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Level: Back to Basics 2009 - Finding Zorba back home search
Author(s): Thierry Stoorne
total rating:8.94 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Bene 9 9 10 9
Czar 10 9 9 10
dmdibl 9 9 9 9
EssGee 8 9 10 10
eTux 9 9 9 8
Eva 8 7 8 7
Glouglouton 9 7 9 9
Jack& 10 10 10 8
jawi 10 9 10 10
Jay 9 9 9 9
Jose 7 6 8 9
MichaelP 9 8 9 9
Mman 10 10 9 9
Moonpooka 10 9 9 9
Phil 9 10 10 10
Raymond 9 9 9 9
Relic Hunter 9 9 9 9
Ruben 10 10 10 10
Samu 9 9 8 9
Schelo 10 9 10 10
Shady Croft 9 8 9 9
Shandroid 10 7 9 8
Spike 9 9 9 8
SSJ6Wolf 9 9 8 8
Sutekh 9 9 8 7
Treeble 9 8 9 8
category averages
(26 reviews)
9.15 8.69 9.08 8.85

Reviewer's comments

"I actually played this level before not too long ago due to the semi-remade version in Search for the Holy Grail, luckily it's enjoyable enough that that's not an issue. The design here actually feels like quite a departure for Thierry as it's relatively confined, in contrast to the colossal areas they tend to make. On the other hand, it still tends to be built on a larger scale than the average Catacomb level. The only issue I had is that some of the lighting seemed almost too colourful, especially in the slopes room that seemed radioactive.
It seems Thierry focused on gameplay over trying to twist the basic Catacomb theme much, and it works. There's a large variety of tasks and good flow, it's also quite difficult with multiple tricky jumps and timed runs. The story is also supported by an amusing ending and the use of rollingballs as "switches" at points. I guess a good way to put it is that if this had been part of Back to Basics Catacombs it would have been one of the very best in the contest, and this is another strong entry." - Mman (12-Nov-2012)

"While a Catacomb level would not have been my first choice of all the bouquet of flavors Back to Basics 2009 had to offer, I was irreversibly, incurably intrigued when someone hinted to me that this one had a killer ending. Those were not the exact words, but they would've been true enough, had they been. While I was a bit afraid that in all my anticipations, I would've set expectations so high the level could not possibly meet them, when the punchline kicked in - it did give me chuckle, and I can't say it didn't promise something it could not deliver. But as the ratings indicate, this level should be played for more than its finale. The catacomb setting is neatly set up with great attention put into texturing and only the occasional room having flat lightning, but maybe it lacked a visually memorable and stunning area for me to rate it higher in that category. The visuals as good as they are, will not be the focal point of this adventure anyway, as it delivers the most excitement and satisfaction in the gameplay department. You may have to accept the author's chosen way for indicating a spike trap, but once you do this plays like a dream. Well, a dream for the experienced player, but still. The jumps, timed sequences, traps and other challenges presented are always fair (maybe except for the fiery climb, but I may have just been a bit hasty to move on in that particular spot and I suppose it could, in fact, be done without harming Lara if the timing is right) and the rather linear course (though it doesn't always feel that linear) helped to keep the frustration to a minimum as well. A well made adventure that will be enjoyed the most by the experienced player who's not tired of the catacomb settings yet." - eTux (15-Aug-2009)

"A catacomb level builded with few objects; big ruins with huge rooms and few furniture; walls, ceilings and columns. Very few enemies and few pickups, a game based about Lara's movements, many traps to avoid and some objects to find and place. Many water rooms, a lot of boulders, spikes and fires. Secrets are not difficult to find. In the room with the second LBB New Tribune I couldn't find the way to go up if you drop to the floor and miss the item. The best I liked about this game were the good light effects in some rooms and the well textured areas." - Jose (26-Feb-2009)

"I have never been too fond on catacomb-WAD levels, but since the original Back to Basics I have been a little more open minded towards them so to speak. What we get here is a very traditional catacombesque level that sees Lara hunting down stars, gems and scrolls to ultimately find the effigy to exit the level. I particularly liked how it all narrowed down to the three rolling boulders in the beginning, thought it was quite a clever design. There's also a sequence of slope jumps over deadly water that eventually becomes a timed run, which was the highlight of the level in my opinion. 60 minutes, 3 secrets. 02/09" - Treeble (06-Feb-2009)

"This level is built with catacomb wad and textures and offers a lot of great challenging jumping tasks and timed runs that are designed really well. Furthermore there are also some pushblock puzzles and exploring that add very nice variety to gameplay which is mainly focused on tough jumping. Surroundings consist of very typical catacomb sceneries that are however, well created and pleasure to look at. In my opinion this is one of the best BtB-09 levels and definitely worth playing. Good job." - Samu (05-Feb-2009)

"This is the second Btb09 entry to engage me in it and captivate me. Finding Zorba is a high-quality level and takes place in the catacombs. The gameplay is very challenging with some precise jumping and timed sequences and boulder dodging. There are also so many inventive ideas and some parts which will put a smile on your face. The texturing and lighting are both top notch and create an immersive atmosphere that will surely keep you busy for around an hour. Recommended !" - Shady Croft (01-Feb-2009)

"Finding Zorba is a pretty well-made level. There are some challenging, creative traps to get through and actually a couple fun timed runs. I don't know how to do this flycheat everyone talks about, so I did them myself, and I am happy I did. The level isn't full of fancy objects and I got kind of bored looking around, but you keep busy so that definitely helps. If you are looking for a good old-fashioned raid with lots of challenges, Finding Zorba will make you happy." - Shandroid (31-Jan-2009)

"Nice opening fly-by showing just enough, set in a graphically stunning environment sets the stage for a great Raid. Good, functional use of boulders adds nicely to gameplay and the timed run room with sloped sides and a run around the perimeter is perfectly designed to first confuse and then confound. I must admit that if DOZY had been available I would have been mightily tempted to end the race early. But then, there would have been no sense of great satisfaction in completing it. A good entry to this year's BtB and recommended for all, but especially the more advanced player." - Bene (27-Jan-2009)

"Lara explores a few catacombs in this level. Her objective is to find the King of the Rollingballs. A variety of tasks and tricky jumps provide for very good gameplay. Along with the suitable music and the great design of the level, this makes it on of the highlights of the contest for me. I can recommend it highly to everybody." - Schelo (26-Jan-2009)

"Here is another strong contender in this year's competition. This is an adventure through the good old catacombs, which for a rather old wad does have a lot of gameplay potential today even. As the story of this level suggest, there's a plethora of rolling balls, but not as much to the point where they can become frustrating or hair-raising which is good. I particularly liked the room geometry and design in this level. It has many interesting rooms, such as the underwater rolling ball room, the underwater hallway with columns and light pouring from the ceilings, and the final room to name a few. There really isn't much bad to say about this level. The gameplay is varied and exciting, enemies and pickups graciously placed, and the use of music cues and cameras to point the way is done quite well. I also really liked the variety of lighting in the level, so not every room felt the same. Overall, a very well made level with a nice surprise ending, definitely worth playing." - Relic Hunter (21-Jan-2009)

"I played this over two evenings and milked about an hour and ten minutes out of it. I had so much fun the second evening that I'd completely forgotten about having used the flycheat for that early timed run over the green slime the evening before. Maybe I should go back and try it the intended way a few more times, because everything else about this level is a pure delight. It's built in the old style that's always been appealing for me, and the surroundings and the lighting are absolutely perfect. Something about the gameplay reminded me of Ian's style, and if this one is indeed his then it's the best thing he's ever done. If you've enjoyed the Egyptian levels of earlier years that offer challenging tasks, then don't miss Zorba. Highly recommended." - Phil (20-Jan-2009)

"Gosh that was a hard old raid! I have to say I am very much in two minds about this one. It is certainly of high difficulty and high quality. There is great satisfaction in completing such a challenging level, and the tasks will squeeze the player pretty hard. Several timed sequences and tricky maneuvers require many practices to 'get it right'. A couple of extra seconds here and there could have made this an absolute memorable outing, but as it stands parts of it are memorable for the wrong reasons in my book. The water room with slopes timed run that will no doubt gain some infamy, was a tad unfair, in that there were a couple of potential paths that player could take, only to find that it was near impossible. Even the correct route was a real push and required considerable dexterity and practice. On the other side of the coin, this area as for most of the level, was so cleverly designed to incorporate the tasks at hand. I know the builders are limited by the texture set they chose, but several vaguely marked spike traps on push buttons were a bit naughty in my book. The player never has a chance about whether to pull certain levers until they're dead. So did I like this level? For much of it yes - high adrenalin action, superb architecture, texturing, lighting and camera work. In terms of the BtoB competition I rate it highly and would have considered it the best in the pack, if it had been a little more lenient towards the average player. For expert players - it's a no brainer- a classic piece of tomb raiding." - EssGee (11-Jan-2009)

"Who or what is Zorba? Let's join Lara in searching for Zorba. Rollingballs play an important role in this level, as they open up the access to the respective next task areas step by step. The usual goodies need to be found with much effort and ... especially via a devious timed run... with a lot of skill. Gameplay & Puzzles did not always seem harmonic and consistent throughout the entire level to me. While you had to work hard for your progression in the first part of the level with tricky jumps and the above mentioned timed run, which only seasoned raiders will easily manage, later on you could find the necessary gems simply lying around in the water. Enemies were well placed and I found only one of the secrets. Atmosphere, Sound, Lighting & Textures: I liked the level design very much, also the colors. The colors of water and walls created nice views and supported a cohesive atmosphere." - Eva (11-Jan-2009)

"First, let me state it's been a very long time since I've played a custom level, and I'm afraid my fingers are a little rusty, so I feel very lucky to have got back to business with this level. Thanks to a smooth gameplay spiced up with nice challenges, it's ideal for intermediate players such as yours truly. Perfectly balanced and avoiding both boredom and frustration, it sometimes made me feel as though I was in the hands of a very considerate builder - what with the handy ammo at the right place at the right moment, or the nicely placed air pockets. The settings were nice, really, but maybe a bit repetitive, although I did like (and notice) the water colours in some rooms. And I did giggle at the objects' names. Overall a very good and enjoyable level, which, visually speaking, could have used a little extra touch of imagination." - Sutekh (10-Jan-2009)

"This is quite the devious level, and my heart skipped a beat a few times. That's mostly because of the unmarked spike traps that surprise Lara when you try to approach some doors, or push some switches, or jump onto seemingly innocent pillars. A required boulder is also unmarked on a slope, inconsistent with the other two slopes whose boulders don't fall in front of you. This had me stuck for a while. There's the infamous timed run, where the author cleverly made the least obvious route the correct one (hint, the spikes you enable are a red herring) but it was very satisfying to get through that door finally. There's also timed flames, although I got through almost all of it with the flames anyway (and choked a medpack at the end as I pushed the switch on fire). The builder needs to be careful about flyby triggers - I triggered one and watched Lara fly off the ledge, and could not find a way back up to get the second scroll, though maybe I missed something. Several sounds were missing, like those for pole climbing and spike traps. Also a few rooms seemed too big and empty. Either way it will be an entertaining for all raiders - or at least, those who have taken off the training wheels." - SSJ6Wolf (09-Jan-2009)

"This one is the second level i've finished tor this campaign. Surely it's builder with experience. Lighting and textures are excellents except the fact we find the same ambiance during all the level. More varieties in the textures would give something more. Same remarks about the object, the different rooms seem a little bit empty. Also gameplay is excellent and the timed run is the best i've ever seen except trix's timed run in water in aegan legend. A very recommandable level" - Glouglouton (09-Jan-2009)

"A very classic catacomb level, which is still very enjoyable after all the catacomb levels out there. You easily see, that this one is done by a very skilled builder. Lighting is just a bit too coloured here and there for my taste. I also would have expected to find more nice gameplay around the use of rolling balls, but the gameplay you find here is good and challenging enough! So enjoy this vey recommandable level!" - Raymond (08-Jan-2009)

"A classic Catacomb adventure of just over an hour, which for me clearly had its highlights in the earlier part with a very cool room with clever jumps and a fabulous timed run to master. The whole adventure is very nicely textured and lit and the good old catacomb textures look very fresh here, especially in the few areas where some colour is used in the lighting. Once past that mentioned timed run, it turns into a rather smooth and 'normal' raid with levers to find and use, some swimming, shooting skeletons off ledges, pushing the occasional object around and so on, but it still has its moments, one of them being the easier timed run across fire pillars and of course the remarkable and very original ending. Recommended without reservations." - MichaelP (08-Jan-2009)

"The level opens with a short flyby revealing a beautifully lit arena that is clearly well textured, and we can immediately see that this level is going to be quality play. From the very start the environment demands investigation, for all that we see here is completely interesting to look at. The design is incredible and it is evident that this builder knows how to make levels grand scale without looking empty, for it seems that in every direction that one looks there is interesting architecture at the least, or somewhere to go and something to do, if not simply some dimly lit but alluring corner that hints at the possibility of finding some goodies down a cleverly concealed crawlspace. Every section in this level is expertly plotted out for complexity and maximum use of space. Such is the level of complexity here, in fact, that it can be quite intimidating. I couldn't help but feel accompanied by an ever haunting notion that I was surely going in the wrong direction or missing something important somewhere. Lucky for me I never was, as it turned out. Aside from this, there is another facet to the complexity, and that is it serves as an impetus to play. Whilst I may have wanted to take a break, I found that I simply couldn't because I was so eager to see what fantastic set up there was on the other side of the next passage or around the next corner. So on I pushed, start to finish in one session. Every single puzzle or trap in this level was a sheer pleasure to figure out or overcome, and I found that the level presents enough of a challenge without being merciless in its demands. There is a fantastic timed run in a room with some depth of 'instant death water', which in itself is a challenge to even get safely into, or down to the bottom of, and around, where for the most part the player must carefully navigate a series of slopes in order to progress. Once the correct trigger tile is finally reached, we then meet the challenge of getting through that timed door it opens by going back over these slopes, only this time, with less care and as quickly as possible. It is at the same time both nightmarish and brilliant! Enemies in this level appear in the form of skeletons, but thankfully there are actually very few of them over all and they are easily dealt with. There are a couple of situations in which pillars have to be pushed and pulled into place, and whilst not being simple they are not in the least taxing either. With so much to do in this level gameplay seems much longer than the one hour it does take, so then at least perception of enjoyment is extended." - Czar (07-Jan-2009)

"A fun, challenging level by a top builder. This one gives Lara and you a real workout. Unfortunately, I couldn't even find a way to begin the game. Lara went up a ramp and a spike ball fell on her head, so it seemed reasonable to use the safe ramps instead, which only led to long fruitless wandering. I had missed that Lara has to trigger that spike ball (and jump out of the way) for it to open a door. Next there is a timed run which is quite doable; however, this is a clever setup by the author so that neither the right path, nor the right technique, is obvious. I found a circuit of the room by the flame tiles worked for me, and at the end used the short-takeoff jump to avoid wasting time setting up a leap. It takes much time to understand the needed moves, and the level has barely begun. (Once a walk-through is available, more players will appreciate this fun opening.) Next there is a column flame trap, though by saving the game at the right time, and reloading, a player can get Lara through it. Lara swims and climbs and explores a number of large rooms, using the trusty shotgun to blow skeletons off ledges. The author makes good use of the catacomb textures, and has many flooded rooms. This is quite good, though I did sometimes feel the author's sense of humor was at the players' expense. There was the gag opening I mentioned. And there was a long monkeyswing ending in a switch; when Lara does get to the switch and pushes it spikes pop up to kill her. This is so hilarious that the author uses the spiked switch trap elsewhere. Lara finds the stick portion of the Portal Guardian right away, so the player will spend the next hour(s) of the game worrying if a bad mistake was made since the head portion was never found. The head is found at the very end, combined to open a door, and the level ends. The ending shot has some more humor (poor Lara). I did appreciate finding the two scrolls labeled LLB Tribune. A clever, superbly designed level that no one should miss." - dmdibl (06-Jan-2009)

"I have never played BtB 2005, so catacomb level (which wasn't made by Core Design)was new experience for me. This one, has brilliant puzzles and traps. I love that timed run in green colored room. All rooms are perfectly textured and lighted that gives realistic atmosphere. Music is in right places - it means that those tracks depend on place where you are in the moment. I don't like in this level, this moment when you must swim over the spikes underwater. It's confusing because Lara doesn't want to enter the tunnel. Another annoying thing is room with pushable column and platform with switch and spikes (way there is through monkey swing). I spent about one hour to turn off the spikes. The texture which points where you must move the statue, should be on the floor, not on the wall. I pushed column there because it was the last of my ideas. I have never liked skeletons until I learned to push them off the ledge with shotgun. Now, it's fun for me to shoot skellies down. So, they are in very good places to take care of them. There are nice flybys and cameras showing us where doors are opening - it makes game easier. This level isn't only for experienced raiders. I think everyone who likes TR4 should play it. I enjoyed "Finding Zorba" more then original "Catacombs" level :-). Congratulations to the author of this fabulous game." - jawi (04-Jan-2009)

"WOW! What a fabulous level. Set in the catacombs, with some spectacular lighting and clean crisp textures. Lara will be on a huge exploration for the Portal Guardian, 2 x stars, 2 x scrolls and 3 x gems. There are many difficult tasks to perform such as sloped jumps and spike traps, and in one room you will have a fantastic timed slope jump sequence to do. I loved that part. There is also a timed fire jump run, and that was great fun. Ok, so I am a timed run fan. Enemies are skellies but you get the shotgun to deal with them. Traps are spike balls, fires and spikes. There is loads of stuff to do in this level, and I would be here until dawn if I tried to remember it all, but if you thought Catacomb levels were old hat and out dated, try one. It’s cool to look at, action packed, challenging and very rewarding, and I did have to chuckle at the end when the final scene was over; safe on a slope? Nooooo!!!! LOL.Yes, I loved this level." - Moonpooka (02-Jan-2009)

"I liked the lighting in this level, made a complete hash of the absolute beast of a timed run not very far into the game, was thrilled by the ease with which the crowbar was to be found and thoroughly enjoyed the timed fire run. This is a very entertaining level and, given that we don’t see the old catacomb textures quite so much these days, quite nostalgic too. Good use of boulders, quite a lot of swimming and of course plenty of skellies about so the shotgun comes in very handy. Great ending too, as Lara stands admiring ‘Zorba’, blissfully unaware that a boulder is about to flatten her. If the standards continue this high for the Back to Basics competition, it could be quite tricky picking an overall winner." - Jay (02-Jan-2009)

"well this is a very challenging game wich i cannot recomand it only at skilled riders ... here u have allmoust all the trapps u can imagine some combined with very tough timeruns.....iff u like tough game to test ur skills well this game is for u .i personaly enjoyed very much ......only with graphics i was not amaized very much but all the rest is 10... very good game .....i like the ending too with ZORBBA bit latters in a flybye at a huge room ...." - Jack& (02-Jan-2009)

"Right then, time to find Zorba, and in order to do so we're sent once again to a Catacombs-styled location to fend off the skellies or die trying. Though admittedly, I spent a lot more time doing the latter, especially with the particularly tight timed runs that this level sports. Aside from those, the rest of the gameplay consists of all your usual elements, and given the storyline, naturally a couple of rollingballs to dodge along the way. The complex jumping sequences earlier in the level were impressive yet - at times - difficult, and I did have to stop here and there to make sure that I wasn't going the wrong way. Overall though, gameplay was mostly enjoyable. The level is also visually impressive as well, with good texturing and lighting work, yet the strong red/pinkish lighting in some rooms wasn't really to my taste. The rooms throughout were also nicely decorated with the available objects, and the atmosphere and audio usage were also of a high quality. Flyby cameras were smooth, and provided a nice ending to the level (and if that WAS Zorba at the end, then she'll certainly be very much "face to face" with him soon!). A very well constructed level overall, and while it did have a few moments where I was clueless as to where to head next, I can still recommend it." - Spike (02-Jan-2009)

"Fantastic Level ! The Timed Run Of The Year alone makes worth the download ! Having seen the way it should be done (or can be done) in the YouTube movie I am still not so sure which way is easiest to suffer !!! Checking the builder`s list I can only pick one or two so mean and evil to invent such a torture ! YES I MEAN YOU !!! Thank You so much for this highly entertaing adventure and good luck in this years BtB competition !" - Ruben (02-Jan-2009)
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