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Examination of the Sphinx by Astraf

Adrian 10 9 9 9
DJ Full 7 8 9 8
Jay 9 9 9 9
Jorge22 10 10 10 10
Jose 8 9 8 9
nad 8 7 9 8
nerdfury 9 9 10 7
Phil 9 9 9 7
Ryan 9 9 9 9
tuxraider 7 7 7 7
Wolf7 9 10 9 8
 
release date: 18-Nov-2020
# of downloads: 234

average rating: 8.64
review count: 11
 
review this level

file size: 164.00 MB
file type: TR4
class: Egypt
 


author profile(s):
email(s):
tristantmwastraf@gmail.com

Reviewer's comments
"Two good average levels. Sometimes it's a bit too tricky and mean, like diving against the current to get through an opening, or the locust spawning dragon, who puts Lara on fire too easily. The first level is outdoors, the second in the pyramid. I liked the first one better simply because of the setting. The entry cut scene is way too long for no reason, but it doesn't repeat that mistake. Recommended, unless you hate that locust dragon." - tuxraider (13-Oct-2023)
"The first level gave me some Sabatu vibes but not exactly, and while being a short prologue and supply delivery before the real thing, it's still quite pro - not gonna lie, when I saw the scenery and the scope, I was impressed - until the overwhelming sunset lighting started to take its toll and continued throughout. Puzzle alignment was decent, music management was okay, and the only bad moment was when I took the uzi secret then tried to jump like 30 times to avoid the double climb, so I consider it impractical if not impossible. The second level is the main examination and idk why the title made me think she's gonna examine from the other side, but ofc the classic approach is always good. Unfortunately, the game immediately proceeds to a chained sequence of spike jumps, boulders, underwater maze, dried underwater maze, and I even swallowed a 1000th instance of the rotating blade from Tomb of Seth, I guess to "prove I'm worthy". But I apparently wasn't, since I somehow softlocked the following bossfight and the savegame gods returned me to repeat that part of the quest. All the time, the mood was predominantly dismal, engulfing the entire first half of the second level and it was such a stopper I had to take several breaks. Eventually gotten past it, I had some eye rest with the nicely lit architecture surrounding the final riddle, which itself was a bit meh - and then it became totally meh with the escape sequence far too slow. For special mentions, I need to point out I caught myself a few times noticing how nice the visuals feel despite of a modern texture set, maybe except the overwhelmingly warm sunset and that final cave which was rather dark and uninteresting. And we also get some voiceover wrapping, however it's kinda ruined by using a voice machine for Lara, so I don't know if it was good or bad - and therefore I'll leave it unrated." - DJ Full (26-May-2021)
"I really liked these two levels. They were well constructed with varied gameplay & puzzles. The secrets were well placed and rewarding. Nicely atmospheric though a little too dark again (fixed by some monitor gamma tweaking). The one really tough moment in the second level involved 3 boulders on a staircase. However after negotiating them with multiple attempts at split second jumping, I later found a jump switch that might have, for all I know, have released them and made the passage easier. However I didn't have an earlier save to try out my theory. All in all a very commendable effort and thoroughly recommended." - Adrian (16-Jan-2021)
"An Egyptian two-level set. The first level is interesting. In the second, Astraf uses most of what can be used within an Egyptian adventure quite well concerning exploration, puzzles, traps and enemies. The dragon room was a blast. And so was exploding those skeletons and mummies to kingdom come. But what really stands out is the settings and the overall atmosphere: lovely lighting and textures indeed. It was intriguing at times, but mostly quite player-friendly. That final goody-feast near the end wasn't needed, but it helped keep one busy. I think I found a couple of bugs, but nothing special really. And I'd rather have had Lara moving less slowly. All in all though, it was a magnificent experience. Thanks." - Jorge22 (26-Nov-2020)
"(9) Gameplay & Puzzles: I enjoyed my ~2 hours here; the platforming and exploration is engaging, there's a good mixture of traps, multiple puzzles, and a clear sense of progression. I thought the 2 pushblock puzzles, one in each level, were cleverly done, especially the one in level 2 with the timed raising blocks. My dislike about the gameplay is that in level 2 there is a stairway with multiple balls and it is aggravatingly difficult, and not in harmony with the difficulty of the rest of the game. (9) Enemies, Objects & Secrets: There's a great selection of enemies here. The dragon fight in level 2 was very cool. However, I think the locusts eating away at Lara's health here was overkill; the "fight" is thrilling enough with Lara using her torch and pulling switches while the dragon/hydra breathes fire at her. It was also strange that the dragon vanished after Lara grabbed the scarab. Object decor was decent, although some statics would glitch in and out of visibility in level 1. Not a secret, but I really enjoyed how I could initially see a large medipack atop a high column, with no apparent way to reach it, and then a path to it would be discovered much later. (10) Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: The cutscenes/flybys were excellent, and the voice acting really added to the atmosphere of the game. The geometry of natural environments was of a high-standard, with no boxy-looking areas, and I enjoyed the builder's use of diagonal geometry (this was also a thing in Military Headquarters, I noticed). Ambient/music tracks were spot on and there are adequate camera hints.  (7) Lighting & Textures: Texturing was of a very high quality in both levels. Lighting was lovely in level 1, and the contrast was stunning when the background geometry would be almost black against an orange sky. I disliked the omnipresent darkness in level 2, especially when platforming to escape the demigod near the end. The builder provides many flares (over 100!) but it's not fun for me to be using flares over and over. As a result, I enjoyed level 1 much more than 2, and I think level 2 would have benefited in some warm areas to break the monotony of darkness. Overall, EotS is a thrilling adventure, with great gameplay variety and creative puzzles (level 2 is too dark for my tastes, however). Gameplay-wise it is a significant improvement over 2 of Astraf's projects I have previously played. Well done. 9/9/10/7." - nerdfury (26-Nov-2020)
"This builder really goes from strength to strength and this two part level is a cracking raid. Initially, Lara has to explore various areas in her quest to reach the Sphinx, collecting four beetles along the way. There is a jeep for convenience, but you don’t really need it. Once inside the Sphinx the action really hots up as Lara has to perform a variety of tests to prove herself worthy. It’s lovely, fun, varied gameplay and I enjoyed myself immensely. I also thought it beautifully made and atmospheric. A definite must play." - Jay (26-Nov-2020)
"I think the best levels from this author. The first one is more friendly, and even with the obvious backtracking well playable for everybody; the second one is harder, with some tricky tasks and dangerous situations, but still playable for many players. I liked the architecture and texturization, the use of the musics but sometimes the cameras didn't work properly (miliseconds) and certain rooms are too dark. I think the pickups were excessive too, but the enemies are well balanced and the objects well placed. Good work, Astraf!" - Jose (26-Nov-2020)
"This is quite an entertaining feast, the first part taking me about 45 minutes and the second part a little over an hour. José's walkthrough was a big help keeping me from becoming bogged down, as there are plenty of important places you need to visit that can be easily missed if you're not suitably observant. The first level features a familiar Egyptian black beetle quest to open up a small pyramid. Haven't seen that device in a while. The well-hidden secrets reward you with significant firepower to deal with a healthy variety of enemies. The second level begins with an engaging elements room puzzle, but after that things started going downhill for me, even though much remains to be done. I wonder when it will ever occur to builders that their levels are just not as much fun to play when they're shrouded in oppressive darkness. Sure, scads of flares are provided, more than you'll ever need, but that's not the point. Just adjust the lighting so that things are readily discernible without the player being obliged to light a flare every other step. Is that too much to ask? Anyway, what was objectively a well-planned and executed raid left me less than completely satisfied when I finally hit the finish trigger." - Phil (26-Nov-2020)
"What a very pleasant experience indeed. This is undoubtedly Astraf's most accomplished offering to date and provided me with 80 minutes of excellent raiding. Admittedly, both levels included are as different as night and day but the gameplay in each is involving and engaging. The first level is mainly exploration based and revolves around Lara preparing to enter the Sphinx for her "examination". The extended torch puzzle and Jeep ride were very neat additions and the undoubted highlights of that section. Upon entering the Sphinx, the atmosphere takes a more foreboding turn and even throwing up some unexpected surprises. The dragon area was more annoying than fun, but otherwise the puzzles, trap sequences and timed are well executed and never frustrating, while the secrets also provided worthwhile little side trips due to the rewards being fairly generous. The atmosphere throughout is extremely well captured, while music cues are used to their full advantage. Overall, this is definitely one of the most enjoyable raiding experiences I've ever had, and I highly recommend it." - Ryan (25-Nov-2020)
"What a fun and good looking level! It was a while since I played an Astraf level and, well this one is a very interesting one, I don't usually review per level, but I feel like this one level needs that because of the extremely diversity (in my opinion) of the two levels.
The Great Sphinx of Giza (8 9 10 8): Quite a great looking level we have here! Lara is exploring a ginormous area as she seeks to enter the Sphinx. The level offers some good gameplay, heavily focused on exploring, but there is some good trap sequence, quite annoying the fact it was a huge place, but luckily we had a jeep to save the day! :3 Object in the level were used pretty well! The level looked great and the usage of object was pretty good! As far as it went for enemies we have beetles (YeAh EvErYoNe'S fAvOrItE eNeMy), scorpions and bats I can't really give a ten due to the fact the tunnels really looked quite empty, I get it, "you are not supposed to spend your eternity in there" but still it does not really look like a cave that was being worked on that much. The atmosphere on the other hand is top notch, like really, really good, it almost feels like a Sabatu level in terms of masterfully crafted atmosphere, Tomb Raider Anniversary sounds applied to Lara works better than expected and the cameras, especially the first cutscene, are pretty good ;3. I am not quite convinced of the texturing tho, I am a perfectionist, I get it, but I have encountered several tiny mistakes easily fixable with some patience >w< I get it maybe I am asking for too much but I am a perfectionist!! On a less perfectionist tone I must admit that some parts of the level as far as it went for texturing felt quite bland in comparison with the rest of the level, Astraf is heading right! The lighting savest the level from the seven that I was gonna give, by providing great atmosphere.
The Holy Examination (10 10 8 7): What a fun level! The amount of challenges and traps in this one was astonishing!! I really had a great time! It was fast paised, sometimes some little puzzly, very Tomb Raider Four! I can't really say anything wrong about the objects used (including traps, masterfully used ;3), secrets were an awesome addition to this level, there was one in particular I especially enjoyed! Many levels like to hid secrets behind places you would not look into ;3. We are heading tho to the two biggest problems of this level, an overall downgrade of the atmosphere and texturing. While the previous level as a masterful looking one this level is just ... really different. It does really feel it belongs another game, because while keeping the same story and setting the care for the texturing and the overall lighting just downgraded, often I felt annoyed about the darkness (while the author provided a pretty good amount of flares) and it really does not keep up with the first level. And do we wanna talk about the last part of the level? Some textures are horrendously put, and here we are not talking about perfectionism, no, HORRENDOUS CRIME OnO.
Thoughts: A diamond in the dust? Nah, a diamond that has been taken out of the dust and has been cleaned, but shortly after falls again, somehow becomes bigger and more valuable, but becomes a little bit uglier on some degree. I'd easily see this as a fully fledged Hall of Fame entry, the ones with the mark raging from 8.95 to 9.10 for instance. I do recommend it, if the game had a level selection I would have said: "to the people who love great look in their level go for the first level, for the people who love gameplay head to the second level". What an oddly interesting game :3
Wolfy Regards." - Wolf7 (21-Nov-2020)
"A new level of this LB that only confirms the proven quality of the previous ones. This time again it is not a very long level, but two rather short parts that are very different. The first part takes place in an Egyptian area, which is quite extensive. This is the area that leads to the Sphinx, but you have to work your way there. The tasks Lara has to do here are quite easy and can be done by everyone. You have to collect a total of four beetles to get the one artifact, which opens the way for the second adventure in this level. The second part takes place inside the sphinx, where the tasks and traps are much more challenging. But with some skill you should be able to master them. After this you have to overcome a large cave before Lara reaches the top of the pyramid, where the game ends. What I like most about the levels of this LB is its ability to create an atmosphere that captivates the player. So also in this case. In the first part I liked the design of the sky very much. In combination with the textures and the lighting a very pleasant but strange atmosphere was created. The second part impresses with the tasks set. Even if the whole thing takes place inside the sphinx, the lighting is still sufficient. I liked the last part very much, where you have to work your way up to the top of the pyramid. Highly recommended." - nad (20-Nov-2020)