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Level: Back to Basics - Desert Ruins and the Serpent Tower back home search
Author(s): GeckoKid
total rating:8.72 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Alarable 10 9 9 10
Bene 9 10 10 10
Bigfoot 10 10 10 10
Bogey 8 8 9 8
CC 9 8 9 9
Deekman 9 8 9 9
Dimpfelmoser 9 9 9 9
Drakan 9 8 9 9
droogie 8 8 9 10
Duncan 9 9 10 10
Dutchy 9 8 9 10
eRIC 9 8 9 10
EssGee 10 8 9 9
eTux 7 8 9 10
G.Croft 9 8 8 9
Gerty 10 9 9 9
gfd 8 7 9 8
Gill 10 9 10 10
Horus 8 7 9 10
Jay 9 8 10 9
Jenni 9 9 9 8
Jerrod 7 6 7 10
Jorge22 10 9 9 10
Jose 4 6 7 7
Kristina 8 8 8 8
Magnus 6 7 7 8
manarch2 7 7 9 9
MichaelP 8 7 9 10
Mman 8 9 9 9
Moonpooka 9 9 9 9
Mrs rjb 8 8 7 8
mugs 10 8 9 9
Mytly 8 9 9 9
Obig 9 8 9 9
Orbit Dream 9 10 10 10
Pam 9 8 9 9
Phil 9 9 10 10
QRS 9 9 10 10
Relic Hunter 9 8 10 10
rjb 9 8 9 9
Ruediger 10 9 9 9
Samu 8 8 9 8
Sash 7 6 8 7
Sethian 7 8 9 9
Solange 8 9 9 10
Spike 9 10 10 10
Staticon 9 8 9 9
Sutekh 8 10 9 8
Treeble 9 8 10 10
Whistle 7 8 7 8
category averages
(50 reviews)
8.52 8.26 8.96 9.14

Reviewer's comments

"On recommendation, I made this level and I do not regret because it is very good. It is not very difficult, although I am surprised that the long jump with the rope was already known at that time. Otherwise just get 4 stars on different floors of this huge tower (do not forget the crowbar at the top) .Recommended." - Drakan (14-Sep-2014)

"I remember very well this level. It's one of my personnal favorite of the entire trle world. I remember the first time I discovered this big tower and the amazing circle stairs in the middle. Personnaly I never trying to walk on top. First of all, you need to found the crowbar before and then found 4 golden stars after resolve 4 nices brain teasers. The gameplay is not very hard like the 2 previous level but more interesting like the correct fire way of the squeleton and the fabulous hidden secret who showing some hidden aeras of another btb level (The Underground City). The level is not dark and very well textured. I also really like how is building the sky in the beginning ... just GREAT (and only with catacombs textures). A great use of the cameras who showing the road we need to follow. So to conclude A PERFECT ENTRY for this btb05. Very recommended for everyone." - Bigfoot (28-Aug-2014)

"This level has wonderful eye candy and is was a great raid, although the gameplay and puzzles were rather easy... except for the rope swing, I hate the rope swings ;). I enjoyed the effort the mapper put into the environment, it truly shows... gameplay wise moving the block for so long got dull quick, but the fire pillars were a nice touch (even though it was not difficult) and the satisfactory dive off the tower tied everything together at the end. I highly recommend this and hope that I could put this type of quality into a map of my own some day." - droogie (25-Aug-2014)

"The “Desert Ruins” part of the level is quite short – you spent a few seconds in the first and last outdoor areas, which by the way looked very nice especially given the restrictions, while most of the level is spent inside – with a nice elevator effect reminiscent of TR 4 used – and I really enjoyed the scenic environments inside. The “Serpent Tower” itself is an architectural highlight and the other rooms don't quite disappoint either – the atmosphere is really stunning throughout, and texturing and lighting are near-perfect too, maybe the builder could've ventured even a little more in those regards. The gameplay feels a bit secondary, but the quest for four stars to obtain the prominent crystal item is enjoyable. I liked how you have to explore the tower for the openings leading to the various stars, and there are some good tasks in this game, like the fire pillar jumps and the burner at the monkeyswing, but everything is rather mundane and nothing really new. It's maybe a bit too much of a show, but at least a rather good show, and ends way too quickly after only 20 minutes, being the shortest level of the whole competition. Found the one secret." - manarch2 (06-May-2014)

"This level instantly shows a more professional visual polish than the first two levels in this Back to Basics, and then takes things even further with an extremely impressive giant tower. It also makes some interesting use of non-standard geometry to make things more original too. Some of the side areas are a bit more humble, but it keeps a high-standard throughout.
Outside of getting hung up on the crowbar hunt (which is little trouble if you stick to the main area before going to the side-ones) and one overly-long block puzzle the gameplay has a good flow and is quite easy (maybe even a little too easy), and it also culminates in a fun dive off the giant tower. It feels a little short, although that's in part due to most people following the "30 minutes long" rule in the first BTB (as opposed to the behemoths of the later BTB packs). I'd recommend looking up how to get the secret if you don't find it yourself as you actually miss a quite substantial area, along with a cool link with another level that I don't think has been done in any other BTB." - Mman (25-Oct-2012)

"This is a lovely and beautiful Catacombs level. The gameplay is a little bit on the simple side – it is very basic Tomb Raider, but I guess that was the goal of the original competition. The environments are wonderfully crafted though: that huge central structure with smaller rooms going off it brought back many St. Francis Folly memories and was a real feast for the eyes. The lighting and texturing is also very well done giving a full-on realistic impression. Enemies are used well and placed well (both Skeletons and Mummies) and the race to the shotgun is a lot of fun. I also liked the effect of triggering the waterfall objects to signify the flooding of the rooms. The level is all a bit annoying though if you miss the Crowbar early on, which will cause a lot of backtracking. Atmosphere and music is very good, and it is a good use of the basic LE audio tracks. I also liked the flyby sequences a lot, especially the one showing us the central Serpent Tower. A very well crafted and enjoyable level, even if it is a bit simple." - Sethian (17-Oct-2011)

"I am very impressed with how the builder has managed to create a beautiful and unique level using nothing but the Catacombs wad – he even managed to create outdoor areas! The architecture is the highlight of this level – from the magnificent central tower to the beautiful and complex secret area (which is a large area packed with goodies, and includes what is apparently a peep into another level!). It’s hard to believe a Catacombs level could look so good!
Gameplay is mostly quite straightforward – once you manage to get onto the central tower, you go to the four surrounding areas for four stars. The challenges for getting the stars are moderately interesting, but nothing unusual: some rope swinging and monkey swinging, a push-block puzzle and a jumping puzzle. Enemies are only mummies and skeletons, which can be a bit annoying until you get both the shotgun and grenade launcher in the secret area.
Overall: An enjoyable level with a lot of eye candy. I haven’t played the rest of the levels from the original Back to Basics as yet, but I think I can safely predict that this is one of the best of the lot." - Mytly (19-Nov-2010)

"The Serpent Tower is big, but the adventure is short. Perhaps the most beautiful level from BTB2005, but not the better for the gameplay & puzzle. Except the "illegal jump" with the rope and the "hidden crowbar", this level can be finished in few minutes." - Jerrod (21-Mar-2010)

"It's amazing what you can do with an original WAD, and this is a perfect showcase for it. From the start of the level we get stunning architecture, and the opening fly-by of the tower itself shows the massive scale that this level has been built on. The texturing and lighting throughout the rest of the level is sublime, and there were no parts that I thought looked bad, or could have been done better. The gameplay matches the quality of the presentation, with a number of varied and interesting tasks, including following a skeleton across a series pillars to work out the safe route. I was not once bored, and while the level itself is pretty easy, this helped it to flow well. The secret areas were original too, with a sneak preview of Harly Wuson's BtB level from one of the windows, as well as a handy Grenade Launcher nearby to help deal with the enemies. Another nice touch was the way that a 'sky' had been included in the level, despite the basic objects not including one. This was an excellent level, and I can recommended it to anybody wanting a good raid." - Spike (09-Oct-2007)

"This is a fairly basic level (basic - Back to Basics, get it?), but there is one thing that makes it stand out - the tower room. It serves as a hub, and leads to all the other parts of the level. It's extremely well-made and looks great. Other than that, though, this is just your average catacomb level. The gameplay mainly revolves around finding four stars, and the level ends a few minutes after you've placed them, after less than twenty minutes. The tasks are all standard fare - there's one room with monkey swinging, one with burning tiles, and so on. Nothing overly challenging, in other words. The texturing and lighting are great, as we've come to expect from this author. I also really liked the idea of a crossover of sorts with Harly Wuson's Back to Basics level, even if I could never find a way to get to the secret area legally, and didn't see the need for all the ammunition, anyway. This isn't the author's best effort, but the tower as a central hub was a brilliant idea." - Magnus (03-Sep-2006)

"I must say that this level appealed to me almost in every moment. Surroundings looks wonderful including a nice desert area in the beginning and a huge vertical chamber which is really breathtaking. Most of your time you spend on jumping and avoiding traps and everything is pretty easy if not counting the room where you have to jump by using the rope. I had some troubles with that. Cameras work also very well and everything is quite good so the reason why I didn't give better grades for this level is that this level doesn't offer challenging and various tasks enough. Of course it is a bit hard to design various and good tasks by using the standard catacomb wad but that's still my opinion." - Samu (02-Aug-2006)

"It occured seldom to me that the pure architecture of a level made me laugh that much. This "Serpent Tower" looks so labile I personally would not dare to even touch it. But anyway - brave Lara runs up and down the stairs again and again in order to find the four Golden Stars (don't miss to look out for the Crowbar first on the Tower!). What I liked most were the brilliant use of textures and lighting, as well as the gorgeous idea how to create a nice sky with the Catacomb resources. The atmosphere in these desert ruins is somehow fresh, I really like the colors used here, also Jackie used some fog to create a "dusty" effect where some light falls through those little windows. The gameplay was very good, except that it is VERY frustrating to do every quest for the four Golden Stars before finding the Crowbar. The enemies were usually no problem and the joint secret area with Harly was brilliant. Altogether this is a great adventure, even if it seemed a bit short in my opinion." - Horus (07-Oct-2005)

WOW. This level really did impress me, if not by being a Catacombs level with actual outside areas (just kidding ;-), but the HUGE area surrounding the serpent tower so nicely done and yes, the first time you get to it your jaw will probably drop. Soon enough you'll realize you'll be going up and down that tower a few times in order to collect the four stars that eventually will lead you to the Gem, your quest on this level. Each star will provide you with a different challenge, nothing overly taxing though. This level provided me a good time, I recommend it. And that secret area is huge, to say the least, I loved the path we had to take to reach it - quite ingenious. 50 minutes, 1 secret. 07/05 - Treeble (11-Jul-2005)

"Wow! This level is so cool. I really liked the idea with a centre room with a tower in the middle. Jackie shows how good he is at using the catacomb wad and push it to the limits. Great map layout and nice textures. I really hope it should be longer though but as the BTB levels are short I can't complain about that. This is art Jackie! Especially the main room. 2005-05-01" - QRS (03-May-2005)

"This level reminded me a lot of St. Francis Folly. Without giving away too much, most of the level is in a high room with a tower, and from that tower you make your way to different rooms through alcoves in the walls surrounding the tower. Each room has its own traps and challenges. Parts of the level were so beautifully made, I just stopped and looked around for a long time. Above all, the architecture was fantastic, but the use of lighting and textures added to that. I like beautiful levels, so this level was right up my alley. Something happened everywhere, there was broken pottery in the corners, sand spilling out on the floor, broken pillars in the pools and on the floors. That made exploring so much fun! I'm glad I found the secret, it was challenging to get to, but I managed the tricky rope swing after a while. That made the encounter with some skellies later on a bit easier.. There were some very cool changing rooms, first one in the beginning that was slightly startling, and then one at the end, where Lara found an escalator, and she sure liked that after running up and down those stairs so many times! When I played this level I kept thinking that it could have been so much bigger, I wouldn't mind seeing a second release of this level, with new alcoves opening up around the tower!" - Solange (15-Apr-2005)

"I didn't want this level to end. It is less a level and more a work of art bordering on the surreal. This has to be one of the best tower implementations I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Everything was beautifully designed and built, the enemies were just right, puzzles not too hard, not too easy, texture application perfect. Breathtaking. It truly is amazing what can be achieved with a basic wad and textures." - Staticon (04-Apr-2005)

"One tiny complaint: The rope sequence was a tad unfair, as you need to be aware of the 'big swing' technique. I wasn't, but am grateful that I have mastered it (thanks to this level) for making my raiding education more complete. Aside from this, I have to state that I found this level to be a true masterpiece, both in terms of Gameplay (where the objectives were always clear, but the means of achieving them required some thought) and in Design, which was (quite simply) sublime. To have created such an impressive, intricate and beautiful architectural location as the inside of the Tower, using only the basic Catacomb textures, displays a skill which fills me with awe. To build upon all this with some fantastic Gameplay elements (I particularly loved the tall chamber you need to back-flip up) and honest-to-goodness fun (the elevator scenes, and the chase with the skeletons at the start), and to compound all that with an incredibly potent atmosphere, is to exhibit true skill as a Builder. This level fully deserves classic status." - Orbit Dream (04-Mar-2005)

"I found this a very difficult game to review as the individual scores that I gave to the game made it seem that this was a really interesting level and yet, overall, I found it quite disappointing in places. I tried to reassess my scores/my opinion so that they matched but found that I still came up with the same ideas. The overall plan of the game, to use a central tower and its surrounding buildings, was well conceived and executed. The crystal screen around the gem at the top of the tower, the ‘jumping skellie’ room with its golden star and water and the waterfalls that appear and fill an initially dry room when all four stars are placed in receptors were highlights for me. The real lowlight was the difficult (in fact extremely difficult) rope swing to the secret area … the ‘goodies’ were certainly worth it but…Having said all those things I return to my opinion that, for me, the game didn’t really inspire me, seemed to leave me unsatisfied as it didn’t seem to hang together and I was glad to have finished it! As I said at the beginning this opinion seems out of keeping with the scores but, it is how I felt. Sorry!" - Mrs rjb (03-Mar-2005)

"What a great level! I never thought I would have so much fun collecting four stars in an environment built with the catacomb wad! After some initial exploring you get to a tower with a stairway at the top in a very high room which is just stunning. You will use this staircase often to get to different rooms where you can find the stars after you fulfill different tasks. It is very exciting having to jump and maneuver across the gap so many times without falling down. What a relieve when the room is filled with water at the end and you can finally drop down. Nothing to be said about the textures except that it didn’t look boring at all! The well applied lighting created a realistic atmosphere." - Pam (01-Mar-2005)

"Without a doubt one of the best levels this competition has to offer - cleverly achieved illusion of outside areas at the start and end of the game, and simply awesome architecture - be it the awesome arcs in the main hall, or the unrealistically breathtaking winding staircase that you see in one of the artistically crafted fly-by's. Looks are fantastic, yet maybe I would've wanted for the overall lighting effects to be more diverse. Gameplaywise it sticks to the traditions of Tomb Raider, and generally offers nothing new or innovative, so maybe not the best level if you crave for something different, but the GeckoKid, nonetheless has put some thought in to keep you occupied while the game lasts, so kudos to that! Also, as I mentioned with the underground city too - it really pays to find the solely secret of this level and have a glimpse at the other level in question - neat idea! As said - one of the best the competition has to offer, it's your loss if you miss it out!" - eTux (01-Mar-2005)

"Sometimes the most simple concepts make the best levels. And that is what makes Tomb Raider so enjoyable and this level memorable. Jackie has understood it all. This level is truly efficient, with great architecture as far as the shaping of the blocks is concerned. Not only looking to what strikes the eyes (the great tower or the blue sky for example) but even in the smallest details: in one place there is a puddle of water with a surface of only half a tile : one room built just for this, to add some more realism to this well crafted setting. A great and classic gameplay with not many possibilities to get stuck, (Actually I got stuck only once searching for the crowbar, cause I did not paid attention to the fixed camera at the top of the huge tower, entirely my fault). You get some challenge with a good battle with skeletons, and rooms with fire burners. My favourite moment? The few jumps in the ‘outside area’ with water in one of the four quests for a golden star." - eRIC (01-Mar-2005)

"You start outside in the desert ruin area but quickly make your way inside (using the classic Catacomb elevator effect) only to encounter a huge tower with a winding stairway high up in the middle - an awesome sight. Truly spectacular, although initially it feels like there is nothing to do but running around quite a bit. Make sure you make it to the top first or you will basically play the whole level twice in order to get your four stars from the areas around the ledges. Good variety of gameplay here with some burners and some jumps, but also a few elements on the verge of being tedious, like the long push of the object and the backtracking for the gem and then back down for the knot before you reach your elevator back out again. Only a few skeletons around to bug you, but the whole 40 minute adventure is all about visuals as lighting and textures are truly stunning. I saw the one secret of course, but did not find my way to it, so will be going back another time." - Michael (01-Mar-2005)

"Very non-linear, very exploratory. It turned out to be easier than it at first appeared. Loved the connection between this level and the Underground City." - Deekman (01-Mar-2005)

"This level starts off quite slowly. You are ‘welcomed’ by few mummies, but then nothing really happens for a while. Once you have entered the magnificent tower, there are several ways to proceed. It so happened, that I first found my way into a secret area, which I had previously visited in ‘The Underground City’. Thus, I was well equipped to fight off any skeletons or mummies. However, to proceed with the main tasks, I had to go back for the crowbar. The task are varied, and it is not a difficult level, except that one has to do an ‘esoteric’ rope swing." - Bogey (27-Feb-2005)

"The main focus in this level is the tower, of which you have to collect 4 stars as you climb up, or climb down, a winding staircase precariously positioned in the middle. On the whole the stars were easy to collect with mainly jumps and no real puzzling to reach them, except for a movable object puzzle. I did enjoy the fact that in two places you could find or see areas that are actually parts of another level, which is rather intriguing but I had some sort of trouble climbing into the one secret area, one of the places you find in the other level, as when I shimmied to the ladder on the wall Lara would not go into climb mode no matter what I did, so a little fly cheating was necessary to let me see what I was missing. I enjoyed this 35 minute level but for me I place this in the middle of the Back to Basic levels as it needed a bit more of a challenge with not just the tasks at hand but also with the enemies." - Sash (18-Feb-2005)

"An interesting, attractive, well-paced game with a clear 'direction', where, if we are prepared to explore properly, nothing seems overly difficult (with one exception - see below), so it is an ideal candidate for the player of 'average' ability to discover just what these talented builders can do with a basic catacomb wad. The earliest loading screen for the game suggests that there will be some water at some stage near the base of the eponymous central tower (posh word for the day). We are also shown that at the top of this same tower is a gem on a pedestal, which may just possibly be our ultimate target. Fairly soon, this loading screen picture changes, to show that the gem in question has been enclosed in a translucent cage or screen. At the same time, we see that suddenly there is NO water at the bottom of the tower. So if we've been paying attention(!), we realise that we've just been given an excellent clue, as to one of the things that will presumably be happening at some stage. Not when we first reach this great tower, but when we are halfway up it, we are suddenly treated to a fantastic, minute-long fly-by up the tower. At first it almost seems as though a bit of the surprise of what is to come is spoiled but in fact, on reflection, I feel that the fly-by helps to give us a better feel for where we are than we would otherwise gain, if we were just exploring 'on our own'. The whole place is less intimidating because of the fly-by - which it is most useful to see several times, if we wish, to mark out certain salient points as we are shown up the tower. I counted 6 new/old openings in the side walls off the tower. One of these, remarkably, remains unattainable because it is too low down and one clearly needs lots of other things to be found (principally 4 golden stars!) before it is worth going that way - though the author has generously provided an escape route, should we wish to investigate in that direction first. So the 6 routes quickly become 4 - one for each of the 4 stars, in fact. (But don't forget to brave the skeletor to collect the crowbar first!) My only real query (re gameplay, which was otherwise excellent) in my search for these stars concerned the one secret of the level, where at one point we needed to shimmy along an entirely invisible crack in order to begin our journey to reach it. Is this 'fair' on a player? It reminded me of the bit of wall that wasn't 'real' in 'Operation Golden Star' that led to a secret there. Seems too 'obscure', I think. (This is not to mention the super-rope-swing needed to access the crevice, to start you off.) [The mitigating factor is perhaps the ladder that is almost in plain view in the relevant room if you look in the right direction, to set you thinking as to how you might reach it. And the view that coincides with an 'Underground City' courtyard is magnificent if you do succeed.] I thought it was a clever idea to have a skeletor showing us (again, if we were paying attention!) which of numerous possible 'smoke jet pillars' were safe, in one place, and it was lovely that each placed star caused a fountain to start, so that when all 4 were placed, then .... (Remember the water we saw in the first loading screen?) And I liked the ending with the lifts - that first lift was so unexpected - so that we might come out to a bright, desert-type landscape. There were no beetles, no hungry white sprites, and none of the bones we don't know whether to shoot or not. (Best of all, no beetles, hurrah!) I was left wondering why most of the other BtB designers didn't also consider having some outside scenes. This is now 5th on my list, of the 16 levels I have played so far." - rjb (16-Feb-2005)

"This level is already harder than the previous two was, we need some skills here. We can get to the locations of each tasks from a main tower, where we have to collect Stars to finally gain the Horseman's Gem and the Pharos Knot, though we don't have to use the preceding anywhere. It is very important, that we have to pick up the crowbar first on the top of the main tower, because we can pry the stars off the wall only with this. There's only one secret on the level, but getting to it is a separate task. It's interesting, that this secret doesn't consist of some pickups, but of a room with more passages, where two of the doors will remain closed. We'll find the answer for this problem some levels later. We don't have to care about enemies much, because the mummies and skeletons can be easily tricked, but we can hunt them either, because we get also the Grenade Gun besides the Shotgun. You can find a Hungarian walkthrough (as we don't have English version), savegames and pictures here: http://www.treditor.hu/15/back_to_basics3_desert_ruins_and_the_serpent_tower.htm " - Obig (16-Feb-2005)

"Well what can I say as seeing that tower, this was a WOW moment for me. The jumping back and fro was great. It took me a bit longer as I completely forgot to take the gem, despite the great fly by LOL I was so into this game that I couldn't leave my computer and had to finish it. Second time around I took more time to explore but found no more secrets than the one I already had. Nice use of elevators, like the way you had to figure out how indeed to get that one secret. Everything was as it should be (in my book anyway) and because I was so involved I completely overlooked how long it took me to play this game. 12-02-2004" - Gerty (15-Feb-2005)

"As a level this was reasonable but with few variations in enemies-mummies and skeletons, and little in the way of overt puzzles. Find you way from the central tower into various rooms to collect the stars, flood the area and enter the last section. Some of the jumps were a little hard and the secret room via the rope very hard to spot as the crack in the wall could not be seen except for the initial little piece, very unfair. I was very disappointed with the scenes set as I expected a catacombs level not a castle level (perhaps that was down to me!). Apart from the secret area the rest was quite easy to follow and what went for a puzzle easy to sort out. I also felt little in the way of atmosphere was created." - Whistle (14-Feb-2005)

"The level starts outside of an old caved in Temple and takes you through a magic room that will change by throwing the lever to the Serpent Tower ands what a tower it was, lot of jumping involved and 4 Stars to collect after you found the crowbar that was so sneakily hidden on top of the tower, only if you paid close attention to the flyby you could have seen it. There were some doors closed when you found the Secret room and the solution to that question came finally in level 17 (if you played them one by one that was a long time later) where another secret door opened after getting the 3 secrets of that level and you finally found the doors that were closed in this level. Not much puzzles in the level but the gameplay was entertaining. Loved the flybys. No remarks on the rest." - Dutchy (14-Feb-2005)

"Lara starts in the desert and goes through the entrance into the catacombs. Atmosphere, lighting, textures are all excellent making this one of the more visually stunning levels in this competition. Basically this is the inside of a tower, a huge high one, that looks brilliant looking up, down and at all stages along the way. Lara naturally comes in at floor level and makes her way up, via a central structure I’ll loosely call a stairway, to the top. It’s essential to get the crowbar early. She floods the floor area can do a terrific dive from the top of the tower into the water, great fun. In the walls of the tower are smaller areas with different tasks to do, like outrunning skellies along ledges to get to the shotgun, pushing an object along another crooked broken ledge, jumping across a water room onto fire columns, all these to collect four stars in each room. And eventually back to the top of the central structure to claim the gem. Finding the one secret in this level is as interesting as all the tasks to get the stars, involving a cleverly hidden shimmy and climb into the ceiling. If the player is clever enough to spot this early on they will be rewarded with weapons and medpacks enough to make life a lot easier. Having claimed her prize Lara emerges outside again, through the temple door, and across the sands to home. Another brilliant level in this series." - CC (04-Feb-2005)

“It's a pain that a great design and architecture like this don't have a good gameplay. The great builders always have to be sure that the player has all the necessary items so when they had already advanced during a long time through the level and arrive into an extreme place they don't have to go back looking like fools through an immense extension (almost all the level) to find a small thing so they can continue playing (in this case the crowbar: in the first flyby you can only see the diamond and when you climb at the top of the tower and activate the camera shot you can't see the crowbar too at least that you have an eagle vision). It's always very boring. Very very bad the gameplay.” – José (28-Jan-2005)

“A bit more difficult gameplay. Find four stars and there is a challenge to reach each one of them. Use the stars to get access to the crystal of evil energy. Lara takes it with her to break the curse of the undead. The surroundings here look great. The main area is the Serpent tower which you must climb and jump from to get into various areas around the tower. There's an elegant use of elevators. The skeletons and the mummies are all in the right places.” – G.Croft (25-Jan-2005)

“I can sum up this level in two words - 'beautiful' and 'elegant'. And it too gets the maximum points that I will allocate for the B-to-B levels. From the moment you begin there is a great feel about this level. The descending elevator is very well conceived and then there's the tower... wow. What a great bit of architectural work has gone on here. Yes there's an element of fantasy about it but this is one impressive environment. I could not fault the texturing and lighting. Once you locate the crowbar there is a logical progression to the tasks to be completed each area being well constructed. Puzzling is not over-challenging but still remains smart and entertaining. The author provides us with eye catching flybys which also enhance the gaming experience. This will suit players of all level skills and really is a jaw dropper to browse around.” – EssGee (25-Jan-2005)

“What great game-play this level was indeed I absolutely loved it from start to finish. Your adventure start's by sliding down into the desert ruins which creates some sort of earthquake and you’re dropped down into the serpent tower where you are in search of and collecting the 4 stars a pharos knot and a gem. You also get some nice puzzles to solve here which were not too difficult to sort out. You will be dodging and avoiding enemies like skellies and mummies which always seemed to be tripping you up along your way but yes fortunately you do get the shotgun so you can at least blast a few skellies off your track while carrying on with your mission in the search and retrieving all the lost stars and the other important items. Then after placing the pharos knot you get a lovely ride upwards in an elevator which takes you right back to the top of the tower to slide back into the desert ruins again to end this wonderful adventure. This was an absolutely amazing level for me and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it the textures were really stunning with such beautiful laid out rooms that were just mesmerizing I just could not take it all in everything was so perfectly placed I seemed to spend ages just looking around and I nearly forgot what I came here for. The main room/tower was so huge when I first saw it my first thoughts were of total confusion as I just had no idea in where to go first and what to do next but soon everything fell into place and the adventure started. So just explore every place you can find and you will soon finish the wonderful level which I was very sad to leave.” – Gill (23-Jan-2005)

“With imagination and skill even these tired old catacomb textures can add up to a genuine visual feast. The Serpent Tower is architecture both grand and eccentric a joy to behold and supports some clever gameplay. With a tricky rope jump you can get the secret and a must-see bonus area. This one is an absolute must-play for every raider.” – Duncan (22-Jan-2005)

“This is one of the most memorable of the B2B series because of its design: the tower is superb and the flyby showed it up so well! The tower is the pinnacle and hub of the level as it’s used to go back and forth between the rooms containing the stars rather than moving from one room to another in a linear fashion as is the usual design of most custom levels. The objective of the level is to obtain the gem which is right in front of you but unable to be reached – a nice touch. The level entailed collecting 4 stars at various rooms off differing levels of the tower with the crowbar which is well placed at the top of the tower. Each room had skellies to overcome and the shotgun was the weapon of choice for the task but collecting it was a mission in itself whereby you had to run a gauntlet of skeletons to collect it which was one of the climactic moments of the level (not to mention great fun!) A superb level which I thoroughly enjoyed.” - Jenni (22-Jan-2005)

“This is what I call a good and interesting level. The catacomb wad is my favourite along with karnak so naturally these levels always have a certain appeal to me. The central room is so high that Lara can’t see all the way to the top from the ground and it is complex to explore. The player has to find four stars and a knot by visiting each of the areas in every floor level that can be accessed from the central winding staircase. There was a very clever secret that I found and in that area there are also two doors which can’t be opened from this level but you have to play ‘Underground City’ to access the area you can see beyond the window. After getting the gem you know the end is near as this is the desired item. A bit of flooding some object pushing to reveal blocks that are inside walls describe the gameplay but there was a lack of enemies. Overall it’s a good level.” – Kristina (17-Jan-2005)

“You begin in an outdoor desert area (normally outdoors isn't possible with the catacomb-WAD it's a fake blue wall instead of a sky) and slide down into an earthquake-shaken catacomb. Very effective beginning and a great camera flyby around a tower with broken and dirty stairs - the textures are looking very real here. Lara climbs higher and higher to battle skeletons (that shotgun was just in the right place). She finds 4 golden stars and has to solve different tasks for each one. After she obtained a blue jewel and a pharos knot she can finally take the elevator back to the desert surface. Great fun playing leaves you begging for more!” – Rüdiger (17-Jan-2005)

“Another outstanding game! Your eyes pop immediately when you get a load of the Serpent Tower - it is spectacular. Take my advice and find that crowbar quick you'll need it. You are off on a raid to find four stars. The gameplay is fun and challenging. Chips are down. Die are cast. Bet's on Bojrkraider!” – Mugs (17-Jan-2005)

“A visual stunner. Lovely flyby. Beautiful lighting. Rich textures. There is so much to see and do here that it's hard to mention what was the best. So I'll just mention what my feeble mind can recall at the moment. Nicely designed shaft in which you have to continuously flip upwards to reach a star. Helpful skellie shows you the path across the fire pillars so don't blast him away too soon. Now for the bad...this is the first level in the series that made me swear. (oh come on you do it too you know you do you have those special little ahem petnames for Lara.) It's that darn near impossible rope swing to grab a crack and shimmy around then upwards routine. And for all that trouble what did I get? 1 secret and a couple of doors I couldn't open. This is a Must See level. My total secrets count is 1 and I fear I've missed some things and will be replaying this once my blood pressure stabilizes.” – Alarable (15-Jan-2005)

“It's a fantastic adventure Ladies and Gentlemen. Tons of atmosphere a clever setting and a really fast gameplay. The main part of it takes place in the Serpent Tower itself and your objective is to collect four stars from their respective rooms once you've spotted the crowbar. A nice variety of tasks in an environment that is just perfect and conjures up fond memories from the good old Tomb Raiding days. You get some nice fly bys and whenever you need a clue you can be sure there is a little cut scene to tell you what is going on. I don't think there is a single crawl in here. Thumbs up to that I say. If memory serves this is the first Back to Basic adventure where I didn't get stuck; yes it's that user-friendly and yet it's not that easy. The shotgun is placed at exactly the right spot I liked the use of elevators and the exploring aspect is just the way it should be. I reckon a loose ice wraith would have been the icing on the cake but you can't please everyone all the time. A real gem in the best tradition of Tomb Raiding and yet it's not at all retro. I wish it had lasted a bit longer.” – Dimpfelmoser (12-Jan-2005)

“This level revolves around an impressively tall tower-like structure and focuses on the hunt for 4 gold stars. One thing I really didn't like very much though was the fact that each time you first find a gold star you will not have the crowbar to pry it off of the wall leading you to believe that you've missed it along the way when you have done no such thing. I only had to access the forums once (to find the aformentioned crowbar). This adventure took me 50 minutes but I didn't find a single secret.” – gfd (12-Jan-2005)

“A ‘Back to Basics’ level using the catacomb wad so I won’t go into detail about enemies and objects - you know the score. There are some large imposing rooms in this level especially the room with the central tower. The atmosphere is excellent and the gameplay is pretty exciting especially the pursuit by three skellies as you dash across platforms to reach the shotgun just in time to knock the buggers over the edge. There was one area containing ammo that I never managed to get into and I didn’t find any secrets. A highly recommended entry in this series.” – Jay (10-Jan-2005)

“I immensely enjoyed playing this level yet I have a problem with it: there is a secret and depending on whether or not you find it and how early you find it the gameplay will dramatically change from very tough to fairly easy. Now it's not your easy-to-spot easy-to-get secret. It requires either expert knowledge of TR moves (rope swings in this case) or the kind of luck only leprechauns can grant you. My first thought was ‘a whole level shouldn't depend on a single secret especially one this hard to get’ but then I realized that this is what secrets should be. Not always some goodies hidden in a dark corner and the satisfaction to hear that pretty sound but a real reward. Either a bonus part of the level or something instrumental (but not mandatory) to victory. This one particular secret is both. One that will be remembered. So instead of subtracting 1 point to gameplay which was my first intention I added 1. This being said wow! This is what I call ‘atmosphere’. Lighting sound settings this one has it all. Creepy it is especially if you're afraid of heights. The only reasons why I didn't give a neat 10 to the atmosphere category are two or three fixed camera that could have been avoided or designed better. Some very good ideas too including a priceless moment with a *gasp* helpful skeleton showing you the way which had me puzzled at first then bursting with laughter. So the bottom line is: go play it! Satisfaction guaranteed.” – Sutekh (09-Jan-2005)

“A visual stunner and an atmospheric level if I do say so myself. This level begins with Lara sliding town into an entrance to some catacombs and she takes a rock elevator down where she ends up doing tasks here and there around a very tall room with a tall tower as its centerpiece. The level takes place most of the time in the tower I mentioned where she has to collect four golden stars to get to the gem on top of the tower but that's easier said than done. There are some tricky tasks to do around here in order to get to those stars such as monkey swinging and jumping around fire. I noticed that the combination of lighting and the fog made this level even more realistic such as when light shines through the ceiling you can actually see the light on the floor. The rooms all had a very good structure to them also. Though the thing that I really liked about the level was jumping around with the skeletons to get to one of the stars. Apart from getting the gem a Pharos Knot also has to be discovered to get out of the catacombs and back outside where the adventure ends. I'd say that this level had good elements of raiding which were not-too-hard puzzles good flybys and cameras and a great design. This level should definitely be played.” – Relic Hunter (06-Jan-2005)

“This is a magnificent display of building work. You start in a rather dull area arriving in a bleak room surrounded by mummies and your objective is to get a gem and escape. Once inside the main building you are met with a beautiful and stunning flyby showing you the fabulous tower room in all its glory. Here you have to jump into the many alcoves leading off of the tower room and then collect and place four gold stars. Once that’s done you can get the gem you came for then release the knot from its hiding place and use it to open the way for escape. Some nice tricks and traps with fire jumps and rope swings plus skeletons and mummies along the way. Apart from the visual beauty of this level the game play is fun exciting and at its very best. I missed the secret due to a rather hard rope swing which I didn’t fancy repeating but it will be well worth a re play just to visit this level again fabulous work.” – Moonpooka (04-Jan-2005)

“Another winner. Tower is in the name and that's what you get. One that is memorable unusual and imaginative. The trick here is finding the crowbar quickly and the author has provided a camera shot where it can be seen provided you're on the right spot at the top of the stairs. There's lots of running through empty rooms in the beginning and lots of closed doors you'll not enter but I think that's because of time restraints imposed on all the builders. To go through all the doors would perhaps make too lengthy a level. But if we're lucky perhaps the author will allow us to continue this adventure sometime in the future. There's a great secret here. As I was trying to do one thing I ended up hanging from a wall crack (that I hadn't seen) and that led early on to necessary weapons/ammo...perfect. Easy puzzles sometimes hard to execute make a good combination for gameplay. And I think that skeleton shows the way across the burn columns/water room but I didn't go back to a save to check it out - I just tried to follow the jumps I saw it make and that worked. Beautiful level beautifully done. As I said a winner. Kudos to the author.” – Bene (04-Jan-2005)

“This to me is the most visually stunning of the BTB levels I've played thus far. The concept is quite unique built around a tall structure in the center of an impossibly tall room. You need to locate and place four stars and then insert a Pharos device to make your escape. Having said this I'll have to admit that this is probably the easiest of the three levels I've played. This by no means diminished my gaming experience. I'm enjoying myself immensely with this series. I realize that my three reviews so far have yielded nothing lower than a 9 in any category but this simply reflects how impressed I've been with these levels. I'm not planning to participate in the guess-the-builder competition because I have absolutely no basis to this point to know who has built which level. But I can say one thing without reservation however: this contest has brought out the best in our faithful gang of level builders.” – Phil (03-Jan-2005)

“I really liked this level set with interesting puzzles and some moments of tension and coupled with some grandiose settings and an interesting lighting at times. Lara arrives in some ruins in the desert and enters a rock elevator (as in The Last Revelation) which takes her down to the catacombs. There is a tower from which she reaches the different floors where she'll have to face annoying skeletons and mummies in order to collect the stars pick up a gem (which I never used) and a pharos knot that she'll use to get back to broad daylight. Great use of the elevators in the end as in the beginning. A great level too to play outside the challenge as in the challenge. (January 2 2005)” – Jorge22 (03-Jan-2005)
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