Saturday, July 10, 2010

Oblivion Mod Review - The Scarlet Monastery

Mod Review - The Scarlet Monastery
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Overall: Download this for a short vacation to endless mindless killing of minion mobs. Gets tired very very quickly. Still needs polish.

Why You Would Download This: You have nostalgia for World of Warcraft's Scarlet Monastery but are not hung up on having a very accurate translation. You want a break from thinking and questing, and instead switch to a marathon of combat, but without introducing a pervasive change to your game (such as by using Martigen's Monster Mod or Adrenaline Oblivion).

The Scarlet Monastery is an uncomplicated hack-and-slash mod. The actual Monastery may have conflicts with the local geography and you may see part of it buried in a mountainside, but all the action takes place in interiors, so there's no harm done and your load order probably doesn't matter too much.

If you stopped playing games like Diablo II because it involves mindlessly hacking your way through mobs of enemies, trawling loot for sale, and killing bosses over and over again to get special loot, then you may want to give The Scarlet Monastery a pass. The variety of special loot is small to begin with, and not worth the effort to re-run the gauntlet even for a 50-50 chance of getting something new.

If you actually like mind-numbing fights, then you will appreciate the monolith outside that allows instant resetting of the monastery so you can do the run again without having to wait or sleep the time away. This makes it convenient to try things such as artificially levelling yorself up or down with the "player.setlevel" command and playing through The Scarlet Monastery at different levels (although you will probably find that your overall experience is largely the same no matter what your level.)

If you are looking for a faithful re-creation of The Scarlet Monastery at the level of abilities, spells, and special loot stats, then this mod isn't it. If you are satisfied with the layout and general cosmetics of The Scarlet Monastery, then this is a fair effort and just for nostalgia you could give it a go.

Some of the loot is interesting, like gloves with a continuous Restore Health 2/second, or enchanted spaulders that use the amulet slot and are therefore complimentary with any other armour you may have.
Except for these unique items, this mod is actually very boring.

Some of the loot requires a closer look and cleanup, like Herod's helmet which has a continuous Drain Health 1 (what is the point of suppressing 1 point of Health?) and Mograine's mace, which hung in mid-air when he finally died and couldn't be picked up normally.

None of the abilities of the items appear to be strongly related to the actual loot dropped in World of Warcraft (which are actually quite boring -- most of the wearable items simply provide armor and stat boosts).
Since such license with the original items is being taken, it would have been nice to see some minor changes, such as Mograine's mace becoming one-handed so that he can use his unique shield.

There is room for a lot of improvement in this mod, although a fair amount of effort has been made to incorporate Scarlet Monastery visuals (such as armor with a custom texture) and the signature scripted final boss encounter with Mograine. Regular troops could have their iron armour recoloured red, for example, and swapping clubs for something else (what kind of army gives their troops primitive clubs?).

The minions you encounter typically carry a good quantity of gold, and clearly you are not meant to haul all their gear to the store in a Storage Sack. There is also next to nothing in terms of decent loot from containers. The combination means there is very little in the way of post-combat logistics and you can, if you wanted to, keep moving from fight to fight until the boss battles, and not really feel you're missing from picking up every saleable scrap.

With so much same-ness to the enemies, especially in the way they fight, this mod can get really tired really fast. With World of Warcraft, at least each enemy type had its own set of abilities and fought more differently than in Oblivion. In Oblivion, fighters all generally fight the same way, and mages need to have their spell lists and staff spawns very closely managed in order to distinguish the various types.
In The Scarlet Monastery, I felt that the fighters and mages were so much the same that their names were merely cosmetic, and there was very little difference whether my character was level 10 or 20, except that at level 20, there was a chance a mage could actually get a useful staff from Armamentarium or Franscesco's lists and possibly kill your Altmer or Apprentice character in one shot.

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