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Search for the Golden Elephant - Part 3 (Demo) by Lara_Fox_Croft

Adrian 9 10 10 10
Bigfoot 10 10 10 10
dinne 7 9 10 9
DJ Full 9 10 10 10
JesseG 6 9 10 10
Jorge22 9 9 9 9
Jose 9 10 9 10
MarlenaCrystal 10 10 10 10
MichaelP 8 10 10 9
Phil 9 9 10 9
Reggie 9 10 10 9
Relic Hunter 8 10 9 9
Ryan 9 9 9 9
The Snarky Lesbian 8 8 9 10
TheStig 9 9 10 10
release date: 16-Feb-2020
# of downloads: 125

average rating: 9.32
review count: 15
review this level

file size: 295.00 MB
file type: TR4
class: nc

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"A truly breathtaking adventure here. The immersion and atmosphere created is absolutely stunning. Many small (and some not so small) technical innovations and I found most of them to really work very well and in favor of the game. The stealth move and kill from behind for example is a great addition. The explosion scene is a highlight, but overall the whole "cinematography" here is straight out of a movie. Puzzle-wise the hammer and sickle one is kind of the only one that stands out, otherwise it is a lot about exploration and finding and combining pickups. As it is still labeled as a demo is is comparably short at 30-45 minutes, but really makes you look forward to much more to come. Ah yes, and there is the training level too - if you are into that kind of thing. It adds a nice challenge to try and get to a time around the 5 minute mark in a reduced futuristic setting and design. All in all - not to be missed - a very unique adventure." - MichaelP (13-Mar-2024)
"A Metal Gear Solid inspired experience full of creativity and great ideas, hugely customized and inspiring, but heavily butchered by bad animations and often too oriented to show innovation even at the cost of compromising the gameplay. By watching the last cutscene we can see previews of what the level will be and we can already spot ideas we've never seen before, so it looks like it's a promising adventure. I have personally never seen such a high quality base/lab visual quality here.
It's difficult to even list some great innovations because they're just too many. Also a creative puzzle with rotating pushblocks appears near the end of the demo. Combat is creative as well because it allows kills through bullets or through punches and it relies on stealth (you've to not be in the enemies view). Pity there wasn't any stealth related to enemies patroling an area.
I'm a big fan of Metal Gear Solid but the references aren't buying me completely anyway: the general adventure was annoying me a lot because of the bad and broken animations, jumps are reduced (which could be ok) but they are not smooth and often bugged, with variable height randomly and unpredictable behaviours (like when jumping forward then grabbing in the air, she will randomfly fly higher), or slowered down anims, or oh my god the climbing anim on the blocks instead of just jumping with Action, rolljump forward works only by half then Lara returns back.
Since it's a demo I bring here a report of flaws that maybe the builder could improve on time. One of the main issues is the thing of getting ammo manually every time 5 by 5. While you can kill enemies with hands, the game has shatters anyway that need to be shot and this can cause again and again backtrack (or reloads to not waste ammo any time you try to shoot something). And this is not even consistent because it's not true she can't carry more than 5, because at some point in an air duct she can pick up another ammo and gets to 7 or something. So why couldn't she pick more in the boxes? Hm. Another thing is about a valve on the ceiling to shoot to remove lasers, but there are two of them and one (the only kinda visible one, because the other is even more invisible and you struggle to see it even if you know where it is), doesn't shatter, so instead the other one does, inconsistently, and if a player tries the first one, might not try the second one. There should be only one, maybe marked with a red valve or more light. Another issue is Lara picks and combines C4 but then you don't know where to put it. The recepticle is red but this doesn't mean anything, it could be just a decor. A camera hint might do the job. Another tedious thing is the elevator: if doors close, you've to go up and down to reopen them, and same is when the explosion (glorious explosion though, not just a flipmap!) finishes and she is closed in the elevator. Many pickups are not really visible because they blend with the surrounding, like cards and papers that could be mistaken for statics (since there are often objects like that being just statics). One last problem is this level is often too dark, so maybe putting the flares timer longer could already help, and lights are sometimes flat. Some small inconsistency is found in the second warehouse where she has to move a pushblock to get a secret, but the ladder is "in theory" grabbable already from the bottom. She doesn't grab it, so the player might think it's not a possible way to go. I suggest also to use the plugin to inspect shelves from close and not from the center, because some players could get stuck and not knowing.
Visually, over than animations being weird in "gameplay", the custom ones are also not smooth and sometimes also not good looking (the jump up one...), sounds are on spot, tracks are some really great stuff and geometry/textures/effects are absolutely amazing and refreshing and invite the player to look for more, because who knows what this builder could provide us.
Sorry for the unrequested "betatesting" but even if Meta2TR is already applied I hope this builder takes in consideration to fix these things because such a rare and special level, in my opinion, should shine, while instead animations especially give always this kind of amateurish feel and are in general annoying. Just some details can be game changing.
Anyway that was a great experiment to watch and I think everyone should try it and see what the engine is capable of.
(Last tip: put it in the baselab category because I doubt people browse levels selecting the "nc" one. Maybe the full game won't be all baselab but this one for sure is fitting a lot)" - dinne (25-Jul-2021)
"Some minor issues I discussed with Anthony in detail, and those might be fixed in the full version, so I'll just focus on the good things, which in case of this game are literally everywhere. Primarily, what you notice throughout the game, it's one of these maps which manage to stay attractive to the eyes despite of being modern and having grey as the dominant color. I could stop here because it's an achievement already, but the script does more, adapting entire set of mechanics to nod to Metal Gear Solid - so aside of normal Tomb Raider puzzles we get crafting, alternate healing, military puzzles and optional stealth (yes, finally a custom level which makes it a choice instead of a torture). In the end, I will remark about possibly the most realistic explosion scene I have seen in this engine to date. I would say this is one of the best demos already, and has a chance to be one of the best levelsets when fully finished." - DJ Full (18-Nov-2020)
"An exciting, original and tightly crafted level which leaves you wanting more.

The level begins with a jail break scenario which leads into a hunt for keycards. What makes this more interesting is the use a combination puzzle which makes one of the keycards usable. If you completed the time trial in the training level you also have access to a bonus area. Without spoiling too much, puzzles tend to skew towards direct manipulation of the environment, taking it beyond simple door/switch mechanics. Everything presented to the player feels logical with the end-goal of each puzzle, clearly presented while leaving the player to figure out for themselves how to get there.
A slight drawback was the jump height, but that's mainly to do with how it felt in terms of the controls and the animation. The implementation could have been slightly better. Something like the jump animation from the Crystal Dynamics Tomb Raider games might look and feel a little more natural. This was only really an issue in the training level where it was a little of a struggle to get used to the movements. The transparent platforms would benefit from some added opacity too so that they are a little clearer. I'm not sure though if this is possible in NGLE. Tomb Editor however does offer alpha transparency which would help improve this aspect. Despite these frustrations around the training level, it was an original approach to on-boarding the player with the new controls and a great callback to Metal Gear Solid’s VR missions. If the builder has time, I would like to see more of these areas as an unlockable bonus areas in the full version.
The ability to take out enemies with a stealth attack is really refreshing, allowing players to eschew tradition run and gun gameplay for something more strategic. Holding the walk button down means guards can’t hear you; the whole thing is well implemented considering the engine is not designed for stealth. I appreciate the effort the builder put into pulling this off. There are plenty of pickups to reward the player for exploration. The secrets came with fun little Easter Eggs and while they weren’t elaborate side-quests, their presence fits nonetheless.

Visuals and Presentation:
From start to finish, the level is dripping in cyber- punk styled atmosphere, with animated glowing lights, pipes blowing steam, snow, dramatic baked shadows and plenty of custom objects. It has a compelling soundtrack too and the use of cameras to present fixed shots, flybys and cutscenes are all very well done. The builder clearly has a talent for crafting their own textures and objects and this makes possible a Russian base which looks solid and realistic. This is one of those levels which sets a new bar for what can be done in modern, industrial and snowy areas.
One small nit-pick is that the footstep sounds could be improved. The default footstep sound plays on top of the metal/sand/wood sounds. I would recommend having the different material sounds play on their own rather than with the default sound on top. The menu font text could perhaps be changed to something else too, just to match the theme more closely but these are fine details.
Animations are well done and I especially like how Lara holds the SOCOM pistol in the correct way. Lara herself is presented well, with an impression outfit swap when she gets cold and covered in snow. Textures are well placed with little to no cracks or mistakes. They are also well mapped, with little to no obvious wallpapering for the most part, at until you reach the area with the marble wall textures where it could perhaps have benefitted from some variations and extra detailing. Overall, the visuals could easily be mistaken for a PS2 era game, proving just how much potential the engine still has with the right approach.

The level builds nicely from start to finish and succeeds as a demo in leaving me wanting to see more. Bear in mind the ending does play a lot of "coming soon" footage so just bear that in mind depending on how far you want to avoid spoilers for the eventual full release. Throughout both the gameplay and visuals there is heavy inspiration drawn from Metal Gear Solid 1. The music in the form of remixes and cover versions nods to that without ever being obvious or overbearing. The level overall successfully manages to combine elements from both Tomb Raider and Metal Gear Solid while being its own unique thing. Well done Lara Fox Croft for bringing us such an atmospheric, well-crafted and adequately challenging custom level. I highly recommend it.
Difficulty: Quite easy
The only time I struggled was during a puzzle section which releases gas but, in most instances, it is easy to anticipate encounters and avoid them. Despite stealth elements, the level leans heavily into puzzle solving which is of an average difficulty. Platforming is fairly simple and while the reduced jump height adds an extra limitation it doesn't really present much of a problem for the player as the level has been crafted around this with plenty of time at the start to get used to it.
Completed in: 1 hour 40 minutes
Overall score: 9.5/10" - Reggie (17-Aug-2020)
"I didn't care much for the training level, but the main level was a different matter. Such attention to detail was extraordinary. There were some very minor criticisms: the puzzles were fairly straightforward (though I spent some time trying to set a fire with the matches in order to start the sprinkler!), the secrets weren't hard to find and I look forward to being able to jump further (but I got used to the limitation quickly). However these were more than made up for by the lighting, textures, objects and atmosphere which made this level one of the most realistic (maybe apart from Lara's amazing punching power :-o) TR levels out there. I'm certainly looking forward to the completed level set." - Adrian (09-May-2020)
"Another big entry this year by another french builder, even if it's a demo. The adventure start by a very fun training level with a lot of fun stuffs and even a surprise for those who finish the training in time ;-). Then, the real adventure start and we discovered Lara in a kind of prison and the goal is of course to escape. I really liked this level with the brain puzzles and the lots of news animations. Too bad it was just a demo because when the level ending we want just know what happened to Lara (even if as a testeur I know what happend to Lara and more ... lol). To conclude: A very good level and recommended for everyone even for the begginners because the training level explain what the played need to do." - Bigfoot (05-May-2020)
"An unusual offering from Lara Fox Croft here - but an intriguing and excellent demo of a larger project I really look forward to playing. The training level is very different - initially I must be honest I found it frustrating enough to nearly turn away, but once I'd got my teeth into it it actually started to become quite rewarding. My first pass through was nowhere even the bronze trophy time! It's a fun little diversion and gets you familiar with some of the more unusual moves (pipe walking, and climbing etc). Some aspects of Lara's move are more limited (jump height seems reduced). The main part of the demo is in a Soviet Base were there is lots of stealth, puzzle and exploration activity. I quite enjoyed sneaking up on the guards to knock them out! Progress is pretty straightforward throughout, well paced and kept things enjoyable. The environment is filled with believable architecture but my biggest compliment is the fantastic lighting. The author makes absolutely great use of perfectly lighting the statics in the level, and making sure they react properly to the various dynamic light- sources placed throughout. There are even thoughtful little touches like shadows off corners and off pipes on against the walls that really make things feel more believable. The FMV's and custom animations are also very nice touches making this feel a very polished and complete experience. The only small issue I did encounter was during the scenes where some of the more intense particle effects were used (the outdoor blizzard scene & gas scene particularly) where I experienced quite allot of slow-down (I intend to try this again on my more powerful desktop for comparison). All in all I netted just over an hour from Search from The Golden Element Part 3 (demo) - It's been a great level to come back to after an absence playing any for a while. Great work Lara Fox Croft & I look forward to playing the completed adventure in the future. Highly Recommended - Stiggy." - TheStig (27-Mar-2020)
"Here we have a training level and a brief exploration of a base, while collecting tons of gauze and antiseptic bottles. I have mixed feelings about the action button working as a punch. It certainly invites some stealth from the player, but the fact that any enemy can be defeated with one punch makes the guns a bit redundant (perhaps a good thing since the ammo supply is low). Maybe a stealth takeout could be differentiated from a regular punch, one that does less damage? Unfortunately I am not in favor of the jumping animations used. The jumps are stunted, as if an invisible force is pushing down from above, and it felt like playing with a Lara wearing heavy weights. It felt unusually difficult to grab ledges, and the inability to swan dive or change directions while jumping is also quite jarring. Changing Lara's physics is always tricky and this seems like an unnecessary adjustment to ask of the player. On the plus side, the environments and the way you interact with them are very immersive, almost like playing through an action movie. I also enjoyed the hammer and sickle puzzle and would love to see more of that kind of thing. It's definitely a promising demo, I just hope the builder will reconsider some of the gameplay adjustments. 40 minutes." - JesseG (19-Mar-2020)
"Really a very good design, next to the last TR games. Extraordinary. The environments are very pleasant to explore, and the tasks are never hard. I'm not very agree with the limits for the jumps and movements, but it's never too annoying. I liked the puzzle with the big hands and the great atmosphere, but sometimes the ambience is too dark. When placing the C4 I quickly ran to the elevator, the doors closed and I had to go down and up again so the doors open again. Looking forward to see what can offer us the complete adventure. Good work!" - Jose (06-Mar-2020)
"Now, here's something quite different from the usual demos you see out there: one that presents both a solid length (just short of one hour net gaming time in my case) and has a plausible storyline. Not that other demos don't, mind you, but this one is nicely integrated into the game and you even get a little flashback to the previous episodes in the series, reminding you of what has happened so far.The training level breaks you in nicely, with the opportunity to plod along at your leisure or go for one of the three speedrun trophies. I gave it a fair few shots and my personal best was the silver trophy, which I decided was more than satisfactory. The stealth scenes were nicely executed, and I didn't mind the minimalistic setting too much. The second part constitutes the bulk of the game. There's plenty more action here with both face to face and stealth combat, and the limited ammo feature wasn't too much of a handicap. The setting throughout is well done and the atmosphere is convincing. I didn't care too much for the reduced jumping distances, but you do sort of get used to it. Overall, it certainly whets the appetite for more and the full version should be something worth waiting for." - Ryan (05-Mar-2020)
"The two parts of this demo are as different as night and day. The opener is a timed training session that has elements not experienced in the longer second session. Lara's jumping range is restricted, but that poses little problem. If you happen to miss and fall into oblivion, you don't die but are transported back to the beginning. And there are spots where you repeat your moves in an endless loop if you persist on doing things your own way instead of as intended. If you complete the timed course quickly enough, you're rewarded with access to a bonus area in the main base level. The training exercise was fun and could easily be expanded to serve as a stand-alone level. The much longer base level features weapons with funny names (in my walkthrough I used the more familiar name that seemed to match the characteristic of each weapon. The Antiseptic Alcohol and Antiseptic Ointment appear to be medipack equivalents, and they apparently have to be combined with pieces of gauze (according to Snarky Lesbian's review) in order to be used. I liked the idea of saving ammo by sneaking up on enemies and clobbering them from behind. One thing I didn't like so much was the camera angle when cabinets were being opened. There are other features here that aren't seen in other custom levels, but they don't impede gameplay in the slightest. Recommended." - Phil (04-Mar-2020)
"Wow, this is something I'm really after for years - someone who dares to try out something new with the Tomb Raider engine. I'm a little bit shocked, that there aren't more reviews yet, maybe it's too different for all the classic TR players. The game wants to be something different and it introduces itself pretty well, so people should take it like that and not like a classic TR experience. The newer TR games aren't classic either and nevertheless they are "accepted" from most of the people of the TR community. The gameplay is a lot of stealthing, which really feels like stealthing, not like the stealth attempt from TR5 - absolutely well done. Some negative comments about the new jumping are comprehensible, but it's just a matter of getting used to it, it's just irritating at first. But it seems that the author has already designed the level and the further levels that way, so it would be difficult to include the old jump again, I guess. The overall atmosphere is thrilling, it's a lot like Metal Gear Solid and the cinematic story telling (in great combination with the puzzles) is absolutely entertaining. There were some complaints about flat lighting, too, but it's a realistic kind of lighting. A lot of games (especially the classic TRs) try to play with different lighting to make the rooms more interesting, even if it's unrealistic. I think it's a design choice to go with a realistic way, which is probably not interesting for the eye all the time, or to try out an unrealistic, but more interesting one. For me the lighting looked fine as it was and the whole environment was supported and improved by the huge amount of custom objects and geometry, which was stunning all the time. It was like a playthrough of saying "Wow" all the time. I really hope, that the author will finish this game soon and that a lot of other people will appreciate the work and effort he or she has put into this. It took me about 50 minutes to finish. Absolutely recommended for everyone who likes to try out something different in the TRLE world and who wants a well balanced and entertaining gaming experience!" - MarlenaCrystal (28-Feb-2020)
"An excellent demo which is actually a demo, not an almost complete level needing a few chanes. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the basic stealth feel of it all. I found it to be by no means hard, just a tad surprising, definitely starting with the interestingly weird-looking training level. I found the jump moves rather awkward. I suppose it's a path the editor can take, which is great as long as (and I think I always say that) everyone doesn't start copying. It's actually quite well crafted in general and I'm looking forward to playing the entire game once it's out there for us to enjoy." - Jorge22 (27-Feb-2020)
"So this Demo already seems quite ambitious, with custom animations, changed jump physics and a nice overall theme. It seems quite reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid, and listening to the main theme I am guessing that is on purpose. Both levels that are part of this Demo similarly reminded me of Metal Gear Solid (With the Resident Evil Mansion level having come out a bit earlier it really seems like a nice coincidence to have a little PS1 revival here.), the tutorial level looks like the VR- Mission training of MGS, and the following actual first level looks like Shadow Moses. Sadly so far it is quite short, and the VR-Mission level was horrible for my eyes because everything kind of looks the same and seems to grow into one another, making it hard to understand where to go sometimes. Compared to the Tutorial level the actual first level I cleared quite quickly, with both secrets, which sadly was fairly short. But it did good to show of the technology and the kinds of encounters we can expect. And while I liked the Atmosphere overall quite a bit (especially the cold exterior area) it had some really annoying fixed camera angles that could not be tricked with the Look Button.
Now these levels come with a new feature, which is melee. It's used by pressing action next to an enemy, which can be used to knock them down instantly from behind. This is definitely a nice feature and might be extra cool once we have more indepth encounters, so far it sadly was quite boring. Especially since the weapon you find early on is purely used to solve riddles, pulling the action down by quite a bit. Kind of a bummer, but I am sure the finished version will have a ton more action. Another interesting factor I found, was requiring two items to heal yourself, as opposed to just one. You had to combine two items to create a full healing item, which could provide a good deal of added difficulty in the final game. Not here though, cause I noticed that all but one encounter were easily doable without losing any health because the enemies spawned with their back to you and would not patrol at all, creating effectively just instances that forced you walk slowly for a few seconds. So while I liked how well the two secrets were hidden, their rewards (medical items) meant nothing to me because there was almost no action to begin with, and when it was it was more of a puzzle element than anything else. Lara would not even aim her gun to shoot enemies. I'm really looking forward to the final game and to more of these strong environments.
Action: 3 Puzzles: 6 Gameplay Flow: 6 Aesthetic Cohesion: 10" - The Snarky Lesbian (26-Feb-2020)
"I was drawn to this new release in Lara_Fox_Croft's series with its resemblance to something out of the classic Metal Gear Solid franchise, and true enough the author does succeed in very competently combining the elements of MGS and Tomb Raider to craft a stealthy, puzzle oriented exploratory adventure that serves as an appetizer to the full release that is to come later. Despite not having played previous parts, the author does provide a helpful "Previously" FMV sequence that recaps the essential pieces to understand the context of this adventure. The author effectively uses the VR-training concept from Metal Gear Solid with the training level at the beginning as there are some changes to Lara's physical abilities and skills. Her jump height was reduced to more closely match what a real person can do, she can recover health by briefly pausing in place, and ammo pickups come from walking on top of ammunition boxes. While there is a timed component to the training stage, players can take their time getting used to the mechanics changes and complete it at their own pace. I gave it a few more attempts and managed to pull off second, though I didn't quite understand if that gave me any kind of benefit in the demo level proper or if I'm supposed to place first to acquire a bonus. As for the actual demo level - from the very beginning I appreciated the homage to the middle portion of Metal Gear Solid as its a similar scenario - you've been caught, you're quite beat up, and you're defenseless as you make your escape through some air vents and ruin a poor guard's day when his IBS acts up, paralleling a similar character from the franchise this game pays homage to. I absolutely have to praise the animation work the author put into this level as he smoothly implemented hand-to-hand combat for Lara, allowing her to pacify unaware guards and even those that are on to her presence which is refreshing and new compared to making Swiss cheese out of her foes like usual. The SOCOM holding animation, match animation, and meshswap moments like Lara stepping outside severely under-dressed were well made. The setting is also well realized and enhanced with Meta2tr features to make the base more organic with believable rubble and torn out rail ramps where appropriate, and making pipes usable as grab and walk surfaces. I felt that the lighting was sometimes a little flat and not atmospheric, so maybe that is one area of improvement even though I couldn't perceive any technical faults. The believable setting complemented the gameplay well. You could distill it to a puzzle item hunt with some light backtracking, but it made sense to me as the setting is a base that has multiple security clearances and codes barring progress. Moments to stealthily take out the guards added satisfaction to the level's progression. I'm impressed overall and look forward not only to the full release, but to checking out the previous two parts to this series as well!" - Relic Hunter (17-Feb-2020)