trle.net
Level: BtB2011 - Last Train to Paris back home search
Author(s): Jose
total rating:7.38 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
afzalmiah 8 8 8 9
Akcy 9 8 8 8
Blue43 8 8 7 7
cho7 7 7 7 6
Christian 7 8 7 8
Diz 9 10 9 9
DJ Full 7 8 8 7
dmdibl 7 9 7 8
Eelkemama 8 8 9 9
EssGee 7 8 8 8
eTux 7 7 7 6
Jay 9 9 9 9
Jerrod 7 8 7 8
Jorge22 8 8 8 9
Josey 9 8 7 10
Magnus 5 6 5 6
manarch2 8 8 6 7
Matie 7 7 8 8
MichaelP 8 7 7 7
Mman 7 7 7 7
Mulf 4 4 5 5
Mytly 8 7 8 7
Nina Croft 9 9 8 7
Phil 9 8 8 9
requiemsoul 8 7 7 6
Ruben 7 7 7 8
Scottie 7 8 9 9
Sethian 5 4 5 5
Shandroid 7 7 7 6
Soul 6 7 6 6
SSJ6Wolf 8 6 6 7
TheStig 7 7 7 8
Treeble 7 7 7 7
category averages
(33 reviews)
7.39 7.42 7.24 7.45

Reviewer's comments

"While the map structure is still blocky and horizontal, and the lighting ambience remains universal for most rooms interrupted with local bulbs only, I must admit the puzzles are definitely better than in the previous attempt of this builder. While they still comprise of collecting various items protected by lots of traps and enemies, include a torch element and lots of pushables, the current pushable structure is definitely much smarter (one of them is literally steampunk) and the trap sequences are denser and more varying. We have thumpers, cog blades, knives, darts, rotating balls and a death slide. Finally in the burning floor room, there's that nice, classic feeling of "OMG what now" followed by "Aha, that was clever". Also secrets are at last useful, handling even a shotgun sniper issue by rewarding a player with a laser sight to switch manual targeting to easier mode (never seen such thing before)... though I still definitely dislike the walk-thru wall and trapdoor - such things never train player thinking while only being plainly annoying. Enemy usage was also upgraded: we can see baddies cooperate in order to finish Lara more efficiently - one subtle usage of AI and they seem smarter at once. In the level finale, linear progress is substituted with a multi-hole puzzle, but this time it comprises of more items set in a hub zone instead of being dropped by demigods in specific order. Unfortunately the ending is missing a final closure, e.g. something like Drakan made to conclude his train-inclusive level from the same competition batch. SUMMARY: Still quite flat building, but everything else has been improved since last time, so gameplay goes smoother (except one obscure hint in a large zone) and the level can be recommended to anyone who doesn't mind graphics." - DJ Full (12-Nov-2013)

"Well this is my first review for the back to basics levels from 2011, and this one puts me off to a mixed start. On the positives there were some original puzzles here, the architecture good and there's plenty of secrets hidden away. However on the balance there's also some very frustrating aspects to the gameplay which in a few places is so obscure I had little or no choice but to go to the walk-through. I think out of everything my biggest gripe was a push-block that you had to pull to access a crawl-space...and then PUSH BACK to open a door? I'm sorry but I would never in a million years of thought to try that and would have probably abandoned the game all together without the walk-though as a result (the texture clue is frankly not enough). Some of the push-block puzzles do get tedious after a while too, but it effective never the less and does require some thought to progress. Thankfully the timed runs are generous and most of the required jumps are well within the bounds of the game-engine. Texturing and lighting are ok, but it's missing that final polish that would put a level in a 9 or 10 category. All in all I netted 2 Hours 21 minutes from the last Train to Paris. Certainly worthy of your consideration, but be prepared to be patient and have the walk-through on standby. Stiggy." - TheStig (24-Aug-2012)

"This is my first step into the BtB'11 experience and I have mixed feelings about it. While I loved the city design (and for some reason its structure feels very familiar, I have no idea where from though), there are times when gameplay gets a bit tedious. Perhaps there were one too many block pushing puzzles, I mean, the first one was tricky and ingenious, but the one in the warehouse felt like a chore. Another aspect that could be improved, in my opinion, would be a bit more effective camera work. Plenty of times I was at a loss about what I should be doing or where should I be heading next. As a whole, though, the level felt solid, with tricky jumps to master and quite a bit of running around. I also experience a couple of glitches, one that rendered my big guns (shotgun and crossbow) useless, and the other near the crowbar room, for some reason I managed to run right through a paper thin wall but not running back. A reload solved the second glitch, but sadly not the first. Fortunately, I never needed either of those guns. 100 minutes, 2 secrets. 08/11" - Treeble (11-Aug-2012)

"I have finally finished all of the BtB levels and decided to try reviewing them all at once, while giving my reviews a new format, starting from the weakest aspect of the level to the strongest. So without further ado...

Objects: The object placement took away from how convincing the level was. Oddly placed windows and pipes, while functioning in terms of gameplay, looked odd as they jutted into the surrounding environment. On top of that, sometimes enemies were triggered at the same time as cutscenes, meaning poor Lara was being stabbed to death and losing all her health as you sat and watched. The level is also inconsistent as to which fences you can jump over and which ones you cannot, and inconsistency is always a cheap tactic to make the player clueless.
Cameras: The camera shots in the beginning, which would have otherwise been a nice touch, were instead rather annoying because you were being attacked by several enemies and it was hard to see the combat clearly. More camera shots are needed for using keys, and I'm still not sure what that one red key did in the pushblocks room. On the plus side, the camera cue showing the zipline as a goal, as well as the neat looking pipe room and outro were good touches.
Textures: Fake walls are never acceptable in my eyes. It is another cheap ploy to stump the player without any logic involved. In the deadly-floor-with-pool room, the safe tiles are not fully distinguishable from the nonsafe ones (a mere rotation puts them apart). There were also a few paper thin walls. Other than these things the texturing was decent. The train station in particular was rather pleasing.
Gameplay: It was silly to disable Lara's guns in that one room when you could simply stand at the entrance and shoot the ninja from there. I have mixed feelings about the pushblock puzzle over the lava. It is rather hard to figure out, but once you know what moves are legal, the logic that follows is rather interesting. The other block puzzles were also nice, although a bit long to execute. The pipe connecting puzzle was a unique flair, and I appreciated the timed run." - SSJ6Wolf (14-Nov-2011)

"This level is not as easy to complete, there are plenty of things to do. Timeruns difficult (with 3 buttons), difficult jumps on the wall, push many blocks, pass the torch under the wall ... It's a good two-hours twenty of adventure with of interesting tasks. Overall good." - cho7 (04-Nov-2011)

"As it was my first Btb-level I quite enjoyed it. Compared to the other entries though it's sadly not one of the best levels of this year. The author had several great ideas and gameplay could have been amazing if there weren't so many pushable-puzzles. Especially the one in the big warehouse was way too much for my taste, as it took about 40 minutes of pushing and pulling for me. This somehow destroyed the whole gameplay for me and severel amazing ideas afterwards (loved all the deadly traps and especially the torch puzzle) felt somehow annoying, as I just wanted to end this level. I played it with the provided walkthrough and thus tried to find all the secrets. One of them offered a great challenge that should have made it into the "real" game instead of the pushable puzzle imo. The look of this level was OK, but don't expect eye-catching architecture. I found it quite funny that just like in "Abandoned Theater" the author seperated this adventure into two parts and in both levels the second part looked a lot better than the first one and was also more fun in terms of gameplay. Lighting was OK, but the nighttime atmosphere in Vienna wasn't really visible most of the time. I would have loved it if the author tried to recreate some famous building. With this very good wad that was provided by Nadine this would have been definitely possible. Recommended but not a top level." - Soul (16-Oct-2011)

"This level has a mixture of some really cool tasks interspersed with really tedious and/or obscure ones. The gameplay can be quite entertaining and I would have even given it a score of 9, if it weren’t for some of the players-must-be-mind-readers moments, like the placement of the crowbar, or the yellow keyhole (how is anyone supposed to know there’s a keyhole behind that crate?). There are some extremely difficult jumps, like the diagonal jump to a climbable wall, which I would have liked if the way back hadn’t involved a repetition of the exact same jump. There are some good bits: for example, the pushable puzzle where you can stop pushing/pulling only at a few safe tiles; or the tasks in the room with the deadly floor. But there are also some really long and tedious pushable puzzles that kill the flow of the game. The pipe puzzle at the end is also interesting in itself, but by that point in the level, I just wanted to get it over with, and looked up the solution in the walkthrough. The stealth-based task with the ninjas turning a room deadly if they spot you is good in theory, but in practice, you can simply kill the ninjas with an explosive arrow before they have a chance to react, rendering the stealth unnecessary. The traps and timed runs are mostly fun, but the double thumpers can be very tough to get past.
Some of the secrets involve walk-through (or swim-through) walls, which is rather unfair, IMO. The ninja enemies can get quite annoying, though the builder does provide a considerable amount of ammo. One ninja got stuck in a wall, and yet I managed to kill her from the other side of the wall!
Apart from the problems mentioned above, the looks and architecture are the lowest point in this level. The lighting is very bland throughout. The architecture makes no sense – the whole place looks more like an obstacle course than a realistic city. The outdoor pool of water and the train station look nice, though, and the airship is a nice touch.
Overall: On the whole, I kind of like this level, but I feel that at times, the builder tries to be a little too clever for his/her own good. Recommended only if you have a walkthrough handy." - Mytly (15-Oct-2011)

"While I'm all for taking advantage of the Tomb Raider canon by connecting your storyline to Lara's past adventures, I'm not sure why Eckhardt would try to stop Lara from going to Paris. Or why he'd have ninjas stationed in Vienna. But I guess the story in The Angel of Darkness never made complete sense anyway. The weirdness of the story aside, this level actually has some good ideas. Mainly, it has some genuinely clever puzzles. The first block puzzle seems nonsensical at first, but makes perfect sense once you figure out the logic behind it. There's another block puzzle in a warehouse that's also pretty clever, even if it entails pushing around crates for 5+ minutes. There where several other puzzles that I liked, but those were the two that stood out. Unfortunately, the gameplay between these puzzles is less engaging. You'll spend a lot of your time running around the bland streets of Vienna, and it's not very interesting to look at, with its boring buildings and lampless lampposts. And then there are those moments when the author gets too clever for his or her own good, like when you're supposed to realize that the crowbar is hidden underneath a block that doesn't even look like it can be pushed - in a room where you've already picked up a key item, so you think you're done there. Or when you're supposed to pull a block one square, push a button and then push the block back to open a door. Yeah, not buying it. Even the walkthrough has a note by the author explaining the logic behind the puzzle (the texture on the floor is rotated the wrong way), but I think that if the author has to go out of his or her way to explain the puzzle in the walkthrough, then it's not a very good puzzle. But when it's not being stupid, this is a decent one-hour level. It has some genuinely good moments surrounded by a lot of okay ones, wrapped in an underwhelming-but-okay-looking package." - Magnus (15-Oct-2011)

"This level is of fairly solid design. The terminal area is well constructed. All areas are well lit, and there are some useful flybys. Plenty of ninjas to slay. Clues for 'marked' tiles are very subtle and very easy to overlook. The multi-level torch puzzle/challenge was a somewhat frustrating, as it was unclear that you must throw the torch, and the way it is set up, a player could accidentally dead-end themselves if not careful. I ended up after running the Spikes gauntlet with Torch in hand, only to realise I would have to head back through it again, because I wasn't supposed to bring the the torch there, and could not pass the spinning balls with torch in hand. Overall quite good." - EssGee (14-Oct-2011)

"This level consisted of a very frustrating 4 hours, and was probably not the best choice to kick-off BtB 2011 for myself, but I stuck with it no matter what. I did not enjoy the gameplay at all. Initially, I spent about a good hour’s worth of simply running around this dreary city with absolutely nothing to do. When people were eventually sharing their progress in the stuck thread on trle.net, I was also finally able to make progress. However, almost at every single juncture, one finds oneself stuck again, and usually due to very poor level design, or very bad and strange methods of hiding objects – so I exited repeatedly for help on the forums. There was one nice puzzle in the entire level that allowed the gameplay to redeem itself somewhat for me: rearranging the pipes via five switches so that the water can flood from one pool to another. That was indeed a nice idea. However, otherwise, the gameplay was very dull and certain things simply didn’t make any logical sense as to what one had to do next. Also, this level sports one of the longest pushable box puzzles I have ever encountered… and then later on you encounter pushable boxes yet again! (Luckily the second time it wasn’t as tedious). The Enemies, Objects, and Secrets category is the lowest one for me here, simply because like I already mentioned: objects are hidden in very strange ways that can leave a player wandering for ages. Also, there is very little logical sense to a lot of the objects chosen and placed. The builder also likes to overdose us with placing 4 Uzi clips on one pedestal, or 3 shotgun shells in a row… and this is done quite a few times. Sure, it’s nice to get a boost of ammo like this, but it doesn’t seem very well thought out or done with care. The choice of enemies is also strange… giant serpents slithering around a ‘city’, and two different kinds of ninjas that look the same, yet one floats when she dies and the other doesn’t. I am aware that this is a quirk about the wad itself, but I wonder why the builder chose to use both these slots when they both look exactly the same. Then there is the builder’s ‘choice’ of making us have to ‘bug’ or pass through mesh objects (such as a railing when climbing out of a water pool and a trapdoor that’s been opened) that one normally wouldn’t think of passing through. There also a room where one has to constantly side-flip to hopefully and eventually get over some fences. This is not clever object placement or design; it simply looks bad and reflects badly on the level as a whole. Also, the bugs mentioned in the readme are very present and are really something that should have been taken care of, not just left with a ‘helpful’ readme as an attempt to make it all okay. Atmosphere is alright – it is a dreary city if that is what was intended; however lighting is very weak and not atmospheric at all. Music choices are okay, but nothing special. Camera setups aren’t too helpful… there are some fixed cameras that still don’t make any sense to me. Texturing… well, everything is textured at least. However, I’m still not sure why this city (Vienna is it?) has its sidewalks paved with marble. And some of the transitions are just strange… we have cathedral stonework, marble floors, and then some metal grating and iron textures next. Also, in the room with the long pushable box puzzle, the builder has chosen to texture walls with the same texture the pushable boxes are textured with, causing it to take quite a while to figure out what can be pushed and what can’t. If this is the builder’s first level, then it is a pretty alright achievement. If not however, well, then, back to the drawing board. The AOD back-story was a nice idea if anything." - Sethian (12-Oct-2011)

"This level is not easy to score because for most of the good elements in there, there is also something not so good to complain about. The location – a city and a train station separated by a canal is not without charm, but still looks a bit crude architecturally. There are plenty of puzzles which are fun to work through, yet the block pushing can easily get tedious and some of the required actions are just a bit too obscure, such as shooting the standing windows to flip a room from dangerous to safe or pushing a block back that pulled away from a trigger to open yet another door. While there are camera hints, you still often get the feeling that you would rather like a few more. The use of the torch was clever and well integrated, including the use for a secret, the timed runs spice things up nicely without being impossible to manage. The shortcuts in the city technically work well, but kind of spoil the overall look and feel of the place. The one spike path was really quite tough for me to master and those diagonal jumps to the climbing wall took quite a few tries as well. Loved the pipes puzzle and was almost too easy to solve but well executed. So, as you can tell quite a mix of things to do and a very enjoyable adventure. [1:55, 4/5 secrets]" - MichaelP (09-Oct-2011)

"As the story of this level says, it is a prologue to Angel of Darkness - Lara has to get on the train to travel to Paris and visit Von Croy. The game starts with a nice flyby that shows Lara falling out of the airship, and it also shows an important item that we can collect right at the start in a bit tricky way, the player wouldn't think it can be reached at first. The starting task is a pushable block puzzle, which is a pretty good idea and well thought out. You have to move the blocks in a way that the different-looking one should go on the grated floor. At the same time you can only let go of the crates when they are above a steam, otherwise the floor disappears and you fall into the lava. After completing this puzzle you collect a key from a baddy, then go through some challenges inside the buildings in the area. It was a bit hard for me to get through the stompers. I found the block puzzle in the last house quite long, it becomes especially long if you want to collect the secret, too. When the door has been opened you get to the balcony (I really appreciated that blocks had been raised, so you didn't have to do all the tasks again to be able to go back to the rooms) and collect the Book Key from under a plant, that has to be combined with the Book to be able to open another door leading to a puzzle room. The lighting warns the player that it's a dangerous room, the floor is deadly. The task here is to make the room safe, drain, then flood the pool again and get the torch out of it, that has to be ignited on the top of the room with some traps that you need to avoid. When it's done the pedestals have to be ignited too, but the fire is very large, it set Lara on fire many times when I wasn't careful enough. After solving the tasks you find a machine you can use to fly to the other side of the canal. There are four doors that have to be opened here, and there is an item to be found in each room. These items can be used to open another door, then you have to find the (well hidden) crowbar and a torch too, so Lara can finally get to the train.
The gameplay was really inventive at some points, there were new ideas in it which I liked, especially the room with two baddies where you have to sneak around to be able to steal the coin. The pipe rearranging puzzle was also interesting, I've never seen this done before. The run through the spikes was also tricky. On the other hand, in my opinion there were too many pushables, I got really frustrated when trying to open one of the four doors, I had no idea where I should push the crate, I was pushing and pulling it around for half an hour, but nothing happened. Then it turned out it just simply had to be pushed where it originally was, to the crawlspace. Without help I would have never guessed it had to be put back there, I just can't see the logic of that. Then in the room with many pushables again where you find the fuse, a crate has to be pushed into a place where you wouldn't think it's possible to be pushed, it looks like there's a solid crate next to it, but you basically have to push it 'inside' that one to be able to find the crowbar. When I found the third pushable puzzle room I wasn't too happy about it, especially after the long pushing-pulling that had to be done in the warehouse to get to the yellow keyhole. The diagonal pool also looks nice, but finding the way to get out of it can cause some confusion.
There aren't too many enemies, mainly ninjas are used. There were enough weapons, ammo and medipacks to be found. The objects are used well, they fit the environment. There are points where the use of them could have been studied more, the frustration caused by the big fire above the pedestals could have been easily avoided. The secrets are well hidden, I found three of them (and unfortunately I only got an idea about another's whereabouts when going back to that section became impossible).
The atmosphere is good, it fits the story well. There is also fitting music, for example the music changes to a different, better fitting style when you are in the room where you have to get an item and remain unnoticed by the baddies. There were nice camera sequences that were also helpful. The overview at the pipes also helped a lot. The lighting was good too, mainly a realistic type of lighting was present everywhere, except the room with the deadly floor. There were no excessively dark areas, some contrast and variety in the lighting could have spiced up some rooms, though. The geometry and architecture is simple in most places, the textures are used very well and always fitted the environments.
All in all, it's a good two-hours adventure with a couple of interesting (and some harder) tasks, nice scenery, well-placed objects and well applied textures. A really nice entry for the contest." - Matie (07-Oct-2011)

"First in the general list, yet inadvertently ending up to be last on mine through this year's run through the Back to Basics set, Last Train to Paris managed to graciously conclude the competition. Playing and reviewing these levels sometimes felt like a full-time job, so I was glad to finish it off on a (relatively) less taxing note. The gameplay at times showcases a lot of creativity and concern for player-friendliness, yet at others seems to drag a bit too much and feels somewhat artificial. To be fair it's a hard balance to strike, and even if the author doesn't always hit the spot, that shouldn't be a huge issue for those who just want to have a decent hour+ raid and for whom any embellishments are an added bonus. As you could guess - I'm a bit divided about the level - some tasks were fun - like the stealth room, pipe puzzle, boxes over the lava room and the trap run to ignite the torch - yet others tested the player's patience (the multi-level box puzzle - ok we get it - it's possible to stack pushable boxes this year! Those puzzles usually have a nice logic to them by default, but it doesn't mean they have to be dragged on as much as possible!) or were plain illogical (removing the box and then pushing it back on the same square; the crowbar concealed beneath a box; a switch igniting a bonfire outside so you could merely ignite the torch and consequently set fire on a bonfire next to the one you just ignited). Technically the looks are acceptable with lighting being used as it should in a level and there being no noticeable texture errors, but some texture choices (marble sidewalks?), some odd geometry (houses entered through openings/windows on the first floor, rather than doors?) and the scale of the rooms spoil the appearances a little bit. Overall though, it is competently done and worth a go for it's better moments and a nice conclusion for me for a unique and interesting year of BtB levels." - eTux (27-Sep-2011)

"The first B2B level made me awe of how wonderful this years' package is, which is really rather a tribute to the people who assembled it than the builder, the only downside is the now female enemies still make their usual masculine groans. I have no idea what steampunk even means though, but whatever, let's play. This is a very well crafted level in a city setting with competent texturing, no real wow moments, but well done nonetheless. Unlike some other reviewers I'm aware of the fact that overdone realism can damage gaming experience so I absolutely don't mind if my game city is designed this way, just my real one shouldn't be :). Some quite ingenious tasks like the blocks that can only be stopped over smoking tiles, the pipe-mania puzzle, the multilevel pushyblock puzzle that now the engine allows is always fun. Just a few bad points, the block that had to be pushed back to its original position was rather counterintuitive, the unmarked swim through wall even though was just for a secret but still a no-no, and the builder ignored the crouch-roll move which made lighting the first torch too easy, we don't have to go around the balcony at all. Gameplay is fluent and nicely varied with the occasional medium difficulty jumps and timed run. An entertaining adventure, recommended." - Akcy (26-Sep-2011)

"This was the first level I played from the BTB 2011 series and it was not an easy one. The map had a little bit of a strange and sometimes confusing layout, consisted of 2 major parts and the game play was interesting and actually quite challenging at times. Some of the spike traps were very nasty and there was some tight timed run and also some serious pixel jumping (banana jumping followed by a pixel perfect back-flip) required in order to reach areas with all-important pickups. It was fairly easy to get stuck here, all one has to do look at the massive stuck thread to know what to expect. I liked the clever push block puzzles, especially the one with the disappearing glass floor and found that objects were used very nicely throughout this level. The revolver on the ledge as a trap was extremely irritating. After one finally manages to get to it and pick it up, Lara catches fire. Lots of time is spent to get this sequence right, line Lara up perfectly so she can back flip into the water hole where one would assume that the flame are extinguished. Wrong – after successful plunge into the water the flames keep going and Lara dies anyway. I really dislike that part of the level. On the enemy side we have ninjas, snakes, and flying beetles. Some of them are pretty durable and bullet resistant. The secrets were probably well hidden and I only found a single one. In general this level has a solid look and feel but somehow looked a bit sterile and not very “steampunkish” at all. Not bad overall and entertaining, but definitely not for beginners, as some parts could get quite frustrating. (1h 38min, 1 secret found)" - Blue43 (18-Sep-2011)

"The fall out of the airship into the river is quite a nice start to this level, it fits to the (fairly a bit strange) storyline. Lara has to explore one side of the river to eventually get to the other side and enter the train area to finally get to Paris. I didn't really like the exploration in the city much, there were even some walkthrough walls (even if for a secret); while texturing was mostly OK I think the long and empty streets didn't really create a good atmosphere. I missed a bit more camera hints to be guided through this town, so finding a start here took very long. Interestingly, the different tasks that were inside the buildings were refreshing and fun, such as the pushblock puzzle with the steam, the timed run with the trapdoors, the bumper area and the (fairly long) warehouse block puzzle. The room with the torch was one of two highlights in this level, very good gameplay in it and you had to think a bit to get through all the traps safely. After getting to the train station there was more exploration again, the level got a little more boring (but it looked better) and the doors that are opened didn't have camera indicators so it was hard to know where to go. The second highlight was the pipe puzzle, very nice logic puzzle with many flipmaps. The end also was a bit boring, with a flyby that didn't tell me anything, and the end-of-world factor on the walls near the train. All in all a solid but at points uninspired work." - manarch2 (17-Sep-2011)

"This level took me about an hour and a half to complete and I saw the trophy thread in the forum and some finished in about 40 minutes! This level felt pretty boring for me at the beginning when I had no idea where to go but after it picked up it was pretty fun and enjoyable. There was a lot of rooms to explore, traps to get through and puzzles to complete. The level was a lot longer than I thought it would be. I thought I would finish this level in about a day or two but actually took me about 3-4 days! I only got 2 secrets but I didn't want to get all of them. A good level and recommended." - afzalmiah (12-Sep-2011)

"I liked very much the puzzles of this game: creative and different. The only reason why I didn't give a 10 (and yes, Mulf, you can put me in your crazy list; I will certainly put you in mine) for Gameplay & Puzzles, was that the hammer sequence was difficult to the point of boredom. As a premium, my Lara could light the torch without running through the spike field - another very difficult part, for those who have done it - or meeting that ball after the spikes. But the main drawback of the game was certainly the absence of camera hints - and this explains my 7. All considered, good game, thanks!" - Josey (09-Sep-2011)

"Original and challenging!. The architecture does not have the detail of other levels." - requiemsoul (05-Sep-2011)

"I do like the objects. And, maybe quite amazingly so for many, the use of the boxes - puzzles that become quite rewarding when solved and we all know how tiresome box puzzles can get when badly crafted. The TR3 sounds and music are well adjusted. The textures look ok too, at least to my not so trained eye. The ninja girls are well used too although I'm not totally sure what they're doing in Europe at the end of the 19th century (unless it's a sign of the times when people liked to party in exotic clothings). The puzzles are a bit too intriguing at times, not to say despairing, but nothing terrible really. There's a possible bug (or maybe not) when Lara can crawl under a closed trapdoor: frankly, who's supposed to figure that one out? And a few things are a bit too far stretched, I guess. There's good use of traps, but maybe one too many at times. Perhaps they may somehow be related to the beginnings of the industrial era... All, in all, it's a rather satisfying level but not a winner, in my very personal opinion." - Jorge22 (05-Sep-2011)

"13 pages (one from me) in the stuck-thread have some force of expression. There are very good ideas as the pushblock-puzzle concerning 3 floors - but it was too much pushing and pulling in my opinion. I had much fun with the torch-puzzle, but the same here: too much draining and flooding. A few more camera-hints would have been helpful. Some parts of the game, divided in 2 parts, are quite unclear, some sequences are simply annoying, especially in the section with the 4 doors. Some items are simply misleading (e.g. a pushable table) and distract from the course of the not quite straight forward gameplay. To push a block back to it's original position to open a door is not quite convincing gameplay. A nice timed run quite in the beginning was one of the highligts of the game, a run through popping out spikes was a bit challenging, but doable. Enemies were some dogs, snakes and 1st of all female ninjas. The atmosphere, even in the 2nd part of the game was not that convincing. Soundeffects were professionally realised, camera-perspectives could have been improved. The city doesn't seem as real as it could have been done. Good game but not a favourite level in this competition." - Christian (02-Sep-2011)

"Ok, first of all, there are many aspects to this level that I thought were great, however, there were many parts that annoyed my already frayed nerves! I thought the level looked nice, however, it could have received a higher score if the lighting was better and the textures more aptly chosen. I immediately noticed that there were no or few shadows here. We know, that in real life, a sunny day causes shadows. I thought the level looked kinda bland. Now I realize that the level doesn't have to make sense, but the rooms here really, really didn't make any sense and didn't follow real world parameters much. Now for gameplay, there were some good times to be had and some hopeless tedium to be had, with some perplexity thrown in just for fun. I enjoyed the first box pushing puzzle because it was neat. I loved figuring that out all by myself and it was inventive. Sadly, there are many more pushblock puzzles that wereless fun and increasingly tedious. One block puzzle in particular hides not one, but two critical items and is a serious pain in the butt, not hard, but tedious. I realize the builder wanted to create challenging tasks, but they need to make sense, be rewarding and not be overly tedious to be fun. There are parts of this level that are fun and I enjoyed a lot of it, I just thought that it could have been more polished." - Shandroid (31-Aug-2011)

"Vienna! Fabled city whose streets are paved with marble—city whose unseen inhabitants enter their houses through openings high up in the walls, preferring the use of blocks rising out of the earth over the vile banality of doors; a tradition which cultural anthropologists can only compare to the equally famed homicidal stairs of Amsterdam. Yes, I can see how one can wax all lyrical about a level supposedly set in that city, especially when under the influence of the right drug. Once the effect wears off, however, you can see the level for what it is—an assemblage of mundane tasks listlessly thrown together and at best perfunctorily designed, textured, and lighted. The builder thought it fit to accommodate no less than three extended pushable puzzles, plus another one, which is not extended but unfairly obscure (presumably to make up for its lack in tedium), and even had recourse to that last resort of the scoundrel, the use of bugs and glitches as integral and obligatory parts of the gameplay. Add to that a number of ‘cleverly hidden’ switches, torches, pickups, and you have a textbook solution for that old chestnut, “how to make the player run around like an idiot for hours and annoy them most effectively in a general way”. Yes, there are some redeeming features: a half-hearted attempt at stealth, for example, and even an actual, original puzzle where you have to rearrange some pipes, but these are negligible quantities buried under truckloads of pure and unadulterated tedium. With all due consideration, I think that people who rate this 9 or 10 in any category should immediately see their doctor and/or psychotherapist, and those who give it sevens and eights are already on the road to perdition. Just say no!" - Mulf (30-Aug-2011)

"Technically, all lighting is well done. The building are unusual. There are many puzzles to solve. In particular, many block puzzle. In the first room (with a transparent base and lava underneath) I give the hint, don't make a break, when you pulling or pushing. In another room, you're good at working a half hour trying to move blocks back and forth. If you recognizes what you have to doe. Draw one block one place and push him back again to open a door, that's whas not a good idea. Room with the pipes to be changed - I think would be better with a continuous view (even when visiting a different switch).
One timerun was a little bit unfair. If you have made this timerun a bumblebee attack you. Then you can't jump in the window and you must do it again. I miss the camera hints. Enemies - eagle, a snake, fire dragon, little flying devil, dogs and sword fighters. The sword fighters are sometimes very aggressive. A few more health packs would be bette. Squishy blocks and spikes are a danger for Lara. Both are possible with good timing. Also some more difficult jumps Lara must make." - Eelkemama (30-Aug-2011)

"I is certainly not a reviewer`s job to comment on fellow reviewers mental health , so in future please keep this to yourself, Mister ! This entry is a rather short raid through a simply built location. Once the player has completed an excessive block-pushing excercise things start to happen very quickly.The goal is to light some piles of wood which gives access to a room where a crowbar must be used to open the gate to the railway station. That`s it . There is very little Steampunk to be found here so the performance does not match the theme of BtB 2011 at all." - Ruben (30-Aug-2011)

"This has clever ideas such as the casual way the crowbar is hidden, or placing a magic book on top slopes that seem too steep to walk upon. On an upper ledge Lara catches fire if she picks up a revolver, and even back flipping into a hole with water doesn't put out her flames. Since this is impossible, I guess it is supposed to cue irate players to a nearby secret that is worthy of Taras in its misdirection. I rated secrets highly. But from the beginning many of the tasks were obscure in this city level. This includes placing (or replacing) boxes, or shooting out "windows" in a room with burning floor. There are a plethora of boxes to move, and after a lot of pushing and dragging Lara may be put out that she finds only a secret, not a needed keyhole. As a whole the level utilizes the unique features of the steampunk wad less than other levels. Even when a large arch is used it is only decoration that Lara falls through, whereas in other levels several bridge flats were placed on top the arch to create a solid architectural feature. In a concluding area rooms are disproportionately large, and some places feel misshapen. At this point players may just want to get the four doors open, which is not without frustration. Not the best representation of the steampunk wad, but playable for its two hours." - dmdibl (30-Aug-2011)

"The first level in this year’s Back to Basics certainly gets the ball rolling in brisk style, with a mixture of convoluted puzzles and quite challenging timed run/trap avoiding activities, plus an exhilarating hang glide across the river to get to the train station. I picked up so much in the way of guns, ammo and medipacks that I was expecting a real bloodbath, but the enemies are generally not too difficult to overcome so expect to finish the game with an extremely full backpack. This is obviously a builder with a sneaky and devious mind, which is always a big advantage in the tomb raiding world and I very much enjoyed the clever way some switches and secrets were hidden – especially secret number five. Great start to the B2B competition and spending so much time and effort to catch a train in Vienna has certainly given me a whole new appreciation of British Rail." - Jay (30-Aug-2011)

"First of all, congrats to Horus for the package (textures, sounds, objects...), really a great job. /// Despite some good ideas & puzzles, this level could be better with some clues because it's easy to be stuck especially in the second half (note, it's also easy to escape that second half and directly go to the end...), for instance, to find the way to open a certain door or find the crowbar, it's equivalent to search a needle in a haystack. In the same way, I'm not sure this level can be finished without some "secrets" (I'm wrong ?)." - Jerrod (30-Aug-2011)

"I was rudely introduced to this year's BtB competition with that devilish timed run at the beginning of Madness is not a Shame. Having decided that discretion is the better part of valor, I shelved that level for a later date and started in on this one. I liked what I saw. The environs are fresh and attractive, and my initial misgivings about the lighting turned out to be totally unfounded. Nadine has done a masterful job assembling the package for this competition, and if the remaining levels are as eye-pleasing as this one, we're all in for a treat indeed. I spent the better part of two hours here, even with the assistance of the advance Dutchy-Gerty walkthrough, and this wasn't because I was dragging my heels along the way. There are two pushblock puzzles in the level, and the first one is nothing short of ingenious. You have to arrange crates in three separate sections of the room to perform the necessary tasks, and I'm elated that someone has figured out how to fix that annoying "sidestep shuffle" when Lara attempts to move a block anywhere other than at its exact center. In this level, at least, Lara can position herself anywhere she likes and start to push or pull without ceremony. The timed run using three buttons to make your way around the periphery of another room was challenging but fair. The room that gave me the most difficulty was that small lava room where you have to make a curved running jump to grab a wall, and then come back the same way. Again, challenging but fair with a little persistence. A great start to what promises to be a robust competition. I certainly hope that the many builders who signed up and didn't complete a level will continue their projects for later release. High recommendations." - Phil (29-Aug-2011)

"This is a decently built level when it comes to architecture, but only decently built... Nothing spectacular here about the geometry. Maps are not huge, but they are big enough, and still, it's very unlikely to get disoriented here. My rating of the gameplay/puzzles element is 9. There are some really great puzzles to be solved here, such as the first pushblock puzzle above the lava pool, or the inventive and complex torch puzzle (the first one), or simply brilliant puzzle with water pipes, but also, other two pushblock puzzles are too long, too tedious and become too boring after a while, and therefore the rating is not 10 as it should be. The builder has great ideas about the puzzles, but pushblock sequences are simply overdone. I spent half an hour in the storage room with two keyholes, and I knew exactly what to do! Gameplay is fluent, with just a little of frustration, but not too much to give a player a headache. Even the most difficult traps here (running through spikes or rotating balls) were exciting, though difficult as hell. Enemies/Objects/Secrets element is rated also 9, because the action moment is pretty nice and ballances with supplies scattered around the level. Objects are placed nicely, but I could notice that the builder did use maybe half of the available objects in his wad. Secrets are very cleverly hidden, and without some hints of other players, it is very unlikely to find them all on the first run (I found 4 of 5). Atmosphere is rated 8 because some camera hints are missing or too obscure to figure out what you've just done. Also, the overall ambiance of the level does not look so steampunk to me. The level is urban, and only some textures and objects look like steampunk, but the overall impression does not. Sounds are flawless, but lacking of steampunk "feeling" and some vital camera hints, made me lower my rating for this section. Lighting and textures are okay, but they don't deserve the highest rating. Textures are applied correctly, but the potential of the given textures was much greater than what this builder showed to us. Lighting is okay, but not always perfectly applied. Overall impression: The level is well ballaced when it comes to action, supplies, traps and brilliant puzzles, with quite a few places to get stuck due to obscure hints or really tough jumps, but none of this is overdone to make you give up before the end. There are some bugs that can be solved, and they are not so bad. But, I disliked the climbing out of the diagonal pool through the glass fence (???). I thing the builder should have used the metal fence that was offered in the wad, because it would seem much more natural for Lara to climb through the metal fence with holes, than through the solid glass fence. Definitely, the best part of the level are puzzles, some of them rather breathtaking. Compared to other BtB levels, this one is not too long, and gives a player so much fun playing it. The builder obviously has some experience and potential, but those have not been realized here to their fullest." - Nina Croft (28-Aug-2011)

"This is my first BtB2011 level and most of the time it was quite fun. The level is built very well, has to offer some nice Flybys and some interesting riddles. However, the big problem is that one must push around constantly and over and over again various blocks in various rooms. It is no problem, If I must push now and again one or two blocks to and fro. But here I had the feeling as if I spent half of the playing time with the countless push blocks. As good as the level looks like and as good as some puzzles are, at some point you're just fed up and want to see the finish trigger immediately." - Scottie (25-Aug-2011)

"Well, this year’s ‘Back to Basics’ has started with a little peach. Two hours twenty minutes of gameplay with all five secrets found was my result with which I’m quite pleased as some of those secrets were sneaky (I like ‘sneaky’). This level starts with a long fall into a canal in which are fan blades causing a current, I didn’t quite see the point of those unless they were a ‘red herring’ to divert you. Then, climb out, explore the small town, solve some interesting puzzles (one of which seemed to consist of ‘see where you can push a block to and then try and guess where the next goes – perhaps I didn’t see the clue, if there was one) and then onto a hang-glider (always fun) over the canal to the railway station. More exploring and puzzle solving until you finally catch your train. Excellent timed run, slightly tricky agility tests, female ninjas (stop giving my wife ideas!) and imaginative puzzles (I particularly liked the ‘pipe’ one near the end. Minus points? Not much really, a couple of annoying fixed cameras and the buildings in the first half had a blank ‘army barracks’ look about them and that’s it. All in all, a crackingly good level." - Diz (25-Aug-2011)

"This level is set in a small town type place, and ends in some sort of plaza/lab. The visuals of the first half are simple but functional, and the plaza section has some quite impressive views in its central area. The lighting is a bit of a weak point though; it's not really "flat", but it's almost all white outside of a few side-areas, which isn't especially atmospheric.
The gameplay is generally decent but it also has some extremely obscure and maddeningly difficult moments. Such a trap I could find no way around other than to consume medikits at extremely quick intervals (maybe there is a way, as this hardly seems like something that would be intentional) and a block that needs to be pushed into a seemingly solid wall, among other things. At times it feels like the author focused more on things being "cute" than enjoyable for the player. On the other hand, there are some interesting ideas there too, such as the tunnel to reach the Grenade Launcher secret, and a small stealth section.
There are some issues that suggest either a lack of experience or rushed design (maybe some of both), such as a book positioned so it's partially inside a pedestal. Pedestals that set alight in a deadly (floating) flame when lit despite the pedestal obviously being made for a smaller flame and Ninja enemies that float in a silly way when they die (unless this is a bug with the BTB package). The exit is also very easy to enter early with a simple jump through an object. It's got some nice ideas but you'll probably need to keep the stuck thread ready (or wait for the walkthrough)." - Mman (25-Aug-2011)
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