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BtB2005 - The Underground City by Harly Wuson

Bene 8 8 8 9
Bogey 7 7 7 8
CC 7 6 9 9
Deekman 9 8 9 9
Dimpfelmoser 8 6 9 8
DJ Full 9 9 8 9
Duncan 9 8 9 8
Dutchy 9 9 9 10
eRIC 8 8 9 8
EssGee 10 8 9 9
eTux 7 7 9 10
G.Croft 9 8 9 9
Gerty 7 6 9 9
Gill 8 7 8 9
Horus 8 9 8 10
Jay 9 8 8 9
Jenni 9 9 8 9
Jerrod 6 6 8 9
JesseG 7 7 8 8
John 8 7 7 8
Jorge22 9 9 9 9
Jose 9 8 8 9
Josi 7 7 7 8
Kristina 7 7 7 8
Magnus 7 7 8 8
manarch2 7 8 8 8
MichaelP 8 7 8 9
Minox 6 7 7 8
Mman 7 8 8 8
Moonpooka 8 7 9 9
Mrs rjb 8 8 9 9
mugs 9 7 8 9
nerdfury 6 6 9 9
Obig 8 9 9 9
Orbit Dream 7 7 9 10
Phil 9 9 10 10
QRS 8 9 10 10
rjb 8 8 9 8
Ryan 7 7 9 9
Sash 8 7 9 8
Spike 8 8 9 10
Staticon 8 8 9 9
Sutekh 7 8 9 9
Treeble 9 9 9 9
Wolf7 7 9 10 10
release date: 01-Jan-2005
# of downloads: 136

average rating: 8.23
review count: 45
review this level

file size: 43.94 MB
file type: TR4
class: Cave/Cat

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"Inspired by DJ_Full :))) who I have recently seen on a BtB2005 rampage (IF YOU ARE A 2005 BtB level and you are still alive YOU'D BETTER RUN), so I decided to pick this and another custom to play due to something that keeps the two together which is very interesting. Harly and Gecko's level share a number of rooms, in Harly's case at the end of the level, and in Gecko's case I don't really know cuz I have not played it yet, but the idea was so intriguing I had to try them out. Something that needs to be pointed out about Harly's level to begin with is how absolutely interesting the ideas he shares in this level are and yet somewhat fall flat. You open to Lara pushing a block to (pun intended) block some current and this concept is absolutely amazing on its own yet it somewhat falls flat? You afterwards gotta make your way through a maze of underground expanding blocks (which was unnecessarily confusing) to retrieve a guardian stick by completing two challenges, one is a rather underwhelming "jump to the other side" and the other is a more grandiose idea with three levels to pick to assure the rolling ball won't end in the wrong container and cause XwX (death), an interesting idea yes that still falls flat due to the underwhelming amount of things to do in the level. What you do next? You go outside, retrieve a thing and you are done! Unless you decide to try and go into an interesting spot and find a thousand of things to pick up for ... ABSOLUTE NOTHING. You also get to see a bit of Gecko's level and that was pretty neat actually. After this initial overload of negativity let's get on the good, so you actually will see that I enjoyed this :3 Secrets I found were incredible, the first one I found managed to bring me closer to where I was in the beginning and while being an absurdly hard timed run it was incredibly satisfying to pull off, only thing ... how did the builder expect me to figure it out without using TRView!... what? you call using TRView cheating?? Well it is like using a walkthrough but figuring things out mostly on your own with the power of looking at a map and it still has a depth of figuring things out. Another secret I was able to find was not too sneaky but easy to miss as it was rather tucked away. Another great note about this level is that absurdly wonderful geometry I saw all through the level, texturing was quite clean for a 2005 custom level and how experimental it was in its shapes made it a remarkable time from beginning to end I gotta say :3 With this said, you have an absolutely pretty level with some interesting ideas kept together with tape, not a bad experience, but not super fulfilling, I would still give this a try if I were you, if you want to see gorgeous environments I mean. Wolfy Regards :3" - Wolf7 (30-Sep-2022)
"A slow game where every room is a puzzle, but at least you can feel it's about something, and the skeleton part is just genious. The map could look less regular though." - DJ Full (29-Sep-2022)
"This isnt usually my type of level when it comes to visual type or setting but im glad i decided to give it a go because the gameplay is definitely challenging, original and enjoyable. There is plenty of variety when it comes to tasks and puzzles including a couple of original ideas with the skeleton vase slashing and the raise block/boulder puzzle oh and the traps! the traps were great because they were mixed in with tricky platforming to avoid some of them as well so that adds to the challenge. As for enemies we have some mummies and an annoying ghost and i thought the music fitted the gameplay very well my only pet peeve was the switches and the opening and closing barriers that got me quite confused for a while but then again thats not a hard thing to do haha" - John (25-Apr-2022)
"(6) Gameplay & Puzzles: This is a very easy adventure that took me about 25 minutes. There's definitely some creative ideas here, like the "skeleton slapping vases while Lara is shimmying" task, as well as the pinball area. I'm sorry to say that I found the execution of these ideas to be lacking in excitement. I think more thrilling moments were needed, and refinements regarding the gameplay flow. For example, the adventure starts off rather dull, with slow wading in shallow water, and lots of pushing/pulling. The "skeleton slapping vases" task is original, but the execution is not very fun because the shimmying takes a long time, and you also take a lot of forced health loss. The elevator is dull as well (more on that later). The general premise of the pinball area is neat, but again, I think it needed more refinements in execution, for 2 reasons: 1) The player will get softlocked if they first access the very top room of the pinball area (the door will close behind them, and pulling the floor level will result in their death. In this case, I think it's best not to have the door close behind them). 2) By looking at the pinball area, you can see that some paths for the rolling boulder will lead to the player's death, however, there are 2 safe paths for the boulder to travel. One of the safe paths results in easier tasks for the player, while the other safe path leads to harder tasks. However, the player has no way of knowing which path is easier/harder, so it's just trial and error, and I think builder-to-player communication should have been more clear regarding this. (6) Enemies, Objects & Secrets: I didn't find this category very memorable. I think a lot more could have been with static object decor, as most rooms are really lacking in objects. The few trap setups were a let down. Near the end of the game, tense music plays when the player is on an elevator. This elevator ride would have greatly benefited from something tense actually happening -- maybe some spike or flame traps on the walls, or a wraith, etc. (9) Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: The architecture is very attractive; the outdoor area near the end is especially lovely. It's unfortunate that there's hardly anything to do in this area. The builder did a great job with immersive static camera work, however, flybys are lacking (I only recall one at the beginning). Flybys would have been great for building immersion, and in the case of the pinball area, would have been great to help communicate and clarify objectives. (9) Lighting & Textures: The builder demonstrates high skill with both lighting and textures, and I think one of the strongest aspects of the game is the builder's use of color. The Catacombs textureset, on its own, is rather dry due to the fact that so many textures are of a very similar color. However the builder's subtle pops of colors really elevate the aesthetics. I didn't spot any misshapen textures, although there is a decrease in lighting quality in smaller connector rooms. Overall, this classic adventure is beautiful and polished, and visually it really has stood the test of time. However, I'm sorry to say that the gameplay wasn't very engaging. 6/6/9/9." - nerdfury (25-Jan-2022)
"Now that I've finished psiko's massive 2004 release, it's time to wrap up my (extremely late) BtB-Catacomb run. Lucky for me, this was a short but sweet entry and there were quite a few nice ideas here. I loved the concept with the raising blocks opening and locking underground passages near the beginning, and later on the shimmying while a skeleton is hacking at you and shattering vases was also a nice change of pace. The level is beautiful all around and it also houses one of the greatest easter eggs in BtB history (I think so, at least), where Harly and Jackie shared a couple of areas which sort of 'connect' one level to the other. 30 minutes, 3 secrets. 08/21" - Treeble (22-Aug-2021)
"Another short adventure, and I was sad to see it end so abruptly. From the fun plinko boulder to the pushable that changes water currents, there is hardly a dull moment. There is a shimmy sequence has Lara baiting a skeleton to break vases beneath her, a unique premise for sure, I just wish it didn't make Lara lose so much health in the process. Another gameplay element I have mixed feelings about is the toggling raising block levers, which turns the tunnels into a bit of a puzzle but causes a lot of backtracking. A fun little romp, has some great architecture too. 25 minutes." - JesseG (28-Jul-2021)
"This is an incredibly striking level, aesthetically. The first cave areas and the huge courtyard at the very end are all visually impressive and even the indoor parts shine through. It's just a shame that it seemed rather incomplete (that's assuming you can't access the Serpent Tower level) and it seemed to end before its time. Nonetheless, a beautiful look adventure, if a bit short on length." - Ryan (12-Aug-2017)
"Pretty nicely textured level, rather short (40 minutes) and easy. Very few objects, I do not know why the author has added additional room at the end with a lot of unnecessary ammunition. There are no enemies (very little)." - Minox (24-Jul-2014)
"This particular level comes up quite differently in comparison to most other BtB levels, with a different kind of atmosphere (I really liked the first and the last rooms) and a more puzzle-based gameplay approach. So while the various puzzles all were pretty innovative and clever (like the statue blocking the water current, the boulder puzzle, the raising blocks in the cellar and - most of all - Lara shimmying along a crevice with a skeleton breaking vases to open a door), I felt that most of them are rather tedious in their execution, i.e. too long pushing or shimmying and too much to and fro, resulting in that they drag on too long after you got the logic of the respective puzzle. This is a really short level at 20 minutes, and it seems the builder wanted to avoid an even shorter time with all those (for me unnecessary) time delays - even the one elevator is way too slow for its own good. Lighting and texturing are quite good in this level, as well as the detailed architecture, but they don't quite stand out in comparison to other good levels in this contest. It's a well-made and enjoyable game that could've been even better if there were more of those nice puzzle ideas from the builder and less lengthy tasks. Found all three secrets giving access to a nice bonus area also seen in another level which was a great idea." - manarch2 (06-May-2014)
"Outside of a couple of areas the design of this level is smaller scale than some of the others, it gives it a different atmosphere to many of the others, even if it does make things a bit cramped. It's also let down slightly by the central hub being a symmetrical "maze", although it's a least not too hard to navigate. This is another level that's very short, it's got some cool ideas like the current puzzle at the start, a boulder puzzle, and the secret at the end (this is another level where finding the secrets is a good idea, especially if you've played the Serpent Tower), but then it just ends. It's a shame as what's there is high-quality, but it can't stand up to the much longer levels that provide the same quality for a longer duration." - Mman (28-Oct-2012)
"This Underground City have a great look, no doubt, there are some interesting ideas, but I was disappointed when the game is over. The puzzle seems unfinished in several aspects (too easy, too short). It's a nice demo, but not a game for the BTB competition." - Jerrod (18-Mar-2010)
"What makes this stand out from several other custom levels that I have played is the inventive gameplay. From a 'pinball machine' style puzzle, to luring a skeleton into smashing pots for you, it usually put something in front of me that I hadn't encountered before. Even apart from these 'special features', the gameplay is smooth and enjoyable, although it felt like it ended far too abruptly. The texturing and lighting was excellent, and I also loved the work-around into getting a horizon for a level that is naturally without one. It was also very atmospheric as well, especially the outdoor area near the end of the level, but even the smaller areas were great too. The selection of audio also fit in well with the atmosphere. The objects were also well placed, several of them contributing well to the inventive gameplay styles that I mentioned earlier. While this isn't the longest level that I have ever played, it was certainly one of the more enjoyable ones." - Spike (18-Sep-2007)
"In my continued attempts to send in reviews occasionally to finally get that long-sought-after double platinum award, I stumbled across this Back to Basics level. Since I still hold The Lost Acropolis 1-3 as one of the best custom levels ever, I had to play the author's latest adventure. And while it wasn't as good as the above mentioned level, it was still a fun twenty-minute level. The author has done his best to create good gameplay with the dusty old Catacomb wad, and it works rather well. The level is never challenging, but I was quite entertained throughout. My main gripe with the gameplay was the author's love for having everything occur in pairs. Early on in the level, you have to push a block to two different squares to push two buttons in two identical rooms. Just after that area, a similar thing happens, though this time it actually seems to be part of the gameplay. It happens a few more times, but fortunately these repetitions are only of smaller areas, meaning that while you do pass through similar areas at times, you don't have to worry about dodging the same traps repeatedly. Unfortunately, the level seems to run out of steam towards the end, with the last gem just lying in more or less plain sight close to the door it opens. Aesthetically, the level looks great for the most part. There are some really beautiful areas, with my favourites being the last and first rooms. Using fog to simulate bright lighting was a neat touch. Obviously, using the Catacomb textures, the level is rather brown, but that's something I'm guessing all of the original Back to Basics levels suffer from. All in all, I had fun playing this level, but I'd much rather see a Lost Acropolis 4." - Magnus (16-Jul-2006)
"You'll have to go a long way to find a better looking level than this. From the very start (a brilliant combination of fly-by cameras,fixed cameras and water sinks)to the enormously impressive final courtyard,this all looks like a million dollars.Unfortunately,despite moments of exquisite inspiration (shimmying-around-the-smashing-skeleton;the rolling boulder run)the Gameplay struggles to match the visual appearance.There seemed to be several areas and actions that never came into play,and one impressive tunnel near the very end appeared to lead absolutely nowhere. It was as if the author spent most of his time constructing the magnificent environment,but either forgot to include things to do or simply ran out of time. Nevertheless,this remains an extremely absorbing (if somewhat incomplete)and totally beautiful little adventure." - Orbit Dream (28-Jun-2006)
"I loved this level. The beauty of its construction has been covered by most of the other reviewers so I can add nothing to that. Suffice it to say, this is one of the few levels that I have played which has come anywhere near the 30 minute duration target (I took just over 40 minutes) which, in a way, is a shame as I was so enjoying it. I loved the skeleton smashing the vases to open the door - sheer genius. I also managed to get into the bonus section, thanks to Dutchy's walkthrough, and thoroughly enjoyed the glimpse of Desert Ruins and the Serpent Tower, another level I had very much enjoyed. If only these two levels interacted completely together. Thanks for a great level, Harly. :)" - Staticon (24-Dec-2005)
"I did expect a lot from this author as his Acropolis adventures is special. I did not get disappointed! As usual there are a lot of "new" features like the "pinball" room, making the skeleton doing the hard work and the reward for getting the secrets! The start with stoping the flow of the current was clever too! A wonderful level with great atmosphere and perfectly textured. A tad too short maybe (25 min for me) but very enjoyable." - QRS (11-Dec-2005)
"What I really liked in this level was the design of the locations - everything had something 'realistic' to it. There was nothing that looked too unnatural like square rooms or a lack of architecture. There was nothing outstanding to it either, though. The puzzles were well done and logical, I liked the rolling ball puzzle and the one at the beginning with the pushable and the currents, not going to spoil anything, though ;) The enemies were cleverly placed and usually provided the player a tough challenge. I loved the idea of the joint secret area and the secrets you have to find in this level were very well hidden. Too bad it was over so soon as it was such an eye-candy..." - Horus (03-Oct-2005)
"This is a good level, but a little bit short. We have to collect the two pieces of the Portal Guardian in order to get out under the ground. The pieces can be found in two passeges, between we have to shuttle. But the two passages look exactly the same, so at the beginning I was confused a little bit. :) But if we experience which lever moves which block, then it gets on like a house on fire. I liked very much when in one of the rooms we could only open the door by having the vases broke by a skeleton. We meet two curiosities on the level; about the first one I couldn't decide whether it is a mistake of the author or it is deliberate. Namely, after some acrobatic exhibitions we get to a pedestal, but there's nothing to pick up. The Hathor Effigy 'appeares' after pushing a button below. There was no problem so far, because theoretically we should get back to the pedestal, and we can finally pick up the item. But - and this is the trick -, we don't have to make the jumps to the pedestal again, we can get it other way too. All we have to do after pushing the button is to find the mottled tile exactly below the pedestal that already has the Hathor Effigy on it. We have to stand onto this tile and press the 'Ctrl' button, and we'll finally have the first piece of the Portal Guardian. :) The other curiosity is that the level is connected to the third, 'Desert Ruins and the Serpent Tower' level. There's a secret, and at it, a closed door we can't get in neither way. This door connects the two levels, and we can only open it on this level. But in order to do it, we have to find the three secrets of the level, then the door opens and we can enter to raid it once again. This is a kind of bonus- secret. :) You can find a Hungarian walkthrough (as we don't have English version), savegames and pictures here:" - Obig (25-Mar-2005)
"The author is good at confusing Lara, and this one is no different. Although I am quite tired of the catacombs wad, I found this a well-constructed and intriguing level. I loved the puzzles, the secrets, and accessing the secret area another great BtB level. Well done and well worth a play." - Duncan (06-Mar-2005)
"As a Tomb Raider beginner, (possibly 4 months and only custom levels .. not one original TR game), I found 'Underground City', my first current level attempted, fantastic fun to play. The game has a very interesting start, a moveable statue that regulates the current so Lara is able to swim in the right direction ... in each half of the city! The city is one of two halves, as each room, mummy, openings, entrances etc has a twin in the 'other side' of the game. This can be seen as the colours are reversed, a subtle but definite hint. Levers, in one half of the game, open and close entrances in the other is quite an interesting idea. At one juncture, a set of three levers is used to raise blocks so that a spiked ball is given a route to fall. If the wrong order is used, (the cut scene is vital!) the ball causes problems (or so I understand!) ... some of us were fortunate (or maybe it's just total brilliance) as I only saw two levers and they were the ones that formed the safe route. Other mortals would have to work out, logically, which levers are/are not useful. Overall I found 'Underground City' an entertaining and very worthwhile experience." - Mrs rjb (03-Mar-2005)
"A highly underrated, and for some strange reasons - unpopular level among the competing levels. Ok, it is short - so short you really are left stumped when the finish trigger hits - but it's the quality, not the quantity, right? Well ok, all rants aside, this really could've been a bit longer, but knowing that Harly sent this in, in the last minute, I think he's done a tremendous job. The puzzles are clever, logical, yet never overpowering and that's what really works (well, should've worked maybe?) with the players - for example (SPOILERS FOLLOWING!), the block at the start, which stops the currents if you push it by the correct gratings, the shimmy-puzzle with the skeleton and vases - ingeniously simple, yet clever and logical at the same time and had me wondering why couldn't I have thought of something like that? The looks are top notch, really - awesomely done, and the joint secret idea with GeckoKid's Serpent Tower level really worked well. If you're not tired of the catacomb levels already - do yourself a favor and play this one!" - eTux (01-Mar-2005)
"I really like this Catacomb level, original and fine. Harly has made a brilliant work in the puzzles, particularly the place where the skeleton is used to help Lara for the opening of a door by smashing 5 vases. Also the next room with only a few ledges and a pole rope was great fun: all the talent of a builder: giving plenty to do with few! The Audio tracks are well used, also like the locations of the secrets, and the perpetual rolling spike balls. Without being very impressive at the first glance, the Underground city reveals its charms. Oh yes, it is a shame it was not longer!" - eRIC (01-Mar-2005)
"Very, very original gameplay and stunning rooms. Unfortunately it is a bit short at about 30 minutes and even seems as if it was cut short due to the Back to Basics Project deadline. From a great intro camera sequence you face a number of rather original puzzles to get your hands on a portal guardian and a gem. There are a few tedious moments, like the push object at the start and the shimmy around the one room, but nothing too bad. The expanding blocks are cleverly used - the skeleton room is fun, as is the rolling ball room with its associated puzzle. Found two of the three secrets. A level not to miss for it looks great. Maybe a little more could have been done with enemies as there are hardly any." - Michael (01-Mar-2005)
"I loved the far away camera action used in places. Always did. Very architecturally interesting. Very realistic settings. I like levels with glimpses of other levels or areas, and this did that nicely. This also had options in some of the pathways you could take. The easy way is OK, but the hard way gives you extra meds. There was some music that seemed to extend farther than intended for what was happening at one point, but didn't effect my enjoyment." - Deekman (01-Mar-2005)
"At the very start of this level you get a cut-scene, with Lara falling down a waterfall and I saw a glimpse of something on a ledge, and the first time I played this level I missed that pick-up (the revolver), so I decided to play this level again to give it another bash, and I am glad I did, as at the beginning your able to retrieve your first secret. You will be pushing some objects, pressing some buttons, avoiding a wraith, which seemed to take ages to kill by that cross and once all this has been achieved, you're able to reach the next stages of the game. You will be running around these two adjacent mummies chambers, pulling some floor levers, pushing buttons while your in search of the ornate handle and the hathor effigy, avoiding traps like boulders, spikes and some mummies, which are quite easy to master and get by. But saying this, I did get a bit confused when shimmering around the lava pits, with that skeleton, as at first I did not have a clue in what to do in that room, and plus me skellie got stuck so I had to reload, otherwise I could not continue, as the object here was to get the skellie to smash all those vases for me to continue. After achieving all this, you will be treated to see a great big pin ball machine, which was quite spectacular and very impressive as you were looking through the glass as the ball came falling down. I did mange to find all the three secrets, so I was able to reach the 'Desert Ruins and Serpent Tower' area, which was quite a treat, impressive and a very well laid out room, but I wasn't sure what I supposed to do in this area though, as all I managed to do was find some pick-ups, but nether-the-less, it was well worth the visit and quite spectacular to see the tower. After which, I collected my gem and finished this wonderful level. In general, this is a lovely little level, everything was nicely done, rooms were very well laid out with some nice puzzles to solve, lighting was good and all in all giving you nice atmosphere and real pleasure to play." - Gill (21-Feb-2005)
"This level has action and intrigue from the journey to obtain the first secret at the start of the level, to accessing the bonus area once all secrets are obtained. The 'pinball' machine, the crypts with the mummies, the skeleton breaking the urns - all good fun and clearly a lot of thought put in to them. However, the level ended with an anti-climax (enter a huge room where all you have to do is collect a gem and leave) which gave it the feeling that it was incomplete. Maybe the builder ran out of time, but I do hope a revised version with a more complete ending will be undertaken. All the same, it was a super level which I thoroughly enjoyed playing - a superb effort." - Jenni (21-Feb-2005)
"Well there's a funny ironic twist, this is the only Back to Basic level (oh crap I just found a second, there goes my scientifically thought out theorem) that has actually open air areas but yet it is the only level with the word 'underground' in it. Alright it may not be what you would call funny, but ironic yes. I am going to do something I have never done in a review and say 'shame, shame, shame' to the author, how dare you build such an imaginative level but end it so damn abruptly. Okay so I'm not really angry, it is only a game after all, but the puzzles in this 30 minute level were so wonderfully fun, and deceptively simple to solve, and I was so looking forward to the next one after the very cool rolling boulder 'pinball' puzzle then Wham (no George Michael and Andrew Ridgely didn't make an appearance) the end came out of nowhere and ruined my fun. This was so unfortunate but the author at least had the smarts to give the player and extra bonus room to explore if you found all three secrets, though the first secret could be a little tricky to collect as the trigger to open it's timed entrance is a little unobvious and if you miss it you can't go back and search for it after a certain point, so look early, very early. As a total sum I would say this had so much to give, and did give quite a bit, but the short duration really put a dampener on it." - Sash (18-Feb-2005)
"This is a mystery level for me. Still not sure if the builder made it too big (as I am using the TR4 files, so I don't know how many room a level has) and then split the level in half, and this is the second half. If I am right I really should mark it like I did with Kookee's level, as in my opinion the builders name that needs to go with this one, isn't the builder. So for now I will look at it as a stand alone level but looking forward in a complete level to be honest. Loved the ideas that were in here. It is really a shame that it is so short. Specially the last room, nothing to do there than a gem to pick up and going back for more pick ups in the 'Desert Ruins' area. 14-02-2005" - Gerty (15-Feb-2005)
"Nice start to get into that Temple and if you paid close attention to the initial flyby. You could see the revolver (1st secret) on a ledge along the river. The backflip jump into that timed door that gets you to it was nicely invented. I liked those crypts where you had to throw levers to close and open walls to end up in the central chamber that had 2 possible routes so you could get to the Pinball room where a set of levers were set as a nice puzzle. That room where you had to get the skeleton break all the vases for you was a very nice one, the Hathor Effigy was available from underneath, you didn't have to climb up to get it. (small bug or...) And in the end you finally found out what those doors in the Serpent Tower (level 3) were for, still one closed door in my case. Loved the looks of the level and that final square with the fountain was great to look at. Great Tomb Raiding." - Dutchy (14-Feb-2005)
"The level begins in a cavern with a lake and proceeds to a big hall where you have solve a quite confusing switch puzzle. You really have to keep track of the bearings. There are severaal nice parts in this level. What I will remember is probably the spectacular pin-ball machine. Take your time to try out a few combinations. It does not add that much to the gameplay, though. In the end you can visit an area with a truckload of goodies and some closed doors, but there is nothing interesting to do there." - Bogey (14-Feb-2005)
"Each of these levels has a particular element that stands out. With some it's swimming, or jumping/climbing/shimmying, shooting vases/bones, lots of skeletons, and so on. In this level it's boulder traps that stand out, and poison darts. There's a nice short flyby at the start to show that Lara has come into this catacomb through a watery grotto, and finds a temple entrance. Early on it's obvious that this level was not fully finished before release, which is a pity because there is so much potential. The rooms are very well done, look great, good lighting and texturing. All you need to do at the start is push an object and do a bit of climbing to see a cross, a little swim to switches and you're inside what looks like a huge cathedral. Either end of the vast floor is a fairly complicated setup of corridors with the odd mummy, where you have to find the Hathor head and stand, and a blue gem. Bring these back up to the cathedral room and you have a choice of lifts to get to the top. At the top you find another gem and use it to leave the level, but high up again is another door that I never opened. This leads to a room with yet another door that I saw through a glass wall. Unless I missed the plot altogether I couldn't get to these areas, and there was no incentive to try as the level ends here. Also, I'm inclined to think that some of the doors in the corridors didn't open at any stage, they are obvious looking moving blocks in the wall. What a shame. The most annoying thing for me was being thrown to the desktop any time Lara died. At least the savegames were safe each time and I didn't have to re-do anything. I'd like to see this developed further after the competition is finished. It really deserves more than I can give it score-wise." - CC (04-Feb-2005)
"Another good and entertaining level but there are some strange things and small details to comment. In the room where the skeleton has to smash the vases the first time I was there the skeleton fell when jumping in one of the pits so there is no way to continue playing you have to reload a savegame. After you use the portal guardian access to the fountain area and use the ladder route you find guns and ammo but you won't need it. And in one of the rooms... the serpent tower? Near there are a couple of doors I can't open. There are very few enemies in all the game. Though all this things I liked the level." - Jose (28-Jan-2005)
"Too short. Way too short! The level is about 45 minutes as it is supposed to be but I felt as if I had just started when it ended! Great gameplay and great surroundings and lighting. Lara falls down into a crack and discovers an ancient underground extinct civilisation in her search for a way to get out." - G.Croft (25-Jan-2005)
"This is indeed an original level and I thought its originality started right from the beginning with the first secret and the pushable object driving the current in the small underwater tunnels. Then in the next room there's a magnificent puzzle with two almost similar (which means the player must find out they're not the same even though they couldn't logically be the same anyway) subterranean rooms and hallways and the different routes to finding the Hathor Effigy and the Ornate Handle the first of which much harder than the second. There are a couple of gems in that quest: the room with the skeleton breaking the vases and an easy puzzle (you only have to push levers in fact) which has been compared to a giant pinball machine - easy but producing a very nice effect. Finally one last very beautiful room where Lara finds a horseman's gem inside a pool which is the key to the gate out. But take heed! If you've found all three secrets don't leave yet for you'll be able to collect loads of goodies (which will be of no use yes I know) and furthermore enter that small room with ammo that you saw behind a glass in Desert Ruins and Serpent Tower but couldn't get into. And what a nice touch that was! The only problem with this game as I see it is that it mainly revolves around only three rooms and is in fact a tad short. The ending I thought came rather abruptly. But then again finding it short may also mean I wanted more... If there were points to be directly given to originality a somewhat subtle originality I'd definitely give The Underground City a ten in that department. (January 25 2005)" - Jorge22 (25-Jan-2005)
"Underground City is an impressive level. It has charismatic architecture great texturing and lighting. This is complimented by a very smart expanding platform/secret passageway puzzle a clever lava puzzle and the 'Grand Pinball Machine' puzzle as I have called it. The whole thing is compactly constructed which adds a sense of realism. At just under 40 minutes net gaming I felt this epitomised the concept of the B-to-B challenge and followed the guidelines of 30-45 minutes gaming for the challenge. And it just shows that you can make a 'WOW' statement without the level being unnervingly long. In fact I had several 'WOW' moments during this level. I obviously enjoyed this one a lot and recommend it to all players." - EssGee (25-Jan-2005)
"From the earlier reviews I expected this to be one of the many good but fairly average levels in the BTB series. Boy was I ever wrong. I still have one level to play (Red and Blue) but Underground City emphatically joins my ranks as one of the half dozen premier levels in the series. From the very beginning where you have a nifty timed jump past a closing door until the surprise ending that brings you to a reprise of Serpent Tower you're engrossed in a slam-bang raiding adventure. Going and forth between the crypts in the middle portion of the level would have been hopelessly confusing for me were it not for the advance copy of the walkthrough to which I was privy but the rest of the gameplay was fairly straightforward. The visual amenities were quite striking as well so I have a warm glow inside as I wind my way to the close of these remarkable BTB levels." - Phil (22-Jan-2005)
"There's a nice surprise in this level if you get all three secrets you can access the beautiful outside area you can see in 'Desert Ruins and Serpent Tower'. I was very pleased to see such a bonus area but generally I am a bit disappointed as I expected something more from this level. It begins in the underground with currents and a timed door which will lead to the first secret the revolver. In fact all the secrets are weapons. Then a puzzle with levers follows blocks to make retract and open new areas and a room where you have to use a skeleton to do the job for Lara. Although the surroundings were nice the gameplay wasn't great. A few good moments doesn't make a level complete and there was lack of enemies. I found three secrets and accessed a lot of goodies which could not really be used in that point of the level. One black/white door at the secret area didn't open for me so I wonder what it was for. It is a nice level with some interesting parts but not enough to fully satisfy a player." - Kristina (17-Jan-2005)
"Underground City was great and started off relatively easy for me I got the first secret and nothing was too hard to suss out but when I moved on into the inner rooms I got so confused I didn't think I was going to finish. I played the rest by trial and error pulling levers and then praying I was going in the right direction to proceed but when I did finally find my way the tasks were great fun. There's a massive boulder machine in a wall that was quite amazing to see and an area where a skelly helps you open a door nice touches. Not much in the way on enemies I'm sure I only encountered a few skellies and mummies which were of no danger to Lara. The rooms were superb though beautiful looking areas especially at the end with the little bridges over the water pools this oriental feel gave me a few ideas as to who the builder might be. I found three secrets but I have no idea if I missed more of this level it was quite short and all of a sudden I found myself at the end some parts were detached like finding a mass of goodies which were no use to me at such a late stage. All in all though this was fabulous I hope to return and seek out the bits I missed at a later date and I wouldn't have missed this for the world highly recommended." - Moonpooka (16-Jan-2005)
"Your raid begins with a long drop into a swift-moving river (your eye catches sight of something on the river bank...hmmm ?) and following some initial puzzle-solving you're on your way to finding the portal guardian. This involves an interesting foray in two mirror image rooms. Keep your wits about you down there; it's easy to get mixed up! Once you find the portal guardian it's an easy trip up via elevator and then on out to finish the game. But hold everything! If you have found the 3 secrets you absolutely must go up the ladder and check out the long hallway. This area looks surprisingly like Desert Ruins and Serpent Tower. You will be rewarded with 'dozens' of pickups (what a shame we didn't get to use them - maybe in the sequel?). What is totally cool is follow one of the hallways down and you'll find access to those shotgun shells that you could see behind the plate glass window in Desert Ruins and Serpent Tower. What a great touch! My only problem concerned two doors in this area that I never found a trigger for. This is a great game! The lady is placing her bets on Staticon this time." - Mugs (16-Jan-2005)
"Waaaaay too short. Here we have a level with beauty atmosphere AND excellent gameplay. Creative and clever puzzles some tricky but not near-impossible jumps three very fine secrets granting access to a huge bonus area (you might already have seen before if you played Serpent Tower first). But alas! Just when you realize this might be one of the best levels you've played so far (and not only in the Back to Basics series) it ends abruptly leaving the poor player with a bitter taste of incompletion. This being worsen by the fact you collect goodies you never have a chance to use (crossbow ammo - and hard-earned at that - but no crossbow a revolver with no laser sight and nothing to shoot at anyway an unneeded shotgun and uzis. I still have to figure out how uzis can be helpful in a catacomb level). In fact I'm left with the feeling I've only played half a level which is why my gameplay rating is so low. But given the quality of said half it was worth my time and finger muscles work anyway. And I hope from the bottom of my heart this will once be part of a bigger adventure." - Sutekh (14-Jan-2005)
"Halfway through I thought that this was going to be my second favourite adventure of the B2B competition but then it turned out that I wasn't really halfway through but right at the end. Irritating cause I would have loved to stay a here a little bit longer in those atmospheric surroundings. Come on something could have been done with the final room. Such a great area and nothing else to do than pick up a gem that is in plain sight. Such a let down as I hadn't even had a chance to use the Uzi. But until then it had been a really great quest with very original and challenging tasks. Some good jumping a skeleton that has to be cruel to get you out of there and an inner logic to the gameplay that I found rather impressive. Unfortunately it has a slight unfinished touch to it; not only is it that short but I also had the distinctive feeling that the author hadn't had the time yet to add some enemies. Which just added to the irritation cause you come across the wraith-killing cross right at the start and you know how it is with those things if you need them a little later you can never remember where you encountered them. So I made a mental note and memorized exactly where it was and how to backtrack there. Boy would that ice wraith be pissed off when I didn't panic once it appeared but made a beeline for that cross that I knew exactly how to reach. Trouble was I never came across a wraith nor a skeleton to get rid of that shotgun ammo. And what was that pinball machine for? Lighting and cameras were excellent and the architecture is damn impressive so I really hope that this is finally turned into a full scale adventure." - Dimpfelmoser (10-Jan-2005)
"Not many enemies and depending on what you do even less (I like that) not so hard puzzles although it's easy to get confused and nice scenery. I really like this one and enjoyed playing it. I even played a second time because I missed the first secret and was very curious what was behind that door near the end. Well it turns out you can pick up some goodies and even get a view of another BtB-level. Funny was when I played the second time I could pickup the head while standing underneath it (that probably can be done the first time too but I found out by accident the second time). Very nice! 5-1-2005" - Josi (10-Jan-2005)
"A 'Back to Basics' level using the catacomb wad so I won't go into detail about enemies and objects - you know the score. The gameplay here is rather intriguing with good use of a moveable piece and potentially confusing twin underground areas with blocks that open or close different passages the room with the pots and the skeleton the falling boulder room - it's clever stuff and most entertaining. I missed one of the three secrets somewhere along the way." - Jay (10-Jan-2005)
"An interesting beginning that sets the scene in an intriguing way. A nice 'bright' area at the start (where there is quite a tricky secret to find). An underground 'sort of maze' (not unexpected in an 'Underground City' perhaps) has levers moving more than one raiseable block at a time some to reveal openings and some to close them. Clever - but beware drawing the most 'obvious' conclusions as to just which blocks and passages have been affected! (I found that taking a screenshot when we were shown what a lever did and then comparing it to the passages I explored saved a lot of 'headless chicken'/'not-precise-enough memory' hassle later.) Then this fairly quickly becomes much more interesting than a mere maze as we proceed further. (Rolling spiked boulders; a clever shimmy involving vases a 'hot' floor & a skeletor; and the famous 'grand pinball machine' [name: courtesy EssGee] that we must 'program' correctly - this is not as tricky as it seems at first and just needs us to watch closely what happens when we pull the various levers.) As we reach the end (and apparently only if we have found all 3 secrets?) and if we can jump round a pillar on a high ledge (or spot that 2 other pillars can be shimmied across) then there is another area that can be explored (5 mins extra to pick up a whole host of ammo items and be able to look back at the final courtyard from a different vantage point) in preference to merely 'finishing' the game. (This is very similar to a part of 'Desert Ruins and the Serpent Tower' I understand but I haven't played that yet.)" - rjb (10-Jan-2005)
"Good beginning with some very confusing hallways to soon come. You'll find a skeleton doing Lara's work for her reminiscent of the TR bulls gameplay. Very well done and thought out. There is also what someone has called 'a giant pinball machine' puzzle that's different and interesting. As most know by now if you reach the end with all three secrets there's a way into the Desert Ruins and Serpent Tower secret area. One of those doors that could not be opened if you played the Tower level first as many did. Well done. Confusing but fun." - Bene (07-Jan-2005)