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Phoenix Mission Packs (by Unpunished)

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User avatar Sat42
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Subject: Phoenix Mission Packs (by Unpunished)

Post Posted: 20 Nov 2017, 21:43

Hey everyone,

It seems information circulation between Unreal/UT communities is sometimes slow despite traffic jams being non-existent! :o

Unpunished, the author behind Wanderer of Na Pali (see review here: http://www.unrealsp.org/viewtopic.php?f=41&p=75069#p75069), has released over the past year no less than 2 campaigns on OldUnreal.com:
- Phoenix Mission Pack 1 (http://www.oldunreal.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1482555460)
- Phoenix Mission Pack 2 (http://www.oldunreal.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1504743447)

and a third one is in the making.

I haven't played them yet but the feedback has been positive (including from the esteemed Turboman) and it seems that all the Unreal single player lovers should check these out! :)
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.

User avatar Semfry
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Subject: Re: Phoenix Mission Packs (by Unpunished)

Post Posted: 24 Oct 2020, 16:31

This thread is old but there doesn't seem to be anywhere else about this so I may as well bring it back. I missed these on release but I actually discovered them in an odd way because I was looking through level archives for something and then came across this set with a bunch of settings and level names weirdly similar to Tomb Raider 3. A little more looking into it confirmed that wasn't a coincidence (although the links are pretty tenuous beyond a few vague homages to certain things).

PHX 1 follows Wanderers by being relatively bite-sized levels with varied settings. The architecture and design is pretty simple but it does improve as it goes on, with some nice looking areas on the last couple of planets, and, even earlier, there's an attempt towards somewhat original settings for Unreal, like a desert and jungle (which themselves are iterations on those themes being used in Wanderers). Backstory messages are strangely confined to the secrets in most areas (with three in each level and a bonus unlocked after discovering them in some levels), although there is a bit more as it goes on; the ending felt slightly anticlimatic as it felt like something more was being built towards and then it just ends after the final boss, but maybe that was foreshadowing for the sequels? The gameplay starts off pretty tough with limited supplies, but the secrets are borderline overstocked and make you pretty overpowered if you find any of the good ones, so the difficulty drops off quite a bit after the first couple of levels despite some tough encounters later (with the final levels having one room so overloaded in spawning enemies I feel like I missed something, although just killing them seemed to work) if you find them.

There are also some traps, puzzles, and platforming elements, but the toughest platforming is actually in the first level (including one or two bits of forced fall damage for some reason), with the later traps and puzzles being fine beyond one or two moments that felt slightly unfair, but I liked the attempt to provide stuff other than shooting. My biggest gameplay issue is how confined everything is (although the second main level is the worst offender); there are multiple awkward door battles and general confined corridors and areas, it's flawed on both sides as if you fight "fair" enemies are near-impossible to evade, but it also makes enemies very cheesable and easy to pick off while they're stuck on doors and corners, and it feels like you're supposed to do that.

PHX 2 is a solid iteration on that, although it's story links to the first are pretty small beyond a few characters, however, as a story in itself it's much more developed and told naturally through the progression. The design consistency also improves quite a bit here, and it matches base Unreal in quite a few areas, and while the base themes are more standard here, it adds in a few effects and features to make them feel a bit different anyway. An interesting twist here is that Skaarj aren't present and it's a mix of Mercenaries and Brutes along with wildlife; it generally works, and arenas tend to be more open here so confined areas are less of a problem, although when they do show up it's still awkward, especially as that enemy set-up means that there's splash damage everywhere. This has a more satifying and climatic end than the first in terms of what happens, but the final boss is weirdly simple, being a boosted Merc who I'm not sure even got a chance to attack me. Like the previous set there's some non-combat interactions too, although they're a little less of a factor here, but the one completely unfair enemy spawn deathtrap is so out of nowhere it's kind of funny. I also felt there could have been a bit more health as I spent quite a bit of time later on at low levels of health, although it was still managable despite that.

One thing I liked across both sets is the semi-natural use of Titans; there's still some typical boss fights, but they're also used in areas where they can be easily avoided/lured or you don't have the supplies to fight them in the first place (namely the start of PHX 1), so they're more of a natural feature you can avoid or attempt to exploit to do some of the work for you, and give you some breathing room in the process. It's a shame PHX 3 doesn't seem to have come out (unless it's still being made...)

Edit: Also I had to summon the translator in set 1 because I didn't seem to be given one despite there being messages.
Formerly Mman

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Subject: Re: Phoenix Mission Packs (by Unpunished)

Post Posted: 24 Oct 2020, 23:42

I quite enjoyed these episodes despite their somewhat simplistic visual design (though they are a step up from Wanderer of Na Pali imo), the strong point is definitely the story-telling for me with the inbound messages from the Anubis being somewhat reminiscent of Xidia/Xenome. I feel like these would also really benifit from the addition of Firetrucks gameplay for more puzzle/dialogue stuff (those small blue messages are not always the nicest to read) - but that's just me!
It's funny this thread was brought up just now as I've just played through them again recently, and was gonna ask in the Discord if anyone here had heard of these before :P .
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Subject: Re: Phoenix Mission Packs (by Unpunished)

Post Posted: 25 Oct 2020, 19:39

AFAIR I quite liked the gameplay of the Phoenix mission packs exactly because of the story telling. The enemy progression wasn't balanced, and neither was ammo provision but it didn't take away the funfactor.
What did mess up the funfactor at a certain time was the ending of a mine map with lots of lava (even a "boat" ride on lava) and an abundance of mercenaries, brutes and tentacles. That was OK, but how to end the map proved to be a bit of a mood killer when I thought I have found it, some kind of elevator which was supposed to go up, but I thought it a good idea to search for and replenish health and ammo, so I jumped off just in time, only to find out that the elevator stayed up so I had to go looking for a switch to bring it back down. Having taken a savegame as the elevator went up, it gave up that day and remember starting from the savegame to look for the "switch" ... to no avail so I let that one rest : for a couple of years according to my savegame. And just now replayed up to there, and completely forgot about it until the point where I was watching the elevator go back up ... without me on it again :(
And then got a thought that perhaps the elevator might pass the map exit area as it was going up and no return down was foreseen - and some looking in the editor confirmed that so I used fly and eureka I exited.

An ending like that is OK as long as there's a hint somewhere that the lift won't come down any more if you're not on it.


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