"I really liked this level that takes Lara to Venice, the Himalayan Mountains and England in search of a homicidal maniac. The level is deceptively easy-looking, but has it's moments of difficulty. There are also empty space rooms that drives me crazy. What I mean is that Lara will run through areas that have nothing to do and/or unopenable doors. My favorite level was the Himalayan Mountains, because I thought it looked beautiful with the hazy snow-filled terrain, and the lovely new TR music, but it is over fairly quickly. I also liked the use of the new TR game sounds, like when Lara jumps, you hear her equipment belt, nice touch. There are areas that aren't as polished, such as uneven textures, some pop up and crashes. The worst thing for me was that I was unable to hit the Windows key to go back to desktop. This created a black screen and other problems. I really like to be able to do this to check the walkie quickly without having to quit the game. Otherwise, I think this level is very fun and well done, and definitely recommended." - Shandroid (16-Nov-2011)
"I would describe The Maniac as a tale of games really. I've got to say that part one which is centered around Venice was absolutely excellent. I can understand that some players might get annoyed by the lack of camera clues etc, but for me it's built with such a great sense of purpose and there was a really wonderful structure and flow to the whole thing. So much so that I'd say that the Venice section for me would score 9 or higher for every category. Texturing and lighting was excellent for the most-part and despite the cheeky re-use of a little bit of a Tomb Raider II map I really did warm to it.
By contrast the following two sections in the Himalayas and then London are not so strong. The Himalayan adventure starts off well but it's too short. I'm not sure if the intention was to have 'white' distance fog but no matter what combinations of settings I tried I just got black fog which looked slightly wrong. The last section while well structured just doesn’t feel as well crafted as Venice, with the locations and structures not feeling as believable, and the texturing generally not upto the same standard.
That said all in all I netted 4 hours gameplay from The Maniac. It was for the most part entertaining and overall perhaps deserves a higher score than it's managed to average here. This release shows real progress for Brazilian Croft and I've got to say that if they continue to produce work of the quality of the Venice section then a 9+ rated release isn't too far away (indeed I think it would have made a very solid showing in last year's back to basics). On a final note I didn’t run into too many bugs bar one room that I couldn’t fire my guns in. It's a solid adventure and worthy of your consideration. Recommended! Stiggy :)" - TheStig (04-Nov-2011)
"This is quite good game. We have to visit three levels. All are very nice builded. Only few enemies, but many very difficult moments, like timed run or jumping through spiked pillars. The very nice idea was to put place from the TR2. Ending was a little dissapointed for me. I prefer to fight with that maniac. Anyway, I spend very good time." - Andzia9 (23-Jul-2011)
"Amen to the comment in Gerty's review regarding the lack of a compass. I'm not sure why some builders fail to include such an essential item in their inventory, and those who do should rethink the practice. Surely the reason is not to thwart use of the GUNS cheat. Whether the compass is present or not, the game engine "knows" where true north is, so all you have to do is climb up each side of a block until the cheat is activated. Not that I'd ever do such a thing, mind you. Anyway, overlooking the inconvenience of having to play the levels without a compass, it seems to me that the ratings to date of this three-part release don't quite do it justice. Other than a couple of isolated places where shooting a weapon causes a game crash, I experienced no bugs and found this to be a completely enjoyable raid. DJ Full's walkthrough certainly helped me get through the rough spots. Two of these come particularly to mind: the jumps across spike-topped pillars in the second level and the extended torch puzzle in the third level. The spike jump is particularly difficult, requiring almost perfect timing, and it took me many tries before I got across safely. Coming back is only slightly less an ordeal, but I discovered a technique that worked after only a few tries. You get a varied assortment of playing environments here, from the canals of Venice to an icy landscape to a dark and gloomy town and its sewer system. (The movie at the end seemed kind of lame to me, however.) Viewed as a whole, this is a solid three-hour adventure that I can heartily recommend." - Phil (30-Mar-2011)
"This is a very ambitious first set of levels of this builder that starts with a Venice level. Then Lara goes to the Himalayan and last but not least to Clondyville. What stick with me is the lack of camera work. Pulling a lever or finishing a puzzle gives you a puzzle on its own, to find out what you just have done. Texture wise this can use a good overhaul, as there were quite a bit squashed ones. Lighting also can get improved as at times at places it was rather bright and the dark places were way too dark. Keep your eyes peeled for levers that blend in very well and also crawl spaces that are hidden in dark corners. What is a big NO is where did the compass go?? As this instrument makes is much easier for the walkthrough writer to give adequate descriptions where to go." - Gerty (19-Mar-2011)
"Silent Venice (80 min): This turned out to be a nice and surprisingly long and expansive level built with the BtB2010 package and indeed it would have done fairly well as part of that competition. You travel deeper and deeper into the Venice setting here and from the initial hunt for switches and keys it then offers a few more challenging tasks later on, including a nice push/raise/water flipmap area and a fairly tough spike jump passage. A few secrets maybe and a few more guiding camera hints would have not gone amiss and on occasion there is really too much running through empty space wondering where to go next, but that does not take away the overall entertainment factor of this part.
Himalayan Mountains (15 min): I really liked the looping audio here but that is of course a matter of taste. The gameplay is a bit dull in part (like the rather too many jumps on the ice platforms), but also fun in others (like the jumps around the cave room for the second key and it finishes off with a fun trap gauntlet.
Condyville (40 min): Third part, third location and third Lara outfit - nice variety indeed in this adventure. This section takes you into a City setting and has you use a crowbar many times to open doors. The torch jump sequence is really well done, but why it had to be in this total darkness is beyond me. In fact a few too many dark corners spoil the fun a little in this part, as does the rather 'unmarked' timed run and the slightly too tedious block push exercise near the end.
It all ends off with another FMV closing the story out which I thought was simplistic but well done and very fitting. All in all a well rounded adventure that does not have all the bells and whistles of the top levels out there, but is a very ambitious piece of work that has turned out well!" - MichaelP (17-Mar-2011)
"Silent Venice: This level was built with the materials of BtB Venice. He would have reached at BtB certainly a good place, because one sees only few texture mistakes and there are many places which look very nice. However, there is something what I have not liked. There are, for example, no camera hints. One pulls some levers and has no notion where the next door has risen. Well, it has turned out afterwards that most doors were not far away, but one does not know such a thing as a player. Furthermore there are a few sound problems. These are no serious problems, but with a little bit more care the level builder could have repaired these smaller sound problems. A space with hip-high water was very irritating. In this space a black witch waited of Lara. From above one could not kill her. And below it was difficult to avoid the constant fire of the witch, because of the water height sideway jumps are not possible. Besides, the textures disappeared in this space every now and then, thus it was pitch-black. The lighting could also have been better. Moreover, I do not understand the sense of the story. The level builder writes that someone walk abroad in Venice and kills people. However, I have found absolutely no hint. No blood and no dead people. Even in the theatre nothing was to be seen. The text insertion at the level end is a bad solution. It would have been substantially more interesting if the player had found the dead people and the hints by himself. Thus remains a merely nice built, but in parts insufficient level.
Himalayan Mountains: It absolutely does not bother me that Lara must jump once briefly into the very cold river and may lose some life energy. This is OK. No, rather disturbs me which the trees float partly in the air. Such a thing can happen at the level construction, this is, actually, no big drama. Since one has for such cases the level testers which point out the level builder to such craft mistakes. The problem in this case is which there was here only one level tester. And it is the best example which one should get as a level builder several testers aboard. Since then at least one tester would have noted these mistakes. Moreover, one can run on the river on top on the hill and then sees constantly the "End of the world". Apart from this small inadequacy this was a well built level with a few difficult places. I think, I must not probably specially mention, that there were once more no camera hints.
Condyville: If one refrains sometimes from a few smaller texture mistakes, this level is built quite well. However, he is definitely in parts too darkly. It is all the same when one uses the Flares or a torch, because the sight distance is limited very much. It is no problem In a normal room, but if one must jump in a water room high on top about sloping blocks, it becomes quickly irritating because one must jump several times on property Luck. And of course the camera hints were absent once more. And there were some sound problems.
Result: The level is well built, but the lighting could have been better. And, nevertheless, the missing camera hints have disturbed very much. And the sound problems are also not so good. The level builder has big potential. However, he would have to take more time with the next level and must work more exactly." - Scottie (04-Mar-2011)
"I found this a difficult one to score. It was a very good game but I came away with the vague feeling that it could have been so much better. It starts in a basic Venice setting, goes on to the Himalayas and ends up in an English (?) city. The game is branching rather than non-linear and some players will find themselves back-tracking rather a lot if they choose the wrong branch to do first. I personally like this as I don’t like being let by the nose through levels by being given no choice of where to go. I had problems in the Venice part purely because I missed an obvious open door (I really must get my eyesight checked). If you keep your eyes open you should find the gameplay fairly straightforward. There were some slightly tricky runs, the snowball and spike valley comes to mind as does the moving spike walls. There is also a slightly different take on some swinging blades that’ll mean you having to adjust your usual technique somewhat. The timed runs are challenging as is the agility test with the torch in the dark. On the down side there is a distinct lack of camera hints and you’ll spend most of your time running round trying to find what you’ve just activated, the builder, although really good at hiding switches in other parts of the level, resorts to lack of lighting in the latter part, this is just irritating. The areas are well built although I would have liked to have seen more ‘furniture’, the outside areas especially seemed a bit bland but included nice touches like the traffic cones denoting the ‘end of the world’. The lighting, for the most part, was good. Enemies were few but usually appeared after you’d been lulled into a false sense of security – nice! The ending, requiring the player to enter a password into a file to view a video (series of stills) didn’t really work for me." - Diz (02-Mar-2011)
"This game involves a simple task : search for a maniac that
nobody have never seen the face and is killing people
throughout the world. The first level is entertaining but have
some frustrating parts like the teeth spikes on the columns
and very hidden objects and switches. It’s not good trying to
find this very hidden things. Sometimes different challenges
make things more interesting and fun. The second level is
short but the gameplay is better, I just think the river was
too long but that doesn’t influence the experience. I really
like the third level. I think the building in this one is
better and the challenges too, in instead of dark places. I
really missed cameras to show what switches activate in this
game, some players don’t like to guess what a switch does." - Adriel (20-Feb-2011)
"Three levels, 3 hours in my stats, but this is 3 times too long because I was writing a walkthru in the same time. So, divided in three, it should take You at about 1 hour in statistics. Sometimes includes lots of backtracking, and it's not clear which part the author wants us to go first (in such case we backtrack even more), but I don't mind this issue as long as I didn't notice any of the "beginners' mistakes" commited by Gabriel in this game. This makes me assume we have another talented builder onboard: even if still very inexperienced in creating gameplay (sometimes there is no difficulty at all, in another zone he places a nearly impossible, Lawther-like or Emoo-like row of spikes... in the middle of a library), he CAN use textures and - what is more important - unlike most of debutants, he applies very good lighting. Also, we can encounter various building techniques - raising blocks, pushables, even a sink (a rare thing), a torch puzzle, fight zones, deserted backyards, modern city scenery, timed runs, sometimes too well-hidden passages... and overusing of cameras (as well as lack of them in crucial places) - what I can consider to be a good symptome, ultimately proving this folk likes to experiment. AND THE RESULTS: IMO, a rather good debut. Not a must play, but anyway recommended. Several major flaws, but also not a waste of time. Nice try, I think. Keep building, Gabriel. Show players more clearly where You intend them to go first. This will reduce frustration factor." - DJ Full (09-Feb-2011)
"I thought the settings and the crime story quite good. Venice, how can one fault that?... and the Himalayans and the town all had interesting aspects. Not sure what the object was to have so many movable blocks that seemed useless at the beginning but maybe something I missed something. The spike columns turned out to be a challenge until I just went a different way than the author intended. Loved seeing those red curtains again and the gameplay for the most part was fluid and certainly would hold a Raider's interest. The Mountain's scenery with the ice cold water seemed real enough and cold enough for the player to feel chilled in real life. But the rolling boulders/swinging poles and spike traps run soon brought more than enough adrenaline to warm things up. Condyville, the town, had an interesting torch room climb and a good timed run that would have been better with a camera hint. I had a lot of crashes and bugs - one of which was when trying to use the pistols a crash would occur. Some crashes were minor inconveniences and others necessitated a reboot. Rather an abrupt ending with a password to a file to get to the last scene which did not work for me, despite knowing the password. I hope this new author continues to build as this debut shows a lot of promise." - Bene (01-Feb-2011)
"Not very good this set of levels. Venice was not bad, but it involves a lot of backtracking like when I arrived to the red courtains room without the mask; also looking for hidden switches in huge areas never was one of my favourite tasks, and the very difficult jumps in the top of the high pillars with spikes was really nasty. In the next level, in the room where you can pick up the torch and all is black, gave me a hint to rate the adventure (you can turn off your computer and it's the same). Also, the author have to realize that the TRLE has a menu called "Effects" where you cand find cameras to show the player what he/she is doing when pulling a switch. Good attemp, but not so good gameplay for most players. I think a good architect must think about release a level so many players around the world can enjoy it, and not only a few gurus or expert players. Perhaps the author can think about this if he decide to continue building." - Jose (30-Jan-2011)
"Silent Venice: Ah, good old Venice again, and soggier than ever; Lara even starts off wading. This is a charming blend of achingly familiar Venice locations and completely new stuff, which makes for a real feeling of revisiting Venice with additional sightseeing this time around. Not that poor Lara really gets much time for sightseeing as she’s too busy exploring the canals and sewers for two halves of a mask. Luckily, most of the gang bosses and henchmen must be on holiday as there are only a few left in Venice to cause trouble.
Himalayan Mountains: Beautiful misty, snow covered scenery, haunting music and some fun jumping about on ice floes, whilst trying to avoid the deadly ice cold water. There are a few snow leopards about, but the major enemies are the boulders and there’s a fun run past those plus spike traps.
Condyville: That is the oddest name for an English town I’ve ever heard and believe me we have some very strange place names indeed. This section does involve some nice sliding and bouncing sequences, with torch in hand, and interesting exploring in search of quite a lot of keys, but the enjoyment for me was somewhat marred by the extreme darkness in certain areas. If the ending seems abrupt, don’t forget to access the separate zip file with the password you get in the final room, so you can find out how the story ends." - Jay (25-Jan-2011)
"Silent Venice (8-7-7-8) At the first areas of the first,
venizian level, this level really felt like a first work.
Very uniformly lightning and completly linear gameplay, with
an annoying block task (no I can't say this is a puzzle).
Two more blocks in this room that don't cause anything
confuse the player. After getting to the next room I found
out I completely forgot the key that opens the underwater
door, too well hidden I think, a yellow key at an extremely
bright place. The level went on and I got to a well-known
place, the first area of the TR 2 Venice level, spiced up
with some sewers and an extended corridor that leads to the
final place in this level. Thereon, you get to a flooded
area with many tricky exploration and more concise tasks. I
only name the music puzzle, where you had to get the object
to the other side of the room, a scene that clearly
remembers me on a very good puzzle in "Simply Purple". After
this point, the level grew better and better, it almost
could have scored high in the last year's BtB competition.
At the end, you had to solve a very hard fire jump with
perfect timing and finally a fight with two monsters that
overcome many, many shots. The level ends and a message-type
cutscene explains where to go next. A nice idea.
Himalayan Mountains (9-7-8-8) was a quite short, but
very hard between level, lasting only few minutes. The
textures were quite good here and the snow caused a nice
atmosphere. Your first task you have to solve is to find two
keys. The first can be described as an one minute run-jump
sequence over some iced spots, unless you experience that
you just can jump into the water and loose several medikits
when getting to the key platform. But still an interesting
task to solve. After some boulder avoiding (I think that was
extremely luck that I didn't die at the first and only time
I tried it, just jumping through them) you get into a
temple, with exploration, shooting few enemies and then a
puzzle room with levers to find in again not-so-deadly
water. You then get the second key and are able to insert
both. The level's conclusion is a continous and incredibly
fun continous run through some rolling boulders, some spike
walls and swinging blades. It was kind of artistic to see
Lara jumping just in time between the boulders. The next
place where Lara has to go is good old England.
Condyville (7-9-8-8) Lara gets into a quite realisticly
built town with a huge map and many exploration. The tasks
were simple but still pure fun. There were many different
colored keys to find as a general task. You had to find the
torch, then light it and do a tricky jump sequence to the
top of a pitch black room with it. Luckily you had the
lighted torch with you, I can say. Then you had to do some
block puzzle and a tightly timed run. After some more
exploration and then insertion of the keys, losing a good
part of your medikits fighting with some more monster-like
creatures, you had to solve yet another block puzzle, with
much better ideas than the first one in the first level. You
had to get the block to the topmost of the room, using a
double-usage lever. Quite long and tedious pushing, the
builder could have placed the block maybe in a nearby
passage, a bit darker, so that it's not obvious. The end was
somehow a bit of a let-down too, as you only get another of
the text messages if you found the password, instead of an
epic fight with the maniac. The dead bodys in the last room
however were scary, maybe because they were really well
built. Unluckily, and that prevented higher scores in
gameplay and puzzle category, the unnecessary shooting bugs
were really unpleasant for the player.
Overall this was a more than solid first work, unluckily
with an extremely annoying bug: When you want to get back to
the desktop while still in-game, you had to reload the whole
game, as it crashed then. That caused me to make the game
smaller, to window mode. Sound choice in all three levels
was very good. I really hope that the builder keeps on
working hard to make more and even more good levels like
this one. But this was already good as it is." - manarch2 (25-Jan-2011)
"Debut levels, a bit hard to score because some parts are much better than others. The opening in Venice is attractive and well-lit, for a promising start. The most challenging feature is a spike jump atop high pillars. The second level in the Himalayas has a scenic opening with Lara in snow, surrounded by ice mist and twisted ice-covered trees, and that is the best aspect of these levels. The last level appears as if it will be a climax, with Lara returning to England to confront a maniac killer. We get three separate areas of exploration, but all are excessively dark. While holding a torch, Lara makes multiple slope jumps in darkness. The binoculars don't help, and during the jumps one sees only Lara in a small halo of light from the torch, spotting the next pillar just as she lands on it. There are two underground areas with cloaking darkness. Near the end there is increasing tension as it seems that Lara will do battle with the killer. I hope it is not giving too much away to say that this becomes total anticlimax. The download zip is massive because of two FMVs which total 220 MB. These only show white-on-black text. The author could have done the same thing with texturing, and camera shots within the levels, and saved 220 MB of download. Included is a bonus zip file, which can be opened by entering Lara's final words that appear on screen. This does nothing to ameliorate the anticlimax. The best design work was in the second level with Lara in snow or in the monastery, and I'd love to see future work of that caliber from this author." - dmdibl (25-Jan-2011)
"In this 3-part debut level with crime story, Lara starts in Venice, then transfers to the icy cold Himalayan Mountains and ends up in a small English town named Condyville. Right from the beginning I noticed that for whatever reason this game cannot be minimized with the usual key combinations to access the desktop while it is still running. Every attempt other than shutting down the game caused a crash and in several cases also caused me to loose all desktop access to taskbar and icons and forced a log off or re-start of Windows (Win7, but running in compatibility mode didn’t help the problem). Also, the download was very big mainly because of the 2 movies included and they basically showed nothing but text. Now to the game itself:
Venice: A beautifully designed Venice level in orange sunset light and very exploratory game-play, where Lara has to open many doors, pull many switches and do quite a bit of back and forward running. It can get quite confusing at times as the builder managed to hide many important switches either by placing them behind plants or making them blend into their surroundings so well, that the player can run by them many times without ever seeing them. On top of it there is an absolute lack of camera hints, which means there is quite a bit of running around to do, in order to find out what wall switches or underwater levers actually opened. There was also an unnecessary difficult jump sequence in the spike room, which took forever to complete and got a little frustrating. The atmosphere in this level was very nice and I really thought the builder did an excellent job with texturing and lighting.
Himalayan Mountains: This setting is completely different than the previous level as Lara finds herself in a cold, foggy mountain area with freezing cold water. Game play in this rather short level is very limited and consists basically of exploring the area and finding keys in order to progress, avoiding a couple of snow balls and some climbing and jumping toward the end of the level. There were also a couple of snow leopards to shoot. The music makes this level very atmospheric and just as with the Venice level, the texturing and lighting was nearly flawless.
Condyville: This was my least favorite of the three level because it was bug ridden, had very tedious game play and lots of pitch-dark areas. To make it even more complicated there were quite a few really annoying fixed camera angles. In certain areas the game would just crash when Lara was trying to shoot (shootable) items like trash bins, in other areas just using the binoculars caused a crash. The game play involved a lot of running around, some tedious block pushing, several keys to find, lots of switches (again – no camera hints) and a rather difficult jump sequences with the torch in complete darkness. The atmosphere was good and again, the texturing was well done and also the lighting, except for those dark areas.
Conclusion: A very good level, especially considering that it is an debut, but I wish there would have been less bugs, a more streamlined game play with some camera hints in order to avoid that endless running around and looking. It is definitely an excellent game when it comes to atmosphere and also architectures and texturing. Recommeded! ( 2 hours, 45 minutes)" - Blue43 (25-Jan-2011)
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