Posted on 02/27/13 @ 11:52 AM (updated 03/07/13
"The Path" is a fictitious story depicting the development of China by treading in the path established by the gods/heroes. In the first two missions, you will build the city of Anyi under the direction of Nu Wa. In each subsequent mission, you will be introduced to another one of the gods/heroes along with his/her associated resources, buildings, and monument. The story starts in the bronze age and progresses through the steel age. Perfect Feng Shui can be achieved in every mission except mission 5 at Dunhuang. Additional info and mini-maps are available in a .pdf document included with your download.
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I honestly didn't have a lot of fun playing the two campaigns that comprise "The Path". I will explain some reasons why.
Many structures such as gates, walls, bridges, ferrys, music, acrobats, tax collectors, trees, gardens, statues, etc., are disallowed in most of the missions. This limits what a player can do with their city design, and the creativity they can use to build their city. That equates to less fun. For example, the entire first campaign of "The Path" has no music and no taxation. I personally enjoy holding the yearly festival and seeing the dragon dance through my city.
Players who play exclusively at the 'Very Hard' difficulty, like me, will find that the lack of available structures that can raise appeal will prohibit the evolution of housing (including elite housing). This appears to be a design oversight, as the designer failed to remember that the higher difficulty levels require more appeal to trigger evolution. This has serious consequences in the later missions that were designed with the intention of the player using elite housing.
In my opinion, there were too many scripted disasters in the campaign, which were not explained by the storyline.
All scripted events for requests only had a 2 month window in which to be met, which gave the player an unfair amount of time to react and adjust commodities, boost production, etc., to attempt to meet the request.
I find myself forced to assign a below-average mark here due to the problem with evolving housing at 'Very Hard' difficulty. There were also some huge gifts given to the player in some of the missions, which made things a bit too easy. The timing of some of the gifts was also off - by the time I received the gift I know longer needed it for the monument I was working on.
Creativity was adequate but I could not give a higher rating for the following reasons.
I found the storyline to be lackluster. The use of scripted disasters was overdone and not supported by explanation in the storyline.
Besides the disasters, many of the other scripted events were a bit of a puzzlement. The price change events were often so small that I could simply ignore them for all practical gameplay purposes. I had one request for 302 trays of fish, which seemed like a design flaw. Also, all the request events only had a 2 month window, which seemed unfair to players.
In the second mission of the first campaign, the same city is continued for the player, but the treasury is reset, making money management in mission 1 a waste of time. This hurts creativity.
Invasions always seemed to appear at the same point on a map, making subsequent invasions in that mission very predictable to a player.
Map Design: 3
The maps were adequate for the goals of each mission. They were originals and get points for that, however, the seemed too sparse for me, especially with a lack of trees in the missions when monuments required hundreds of loads of wood (and no way to import wood).
The storyline was adequate but it seemed disjointed to me. It was explained that a certain Hero was the patron of each mission, but I found I never needed to engage that hero for anything. Somewhat confusing. I also wondered about the scripted disasters, as no mention of them was given in the storyline.
I realize that the designer did not categorize this campaign in the 'Very Hard' category, but he should realize players will want to play it at the 'Very Hard' difficulty setting. In my opinion, a designer should make sure his work is playable to its full potential at every difficulty setting a player might pick. Sadly, "The Path" does not do that.
I feel that the biggest issue I had with this campaign is its severe restrictions on available structures, especially those that raise appeal. If the campaign was updated to allow more appeal structures, it would be vastly improved for advanced players.