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Level: BtB2010 - A Very Good Year back home search
Author(s): Piega
total rating:9.38 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Andzia9 9 9 9 9
Bene 10 10 10 10
Bogey 9 9 10 9
Cory 9 10 10 10
Dick 9 8 10 10
DJ Full 9 10 10 9
dmdibl 10 10 10 10
Drakan 10 10 10 10
Dutchy 10 9 9 10
eRIC 8 8 9 9
eTux 9 9 9 10
Eva 9 9 9 10
Glouglouton 9 10 10 10
herothing 8 10 10 10
Jack& 7 7 9 9
jawi 9 8 9 10
Jay 10 9 10 10
JesseG 9 10 9 10
Jorge22 10 10 10 10
Jose 8 8 9 10
Josey 10 10 10 10
Juno Jim 10 10 10 10
Magnus 7 6 7 7
manarch2 8 8 9 10
masha 9 8 10 8
MichaelP 8 9 10 9
Minox 10 9 10 10
Mman 9 9 10 10
Mytly 9 8 10 9
Obig 9 10 10 10
okuhtfesq 9 8 10 10
Orbit Dream 8 9 10 10
Phil 10 9 10 10
Ravenwen 9 9 10 10
Raymond 10 10 10 10
Relic Hunter 10 9 10 10
repley 9 8 10 10
rtrger 8 10 10 10
Ruben 9 10 10 10
Ryan 9 9 10 10
Scottie 10 9 10 10
Shandroid 10 10 10 10
TheStig 10 9 10 9
Treeble 9 8 10 10
category averages
(44 reviews)
9.09 9.02 9.70 9.70

Reviewer's comments

"Huge level is the best level of Btb 2010 for my taste, there is everything, research, beautiful lighting, well laid textures, there is always a challenge to find an object, many cameras and a final difficult with many enemies. Excellentissime." - Drakan (09-Nov-2018)

"Yet another good entry in the competition. The gameplay was top notch including an ingenious torch puzzle, and I couldn't find any faults with lighting and textures. The enemies got a bit overwhelming at times, especially in the final fight, but apart from that, it was great." - Ryan (16-Mar-2016)

"Just like with the previous entry I've played from the BtB-Venice series, I also have mixed feelings after finishing this particular level. I absolutely adored the way the level is designed, and there's such a huge nostalgic atmosphere to it, probably enhanced by the huge (and sometimes boxy, mind you) indoor areas, which as a whole are very nicely crafted and blend in nicely with a number of outside areas which, curiously, are far more claustrophobic than they are. Gameplay had a number of moments as well, and it was such a tease to have a piece of the Mask puzzle being shut off right in front of your face early on, only to see Lara go through an ordeal to finally retrieve it near the end. Which brings me to what I wasn't too fond of: the backtracking. I probably could have optimized my time here by a tenfold if only I had a better idea of what I was supposed to do or where to go to next, but instead I found myself roaming aimlessly quite too often, all the while running back and forth trying to figure out my next move. Some people might enjoy this sort of approach to gameplay, and the atmosphere here does draw you in, but I find I lack the patience required for such daunting tasks. The final climb also was a tad unfair as you'd have enemies spawning mid monkey swings and such, and like fellow reviewer Orbit Dream has put, that's something us lesser builders would resort to. 90 minutes, 2 secrets. 12/13" - Treeble (01-Mar-2014)

"This level lacks nothing in terms of structure - there are no unnecessary locations and all remarkable places stick to each other without long connecting passageways, so if we choose to progress in a wrong order, the author was able to provide a quick backtrack route. What lacks a lot is gameplay in the basement part. We're not supposed to pass the knife trap at once, but before we know that, we try to solve it a million times, and when we finally obtain that laser sight, it's unnecessary and our confusion time is wasted, because even Piega - a living legend whose works have everything polished from the top to the bottom - didn't defend this level from the sniper shotgun mistake. Yep - all the bells are shootable with this weapon. This is however the only major flaw. A single minor one is that with so many ways open it's particularly hard to locate the yellow key on the floor when no camera points on it. A curious thing is the cemetery pushable can be substituted with driving the motorbike on the target heavy trigger, but I treat this like a funny alternate rather than as a mistake. What I find really good on the other hand, is the outside patio and the window transition to it from the hub manor interior. The author nicely avoided cutting the transition in vertical sliced by using protected shatters instead of portal opacity, what provided smooth lighting at little bulb mesh cost and reduced the number of required rooms... of course from player's point of view the method used doesn't matter and I won't give points for it, but I learnt something important from it and I wanted to thank the author for that. The last thing I would like to mention is great sound. I wouldn't do it better, and the chandelier nostalgia is especially brilliant. Secrets... no, I won't write a whole novel about them again. Themed pickups plus guns useful at the end fight, the most difficult to find is the most rewarding = all correct. SUMMARY: A very good year and a very good game. Might be confusing in the beginning so don't start it tired and You will enjoy it. Highly recommended, You have to see that patio." - DJ Full (07-Nov-2013)

"Oh Piega,you were doing so well.No really,you were - your usual perfectionist construction;immaculate lighting;supreme use of textures;tremendous atmosphere;astonishing attention to detail.It was all so good,and the gameplay progression was fascinating and ingenious.The map was superbly designed,and each area beautifully interconnected with the others.Nonetheless,after about ninety minutes of gameplay I began to notice a pronounced 'round-the-houses' effect;with a task in one area leading to an objective in a far off place,etc etc. After the ingenious but even more extravagantly back-tracked Torch puzzle,I finally arrived in the climactic section of the level and found myself battling a succession of female demi-gods and a posse of hit-men, (with precious little life left)being shot at from all angles.This wasn't an exciting Finale as such;it was more of a life-draining and thoroughly unsubtle bloodbath - the sort of thing a lesser builder such as Marksdad might have come up with;but not someone of the calibre of Piega. For those who don't mind a level with a pronounced sting in it's tail,this remains a stunning piece of work.Perhaps not quite the best of the BtoB Venice levels;but certainly not far off." - Orbit Dream (27-Apr-2012)

"Much has been said about the wine (see Magnus's review) and I can only join the opinion that too much riot is made about the stealing/getting back, so the storyline isn't the best in my opinion. But nevertheless, what you get here is an at least hour-long level (I went through with the walkthrough close by, as the size of the areas was quite big) that had many great ideas in it, like the flip map in the library, a very obscure mirror room and the ideas to carry the torch to the different rooms near the end. The architecture was quite impressive; the mansion was very well built and equally the outside areas and - best of all - the bridge room, which had a great atmosphere. However, there were some litte mistakes like missing sounds (some trapdoors and levers), and the fact that you couldn't get many flares so that I had to use the pistol light in the cellar as I ran out of flares before. But not only the flares were the problem - even though this level had many great gameplay (platforming, puzzles, everything was there), the end really was a let- down as there were too many and too tough enemies, too less ammo and medikits (I ended with no ammo for any gun but of course the pistols and 20 percent health while having used all the medikits). Else than that, the level was quite superb, the texturing was maybe the most convincing in my opinion as it just felt to be perfect in every room. The secret system also was fine (finding three secrets and placing them leads to the super secret), but placing the receptacles in the room with secret number three was maybe not the best (I mean, why not placing it very apparently near the end of the level, as the players can be happy or sad (and then try to find all) to see how many they have found. But just an idea. Great job!" - manarch2 (17-Aug-2011)

"A very very beautiful level. There are few enemies at first, so we must recover much medipack because the end is difficult with many enemies.There is much research to do to move forward.This level is sumptuous with a passage with several bridges who is magnificent.Congratulations." - Minox (16-Mar-2011)

"If most other competition levels usually stood out for something in particular, then A Very Good Year manages to take the title of being the most well-rounded one, delivering on each aspect, with neither element eclipsing the others. The gameplay has some good ideas - namely, the rotating library, the mirror room, the blade traps the connections between the various rooms, among others - and while I was a bit cautious in the beginning that this could get confusing - the non-linearity here is moderate and nicely handled, with all tasks virtually taking place around the main hall of the mansion. The looks are impeccable in all aspects (as you'd expect from the author) and if anything - probably only lacked a bit of 'pizazz', an area or few you could enter and just stare in awe. As it is - I thought the crypt with the bridges was probably one that came close. I liked that secrets usually involved a mini adventure in themselves, climaxing with the courtyard in the 4th secret area, that (maybe unintentionally) reminded of the start of the author's The Last Crusade. On the downside - virtually all tasks where you had to use the lasersight and MP16, could easily be done with the shotgun and manual aim instead, thus rendering the lasersight useless. It also didn't seem logical why a monkey-swing would not operate in the dark, and maybe the Vespa was a bit underutilized with basically only being needed to perform one jump (or if you really hate working with movable objects - you can also drive with it on the tile where you'd have to move the cross and that opens up the crypt). As for many others, the final battle may have bin a bit too challenging for me as well, though finding the 4 secrets certainly helped. However, I doubt one will have to wonder if going through all of that to complete Lara's wine collection (or feed her wine addiction, rather?) is worth it, as this easily is among the best levels this year's competition had to offer. Not to be missed." - eTux (30-Jan-2011)

"When I thought for a while, I realized that it’s my first game by Piega which I played. There is no doubt that he’s one of the most significant builders from the community, although here I had a strange feeling of something missing. Something that would make me say ‘Oh that’s surely one of the best custom creators’. Even though it’s a very good one. It’s a coincidence that I had played Tomb Raider 2 Venice levels, before playing this one, but apparently it helped me to note how similar is Bartoli’s (or Bortali’s) mansion to the one in TR2. That’s surely a big advantage. However the background story is neither original nor interesting. It’s just uncreative. This game pretended to be the best of all levels from Back to Basics and the storyline only decreased the whole score. A pity, really. On the other hand, level turned out to be a great experience, so in a wider perspective it doesn’t matter. Gameplay itself is interesting. Player mainly runs around the residence and explores the rooms searching for the canal entrance. Afterwards he battles a big amount of enemies (I’ll talk later about it) and steals the bottle of wine. Objective is simple, but the atmosphere and graphics it’s nearly amazing. ‘Nearly’ because I hated mansion’s ceiling texturing. At the same time all of the other textures are fine. Lighting was really well done, I loved shadows and lights, because author combined them in a spectacular way, making level look more NG-like. City streets and canals also are nicely crafted, although I would use some colour bulbs to bring more life to those areas. In this part gameplay is quite linear, but very enjoyable – For instance you have to use scooter to jump over a pit in a corridor. Library is an interesting place too. In the middle there is a big bookcase which turns horizontally 90 degrees, when you pull the chain. There aren’t any more advanced puzzles, but I don’t mind. Objects are placed well (very wise use of arches), although I’d like to see more enemies during the game rather than battling a big amount of enemies at the end. Defeating all of them is quite difficult, but everyone should succeed. Even though, I had to take back one point from the second category, because of it. As a whole, level presents nicely. All parts of it fit each other and make up a very good adventure. My feelings from this custom are positive and I definitely recommend playing to those, who want to walk through a memory lane. Yes, 1996 was definitely ‘A very good year’." - jawi (14-Dec-2010)

"Nice and little bit difficult game. Not many puzzles, and few enemies. Only the big trouble was in the end, that's because I run out of medipacks. But I made it. Just hide in safe corners. Beauty rooms, nice outside, especially yard with fountain. Room with bridges was amazing." - Andzia9 (07-Jul-2010)

"In this game the amount of good challenges is equal of the amount of fight. And i still haven’t told you anything about the end of it. I’d suggest you to spare with ammunition and medipacks. Plus there are some injury that you can’t avoid so it makes the adventure even harder. The gamepaly is nonlinear, so you can go multiple ways to rach your goal but there’s always a logical way forward. If you don’t have the lasersight then keep in mind that you can aim with the shotgun as well. There are 4 sercets, 3 of them are roses and if you find both of them you can get the 4th one. It’s recommended t ofind them because there you can find weapons that can make the final fight much easier. I haven’t used any medipack during the game buti t was quite hard to manage. By the way there are plenty of medis so it won’t be problem if you need one. I’d recommend this greatVenice level for everyone. It’s not that easy, but a real challenge. You can find a Hungarian walkthrough (as we don't have English version), savegames and pictures here: http://treditor.hu/trle/treditor/10/btb2010_10_a_very_good_year.htm" - Obig (01-Jun-2010)

"Nice, well presented level. This is one of the best levels is have ever seen in terms of lighting, geometry, atmosphere etc. I think that this could have been amde more exciting since we were mostly running around like headless chickens up and down the house looking for keys. There was a fairly small amount of medipacks compared to the amount of enemies so look after your health and don't die! I think this game as a good variety of both exploring and action so i'm quite content with this level. Grade = A+" - herothing (11-Apr-2010)

"A "Very Good Level". Beautiful and well-lit rooms, outside places are also incredible. That's the best thing in this level. The visuals. Absolutely stunning. Otherwise, you have to run up and down in a villa, searching for keys, so you can find the vine at the end, but thugs and witches will be in your way. Actually, they can take considerable amount of health, so reserve your medipacks! I think they are too many enemies in this level, it's okay in a villa but shooting tons of enemies becomes quite boring after 10 minutes." - rtrger (06-Apr-2010)

"A very good year indeed, and a very good exploration level. The level starts off with high momentum, but I got stuck a few times because I missed some inconspicious items, notably a key and a shootable switch. Every now and then you will face enemies, which is fair enough, but in the end there is a truly massive onslaught of villains. Well, Lara survived, but with hardly any ammo or medipacks left. The level is quite compactly built, and shortcuts open up as you play, so Lara never has to go very far to do her tasks. Also, the different parts of level fit very well together, making it a very pleasant game to play. Most of the game play is about finding your way, and in general it is not very demanding, but the builder has integrated the tasks very well into the environment and often has some little surprise for the player. In the cellar, there is a wire puzzle where the originality leads to a certain loss of logic, though. There is no timed run per se, but there is a nasty swim, which did cause some loss of health. I don't think that any hard jumps are needed. However, I thought I saw something in an alcove and made a rather tricky banana jump to get there. Alas, there was nothing there. So, you can can actually do a tricky jump if you want to, but there is no reward for it. Also, it is possible to do the dark cellar without using the wires, for those who want an extra challenge." - Bogey (23-Mar-2010)

"When beginning, you'll find yourself very disoriented exploring several areas and finding always a dead end, but when finding the bundle of keys the gameplay is more fluid; even so I didn't like the key throwed anywhere in the floor of the library or the long backtracking to light the torch and return. There are some interesting puzzles, excelent architecture, good lights and textures and, in general, a good atmosphere. Secrets are very difficult to find, so the guns and the ammo were not enough for me, we are talking about a lot of enemies everywhere you go, and in the final room excessive enemies. Too much work for Lara only to retrieve a single bottle of wine! (that year had to be excellent!)" - Jose (01-Mar-2010)

"The overall architecture in this adventure is truly superb. You get to explore the mansion and its surroundings and the barn, the library and especially the whole area with the many arches are very impressive indeed. However, I did get into the level rather slowly, as it took me quite some time to get oriented and it took a lot of running around and searching for things to do and how they connect to each other. Only after a while a sense of flow began to materialize and from then on it was great fun to master the complex torch puzzle and the jumps around the library and the many other tasks the author has at stake for the avid player. Cameras are sparsely but very effectively used and the secrets come along with rather nice separate rooms, so do not miss out on these. I thought the scooter was a bit underused and the passages with blades were unnecessarily tricky and did not quite fit in with the rest of the gameplay, even though I made my life more difficult than necessary by not using the wires in the dark cellar. I also thought the final rooms were a bit of a let down and simply had a few too many enemies in sequence to be actually a fun challenge, but this was not bad enough to spoil the overall impression of this great adventure, which is a clear must-play! (75 mins, 4 secrets)." - MichaelP (01-Mar-2010)

"Lara, we need to talk. Of course I'm not breaking up with you! You know I'll always love you, babe. No, this is an intervention. All your friends are here - even Amanda took the time out of her busy schedule to be here. Amanda, stop giving Lara the evil eye! No, you do need an intervention, Lara. Yes! You're drinking right now! Yes, I know that a glass of wine a day is good for you, but you don't go out risking your life for a bottle of it. No, it doesn't matter that it was a very good year! Winston, shut up - I'm talking. Yes, Lara, I suppose it does get you out of the house, at least. I hear Venice is lovely. Oh, you were a bit disappointed by it? Lacked grandeur and lighting was dull? Oh, that's a shame. Yes, I'm sure it looked better after a few glasses of wine. Winston, shut up. Oh, you have pictures? Let me see. Ah, I see your point. The texturing is technically well-done, at least. I don't see any cracks at all. Yes, Zip, I know I said 'cracks'. Are we here to help Lara or what? Lara, put that bottle down. I keep worrying that you'll go out raiding while you're drunk. Oh, of course you had already been drinking before you went searching for your precious bottle of wine... Oh, finding the wine was pretty challenging? Of course it was - you were drunk! Mmhmm. I see. Okay. So you thought it was a bit too easy to get lost, but overall you had a pretty good time, and faced some varied obstacles? Well, I'm glad you had fun. No, of course you're not, Amanda. Sheesh, why are you even here? Lara, put that gun away - you'll end up shooting someone else. Oh, you can still shoot straight when you've been drinking? Killed a bunch of guys in Venice? What? You thought there were way too many enemies near the end? Do you see what this is doing to you? You have a problem, Lara. You have the demon of addiction on your shoulders and it's ugly like... well, like Winston here. Oh, great - now he's leaving. Lara, seriously... I'm glad to hear that you mostly had a good time during the fifty minutes you spent in Venice, even if you got lost a lot and were a bit underwhelmed with the technically well-done texturing. But please, I'm begging you - you can still raid without drinking. Okay? Okay. I love you, babe. I'm so glad we talked about this. ... No, you can't still drink vodka." - Magnus (28-Feb-2010)

"Woot! My last BtB10 level, and one of the best! Wonderful gameplay (except the end), magnificent architecture, great atmosphere, a nice system of secrets ... what more could one ask from a level? A better ending, that's what. Till about 90% of the way through this level, I loved almost every minute of it. But the final showdown left a sour taste in my mouth. Multiple enemies on each of the multiple levels of a room! Why such overkill (pun intended)? I am extremely conservative with every bullet I use in every game I play, but even I ran out of ammo in this level (a first for me), and wound up replaying the end, because I ran out of health and didn't want to use a medipack. The replay did turn out a bit better, and I finished the level with about 1% health.
Ok, now that I have vented my frustration, let me get back to singing the praises of the level. Gameplay and level design are amazing: I love how well the rooms are interconnected, and how reaching new areas allows you to open up shortcuts to the old ones. The tasks are ingenious and a good combination of puzzles, traps and exploration. My favourite bits are moving the central platform in the library, and raising blocks in the room with the bridges via the trap rooms ... and there's a childish part of me that loved riding the Vespa inside Bortali's elegant mansion ;). Occasionally, the next task isn't always clear, and I spent quite a bit of time running around cluelessly. Still, the environments are so lovely, that I didn't really mind - there's always plenty to see and admire in the beautiful mansion itself, or the courtyard and adjacent graveyard, or the bridges-room.
Overall: While this level is far from perfect, it's excellent in most respects, and for me, it was a great way to say goodbye to this year's wonderful Back to Basics levels. A Very Good Year indeed!" - Mytly (25-Feb-2010)

"All that for a bottle of wine ??? She should have chugged it at the end... However, this was a very good game. It had a little of everything to make it very interesting, and somewhat challenging. Nice little Vespa. Good challenge on it's jump. I liked the rotating crossway - pulled the chain twice to make sure, so I was lost for a while... Nice variety of weapons - used them all. In fact, I was just about out of ammo and medipacs by the time it ended. This is the first of this BTB series I played - I hope the rest are as good !!! Definately recommended for everyone !!!" - Juno Jim (25-Feb-2010)

"Well, a very good year turned into a very good challange. It's been a while since any tomb raider level has had me virtually depleting all of my ammo, and medi-packs but this one took me right down to the wire at the end (so be conservative with your ammo and packs in the early stages, and make sure that you pick up everything that you can). The place settings for this level are wonderful, the first large space being a very italianised croft manor-like space. As you progress you find yourself working through canal ways, beutiful outdoor spaces, and libraries. The last major room with archways spanning a sunken floor below is one of the most memorable spaces recreated so far (think the Cistern in Tomb Raider in terms of architecture). Music queues are mostly well selected, though we still have the odd eygpt music selection which detracts from the 'Venice' feel at times. Highly recommended." - TheStig (20-Feb-2010)

"This was such a beautiful and challenging level! The puzzles were complex and gameplay was rewarding, that is once I became unstuck! The builder made the level with both inside and outside areas, which I loved. I really can't think of anything that I would change, I thought the level was just perfect, great job!!" - Shandroid (13-Feb-2010)

"Great level with a wide variety of tasks to perform, taking you through a Mansion, a Library, a barn with a Scooter, a Church tower and then to a large hall with bridges where many passages had to be visited, to get a torch you had to bring back to the mansion to light it. A couple of Bells had to be found and shot, one to proceed in the level and the rest to get the Secrets. Not easy to find all of them. But I had a good time here." - Dutchy (13-Feb-2010)

"I gave up this level some weeks ago, as I could not cope losing so much time wandering around ; when I reached that big area with water to wade through , and without all the cards in hand, that is when boredom really kicked in and I decided to wait for the walkthrough. This is a very well crafted map and the author has obviously lots of skills and some brilliant ideas : the mirror room is greatly executed , the swim through blades quite innovative , and some areas are very well thought out and interact with each other perfectly. I don't like that gunmen begin to shoot at Lara while a fly by is not finished, and the end battle is not the best sequence of the level. Anyway a great map even if it did not quite succeed to keep my interest." - eRIC (13-Feb-2010)

"One of my favourites in this year's BtB. Wonderful to look at and fun to play (for the most part.) I say that because I did seem to spend an awful lot of time just running around trying to figure out what to do next. Like so many of this year's competition it is largely a non-linear tangle, and being a large map - confusion can take hold. However, despite that, I got through eventually without needing help. Downsides? Not many: it's probably a bit too long, and there was a chronic lack of pick-ups throughout. When I came to the final boss fight (the least inspired aspect of the game) I had no ammo and virtually no health, so I recommend you conserve everything you find, or you will find yourself sorely vexed at the end." - Dick (04-Feb-2010)

"This is one of those levels that has it all - interesting puzzles set in an amazingly beautiful environment. As for the Read Me stating that the mansion was badly wallpapered, I saw no sign of that - I was too busy looking at the beauty of the surroundings. Thinking 'outside the box', the builder has given us a revolving library walkway and a task involving a MS that doesn't work until wires are placed. The ending Boss fight is a combination of mini-bosses with goons and those bolt-throwing things(demi gods) where strategy is king. There are enough medipacks around but it's always good strategy to have as many weapons and health packs as possible and this is where getting all the secrets pays off(more health) in giving the player an extra bit of confidence going into the end fight. Not strictly necessary to get all the secrets as I ended the game with as much health after the end fight as I had before but getting the secrets also add to the fun and gameplay as it involves more than just picking something up. There's also a little bit extra as Bartoli(that must have been he) makes a last minute entrance in another failed attempt at revenging his brother Bortoli's death. I almost rated gameplay a 9 because of the frustration at getting Lara up and out of the UW blade area. The collision is set by the engine and not the builder but it's set where Lara dies when nowhere near the blades and the last inch of getting Lara up and out of that area was impossible for me until I just gave up and used what I thought was a scarce medipack. They weren't scarce and while it may not be 'fair' to bring a player through a difficult place 2x it's also not fair to deduct a point for something in which I, alone, may have had a problem. To sum up, this is a definite contender for top honors and not to be missed as it is a special entry in a field of very good competitors." - Bene (26-Jan-2010)

""A very good year". That's a chalk-and-cheese match. This year is a really good year what Back to Basic concerns. A very good year is the tenth level whom I play and so far there was only one level who was not so good. This level is really first-class. Indeed, beginners could have light problems. Though one finds enough Medipacks, but should be careful, because just in the final room there are many opponents. Namely five Demigods, five dudes in black gear and one dude in white gear. Hence, it would be also advisable to divide well the ammunition to themselves, so that one has at the end still enough. Experienced players might have here, however, only few problems. I have liked the level very much. Whereby I must also admit, that the big hall with the big stair a little bit too big and too empty was. The mirror room was very nice, the same one is valid for the library. The riddles were well thought through and not very difficult. All together a first-class level." - Scottie (24-Jan-2010)

"This level is set around a manor and some outlying areas, most notably an intriguingly abstract church/canal type place. The layout is ingenious, with the level gradually opening up until almost every section of the level can be quickly accessed from the central area. Gameplay is generally smooth, although the sheer size means it can be easy to overlook something. Almost every individual area has well thought out gameplay as well as being part of a whole, and one torch puzzle makes great use of the whole map, along with one or two areas changing heavily as you make progress. The weakest point is the item provision; there are nowhere near enough medikits, and I almost entirely ran out at the end fight (which also mixed Mafia and Demigods in an unconvincing way), there should have been some more medikits earlier on.
The atmosphere is pulled off near-perfectly, and, as I mentioned earlier, I really liked the concept of one of the later areas, lighting and texturing is also great. I get the feeling this is going to turn out to be at least a runner-up for me in BTB2010." - Mman (24-Jan-2010)

"I`m sure, you won't regret a second in this longest level of the contest. You`ll find a top designed level with beautiful architecture, which gives you a lovely venetian atmosphere. I especially liked the area with the bridges. Gameplaywise it is just the right mixture for me. I also liked the final fighting sequence, because it really forced you to choose the right strategies because of the well conceived enemy placement. So this is another top quality entry in this year's contest, which you must play!" - Raymond (23-Jan-2010)

"With a title that had the words "Very Good" in it, I approached this one with a positive attitude in hopes that the title lived up to what the level offers. It all starts off in an aging Venetian villa that is impressively designed from the main foyer to all of the side rooms, but the areas extend beyond that - there's outdoor canals, pretty outdoor courtyard, a library, and an underground network of canals with some really lovely bridges. Architecturally a masterpiece, this also extends to the gameplay. While at times puzzling, the overall design is non-linear with a smooth, enjoyable level of progression. There is a number of fun puzzles and segments including a mirror room, great platforming, use of the bike, making an area torch-friendly in a sense, and an optional, but challenging and satisfying hunt for secrets which lead to some nice rooms and rewards. There is a fair number of goons to fight off, and the author provides the shotgun and ample doses of ammo to get rid of them for the most part. At the end it can get a little overwhelming though, with the addition of the witches combined with mafioso goons. It is also a tad annoying that more of the witches appear when platforming across that segment. Despite that shortcoming though, this is a very lovely level constructed of the finest craftsmanship. A Very Good Year this is, and a very good level indeed." - Relic Hunter (22-Jan-2010)

"Again, a very good level. Optically very well and also the non-linear gameplay, combined with the architecture of the house and the adjacent church is at its best. Then there is the music beautiful and useful set support contributing to the perfect atmosphere. In the beginning Lara needs to explore whole environment to gain an overview and to open different connections. Then you start off slowly with the puzzles. The mirror area and the swing bridge in the library are nice ideas, which are still easy to solve. The torch puzzle in the church and its traps are already complex and ingeniously conceived. Similarly, the Secrets were integrated into the game with own areas and own puzzles. I love that. However, the level also has its weak side. Although the idea with the light in the basement is very creative, but why doesn't the overhead monkeyswing work in the dark, although you can reach it? I found that a little bit strange, a different solution would be better. Another point to criticize are the enemies. They belonged to the story and a long time were also used well, but the final sequence is definitely too much. I think without the witches (which I believe they did not fit), it would be better." - repley (20-Jan-2010)

"this level is nice, inside complex, outside very beautiful - perfect textures and lighting, fog and ambience very nice. The lighting inside is dont ever perfect, because not every room has the sun. The riddles are all-round: burning torch, keys and climbing- it was very funny for me. Few medikits, initial few enemies, few munition. To finish were to many enemies on the final room, endless - it was very boring and frustrating. Result: yes, a good level, but not perfect." - masha (20-Jan-2010)

"I found this level to be absolutely enjoying and beautiful, just as challenging as it should be; what impressed me in this wonderful adventure, apart from the great sceneries and well-set puzzles was how wisely the rooms are designed and inter-connected so that, after accomplishing certain tasks, you can gain easy access to previous areas and you don't have to backtrack all the way again to them. The environments are eye-candy, and there is quite a variety of them: the interior of a villa including a library, an attic and a cellar, charming gardens, a lovely canal - to refer to just a few. There is also a brief but quite tricky bike ride to cross a huge gap, although there's a series of actions you have to do first before accessing and using the bike itself. Definitely one of the best levels of this year's contest." - Ravenwen (19-Jan-2010)

"It`s in fact a real vintage level ,one to be considered for the upper class in this years BtB. There is professional work to be seen in every aspect of game design , but alas, definetely not a game for beginners ! I had a hard time swimming through the blades underwater and getting back but managed to save enough ammo and health to take up the challenge in the final combat ! Great game top ratings from me ." - Ruben (17-Jan-2010)

"An enormously complex level with a gametime that is actually a bit too long for this contest. The rooms are absolutely perfect and beautifully designed, all textures fit in, no cracks or breaks. Step by step you become aware of the meaning of each small room or hallway - quite ingeniously done. The traps require some acrobatics skill and that keeps the gameplay interesting. Near the end though, too many enemies have been added for my taste which is a bit of a pity... other than that a highlight of the contest!" - Eva (17-Jan-2010)

"A very large house level that seems to have just about everything to it - plenty of traps, baddies, puzzles, and a torch to top things off. This is the first level to take me a bit over an hour to finish. I'll get to my minor grievances first - one being there is quite a bit of backtracking involved. I shuddered when I saw how far back I had to go to get the torch let. Also some more camera cues would have helped - for instance I found a hard-to-hit bell but never found out what door or path opened up from it. I enjoyed just about everything else, some being the incorporation of the motorbike, and the rotating column puzzle. Brace yourself for everything - indoor caves and outdoor gardens tie together around this mansion. This is one author who not only has high ambitions but has the ability to make them reality." - SSJ6Wolf (14-Jan-2010)

"Excellent. A meticulously realized Venetian palace, surrounded by outlying areas with intriguing tasks. Wonderful to look at and explore. After Lara makes a quick run through to orient herself, and locates a set of keys, game play mostly proceeds at a steady pace. The level is comfortably long and large so that one can savor the full extent of this world. The secrets are good, the library and the maneuvers with the torch are especially memorable moments. I enjoyed the action-packed ending so much that I immediately played it again. It is difficult to imagine players not finding all secrets, since this is clearly what the author intended. If Lara finds all four secrets, at the end she is carrying twenty kilos of armament and ammo, including grenade gun, M-16 explosive ammo, and the Glock. The enemies provide lots of excitement, but it is possible to do the ending with one large medipack, and since one is courteously provided, there isn't a problem. Lara did have to make repeated jumps in an extremely dark basement, where an overhead monkeyswing doesn't work. Lara makes a precision jump into scything blades, to land in the tiny area that an arcing blade doesn't touch. She climbs over a crate to find a laser sight. A button turns off the blades so Lara can exit. Later I discovered that if Lara places wires first, the basement switch works, making the room brightly lit. Now the monkeyswing is usable, so getting the laser sight is easy. Placing the wires was sort of a now-they-tell-me moment. I can see the lights going on when the wires are placed, but why does the monkeyswing not work in the dark? But this is a superbly designed and crafted world. Play it, you'll love it." - dmdibl (13-Jan-2010)

"If every adventure that Lara had was as good as this one, I'm sure it must have been a very good year! Everything here was stunning, architecture, textures, gameplay etc. It is very hard to find any bad comments, however, a mark was lost for gameplay as the boss fight at the end just seemed to imply that the builder had not got any more ideas for their level. After roughly 5 demigods and mafioso, the level ends, with Lara surviving by the skin of her teeth, even though I got the secrets. Music was used perfectly, for every baddy that attacked, and nice changes in background music as the scenery changed. The mansion was textured wonderfully (even though the story says it is very wallpapered). This level seems to have been built by an expert builder, for its flowing and well thought-out gameplay and magnificent buildings and texturing. A great entry for the contest and one of my favourites. 1 hour 45 mins, 4 secrets." - Cory (11-Jan-2010)

"I am so impressed with the standard of entries this year. This is yet another superb adventure, full of delightfully inventive gameplay in sumptuous settings. Particularly noteworthy for me was the slightly different take on a mirror room and the moving 'bridge' in the library. This is another level that initially seems vast and disconnected, but then starts coming together most satisfyingly as various tasks are accomplished. There's one hell of a boss ending too, which will leave you short of breath and medipacks, but at least Lara gets her bottle of fine vintage wine back. My new favourite in the competition thus far." - Jay (10-Jan-2010)

"ok . like usualy i ignore others reviews to not get influenced bye .......... well my opinion is that this game is well crafted with some nice moments well builded the rooms and overall places ...... non linear wich is very important .... but sadly with a frustrating ending finale with too manny enemyes and not enuogh medipacks and ammo provided to can handle with still is very good game untill the ending insane shooter sequence ....." - Jack& (08-Jan-2010)

"This was the first BtB level I played, during the beta testing phase. I remember thinking to myself at the time how ironic it was to be playing the eventual winner before the levels were even released. Judging from the early reviews, that assessment may well prove to be correct, but I've discovered that every one of the BtB levels I've sampled thus far displays the same warmth and beauty that were so striking in A Very Good Year. My previous favorite was the Catacombs levels from the very first BtB competition, but I think I've found a new love in the Venice venue. Anyway, this level has a little bit of everything - gorgeous surroundings, tight timed runs, jaunts on the Vespa, brain-twisting puzzles, and more than an hour of action-packed gameplay. The lighting is superb, showing off the eye-catching textures to good advantage. Don't miss this one." - Phil (07-Jan-2010)

"If the title was changed to "A Very Good Level", that would be perfectly accurate. This level does still have its flaws, although there were remarkably few of them. My biggest complaint is the enemies, which teamed up on me and at very inconvenient times (climbing a ladder, on monkey bars, carrying the torch) and the fact that there were not enough medipaks and ammo to make up for this. The enemies also pivoted a little too fast to get behind them when I was low on health. Finally, at the beginning you are left to explore a large area with no hints on where to start. Now for the positives: beautifully textured and lit, creative and fun puzzles, wonderful and fitting music and static objects, and once you finally get started, gameplay is very smooth. Definitely recommended." - okuhtfesq (06-Jan-2010)

"What a wonderful maze! This was my first Btb's game this year after pondering whether I was really interested in going through the whole Btb's thing again and I'm not at all sorry I finally decided to give it a try for it far surpasses, in my opinion, anything that has been done before in the category. You really have to have an acute sense of orientation in this one but everything ends up being so finely connected it's a master's job. Faithful to the Venitian atmosphere, it features great puzzles coupled with action and rythm, fine lighting, well designed buildings and objects and perfect music just where it should be. No complaints about it. The only glitch I found was that a trapdoor was triggered by riding the bike to a spot where a cross should have been pushed, which left me confused for quite a while, especially because I had failed to find the too well hidden canister in the attic. The enemies - mafiosi and masked ghosts - are plenty and I advise you to find all three secret roses so you can get through the tough ending sequence thanks to a helpful extra medipack and the useful glock pistol you'll get that way. I think it could be unfair to grant less than four tens to such a perfectly designed level." - Jorge22 (06-Jan-2010)

"Well, I simply loved this level. Good story, superb architecture, excellent lighting, a very sensible and apt use of the nice music - a thing that I might recommend to other designers, adepts of the "non-stop music". My Lara found few torches... but they weren't really necessary; the only dark room of the game could be illuminated by other means (very interesting and creative means, by the way). The mirrors/chandeliers sequences were lovely, and I noted specially the almost complete absence of repetitive tasks, except at the final sequence of the game (where we find a number of enemies a little excessive for my taste, but, as I know that other players like it rough...) I didn't find all secrets and weapons, but for me this level deserves a full 10." - Josey (04-Jan-2010)

"An amazing game. To qualify this level, i'd say beautiful and hard. The gameplay is very hard with a lot of puzzles to do in a not linear location. Hard also because the medipack aren't enough and all the secret are advisable to finish the game cause a final battle which ask a lot medipacks and bullets. Lighting, textures and atmospheres are closed to the perfection. To finish i'd say the best thing is finally the big variety of puzzles and this level keeps in focus as rarely in the level editor" - Glouglouton (02-Jan-2010)
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