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City of the Damned by Astraf

Jay 7 8 8 8
Jorge22 8 8 8 8
nad 8 7 9 8
nerdfury 7 6 8 8
Phil 8 8 9 9
Ryan 8 7 8 8
Teone 8 7 8 8
release date: 05-Oct-2020
# of downloads: 373

average rating: 7.86
review count: 7
review this level

file size: 107.00 MB
file type: TR4
class: City

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Reviewer's comments
"A level that I liked very much especially in the first part. Despite the rather small area there is a lot to do and discover. In the second part it's more like a multiple fight against Sophia which you have to pass so that the last door opens. Two different parts, which are not spectacular, but the atmosphere and the actions are convincing. Highly recommended." - nad (13-Oct-2020)
"I believe that Astraf has hit his stride with this level. It's pure TR3 shaken and baked in the TR4 engine. TR1 and TR2 builder-fetishists, please take note. The gameplay is crisp and direct throughout, although there's a little more back and forth in the first (of two) level than would seem to be necessary. Much more weaponry and ammo is provided than is needed, but you won't find me complaining about that. Nantla puts in not one but four appearances in the second segment. Lighting is superb throughout, and I didn't have a single occasion to invest a flare. Would that we could have more fun-filled raids such as this one. High recommendations." - Phil (11-Oct-2020)
"I must say, I rather liked this shortish adventure, very much in the spirit and atmosphere of TR3 Gold. It's also a bit of a rarity to come across the "It's a Madhouse!" environments in the custom level world, so the setting appealed to me from the get-go. And actually, it does transition into various different texture sets (jungle, house, underground station and hellish/surrealistic) in a nicely flowing manner without any rooms appearing too garish (and the rippling fog effect in the final level was a neat, eerie touch). Gameplay is generally on the straightforward side and mostly based around exploration (particularly for the undoubtedly plentiful ammo and health packs scattered around). Also, the puzzling aspect of the game is on the lacking side and it all tends to follow a strict, linear path but it entertains well enough for the hour net gaming time it lasts. The only odd and potentially slightly annoying thing is that the extra weaponry is only accumulated through locating the secrets, which could mean that acquiring the ammo becomes a wasted exercise. On the whole though, it's all good fun." - Ryan (11-Oct-2020)
"There’s an interesting pastiche going on here, look-wise. Largely based on those delightful ‘It’s a Madhouse’ textures, with a dip into ‘Aldwych’ and thence to the Scottish textures, it makes for a somewhat surprisingly effective whole. The enemies are similarly eclectic and fairly frequent. Otherwise, it’s mainly a pickup exercise and there’s an inordinate amount of stuff to find so you can have a real choice of methods of bumping off the unfriendly inhabitants of the city." - Jay (09-Oct-2020)
"I enjoyed this level, particularly the first part which reminds me some old games by masters of the past. I loved the textures. I recognized textures from venice, library, jungle, the metro station and probably something else but they are well mixed and the result is pleasant. In the second part, the design is more uniform instead. I also appreciated the fact that there is a story to support the gameplay. All around there are a lot of ammunitions to pick up but they are useless if you miss the needed guns (secrets), so watch out because two of the four secrets are well hidden!" - Teone (08-Oct-2020)
"A nice TR4 adventure in the TR3 spirit, divided into two rather different levels. A first one by the beach and a series of houses, with a short visit to an underground station. The second, way below, fighting several Sophias on radioactive grounds. In the end, Lara will have found five TR3 relics, including the Hand of Rathmore and all that. Not an instant classic, but I liked it." - Jorge22 (07-Oct-2020)
"I have previously played one other Astraf level, Military Headquarters, and I will mention it a couple of times in this review.

Gameplay & Puzzles
There's a lot of interesting exploration to be had in level 1, and I did enjoy level 1 much more than 2. Unfortunately, as with MH, I felt like the overall gameplay was quite lacking in terms of acrobatic challenge, traps and puzzles. I don't think I found a single trap in the whole game, and I found only 1 true puzzle. It was a very brief flame tile puzzle in level 2, and you've likely seen it plenty of times before in other TRLE games. Overall, the exploration is good; but I found all other aspects of gameplay lacking.

Enemies, Objects & Secrets
In level 1, the mechanical horsemen would make pig noises when swinging at Lara, or dying. In addition, the men with the clubs would ignore Lara and run towards a corner and stay there. Weird. Within the deep dark caves of level 2, I thought it was super cool to bump into Sophia (and how I would hear her eerie, maniacal giggle sometimes). However, after killing her multiple times (?), I was then presented with a very lackluster final boss. I felt like this final boss dude didn't fit thematically, and also didn't fit in terms of difficulty compared to the rest of the game. There was also the wrong sound when the final boss dude was shooting Lara. Overall, I wasn't keen on the enemy selection and presentation. In terms of objects, the city and underground were well decorated with fitting statics, however, there is a room (where you first encounter the TR3 Antarctica mutant) that's completely lacking in furniture. I found this to be weird and unpolished; it's just a big empty room.

Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras
I think Astraf did very well in crafting an eerie, coastal-town-at-night atmosphere. I loved the overall aesthetics of level 1, and I thought that it was quite neat that he blended in a mini-Aldwych underneath the town. Unfortunately there were some awkward end-of-the-world moments (such as when Lara is about to find the laser sight; some buildings here have a transparent ceiling which looks weird; also, when Lara is about to descend from the zipline). The sound is well polished, with TR3 music being used very well during tense moments. Cameras are mostly on point; however, I think a few more to guide the player would have been good. In level 1, if you shoot a hanging ball thingy from the courtyard side of town, there's no camera to indicate what the result was (and the door that opens isn't nearby).

Lighting & Textures
Textures involving modern architecture were generally good, however, I noticed quite a few incorrect textures for other areas, and I feel that the overall texturing quality was lower than that of MH. My suggestion to Astraf is to take your time with texturing polish, even if it means players will need to wait a bit longer in-between your level releases. Lighting was very well done in both levels, and I loved the reflective lighting on the cave ceiling in level 2.

In sum, CotD is a step up in terms of gameplay compared to MH, however, it's not really a good fit for me due to its lack of challenging acrobatics, traps, and puzzles. There's interesting exploration to be had in level 1, however, I need more to feel engaged. If you're big on exploration, and don't care so much for the other gameplay aspects (and also don't mind some rather macabre imagery in level 2), I think this level would be a good fit for you. 7/6/8/8." - nerdfury (06-Oct-2020)