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TR4 Gold - Fading Light by Cowboy

Anastasia 10 10 10 10
Andzia9 10 10 10 10
awsumpossum 10 10 8 9
Czar 9 9 9 9
Dick 9 9 10 10
DJ Full 9 10 10 10
dmdibl 10 10 10 10
eRIC 10 10 10 10
ersatz 10 10 10 10
EssGee 10 10 10 10
eTux 8 9 10 10
FX 10 10 10 10
Gerty 9 10 10 10
Glouglouton 10 10 10 10
izzynoodles 9 8 8 9
Jay 10 10 10 10
JoeTheCrazyGamer 10 10 10 10
Jorge22 9 10 10 10
Jose 10 10 10 10
Juno Jim 10 10 10 10
Leeth 8 9 8 8
Light a Flare 10 10 10 10
Lorax 10 10 10 10
manarch2 8 9 10 9
Mezcal 10 7 10 10
MichaelP 9 9 10 9
Mman 10 10 10 10
mugs 10 10 10 10
Mytly 9 8 10 10
Nina Croft 8 10 10 9
OverRaider 10 10 10 10
Petaludas 8 9 10 8
Phil 10 10 10 10
PolishRaider 10 10 10 10
Ravenwen 9 10 10 10
Ruben 10 10 10 10
Ryan 10 10 10 10
Samu 9 10 10 10
Shandroid 10 10 10 10
Skyler 10 10 10 10
Stew 10 9 10 10
Taras 10 10 10 10
The Boo 9 9 10 9
TombRaiderTim 9 10 10 10
Torry 8 9 10 9
TrueRaider 8 8 10 10
tuxraider 7 7 8 7
vienna 9 10 10 10
Zhyttya 8 10 9 8
release date: 30-Nov-2008
# of downloads: 415

average rating: 9.59
review count: 49
review this level

file size: 196.34 MB
file type: TR4
class: Mystery/Horror

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"This is one of those TRLE games that everyone should play at least once and can easily hold up to or surpass Core's games. I can see myself revisiting this in the future. Great gameplay that never felt tedious and kept me hooked for the adventure. After playing Coyote Creek and now this I can say Cowboy definitely deserves his reputation as one of the best builders on the site. It's hard to match Cowboy's interesting games." - Lorax (18-Jun-2022)
"A good game, which will keep you entertained for a while. Compared to Fading Light 2 (the sequel by the same author), the flow of the game play wasn't as good, and I good stuck occasionally. Also there are some mean challenges where you may need to take damage and acrobatic skill is needed. Generally the game play was more "standard" though, and the sequel is a bit meaner. Still, the sequel is an improvement and demonstrates improvements of the level author's skills and technology, so I'd recommend play Fading Light 2 before this, and then this level if you want more. It's definitely very well made and should be given a try. If you want to play the bonus level, I'd search the walkthrough for the tickets, so you don't miss them and don't have to play the entire game again." - tuxraider (28-May-2022)
"First time trying Cowboy's level and my impressions are so positive that i want to play all the other creations of him..You know a trle is successful when levels are to be remembered like the last one here, cant forget it..Really enjoyed the journey although not something difficult..Secrets were so fun to discover and well hidden,so wp..Heading to FL2" - Petaludas (18-Jul-2020)
"This amazing TRLE has two sections New Orleans Swamps and the pirate Location with a very well built circus themed bonus level. Very Good Level Design and amazing puzzles. 10/10" - JoeTheCrazyGamer (02-Jan-2020)
"What a wonderful level set. I do vaguely remember playing this over a decade ago but for whatever reason failed to submit a review. I spent just over five hours here including the bonus level and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. My only complaint is the complexity of the order of tasks. You MUST do things in a certain order else you will fail miserably so unfortunately, the walk through is a must folks and this is reflected in the game play score. I liked the side quest for the golden tickets to gain access to the bonus level and kudos for providing both a story line and an objective to the game. Many custom levels play out and at the end the player wonders what it was all for? An objective ties things up nicely. I found that the early levels were confusing whilst the later ones had better flyby hints as to what to do and/or where to go next. However, as far as custom levels go this one is a must play." - Torry (18-Oct-2019)
"A while back I completed Cowboy's "Fading Light" project and I'm completely speechless. What a superb raid that was! Such creativity, attention to detail and meticulous planning behind the whole concept is a rare thing. All of the levels, namely 7 of them with an additional bonus stage, simply ooze talent and make your adventure truly unforgettable. The locales and fluid progression between them create plausible story with few twists along the way. The grand finale is also highly rewarding. I had a genuine sense of accomplishment with clock showing just around 7 hours. Cowboy draws heavy inspiration from popculture, mainly horror and adventures tales, still being able use his abundant imagination to leave personal mark. The final bonus level,which is held in circus is a prime example of craftsmanship. Particularly, the elephant encounter will remain for me the highlight as well as climax of this custom. The same kind words deserve obviously earlier stages. All of them feel balanced,offering just enough of shooting, platforming and riddle solving. In the background we may hear original music bits that are not invasive and perfectly blends with gameplay scenarios. Secrets are neatly placed and require mindful exploration. There is huge diversity in texture and lighting departments. Absolutely gorgeous to gaze at. I experienced only one glitch with a stuck enemy, nothing gamebreaking really. In two or three spots camera angle fixated but that is understandable when dealing with a design of such magnitude. In terms of difficulty I would rate is as moderately challenging. I strongly believe that customs are supposed to be mainly for fun factor, without inducing cursing and testing ape-like reflexes. I will surely replay it in the nearest future and I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to the author. Hats off and thank you so much for several hours filled with mystery, joy and occasional brain teasers. I hope that our community will be graced with more of your projects." - PolishRaider (05-Apr-2018)
"An awesome pirate themed level set, I wish there were more like it. One of the most challenging TRLEs I've played with some very tricky traps to navigate. I absolutely adored the locations, very unique and the music and ambiance tracks really set the mood for each level. I feel that there should have been easier access for finding a shotgun as I had check the walkthrough just to find one, as I was having too much trouble and getting surrounded by the skeletons a little too often. Apart from that, I don't have any other negative things about the game. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Took around 6 and a half hours to play." - izzynoodles (19-Feb-2018)
"Very impressive level set. Beautiful and various levels with good ideas. When I played a shiplevel I get feeling of TR2. The Orlando level was hardest and scaring me. Timed runs not too hard. Graphics are excellent. Totally I recommended this game!" - vienna (11-Jul-2016)
"Brilliant game, brilliant story line, not that good voice acting and a brilliant atmosphere. The game got me really hyped once i read its plot. "Davey Jones" i've heard that name earlier this year...and then it got me. Uncharted 4. I loved how the story went so i was really curious about how this game would turn out to be, and has you can see, i was really pleased by it. The final level where you have to face Davey Jones quite a few times was definitely one of the best boss fights i've seen so far, on a TRLE game. Awesome scenarios all the way since level 1, and some pretty nice details which made the game play even better. The "deadly doors" would stop working once outside the specific area (making the level bearable, since their sound is super annoying); Lara's death boat animation was pretty funny (not sure if intended); and the skins for the enemies where really good and always fit the environment that where on. I loved the golden tickers idea, however i believe there's a "bug" regarding the last one. Unfortunately i didn't see it at first, so i went back to try and get it, however the water had already dry out, so i had to use the "pick up flare cheat" to get to the lever, but the door didn't open up. So i guess the last golden ticket MUST be picked before drying out the water. I hope so at least, didn't play the bonus level because of that. Once last thing that should be mentioned, is how horrible the music management went, specifically in early levels. Every time you pass through the trigger music, it will raise up the volume tremendously. Was forced to lower the sound of the game itself and set the volume of the music up to not experience this glitch, not to mention that some songs overlap. Other than this the game was pretty amazing and i totally recommend any one to play it. Too bad that the levels are just too short and easy." - Zhyttya (05-Jul-2016)
"A surprisingly enjoyable adventure! What started as a normal TRLE, ended as a wounderful story line with a fluid but decently challanging gameplay. The dificulty was quite balanced, the levels were well design, the puzzles were solvable and, above all, was a fun level to play! Loved the custom textures, the subtle hints in some places. The only thing i didn't love was the back tracking in on of the levels (voodoo). Oh, and there was the anoying sound trigger that reseted the music level everytime i go through it! That was a big minus in my opinion. The lightning was good but it had some flaws. Over all, one of the best titles with a great story (even if the poor voice acting spoils it a bit) and one of the most balanced, wih lovely details and well tought rooms, levels i played so far! Completely recommended! And glad to see an author progress like this!" - Leeth (05-Jul-2016)
"Undoubtedly a must play levelset, centering around the legend of Davy Jones and the Bermuda Triangle. You are taken from nighttime in New Orleans, then to a swamp, a manor, sunny beaches and then for the climax on a ship. If you find three golden tickets, you access a bonus level, which you have to see. Amazing." - Ryan (28-Mar-2016)
"If there was only one thing to say about this game, then it would be that it would've been a very worthy and appropriate continuation of TR 4 and could've been used as the official one. The spirit of the classic games is maintained very authentically here and perhaps I would've had a good time here alone because of that. The atmosphere of all levels is very spot-on, with great and diverse locations that are all very carefully designed and spiced up with great sounds, flybys and dialogues that also support the storyline well (although the spoken words are not always understandable well). And in every level there is at least one "wow" area, most of all the long streets of New Orleans, the skull area in Port Royal Beach and - the best for me - the ship area in Davey Jones' Locker which is truly overwhealming. The textures are always chosen with great care and generally placed well without an amount of mistakes that disturbs the feelings, but here and there a little more polish would've been nicer with some not so nicely clashing textures and the end of the world being a bit obvious from time to time. The lighting captivates with great use of colour that creates the moody ambience here, but feels a little bit on the flat side from time to time with a few unexplainably dark shadows and a tad too low contrast on other places - it's still on a very high level. The gameplay is always very fluent and enjoyable, yet relies a bit too much on the use of levers and exploration and a few more challenging tasks and puzzles could've made this game even more entertaining. Still there are very interesting tasks like the timed runs, mostly the ones with the boat (although in the second one the boat is actually optional - check it out), the Sunken Manor level is perhaps overall the best gameplaywise and I also liked the creative use of traps here. The difficulty curve raises from the first to the fourth level, but afterwards everything's still on a very easy level - it really could have at least a few harder tasks from time to time. The enemy usage is great - very diverse and quite an additional challenge where you always have to check your ammo reserves, although there is enough to find if you're careful - only a few wraiths were a slight annoyance here. Objects are always designed and used with great care, and the 27 secrets, although often easy to find, are plenty and a very nice addendum to the game - especially if you go for the three golden tickets to enter the bonus level. This one really has to be seen to be believed... Overall, I spent 3:15 very chilly and mostly fun hours in this masterpiece. The atmosphere is certainly the strongest aspect of the game, while no other element disappoints. Perhaps a few more and different riddles to solve and I would've been totally excited about it. Still, this receives highest recommendations for being one of the essentials of TRLE." - manarch2 (17-Aug-2015)
"New Orleans City: In the beginning Lara is stuck inside a hotel without weapons, with the way to get outside guarded with baddies. I don't much like the idea of starting a game with a fight. However, once you do get outside, the real fun begins as you explore the beautiful and highly atmospheric city. The gameplay mostly involves finding some switches and clambering around on the various buildings. The bike jumps at the end are fun, but I do wish the bike could have had more uses.
New Orleans Cemetery: The beginning area of this level is joined to a replica of the final area of the previous level, which can get a bit confusing when you have to go back to the latter for a secret. The graveyard at the beginning of the level proper is incredibly atmospheric, and the gameplay later on in the level is great. The final area with the four numbered offshoot rooms is particularly enjoyable. The only negative aspects are the mummies, which you can't kill since you don't have explosive ammo as yet, and the horde of health-draining beetles that follows Lara around in one area.
Voodoo Land: Lara explores the swamps of Louisiana - an area dripping with atmosphere. The beginning of this level is a bit annoying, as Lara tends to walk off dry land and into the swamps (which is kind of realistic, though not fun). The use of invisible floating blocks at one point is a little odd, and not in keeping with the otherwise realistic location. The highlight of the level is a boat ride through the swamps (which must have been particularly unique when this levelset was first released - TRNG has made boats much more common in custom levels now).
The Sunken Manor: This level is set mainly in a beautiful flooded mansion in the swamp, though the final leg of the level takes place in some underground rooms and caves. The gameplay is non-linear, as you can explore the rooms opening off the main hall of the mansion in almost any order, which can get confusing at times. The enemies are a bit tiresome, as they often attack when Lara can't defend herself, such as when she's swinging on a rope or climbing a ladder. You get to use the boat again for a short timed run at the beginning, then a couple of times more to get onto ledges that Lara can't climb out onto directly from the water.
Port Royal Beach: Ooh, a gorgeous sunny beach with emerald green waters and a bright blue sky! It's filled with sharks, giant crabs and homicidal parrots - but when has our dear Lara gone anywhere without being attacked by the local fauna? The later areas in this level are just as beautiful - the skull-shaped structure is very impressive, and the flooded room where you get the Arawak Idol is one of my favourite spots in the game. The wraith chase on the way back to the beach, and having to drop into a deep pit, losing a lot of health in the process, are not fun, though.
Port Royal Jamaica: This is the shortest and perhaps dullest level in the game. It's not bad, of course - but relative to the other levels, there really isn't a lot to do in it. Lara explores a few buildings set around a flooded town square, drains the square, and then goes underground to confront Davy Jones. I like the tough traps in this level, especially the underwater spikes and squishy blocks.
Davy Jones's Locker: The main aim of this level is to get onto the deck of the Flying Dutchman, Davy Jones's ship, which floats eerily in the middle of a lagoon in thick blue-green fog. But first, you have to explore a few other wrecked ships surrounding it for the Element Stones needed to defeat Davy Jones. The interiors of the ships are reminiscent of the Maria Doria levels of TR2. The spooky deck of the Flying Dutchman is really great. At the end of this level, you return to the hotel in New Orleans for a tiny epilogue.
The Greatest Dream on Earth (Bonus Level): Fabulous level! Make sure you get all the three golden tickets so that you can experience this unique treat. A circus is not exactly one of Lara's usual haunts, but she seems surprisingly at home there. I could almost feel her grinning as the invisible audience applauds while she does her usual death-defying stunts. The ghostly circus personnel seem a little odd - some explanation for that would have been nice. Also, why were there non-ghostly goons after Lara at the end? I wouldn't think that Von Croy's glasses were some precious ancient artefact that anyone except Lara would be interested in.
Overall: The gameplay throughout this levelset is mostly enjoyable. It's focused mostly on exploration and traps - there are fewer puzzles and far more switches than I find ideal, but on the whole, it's very entertaining. The difficulty level increases slightly towards the end, but it's still far from tough.
There are several amazingly atmospheric levels in this game. In a few cases, the realism is slightly diminished when the end of the world becomes obvious, such as the leaf-covered invisible walls onto nothingness in Voodoo Land and The Sunken Manor. The visuals are spectacular too. I particularly love the builder's use of strongly coloured lighting. Only the use of shadows seems a little odd - for example, the pitch-black shadows in the sunny outdoor areas of Port Royal Beach.
There are several cutscenes throughout the game in which Lara chats with the Voodoo Queen. The accent of the voice actors is really hard to understand - however, the author has provided a script in the download package, so you can follow the dialogues through it.
Highly recommended." - Mytly (19-Apr-2015)
"This is an attempt to recreate the plans for a Tomb Raider 4 Gold edition based around a journey that begins in New Orleans and eventually develops into a search for the Flying Dutchman. This ended up probably being much better than what the official version would have been. Each level is excellent visually, and there's a lot of variety and themes that have been seen very rarely elsewhere; I especially liked the ship graveyard of the final (non-secret) level. Just about every aspect of the presentation is very strong, and there's a lot of new objects and similar. The voice acting isn't great but there's only so much that could be done at the time, and I like that the script is provided with the download. It's one of the earlier notable packs to make use of TRNG functions, and it makes full use of those to add some twists to thing.
The levels are relatively small by the standards of many giant packs, and are normally 30-45 minutes, which fits the classic "Gold" style and gives it a brisk pacing. The challenge ramps up pretty high at times but it's mostly manageable, although I found one moment with a fan you seemingly have to go through and take damage pretty unintuitive (a camera hint suggests there's something you can do, but I couldn't find anything there, and the walkthrough doesn't mention anything either), I also didn't like how you were forced to take damage from Beetles due to a flyby lasting too long. The flaws aren't big enough to counteract all the strengths and overall gameplay variety though. This is a must play pack and excellent in almost every area." - Mman (09-Feb-2014)
"The plan was to play one level a day, but this appeared to be so immersive that I swallowed it all within 36 hours. The beginning alone is already densely packed with every kind of fun possible: within first three minutes, we: I) trapped in a hotel room by evil minions, II) encounter first two switches, III) fight an undead voodoo skeleton, IV) fool his AI to obtain weapons V) kill the minions to retrieve a key, VI) use that key to escape. From that moment, each differently themed level is organic all the time, with top- notch of all constructed beaches I've ever seen wearing the crown. Here I started to believe the project has been called Fading Light due to almost constant usage of flares required to explore numerous, sharply contrasting shadows, made as realistic as they could be with our tools. Along with wild island, gloomy marshes and undead-infested human settlements, the game sometimes feels surprisingly comfy, mostly because of almost minimalistic path for real-life actions led through large spaces, so we can admire the scenery while performing our tasks easily - sometimes a place is huge but we only spend several minutes in it, so the action flows fastly and this is also the main reason why I could complete those 8 levels within two days. Still, some agility sequences require precise timing, but there's no problem with them, because mostly in such cases we instantly know what to do and we only take time for executing the challenge, which is this way maintained yet not annoying at all (the only weak point is a sudden drop of gameplay in the last level, where at least two possible shortcuts might invert the intended route completely). In between, we can find many nice useful secrets - sometimes easier than main gameplay but sometimes providing a quite serious additional mind training, and even granting Lara a bonus level. Non- playable parts also interrupt the main thread, explaining the storyline with humoristic voice-overs acted by several custom NPC-s. Non-NPC enemies are appropriately divided into two fractions as the plot requires, but the single best kind of monster, better than all the starring and co-starring undead, was that ridiculously epic and hostile crab I will remember forever. SUMMARY: Feels like Coyote Creek mixed with The Lion Sleeps Tonight and a TR4 version of Cape Fear. For those who never played those, this comparison is useless, so instead let me just say the game has totally sucked me in. It's so realistic that it made me keep picturing additional pirate stuff along with shown. The only missing thing was Davy's organ, which I really hoped to see but I couldn't." - DJ Full (22-Jun-2013)
"This is a great levelseries and I enjoyed every single one of them. Nice Gameplay, not to hard, but often challengeing and still good for surprise. Also the landscapes - especially in the outdoorarea - can be called eyecandy. Absolutly must play!" - The Boo (07-Apr-2013)
"Very impressive level set! Beautiful and various levels with good puzzles and ideas, perfect atmosphere and nicely hidden secrets (found all 3 gold tickets for accessing bonus level). Masterpiece and mustplay for everybody!!! Thank you Cowboy for this excelent adventure. 10/10/10/10" - OverRaider (14-Jan-2013)
"This is not the first time I played it and it won't be my last either. The way Michael can capture the atmosphere and mood of the place where his adventure takes you is outstanding. I felt like I was in New Orleans and into the bayous where the Cajun live. The story he tells us is played out very well indeed. There is everything in here, exploring, traps, jumping, fighting and enough goodies to get you through. You don't have to worry if you can get through the traps and/or timed runs, they are luckily not too hard. As an extra there are tickets you have to find so you can access the bonus level. Better have some extra time on your hand when you start this adventure as it will take quite a while to finish it." - Gerty (10-Dec-2012)
"This game is certainly one of the most essential in the history of TR custom building , and one of the more fun to play too. The author has really made an extraordinary work to bring to life a TR4 gold what the professionals never did , using many of the different objects and enemies of the TR4 game plus some new modern possibilities , while transforming many of the TR4 items in context of the particular storyline. For ex : giant scorpions are now giant crabs , the sphinx an elephant and the crusader a clown ! There is lots of imaginative ideas on display throughout the levels ; and the storyline is well illustrated in a living way since the beginning with this mysterious woman roaming the streets of New Orleans and giving orders, thus picking the interest of the player to a real story to be unfold. Gameplay is very good and varied throughout the different locations , every aspect of the game is well thought out ( even if some minor visual glitches in one level ). 7 excellent levels plus one bonus not to be missed . Not a difficult game , I looked at the walkthrough essentially because I did not wanted to miss the 3 secrets that allow to play the bonus. I think my favourites levels are Sunken Manor with intelligent use of the boat , and Davey Jones locker both are already to be classified as great classics in my memory." - eRIC (13-Oct-2012)
"I decided to write my first review starting with "TR4Gold, Fading Light" because I think it is one of the most beautiful adventures when the editor was released. The history of failed Gold of the Core Design we know all a little, thanks also to the interview, on the site, of Cory Smith and Marksdad to Gary La Rochelle, one of the three ld which was entrusted the construction of the Golds of the Core Design. The adventure begins in a suburb of New Orleans adjacent to the cemetery. The atmosphere is great and the jazz music that accompanies the level is good and appropriate. The adventure continues in "Cemetery" that begins quietly but grows as you continue.The enemies are well integrated by ld and the puzzles are interesting.The two levels are linked to one another in a single thread that is to find a passage from the cemetery to "Voodoo Land". A complete change of scenery and we are in a mysterious and magical environment, in a swamp with dilapidated houses. The environments of the level I reminded me so much of "Monkey Island 4", even for the music, fun and cheeky but with a bit epic. "Sunken Manor" is the continuation of "voodoo Land" with fun and challenging puzzles. The scene changes again in the subsequent levels, Port Royal Beach and Port Royal Jamaica, where the player is facing new challenges in a environment pirate and well lit. The player switches to "Davey Jones' Locker," in which level there is the "Flying Dutchman," the legendary ghost ship that can never make port, doomed to sail the oceans forever. Allen built the ship so superb and masterful. The bonus level, after recovering three tickets secrets, Lara is a circus abandoned, is the culmination of this wonderful adventure. Textures, enemies and puzzles of the adventure are impeccable. The environments of "voodoo Land", are sometimes poorly lit, but there are many flares and Allen uses the foresight to put in "on" the "shadows", so that Lara is always well lit even in the darkest rooms and isn't black, merging and disappearing completely as in many levels that I played. Thanks to Michael Allen for giving us a Gold, perhaps more beautiful than what would have been the official one." - Taras (22-Sep-2012)
"After I had finally beaten this game first time half-year ago, and after I dared to play it again recently, I must say that this game was equally hard to play and that I had troubles at some points playing it both times. Although the gameplay is really well imagined and developed, full of unexpected turns and never boring, it is seriously damaged by impossibly hard traps, through which we must go in order to proceed. I am sure that most of the players out there hated those monkey-swinging through spikes and flames, or the strong currents that inevitably push you towards some spikes, or jumping through some pounding blocks... As the levels progress, jumps, traps and enemies become really hard, so only experienced and stubborn hard-core fans can fully enjoy this awesome game. The gameplay was great, but sometimes interrupted by insanely hard pixel and millisecond precise jumps or similarly hard traps of other kinds. So therefore the lower mark for the gameplay. However, other aspects of the game were absolutely amazing and breathtaking. The overall architecture is beautifully designed and you always have the feeling that you are actually there, on the streets of San Francisco, at the sunken manor or on the very Flying Dutchman fighting against the very Davey Jones and his undead pirates. Enemies are various, starting with "easier" animals such as lions, dogs or birds, to bigger and tougher like giant crabs and sharks, up to undead enemies such as hordes of undead people and legions of very agile pirates of Mister Jones, and every each of them is perfectly placed to make you use strategies abundantly and resources strategically. So, action is heavy, and I personally like it a lot, so 10 for action and enemies. Objects are made, remade, retextured and placed perfectly, everything fits and looks real enough, so 10 for that too. Secrets are not very hard to find, but it is sometimes hard to get back, because they are protected with some really big animals. So 9 goes there, but overall for category review is the maximum. The third is also excellent, because the atmosphere is really authentic, and cowboy has a perfect taste when it comes to music tracks for this game. Cameras and flybys are deluxe, and not a single remark for that, everything was perfect. When it comes to lighting and texturing, everything was nice enough for the Hall of Fame, but it was not perfect, because of many cracks and sharp shadows. But despite the fact that this game is really hard for beginners and not so stubborn players, and that even experienced players get frustrated from time to time with it, the game is nevertheless epic and definitely deserves its place in the Hall of Fame. No matter how hard this game might be to most players, it is definitely worth playing. Each level is another miracle for the player, starting from the streets of San Francisco to its graveyard. And just as you thought you can get bored with urban levels, you are materialized in some swamps in Louisiana. I can say that in all these years of playing custom levels, I have never seen a better and more realistically built swamp and lake side in TR. Cowboy really knows how to make a realistic and unforgettable vista, so don't give up on this game if you are stuck somewhere and cannot make it from hundredth time... Excellent game we all want to play again, no matter how hard!" - Nina Croft (22-May-2011)
"New Orleans City (9/9/10/9, 40 min, 3 secrets): Wonderful flyby and audio to introduce you to this City setting and a creative moment right near the start where a skeletons helps you get some goodies. Quite a bit of a shooter this first level with many gad guys around as you explore a Hotel, the roofs, the streets and get to ride a bike among them.
New Orleans Cemetery (9/8/10/9, 50 min, 3 secrets): Dogs made of stone that wake up and spooky mummies roam this place. And not to forget the pesky wraiths and beetles that keep you on your toes. Maybe a bit overdone in the enemy department here. Also a bit too tedious is the clever but fairly obvious push object puzzle, but I had a lot of fun in the puzzle by numbers area which has great activity and variety of tasks, including some special effects like the use of a toxic gas room.
Voodoo Land (8/9/9/8, 70 min, 4 secrets): This is the level I liked the least of the pack. Not even sure why, but maybe the many darkish corners that felt they needed to be explored only to not find anything in them most of the time. It still has a lot going for it, as the swamp atmosphere is really accomplished, the cowboy skeletons are always cool and there is some decent torch action and spike, boulder and burner traps to deal with. The timed boat ride needed a bit of practice and the (sort of) boss-fight for one of the all important golden tickets was fun too.
The sunken Manor (9/9/10/9, 50 min, 4 secrets): I am not known to be a fan of Manor levels, but this one was intriguing. There are timed sequences with and without the boat. Ropes, spikes, mummies, wraiths, bad guys and really nice camera work throughout. Quite a few sequences where you get to time spikes right to move on and the first encounter with Davy and a long dialogue with the Voodoo Queen round it all off.
Port Royal Beach (8/8/10/10, 45 min, 3 secrets): Change of locale, as Lara has now travelled into the Caribbean - clearly a forte of Michael's building. You now deal with sharks, giant crabs, tropic birds and pirate skeletons, as you explore a beautiful beach area. The huge skull structure is very impressive, as is the timed torch sequence with the spiked ceiling coming down on you. The extremely long wraith chase backtrack was not my favourite moment of the game though - but the flybys an audio choices easily make you forget some minor annoyances.
Port Royal Jamaica (9/9/10/9, 45 min, 3 secrets): Quite a challenging level with many traps and pesky enemies. Passing those squishy blocks under water killed me far too many times. Some good use of sinks, spikes, draining water rooms and barrel runs, as well as another wraith chase with torch in hand.
Davy Jones' Locker (9/10/10/9, 60 min, 3 secrets): Moving on, the story takes Lara to the Bermuda triangle where she gets to explore around several sunken and not so sunken ships. Those undead divers are hilarious and you get to kill Davy Jones again and again and then again for good. The quest for the four stones is quite extensive and interesting with a lot of diversity in the gameplay, even though I went a bit backwards and had already found and placed two stones before ever getting to talk to the Captain.
The Greatest Dream on Earth (9/10/10/9, 30 min, 3 secrets): You simply MUST find those three golden tickets in the levels to reach this bonus level, because it is too good not to be seen. Great use of objects in this circus environment, charming announcements by the ringmaster and suitable applause by an invisible audience as Lara manages her circus tasks. This is still a pretty touch level with lions, killer clowns and other bad guys to fight, but the elephant along is worth the ride.
Overall, this adventure clearly stands out as one of the best and most unique ever created in custom level history. Without a doubt it would have made for a great commercial release as TR4 Gold and Cowboy should be proud of putting this together so well all by himself!" - MichaelP (02-May-2011)
"This adventure is, shall we say, beautiful! We plunge into a tale of pirates, which I do not like her, the adventure of my desire to continue the game, I needed help of the walkthrough to succeed, some places are hard to leave, but then got done quickly. I got the 3 tickets and I was really surprised at the bonus levels, which was really beautiful. Congratulations to Cowboy for this adventure :)" - FX (17-Feb-2010)
"“Captured the atmosphere in genius fashion, game play perfect throughout." For that alone, give it all tens, and that could sum up the beginning and end of my review. Well, not quite. Congratulations to the author's attention to textures, ambience, and audio tracks. Many thanks for the fantastically diverse locales and Cajun tracks. One of the reviewers even"felt the humidity," as did I; and what a magnificently ambitious project. My only regret in this regard is that the game play direction into piracy, and the miniscule overall time spent in the French Quarter, missed a lot of opportunities for an intensely accurate"Nawlins" immersion. The piracy would have been better served to have tied into a more historically accurate adventurer....we don't need Davy Jones, we need... ...the historical mystery of the Quarter......the Napoleon house, the French Market, voodoo priestess, Marie Leveau, and of course the quintessential piracy of Jean Lafitte. A missed chance to ride this eerie tale into his blacksmith shop with a visit to the corner of Bourbon and St. Phillip. He was indeed a true"citizen of the wind." A pirate who established his own Island Empire, and swamp mansion. But hey, you can't always get what you want. Davy Jones, accompanied by some horrendous voice over audio tracks, in, what, I guess, is supposed to be pseudo-Creole, mangled-Jamaican, unintelligible garble, will do just fine for this bold storyline (Beta testers probably don't know a beignet from lagniappe.) Make no mistake about it though; the author is a true genius artist. His creative powers will send hairs standing up on the back of your neck in the cemeteries, you will fall in love with the swamp house that you'll never want to leave; and there is no more... ABSOLUTELY no more, existentially breathtaking experience in any level out there, than coming up on Davy Jones's ship shrouded in the fog. Two minor and one major complaint. Quite a few"stuck" Lara locations throughout, and the transition from Voodoo Land to Port Royal is unimaginative and unbalanced. Most unforgiving failure though, is designing a game where the critical location of a required bonus level item cannot be reached once an alternate course of action is irretrievably taken. Hey, leave it well hidden inside the textures. That allows even the dumbest of players such as me a chance to eventually figure it out. And we would have. But to actually craft game play that can ultimately preclude a chance at the bonus level is so bush league, and insulting to players who invest their precious time, that it demeans our efforts, and signifies a major creative weakness regardless for any reason it was designed. Despite these flaws, this is one of the years most extraordinary, gorgeous, intelligent, and visually stunning works. Highly recommended." - Mezcal (14-Jul-2009)
"I have been playing and i am finishing off levels here and there and i must say i liked this one a lot. The large areas make this level huge and packed with gameplay which will keep you going for hours on end. Sounds go good and also there are a good amount of nemies in the game. The lighting and puzzles fit well into the area, textures are set out great and i an see how much effort has been put into this game, a lot to give raider fans an ideal adventure to keep them going." - TombRaiderTim (03-May-2009)
"I loved every second of this levelset. The atmosphere was so great that I couldn't stop playing untill I was finished. Seriously, I was busy with this level till late at night. Everything was perfect! Especially when you had to play on the ship itself. I just loved that ;)" - Skyler (22-Mar-2009)
"Your game is beautiful!!! And I LOVE the story because I like particularly vampires!!! Even bravo!" - Anastasia (15-Mar-2009)
"I knew this was going to be a great game when I first started. Everything was top notch !!! The various locations were all very well done, and the style of each was unique. I did get lost, when I didn't take the torch with me after the screws came down, but luckily had a fairly recent SG. All kinds of new traps & puzzles, and the environments were as great to explore as the gameplay. It took me quite a while to play, which I like. Many new characters, lots of fun !!! Thanks, Cowboy, and to all that contributed to this game." - Juno Jim (04-Mar-2009)
"After finishing TR4 Gold I am literally speechless. Every factor of this game is fabulous, there was not a dull moment. The gameplay had us trudging through the swamps of Louisiana to exploring the depths of Davey Jones' Locker. It ran very smoothly (with no bugs whatsoever), traps were thought out well and placed appropriately with subtle puzzles here and there. All the objects and enemies fitted the surroundings and were also placed in the right places. The only thing that annoyed me was the sheer amount of unkillable enemies (meaning that my grenade gun ammo ran out fairly quickly!) The atmosphere in every single level was absolutely stunning, with fitting camera movements, ambient sounds and a vast array of beautiful soundtracks. I was particularly impressed with the atmosphere in the Swamp level. It was just perfect - thundering skies, beating rain and that lovely hooting owl eerie ambient sound! The texturing for 99.9% of the game was flawless and the lighting was good too. I liked the use of distance fog (especially in the first level) and although a lot of the levels were set either at night or in dull/dark areas, the author never carelessly slopped shadow bulbs everywhere. I liked the use of torches to add to the lighting too. One major plus point for this game is the vehicles. We see the return of the Motorcycle and the Boat, which always create a lot of fun and challenges for the player! I would highly recommend this game to anyone who hasn't tried it, big thumbs up! Well done!" - Light a Flare (27-Feb-2009)
"The title is a bit of unintended deception. As is explained in the readme, this game was based off of the concept of the "cancelled" Gold version of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. However, playing through it, it is obvious to see that nothing like this would ever come out of CORE Design. Don't get me wrong-- there are brilliantly crafted levels, none of which is too hard to figure out if you're willing to take the time. It was a lot of fun to play, it had nice graphics, good cameras, excellent textures, and some pretty good lighting. Unfortunately, you have a lot of absurd (but true-to-location) music that makes this feel more "fan game-ish" than Tomb Raider. It was smartly done though, and it made sense, so I'm only going to take points off for the atmosphere, not for the sound itself. Unfortunately I did not make it to the bonus level the first time through, but I enjoyed myself a-plenty and I'll go at it again. It's excellent. Second, maybe, to Himalayan Mysteries." - awsumpossum (20-Feb-2009)
"Another great work. The game isn't very difficult. The atmosphere, sounds, objects, graphic and music are wonderful. I liked New Orleans, Jamaica, The Louisiana Swamps, Bermuda Triangle and the others very much. The bonus level was very wonderful too." - Andzia9 (01-Feb-2009)
"This amazing level is definitely one of my very favorite levels and it is based in the US! I had so much fun from start to finish. The level had its tough parts, but contrary to what others may have thought, I had plenty of med-paks. I believe I finished the level with over twenty paks. Michael did a wonderful job creating such an atmospheric, creative and fun level. My only concerns were very minor. Here again is a level that used a non-Brit to voice Lara. I thought Louisa did a great job voicing both characters, however, it bothered me that Lara was not English. Builders, please find a Brit to voice Lara, there are enough gals on the forum alone who would most likely jump at the chance. My other concern were areas that a player could get to that they aren't supposed to. I found this twice, once with the motorcycle in New Orleans and another time in the swamp area by the boat. If you go through the window before opening the door with the crowbar first, you will get trapped. Not such a big deal really, but I am surprised beta testers didn't find these oversights. All in all, this level by Michael is as close to perfect as any of the other top levels." - Shandroid (25-Jan-2009)
"Really an excelent work, worthy to be made by the official TR team. Excelent architecture with good puzzles and not very difficult tasks. Some new interesting features like the toxic gas. A lot of new (and hard) enemies, new objects, new textures, new musics, nice flybies, secrets not difficult to find. A jewel of the custom levels. The last level with the pirate ship was really fantastic. Many thanks Michael for this hours of great fun." - Jose (23-Jan-2009)
"Definitely one of the best level-sets I've played for a very long time - it seems to have everything: engaging gameplay, interesting story, very impressive visuals and sounds. It's a moderately easy game to play, but one with tougher challenges springing up from time to time; when more is asked of your grey matter you tend to get that helpful door closing behind you. So if you are required to figure out a puzzle, or obtain a well-hidden item, at least you know you need to solve something here, and the area of search is suitably restricted. It seems to me that most builders don't bother with this technique much anymore; I've played too many levels in which you are expected to notice some Obscurely Hidden Object (OHO) and you have an area the size of Leeds in which to find it. If you're going to send me after an OHO please restrict me to just a few rooms - and that's what Michael manages here - consistently throughout. The game both manages to flow AND throw up interesting challenges - well done! Only once did I feel something was hidden 'too well' - the third circus ticket. Did anyone find that on their own? When I found out I'd missed it I used the walkthrough and discovered I had to replay half the level - and I would never have found it in a million years on my own. That, the plethora of the same types of enemies, and some over-use of ropes and sliding blocks accounts for the dropped marks. In the categories of atmosphere and texturing etc - you can hardly fault what has been created here. All the levels look superb and they generally get better as you progress. The swamp levels, with their semi-submerged buildings, created a very convincing atmosphere - I could almost smell the swamp gas! My only criticism here is that the great visuals were frequently undermined by flickering or vanishing objects - typically trees or parts of buildings composed of added objects. Maybe most builders would be prepared to let this go but I get the impression Michael is something of a perfectionist when it comes to this sort of thing. So I believe the bigger objects should have been split to keep their meshes in one room. The ship masts in Davey Jones' Locker were the worst culprits of this. Overall, TR4 Gold - Fading Light is outstanding and recommended to all, including novice players." - Dick (18-Jan-2009)
"A rich and generous adventure, consisting of all the elements that create a marvellous and masterful game, spiced up with originality and amazing atmosphere, all these things implemented in such a way so as to produce a charming and fascinating levelset that captures the player from the very beginning. Starting from a quiet city, moving on to a spooky cemetery, proceeding in the heart of a voodoo land and a flooded mansion and ending up on a haunted ship, you get to explore beautifully crafted locations in the most impressive atmosphere. There are several puzzles, timed events and spike traps, plenty of enemies to shoot and many secrets to find. If you get to find three special items, you unlock a bonus level which is a haunted circus - quite brief but not less demanding than the rest of the levelset. Nice music choices, visual and audio effects that work great and contribute to the general feel of spookiness and sublte humour that runs through the game. I must pay special credits to the builder for the flooded mansion and the haunted ship; these two are breathtaking environments and the best settings of the game. A levelset that noone should miss." - Ravenwen (06-Jan-2009)
"This is one of those rare releases where the story line actually lends a sense of continuity and coherence to the gameplay, and you'll find yourself immersed for hours in a setting reminiscent of Jean Lafite and his exploits of derring do. Any one of the levels standing by itself would merit top ratings, but evaluating all eight levels (including the somewhat out of place bonus level in a circus) as a group makes the grading exercise a no-brainer. Anything less than 10s across the board does this masterpiece an injustice, and in my opinion it must surely rank with the top 10 custom level releases. The workmanship is simply overwhelming, and the reason my review count for the month is down is because I've been nursing TR4 Gold along with the Magical Christmas Adventures for the past couple of weeks. There are so many inventive touches that I won't try to list them here. The level of difficulty can get rather high, given the huge game maps, so I'd advise having the G&D walkthrough close by while you play. But whatever you do, don't miss this gaming experience, which to me is the best thing to come along since Himalayan Mysteries." - Phil (31-Dec-2008)
"Great game with very good music and interesting action , not too hard but not too easy too . The game has own very oryginal climate and atmosfhere - a lot of dark places to visit , secrets to discover , some new ideas which forced us to unconventional thinking and solutions. I had only one problem during this wonderful game in level The sunken manor - i went to get the gold and bronze keys first and i couldn't get the last one because the trapdoor was closed all the time - so keep some saves under your hand ready :-D or just start from the silver key - the rest works without any problems. I found only one ticket to the Circus so with pleasure i will repeat this game :-) My opinion 40/40 great job !" - ersatz (31-Dec-2008)
"Now, this was a very nice ride, starting in New Orleans, going across the swamps and ghost pirate ships and ending up in a dangerous circus. The New Orleans levels were my favourite and I admit to having gotten just a bit bored at times in the otherwise very well designed levels, that being the only reason why I'm giving gameplay a 9 - I wish I could say exactly where I got bored and why but it wouldn't matter much anyway, since that is indeed subjective. This set of levels has been accused of having too many enemies on every corner and not enough medipacks to make it through. Allow me to disagree, enemies are there in fact but they all seem well placed and there are quite enough medipacks and ammo throughout the game. Apart from that, the design is just near perfect, in cities and city environments as in the swamps, with a few interesting runs from wraiths and a clever timed boat ride. Traps are thrown in for good measure after a while but they seem balanced enough. Secrets are also well placed, meaning they aren't so secret that you won't find them, and give you a sense of accomplishment. The background music fits the environment quite nicely, namely in New Orleans with the brass band music. I found the character's accents in the more or less well done cut scenes a bit weird though, especially if you think that the Cowboy is from the US (or so I think). If you can collect the three gold tickets and they will lead you to the final bonus level that takes place in a circus with deadly clowns, assassins of all sorts and even an elephant that functions like the bull of The Last Revelation - I must say I clearly enjoyed this little bonus. And you can play it even without all the tickets, just by changing the name of a file and I found that very thoughtful. To cut it short, do I recommend this game? You've guessed it already. It's worth your time." - Jorge22 (28-Dec-2008)
""Fading Light" is easily one of the most anticipated games of the recent custom level projects, and it manages to live up to all the expectations it raises as far as I'm concerned. While I'm not sure this is how I imagined the unreleased TR4 Gold to look like when I first read about it, Michael's version certainly is an enjoyable enough interpretation to make it an instant classic and must play! Among the better aspects of this multi level game that took me roughly over 4 hours net gaming to get through are the scenarios themselves that ooze atmosphere out of ever nook and cranny, the challenging, but straightforward enough gameplay to keep you going and going till you reach the end of it and all the wonderful small nuances that give away the author's knack for creating new, innovative objects like the undead divers, parrots, interiors of the ships and buildings and other great touches that sell the authenticity of the environments even more, if that is even possible. From all the ones presented here, I enjoyed the gloomy swamplands, the Davy Jones locker and the Circus (bonus level) the most, and I think the distance fog has scarcely found better use than in these scenarios, though the fact that they are so seldomly visited in the custom level worlds contributes as well. On the critical side though, being familiar with the author's repertoire, I had a deja vu feeling here and there as it felt like the author had occasionally recycled some of his earlier scenarios in some shape or form throughout the adventure (the ship, the tropical island, the colloseum-shaped circus), what I was not particularly fond of, also, somewhere along the way the gameplay started to feel like more of the same, what, even if keeps the style consistent, makes the game somewhat boring to play in its later stages. From a technical point - it was possible to miss the initial fly-by in the Davy Jones' Locker, thus sparing the player from searching for a way to lower the boxes covering the gem receptacles, but that's not a big issue. I thought the story was somewhat uninspired and not presented too interestingly, but that rarely is a deciding factor in how much I enjoy the level in question, and it wasn't here as well. I also thought it was superfluous to have secrets in the actual bonus level (found a total of 17 in the entire game), but that's just a matter of preference, as that particular level is quirky and enjoyable in all other aspects. If anything else - you will probably need to calculate your battles or pump Lara with medipacks frequently, as there's plenty of bad guys standing in Lara's way, but fortunately, so are the goodies. All in all - while at least as far as I'm concerned some aspects of the game can be debated of how much they contribute to the overall appeal, the game offers enough eye-candy, atmospheric settings and fun tasks to do to make this a game you won't want to miss despite its shortcomings. Highly recommended!" - eTux (21-Dec-2008)
"What a game. This one just oozes ambiance. Michael has so successfully captured a mood - a feeling of dank humidity that us southerners know so well - he has told a story so beautifully - and led us through a venue so carefully crafted - you just have to love it. As a builder, I feel very humble. As a player, I feel very appreciative. Please give us more !!" - Mugs (18-Dec-2008)
"That'll do me - 10 out of 10 - end of review.......S'pose I'd better qualify that score. Over the years Michael has developed a distinctive style in his levels and that can be seen in all its beauty throughout this levelset. Michael's strengths are that he creates realistic, believable towns and jungle environments, and has the ability to tell a great story. As a result the player is really taken into Cowboy's world in a totally engrossing game. The game begins in New Orleans and it's dead centre, and progresses through the eerie Louisiana Swamps, onto Port Royale, Jamaica and finally to the no-go zone of the Bermuda Triangle, as Lara follows the trail of Davey Jones' Locker. The jewel in the crown is fittingly the final Bermuda Triangle level with its shipwrecks and the Flying Dutchman. For me the Swamps level was the most challenging and took me some time to locate the essential crowbar and torch. Great to see the speedboat used with some creative gameplay. An unexpected and novel touch is Lara's scotch accent - a nice tribute to the author's heritage. I'm glad that a transcript of all the cutscenes is supplied in the readme as I did struggle to understand some of the dialogue. Players who are too lazy to read readmes may miss out onsomething special, as it is important to know which levels contain 3 special Tickets that will give you access to the Circus bonus level. And yes - it's really worth the effort to get this bonus material. It's a cleverly created level. For mine the third ticket access switch is a little unfairly hidden beneath a shatter object that the player may have no inkling to 'shoot on suspicion'. The enemies throughout the game are great and totally in keeping with the locations - pirates, crabs, bats, zombie deep-sea divers, voodoo men, sharks, and alligators etc. I can't fault the atmosphere of the game in all departments of textures, lighting, audio and cutscenes - all just perfect for the respective settings. There is never a shortage of inventory booty to be discovered, logically hidden in barrels, store bags and crates. Health gameplay was well-balanced with enough medical aid available to keep you honest but never leave you desparately short. Having said that, the player should devise good strategies to avoid taking damage from the occassionally tough and sometimes plentiful enemies. Purists can probably get through on just pistols, but stronger weaponry is given for good reason to deter persistent skeletons and assist in other objectives. All in all a wonderful adventure that will give many pleasurable hours of playtime. Well done. Ten-gallon hats off to the Cowboy." - EssGee (15-Dec-2008)
"When i first played the first 30 secinds of this levelset, i knew it was going to be great. The puzzeles are reasonable and fit with the big atsmosphere well. Good objects, except that some of the enimeis could have used a slight upgrade, but thats not a big problem. The music is good and fits with the atsmoshpere. This is a GREAT level! to put it simple.......DOWNLOAD IT NOW!!!" - Stew (10-Dec-2008)
"This is a game of epic proportions that will keep you entertained for a long time. It ranges from New Orleans, through creepy graveyards and into voodoo territory as you battle your way through alligator infested bayou country, via Jamaica and on to battle Davy Jones and explore the Flying Dutchman. It's a game of breathtaking imagination and I just couldn't stop playing it. Every location is stunning and bursting with atmosphere and it all seems very real and believable, especially the choice of enemies - always logical in context, which is far from always the case, especially with zombies. It's obvious that a great deal of thought has gone into every aspect of this game and I mustn't forget to commend the choice of music either. If you find all three special secrets, i.e. gold tickets, you get access to a bonus circus level, which is absolutely not to be missed. Wonderful, just wonderful. Play it right away." - Jay (08-Dec-2008)
"So here`s a girl from the heart of Scotland to challenge Big Davey Jones ! Wonderful Lara talking in a scottish accent ,good idea ! Beautiful locations , excellent custom music and a real good story make this adventure a must-play !!! It is definetely one of the best TRLE games of the year if not the very best ! Six huge levels to explore (plus one secret extra level) , this game has everything a TRLE lover could wish for . Pirate ships and skulls ,lots of (shootable) rum bottles and canon balls , its all there for you ! What a pity that one of my fellow rewievers who had not even completed half the game at the time of his rewiev has spoiled the score of this masterpiece ! For all you true raiders out there : Dive into the marvellous world of The Cowboy and enjoy this wonderful adventure." - Ruben (07-Dec-2008)
"In my opinion this game is one of the best games released this year if not the best. It goes without saying that author has payed a huge amount of time and energy to come up with all the inventive ideas and surroundings this game includes. It has also an elaborated story which evolves well by the use of cutscenes. The originality and amout of details in sceneries made an especially strong impression on me and some of my gaming time I spent solely watching how the surroundings are constructed. I also liked the way author has used next generation level editor and game engine to enhance both gameplay and atmosphere in his levels. A good example is the use of motor boat in Voodoo land level which was very inventive in my opinion. It's very hard to pick any serious minus sides from this game but I think that gameplay could have contained few truly surprising and unusual tasks that would stand out this game from rest of the top levels. However, this is one of the most impressive levels I've played and no one should miss it." - Samu (04-Dec-2008)
"This level set begins inside a rather starkly lit hotel in New Orleans (apparently), with some good music introducing us to our surroundings. We can see straight away that the drawing distance is terrible, buildings flickering in and out of existence clearly in view as they do, so one wonders if this is going to be a badly made level set, especially as the surroundings don't seem very New Orleans at all. Aside from this, the other downside is that Lara is without her trusty pistols, so the first order of business is to find them. This little mini task, if you will, is reasonably well set up, with nothing too strenuous to tax the player early on. In fact, finding them was quite funny, I thought, if only for the skeleton sauntering about their hiding place. Once the guns are retrieved, we have the displeasure of perhaps the most annoying gunmen to be found in TR2. Those masked assassins who are quite merciless in their shooting and who don't go down as easily as one might like. Perhaps then it is this which gives the player even greater pleasure in killing them. Soon after, Lara is outside, on the dark streets of New Orleans, and what a pleasure this is. Rather than this being a district which is maze like in its construction, the streets are quite simply set out, and few in fact, making navigation very easy. Initially we are greeted with the sounds of crickets rubbing their wings in the darkness of what must be a hot night. Pleasurable sounding enough as this is, I was happier when we were suddenly switched to the sound of Thames Wharf of TR3 upon reaching higher levels and building rooftops. After some reasonably enjoyable investigation high up, and various snippets of what seemed to me to be 1940's/50's black and white film soundtrack snippets, within a few minutes we are again at ground level and discovering the bike, which is always a pleasure, despite how early it is accessed in this level. So early, in fact, that it made me suspicious that I'd done something wrong or missed something. In any case, as it turns out it's quite comedic to be riding around to the sound of yet another snippet of that old film type music, and for a moment I felt everything was all 'film noir' and rather hoped for a black and white level a la Lara At The Movies: Rebecca. Having gained control of my imagination, I continued playing the level as it was, in colour. Such a shame the bike is used for such a short time, as it turned out, but what a great jump over the water we have, and up the larger ramp on the other side. Once this short level is done, we find ourselves in a graveyard, and this is where the game begins to get really good. Sure, we have the usual, and by now hackneyed, idea of zombies in a graveyard and the sound of their 'water going down a drain' mouths as annoying as ever, but these irksome slow-coaches are easy enough to avoid in this introduction to a great crypt, the entrance to which was different only insofar as instead of it being statues of Neptune upon which to place tridents, it was angels, but this was a nice if slight difference to the norm. I thoroughly enjoyed this crypt and found the whole set up, including lighting and puzzle elements, to be a delight. I was reminded yet again of TR3 by the lighting and tile set in this crypt, for it put me completely in mind of being atop the cathedral in Thames Wharf. But this is no criticism. The monkey swing with the poison dart pipes was innovative enough, as at the moment I can't recall ever having seen that done before. The push block puzzle was simple and clear and not so annoying as many such puzzles can be. Come the next levels and being in the swamps of New Orleans was equally enjoyable. Despite a great deal of darkness and a general ugliness about the place, this was understandable for the atmosphere. It was great to be able to use a boat in a custom level for a change, though this one is quite hazardous to Lara's health. Overall I found this section somewhat more bewildering for what to do, and some trekking back and forth was annoying. Moving right on to Port Royal, it was so nice to get to some good, clear environments which are quite opposite to the dank swamps that precede this area, and how nice it all looks too. The lighting was an even greater achievement here I thought, with a great 'pirate' sense evident early on. The giant crabs were excellent, though completely stupid, as they got stuck often. The parrots beautiful, but happily easily shot down (for all birds in TR levels are very annoying). Moving even further on to the ship levels, I hadn't realised this builder was responsible for the Pirate's of the Caribbean level, but now I know I can see it completely. Despite a return to a very ugly tile set, this part of the level was very enjoyable, for not only do we have one ship to investigate, but three ... well, at least one whole and two others in part. For one at least it was a bit odd to have the sound of being on the Chronicles submarine when we are on half a ship that is apparently beached, but it was still a great atmosphere. As to the cutscenes interspersed throughout the whole level set, they were largely a waste of time for me because I could barely understand what was being spoken and it rather seemed to me that both characters were voiced by a slightly deranged Iman. This level set comes with a bonus level which, frankly, should have been released as a separate level. It is so well made and quite separate from the story of the main levels, that it deserves individual attention. Set in a circus top, this little gem was completely enjoyable and easy to navigate. And the substitution of an elephant for the TR bull was another example of something else different to most levels as displayed in this whole level set. For those who have a clown phobia, be warned, they really do come to get you in this one." - Czar (04-Dec-2008)
"Whoa, I don't think I've played any levels that look as good as these! From the streets of New Orleans, to the swamp and Port Royal - all superbly constructed, textured and lit. I was quite happy to wander around endlessly soaking up the atmosphere. The attention to detail is exceptional. It would take forever to list them all but particularly good examples were all the damp, soggy vegetation in the swamp or all the ship objects and sails in the final level Davey Jones' Locker. This level was perhaps my favourite as it has to be seen to be believed! Make sure you have volumetric FX switched off so you get the distance fog. You don't encounter just one ship here but several stranded ones as well as Davey Jones' ship. You could really believe that you are there and I can't praise the fantastic construction of these levels enough you must MUST play them. They are the best environments you are ever going to see. The Sunken Manor was another of my favourites. A great concept in itself but it looks so realistic, like it has been in a state of disrepair for so long. Another strong point of these levels is the plot. It's very well held together being led by a strange woman through them until you finally meet her in person and realise your final mission. The fact that you want to find out who she is kept me going quite easily. I also adored Lara's sweet Scottish accent! Let's talk about the enemies as I have very mixed feelings. The skeletons, or Davey Jones' army, are simply awesome. They look different depending on what level you are in and was a real novelty. Davey Jones' himself is really freaky and superbly made, as are the other main enemies you encounter. The giant crabs also scared me to death! However, I have a major gripe about the enemies in that they were practically the same all the way through the game and often very, very irritating. Not so much in New Orleans, but later all you seem to come across are skeletons, then you enter the next room to see even more skeletons. They were my most loathed enemy of TR4 because they were hard to get rid of and drove you insane if you couldn't. But here you will encounter literally hundreds. Often you couldn't get rid of them because they wouldn't fall off ledges, or you didn't have enough explosive ammo. Many times I fell off and died myself or used up three medipacks running around trying to find out where to go with them on my tail. Not only that, but I lost count of the amount of wraiths there are. At least six or seven times you're being chased by wraiths wondering where to go whilst eating up medipack after medipack. This frustration started in the cemetery and never ended. Every level has this combination of skeletons, wraiths and (although less of a problem) mummies. It got tiresome very quickly and very much spoilt wandering around these excellent areas. The action never lets up, and on the one hand that can be quite exciting, it just depends on the kind of player you are. I, on the other hand, much prefer a quiter game with a bit more time to explore without the threat of being killed every five seconds. On to gameplay and this is what I found least appealing. A lot of it is great, some of the trap puzzles are tricky but great fun to figure out. I liked the poison gas room in the cemetery, the pushable puzzle in the same level (although I encountered a bug here which meant the door didn't open at all), and the rooms which empty of water in Port Royal town. But, there were so many spike puzzles, so so many of them. You finished one quite tough room with spikes to find the next one filled with spikes except this time also with flames, then the next one. There is not much variety in terms of gameplay at all throughout the whole adventure and for 5 hours or more it becomes tedious. Only the fact that the environments were so good did it make up for this somewhat. There were other moments such as being shot at by enemies when you couldn't shoot them or wraiths getting you when on a ladder. Despite these things, it is still a must play. If you have more patience than me or love spike puzzles then you will love this completely. If there weren't quite so many traps or skeletons and wraiths then it would have has straight 10s from me. Just take a look at the screenshots though and I'm sure that will convince you enough to play this!" - TrueRaider (03-Dec-2008)
"Wow, 3 times wow. All in this story is amasing. I notice especially some very good ideas like the timerun with the motorboat in the swamp or the four puzzle in new orleans cemetery. Also the ennemies are various and a few of them have personalities (the pirats...). But my special interest was the atmosphere all along the differents levels (especially port royal beach and the swamp). I've just a request. I don't find the 3 tickets. Is it possible to have a savegame to continue this great adventure?" - Glouglouton (03-Dec-2008)
"A brilliant and remarkable achievement, one of those very top tier of Tomb Raider adventures that equal or exceed Core Design's original release. What we want from levels is an experience, the feeling of a real quest, and here that is what we get. Lara starts nicely in the Old Quarters of New Orleans, and moves on to the zombies and voodoo of the Cemetery. Then she explores the richly atmospheric Louisiana swamps, moss hanging from the trees, bogs dragging on her legs, alligators scrambling toward her, and with a neat working motorboat. I love levels like this, and like the sunken manor that follows (I'm reminded a bit of the Vagrant's "Cape Fear") and wish more author's were up to the demanding task of producing such a graphic feast for the eyes. These are what atmospheric levels should be. And there are some tough enemies to keep things lively. Then we move on to the Caribbean, to the Port Royal beach and old fort. The author has done similar superb work with a Caribbean setting before, so you know how good these will be. And for a finale we get Davey Jones himself, with derelict ships and The Flying Dutchman with her tattered sails. As an epilogue there is a circus with Lara Croft as the one and only star and performer (along with a few lions and elephant). At most I have minor quibbles for criticisms. Lara's accent doesn't sound like Lara; the cut scenes and storyline seemed weaker than the levels themselves. Occasionally I muttered, "Oh, no, not those wraiths again." I think Next Generation levels are more prone to the occasion glitch or crash than TREP levels, though some of this is just in the nature of the Tomb Raider engine. That aside, these are the sort of levels that you can live, and that will be remembered." - dmdibl (03-Dec-2008)