Description: Reviewed by Maxx Power for the Phrozen Keep.
Categories: Mod Reviews
I have never been so petrified of writing a review for a mod in all my life. In my days before Phrozenkeep, my services were scattered around like so much cheap grain. Any kickback I got of anyone for insulting a mod or game could be easily avoided if needs be. However, I now have a commitment to Phrozenkeep, and to all those visiting Phrozenkeep. And now it comes to this. A mod which has had its praises sung about it since day one by about every single admin, visitor, modder ad infinum. The mod is The Ancients: The Fury Within, V1.01. And I’ve had it now for about two weeks and three days. And (prepare your letter-bombs everyone) its not the masterpiece that everyone has been depicting. Not by a long shot.
OK, before you start rushing to the forums and start sending me piles of insulting messages with sentences such as “U big noob head <@_@> F#*k you F#*k you F#*k you F#*k you” etc., it’s not all bad news from my side, so let’s get started with the good stuff, shall we?
Firstly, the new monster graphics certainly deserve well above an honorable mention. The detail contained within them are certainly above the norm, and almost are up there with Blizzard’s original monster graphics (on many occasions modders have felt the need to replace some monster graphics with mundane, grainy monstrosities that insult the art department of Blizzard). Certainly the super-uniques make your eyes stand out on stalks, as huge, hulking giants come charging at you with unquenched desire for your blood. Sometimes its utterly petrifying, something which the original Diablo LOD didn’t really manage to achieve. The skill’s graphics have also undergone a complete overhaul visually. They now look much more impressive in general (a good early example is the Sorceress’ Frost Nova). It may be worth leveling all the classes to the higher echelons for the sake of seeing these new effects on screen against the minions of Diablo.
Also, the brand new levels available are an ingenious addition in themselves. Much like the original levels found in Classic Diablo (that’s the first Diablo, not Diablo 2), they consist of levels below levels in the traditional dungeon romp type package. Unfortunately, despite every bone in your body screaming at you to delve deeper into these catacombs, the levels are designed for much higher level characters, i.e. those that have already completed the game on that difficulty all the way up to Baal, which can embitter you early on. However, it gives you an excuse to go back to a certain act, and still go find a challenge worthy of your character’s level. This adds more re-playability onto Diablo (as if sixty plus hours isn’t enough) though sacrifices other areas of the act in order to achieve this. Smart enough are the creators to use areas of little interest to the player, which absolutely no one visits. No problems then.
When it comes to any new gems, this mod offers them in the guise of Fury Gems. If anyone has ever played Sir General’s Rune Mod, then its around those same lines. These gems can be transmuted in a cube with any normal, magic or rare item and given the brand new item property. This allows for players to enhance their most cherished of rares, and raise them above the base abilities of the average rare item. Very useful, if a little simplistic compared to Sir General’s way of doing things, but a good idea is a good idea, and I’m not going to argue with that.
What Doesn't Work
I’m done giving any props to this mod. Now its time to get down and dirty, and give you the low-down as to why I think this mod isn’t the fantastic, legendary mod that many believe it is. Read on, to find out my friends.
Items. There is a reason why many mod makers tend to leave the graphics of items well alone whilst modding, and that is because the Blizzard created items are of a high standard, only surpassed by a few outstanding examples on the internet. Why anyone would want to replace those graphics with unclear, uncoordinated and, quite frankly, disgraceful examples of graphics is beyond me, but the authors seem to be intent on doing that. Some items are untouched, but some have already been blemished it seems. Some armors look awful, with no effort into trying to make the items seem exciting, with monotone color schemes, patchy graphics work, and worse besides. The mix is astounding, but no in the good sense, as items change between Diablo LOD, Classic Diablo (Diablo I) and the brand new concoctions created for the mod. The effect seems cluttered and lazy, and I’d imagine the sort of thing that causes people to have migraines if they have to look for too long.
But if there is one thing which has diluted the whole experience for me, if there is one aspect of the mod which, if it hadn’t been there, I too would have been dancing through the streets in rapture about this mod. However, it sticks out like a sore thumb, constantly hammering away at you, until you feel like setting your computer on fire to purge it. And that is this. The balancing.
Never before have I ever played a mod which is so unbalanced, on both ends of the spectrum, that the game becomes so frustrating you find yourself shouting out very rude words at the top of your voice every ten seconds. It is a travesty to the many other mod makes out there, who spend so much times perfecting the balance within Diablo, for something like this to come along and cause disarray within the community.
So what’s so unbalanced? OK, let’s start from the top. Each character gains six points to stats, and two to skills. While this doesn’t seem like much at first, the bonuses stack up very quickly, as the simple act of doubling the skill points has adverse effects. There’s more room to max out varying skills on a character, throwing many tragedies out of the window. Let’s not forget the skills themselves, now able to reach level thirty (forty would have been a better number, as it would have forced players to be more restrictive with their skill points). The skills have also been pumped up to insanely high levels of usefulness. It’s insane! Damage has been multiplied about four-fold, as have most passive bonuses. And seeing as though you can take these up to level thirty, it means that skills get to be a little to powerful for their own good. I’ve got a Barbarian character with around +185 damage with sword class weapons.
Now, to read that, you would think that the game would adjust accordingly. Not so. Although monsters have been increased in power enough to provide a challenge sometimes. What boils the blood is the shocking changes made. The game can totally change from being so easy a blind man with crippling arthritis could easily fend of beasts, to such unbelievable difficulty, that your level sixty character in normal can have a hard time trying to fend off such an attack. The amount of monsters is also completely over the top on a grand scale, with so many monsters around that slow-down is inevitable, even on the most high-end of systems. And don’t even talk to me about having to fight all three prime evils AT THE SAME TIME. I’m still having nightmares about being frozen by Baal, electrocuted by Mephisto, and Diablo tearing me apart with his lightening storm. And at the bottom of the dungeon levels on Act 1 is no other than the original Diablo, now with ten thousands of hit points, lightening enhanced with static field. Near to impossible, and highly un-enjoyable.
Then there’s the rares. I never thought you could have too many rares, but its finally been done. I can now officially say I am sick of rares. Every single item that drops after about the second act in normal is a rare. There are literally fields of them in a game, and the amount of time it would take to identify them would slow down the game-play experience a few notches easily. There’s a reason why rares are called rares, because they are rares. If they were supposed to drop for every single monster, they would be called “common-as-sh!ts”. This upsets the whole balancing issue once again, but if you like that sort of thing, then you’ll be in heaven. If certainly takes the Michael out of magic find.
Incase you haven’t guessed, I didn’t like the Ancients. Its one of those mods which is around where you think “O, everyone says this is good, so it must be” , but when you get it you think “Is it really as good as people say?”. I think it may be mainly conformity (the art of lying out of the back of your teeth to become popular) that hasn’t allowed people to speak their brains on the Ancients. There are, however, some issues I can’t comment on. Sets and uniques for a start. I have got the time, nor the patience, to spend hours on Mephisto runs to see every single unique there is. So far, I have been able to visit the site and find out what the new sets and uniques were, eliminating any need for that. However, no such thing exists on the site, and I’m not browsing through pages of forums to see if anyone has posted up anything about what items they have found. For all I know, every single unique and set item could be a work of art. However, from what I have seen, the sets and uniques don’t show the same level of creativity that most mods do. If anyone wants to bring me out of the dark about this, feel free.
For all its good points, the Ancients isn’t the sort of mod I would recommend to most people. OK, so the monster graphics are above the normal call of duty, and the brand new levels included add to the Diablo experience as a whole, the disgraceful item graphics and the utterly abysmal balancing within the game sours it to the point where any enjoyable new inclusions are eclipsed. As it is right now, the Ancients needs a hell of a lot of work, with balancing issues and so on a serious threat. If you think I’m joking about how bad the balancing is, just visit the official forum, and take a quick peek at the seven page bugs report forum.
But I’m most likely wrong, and I can imagine the loyal legions of fans of the mod are most likely going to sting me to death about this review. If there is some underlying quality, some engaging piece that needs to be seen to be believe, I certainly haven’t found it. The Ancients didn’t really ‘click’ for me, on any imaginable level. However, I’m not here to please everyone. I’m here to give honest to goodness reviews for those that need to know what they should queue for on Fileplanet, and what they shouldn’t. The Ancients needs a major overhaul, in more ways than one, and until that day, it isn’t the brilliant mod it could have been.
Anyone wishing to check out the Ancients TFW mod can do so by visiting the official website at http://tfw.d2mods.com.
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[url=https://www.d2mods.info/forum/kb/viewarticle?a=101&sid=9adf7a592873deb4780c739802a029ad]Knowledge Base - [LoD v1.09x] Ancients: The Fury Within v1.01 by Deathscythe & SiLenTx[/url]