Description: Reviewed by Maxx Power for the Phrozen Keep.
Categories: Mod Reviews
Well it’s me once again. As some guy said in some film once “I’m baaaacccckkkkk”. I won’t be going out of my way to put a name/face to that pop-culture reference, so you can find out for yourselves. Yup, back where I belong. Writing opinionated views on mods that I couldn’t make if I had a big…mod…making…thingy…*cough*. Anyway, enough with the introductions, let’s get ‘bizay’ (fo rizzle).
This days/months/years mod is Kingdom of Tenai by a one Vegabond_635, a mod with the first truly original skill system that I have seen, and one that will intrigue from the start. Rather than your usual skill trees or whatever else a series of ‘masteries’ are up for offer, ranging from resistances to added crushing blow and so on. Whatever you might need it will be there, guaranteed. Skills are gained through a kind of pseudo Diablo 1 system, where you buy your skills based upon your sub-class (explained later). Of course all this would be a bit pointless without something to meat it out, but have no fear, for KoT has a few of the usual tricks up its sleeve, with new monsters, areas and items for your playing pleasure.
First up is of course the masteries system, which is an idea I’ve toiled with in the past, and on occasion has been tried in a few mods without success. KoT pulls it off quite well though, with the abilities available useful from the first point you put into them. Unlike vanilla, you can never waste any skill points, unless you don’t know what your doing. This is quite refreshing, as you know that any skill points you do use will be aiding you no matter what the situation. (Just make sure you double check which skills work with melee and ranged and not casting characters, or you just might find yourself up a certain creek without a paddle).
Alongside this we have a few new areas to explore, the central attraction being the Rogue Encampment, now looking rather snazzy, with each of the character’s having a full blown house that they refuse to occupy (well you can’t have everything), some nice wall structures and other assorted eye candy. There’s also a bunch of other maps that you may have seen in other mods, including the new entrance to the Countess, and a new Claw Viper temple. Even though you’ve probably seen these within a hundred other mods lately they still impress, especially someone such as myself, who has been through every part of the game and seen every locale a thousand times over.
Speaking of graphics, a mention must go to the new monsters added into the mod. I won’t spoil any surprises, but let’s just say that a decent showcase of the work from the Infinitum team can be found here. Fans of other isometric role playing games (heck, we all play Diablo, so why not a bit of BG2?) may spot the occasional thundering giant that they recognised and be thrilled. Others can just marvel at the spot-on transition of animations into the mod.
[b][u]What Doesn’t Work[/u][/b]
Well I’ve been praising this mod so far, and for the most part I am highly impressed. However, like all things in this big ol’ universe, it has its flaws, some of which are sadly a major downfall to the mod. And much like many mods that have gone under my scrutiny before, my main problem is balance.
Firstly the skill system. While the masteries system puts a use to all those skill points you’ll pick up, the actual skills themselves are a bit of a disappointment. Alongside the fact that there aren’t many new ones, the mod forces you to pick a sub-class out of a possible three at the beginning. Sounds like a nice idea, and it is in theory. In practise it’s another ball game. Some classes may find themselves devoid of essential skills to make life easier, while others have a full blown set of skills to work with. Prime examples include sorceresses, who have to take one element to do damage, compared to amazons, who can have access to all their bow and arrow skills. This not only limits the builds you can do, but makes life harder for some than others.
Also a big problem is the sheer monsters density. Depending again on who you choose it will either be a burden or a blessing. For those of you will large area effecting skills, then life will be a walk for you. Others it is a curse, especially melee characters, who have to be able to take down every monsters with one hit or face certain doom. Add to this the fact that monsters are generally more damaging, faster, higher hit points etc, it makes life annoying for anyone with a fancy for swords and the like.
As mentioned above monsters can become extremely annoying, especially ranged monsters. It’s bad enough in vanilla being pelted by three or four bow-wielding minions, try having twenty or so. Add to this the inclusion of some very frustrating monster bonuses, such as aura’s and on-death spells (keep your distance with any of the Inflicted, and don’t even start me on the Viper Temple) and you can find yourself putting the mod down before you even hit the best parts of it.
KoT is a perfect example of a mod swamped by its own good ideas. What sounds like a really good premise is actually refreshing and enjoyable in places, but infinitely and inevitably suffers from some major flaws. While it’s all very well and good to feel the strange waves of euphoria spreading when you first get to grips with the various masteries and sub-classes, the whole experience is watered down once you get into the bones of the game. Those with the patience to continue on past the first few acts of frustration will find a really good mod waiting to be discovered. Hell difficulty is an unusual beast, once you get some of the more ‘uber’ equipment behind you, and ultimately rewarding. The struggle to get there might not be worth the prize that awaits most players, which is a shame when you consider the solid foundation that KoT is built on.
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[url=https://www.d2mods.info/forum/kb/viewarticle?a=271&sid=e2b204ee4ee0916cd71c0d45dc16be26]Knowledge Base - [LOD v.1.10] Kingdom of Tenai v1.08z by Vegabond_635[/url]