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The Swarm


JoshC.

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Looking forward to hearing the changes - I always thought swarms soundtrack was quite dull - I remember thinking last fright nights that it’s fright nights track would suit it permanently so look forward to seeing how it sounds.

 

I do hope they’ve managed to fix the speakers in the ambulance/ under the plane and the bell tower - the tower effect in particular was always very impressive both in the queue and even for riders when it was timed right.

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Really and truthfully, the area theme for Swarm makes no sense.

 

At face value, it seems to be some sort of attack from alien creatures that can fly. They've bought down planes and helicopters because they own the sky. The emergency services are under attack and useless too. Great.

 

But, if you follow the story laid out by the TV screens, this mysterious attack is happening at Thorpe Park. Okay, cool. But this leads to a variety of questions:

Why's there a church at Thorpe Park?

Or a billboard advertising paracetamol? (Actually, this is the park with Colossus in, so that makes sense.... ;)).

And why are there TVs reporting the news at a theme park?

And why is it being reported in such a blasé fashion?

And why are we willingly going to ride these creatures?

 

Obviously I'm going OTT here and this is all light hearted. And none of it really matters, when at its core it's a classic destruction theme. But it highlights again the mish-mash of thoughts that are going on. And if you want to create something that has 'immersive storytelling' throughout, you can't have that going on. 

 

The TVs and news report were likely a late-on decision done to try and add something to the queue line to make it more interesting. Arguably the main queue line doesn't need it as there's enough to watch to keep people entertained. I wonder if they've just given up on them after realising sticking TVs in a queue line exposed to all the elements isn't the best idea.

 

 

On a related note, which I might be incredibly slow in realising, but is the woman from the news reports in the queue line videos...Kay Burley?!

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The Swarm's area and theming isn't that great IMO.  It's really just a bunch of vehicles and theming items plonked around the ride with no cohesion, it isn't visually nice to look at either.  Why is there a huge motorway billboard right next to a church?  What's a helicopter doing in a lake?  It's just bizarre.

 

I do feel that it was better when the ride first opened and it had the special effects, triggered sound effects etc.  As with most Merlin investments though it's been left to fall apart, had random items added and many items of theming are now missing or have been replaced with generic, un-themed items (e.g. the queue fencing).  To be honest, I was never a fan of the queue videos being throughout the entire queue, it would have worked much better having them in one section IMO.  It just became pretty grating during long queues listening to it I thought.  And of course, it all got naff when the screens stopped working, speakers broke etc.

 

There's also that ugly wooden cover around part of the church that totally detracts from the look of the station.  Things like that are such a shame; if they'd picked one idea and put all their efforts into that (e.g. a destroyed church as the main centrepiece), it could have looked much better.  The area as it is now is just a jumbled mess IMO.

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In general the Swarm is a badly themed area I think, just not entertaining. I really have no idea why enthusiasts loved it so so much, maybe because it was an attempt at a 'big' theme when we'd gone so long without something new like that in 2012.

The queueline TVs were annoying and boring, I'm quite glad theyre gone. The area looked like a mash of old vehicles on a pavement. The water skims etc just added on randomly. The name "The Swarm" was never particularly catchy or conjured up anything exciting, neither did the grey, bleak colours and the boxy church. It's whole identity just doesnt work for me.

It's perfect opportunity for a redesign with the same theme, but that means a big redesign rather than an afterthought 'lets get the guy from Theme Park Fan The Musical to put some voice tracks on'. I hope it's an improvement, rather than even more of a mish mash?

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21 hours ago, JoshC. said:

Really and truthfully, the area theme for Swarm makes no sense.

 

At face value, it seems to be some sort of attack from alien creatures that can fly. They've bought down planes and helicopters because they own the sky. The emergency services are under attack and useless too. Great.

 

But, if you follow the story laid out by the TV screens, this mysterious attack is happening at Thorpe Park. Okay, cool. But this leads to a variety of questions:

Why's there a church at Thorpe Park?

Or a billboard advertising paracetamol? (Actually, this is the park with Colossus in, so that makes sense.... ;)).

And why are there TVs reporting the news at a theme park?

And why is it being reported in such a blasé fashion?

And why are we willingly going to ride these creatures?

 

 

 

This story is also sort of now laid out by the new audio, as seen here:

Although I think this time the church is supposed to be in the 'village of Thorpe', so at least that's explained. And also the Swarm itself apparently came from a research facility. The audio is very, very strange. 'The world is literally ending around us, quick, organise an interview with the reverend of the church, and in the meantime, play You Me At Six!' At least the Swarm Invasion audio is back in parts.

 

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So the audio now plays out like a radio station? I mean, stuff like that can work (see: Amity Cove / WWTP), but I'm not sure it fits here. But heyho, whatever. Maybe people will like it.

 

tbh I would have been happy if they literally just used the Swarm Invasion loop from last year. An evolution of the old soundtrack that worked.

 

Not a fan of shoehorning everything around the area into the audio. It feels desperate / awkward, rather than just letting everything flow. For the obvious comparison, it's not like WWTP Radio tries to shoehorn in all the theming features around, because it doesn't need to.

 

It's the same with the Ghost Train sections added this year. There's loads of heavy-handed, shoehorned sentences chucked in to try and fill in gaps and problems and issues. Just feels awkward and doesn't work for me. Maybe the wider audience / new visitors will respond to it much better. But from my perspective, it feels very forced and janky.

 

 

For what it's worth, I've always liked Swarm's area. I know people aren't fans of the basic nature it has of chucking vehicles around and such. But I like the crude simplicity of it. The Swarm are flying aliens, so of course things like planes and helicopters (flying things) will have been targeted. Emergency services bring safety, but The Swarm have attacked the fire, police and ambulance services, so they're not safe. A church is usually thought of as a safe haven, but that's been ripped apart and almost serves as the base of The Swarm.

It's simple, crude and not very subtle. But it conveys the message and theme effectively: we're in an apocalypse and no where is safe. And that's fine.

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It can’t get much worse than that cheesy American dispatch audio. I see the new “Radio” style is inspired by Amity and livens up the area with music but has been done at the cost of losing the atmospheric background audio for the area. Not sure what to make of it myself until I visit again.

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I think the audio is to make it more upbeat for the Park Vibes event. They'll probably change it back after the event or for FN but for what it's worth I prefer the new soundtrack. 

I also think that for the type of park Thorpe is it's much more suited to its target audience and the park as opposed to say Universal or Disney where you're going for 100% immersion into the theme of the area. Honestly the ride could be themed to Toy Story and the target audience wouldn't give more than a minutes thought to the theme.

People visit for the ride, not the theme so 100% cohesive theming isn't a necessity and making a doom and gloom ride slightly less doom and gloom is always a good vibe for a park which is 50% themed to doom and gloom.

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Went to Thorpe today and got to experience the new Swarm stuff in person. The area soundtrack is strange, the spoken parts are pretty bland, sometimes it overexplains stuff a bit, and again the whole thing is so unrealistic to the actual situation depicted in the ride. Which is fine, if the area is also themed in an unrealistic and outlandish way. This works for WWTP Radio, the hosts are constantly cracking jokes and it's all a bit nonchalant given the town is being hit by multiple tidal waves, but not only are there actual jokes in the WWTP Radio audio, but the area isn't exactly a serious area, whereas The Swarm is literally themed to the end of the world. I'm seeing crashed vehicles and a destroyed church, yet I'm hearing a completely calm sounding reverend being interviewed by a newsreader who keeps casually mentioning that the entire country is under attack? It doesn't really work. The song choices also don't really work, unsurprisingly. I can't tell if it's some kind of attempt at humour to be playing 'Highway to Hell' on this fake radio station as the world is literally ending around us, but again, it doesn't work when the rest of the area and even the audio is entirely serious up until then.

 

The station audio is something else entirely though, it's actually really good. You can hear a clip of it here:

I really wish the area audio was closer to this than what we got.

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  • 1 month later...

I was on park yesterday and controversially I actually quite like the new audio for the Swarm.

 

Honestly the old audio was pretty monotone and ngl after 8 years of hearing it on end I’d had enough of it. The variety in the new audio and having the queue audio be completely different to the station really adds to it imo.

 

Also I loved the cheeky use of Dies Ire in the station audio (classical music nerds will know).

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