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72135 reviews (20.4/level)
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442 Hall of Fame levels
1215 levels rated >= 8

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The Forbidden Place by BlackWolfTR Leoc1995 Mahetus

DadRaider 10 10 10 10
Danjo86 9 8 10 10
DJ Full 10 10 10 10
Feats 10 10 10 10
Lorax 10 10 10 10
manarch2 9 8 9 9
Mman 10 10 10 10
Passalaqua 9 9 9 9
Phil 10 9 9 9
Polar_Bear_Raider 9 8 9 9
requiemsoul 9 9 9 9
Ryan 10 9 9 10
Sabatu 10 10 10 10
TimJ 10 9 10 10
Torry 10 10 10 10
Wolf7 10 10 10 10
 
release date: 19-Jun-2022
# of downloads: 456

average rating: 9.58
review count: 16
 
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file size: 92.80 MB
file type: TR2
class: Fantasy/Surreal
 


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Reviewer's comments
"This was a challenging but really enjoyable set of levels. It's quite tough and took me a whole weekend to get through but it never felt unfairly difficult and I never felt lost, which I find is a sign of a good map. I liked the design of all three levels but especially levels 2 and 3, some really good traps and platforming sections in here. A lot of the rooms have a kind of symmetrical design which I find somehow very satisfying. The overall atmosphere is great, I'm a big fan of the China levels in TR2 so this was a treat for me. Great job, highly recommended." - Passalaqua (21-Aug-2023)
"Maybe one of the most challenging TR2 games I've ever played. Every battle is one to the death, and the traps are intricate and deadly. Some new mechanics thrown in too to make it more complicated. I came very close to quitting this but as frustrating as it is all my faults were my own due to me being sloppy. All the traps no matter how savage are still fair and just take time to see the patterns in them. Due to all the traps you need to stop and plan your route carefully a lot of the time. If you can figure your way through this game I think you can defeat any tr2 level with ease by comparison. Will put your skills to their ultimate test. I also did very much enjoy the palate swap in the usual china textures from green to red. Very much adds to the deadly mystical atmosphere. A masterpiece in my opinion for sure, and I look forward to the group's future projects." - Polar_Bear_Raider (12-Jul-2023)
"Undoubtedly one of the best levels made with the Tomb Raider 2 engine. The traps, the platforms and the timed runs are very surprising, demanding and tight. There aren't many puzzles, but I loved the riddle with the boulders in the first level. There is a lot of action and it is appreciated. The lighting and the textures are not its strong point, but in general the atmosphere is quite good. Highly Recommended!" - requiemsoul (28-Nov-2022)
"This is a fantastic TR2 level that borders on the very challenging both in the route you follow and in the platforming and nefarious traps you encounter along the way, not to mention the tight timed runs. I played this over months, coming back to it time and time again and you will need a walk through just to be able to find the right path to follow as they are numerous and there is quite a bit of back tracking involved. I am not an expert raider but I am not a slouch at this either but I found this to be very challenging in parts. There are three secrets in the first level but none in the other two. At the end press the reset button and you will face off with the dragon again. The continue button just lets you exit the level missing out on that grand fight. Textures and atmosphere was just fantastic. I really did enjoy this although it could have been just a little simpler by making the paths a trifle easier to discern but I simply must give this a perfect score as it was the best raid I have had in a long, long time." - Torry (14-Nov-2022)
"This is a superbly competent, challenging and enjoyable level-set from 3 very talented builders. This set takes its inspiration from the China levels of TR2, taking the player through eminently extensive and creatively inspirational environments and challenges that both pay fitting tribute, and at the same time provide a very satisfying and challenging extension of the likes of Great Wall and Temple of Xian / Floating Islands. The competence of what has been created here is noteworthy. Levels are constructed, textured and atmospherically brought to life in a very balanced, believable and engaging manner from a gameplay perspective. The visual aspects are handled beautifully, with levels for the most part providing rich variety as well as mature consistency and credibility for the environments they invite you to invest in. The placement and use of enemies is spot on; neither overdone nor under-represented, and the provision of ammunition and medipacks is well judged. Traps feature appropriately heavily in these levels, especially unforgivingly tight timed sequences which for me almost threatened to border on the excessive at times, but thankfully just falling short of that becoming a real criticism. The variety, placement and difficulty of the traps and platforming is generally excellent; these are levels for experienced raiders no doubt, but the difficulty is not pushed to ridiculous extremes which may otherwise detract from the overall experience. As an experienced raider, I want to be challenged and pushed, but not pummelled into frustrated fatigue and these levels hit the balance just right. This has been very well thought out and designed. The inclusion of more cerebral puzzles than Tomb Raider 2 was renowned for is also a welcome feature in these levels, drawing in elements from other titles in a well executed and seamlessly integrated fashion. For me, I found the inclusion of secrets in the first level only to be an inconsistency - including 3 secrets in each of the two following levels would have improved that aspect, especially since the secrets in the first level were so well placed. I wasn´t a fan of the ending to the set personally - the stark contrasting of what had been an immersive and believable set of environments to the brash psychedelic flashing of white on black, with a choice of either facing the final boss or not felt out of place and slightly spoiled an otherwise entirely polished creation. That said, this was quickly forgiven when I reflected on the levels overall. From an entirely subjective point of view, I found the overall experience to be, for the most part, consistently quite dark and intense (albeit visually impressive and dramatic) in environment. This is not an objective criticism however - this was absolutely fitting and appropriate for what these levels set out to offer. Subjectively, however, if I am taking this set as a standalone experience, I would have preferred some atmospheric variety, perhaps with an initial level featuring much more significantly outside, perhaps even with some more pedestrian or man-made features or inclusions. In that way, I would have felt a greater sense of progression, reward and trepidation as I descended into the cavernous depths and then into the dramatic palace and temple beyond. With that approach, the drama and intensity of the later environments would have contrasted, and would have felt more defined and galvanised. As I said however, this is a very subjective point - others may well entirely disagree with me. That said, this set stands nonetheless as a masterpiece. If you enjoyed the China levels of Tomb Raider 2, you must play these levels which do more than justice to the source of their inspirations. Absolutely top drawer and highly recommended." - Danjo86 (13-Oct-2022)
"I was a tester for this custom, even when the level was only a demo, but for one reason or another I never really got myself reviewing this title for some reason. Thus I started off revising my review from the demo which ... I didn't do? Really? What? owO? All right then I will do a complete review :3

Gameplay
There are three levels, all very challenging all the way through, which is a huge plus for those looking for absolute challenge and an almost absolute no for those who instead are more keen to play something easier, but boy is it worth it as the game looks really good!
The second level also provides two interesting offerings from both BlackWolf and Leoc1995.
The gameplay is mostly focused on platforming plus some nice timed runs, with at times a sane bit of problem solving (puzzles), thoroughly enjoyable, especially the rolling ball room in the first level and the room with the switching floor in the second level and the interestingly placed "golden wall circles" (?) which require the usage of the bounce pad in an intriguing way.
I do have my criticism, like the underwater maze in level one and especially to BlackWolf's part in level two sadly, as I found myself not really enjoying it that much due to the extreme difficulty and the rather tedious trapped maze.

Look
There is something that needs to be said about this game which solely makes it worth experiencing all the way through: this is an absolutely perfect looking custom with some absolutely pretty texturing and design choices and attention to detail, which each level delivering in both look, style and atmosphere.
The game strikes a good balance between giving to explore to the player but remain just as eyecandy.
There often is a line after which the game either looks very good but does not play as good or vice versa, this custom manages to strike wonderfully the balance in its perfection and colors.
The prevalence of green outside of the rocky environment is one of the things that do remain easily stuck inside of you even after you play the game.
Consistency in quality does remain mostly untouched, except some noticeable hiccups that can be noticeable if barely in level two, yet again in BlackWolf's part...

Conclusions
Mahetus's second custom (third if you count the demo), but could as well be his magnus opus, but most likely just the beginning to more stunning looking wonderfully crafted customs :3
Recommended to an expert audience only.
Wolfy Regards" - Wolf7 (10-Sep-2022)
"This is the best level of Tomb Raider 2. Beautiful environments, nostalgic but also innovative gameplay. I have nothing negative to say, positive there is already too much to say. I'll let you find out! it's a unique surprise, especially the ending! I want more levels like this." - DadRaider (09-Sep-2022)
"This joint release from three talented builders is a tough but really rewarding experience. Gameplaywise, there is really a lot going on here and there's seldom a dull moment due to a plethora of traps, (smaller) puzzles - often with small hints - and platforming sequences, spiced up with a lot of enjoyable timed runs. The atmosphere in all levels is also great with very atmospheric large areas and careful texturing and lighting. I found some parts to be too consistently dark at times and wished there were some lighter parts in between, but it wasn't too much of an issue. The enemy design and placement is good and I liked how most of the time you can avoid larger health losses with a bit of strategy. What I liked less was that there were no secrets except in the first level, but they were well hidden there and added to the experience. I must say that the TR 2 engine is used to its potential in many parts, and the game combines the classic spirit with some new looks and ideas very well, so this 1:35 hour long game is something you shouldn't miss out upon." - manarch2 (15-Aug-2022)
"Beginning this adventure, you could think you're in for a remake of the Great Wall. But this first level is way more than that. Reusing the texture and atmosphere from the first level of TR2 was a really good idea, as there was still a lot to explore in this place. The environment is perfectly built and full of details, touching this TR2 vibe right on point and improving upon it, with lots of callbacks (like the zip-line). However, you will soon find yourself in some sort of temple reminiscing of Xian from the end of TR2, with a lot of puzzles to solve. Nothing is too hard nor too easy, the only thing I could criticise would be the four warriors at the end. They were fortunately avoidable but at this point in the game you don't have that many weapons and should I have fought those foes, I would have lost quite a few medipacks. The three secrets in this level are found just were you would expect them as a experienced raider, I really enjoyed finding them.
Finding your way to the second level, you discover a beautiful cave under the mountain, hidden by a waterfall and a nice flipmap trick (that won't be the last). Other puzzles awaits with some innovation I wasn't expecting, like the tiles you need to shoot. Some timed run were a bit tight, particularly the one with the door closing immediatly after Lara left the triggering tile. I appreciated that there was plenty of time in the clanging doors maze, though. The flipmap after the pushable block in Leoc's section was another example of a simple but very effective trick, I loved it. The shooting triggers were used in a very effective way, often with timed runs which weren't too hard. The surprise springboard in the dark corridor was one of the best Tomb Raider moment I've had in a long while and it was really TR2-esque. The traps never felt like surprise traps placed there only to kill an unsuspecting player, but were often seen from a distance and made to be deadly puzzles that need to be solved, learning new steps after each try (like the trapdoor you need to raise with a shoot-tile during a race against spiked walls). The environment is still beautifully built and I really loved the central lava room in BlackWolf's section.
Some of the ennemies having the same icy textures as the friendly monks was however not a good design choice. A pause is needed to evaluate if this is friend or foe and Lara ends up losing life in this short while. A simple thing could have been to change the ice colour for the monk.
The third level continues in the same vein. Again, the builders manage to surprise the player with unexpected things. After opening the door in the "chain" room, I was surprised to see it close behind me, but that was only to hide another unexpected flipmap. When will Lara stop blowing up the places she goes to? The levels are so well done that I completely forgot the nonsense of this place. What was the purpose of this old temple, except being a trial for players? Ah! There was just one boulder in the short corridor with rolling circular blades that I disliked because it wasn't expected (a trigger tile would have been nice there!). The atmosphere in the Dragon Mask room was on point, but player expectations were strangely unmet. I was ready to fight a Dragon and was welcomed by a puzzle instead (but a good one!). The huge final room would have deserved a short musical introduction. I did not really understand the necessity for two different endings that basically meant choosing between avoiding the final enemy or not. The psychedelic textures broke the fourth wall and threw me out of the game somehow.
All in all, it's a great level set deserving of the Hall of Fame. I really appreciated the fact that it was more focused on exploration and puzzles than shooting. Even though TR2 had this shooter feeling at times, it isn't missed at all in this level set as the few fight sequences are well thought and placed exactly where we can expect them. Texturing was flawless, if we forget the weird psychedelic textures at the end and the western numerals which were necessary for a puzzle but a bit out of place in this Chinese setting. I was also a bit bothered by some objects coming from later Tomb Raider (like the skeleton or some lamps) that felt weirdly out of place in this TR2 environment, particularly when there are TR2-skeleton scattered in the level, that was slightly inconsistent. I was also disappointed to not have any secret to find in the second and third level as I'm sure there was enough room to hide some. Those are the only two negative points, in addition to the monk textures I've mentioned before, that made me chose 9 instead of 10. I did not get what the Easter egg was, sadly.
Any player having completed TR2 should be able to finish this level set. We had Tomb Raider II Gold in 1999 with its golden theme. In 2022, we got Tomb Raider II Jade with this magnificient green theme and atmosphere. To finish the cycle of original secret colours, I'm waiting for someone to build Tomb Raider II Silver before 2045. Much recommended for everyone." - TimJ (02-Aug-2022)
"I thoroughly enjoyed myself with this level set. Everything was very well made and put together with just the right amount of challenge for me. I love all the China levels in TR2 and to have a game with just them in it is my idea of TR2 heaven haha! Can't find any fault in this TRLE honestly, everything was well balanced and a whole bunch of fun! Would highly recommend!" - Feats (22-Jul-2022)
"This is definitely among the more lengthier TR2 offerings out there and one of the better ones. This may be a three-builder collaborative effort, but that's not immediately obvious as all three levels flow seamlessly into one another and offer tremendous enjoyment. There may be more of a focus on traps and gymnastics than cerebral puzzles, but that's not a bad thing in this case as the way that the timed exercises, tense trap sequences and the springboard sequences are executed are amazingly done. The atmosphere and textures are also executed well, providing a spooky, eerie outlook without shrouding everything in perpetual darkness and every room manages to look impressive. I was thinking there was a possible stinginess to the ammo provision (at least the dragon battle seemed harder this time round) but nothing too bad. Overall, challenging yet extremely enjoyable. Bravo, everyone!" - Ryan (19-Jul-2022)
"Blown away. After only the first level I was already amazed by the creativity included. From the first room to the last, there is one genius design after another, and also without bloating. Probably the best TR2 levelset to date. A perfect must for a random free evening." - DJ Full (14-Jul-2022)
"This TR2 game consists of three full-length levels of about 45 minutes to an hour each, so I would classify it as "long." It's also quite difficult at places in all three levels, so I would go for the "challenging" classification. In fact, the trap sequences seemed to outnumber the thinking sequences by a considerable margin. That's probably a fair balance, especially since we don't play TR2 levels for the eye candy. I spent the better part of a week making my way painstakingly through the levels while writing a walkthrough, and I must say that I was impressed with the care and foresight with which everything has been put together. My computer normally gives me problems with the graphics while trying to play TR2 levels, but this one showed up just fine on my screen. A well-done collaborative effort." - Phil (14-Jul-2022)
"This set starts off like a pseudo-remake of the Great wall, with familiar concepts executed in a different way, but the later maps are more of a Xian theme that also modifies and mixes other textures in a way that creates something very different that still fits. The visuals are great, especially considering the Tomb Raider 2 engine limits, and there's multiple large scale and impressive areas, along with consistently strong lighting (and some creative use of darkness too). It also uses and mixes old objects and ambient tracks in ways that are familiar yet new. The gameplay is consistently strong and it consistently does creative things with old objects to make tasks that feel original, along with doing some things I've rarely seen even in more advanced TR4 projects. There are various challenging tasks and traps, but there's a good sense of progression and a nice use of hint messages to nudge you along without giving everything away. This is one of the best TR2 releases out there, and another one that shows even the older engine can have a lot of creativity applied." - Mman (04-Jul-2022)
"I enjoyed Mahetus first release and expected some great levels from him, but for his second release this blows away all my expectations. Possibly one of the best and most ambitious TR2 games there are. Amazing level design with many great moments I wouldn't want to spoil. Mahetus has shown himself to be one of the best recent builders on the site. I can't forget to mention BlackWolfTR and Leoc1995, both are excellent builders who make great levels and I'm sure this wouldn't be what it is without their involvement. Great work from everyone." - Lorax (23-Jun-2022)
"What can I say about this :) The beginning is a Great Wall alike level and honestly, Better geometry than I have in my great wall. The later levels are more Xian alike and the last level is Mysterious. Plenty of ammo and other goodies and I am happy the author added more flares cause some parts are dark. About the darkness: I love it and I think the authors added more brightness. Puzzles are great and innovative and I am happy to see hints for these puzzles. Overall this is amazing super-green adventure Highly recommended :)" - Sabatu (19-Jun-2022)