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The City of Wonders by Ben Best

alan 4 5 6 5
Boris 8 8 7 7
CC 6 6 8 7
Dimpfelmoser 6 7 9 8
eTux 7 6 6 6
Gerty 8 7 8 7
Jay 6 7 7 8
JesseG 6 7 6 7
Jose 4 6 7 7
Kristina 8 7 7 7
MichaelP 6 7 6 8
Momster 5 7 7 7
Necro 8 7 7 6
Phil 6 7 7 8
RaiderGirl 7 7 7 8
Ryan 6 7 7 8
Sash 8 7 7 8
Tombaholic 7 7 7 7
Treeble 9 7 7 7
release date: 04-Oct-2001
# of downloads: 52

average rating: 6.88
review count: 19
review this level

file size: 20.50 MB
file type: TR4
class: Egypt

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"I don't even know what I did but somehow I managed to finish this level. I left with a star, a portal guardian, and an empty receptacle where I had to place a gem I didn't bother to find in that horrendous maze with trespassable walls, because it probably just turned off the spikes in the room below, but I managed to get through them eventually. Not bad but I certainly wouldn't want to play this again." - alan (08-Feb-2023)
"This level has a pretty unique opening sequence. Lara rounds the corner and finds several enemies running away from her. This unusual behavior peaked my interest and I found myself chasing them across the city with guns ablaze in case they were about to steal something. The cool part is that by the time I gunned down the last guy, he dropped a key right in front of its receptacle as if he were about to use it. That's quite an engaging and imaginative interaction with enemies that you don't see often. The next bit was nice too - instead of the doors nearby opening as expected, the key causes an earthquake and a cave-in which Lara must carefully descend through before proceeding (a camera cue for the cave-in would have been nice). Unfortunately the gameplay goes downhill from there as Lara finds herself in a labyrinth of winding halls and staircases. Not only that, but there are some fake walls included, and some of those fake walls are "one way" so enemies can shoot at you through them but you can't shoot back. Perhaps the intention was to make the sense of reality warped, but there are ways to do that that don't hurt the gameplay as much as this. Another issue is there are two buttons to flood and unflood a room to grab a star, but the buttons can only be used once and you can get yourself stuck if you fail to grab the star. A side note that doesn't affect my rating: I was able to grab the scepter prematurely by getting past the spiked tunnel without using the diamond to flood it beforehand. Potentially a player could skip a large amount of the level that way, although it's quite a bit of an extra challenge to take that shortcut. As far as visuals go, we have pretty boxy rooms with flat lighting and a fair amount of wallpapering. Some switches were also lacking camera cues which really could have helped the player. If the entire level was engaging like the beginning section then I would recommend this, but the maze-centric gameplay that takes the majority of time makes me hesitant to do so. 34 minutes." - JesseG (10-Nov-2020)
"There are some pretty neat flipmaps and traps in this level and I liked the floating platform sequences, but unfortunately I found the majority of the gameplay rather irritating. The walkthrough wall maze and the underwater replication of passages had me twisting and turning this way and that, and the walkthrough wasn't much of a help, so the whole experience was rather spoilt. The majority of the corridors were also a bit plainly textured, although lighting was quite colourful in places. Still, if you're a maze fan, you'll be in your element with this one." - Ryan (09-Dec-2018)
"I found this both clever and irritating in equal measure. Some of the flipmap effects are impressive and the spike traps well done. I also liked the 'invisble' platforms, which weren't really at all hard to see, but looked good. Where I really fell out of love with the whole thing was in the walkthrough wall maze - yes, it was well done, but I felt positively dizzy after a while. There are ninjas throughout, which do tend to make boring enemies, but I did like the initial scene where two of them and a dog are racing away from Lara. Some good parts, but are they enough to make up for the tedious bits? You may want to decide for yourself. Or not!" - Jay (04-Sep-2016)
"Even when I found some missing textures, the environments are nice and the architecture is convincent. The tasks are not difficult, but the nasty maze full of phantom walls only to find a couple of buttons totally ruined the gameplay. Also the other nasty UW maze with a replica of the first water room was not funny for me too. Enemies are well balanced, and I found enough pickups to survive. There are some interesting ideas, but not enough to give a high rating 'cause I wasted most of the time running through the mazes with no fun." - Jose (08-Feb-2016)
"I stuck with this one until nearly the end, because the builder had been kind enough to provide his own walkthrough. This enabled me to get the first secret past a fake wall that I would otherwise never have thought to try. I persevered through the maze whose main feature was fake walls. At this point the walkthrough basically said "you're on your own." The first of two buttons was relatively easy to find, but I must have wandered around aimlessly for nearly a half hour before I stumbled across the second one. The underwater maze near the end was where I called it quits. There are plenty of air holes along the way, so there's no real danger of drowning, but my idea of a good time is not swimming through endless featureless corridors seeking a way out. By this time I had spent about forty- five minutes of net gaming time, which I figured was plenty. If you're a mazeochist, this is the level for you." - Phil (30-Jun-2015)
"Already the "Chamber of Wonder" proved that Ben knows a great deal about using flipmaps effectively and the secret arts of overlapping rooms, yet with this level I officially pronounce him the king of flipmaps and the overlapped room technique. Those who wanted to get the author's debut level, but more of it, essentially can get it through "The City of Wonders", but at the same time not quite. The map is much more expansive this time, the gameplay ideas a tad more ambitious, and there's more in the way combat with Bedouin mercenaries sneaking in the ruins, various wraiths making your life difficult along with the familiar crocodiles and scorpions. The author again shows a great deal of creativity with the massive flipmap for the chasm in the amphitheater, when using water to create a safe passage through spikes, flooding and draining rooms, and the labyrinthine staircase has to be the closest a TR level has ever been to make its geometry Escher-like. But the mazelike setting for me was the level's downfall. I did not even mind the aforementioned staircase, since with a systematic approach it was actually quite fun to get lost in its space-time defying knots and twirls, but the holographic maze (already located within a maze), as well as the underwater channels were a bit too much for me, and trying to defend them would be me trying to square a circle. It's like trying to stand for your friend subscribing to 9/11 conspiracy theories - he's still a nice friend, but you can't help but feel exasperated at this particular fascination of his/hers. In addition to the mazes, there's a certain level of non-linearity to it, which in here means you need to acquire certain items (crowbar) before it even pays to hunt for the others (3 stars, then the gem, then the scepter) and if you don't you might end up running around here for a long time, which is not much helped by the intricate setup of the crypt. Even more puzzling than that is that you can pretty much skip the hunt for the crowbar, gem and stars and with some persistence get through the spike hallway just using good timing... which is what I did the first time when playing. In itself doing the spike chamber could actually be a nice expert's challenge, and I can sort of see how at the time of the level's release the author may not have anticipated anyone to be crazy enough to even attempt getting through, but alas, this shortcut is there for anyone willing to try. The looks are solid, but nothing that stands out from the crowd (could've used some more complex lighting), but the reason I'm not going into great detail about them is that if there's a thing this level is worth playing for, it's the tasks rather than the looks. When given the choice I actually much prefer "Chamber" to this level. The linearity, playfulness and raw creativity was what made it a great gem of a level I might gladly return to in the future - the complex setup of this one is not so enticing despite some good ideas of its own. If you only ever play one Ben Best level - I'd recommend going for "Chamber of Wonder," but treating yourself to this one as well is a very good idea indeed. Found 3 secrets." - eTux (22-Apr-2012)
"This level caused all sorts of problems for me. Firstly, I used Level Manager to run this level and I ended up in the flyby level. Then I tried the old skool method and the game crashed. I finally found a way to run it though. Copy the tr4 and not the script files and it worked. I liked some of the ideas in this level but I hated the maze area and it made matters worse when there were loads of walls you could walk through which made the maze harder. I guess it's good if you like maze challenges but I loath them. Once I got that part out of the way, the level was pretty good but I must admit, there are parts of the level where you are unsure of where to go next and you may have gone the right way but there was no indication that you have made it furthur; e.g. the part where you are in an underwater room with various passages and you have to find the right way out. The right way leads you to a passage exactly like the one you used to enter, so thinking I went the wrong way and back out towards the beginning, I jumped back into the water. After looking at the walkthrough I should have carried on. Maybe this was an error on the Author's part or maybe it was intentional to create a hard level. Either way I wasn't so keen on this method. It took a little longer to complete than his last level and it certainly was more challenging. If you wanna good challenge give this a go." - Necro (14-May-2008)
"The city is in the desert nice buildings and a amphitheatre that you accidentally blow up. It's a pity about some textures being blacked out or missing. That famous wraith in my game found a way not to die on the eagle statue. I stood there for ages losing health. I cheated to get more medpacks thinking it was a bit on the slow side. But it just wouldn't die and I had to keep the cheat to stay alive. I see others had the same problem so I don't feel so bad. It all gets very confusing after a while with stairs going up and down and underwater tunnels and I couldn't figure out what was going on 'til I read about the walkthrough and swim through walls. The stairs themselves are annoying as the ceiling is so low that Lara running up and down them makes your view bounce up and down very annoying. And the maze with run-through walls had me going around and around like a headless chicken looking for those two switches and a star. Lighting a flare is no use as the lighting itself is practically non-existent. I stumbled over the secret by accident too. When I finally placed the three stars naturally I was locked in forever because I didn't realise I had to move quickly to escape. Hard to describe this level. I liked the room with invisible platforms and the room where the blocks transform into ledges and believe it or not I liked the swim tunnel with spikes shooting out from all directions. All this is very realistic the unrealistic part was the transporter back to the start looks like maybe this was a tool to just end the level quickly. I had to rely on the walkthrough after a while otherwise I wouldn't have known what to do. I know one thing I won't be playing this again. It is quite a challenge though." - CC (25-Jan-2004)
"Four sevens - not a bad hand if you're playing poker. This author has so many clever ideas more of which are seen here. The great flip effect with the chasm the harrowing descent with a wraith on your heels. But what this level is ultimately all about is a labyrinth. A labyrinth within which you'll find a water maze and yet another sub-maze with walkthrough walls that had me feeling slightly nauseated after running through it for a while. To further bewilder things spatial relationships do not apply so that you may find yourself running through a corridor which goes through the same space occupied by another corridor. Confused yet? The bottom line is no matter how cleverly designed a maze does not make a TR level. If you're really a fan of mazes though this one is worthy of your attention." - Tombaholic (22-Jan-2004)
"Wow! Gotta say this is quite a wonder-level! It will get you wondering every couple steps you take! If you played the Chambers Of Wonders you know what to expect but don't think it's going to be as easy as that one was! One hour long this level is quite a maze and I admit I had to take a peek at the walkthrough - there are these water rooms which will make you feel you're always in the same one and to know you are not you have to get out of the water and look for the difference! Also red marks the spot. Whenever you see red run to it. As dumb as I was I went through the spikes running and dying and when I finally got past those deadly spikes (thumbs up for the way this trap was used!) I discovered I could have flooded that room if only I knew about the two different twin water rooms. Well a confusing review to a confusing level is quite fair in my opinion lol. Another remarkable point was the almost invisible tiles to get across a pit (for the first time ever a wrath helped me!) and also right at the beginning the interesting elevating flipmap! Worth checking it out!" - Treeble (25-Dec-2003)
"Much better than the rest of the author's levels. Being in a setting that looks like karnak outside and clearly Egyptian textures inside the player is out to get the Scepter of Wonders. Along the way you will also find three stars and a gem. Again the 'magic' blocks are here to help with climbing and also pass a room with deadly floor. The tube in the spike room was a nice touch but I hated the maze with the walkthrough textures I left my sanity in there in the quest for two buttons and the duplicate areas. I got frustrated trying to find my way until I found out that there two areas very similar that need exploring. Watch out for walkthrough walls and explore all the rooms even they look familiar. Ninjas scorpions and a lonely crocodile are enemies to be found. I did enjoy most of it and if you're not allergic to mazes play it." - Kristina (04-Jul-2003)
"Lara learns of a secret city where an ancient artifact the Scepter of Wonders is hidden and can only be found using another artifact which has just been stolen from the Cairo museum. She decides to follow the thieves to this city where she plans to outsmart them and take the Sceptor for herself. I enjoyed Ben's first level because of the clever puzzles and cool effects and he has done more of the same here. There's a small city in the desert that is hiding the real city underground and first you have to find your way there and then there are three golden stars and a gem to collect before you can pick up the Sceptor. Now I liked the odd stairs and the puzzles to retrieve the first two stars but the mazes were annoying and either involved walkthrough walls or an underwater maze where everything looked exactly alike. I found these to be confusing and to add to that my elemental would not die on the bird statue so I had to put up with it the rest of the level. But in the end I got my prize plus three secrets and was on my way home again." - RaiderGirl (17-Feb-2003)
"It took me forever to figure out that I need to rename the TR4 file in this so I could play but I was determined as I had liked 'Chamber of Wonders' so much. I am afraid I am disappointed. If I never see another useless maze again it will be too soon much less a useless maze with walkthrough walls! Over an hour playing this level and most of it walking through walls looking for 2 stupid switches. Besides that the other 20 minutes was grand. The dash from the wraith down the pit after the earthquake...guess that's about it." - Momster (13-Sep-2002)
"Taking a leaf out of 'The Chambers of Wonder' book this 50 minute level uses all of its brilliant and wondrous aspects and actually puts them all together to make a really nice but at times absolutely confusing level. The goal here is to find the Scepter of Wonders and then locate a magical transporter to take you back to the starting room and the end as well as looking for 3 secrets. To achieve this you will not only have to make your way down a newly opened deep hole as a ghost chases you all the way to then be brought face to face with a fire spirit and then finally a croc but you also need to locate 3 stars one in an unbelievably disorientating walk through wall maze that when found will give you access to a gem if you're quick that is and then finally to the Scepter after a great swim through a circular room full of angry retracting spikes. With the use of passageways that turn in on themselves or into areas that aren't physically possible floating platform tiles that rise from the ground the possibility to cut water off mid stream and as I have already stated walk through walls this is definitely a city of wonders." - Sash (21-Jun-2002)
"This level stays in the tradition of the previous level of the author and also ends with a teleport back to the start of the level to end it there after a little less than an hour. I did like the three secrets you find and some of the ideas where really nice and show good use of flipmaps. There is also a bit of action with about a dozen ninjas and an occasional other enemy to deal with (rather annoying the wraith on the climb down into the pit. But I am not and never will be a fan of walkthru walls and there are plenty of those here and that got me stuck for a while in that maze and became very tedious although the grey walls actually help you find your way. The swim through the spikes was kind of cool though but all in all I have to say I enjoyed the Chambers of Wonders more than the City." - Michael (21-Jun-2002)
"A level compact of rooms that changes holographic walls submerged labyrinths starting from an earthquake that does collapse an ancient palace. Lara has to find an artifact but first 3 golden stars and a gem. The difficulty is middle even if at the beginning a little more difficulty after the earthquake you want to move rapidly and precisely to not die. The graphics is good but the effect lights is nearly absent sin!" - Boris (21-Jun-2002)
"Every time I tried to upload this game I was thrown to my dekstop. Even after downloading it several times. A friend of mine was so kind to send his download to me thanks Doug and finally I could play it. I was curious after playing the first level by this author and wondered what he would come up with. Well I found this a hard game. It starts by running for your life after an earthquake opened up the floor with a wraith right behind you that is hard especially when the abyss is deep. Spikes almost invisible platforms sort of holographic projections invisible walls that close you in a maze I found very confusing LOL the whole game was confusing. Don't like the narrow stairs though the camera doesn't work well it made me queasy. Getting 3 stars to get the Scepter of Wonders is the main goal here. Found 3 secrets more by accident then I was looking for them. I was not disappointed and like in his first game I was rather impressed." - Gerty (21-Jun-2002)
"What a let down. This starts so wonderful. Chasing two baddies and their dog around the picturesque temple and the way you can see the wraith coming to you from the other end of the square. But that's were the trouble starts cause you won't get rid of the wraith (well I couldn't). True from a certain stage it becomes harmless but it's highly irritating all the same. The other lowpoint for me was the holographic maze. I'm not a big fan of the maze in the first place but a narrow labyrinth with walkthrough walls is just a total nightmare. Another strange thing was that at some points you got shot at with no visible enemy and not even Lara's guns were able to detect anything. I have to admit that jumping over the invisible platforms while the wraith was doing his rounds underneath was a great experience but once you reach the maze section of the level I couldn't help but fall back on the walkthrough from time to time cause I was fed up with getting lost in some corridors that all looked the same to me. It's a shame really if there was less of a maze in this one it would have been a great level cause there are some neat ideas and the texturing is very professional (if a little repetitive). On the other hand if you happen to be a fan of walkthrough walls and the maze this might become your favourite." - Dimpfelmoser (21-Jun-2002)