Level: Courel's Sands 2 back home search
Author(s): AngelR
total rating:7.33 Gameplay &
Objects &
Sound &
Lighting &
DJ Full 7 7 6 5
dmdibl 8 9 8 8
eRIC 7 7 8 5
Gerty 6 7 7 6
Jack& 8 9 10 10
Jay 9 8 9 8
Jerry 7 7 7 7
JesseG 7 8 7 8
Jose 5 5 7 6
manarch2 7 7 6 5
MichaelP 7 8 6 6
Phil 9 9 9 8
Ryan 8 8 8 7
category averages
(13 reviews)
7.31 7.62 7.54 6.85

Reviewer's comments

"The builder classes this as a demo for the full version, but it's undoubtedly lengthy enough to be a standalone adventure, so labelling it a demo is a bit misleading. Anyway, this continues on from where the previous episodes left off and the heat has definitely been turned up. Literally in this case, as you get to explore fire element themed rooms, as well as earth. It's pretty gameplay-intensive and there's more than enough action and puzzling to sink your teeth into, including plenty of traps, torch puzzles and a few nifty boss fights (against a few dragons that actually do turn out to be mortal). The last level (Into the Fire), is probably the most complicated of the lot, involving Lara exploring different areas in search of three masks. Texturing and lighting is still quite lacking in places (in particular the first level looks a bit bland and is a bit too darkly lit in places), but at least cleaner than before and I thought the background audio choices were rather mystical and intriguing. The later released full game might be the more wholesome choice, but this "director's cut" version is certainly worth a play." - Ryan (06-Apr-2019)

"This is still the builder's style of mixing oversized and boxy areas with wallpapered texturing, rather bland lighting with some particularly excellent trap and platforming sequences but also a few tedious and repetitive gameplay setups (especially in It Burns). It's admittedly more sophisticated than before and even in this game an evolution to the better is visible, the last levels look much better than the first ones which are sometimes very messy. There's not really a sense of location in any of the parts, where elements of many settings are eclectically put together, but the almost cartoonish design with a few nice enemies from the oldest TR games has its certain something and enemies are a rather nice addition. It's just sad to see a creative builder who has never really managed to create a masterpiece due to missing testing, lack of care and time spent on his adventure and especially on a more fluent gameplay design - there's so much good about these games that I really miss even in many HoF levels, but talent alone is not everything... I just hope that the full version I'm going to play now has even more sophisticated design and at least the same kind of quirky ideas. Found 14 secrets in 2:00 hours." - manarch2 (27-Jan-2018)

"Well, it seems that this author took notice of the comments from the previous adventure. Many rooms are not so huge, the texturizarion is a bit better and there are more variety of tasks. On the other hand, more than the same, repetitive tasks only based about triggering flame emitters and lava rooms with breakable tiles; sometimes if you don't do what the author thought, you'll be totally stucked and have to reload. Not enough ammo to deal with all those hard enemies (I found very few secrets and only the shotgun as an extra gun) and the flare bug present in several levels. I suffered a lot of backtracking with repetition of the same tasks and movements near the end of the levels, in the level with three dragon masks. Correct use of the sounds, but not so correct the setup of the cameras, 'cause many times the camera view never returns to Lara, even using the "Look" key and I was forced to save the game and reload to restore the camera. Not a set of bad levels, but I think they were not properly betatested." - Jose (24-Aug-2017)

"Once upon a time I thought graphics don't matter but this is one series which debunks it. Using some sunbulbs, lighting is less flat but still monotonous, making progress through subsequent oversized cuboids utterly boring and occasionally repulsive. Among that some bugs occur, some things can be done of order and particular death triggers are unclear. But it seems the author really brought it on this time, even further expanding gameplay possibilities and applying more secrets. I had a nice surprise with a torch: I normally carry it all the time, even to locations which shouldn't require it, but here the author had the same crazy idea as my precautions were, what wouldn't happen in countless other levels. Then we have a hammergod smashable with the jeep - another rare opportunity. Or cage foreshadowing which lasts almost for entire level. Or spike challenge which requires thinking different scenarios. Puzzles get more complex with progress until the fire element conclusion occupies a room where every object is interactive, tell me how often that happens." - DJ Full (11-May-2016)

"Courel's Sands 2 (7/7/6/6, 35 min, 3 secrets): I had not actually dared to tackle this adventure for a long time due to its sheer size, but finally giving it a go, it actually does draw you in quickly with plenty of task oriented and functional gameplay. And it certainly does not let you in easy with a moving spike wall chase, a tough breaktile room, a hammergod to deal with and some decent torch action. Unfortunately the architecture is quite large and blocky and not a whole lot of care went into texturing and lighting. On the other hand the ambience audio choices are really interesting and the secrets add significantly to the adventure.
Earth Levels: Rocky Road / Rocky Road Pt 2 (7/8/6/6, 45+20 min, 3+2 secrets): Bracnching out from the hub room at the end of the previous level, this is the quest for the bag of sand. Lara has a new outfit here and has an opportunity here to kill our good old TR1 mutant friend again, as well as a few yetis, spiders and bats. Again, some great gameplay ideas, like the timed spike room and more breaktile action, but also rather dull parts with the torch in the hedge maze or the rather tedious battle with 5 spiders. Most of the secrets remain a very remarkabe addition and are definitely worth going for.
Fire Levels: Into the Fire/Toasty/It Burns/Into the Fire (8/8/7/7, 15+25+45+5 min, 1+2+2+1 secrets): True to their name these interlinked levels are hot. Plenty of burners, several times you get to use the torch and the action it heated as well, with a battle against three dragons that you can kill and one that you need to avoid. And with a few oriental warriors where the grenade gun comes in handy, not to mention those female demons, harpies and fire wraiths. This set of levels finally manages to create an occasional wow-factor with its room architecture, so definitely some improvement there, although many areas are still rather bland in their decor. Still, the odd mix of Atlantis and Oriental kind of works. Camera work is a bit mixed - quite inspired in places and a bit lacking in others. 'It burns' is actually quite a complex level in itself with the hunt for the three dragon heads and because I did overlook one hard to see chain that needed to be pulled I actually had to revert to a savegame and replay quite a large section, so keep your eyes open and/or the walkthrough nearby for this part.
Cleary (and literally) the author has turned up the heat further into this adventure, so as the initial release ends here, I am now looking forward to continuing with the full version." - MichaelP (26-Mar-2011)

"This was on the review wishlist so I tried it without realizing it was not the full version. Anyway here are my experiences with this particular set of levels: The hub: There's a lot of wallpapering initially in this intro, you do a few tasks until you reach the hub itself. The hub is buggy on subsequent visits, because resethub is used, so the level's state is not saved. On the third visit I got stuck when I dropped down not realizing one of the doors for the stairs was closed again. Rocky Road: I'm not a fan of mazes, and a maze that is also a torch puzzle, and a breeding ground for spikes, does not help matters. I experienced a bug in the maze that made the game crash when I tried to fire my guns (or, I noted, when I tried to use the binocular light - a massive form of the flare bug?) The bug resolved eventually, which was good because there are plenty of giant bugs and yetis to deal with in this part. The atlantean boss dude was also buggy, because upon killing him some blocks lowered...however if you stepped on the platform a second time the blocks would rise again and you could not continue. A timed spike run that impales you unless you reach 6 switches is rather challenging, but not impossible once you work out a game plan. I liked the final run with the falling rocks, however the surrounding area was particularly boxy and wallpapered. Into the Fire: The boulder secret was a pain to escape from, but I managed to do it. Lots of lava and fire to avoid, so the level is pretty interesting. The last bit of this level is messed up; you can work to disable the flames in front of the switches, but it is easy enough to pull all the switches while dodging the flames. I still don't know exactly what all of them activated. The wraith run was ridiculous because there is no visual indication that the left lava pool was now safe to swim in, even though the right one was still deadly. Toasty: Texturing has improved quite a bit in this level. The second fire level where you grab the oil can for the hub room. The rope room with the invisible ledges was a serious mishap because the flare bug kicked in, again. The mutants were kind of fun and the dragon made things interesting, although its locus attack would still irritate you even if you weren't in the same chamber as it. There can be some serious backtracking, if you didn't make the weird connection that all those scattered vases in the dragon area would need to be shattered in order for the exit to be open. There are some important bugs to be fixed (I almost forgot to mention those fixed cameras that never snap back to the player), and the looks could be a bit better, but there is potential for a great adventure shown here, and I will give the full version a look next." - SSJ6Wolf (23-Sep-2010)

"A lot of this is pretty good; by the time Lara gets to the Atlantean levels the game play is relentless. But the adventure is so uneven in all aspects that one's opinion of it changes wildly. For instance, many camera shots, which are supposed to be helpful, freeze the screen. The only way to clear them is to save the game, then reload. This, and the use of overhead camera angles, gets annoying. Lara picks up an awful lot of ammo, but few weapons until later, so most of the time she is using pistols. There is a flare bug throughout the last two levels. There was supposed to be a close timed run with four switches and an oncoming spike wall, but Lara, with an economy of effort, just avoided the spike wall by standing in an alcove, and then did the switches. The good parts often borrow from TR1, including the mutant torso monster with long arms, who is scary here. In an Asian level there are TR2 samurai warriors that come to life. Such choices are effective. There are Atlantean passageways where lava flows in from the sides, as it did in a section of TR1, something seldom seen in custom levels. Lara enters impressive chambers that Phil's walkthrough calls a "devil's throne room." But soon Lara flees from fire wraiths and jumps into lava--or what looks like lava, and has been lava up to that point. How is a player to know this is safe? The walkthrough warns about shooting a yeti in a maze [freezes the game], or about making a save game after Lara kills that giant mutant from TR1 [messes up lowering blocks]. If one ignores the glitches, and concentrates on the intense game play, this series of levels is well worth playing." - dmdibl (07-Dec-2009)

"In fact playing this level means a little beta-testing, as it was described by other reviewers. And that is a pity because gameplay on the whole is not bad, but with a rather high difficulty range later on (not least because of the few ammo that can be found here and there, so you better save your shotgun shells and battle enemies with your pistols if possible), with many jumps across breakable tiles (a little too many for my taste), a very tricky and rather tight timed switch task, several torch puzzles, boulder and 'moving lava' runs, an element puzzle and more. What spoilt the fun for me was that huge maze part in level #2. Mazes were alright in former days, but I dare say their time is over, or at least they should not be that extensive with so much running around. Not to mention that you can get stuck here when you are doing things in another order than the builder wants you to do - e.g. when you first go for the key that is supposed to be the second one. As soon as you have gone down into the maze you can't get back to the starting room again, because the gate in the passage that leads back, is closed and must first be opened by a switch you find on your way to key #1. Not to mention the fixed cams in the maze that could not be interrupted after lighting a wall torch, not even by jumping back and hitting the look key. I was about to bin the level at this point, but then I tried reloading a savegame several times, and then finally I could exit the cameras (with a delay of some seconds). Strange thing. You will encounter another bug after fighting the big boss. When you save and reload here your further way will be blocked. Same in the room with 2 dragons near the end: When you save and reload here the exit door that should be open is close instead. And in the last level you will encounter the flare bug throwing you to the desktop when using the binoculars.
Apart from a pitch-black cave at the start lighting is good, texturing is rather medium (e.g. tapestry-like textured rooms and sometimes carelessly applied textures), the whole atmosphere is not outstanding, but ok so far, although some of the rooms seem to be put together randomly with no real reference to the gameplay (I don't know how to put it in better words), and it seemed to me that the builder wanted to put as many traps as possible into the game, just for the purpose of handicaps to extend the gameplay. I found some of the traps a bit overused (e.g. all those boulder runs). And this aside I could have done better with less switches, as many tasks require more than one switch here.
On the whole this level set was not bad (best was 'It Burns'!), but it could have been much better if it had been tested more carefully and if the bugs had been patched, especially as some of them cause a dead end situation and get you stuck forever. Regarding difficulty range I would not recommend it to beginners." - Jerry (13-Aug-2009)

"This to me is one of the most under-reviewed and under-appreciated releases in recent memory, despite the fact that it generated a great deal of activity in the stuck threads upon its release more than four months ago. I suspect that many players have stayed away because of the unfair and false impression left by a few of the reviews that this is a half-hearted demo fraught with bugs. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, this is indeed a demo, as the builder freely admits, but it gives you six full-blown levels that will provide hours of challenging gameplay. The only glitches I experienced during my painstaking journey through these levels was a game-freezing situation when you attempted to shoot a yeti, and the flare bug that cropped up in the concluding segments. Aside from these minor annoyances, the builder has given us a meticulously crafted adventure that will test not only your playing skills but your mental acumen. I began to grow weary only in the final level (It Burns), which requires a good bit of backtracking so that you can collect the required three mask artifacts and proceed. The builder gave me much valuable assistance as I wrote a walkthrough while enjoying the fruit of his labor. Now that the walkthrough is posted and available to all, there's no reason why any who have not yet played this engaging epic, for whatever reason, should not do so now. Highly recommended." - Phil (17-Jul-2009)

"In the readme it says it is a demo, also a post in the stuck forum by the builder confirms this. I am more of a mind to call it an beta test. Why you ask, well I got too many crashes for my liking and also a very strange warning while playing, about holding down the Shift Key. That is a first after playing more than 1700 levels. Not sure what Angel is thinking but beta testing is done in another way. Anyway, demo schlemo, this one did put me in a foul mood as I really don't want to this all over again with all the bugs in it, if there ever will be a full game to play. Don't think this is the proper way to release a game though as the more I read in the Stuck forum the more it apparently was a beta test. Got thrown to my desktop a couple of times, and the flare bug shows up in the Toasty Level. Just an advice, don't put a demo on line this size, it is a lot of work for you and there is still a big question mark if ever this level will be finished, as in the past I've seen too many demo's just stay demo's. There are quite a number of people who gladly will test your levels so try that next time." - Gerty (02-Apr-2009)

"Despite very average looks (repetitive texturing in the bigger rooms, badly applied textures, lighting too dark and not worked on a lot) this is quite an interesting set of levels, as the player will have a lot to do here, with many challenges , traps , and riddles to solve. Plus there is a vast array of enemies, (the stone warriors that come to life are really great) the author knows how to use them so to rise the adrenaline or to make your life miserable , for example the dragons spitting locusts where I could not found another way to survive than to do the old"reload trick" to spare health, I would not have had enough medipacks to continue. I think it is a bit over the top when challenges reach the edge of unfairness to the player. As for the actions/puzzles , there is all kinds of them, runs on collapsible tiles, rope swings , then later on, the actions vary more , which makes me think the author is more and more at ease with the editor and try new things with combinations of switches , flipmaps , many torch puzzles, and the like, in a more non linear way than his first levels. He even resorted to old and sneaky tricks with a"walkthrough" wall and invisible ledges which I must admit are not too unfair given the fact you have a audible clue for the former and for the latter you are in such a situation with no other solution than to think about this possibility. Some traps and puzzles are well thought out and challenging , while others are a bit na´ve , for example the moving spiked walls in the 1st level is a no-brainer as the player just has to step back and watch quietly the spikes walls passing, or the fires in the 1st Fire level which are not necessary to be turned off, as Lara has all the time in the world to flip the switches without necessity to have the fires off. There is a good use of objects in general although I would have liked more pickups, and the moving lava traps are not so well used , as Lara can be stuck without dying, I also noticed the flares bug in the last Fire level, and a possible"stuck for good situation" when returning to the hub level with the oil can, as the door that allows to reach the higher levels of the room is closed again and if the player does not flipped again the appropriate switch (why should he ?) , he will be stuck for good after lighting the oil. So much for the feedback which I hope will be helpful for the complete version. Despite the things that could be improved, a recommended set of levels that have a lot to offer , and with a nice flow in general. Plus the atmosphere and sounds are good. My stats indicate 3h15 and 5/8 secrets found which were very interesting to find." - eRIC (30-Mar-2009)

"OK i must admit i was ready to give 9/10/9/10 ........but something draw me back more than i get close to the finish ......... iff was any .... cos this is a demo last ittem needed still was missing ........ but . like Jay reviewed this is very well builded game allmoust perfect .... off course have his own flaws and frustrations moustly at the last stages off the game ....this game have alot off trapps /timed runs on it some off it very tuff ones -iff not even frustrating ones ... like the boulders wich was set too close one off another with little delay so passing through was a pain in the ass ....... same was when those boulders chased Lara from behind -cos they was set to trigger only when Lara was very close from it and even with sprint needed huge luck to not be catch from it from behind .... well this was the bad part . the good part is -the game have some nice crafted locations and fluent gameplay with cameras and flybyes made very professional style - well eccept some 2 rd person fixed ones ..... but all in all this is a challenging game moustly suited for experienced riders . good game ...." - Jack& (14-Mar-2009)

"The builder classes this as a demo, which would make it just about the longest demo in the history of custom levels. It's a multiple part, action packed level with well balanced, enjoyable gameplay, well placed enemies (and, by the way, you CAN kill the dragons) and an excellent atmosphere, greatly enhanced by the choice of sound files. Collapsing tile runs, spike traps, push puzzles, torch work, timed runs and a very pleasing diversity of environments (and outfits for Lara) - pretty much something for everyone. At the hub of the game is the three element puzzle and here we get the chance to explore the earth and fire aspects (especially fire and please note the delightful names of the various section), but water is yet to come. I don't know how much the finished version will diverge from this one, or if it will just be an extended game. What I do know is that I very much look forward to the continuation of what is a very well rounded and interesting experience and I'm hanging on to a savegame just in case I can pick up where I left off." - Jay (13-Mar-2009)
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