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Arms Race by JesseG

billie2001 10 10 9 8
DJ Full 9 9 9 8
El Dorado 9 9 9 9
MigMarado 10 9 9 8
Mman 9 10 8 8
nad 9 9 10 10
nerdfury 10 10 9 9
requiemsoul 9 9 8 8
Ryan 10 9 10 9
release date: 01-Oct-2022
# of downloads: 516

average rating: 9.08
review count: 9
review this level

file size: 169.00 MB
file type: TEN
class: Venice

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"I can’t imagine how much work it takes to add new mechanics in gameplay-limited (for nowadays) games, but to add few of them, each to different weapon, is extra impressive. If standard raiding formula became a little bit monotonous for You, then Arms Race should be a nice refreshment. You’re getting for example freezing, teleportation, even defining the laws of gravity and JesseG made sure to utilize those new mechanics for puzzles, which makes You think outside normal Tomb-Raider-Puzzles thinking. For experimenting with formula alone, this mod deserves a lot of praise. I hope more mod makers will follow in JesseG example." - El Dorado (27-Dec-2023)
"This is the first Tomb Engine level that was released on TRLE. The setting is mostly based around a Venice-style giant mansion and surrounding buildings in a large valley; the vertical scale is huge throughout, and I guess it's beyond what the old engine could properly handle, but the overall visuals are a little mixed. There's a lot of repetitive texturing higher up in the outdoor area, and while most of the interiors look fine the texture choices are a bit incoherent at times, with Pacific and Khmer Empire textures, maybe this is a tech-choice to showcase higher texture limits, but it doesn't feel very coherent. Lighting is decent throughout, although some segments are a little flat, it is understandable with how vast the scale is though. As well as things like the massive amount of trees outside showcasing the much higher object limits (apparently others had performance issues but it actually impressed me how there were basically none for me, but perhaps it's been patched a little?)
The gameplay is where this map really showcases Tomb Engine's potential, with a revised weapon system (each acquired from a mini-boss with their own special interactions) that creates a sort of Metroidvania progression where each has special interactions that open up the map and make navigating it much faster as you progress, and later you get some very creative puzzles that require a combination of multiple weapons to solve, or more obscure properties of certain ones. There are also some more traditional puzzles built into it, like a huge vertical rolling-ball course that would be awful to handle in a normal map, but your new tools make it quite smooth and fun. there's also a pushing puzzle later that, while slightly long, really showcases how new and dynamic object interactions are possible, with a laser that actually interacts with objects depending on their facing, rather than having it's course fully scripted; with a concept like that it's a shame there's seemingly only one solution though.
While the overall challenges aren't too hard, all the new tools can make things quite easy to overlook, and I feel a couple more hints would have helped a lot, especially at the end where the whole map is open and it's hard to tell where to go to get the last key, it's a bit obscure that you can swing off certain objects at one point too, and even Lara just looking in that direction would have helped a lot. The various mini-bosses can also do a lot of damage fast, although you get plenty of supplies to handle them even without secrets (given I missed them all). I had a couple of weird bugs with things like jumping flips being way harder to execute, but I don't recall this being an issue with other Tomb Engine stuff so I guess that's already been ironed out. This is a great complement to The Tower Bridge Experience as a showcase of Tomb Engine, as that really showed off it's visual strengths, and this one shows how much the gameplay can be expanded. I do feel this suffers a little visually from it's intentional "tech-demo" status, with a few things that seem to mostly exist to show things off rather than enhance the level as an experience in itself, but it's a fun level that shows off a bunch of stuff that completely new gameplay additions." - Mman (28-Jul-2023)
"Innovative, creative, clever and fresh! Many good puzzles, exploration, few enemies, traps to avoid. What stands out is the creative use of the weapons (teleportation, freezing waters, lighting torches, antigravity) which help you prepare the way to your goal. Graphics-wise, not the best Venice decor we've ever seen, but pleasant to the eye, nonetheless. And all this built with an engine that is still in its beta phase. Difficulty is medium mostly, bordering challenging at times. Took me a bit more than 3 hours, with all secrets. Definitely recommended." - billie2001 (17-Jun-2023)
"I think the best thing about the game is its new mechanics and how well implemented they are. I didn't like the atmosphere or the level¨s architecture too much. It seems like a pretext to show the new mechanics. I find some bug in the texturing and the screen froze at times. Anyway highly recommended for its originality." - requiemsoul (21-Nov-2022)
"This level is an experience, and a lesson. We have a saying here in Poland: "Każdy kij ma dwa końce", which means "Every stick has two ends". Which translates to "for TEN features, make 58 new ways to get stuck". Something tells me therefore, a time has begun fantastic yet dreadful. Oh, yes. Oh, no..." - DJ Full (06-Oct-2022)
"(10) Gameplay & Puzzles: This is a challenging level that took me about 2 hours. The platforming is not that challenging but some of the puzzles will require thought and planning. Speaking of puzzles, there's such a superb variety of interesting puzzles here, with my favorites being the rolling ball roman numerals puzzle and the electric wire puzzle. The gameplay flow is engaging from start to finish, with the builder mixing in some exploration, combat and a couple of timed runs in-between all of the puzzles. It's great fun exploring the Mountainside Mansion of the Mysterious Maniac (who happens to have a thing for gaudy Venetian interior design). A subtle detail that I thought was really cool was that initially when exploring the mansion, I noticed a diamond-shaped wall up high. You may initially just think it's just part of the mansion decor, however much later in the game you will see that it's an integral part of platforming to proceed, and it's just a nice "Ahh!" moment. (10) Enemies, Objects & Secrets: Such engaging and thrilling mini-boss fights, as well as clever use of skeletons. You actually have to pay attention to your opponents in this level's combat. There's a nice sprinkling of spicy traps in-between other tasks. I do think the static object decor can be lacking at times, however I still think this category deserves top marks due to such creative use of interactive objects and weapons. (9) Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: The outdoor atmosphere is excellent, as is the sense of immersion as you ascend the mansion floors and look out of windows. I do think some smaller areas could be more memorable architecturally however; examples being the underground torture chambers and the graveyard. Sounds, music cues, flybys, and static camera hints are all top-notch. I never felt lost due to a lack of cameras. (9) Lighting & Textures: A well-lit level with great visuals. For the most part, everything looks polished and professional, and I'm so happy to see the BTB2010 textureset again. However a small detractor to the overall appearance is the wallpapering on large surfaces. For example if you look carefully at the rocky boundaries up high, their surfaces don't look organic/convincing due to the wallpapering. Overall, I highly recommend this innovative level. It really is an amazing feeling to solve all of the puzzles. There's even a couple of humorous moments, too (the cheesy boss fight music, and the fact that this Mysterious Maniac is currently in the process of building a South-American themed gym in his mansion). 10/10/9/9. ** I beta-tested this level. This did not inflate my rating **" - nerdfury (06-Oct-2022)
"If a few of the lagging issues could be ironed out for any future releases under this engine, then the future of custom levels is looking bright indeed. This one I did find a bit painful to play in the earlier areas due to this issue, but it did seem to calm down later. The teleportation mechanics took a bit of getting used to as well, but after overcoming these obstacles, I thoroughly enjoyed this surprisingly fresh raid. The usages of the various weapons to "carve your path", as it were, were really neat, as were the neat twists on traditional block puzzles that required you to think outside of the box a bit, although they weren't unfairly complicated. Enemies are quite fearsome but luckily the aforementioned weaponry functions just as well in the normal manner, and I do always enjoy a Venice setting. Something completely different." - Ryan (05-Oct-2022)
"This is the first level built with the new TEN engine that I played. Even though the LB recommends Win 10 with min. 8MB Ram, I played the game with Win 7. There was some lag in some actions, but I was able to play the game quite smoothly in many areas. In two places the game froze and I had to restart the game. The game itself impressed me a lot. There were many new things to use to get ahead. I liked the new actions with the weapons like Stop, Gravity, Teleport the best. As the name of the game suggests, it's all about getting new weapons to use the new possibilities of the weapons. With the last weapon you get, the Rocket Launcher, Lara is then equipped with all the properties to take on the final enemy. Many secrets can only be reached with this weapon. At the end there was a very great action with Lara that you should not miss. Highly recommended." - nad (03-Oct-2022)
"First proper TEN (TombENgine) level, with engine twists by JesseG. The game is very creative. The story is interesting, and the use of new game mechanics is beautiful, even if very occasionally the sequences get a bit repetitive. There were some flaws in texturing in the largest room, which I'm sure will get fixed soon.

As for the engine (not reflected on my ratings), there were moments when the game lagged a lot in areas where it usually didn't, and places with a lot of light effects caused many crashes. TEN is in its beta stage, so this is just a note for users to expect this.

Personal rating: 9/10

Thank you, Jesse! Congrats ;)" - MigMarado (02-Oct-2022)