Promotional poster art and design by Rob Banbury.
Larger Version of Promo Poster is viewable here:
Discussion thread for "Escalation" on the City of Heroes Forums: (Warning! Spoilers may abound!)
Nominee: 2009 Architect Awards, Best Hero Arc Architect Awards Nominee List on COH forums
Nominee: October 2009 Player's Awards, Best Single Origin Level arc (received 3rd place)
Nominee: December 2009 Player's Awards, Best Custom Character (received 2nd place)
Dev's Choice Arc, selected on 11/25/09 Dev's Choice announcement on COH Forums
(Warning! Reviews and comments will have spoilers.)
From the Mission Architect reviewer with forum handle PoliceWoman (excerpts from her review):
"Love the "Hate Letter from the Zig" souvenir!"
"The concept for Dr Lashion/Escalation and her body-hopping was actually pretty cool. Her personality really showed through her dialog and the various challenges she kept issuing through the contact."
and from a later forum post by PoliceWoman:
"I also gave Escalation another run through. Love the improvements; I increased my rating to 5 stars."
Here's some comments and feedback I've received from in-game tells for "Escalation": (names redacted for privacy)
[Tell] 2009-05-18 13: 01:28 Message From @********** : Feedback on Architect Mission Escalation: Exellent story, nicely told, the text from the doc during the mishes was great, made me smile no end. The power progression was nice, good difficulty throughout, thought she was gonna have me in the final mish, despite being a wp scrapper with qr and stam, almost ran out of end against her. Good fun :)
[Tell] 2009-05-20 17: 13:02 Message From @** ***** : Feedback on Architect Mission Escalation: A fun arc with a nice gimmick that doesent overplay itself. Honestly though, I can find hardly anything wrong with it. Every time I began to wonder about something it would be answered, every time I began to get bored, the mission ended. Its pretty much airtight all around. Five Stars.
[Tell] 2009-06-11 00: 55:32 Message From @****** : Feedback on Architect Mission Escalation: This arc was tons of fun. Great work, and terrific boss fight at the finale! Top notch all the way around. Thanks for the great writing.
[Tell] 2009-06-14 01: 23:50 Message From @******** : Feedback on Architect Mission Escalation: Fun mission! My wife and I had really enjoyed your Amazon story, so we were looking forward to playing this one. I really enjoyed the building rivalry and growing obsession of Dr. Lashion... it unfolded very nicely. The missions were all fast-paced, the enemies well balanced, and the arc never dragged. Very enjoyable. 5 stars!
[Tell] 2009-11-27 22: 15:21 Message From @******** *** : Feedback on Architect Mission Escalation: One of the best story arcs I've played. Very deserving of the Dev's Choice label.
Here's a synopsis review from forum member Pro-Payne's review and comment thread:
Escalation (Arc ID#6143, 5 stars)
Pro Payne was called in to put a stop to a rather unremarkable villain – and only because the low level heroes that normally put her in jail just weren’t available. Unfortunately, the villain (a Dr. Lashion, who eventually adopted the more formal supervillain persona of “Escalation”) had been defeated one to many times, and decided it was time to unlock the true potential of her rather impressive technological skills in a quest for revenge on Pro Payne. What started as an easy battle with a very unworthy foe “escalates” into a desperate struggle against a very powerful Arch Villain. Suffice it to say this is an extremely well done, very entertaining arc. Excellent in almost every category (writing for the mission briefings and the clues, the mission design and pacing, the design of the custom faction, etc.) – and recently promoted to Developer’s Choice. This is a fantastic arc. Enough said.
The first Reviewer of Mission Architect arcs, forum handle Venture, gave "Escalation" very high marks, and this was a big step in getting the arc recognized by the City of Heroes community.
Here is his entire review of the arc, posted with his permission. Venture did a wonderful job of summarizing the whole story while evaluating the gameplay of the arc.
So, Total and Complete Massive Spoilers follow:
Venture's review can also be read on the CoH forums, here:
"Arc #6143, "Escalation"
tl;dr: 5 stars. Nits: mob variety could be improved, ending a bit of a Deus Ex Machina
Reviewed on: 5/19/2009
Level Range: 1-54
Character used: Venture/Virtue
Detective Becktrees asks for your help in dealing with a Dr. Erica Lashion. She's a strictly small-time player, almost a joke villain -- he says Longbow has a pre-typed form for incidents involving her -- but her attack on Atlas Park comes when the PPD is already enaged elsewhere. He warns you that she does have the habit of transferring her mind to a new clone body (which she stops growing prematurely to increase the production rate, meaning they're all small and petite) every time she's defeated, so you may have to take her down three or four times. Four was the magic number this time as she respawns three times, one after the other, on defeat. She's just a Robotics/Devices Minion and fell before her robots finished spawning. The rest of the map is overrun by her diminutive robots with a variety of powers, only the Electrical Blast/Empathy Supportbots being noteworthy. On her last defeat, though, she takes it more personally than usual and says "you're on my list!"
Shortly thereafter, she takes hostages at a bank and threatens to blow the place up if you don't show up for a rematch. Since she'd only lose the one clone body it's a serious threat. Becktrees warns you that her voice sounds different somehow but dismisses that as "probably nothing". Of course it wasn't. She only brought the one body, but she's letting the grow longer and is doing her own fighting as Electric Melee (or maybe Assault)/Willpower. She's only a Lieutenant though and still falls quickly. You know what's coming up, though....
Yep, she's back, bigger and better, this time taking over a precinct station and defeating some PPD suited up for fighting superhumans. Once again, she demands a confrontation with you. Becktrees warns you she's been dealing with the Family and the Trolls. Immediately on entry you can hear her gloating about her new villain name, Escalation: "Beat me once, next time I just come back stronger in a better clone body." She's up to Boss rank now using War Mace/Invulnerability, having treated her clone with pure 'dyne. You find a nearly-dead cop (prematurely stuffed into a body bag) and a bomb to defuse. Escalation, of course, plans to come back with more power....
Act IV opens with Becktrees reporting that they've found Escalation's main lab and sent in heroes with Longbow support...and they're getting trashed. She's activated a bunch of clones in various stages of development. It's up to you to finish it. Right up front you can tell she's raised the ante, as a Boss-level "Perimeter Defense Bot" is front-loaded, Energy Blast/Energy Manipulation. You also find a container with hazardous biochemicals, some of them from Dr. Creed and other Rogue Isles loonies. Not a good sign. Moving up, you get to fight another of the Stage Three (Mace/Invul Boss) clones before running into Escalation 2.0, boasting that she's incorporated Crey gene therapy and Malta combat drugs into this model, making it a Super Stregth/Invulnerability Elite Boss (which has not only Taken a Level in Badass, but several in the Most Common Superpower, too). She landed a few KO Blows but I was able to juggle her and heal up between them. Before gnawing the linoleum she taunts you with the fact that she has lots of backup labs and clones. Afterwards a nearby bulletin board shows that she's completely obsessed with you, as it's full of photos of you that have been used as dartboards and have insulting comments written on them. This would be funny if it wasn't tragic....
It ends back where it began: Escalation attacks Atlas again, smashing a huge boulder into the plaza (explaining why we're on the meteor map...), trashing some low-level heroes and demanding another fight with you. There are some optional hostages to rescue, which are worth it as some of them are pretty funny. "Escalation Extreme" rants on approach about how this "ultimate clone" incorporates Creed's biochemicals, Kora fruit extracts and every combat drug known to Malta, the Council and Arachnos. She killed over a dozen bodies getting it to work. We're up to AV/EB level now, Super Strength/Invulnerability both on Extreme. She took the first fall thanks to Rage. On the second I got her to trigger Unstoppable (at which point she discovers she can't transfer out) and held out as long as I could before hitting Elude. Result. she hit the concrete 9 seconds before Elude crashed. In the final debriefing, Becktrees congratulates you for finally putting a villain in the Zig no one thought they'd ever catch...and promises to call someone else the next time a minor villain causes him trouble.
The arc has a good theme and the characters are well-written. Picking a nit, it might be spruced up a bit if the mobs had a little more variety. Maybe some of the factions Escalation is dealing with could have representatives around, having just delivered her supplies or maybe just wanting to see how her work is progressing for their own reasons. Escalation Extreme's final defeat is kind of Deus Ex Machina-ish but it's hard to see how else it could be done. Actually I can think of a way to do it but I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader..... In any case, it's a great arc, recommended."
After Venture's review, I did make a few tweaks of improvement, which addressed his small concerns, as he commented:
"I gave it another run-through myself, this time on Mr. Pagliacci/Virtue (28 Dark/Psy Defender). The changes were all for the better.
Now Escalation can stew over being sent to jail by a clown. "
A particularly gratifying response to "Escalation" was when a City of Heroes player went through the arc, and created some 3D Poser art in tribute to the plot in the fifth and final mission.
I'm not posting the pictures directly, as the pics being from the climactic battle are spoilers about a major aspect of the plot, but here's the links to the pics on "HotRod5's" Deviant Art page for those who are interested.
I am just amazed that my Mission Architect story inspired someone to make some computer generated art, totally unsolicited by me. I took it as a huge compliment.
Check out other Escalation related art here: Art- City of Heroes Arcs