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BtB2016 - The Buried City of Susa by Jose

Adrian 7 8 9 8
DJ Full 9 10 9 8
Drakan 10 9 9 9
Jay 8 8 9 10
JesseG 8 8 7 8
Jorge22 8 9 8 8
Josey 8 9 9 10
Magnus 5 5 5 6
manarch2 8 8 8 8
MichaelP 9 8 7 7
Mman 8 8 8 8
MrJavi94 7 8 9 8
Mytly 9 9 8 8
nerdfury 8 9 8 7
Nina Croft 10 9 8 8
Phil 9 10 10 9
Revenge 8 8 8 8
Ryan 8 8 9 9
Tolle87 8 9 10 8
Treeble 9 8 10 10
release date: 15-Apr-2017
# of downloads: 115

average rating: 8.31
review count: 20
review this level

file size: 94.20 MB
file type: TR4
class: Persia

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"(8) Gameplay & Puzzles: A medium-difficulty adventure that has a good variety of tasks. Enjoyable from start to finish. My favorite was the timed task in which you need to press 3 buttons quickly, based on the colors of balls that you see. This was unique and engaging, and I wish I had seen more tasks like these. The pillar-shimmying activity near the start of the game lasts too long, but it's not a huge deal. (9) Enemies, Objects & Secrets: A good variety of traps and object decor. The player initially has the choice to either explore A) the caves, where they'll find uzis, or B) they may explore in town. If they do the former, they will have an encounter with 1 chariot and 2 leopards, which really is too much with just pistols. (8) Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: The starting town atmosphere is not very convincing, however this improves significantly once you're in the lost city. A detractor to the environmental immersion is that the lost underground city looks so sterile. I think it would have been better if there was more "ruin-like" geometry to truly convince the player that they are in an ancient, mystical underground city. Caved in areas, etc. Camera hints, immersive flybys, and sound cues are all excellent. (7) Lighting & Textures: The texturing is well done, but I think that the builder missed an opportunity to make the underground city look truly mysterious, due to lighting issues. E.g, too uniform. Consider the holes in the cavern ceiling that let in rays of light. It would enhance immersion if the areas that are exposed to sunshine are bright, and other parts of the city are dark (aside from areas with torches, etc). 8/9/8/7." - nerdfury (31-Mar-2024)
"I think Jose should really work on object tinting because it almost doesn't exist and therefore often produces a very sharp cut between static props and room geometry. Still, the effort put both into interactive and decorative overlay of this level is extraordinary so I highlighted it with a 10 and substracted a point from lighting instead. Prologue visuals are crude in general and slow pacing makes you look at them for too long, but then you step into the actual city and solve a bunch of nice elemental challenges - and while the cuts between them are also very sharp, the entire set of those quests is very nice and more entertaining than I expected. Eventually, we also get a nice finale and it all sums up to be Jose's best level so far." - DJ Full (08-Jul-2019)
"This level really has been growing on me. I did not like the relatively crude design of the initial areas all that much and despite the clever tasks with the change of water levels. the push puzzle and hte jumps along the cracks on the pillars, it all felt a bit more like work instead of play. But starting from the flyby that introduces the colorful buried city area, I really enjoyed myself greatly with the tasks for the 4 scimitars. The little timed run with the oil lamp, the jumps in the lava room, another timed run and ledge jumps and my favorite- the trap room with the boulders and plenty of other devious devices that you had to navigate around. Very entertaining indeed. I did experience a small lag in the main city hub area but it was quite bearable and I did have a consistent crash if I was not patient and pressed another button while the valve wheel turning animation was still running, so make sure you avoid that as it will actually also corrupt your savegame somwhow. All in all, nice and fun gameplay here, especially in the later half of the level. [55 min, 1 secret]" - MichaelP (30-Jul-2017)
"The level starts in the nicely shaped underwater cave where you have several puzzles connected into one big puzzle in order to leave the correct amount of water inside the cave. Puzzles are easy but elaborate enough, so they really give you the feeling of accomplishment. Maybe there is some more backtracking and redoing things than it should, but it's no big deal. Above the cave you reach the desert area where you must do some physical tasks, avoid some deadly traps and do some coridă stuff. Soon after, you'll gain access to the tunnel that leads to the city of Susa which starts with a nice flyby that presents you a huge hub garden-like area. There are four separate quests which lead to four items that you need for reaching the final boss. Tasks are clever and original, including some torch-based timed runs, jumping through lava room and much more.....The boss fight is a classic scaling-the-big-room-around-the-boss type and it's simple but satisfying. There are some enemies (especially in the desert area) to keep you on standby, audio tunes and especially cameras are really nice and the level goes smoothly. There is one secret (for which you need five slightly hidden items first) which I managed to pick during beta-testing but not during replaying. Some reviewers mentioned game crashing, but it hasn't happened to me neither once. Overall, the level is more linear and player-friendly than "Amalthea Island" and Jose has provided us with another enjoyable adventure. 45 minutes, recommended." - Tolle87 (02-Jul-2017)
"The gameplay in the level is quite interesting, focusing on intelligent puzzles mixed with some traps and jumps. Raising/lowering the water level to different heights in the underwater caves is a cool idea – I just wish it hadn’t been marred by a bug in which the level kept crashing when Lara used one of the valves (I managed to get past this bug by reducing the resolution to the minimum). The cage pushable puzzle is not bad, but there should have been a bit more indication as to it purpose, as the shaft you are supposed to be uncovering isn’t visible beforehand. My favourite task is one where you have to jumps on islands in a lava room, and then jump on the corresponding safe tiles on the transparent floor above. The sequence where you have to outrun falling blocks is quite thrilling.
This level is divided into three distinct sections: the underwater caves at the beginning, the village area above ground, and the underground buildings at the end (the last of which I assume is supposed to be the buried city). The caves are not visually impressive – a lot of dark brown textures and dull lighting. The above ground area is not bad, though it’s fairly small, and the end of the world is visible from everywhere. The buried city itself, though, is quite pretty, centred as it is around a long, fountain-filled canal.
Overall: A nice level, with enjoyable gameplay, though lacking a bit in the visual department. Recommended." - Mytly (30-Jun-2017)
"Ah, Susa. Truly the greatest city of all time. Just amazing. A beautiful city and source of many beautiful things. Oh, and Lara's there and blah blah whatever. The author seems to be really into the city of Susa, and tries very hard to sell you on it. The opening flyby shows this big underwater area and a small bazaar above it, so I was starting to think that maybe there's something to all this Susa praise after all. Then I started swimming around and realized that the underwater area wasn't that big after all and was very awkwardly shaped, and that there were cracks everywhere. I adjusted my expectations accordingly after that, but I still wasn't prepared for the level to keep crashing at the same point - you need to turn a valve to first drain the underwater area and then fill it with water again, and the game would always crash when I turned the valve the second time (and a little bit later there's another valve that had the same issue). I tried everything I could think of to get past this point, but to no avail. This would have been a very short review, if someone hadn't posted a couple of savegames in the stuck thread for the level, which finally allowed me to progress. At this point I was extremely annoyed with the level, but fortunately for my blood pressure (and, let's face it, the score for the level), I'd spent so long trying to get the game not to crash that I had to stop playing for the day and was able to continue playing the level the next day without wanting to force the author to walk naked through the streets while Michael Prager rings a bell and shouts "shame!" over and over again. And the rest of the level is... well, it's standard BtB 2016 fare, really. After you're done playing with the water level and crashing the game (which also involves a puzzle with a mirror that I thought was too simple and a push-block puzzle I was glad was simple, because complex puzzles like that really tend to drag on), you do a couple of things in the bazaar, before finally reaching Susa (I mean, I assume - it could be any ancient Persian city, really), where most of the rest of the level revolves around finding four scimitars. This, naturally, means that you'll have to go through four different challenges, none of which are too taxing or too interesting. There's one where you have to do some precision platforming while avoiding a fire wraith, which is mostly annoying, and another one where the only real challenge is realizing that you have to step on two triggers in the corners. None of it is too engaging, but the challenges are at least varied, so if nothing else, it was interesting to see what the level would serve up next. It's an alright-looking level, but nothing too special. Susa itself is really just one large central room with the four scimitar rooms off to the side (plus the final room you're trying to open up, obviously). It looks nice enough, but it's pretty underwhelming, and it doesn't exactly fill you with awe the way you'd think an amazing city like Susa would. The level took me about forty-five minutes to finish, but I spent another forty-five minutes trying to get around the crashing, and another ten minutes reading about Susa on Wikipedia and UNESCO's website." - Magnus (26-Jun-2017)
"Visually this is a good looking map, although it does somewhat improve as it goes along, with the first half involving an outdoor area with an obvious end to the world and relatively simplistic geometry (although the central underwater cave is nice) The main area of the second half looks pretty great, and objects are well used and quite varied. The weakest part is probably the lighting; it's mostly decent and there are some good touches here and there, but a lot of the bigger areas are somewhat monotone and flat in this regard. Gameplay isn't especially complex, but it stays engaging and keeps a good flow, along with wrapping up in a decently satisfying way. Like a lot of people I had problems with crashing while using the valves, after I realised it's essentially random it wasn't too big a deal though, as I could just brute force it in a few attempts. Since it's hard to tell whether it's a level or package problem I'm not sure what to think of this issue. A good level in itself, although it's unlikely to make my favourites list. It's a pretty ideal starting level for this BTB though as it covers a lot of the package without being overly long or difficult." - Mman (08-Jun-2017)
"Lara goes underground to explore the first city of the world. The gameplay has a good length to it. It offers a healthy amount of puzzles, traps, and exploration. I particularly liked the colorful boulders puzzle (which also acts as a timed run) though I would have loosened up the timing just a little bit. Using the sphinx to break stuff and progress was a nice change of pace from its uses in the other levels. The crashing was unfortunate, and other players have experienced it too. I was able to get around it by lowering my resolution and literally checking every box in the setup dialog, but I would have appreciated that the builder took effort to counteract it. I think more combat would have helped spice the game up more, and maybe have something more engaging for the final boss (instead of dodging an invincible guy). The decor is pretty good in the main areas, but more decorative objects would have helped flesh out the side areas. The starting area isn't the greatest first impression in terms of architecture, as it feels like the universe is just a narrow column of hills. The surroundings should have either been more expansive or raised above eye level so it didn't make the world feel so small. The buried city is built pretty well though (not bad for humanity's first attempt at a city!) I would have preferred more diverse audio, the same track plays every time you get a saber and it gets repetitive. There was a missing camera cue for a door opening beneath the sphinx enemy, but the flybys are used effectively. The caves feel a bit wallpapered, but the other areas are textured well. Colored lights are used effectively for puzzles, but I would have also liked to see more of it in the other areas, as overall it's just white light. Aside from the crashing it's a nice level that plays well. 1 hour 10 minutes." - JesseG (02-Jun-2017)
"This level starts with a rather oddly and not all too realistic outside area where the borders of the map are quite obvious, but at least the gameplay delivers here with an interesting pillar sequence and some quite challenging traps afterwards. In general there are a number of quirky puzzles to solve in this fun level, especially in the underground section later on and the timed run against the three boulders was quite inventive. Perhaps on the whole the game misses some more depth in some regards to receive higher scores from me, and I also think that the valve puzzle is quite buggy (even if actually quite well constructed) with a lot of crashes and the need to change the resolution of the game for whatever reason. The looks improve after the outside area, with decent, but not stunning architecture (maybe except of the large main area), good texturing and lighting and aptly applied music tracks and cameras. The boss „fight“ was certainly something different and actually more easy than you might think. Overall a nice entry in the competition that just like many others offers a very pleasant raid, this time 40 minutes with only one secret that nevertheless was nicely „scattered“ throughout the whole game..." - manarch2 (29-May-2017)
"Quite an adventure and rather cryptic at times (or so I felt), so I suppose it's a good thing the walkthroughs were already available by the time I got to play it. I liked the settings although they didn't actually look rock solid at all times. And the challenges were ok, even actually fun sometimes. I was glad the demigod at the end was really stupid as I would have had to be really clumsy for him to catch me. In fact, I prefer it that way: lots of emotion without having to die a thousand times. All in all, good game." - Jorge22 (23-May-2017)
"This level has a decidedly strong point: the illumination is very, very good. It has other strong points as well, for it is a beautiful level, pleasing to the eye, and has some fun and challenging sequences. Unfortunately, it has also some boring and frustrating actions. Examples of the former are the quests for 3 scimitars, specially the colored balls and buttons one (I loved it), and the mad run chased by falling blocks to catch the Magnum; one magnificent example of the latter is that boringly difficult series of jumps through a hot ground in order to pick up one scimitar – the safe ledges are terribly hard to spot, and all that sequence was very, very tiring; and I would also add the series of blind back jumps from cracked pillar to cracked pillar, in order to use a jump switch. Puzzles here are not difficult, and the mirror one was smart, but had the serious flaw of the turning valve bug – and the valve had to be used twice, doubling the chances of game crash (see note below). Traps were also easy to manage. As to enemies, they were alright – although I don’t enjoy very much actions that involve bulls, and the boss sequence, at the end, was very stressing for me. But I liked very much the choice of objects in this game – even if I have to confess that a better use of the Quest Items would be desirable. (Only to open a door for a secret?) Some camera hints would be useful, too, specially when Lara uses a temporary button without idea of what it has done; as a matter of fact, an elevator block came down temporarily, and THAT was an ingenious idea. All in all, a very good game, congratulations to the author. NOTE: I play on a Windows 7 system, and had this bug both in the first use of the valve, and in the second, so I don’t agree with what Nina Croft said about Windows 10. In fact, I think that perhaps the bug has to do with the savegame facility. I tried to turn the valve for the first time without saving the game after pulling the underwater levers, and no bug showed up. But when I went back in order to use the valve for the second time, after saving the game, the bug happened." - Josey (21-May-2017)
"Despite the crashes suffered at the beginning of the game, I enjoyed this level, it is not very hard. I was surprised by the bull in such a small place. The passage in the main zone is very nice with 4 places to visit to recover the 4 scimitars to face the boss. Recommended." - Drakan (19-May-2017)
"Another gorgeous, action-packed adventure worthy of top honors in this year's BtB competition. This one wasn't as long as some of the others, clocking in at about an hour and a half, but it's thoroughly enjoyable throughout and boasts some breathtaking environs in the latter stages. There was some whining in the stuck thread about a supposed bug that prevented the secret door from opening, but I played the level according to Hoyle (i.e., Dutchy) and had no problems in this regard. As others have mentioned, this raid is puzzle-oriented, but there are some challenging traps and enemies to deal with as well. Ample weaponry and ammunition are provided, and I liked that touch at the end where you pass by an apparently harmless cobra, only to have it slither up behind you and attack while you're opening the next door. Already in the competition there are more outstanding entries than there are "name" builders, so the future is bright for the raiding community. Highly recommended." - Phil (13-May-2017)
"A quality-standard entry that meets the main guidelines for the BtB contest. I didn't like the first part at all (the one at the caves) but the further parts became much more interesting for me. Once you've made your way into the temple, you'll be in a huge and well crafted area in which you're meant to find a total of four Persian swords to prepare for the final battle. The only secret here requires the player to find and collect 5 previous items that are distributed along the level (not very hard to spot them all) to open the way to the actual secret. Still, this was another enjoyable entry I'll recommend everyone to give it a go!" - MrJavi94 (11-May-2017)
"This is a nicely enjoyable level and a nice one to ease me into the competition. It does start off in rather dark caves, but quickly reaches more beautiful looking areas, not least the pool hub room that serves as the location for most of the gameplay. The tasks branching off that room are fairly entertaining and involve trap combinations, a deadly tile room, torch puzzle and a boss battle. A well done, middle of the road level." - Ryan (29-Apr-2017)
"What a great entry point to BtB-Persia. Despite not being the main focus of the level, I have to say I rather enjoyed the little desert-village type of setting above the surface. As reported by other users in the forums, I experienced a few crashes when messing too much with the flood/drain puzzle in the initial area, but luckily you don't really need to do that as many times - still, it's a strange way to realize you're not doing what the builder intended. The main city interior is gorgeous, really beautiful, and you then on proceed on a fun quest for four scimitar blades. Each is tied to a small challenge room which managed to get me thinking for a good while before finally realizing what I was supposed to do. All in all, great fun, despite the crashes near the beginning. 85 minutes. 04/17" - Treeble (29-Apr-2017)
"A piece of information for all thouse claiming that there is a bug in this game (when the second valve is used for the second time): the bug will appear on Windows 10 systems. Try reducing the resolution in TR4 Setup, that'll help. Sometimes it's also necessary to reload an earlier save after having reduced the resolution. So, please don't blame the builder or the testers, this bug is not due to them. That being said, I can now give my review of the level. OVERALL GEOMETRY: Nice, but nothing spectacular. The big hub area with the gate and the pool and four challenge rooms is well built and decorated, as well as the small oasis with the market above the ground. But there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to geometry. TEXTURES AND LIGHTING: Textures are well applied and create really a beautiful vista. However, the builder should pay more attention as to avoiding cracks between textures, particularly in underwater areas, where the cracks are particularly obvious. Lighting is probably the weakest link in this level. There are some really nicely lit areas, but also some areas with too heavy transitions between shadows and lights (due to cracks!). ENEMIES & TRAPS: The builder obviously used all enemies in the WAD and made a nice balance: there are many enemies around the level, but not too many. We start with the spiders, but we soon must deal with a mounted horseman and the bull, which is a bit too early in the level, in my opinion. But overall impression is good. When it comes to traps, however, I must admit that the traps are excellently thought of and not too hard to get through. The trickiest part was the room with three boulders, but that part was also not too hard to solve. PUZZLES are definitely the best part of this level. The builder created some really nice puzzles here. The main element of this level is puzzling. Almost no platforming, well selected and placed enemies, great traps and MARVELLOUS puzzles! Dryng and flooding the cave, the mirror puzzle, the pushblock puzzle, the torch puzzle (maybe the best I have ever seen), even the bull puzzle, they are all excellently built and thought of. You can solve them with no help at all, they are instinctive, but also, not too easy and obvious. I give the highest review in the category of puzzles. OVERALL IMPRESSION: Very fluent gameplay, a great mix of puzzling, traps and action. You cannot stop playing this level until you finish it. Although some elements could be improved (lighting, geometry and cracks), the level is really great. Other builders can learn from this level as how important good puzzles are. Well done and highly recommendable for those players who don't like too hard levels or too tricky platforming. It can be finished within an hour and with no walkthrough, if you pay attention to details." - Nina Croft (22-Apr-2017)
"The first thing to be said about this level is how ravishingly beautiful it is, especially the opulent pool room from which you access four 'quest' areas. There's a nice series of challenges involved in obtaining the four scimitars and the initial flooding/draining of a huge cavern makes for some interesting raiding also. The only down side is a potential glitch with the flooding/draining switches, but I found that not saving between usage got round this problem. That aside I found this, my first foray into this year's B2B, a very enjoyable start." - Jay (22-Apr-2017)
"Visually pleasing, especially the hub 'room' of the second part. The puzzles were fairly good. The objects - which I guess are common to all the BTB entries are nice - especially liked the new wraith and demi-gods. Not many enemies and the Boss is quite easy to avoid. Lighting ok. Textures applied fairly well onmly occasional wallpapering. Pity about the crashes I & some others had when changing the water levels despite following the readme advice. Overall a pretty good start to my BTB2016 campaign." - Adrian (20-Apr-2017)
"That was really enjoyable :) The first part of the level is not so hard, but when you go past this introduction part, it escalates quickly. The challenges were sometimes quite nasty, but one in particular (the fire room) was even horrible to play I have to admit. But I really like a challenge, so overall I enjoyed the gameplay.(NB : The last enemy's attacks were not hurting Lara, a glitch I guess ?). The architecture was really nice, and quite vast as well, albeit being a bit too much blocky-ish sometimes. The lighting was maybe a bit poor in some places but in general the level was really pretty and with a nice atmosphere :) Found 2 of the pickups necessary for the secret, finished in 1h20." - Revenge (16-Apr-2017)