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BtB2011 - Vanilla Sky by Ward Dragon

afzalmiah 8 9 9 9
Akcy 8 8 9 8
Bigfoot 9 9 10 10
Blue43 7 8 8 8
cho7 8 8 9 8
Christian 7 8 8 7
Dick 7 7 9 9
Diz 8 9 9 9
DJ Full 9 10 10 9
dmdibl 7 8 9 8
EssGee 9 9 10 9
eTux 6 7 7 6
Glouglouton 7 8 9 8
Jay 8 8 8 8
Jerrod 8 8 9 8
JesseG 8 7 9 8
Jorge22 10 10 9 9
Jose 7 9 9 9
Josey 6 8 7 6
Laras Backpack 9 8 9 9
Leeth 6 8 6 8
Magnus 8 7 8 7
manarch2 7 9 9 8
MichaelP 7 7 8 8
Mman 8 10 10 9
Mytly 8 8 9 9
Phil 9 9 10 9
Raymond 7 9 10 9
requiemsoul 7 8 9 9
Ruben 8 8 9 9
Ryan 7 7 8 8
Scottie 8 9 10 9
Sethian 6 4 5 5
Shandroid 6 7 8 8
Soul 8 9 10 9
TheStig 8 8 9 9
Zhyttya 6 9 6 8
release date: 24-Aug-2011
# of downloads: 125

average rating: 8.16
review count: 37
review this level

file size: 55.60 MB
file type: TR4
class: Steampunk

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"Visually striking and beautifully lit. Gameplay is basically a key/item quest. This was made more challenging by the clutter of objects that induced a catastrophic lag in some places. Normally I would not penalise lag but here it could have been avoided: was an arboretum really needed? It's also probably true to say that, with this being a BtB, there was a dedicated crew of object builders employed here, and when working in isolation there is a temptation for these dudes to forget that they are the support act and then splash it about with too many polygons, all painted with unnecessarily large textures. Rule of thumb: small object: small textures, less polys - less lag." - Dick (08-Feb-2023)
"There's doubtlessly a good idea at the centre of this level, situating it almost entirely on an airship, but unfortunately the execution left a bit to be desired. The surroundings, textures and atmosphere are all competent and well done, but it does fall short where objects are concerned. My system went into overload a few times due to the sheer frame rate drop, and I was afraid it would crash if I went any further (which luckily it didn't). I also found the gameplay to be a little too repetitive to be enjoyable, due to the overdrawn backtracking and jumping exercises that had to be repeated numerous times. It's definitely a unique entry in the contest, but for me it failed to be entirely enjoyable." - Ryan (21-Mar-2016)
"Finally the monitor stop shaking... this was giving me some headache.. Really bad ones.. and now that we have that out of the way, lets focus the rest. The level was beautiful but the frame drops because of the "laziness" of the creator kinda hurt it a bit in that area.. Was the first TRLE that i had something like that..And if you go throw the upper part of the level you can see them going across other textures..The sound and ambient was great but the transitions on the sounds between the rooms was a bit to "ruff" . About the gameplay.. well, the shaking camera was way to annoying, the cog was just awful to find and to go there its a bit to random since you can only go up there from one place.. And the shimming part in the snake pool is way.. way to long and boring.. Still, really pretty level but there are way to many details to make it non-enjoyable.. Will recommend for the graphic and texture part, but get ready for some frustration" - Leeth (25-Sep-2015)
"What was the problem with this game? You might wonder yourself why does my score is so low on the gameplay/cameras? If you played this level long enough you'll know. At first i was amazed by the beauty on the level design! Loved the concept honestly, reminded me of BioShock Infinite style! And the soundtracks were really fitting. So, i'll give all the merit to Ward Dragon for achieving that. As soon as i entered, or started roaming inside the ship, my frame rate always dropped when looking to a certain area. Soon i realized that specific area was in fact the garden. I don't know what it's wrong with them, but i assume that the textures of the trees are messed up, and cause the frame rate to drop - before you think, maybe the problem is your PC, i have a 560 GTX Nvidea graphic card. This alone took away two points on lighting and textures. Now another subject, as i played the game i encountered a few things that were either buggy or counter intuitive: 1 - the only way to obtain the laser sight is to kill off a ninja. My ninja happened to bug out, and drop it outside the fences. I had to go up into the roof and jump outside them, since that area was made to not be accessible, i had to use a little trick to pass the fences; 2 - the path to pick up the cog is completely counter intuitive! At first i tried to go up the roof entirely, i fail and thought there was no way of getting up there. Once i discovered that the cog was in fact up on that roof, i made my way up to that point. BUT it was really hard to figure out where was the right way to climb up. For a secret it was OK, but since is an mandatory item to progress in a level, makes it completely counter intuitive. And now on my last part of the review, i'll justify my lowest score. 6 on the first and third topic. Why? - Shaking camera. The shaking camera starts about when you enter the lava area, and it doesn't stop. It doesn't stop until you finish the game. Ultimately it was supposed to be a good experience but was a compilation of frustration. This level came out in 2011, i don't think the author will ever fix that bug. But for me it completely ruined it." - Zhyttya (25-Sep-2015)
"I remember myself willing to play this level since the very beginning of its production process, when Ward Dragon presented her finished title flyby in the WIP thread, 2011. Now I finally put my hands on it and, from the very beginning, I didn't regret. This is a hi-tech ship yet I felt like in magical world Lara needed to infiltrate and take over, where small rooms feel as comfy and loved as wider epic zones do. But this is not the most important thing. This level is simply alive - flowing with fire, steam, lava and water, rotating with cogs, blades and rudders, conducted with pipes and tanks. And that moment when You pry through the door with the crowbar and see everything glowing with fire... brilliant. The only bad things are that the exterior of floating ship that carries all those awesome things could be designed better, because it looks just like a quickly packed container. And that huge flooded area feels a bit monotonous. SUMMARY: While in majority of Steampunk adventures I mostly find the competition pack underused, this doesn't apply to this level at all. You need to go through it." - DJ Full (13-Nov-2013)
"An original level design here so packed with objects & spaces stacked on top of each other that it bought my poor laptop to it's knees! Kicks off with a lovely fly-by showing you on a steam-punk pirate ship flying through the sky. The design is itself is pretty expansive starting up on top deck before slowly working your way through the industrial bowls to the ship. I made good progress apart from getting stumped at needing to shoot out a 'water window' at one point! Lighting and texturing are excellent as is the choice of music. All in all I netted 1 hour 50 minutes from Vanilla Sky. Great level from a talented builder. Recommended. Stiggy :)" - TheStig (02-Sep-2012)
"Ninjas pirates attack a ship, I found this idea very sympathique.The level is very nice with a huge bathroom with blades but when we found the way ,they do not interfere much.Le gameplay is pretty easy. I loved the first introductory video, she was very beautiful. Very good level." - cho7 (29-Nov-2011)
"This btb level is a real pleasure to play. We discovered a beautiful flying ship with many bed room (great idea), lot of lounges, a swimming pool, a garden ... and another lots of surprise. The gameplay is hard and not linear but i loved the many choises of puzzles (the gliss sequence is very good). A perfect steampunk atmosphere and a good choise of the musics (the first flyby with the 43 track is amazing. A perfect level for the btb competition this year. I hope play another level of this author near in the future. BigFoot" - BigFoot (26-Nov-2011)
"Objects: The biggest downfall in this area were all those large trees. They stuck up through the roof of the ship, and got in the way of the player on the second floor. There is also an odd room that uses a bunch of breakable windows as a sort of wall liner. The dragon near the end is useless. I did very much appreciate the back to the future reference with the flux capacitor.
Gameplay: There were too many mundane pushable block puzzles to kill time with. It felt like every room had a crate for you to move. The structure was kind of one part you may reach a large room partially filled with water, only to loop around to where you started. Turns out you didn't have to do any of that at all (unless you wanted some s! What I did like was the part where you put out the flames using water, and the way you had to work for some of your pickups instead of just stumbling on them.
Textures: The texturing on the roof of a ship gets repetitive, and there are some stretched textures in the lava area. The lighting is good though, often nice and warm.
Atmosphere/Cameras: Just the fact that this whole level has you on a giant floating ship in the sky is a great and interesting premises for a level. The flybys are well done, especially the intro.
Overall: It is a neat idea to build the level on a ship like this. The useless loops in gameplay make things confusing but otherwise you will like this level. Finished in 55:36." - SSJ6Wolf (15-Nov-2011)
"Very psichedelic and original this level based in a huge space ship. Not difficult to play, gameplay is based about look for keys and artifacts to open doors with some dangerous areas. There are may big connected rooms full of objects Lara can see through, this causes that many times the movements are very slow if you have not a fast PC. Environment is good, with a good use of the lights, objects and textures. There are some special effects like the conveyor belt taking Lara up or the interesting flipmap near the end when you use the helm. Enjoyable." - Jose (16-Oct-2011)
"Let's say this straight away: even with all the framerate-issues that every player will encounter sometimes during this adventure it's a must play for every real raider. Try watching the first flyby without feeling the urgent need to explore every single metre of this wonderfully crafted airship - it will be very hard indeed impossible. Every single area, starting with the very first cabin, was created with an amazing eye for detail and so it's a real pleasure to wander around and search for all kinds of keys and puzzle items. One of those, the Flux Capacitator needs to get a special mention here, as some really nice illusion was created that makes this one accessible. What I really loved about the gameplay (as "ordinary" as it may seem to some players) was that one gets to explore the whole airship without much backtracking. It must have been quite a task to create a path that leads the player from the deck down to the very bottom and back up to the deck were the "finale grande" that's introduced by a cinematic flyby, awaits our heroine. Highly recommended especially for secret hunters: You will need some time to find each one of the 5 secrets that are hidden so well, that I only found 1 when I finished this game the first time." - Soul (16-Oct-2011)
"Playing this level right after Memories of Steampunk Fashion, I'm struck by how it does two things differently: a) it takes the steampunk theme and runs with it to a much greater extent, and b) it does a much better job at telling a story. Having the level take place on an airship feels inspired, and while there's only so much that can be done when trying to tell a story with the set resources of the Back to Basics competition, the level really does cross off all of the things mentioned in the story. The gameplay, fortunately, is also good. It's perhaps a bit simple overall, but it has a nice flow to it and the tasks are fairly varied. While there are some linear parts, there's also a certain amount of exploration, as you're free to wander around the main parts of the airship right from the start, and unlock side rooms as you get further into the level. The texturing and lighting are good overall, though the level doesn't live up to the promise made by the opening flyby: you're shown this cool-looking airship with a garden and a pool and you can't wait to explore the rest of it, but then you end up spending most of your time in the less interesting parts of the ship, like the smelting facility and storage rooms. A huge water room late in the level offers up some fun platforming, but has a baffling amount of wasted space and is much too big for what it offers. That said, the level is well-textured and there are some great-looking rooms, and you do get a feeling of being on an airship when you're on the upper levels. The ambient sounds get annoying at times (and turn on and off suddenly as you move in and out of the airship), but they mostly fit the level and I realize that the author had to work with what he or she was given. In the end, I enjoyed this forty-minute level quite a bit. Though somewhat simple, it was consistently fun and I'm a sucker for levels that actually tell a story." - Magnus (15-Oct-2011)
"A steampunk Airship - wonderful! This must have been the real 'Led Zeppelin'. Really this level had everything in it that I could have wanted from a competition level. Gameplay was intuitive enough to remain fluent. It was not too hard and yet still provided a good challenge. Every component of the structure made sense to me, and there is an excellent atmosphere. The only complaint I have was that there was very bad frame rate. I guess this was due to the large open areas and high object count. But this was a minor inconvenience. I thought the audio cues were absolutely perfectly chosen and placed, and of course the panoramic flybys just cap off a great level." - EssGee (14-Oct-2011)
"First off, this level gave me a bit of a visual headache with some of its texture choices and placements. There also seems to be an overdose of objects in the first few rooms, and I had lots of frame-rate problems throughout the whole level. The gameplay is straight forward sometimes, and other times you are simply lost due to bad lighting or bad object placement and not being able to see certain things without a flare. I did like the effect of shooting the grate to make the water run so the fire would go out; otherwise the gameplay was confusing, involving too much backtracking. I was also able to side flip over some fences in the conveyor belt room I wasn't meant to side flip over... however, when I found that out I went back to an earlier save and got through that room the correct way. The whole ending seems strange... an odd"ship" pulls up and there is a switch in there we can pull, triggering a giant mutant... that just sits there.... Saying"hi" to us during the final flyby. Maybe I was meant to kill it? I wouldn't know and it doesn't seem to affect the ending. There's a lava room that is fine, but then there is a huge water room that is just plain cruel and confusing, with bad lighting so you can't even see some ledge or traps swinging at you. Also, the size of this room is just obscene when one considers that all of this is meant to be on one ship. No interesting enemy placements, and objects and architecture are placed in exceptionally strange ways. I am torn whether to think of the chapel arches and dome pieces around the pool as"inventive" or simply"absurd", but I think I'll go with absurd. Then there are the trees... creating a giant confusing nest up top... got Lara lost in there quite a few times. Also, some objects are too hard to find: it took forever to discover the very necessary cog wheel (which is why I initially thought I was meant to side flip over the fences, and it also took forever to finally find the crowbar. Then, other items that are only useful until the very end (like the book and its key) seem to be very easy to get. I only found one secret, so congrats I guess to hiding so many of them so well. Atmosphere is alright, but some of the lighting and the whole feel of the level was a bit too surreal. There also weren't a lot of atmospheric music tracks used in order to set the tone of the story (or whatever was going on) but instead just some pop music and techno tracks that seemed really out of place. The use of cameras also wasn't very helpful, even though it did tell the story of the other ninjas running onto the ship, and the finishing flyby was nice, even though I'm not sure if we were meant to see the giant mutant snake smiling right at us into the camera. Texturing is pretty bad throughout, simply because as already mentioned, it gave me a visual headache and seemed like a color overdose. I can see though that an attempt was made at trying to make the whole thing look like a ship. There is a nice effect in the lava rooms with the flowing lava and its flame emitters placed everywhere, but that's about it. The lighting and texturing was bad and to much the same and monotone in the giant water room, making that room even more confusing than it already was. Not the greatest level, but for the most part if was do-able at least." - Sethian (12-Oct-2011)
"Embedded in long flybys at the beginning and end of the adventure, this is an interesting setting as you play on a rather vast airship and it is mostly and explorer level that has you find keys and items you need for progression with relatively little puzzling or agility action in between. It was a bit odd to often have tables or boxes you could push around a lot with no apparent purpose and when they did have a purpose it was usually not really a puzzle - just moving a few boxes in an obvious sequence. As others I did experience a few issues with the framerate due to the rather excessive use of objects - I guess mainly the garden section in the middle of the ship, but what I found rather more annoying was that once the stompers were activated they continued to shake the screen for the remainder of the level which was really a nuisance and they should have been antitriggered. There are some rather original moments here, like the dousing of a fire by shooting a window to let water drop or the cool scene when the second ship docks onto the big one. And there is a huge room with platforms, which I generally really enjoy, but it felt a bit too huge and tedious to traverse after a while, especially when retracing my steps after picking up a secret. Still, all in all quite a special and memorable level and very worthy entry into the competition. [1:20, 3/5 secrets]" - MichaelP (09-Oct-2011)
"Ninja pirate smugglers lol, every year we have a builder or two who don't take things too seriously, and that's a good thing too. The initial flyby was very nice and set the mood to explore the huge airship from top to bottom. I too have experienced a slight lagging a few times, but never got to the point of being disturbing. Due to the location the level is a bit on a shortish side, but offers varied, entertaining gameplay throughout. I expected a little more enemies, this is a pirate (/ninja/smuggler) ship after all. The pile of wood that never got lit on top a table that can be pushed out from under it was a bit weird. Shooting the window to put out the fire was an excellent touch. Enjoyable, good level." - Akcy (28-Sep-2011)
"The term Steampunk meant nothing to me before the current BtB competition, and I'm still not sure exactly what it's all about. However, in some strange way this level captures exactly what was in my imagination after the term was explained to me. The action takes place within and without a space ship under a fudge ripple (not a vanilla) sky, and near the end we're joined by an alien vessel commandeered by a giant dragon. Some of the reviews mentioned frame delay or lagging, but I never even noticed this except for a brief time at the beginning and again just before the ending. Even then, it was only mildly annoying. In between I enjoyed about 80 minutes of fun raiding with plenty of light and a generous helping of five secrets. There was a bit of unwelcoming backtracking along the monkey swing in the huge water room, but that's about the only negative thing I can think of to say about this charming level. Lots of imagination, nice visual settings and loads of engaging gameplay accessible to players of all skill levels. Highly recommended." - Phil (26-Sep-2011)
"And here we have it - an entire level built to be an airship! So it indeed was the order I played them in, and had this not been the 10th level I finished (I played them in a largely random order), I might have had my airship wish fulfilled much sooner. Of course it is a much more functional version than the classical shape from, let's say, Laraitaly's Hindenburg 2 or ???'s Madness is not a Shame, succumbing to the need of incorporating some gameplay into the settings as well, but it works passably overall. While the initial fly-by is indeed very competently done as many have pointed out, the settings, room geometry and some gameplay choices betray that this may be the work of a builder who's still trying to find his/her voice. No doubt, there are some fairly clever ideas thrown in - like the way you put out one of the fires in order to get a puzzle item; I thought the placement of the secrets was nice (found a total of 3) and the arrival of the ninja-pirate ship makes for a great twist from regular gameplay - but it doesn't yet show the confidence of a more experienced builder. What do I mean by that? For example, just like you wouldn't merely stuff a room full of shadows and turn down the brightness of ambient lighting when trying to convey a sense of darkness - to convey the feeling of a size/scale, one would not necessarily use a series of a big rooms, but have a reasonably clear picture of what one wants to build and construct it using a series of (usually) smaller rooms. Vanilla Sky is largely composed of large, tall rooms that are more often than not rather filled with a plethora of objects (hence the lagging, which I will address in a moment) rather than gameplay. With the map being fairly open-ended right from the start, giving this a sense of faux-nonlinearity, the course is actually surprisingly straightforward when distilled to the essential elements. While this shows that the author has grasped the basics well enough, enough of it also hints that the concept might have turned out to be a bit much to handle or at least ended up not as thoroughly planned to make for a fully satisfying gaming experience. The sections that seemed to have potential - like the thumper-thingy and conveyor belt section could be bypassed entirely with a strategic jump over the fence into the next area, a lot of knife-traps were wasted in a huge water room, where you barely spend any time in the water anyway, and the start of the game was just running around all the various settings available to you at the time and collecting items that allow you to reach the areas described at the beginning of this sentence. Maybe that's just me, but I don't consider that to be very compelling gameplay. The looks are overall nice with clean texturing and nice illumination, but some oddities such as a strange texture choice for climbable surfaces and the enormous rooms do stand out. And then there's the lagging. To be fair - that's more of an engine than builder's fault - but part of the challenge to the competition and building levels in general is knowing what limitations you are working against and since this is an issue I encountered pretty much throughout the entire level, I can't imagine that nothing at all could've been done about it. Since the builder fortunately doesn't introduce any task that would be excruciating to perform with the lag time, I did not factor it in my ratings, but I couldn't not mention it too. I'm surprised, but also happy for the builder, that the level has fared so well in the competition, as it is a fun raid with great sparks of creativity to boot, but under my criteria (elaborated in the points made above) I had to go on rating it lower than the general consensus has been so far." - eTux (26-Sep-2011)
"I must say I dislike vanilla quite a lot, especially when vaped (yuk!), but I didn't find this entry sickening at all, quite on the contrary. Pirates take hold of the space vessel Lara's in and she has to rescue the ship and escape, business as usual but rather well done. I liked the looks and the puzzles, although I got a bit confused from time to time. All very well thought of and amazingly good looking, no building flaws or bugs that I may have noticed, one of this year's great entries, that's for sure (even with the huge water room with slicers that happens to be mostly only a passage). Recommended indeed." - Jorge22 (25-Sep-2011)
"A good idea (I loved specially the part where the dragon ship arrives), that could be much improved in terms of gameplay. If the player doesn't care for non-essential items, he/she can finish the game very easily, without going through any of the difficult parts: hammers, conveyor belt, lava pool, etc. - and this is the main fault of the game. As Lara can jump the rail and arrive at the other part of the fenced area (to pick up the all-important crowbar, dislodge a moving block , and come back this way), the placing of the fuse is quite unnecessary. Moreover, it activates the hammers and the consequent trembling of the screen, which, at least in my case, could NOT be stopped by the wheel mechanism. Besides that, the game has the additional fault of slow motion parts (that is, Lara's movements become too slow in some environments) and an exaggerated use of foliage: what's the point of obstructing completely our vision when Lara is at the high part of the leafy room? Considering all this, I'd like to thank the author and tell him/her that he/she can still turn this into a really great level, and that I hope that he/she does it." - Josey (19-Sep-2011)
"A note first: Vanilla Sky was the only BtB2011-Level at which I was glad and happy and had made three crosses when I was at the end of the level. Such lagging hadn't I in any other level. I had partly 6 FpS. 15 FpS on an average and relatively seldom I could play quite normally. At the first attempt I already run out of steam after a few minutes playing time.On the second try it was not better, but I've fought my way through anyway. So that nobody understands me wrong: This is no criticism of the level builder! And of course it is no reason to devalue the level.
And now a few remarks to the level: I fear that I have seen not all rooms. I have namely jumped in the room with the tampers simply over the fence and have got in this way the crowbar. I have no idea what I would have had to make before, but because of the massive lagging problems I had absolutely no nerve to explore once again the whole ship. This is of course quite pity, because the level is well playable, in principle. Thus, for example, the area with the plants looks very good. It is a pity really that I can appreciate the level not properly, because I have seldom a little more exactly looked at the surroundings.
Result: The only, but, unfortunately, almost continuous problem is the lagging.. An in principle good level thereby became nearly unplayable." - Scottie (19-Sep-2011)
"This surreal"ship" level starts with an impressive flyby making the player start playing right away and since the game play is quite straightforward and not overly hard, progress is made rather easily and Lara moves from room to room, shooting glass walls and picking up items. The machine room of the ship was even better than the initially visible part and game play in that area was good but not overly challenging (except for one tricky jump) with some good lava jumping and an impressive and huge water room with platforms and monkey swings. There is an interesting change of pace where a second ships pulls up, ninjas emerge and a giant dragon appears, which ads even more to the surreal appearance of the level. But not all was positive here and the main gripe of course would be the awful fps drop in the green house are and the fact that I spent at lest one hour searching the upper portion of the trees with zero visibility and being convinced that there was an important item somewhere up on those walkways. Another thing that bothered me was the fact that once past the pistons the screen shook frequently and I think this effect lasted all the way to the end. While not perfect, the texturing, lighting and atmosphere was good and in overall it was a fun level and definitely one without any hard and frustrating parts. (1h 16min, 1 secret found)" - Blue43 (18-Sep-2011)
"The first BtB level I played and despite of the enourmous lagging I found the choice of objects quite nice to spice up the airship. The starting cutscene was one of the best in the contest, I think. However, I found the tasks on top of the airship a little bit dull, too much exploration around the huge area did confuse me quite a lot. The tasks in the stage below weren't really better as there were way too many block puzzles, some of them even without an item to find. Getting through the conveyor belts was quite a task, the pole jump directly to the monkeyswing was pretty difficult too, but the following rooms (lava and water) were a bit dull again, as they seemed so huge but there only was one path to go and you get outside pretty fast again, without any challenge. At least, the end was quite special with the ninja airship docking on the big one and a nice end cutscene finished this level, that graphically was mostly good, with for my taste at parts a bit too uniform textures, but that did not really spoil the overall atmosphere that really was ambient." - manarch2 (17-Sep-2011)
"I kind of liked the level texture and gameplay-wise but there was a very annoying camera jamming thing which makes the game slow down which really annoys me! I think this happened because the place was huge and there was a lot of objects everywhere. Not in all rooms this happens so it is not very annoying. This was pretty fun to play because exploring the ship was fun and the areas were nice. It was a creative level but sometimes it can be hard to know where to go and what to do. I did enjoy this level and I don't hate it but if the builder would make another level please make sure it doesn't slow down and I know you will make brilliant levels that might make it to the Hall Of Fame! Pretty enjoyable level and recommendable." - afzalmiah (16-Sep-2011)
"The author has created a kind of ship. Very large rooms, slowing down older machines, have to be explored. Gameplay is straight forward - at least concerning the sequences an elaborate concept is visible. A great pool-area with knives and ledges - only to find teh way back to the starting-area? Not quite convincing. No challenging actions are to be performed. It is annoying that there are so great distances to be covered. An outstanding atmosphere is not created, gameplay is not quite creative. Lightning effects are more than average, they push the game up. Not my favourite game of the competion up to now." - Christian (13-Sep-2011)
"This level was a mixed bag for me. First of all, I really, really hate lag it gives me such a headache. I realize the builder had a vision of a big ol' cool airship and yes, it's cool and it's really big and there in lies the problem. It was a real pain running the length of that thing figuring out what to do. Honestly, it would not have bothered me as much if the level wasn't so bogged down. I thought the atmosphere was decent, but needed more cool decor to sell the airship theme, however, more stuff would have made Lara run in slow motion, so that couldn't have worked. Where there was lots to do, I managed to avoid the toughest segment, the stompers, by side jumping a fence. Whenever possible, I am like Indiana Jones and I will always choose shooting the guy with a sword, rather than fight him. When I saw the stompers, I immediately started looking for an easier way around them, and it paid off, because I found a secret by accident, yay! That room, and the room beyond it, notwithstanding, the level tended to suffer from too big room, too little to do syndrome, sadly, which was seen in the enormous water room with blades. I did, however, love the secret in that room that empties water. I even suffered a bit of a panic attack when I got up to the top of the ship and didn't have book in hand. It took a bit of thinking and realizing about 100 years ago I, in fact, obtained a crowbar. There was a place I thought the builder could have been a bit more merciful and allowed a door to be opened after visiting the place twice and having to crawl twice to get out. If the level was more complicated, this would have been super annoying, it's just one door open trigger! I did think the level looked pretty good, but it needed more interesting things to do and definitely more enemies to kill with all those weapons obtained. I killed what I thought was a final boss, but in fact, I didn't have to. Oh well, the level looked nice and is definitely worth playing." - Shandroid (06-Sep-2011)
"Who knows!. Perhaps because of its wonderful atmosphere is among the most popular level. But its challenges seem less inspired than others. I had some slowdown due to overloading of baroque furniture." - requiemsoul (05-Sep-2011)
"A very cute level, it wasn't overly hard and the gameplay elements were mostly run of the mill sorts of things I found reminding me of TR2 - I actually had a fun with it, I wasn't left stumped for more than 5 minutes at a time and there were the occasional novel event. (Like the tank puzzle in the flame room, very fun.) The best elements of the level in my opinion were the application of textures, the room geometry and the stunning fly-by sequences, which really showed off the airship! The ship itself was really quite nice and I've never played anything like it. Something like an immense cruise ship, only in the sky. I loved the idea, and the way the builder takes us through from the top to the bottom and then back to the top without backtracking." - Laras Backpack (04-Sep-2011)
"Like others reviewers, I encounter a serious lag in this level (and I can assure that's not due to my hardware) and what a shame we can't change the settings with TRNG (like TREP). The reason of this lag is cited by dmdibl and there are also the plants & trees counts too many polygons for the TR4 engine in my view. Fortunately there is no timed-run in this level and despite this problem, I had a good time. Having said that, the main puzzle is rather strange because approximately 50% of the tasks are linked to the secrets or various items (MP & ammo) and if you know the way for the main quest, the game can be finished very quickly." - Jerrod (03-Sep-2011)
"As already said, the most impressive moment of this level is the flyby sequence at the start of the level. The looks are simply very impressive and you are looking really forward to play this level. It's also quite fun to explore the well constructed upper decks of the ship.Texturing and lighting is also well done and tasteful. The game lost me too in the huge pool room. It's impressive in it's dimensions, but very less impressive, how it's used in this ship. One side is, that it made not much sense in this ship. There would have been needed some connections to the machinery of the ship or alltogether to the rest of the ship and second this room is a waste of gameplay opportunities. As one example, why not use all the knifes in the water for some nice gameplay ideas? they just didn't made any sense to me. So I was happy to have made it through this boring room. Gameplay alltogether is on the weak side, which means not much original and interesting is going on. A nice touch is the pirate ship near the end. So for the next levels the author should pay more attention to develope crative, interesting gameplay ideas. The start of the level promised a top entry into the contest. The rest couldn't come up with this." - Raymond (02-Sep-2011)
"It is tough to create a convincing airship locale within the constraints of the level editor, but fortunately, this builder has managed it. There are some surprisingly realistic touches in the airship, like the cosy looking bedrooms (interesting method of creating beds, despite the lack of suitable objects and textures), as well as a greenhouse, pool room, and a machinery room. There's also a huge water-filled room, whose purpose remains obscure, but it looks good. The lighting is lovely in certain places, for example, in the room where you place the book. Some of the rooms look a bit empty (or crate-filled, which is almost worse, IMO). It's great to be able to explore even the rooftops of the ship.
Objects are a little strangely used at times - for example, I'm not sure what was the point of the pile of wood on one pushable table or the piece of pipe on another. Some of the necessary keys and other items tend to blend into the background. The severe framerate drop in certain areas is distracting (though I understand that the builder couldn't help it). Enemies are mostly just a few ninja pirates, who are easy enough to kill since you get the crossbow early on. The dragon seems to be just for show, as it's possible to end the level without killing it.
There are some cool moments, like shooting a window to pour water onto a fire. The level flows quite smoothly, without being too easy. There are couple of tedious bits, like the ultra-long monkey-swing in the water filled room (which you have to use twice if you go for one of the secrets).
Speaking of secrets, I really like the one where you have to drain and then flood a corridor to access a secret room. Overall: A very enjoyable level in a unique setting, with only a few minor shortcomings. Recommended." - Mytly (02-Sep-2011)
"The opening flyby sets the stage, sweeping down the length of a huge steampunk airship with ninja at the helm, and Lara traveling incognito in one of the cabins. I was certainly set for an adventure. Exploring the upper decks should be fun, as Lara can actually get up on the roof and run over the top of an arboretum and sculpted swimming pool, and drop down a ladder to a collection of steampunk objects on the way to the control room. The problem is that the entire airship is onscreen, and Lara's motion may drop to about ten frames per second. On the main deck, Lara soon picks up a couple of keys, but there are singularly few activities among crowded objects. The original promise of the flyby never quite materializes. Lara will end up going through storage areas with flame emitters. There is a large lava room with pickups that aren't really needed (once Lara gets the crowbar). One can just barely conceive this as the lowest deck of a steampunk airship, but then Lara plunges into a cavernous water room, empty of everything but a few platform jumps, an excessively long monkey swing, one jump switch, and two secrets. At this point the level lost me; I would have forgone the secrets to get out of there faster. Near the end a dragon pirate ship docks. Lara gets a Mysterious Key, and since she already has all five secrets this must be a reward for her to keep. Lara ends up at the helm of the airship. The idea, and the opening stage as set by the flyby certainly have merit--after all Taras did a pirate ship in less space that had more to do. Sight lines needed to be restricted to prevent frame drop. Play took about an hour and a half." - dmdibl (01-Sep-2011)
"A beautiful and very colourful level.Hardly any puzzles to be solved so it`s just finding and using items. Unfortunately Lara is able to climb under or jump over a fence illegally so the player may even shorten his raid in this adventure. The picking up of additional weapons and ammo as secrets is immense so Lara seems a little bit overloaded with heavy artillery that nobody really needs in this game. May be this is why she moves very slowly in some places but that is probably a TRNG problem as the frame rate drops almost below the limit sometimes. A good idea to use the fiery steam of a dragon to start up the airship.Taking home a Mysterious Key as a reward Lara is heading towards her next BtB adventure." - Ruben (31-Aug-2011)
"This is one of the shorter entries in this year's Back to Basics, but entertaining enough whilst it lasts and certainly provides a bit of breathing space between some of the rather more frantic episodes. The idea of the ship is nicely executed and you will certainly have to deal with a few ninja pirates, but otherwise the action is straightforward and should be within the capabilities of most raiders, apart from one or two sequences to obtain secrets, which provide more challenge, but could of course be skipped if you don't feel quite up to it. There are some good elements here, with nice contrast between the fire and water areas, but I just felt it slightly lacked cohesion. Also, the rather abundant use of foliage, whilst looking good, proved to be a bit disorientating in certain areas. Still most enjoyable though." - Jay (30-Aug-2011)
"An interesting level . This level takes place in a space ship full of ninja. Quite straightforward (always search a key and look for it hole) , i like especially the big water room and the lava room. Rooms are a little bit blocky without a lot of object except the main floor but despite that the level is well-realized." - Glouglouton (30-Aug-2011)
"A large steamship ploughing through the skies, crewed by ninjas and with the bilges full of lava (?). Well, that's the situation in this strange level. I say 'strange' because for some reason I never felt drawn into the gameplay, I never felt"Oh, just another 10 minutes". The gameplay is fairly straight-forward, find keys and switches, shoot ninjas. There's little agility, no timed runs and not much puzzling. The areas are well made apart from the over abundance of foliage in the upper central area, maybe to hide the secret I failed to find. The lighting is generally good and nicely atmospheric outside the ship although the inside of the dragon's ship was unnecessarily dark. All-in all a pretty good level of 1 hour 30 minutes duration that, for some reason, failed to 'ring my bell'." - Diz (27-Aug-2011)
"This level is set on an airship, and your progression takes you all around it; it makes for a really unique theme that fits the contest perfectly. There's also a lot of mesh use and many areas are extremely open (you can see almost the entire top part of the ship at points). While it looks great this is a level I have to mention framerates on; newer maps frequently drop the framerate for me, but this map caused probably the most major drops I've seen when looking across the ship, and those on a weak computer might have major problems playing it. Some of the middle section also seemed a bit more undetailed than the rest.
The gameplay is fine but the main puzzles and traps are a little too condensed into the centre part of the ship; the upper half is mostly finding scattered objects (one key in particular is a bit too blended in) and, while impressively immense, the lower half is a platforming section with most of the central part going unused (and some of the platforming optional for secrets). The pacing would be smoother if things were mixed up a little. It ends with a satisfying boss set-piece, and despite that pacing issue this is another great contender." - Mman (26-Aug-2011)