trle.net
Level: Back to Basics 2009 - Passage of the Amulet back home search
Author(s): tweetygwee
total rating:7.73 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Bene 9 8 9 8
Czar 6 6 7 7
dmdibl 9 8 9 8
EssGee 7 6 7 6
eTux 8 7 7 6
Eva 10 8 9 8
Jack& 7 7 9 7
jawi 7 8 8 6
Jay 9 8 9 8
Jose 8 8 9 8
MichaelP 8 8 7 7
Mman 9 9 8 8
Moonpooka 9 8 9 7
Phil 8 8 9 8
Relic Hunter 7 8 8 8
Samu 8 7 7 6
Shady Croft 8 8 8 7
Spike 8 8 7 7
SSJ6Wolf 8 8 7 8
Sutekh 8 8 7 7
Treeble 8 7 7 7
category averages
(21 reviews)
8.05 7.67 7.95 7.24

Reviewer's comments

"This is quite a departure from most of the other levels here as it uses the TR1/UB Egypt textures. The areas are on a grand scale beyond most other levels. On the other hand, this leads to major draw-distance issues as the engine isn't built for such huge areas, and even the advice to turn off Volumetric FX doesn't help that much. I was able to overlook that though and liked how huge the scale is, and there's also some good looking interiors too. The gameplay has a nice mix of tasks, and manages to be quite smooth going despite the massive area sizes (although the final task seemed a bit weak and vague to me). There's some cool ideas like a moment with a scorpion and some good use of the lasersight. Despite the draw distance issues I liked the size and gameplay of this map and it feels a little underrated to me." - Mman (13-Nov-2012)

"It's amazing how easily forgotten some levels seem to be a while after their release. I suppose that's the natural way of things, but at least this small level had better chances with being a BTB alumni. Feeling a bit guilty for not covering the entire 2009 collection, I picked this randomly as a start to pick up where I left off and it seems to have been a wise choice as the level was simple enough to be mastered without additional help, but compelling enough to keep my attention. I somehow managed to miss all 3 secrets, but fortunately the main gameplay is not as elusive. The tasks are always simple enough, even with the author's attempt to make this more non-linear, which is a plus in my book. They're mostly operated by stepping on the 'cat-face' tiles but doing so will initiate a variety of tasks - from doors opening to timed runs and triggering flipmaps to extinguishing fires and the list could go on. As such, there aren't that many moments that stand out, but what is there certainly works. The looks on the other hand, didn't convince me entirely. While the lighting is fairly good, the texturing feels a bit patchy and lacking character - and while you can blame the draw distance issues on the limitations of the contest, I believe this is a point where the author really could've worked around it and opted not to make practically every area - interior or exterior - one where this flaw painfully shows. One could let it fly if it was just an issue in one place which had ever right to be large and expansive, let's say the desert, but I failed to see the necessity for making most of the interior rooms so large. That said, the level isn't unpleasant to look it, it's just that it could've been better with a bit more effort. Overall - it's a simple, yet enjoyable raid, and while not without its flaws, not the worst pick to make." - eTux (01-Feb-2010)

"If you like the exploration this is your level. Very huge outside areas to explore and more small, but big dark inside areas to continue the searching. There are some good details like the scorpion triggering the fatal tile and another ingenious traps. It's a level with a Temple of the Cat stlyle where you must look for many pad trigger tiles to activate the objects. Not difficult tasks, enough guns and ammo, very few switches :-) and a lot of jumps. Look for the crossbow and the sight to shoot inaccessible vases, and watch out for ilegal slopes to avoid. This time Lara shall have to run many kilometers to get the amulet of Horus." - Jose (26-Feb-2009)

"When I chose in menu “Passage of the Amulet” I was interested how it will look like. View of the first room I found very unpleasant - big room without lighting with disappearing buildings. When I looked around it again, though, I realized that it wasn’t so bad. (I guess this is the TRLE problem which couldn’t be fixed without TREP, so I decided not to take it into consideration in this review). After a few jumps I began to wander why author hadn’t added shadows or some effective light bulbs which would have created better, Egyptian atmosphere. However, the room in a first building I found much better lighted than previous one, it looked quite realistic. View of huge outdoor area was stunning, but I hate when you can see what is out of the map like it happened there. I have to admit that I couldn’t find way to the first secret and I discovered it with walkthrough. I really loved the last tomb before the end of the level. It has realistic Egyptian atmosphere. Near that room is the big cave containing cages in the water. It’s a pity we don’t do a lot there, because it seems, that author had paid it lots of attention. I haven’t got good memories from the final room. Tiles are hard to find there and I just didn’t enjoy it. One thing fascinated me. Why do we pick up Amulet of Horus twice? It’s very interesting to have one Amulet in your backpack and another in front of you. All in all, I appreciate the author’s effort but despite well used objects and nice built areas I didn’t like this level very much." - jawi (05-Feb-2009)

"Flash from the past people, we're in the old fashioned Khamoon-style Egypt from TR1! Here we have another pleasant level with a focus on exploration and some other tasks fit in for added pleasure. Aside from shooting a fair amount of ninjas and some crocodiles, one is faced with a few timed sequences, single-tile jumping to open doors, and looking around closely to go further on. It looks quite good for a level in TR1 style, and except for the view distance not being far enough due to the original LE's limitations, the distance fog has a nice effect too. This level makes good use of the textures, and the lighting seemed pretty real enough to me. It is also made engaging with good sound and some nice flybys. While there are squarish rooms around in this level, there are some nice ones like the deep pit and the lake at the end. Either way, I had fun in this level." - Relic Hunter (02-Feb-2009)

"Back to opened Egyptian settings, and this time its in TR1 Egypt style. This level was fun to play, mainly because it had nice flow and wasn't too hard, yet it had all sorts of tasks to do from timed runs, to finding levers and pads, to jumping, climbing and swimming to battling enemies. There was a considerable amount of exploration. Some traps where nice, such as the scorpion hurrying off to set our Lara on fire. Texturing and lighting were good, but they could have been better in some parts. Another thing is that the structuring could have been paid more attention in some parts, particularly the last area with the many illegal slopes. If you miss the first Tomb Raider Egypt then play this one. You'll get a nice, 1 hour adventure in TR1 Egypt." - Shady Croft (01-Feb-2009)

"The use of TR1 textures was quite adequate, and sometimes it feels like you're playing a TR1 level as a matter of fact. To illustrate what I mean: more often than not, you'll see areas you know you're not supposed to reach, but an (angled) running jump will get you there. This makes the end of the world a lot more prominent than it already was (when you climb up the pyramid to the top, for instance). Another major issue with this level is that the areas you explore here are vast, so don't be surprised to see the horizon breaking in every once in a while. Despite these design flaws, I have to admit that gameplay was a lot of fun, with lots of platforming involved. 55 minutes, 2 secrets. 01/09" - Treeble (31-Jan-2009)

"I'm convinced that Czar spends more time writing his reviews than playing the levels. Anyway, I managed to play and review all of this year's BtB levels during the initial month of their release, which is no small feat given the fact that I was trying to get through all the Advent levels at the same time. Although there was not a bad level in the bunch, I have to say that the 2009 crop had a decidedly average feel when compared to releases of year's past. There's not what I would call a classic here, but I would want to put about half of them on my replay list. Passage of the Amulet is one of those. It's another in the classic Egyptian tradition that I've always enjoyed, and the gameplay is manageable for an old duffer like me. It suffered from the Lost Horizon syndrome, but I'm so glad to be able to play outdoors these days that I can forgive that failing. Some of the uses of trigger tiles were rather obscure, so I'm glad I had Dutchy's walkthrough close by to help me along. I found this to be an exhilerating raid of just over an hour, and I can recommend it heartily." - Phil (29-Jan-2009)

"I liked this level and you can find many interesting and well tought out ideas from it. The way of using flipmaps to create puzzles is for example very nice and this level also has many fun jumping sessions that I really enjoyed. A factor which detract from gaming experience is the environment which is a bit simply built. To clarify what I mean the architecture was somewhat uninspired and also slightly boxy in many parts of the game. Maybe more attention could have also been paid on outdoor areas because in my opinion they looked a bit bland lacking a proper lighting. Even if there is space for improvements when it comes to graphics nothing is done badly in this level which is good. Besides the gameplay is very enjoyable which is probably the most important thing for me in games. Game including only great graphics would definitely make no sence. As a whole this is a good game which I recommend to every raider." - Samu (29-Jan-2009)

"This level is the embodiment of Back to Basics. Back to basic bleak. Back to basic bland. Back to basic bad. At least, one might be forgiven for thinking so upon first view, for what we have here is a stark landscape that looks like the very worst the first Tomb Raider had to offer. Or at least the worst that some unskilled custom level builders still have to offer. In almost getting over the shock of what my eyes were assaulted with, my fears that this was the effort of just such an unskilled builder seemed to be confirmed when I spotted an obvious flaw that I knew would enable me to cut out at least some part of the game as soon as I'd rolled to pick up the ankh amulet at level load. It also seemed to confirm a lack of adequate beta testing, if any existed at all. To say I wasn't hopeful then, would be about the sum of it. But hold that thought. Utilising this fault then, I immediately obtained one of two Golden Uraei, and then set about things in the way that seems to have been intended by the builder, if only to test my theory. Fault soon proved, I moved on to hunting out the second Golden Uraeus in order to move on to what I hoped was some considerable improvement beyond the gates that would be opened by these artefacts. In the room containing that second item I was reasonably impressed that things weren't so obvious as the first flaw seemed to suggest, for I didn't immediately spot how to raise all the cages here. The first secret found too, I could see how this also could be easily missed. A little more hopeful then, I plodded on, constantly trying to remind myself that there are plenty of custom levels with TR1 textures that were just as good as many other levels with more recent decoration, but I wasn't entirely convinced. Getting through the gates then, and tackling the three red ninjas that appear gave my heart enough of a rush to knock my brain out of its worrisome trend and really enjoy the fight. Ninjas dealt with, it was time to explore further. Within a minute I was off the map and in areas that clearly weren't intended for exploration. As I looked into the dark void of custom level 'end of the world' blackness I thought about binning this one. Being the kind of player to often seek out such forbidden delights, I decided I was perhaps being unfair to the builder and pressed on, resolving to stick to the obvious paths intended. Still amidst generally stark texturing we have three puzzle sections here. One consists of a room that, whilst actually rather simple, is a vast improvement upon the outside for its use of coloured bulbs to finally make for some atmospheric lighting. Laser sight retrieved and mini-quake set in motion, we move onto an underground cavern with some depth of water that is similarly lit. Tackling a well placed crocodile here I felt I was beginning to get into the motion of things as this level seemed slowly to be revealing itself. There is another secret here which I thought was sneakily set up and can only be retrieved once the crossbow is picked up from behind the glass wall at one end of the room. All done then and I move on to a ziggurat looking or step type pyramid which could have been confusing for how to get inside, but for the fact that I'd just picked up a weapon and a significant attachment. These areas done then, and two other doors are opened, allowing access to a whole new area, and this is where things really began to improve for me. Looking down into the darkness of a deep shaft of a room, there are highlights of colour and light here and there and the whole thing seems ominous in a seductive, inviting kind of way. Whilst being entirely reminiscent of TR1, this time in the most positive of ways, here finally is something interesting to explore. The objective here is to retrieve two canopic jars, and whilst this task proves to be generally easy, there is enough style and substance to make it worth the effort. The first area accessed from this hub shaft, if you like, is similar to the room with the first secret, in that we have to raise a number of cages in order to progress to the other side of the water they are set in. Whilst this is straight forward enough, it all looks a lot more threatening and moody than the first secret room. Likewise, this room too contains a secret, only a good deal more obvious than any so far so that it can hardly be considered a secret at all. At least, not one presenting any kind of challenge. Having made our way to the other side of this obstacle, we soon find ourselves picking up the first of the canopic jars, and another red ninja presents himself for the fight. After this we find ourselves at the bottom of the hub shaft and it's on to the next canopic jar. Having opened a double gate, the objective is to make our way across a room with poison darts firing in several directions, whilst standing on each of three cat tiles so that three burners in the passage at the other side go out long enough to enable us to pass through it safely. This is not difficult and being done in one shot I find myself in the next room to get across and the atmosphere here seems quite unique. Poison water and burning tiles only partly hinder us and jumping onto the safe cat tiles, a blocking cage is soon lowered and we are engaging in another shoot out with another red ninja. The black scorpion and two crocodiles that follow are dealt with as easily as the ninja, and soon enough we are picking up that second canopic jar and making our way up steps with intermittent burners flaring, in order to make our escape. Taking a long slide down, we find ourselves again at the bottom of the shaft room and the final door is open. Going through then and we find an area of water surrounded by sloping terrain interspersed by some of the cat tiles which must be stepped on in order to lower the cages covering the place holes for the canopic jars. Two others are not so obvious, one of which doesn't necessarily involve standing on it. Of course, when the canopic jars are placed and the 'magic water' pours through the pipes, into the bowl and then into the large mass of water, we have the familiar Jesus effect, and we can then walk Lara on water. Making our way over to the small structure opposite, a short flyby is triggered when Lara climbs up, camera sweeping in to reveal another ankh amulet, before the level ends. So then, this level is pretty much in two parts. One that truly is stark and ugly, with little inspiration and quite a large flaw. The other a good deal more inspired and enjoyable, with good lighting and excellent atmosphere. Overall enemies are little to be considered, never posing any serious threat. Puzzles aren't particularly challenging but neither are they generally very obvious, and it is basically latter gameplay that makes this level worth plowing through the first part and worth considering at all. My scoring, as needs must, is a balance between the two sides of this level." - Czar (17-Jan-2009)

"There is something about being stuck in a level that sometimes allows one to enjoy, more so than otherwise, the different aspects and cleverness of a given Raid and so it was, for me, in this one. The deadly scorpion; the trigger tiles and the two-flame hallway; finally getting the LaserSight - although I did manage to blow up the Vase without it, Lara died every time - all of that combined with the misdirection used in going for the secret of the closed door made for a great Raid. Part of the fun was trying to out-play the builder as I tried to do (and failed) in blowing up the Vase. Not enough care was taken in the horizon textures and the subtle hint to the climbable column was a bit too subtle but, for me, gameplay trumped what seemed to be not quite finished, rushed graphics. The ability to grab the large medi before leaving the area(no need to try for it running through the flamed hallway) was a nice touch. One of the more memorable entries and should be fun for all. Recommended." - Bene (12-Jan-2009)

"This level could have been much better if it weren't for the size of the rooms. Most of them are way too large, which causes several problems regarding both gameplay and visual aspects. The design of the gameplay is very good in itself. Lots of research here, but lots of hints too. Some are subtle, some obvious, but nothing is unmarked (with one exception) and you're given enough information to understand what you can and can't do (and ignore them or totally miss them, as I did here in some of my worst duh! moments). Alas, this is impaired by the aforementioned hugeness, which makes you run loooooong distances to go from point A to point B. Some of the triggers are a little glitchy too. Visually, it causes the settings to turn from something that could have been quite lovely into a weird feast of disappearing horizons and distant blackness. All this being said, I indeed had a good time playing this and enjoyed the cleverness of the whole hint/task thing, so I still recommend it." - Sutekh (12-Jan-2009)

"This is one huge Egypt level. Quite ambitious for the author, though maybe a little too much. The outdoor areas fall victim to the "big and empty" syndrome, and might have benefited from the different doors and areas being brought closer together, and perhaps removing a useless pool or two. The indoor areas are fine in this aspect, though. There is some clever gameplay, such as the scorpion "timed run" and the timed flames that you must disable while dodging a horde of darts, and it's not every day that you get to run around on top of water. The fun lasted me a good 50 minutes. The secrets are nice (always love an auxiliary grenade gun) but I missed one, probably because there was a breakable vase in the large pool room that for some odd reason absolutely refused to shatter. There were also some pressure pads I had to "redo" to get them working. What would be a good idea for levels like this would be to "trap" players in an area until the work is done, to prevent them from backtracking too early and getting lost. Still, the level has its charms and should be approachable to all raiders." - SSJ6Wolf (12-Jan-2009)

"An interesting idea. This time Lara's task is the other way round. She does not have to dearch for something but she is supposed to bring a precious ancient artifact back to a secure and hard to reach place, so that it is safely kept there for all times. And indeed it is not easy to get to this place ;) It starts in the desert, the old ruins of temples protrude from the sand and the desert wind whistles just as we know it. A nice setting, which is only spoiled a little by the distance issues of the editor. The puzzles and tasks that Lara has to do are not always easy, but well designed and with a bit of thinking she subsequently finds laser sight and crossbow and these are needed to open up the doors to the underground areas. In there a few more clever puzzles are waiting for Lara. I liked gameplay and puzzles very much and also the atmosphere, because everything did fit well to the storyline." - Eva (12-Jan-2009)

"An Egyptian level using the TR1 Gold Cat textures as a base. To the author's credit, they have tried to create an expansive desert layout reminiscent of ancient Egyptian ruins. But it doesn't quite work. Long distance views with massive horizon dropout can't even be saved by the nice distance fog that was used to enhance the level. I'm sure this would haved looked fine with TRep enhanced draw distance, but this is a competition with constraints of the original Tr4 engine, so builders must work within those boundaries. Perhaps inexperience and lack of attention to detail in texturing really let these areas down. The indoor areas are much better and there is some good gameplay to entertain the player. Whilst the TR experince is often fantasy, to create a convincing atmosphere there must be certain elements of believability. A floating concrete platform with no visible means of support in the middle of the outdoor pool didn't make any sense. Conversely, using a scorpion to trigger a nasty event for Lara was very clever. The passage for the Amulet was smooth sailing until I bypassed a passage to unlock the final area. This could probably have easily been fixed by placing a door after entering the first canopic jar pickup room to prevent the player backtracking. I also think the builder could have made more effort to lead the player around. At one stage, I spent far too long randomly running around the large landscape trying to figure out what to do next. As a result I was taking in many end of world views from the high cliffs, that I probably shouldn't have been able to reach. The level is of a good length, and the author has obviously put effort into building. That is to be applauded. As said above, there is considerable room for improvement, building on some good gameplay ideas." - EssGee (11-Jan-2009)

"well a game wich have some strange shaped rocks at wich u can get stuck easy ,,,,,,, the aim here is to get the 2 cannopic jars and use it to make lake solid to can climb a sort off platform with a egiptian cross on it just like u get from level start after that come a long flybye and end the game . ..... also confused me to find some walls wich was climbable ......... moustly at last stages well not bad one but .not very exciting one through" - Jack& (11-Jan-2009)

"A story with a twist as this time Lara returns her artifact to its rightful place and a 45 minute adventure with a few twists too, as you need to tackle a series of quite interesting puzzles to collect your needed artifacts, often handled via a series of trigger tiles. I am not sure that the vase below can be shattered without the first secret (grenade gun), but may just have missed something else. Speaking of the secrets you do get a weapon for each of the three and they do require a bit of thinking to get to, so that is nicely done as well. What lets the level down a bit is what I thought to be a rather careless overall room geometry, texturing and lighting. It is all solid enough but feels done in a fairly rushed way, more like an afterthought to the original puzzle ideas. Rooms are mostly huge and square and in several of them it is quite easy to reach the 'end of the world'. Still, it does not take away from this being a fun raid that you should certainly give a try." - MichaelP (08-Jan-2009)

"Itís certainly a novelty for the ankh to be the first thing Lara picks up in a level Ė itís normally the last. I was somewhat surprised by the look of this level Ė I had no idea the TR1 Egypt textures came with the level editor and Iím very fond of them. Thereís some clever stuff going on with the gameplay here, with especially effective use of trigger tiles. The result of placing two canopic jars at the end of the level really took me by surprise too. This really is a very well devised and enjoyable entry in the competition." - Jay (05-Jan-2009)

"Original Tomb Raider Egypt, a plus as the textures always bring back pleasant memories. Lara is off to hide the Horus Amulet. At the start, while Lara searches for two Golden Vraeus, it seems that much of the design is on a grand scale, giving it that boxy look. But game play is good. Once through the gates, into the next area, the big building scale and standing columns make more sense as massive ancient Egyptian ruins. Some of the game play has been cleverly worked out, such as the secret in the large water area where Lara gets the crossbow, or the concealment of the trigger tiles at the end, both in and out of the water. Perhaps this is a good author doing a rush job: there just aren't many details to the scenery. The jagged landscape at the end, with the triggering tiles, has all kinds of illegal slopes that can trap Lara if she doesn't do frantic jumping. Even the enemies can feel forced, as the place where crocodiles, scorpions, and ninja all attack Lara at once, making it difficult to get the targeting straight. Anyway, Lara gets two canopic jars, solidifies a pool, and drops the amulet out in the open where any jackdaw can grab it (the storyline suggests she kicks some sand over the amulet). Good game play, though sparse on details and finishing touches, recommended." - dmdibl (04-Jan-2009)

"I really enjoyed this level, even if it does look a tad sparse, the game play was superb. Lara arrives in an Egyptian setting, and her first task is to find The Vraeus x 2. This will give her access to the next area. In the first area, there is an excellent scorpion room, and you need to be quick to kill it, or it runs onto a death tile and kills Lara. That took me a while to figure out. There are cat tiles that trigger things to happen, and this is the case for the second area as well. The second area is much larger. Lara needs to find the 2 x Canopic Jars, but first there is a search on for the crossbow and laser sight. Some of this level consists of raising cages to get to other areas in a room, but there are also some fab routes around the rooms. Enemies are Ninjas, scorpions and crocs. The textures are a tad messy at times, and illegal slopes were frustrating in the final room; especially as you have to go among the rocks to find trigger tiles. You can also get way too high in some areas and see the end of the world; which never does look too pretty, but for me, the game play more than makes up for a few technical issues. Maybe my fav BTB 09 level so far, because it wasnít too long and arduous and the rooms were fun and interesting." - Moonpooka (03-Jan-2009)

"Well, this is certainly a unique situation...Lara is actually on her way to hide an artifact rather than find one. Using the recognisable TR1 Egyptian textures, the environment mostly looks quite nice, but the huge outdoor areas did have some draw distance issues, meaning that there was quite some pop-up with distant architecture. Being able to reach places where the end-of-the-world and missing faces on objects were visible didn't do much to help with the atmosphere either (and these places in particular were ones that the builder actually intended you to access). Aside from the above negative aspects however, the level is definitely solid and sports some fun and interesting gameplay, with many hidden pressure pads and switches being the key to accessing new areas. After hopping around a final area to lower cages, and then using the previously collected Canopic Jars to make the water slightly more..."solid", Lara places the artifact and this nice adventure comes to an end. Not perfect, but still recommended." - Spike (03-Jan-2009)
Tag Cloud from Reviews:
back home search