fight, that. I’m wondering if there’s going to be a Big Bad in the end mission that’s worse than Kali…if there is, I might have problems ]

“Well, there was a cuppa, thankfully, an’ I needed it after that bird’s little love taps, but it was awful, and at any rate, the Redoubts techies were all over me like a rash askin’ question’s an’ naggin’ me fer intel. I directed ‘em ter the wreckage of the bird’s arm…then I ‘ad a kip.

“An hour later I was woken by Gilgamesh. They’d been able ter isolate a location from somethin’ in or one the arm, it seemed. The location of the Animaniacs base. An’ they wanted me ter go in an’ close it down fer good…there was a teleport node in there that’d need smashin’ inter bits, fer starters, an’ the leaders of this assault too. In fer a penny, eh?

Mission 4: Thwart the Mechanius Imperium Invasion

“Underground. That’s where the base was…under flamin’ ground. I’m built fer caves, me, on account o’ bein’ so short. I made me way in, an’ almost immediately bumped into that bloke from the ship.

“‘E was a bit put out ter see me, an ‘is mood got worse when I smashed his face in! ‘E called fer ‘elp, the big pyjama, so I smashed their faces in too. I’d only bin in there fer 20 seconds! Gordon Bennet!

[lol I had to use all my inspirs up on that ambush, but it was worth it. Rather an unexpected event so close to the entrance, but not unwelcome.]

“I ‘ad a little stretch after that, an carried on…the mechs got a bit thin on the ground fer a while, which was nice, but then I found a cavern with some of ‘em torturin’ a sky raider. I’m no friend of mercenaries, but ‘e was a human, I guess, so I sorted him out. ‘E offered ter ‘elp me, but I left ‘im behind whilst I scouted ahead. In a huge room, I found the teleport node thing. I tell yer, those tinmen did NOT want Tommy ter smash up their toy…waves of the little buggers kept swarmin’ inter the room…fist fodder, they were…

[actually, the ambushes would have been a killer but for the happy fact that the node was conning purple (lvl 35), and so I was easily able to take its destruction slowly, and so not get all the ambushes at once. Higher levels who can one or two-shot the node would get all the ambushes at once, which might prove a handful. As it was for Tommy, each ambush was just right. The fights were tense but not too hard.]

“With ‘er teleport gzmo in bits an’ one of ‘er arms missin on account o’ yours truly, I was pretty sure that that bird would be more than peeved at me…I set out ter see if I could make ‘er day a bit worse…

“…and sure enough, when I found ‘er, she ‘ad a look on ‘er face like a bulldog chewin’ a wasp. I went back ter the Sky Raider an’ asked if ‘e’d like ter give ‘er some payback, ‘an ‘e was in like a shot. We made our way back ter where she was, and the both of us went at her at the same time…

[I’ve got a full set of inspirations, and Captain Klink. Hopefully, he’ll be able to tip the scales…]

“What a pain in the jacksie that metal bint was! ‘Er lost arm didn’t seem ter worry ‘er none. It was ‘ard goin, really. Klink put up a good shuftie, I gotta be fair, but it was touch an’ go fer a while…when she started flaggin’ she called fer her mates, an’ we ‘ad ter retreat around the corner so’s we didn’t get swamped. Once she was back on ‘er own, though, it was just a matter of time…

[Klink did help a lot, but I had to be careful to let him take the agro off me, and he also needed a bit of management cos he’s only a lieut. The ambush looked set to wipe us out tbh, but I think we were saved by pure luck; she seemed to stop attacking us for a little while, and I took care of the ambush whilst she sort of stood there. Odd.]

“Well, that was that…the Redoubt squads flooded in, an’ Klink was carted off ter be interrogated. With the Mechanius fought off, Kalago looked safer. The Raiders withdrew from the place too. With a little bit ‘o luck the country could get back on its feet again…an’ I could go ‘ome…for an actual proper cup of tea…”

[end]

Right. This is a good solid arc that gave me a load of fun, basically.

Positives: The Sky Raiders were perfect for Tommy, really, and your customs could have been designed with him in mind. The customs also look really nice and their bios are detailed. The maps were well received and the objectives were appropriate. All the various text fields are present. I especially liked Missions 1 and 2.

Negatives: There were a few very minor typos here and there. Kali was a little bit annoying, taking just a very little bit longer to down than would have been perfect. And the civilian evacuation mission needs a bit of tweaking IMO.

Overall, though, a solid arc that Tommy and I enjoyed very much. I’ll be playing the next one on the basis of this.

I thought about what rating I felt it deserved for quite a while. The arc, as I said, was very enjoyable to play. However, the story itself, and the writing that delivers it is not quite up there with the stuff that has really grabbed me by the balls and/or the heart, and so I couldn’t grant a 5 I’m sorry.

If we could rate out of 10, it would be on the cusp of 8 and 9, and I’d be moaning about not being able to rate out of 20.

As it is, I gave it 4 stars because although the playing was funfunfun, the feeling wasn’t totally there.

Suggestions: I think mission 2 is where you could really sink the Player into the personal disaster of a city of civilians under attack. Those hostages you rescue are a bit faceless tbh, and giving them more emotionally engaging dialogue could really make it stand out more as an emotional experience as well as a great gaming one.

Eco.

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