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TR Advent Calendar 2022 - Barbie in the Christmas City by shabaobab

BlackWolfTR 10 10 10 10
ddaring_dash 10 10 10 10
DJ Full 9 10 10 9
JesseG 8 10 10 10
Josey 9 10 9 10
Lioness_86 9 9 9 9
manarch2 8 8 9 8
Phil 10 10 10 10
requiemsoul 8 10 8 8
Ryan 9 10 10 10
tuxraider 8 8 9 8
 
release date: 15-Dec-2022
# of downloads: 487

average rating: 9.30
review count: 11
 
review this level

file size: 547.00 MB
file type: TR4
class: Xmas
 


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

Reviewer's comments
"It's a shame this level is no longer available for download from this site, as this is undoubtedly one of the most involving and complex raids I've ever had the pleasure to experience. At first glance, it appears to be an extended collect-a-thon and indeed that's mostly true, but there's a lot more to it. The Christmas City is truly immense and takes a lot of exploring, which could become confusing in short order. I did feel it oustayed its welcome a bit towards the end, when you're required to painstakingly use the springboards to reach the rooftops for another time. That slight caveat aside, everything about this Advent level is absolutely delightful and clearly a labour of love for the builder. The scenery is stunning, the atmosphere is thoroughly charming, the camera clues always helpful and the gameplay constantly involving. The neat touches such as the bookcase maze (which actually never got annoying as you can generally see what progress you're making) and the "elf tag" sequence were the icing on the cake. Truly enchanting." - Ryan (31-Jan-2023)
"This is one of the best levels I've played in a long, long time. It's so addictive that even after more than five hours of net playing time I didn't want it all to end. The environs have been crafted with a master's touch and are shown off to such good advantage that I don't recall having to light a single flare. I approached the game with a certain degree of trepidation, given that the download is entitled "Harder Director's Cut" and considering the several stuck thread posts warning of potential glitches. However, as I got into the game it became clear to me that those posters either had not played or had paid scant attention to the optional training level. And I just can't fathom why anyone would have a preference for running with the action key depressed. Anyway, although I found no real built-in obstacles to progression, I did encounter a number of difficult spots that I felt called for savegames to be provided with my written walk. I normally don't do that, but this game is so extraordinarily fine that all players should have the pleasure of enjoying it to completion even if they need help doing so. The only segment I found rather tedious was the relatively unexciting mid-game exploration for collectables [sic] scattered here and there, but even there you get to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the sprawling village as you wander to and fro. Moreover, you have to accumulate a certain number of them in order to gain access to crucial areas, so the task is well worth the effort. For me the extra-special highlights of the game were side quests involving (1) a maze, (2) a timed target shooting exercise and (3) a whack-an-elf slugfest. If you play no other custom level this year, play this one." - Phil (30-Jan-2023)
"Wow, what a stupendous game! Big, interesting, very, very beautiful, completely non-linear and absolutely original. I am sure that I will play it again many, many times, for the majority of tasks are so varied and pleasurable.I simply loved the spectacular views of the Christmas city, and the interesting task of trying to pick up the number of items required for strengthening the lovely little fairies. I only thought that the timed runs were too tight, the library maze, a little irritating, and I must confess that it was quite impossible for me to find and shoot the targets in order to win the crossbow, so I cheated to have it, and passed by all this challenging (and boring) part. (My sincere apologies to the creative and intelligent author for this.) Here we have also well devised puzzle rooms, although the repetitive music was not so enjoyable. But I really had a lot of fun playing this level, and I finished it. I congratulate the author for the beauty and originality of the chosen objects and gameplay. Thanks a lot for this lovely Christmas gift." - Josey (26-Jan-2023)
"Very elaborate and big level, great looking, highly customized, heavily relying on new moves, fun to play, but sometimes pretty hard. While this level replaces Lara with Barbie, there is (fortunately?) not very much Barbie-like about it. She breaks into other people's rooms, dives around in sewers, and messes around with things in the church. But it is very Christmas themed. The gameplay is about running around in the city and getting access to places to reach and collect the collectables (presents/snowflakes). The collectables often give hints where to go, and form a trail to follow, which makes it better than similar levels (where you run out of ideas what to do too fast), but could have been used more consequently. You don't actually have to find ALL collectables. I was missing some, and I don't have a clue where they are. The worst about this game (at least for me and some other players) is that a new, useless move was added, that interferes with normal moves: if you hit CTRL while running normally, the player will perform some kind of handspring move (like doing a handstand during running). I think this causes jumps to fail if you hit CTRL before ALT. The handspring move takes priority over jumping, and the player just falls off the edge. If this is correct, the addition of the handspring move (which has no real purpose) was a bad decision. Another bad thing is the sprint jump. You need to be exactly 3 jumps away from the jump-off-edge for the jump to work. If you're 4 jumps away, it fails, as if the player can't grab the other edge. This is illogical, because more run-up should be better than less. It took me lots of frustration to realize that. Some other physical challenges are very tricky too. Like the timed archery challenge: you die if you didn't get all targets within the set time. Or the very tight time run in the sewers. I had to look at the walkthrough to get through some jumps. Some players on the forums had problems with the library maze, though I think the top view is a nice idea, and makes solving the maze much easier than with a normal camera. On the topic of cameras, I didn't like at all how the camera was flying away from Lara in some locations, it was rather annoying. The training level is a bit problematic. It uses abstract textures that aren't as intuitive as the real game. Shouldn't a training level make things as easy as possible? With all the new moves that are required to make it through the level, it's probably better not to skip it. One thing I particularly like about this level is that you open up other areas as you make progress. It makes the task of collecting almost 100 collectables not as overwhelming. It makes relatively good use of the 3rd dimension. In summary, this is really good, but also hard in some places, and not without some problems." - tuxraider (13-Jan-2023)
"Ahh, this is what I expecting of trle. for me very interesting. Some jumps are really difficult but doable. Enjoying atmosphere, music, interiors and exteriors are very nice. Recomennded." - Lioness_86 (01-Jan-2023)
"A very long and complex adventure with much exploration to be done, but it was mostly worthwhile as it seldom gets boring and not all areas have to be explored to be able to finish. There are some excellent puzzles in between as well, especially the maze (!), a fun reindeer ride, and many little side quests to keep you on your toes. A lot of new or very modern technical stuff like animations, springboards etc. are in here as well, sometimes it was a bit over the top as some animations are annoying and there are some bugs as well (e.g. once I had to get into a crawlspace, but Barbie would take out the bow instead of grabbing the ledge). Sadly the whole quest for the four golden balls is entirely skippable as you can reach the roofs with springboards only (fairly easily as well). Some objects are also badly placed, e.g. the fountains stuck in walls or other objects. Atmosphere is generally very nice and sounds and cameras are very well used, although some of the fixed ones are a bit annoying but mostly they worked pretty well. The end of the map is not very well hidden, texturing is also okay but occasionally faulty. Overall a great and unique map but probably released a bit prematurely. Finished with all 100 items found in 1:55 hours." - manarch2 (27-Dec-2022)
"It's not the prettiest level in the world and a lot of objects and textures are misplaced, but it's quite long and some of the platforming challenges are very clever. Recommend getting all 100 collectibles, as they are easy to find, but it's not that easy to figure out how to reach them. I like this type of design a lot in Prince of Persia. Recommended." - requiemsoul (22-Dec-2022)
"If you're into collect-a-thons like Banjo Kazooie or Donkey Kong 64, you're in for a treat here. The main thrust of the gameplay is that there are 50 presents and 50 snowflakes scattered about this large Christmas town, and Barbie will spend a large amount of her time climbing, swinging on poles, and jumping on bounce pads to reach them. And as with other collect-a-thon games, you will need to meet certain thresholds of collectables in order to unlock new areas and progress in the game. initially this was an enjoyable aspect of the adventure for me. It was almost like an open world game, wherein I would boot the level up, look at the next area where I see collectables, and tell myself "let's figure out how to get there". However, by the time I reached the top of the cathedral and learned I needed 80 of the 100 collectables to finish the game, that's when I felt the collect-a-thon overstayed its welcome. I already had the four talismans for Santa (this is the main objective), as well as 67 of the collectables, and felt ready to finish the adventure. Instead I had to turn back and comb over the level for another 40 minutes to get those 13 collectables that stood in my way to the finish line. I would have lowered the final threshold to maybe 50 or 60 collectables. Besides the exploration, there are other tasks Barbie can do here, including a maze where you rotate walls with corresponding switches - I liked this and didn't struggle too much, it was a very smart choice to use an overhead camera here. I also enjoyed the craft store switch puzzle and the timed target shooting, even though the latter took me several tries. The only other note I have is about the animations used, which sometimes make Barbie hard to control. It is easy to fall off of monkey swings because the animation where she stops swinging pushes her forward an unusual amount. The landing animation breaks into a run whether the player wants to or not, sometimes flinging Barbie over ledges as a result. The cartwheel motion was a minor nuisance, I didn't realize until now how much I am in the habit of holding down the action key while running! The level is visually stunning and the adventure is an immersive one, so for those who want to get in a holiday spirit and are willing to commit a lot of time to hunting down collectables, this will be a good choice. 3 hours 37 minutes." - JesseG (22-Dec-2022)
"An amazing Christmas custom level. It focuses on puzzle-solving and exploration. The whole map is enormous and very non-linear. There are a lot of passages and possibilities everywhere. The main objective of the level is to collect 4 talismans that are hidden across the map (the way to them isn't that short!). As a side thing, we have to collect different collectibles that unlock new areas in the level for us. I find this idea very interesting. The level overall consists of a lot of clever and brilliant ideas. I like the new implemented moves such as climbing on diagonal walls or the sprint jump. It expands the possibilities of maneuvers, and it's just fun to use them. Design-wise, it's top-notch. As I said, the city is enormous and spectacular; during my time playing it, I was constantly impressed due to its size and advanced architecture. It's filled with lots of decorations that make everything look beautiful. The use of textures is awesome, with high diversity. The lighting is done well too. I didn't spot any major issues, so this is good :) All in all, it's a very long and high quality adventure that shows once again the talent of this builder. I can definitely recommend it." - BlackWolfTR (21-Dec-2022)
"This is a very big level. There are so many new features and a variety of locations that it's hard to decide what to do. There is no repetitiveness, each time the author of the level gives us a new test. And these tests are balanced and interesting. The level is very interesting to explore and every corner you manage to get to is guaranteed to give you something nice. This creation deserves the title of a masterpiece." - ddaring_dash (19-Dec-2022)
"Oh dear reindeer - I got so into betatesting I didn't even have time to think if I liked it. But this level surely is a paradise for collectible fans. It has more snowflakes than I met on twitch. And keeps on giving until you're as gifted as the author. Ofc I got the platinum, or even plastic trophy, now where's that life I dropped..." - DJ Full (18-Dec-2022)