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Level: The Dawn - Tai Shan Episode back home search
Author(s): GeckoKid
total rating:7.71 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Bene 7 7 7 8
CC 6 5 8 8
Chronicles5 8 7 10 10
Duncan 6 6 10 10
eTux 7 6 9 10
G.Croft 6 5 9 10
Gerty 5 5 8 9
Jay 7 6 9 10
Jose 6 7 8 9
Kristina 5 6 7 7
Magnus 6 6 6 7
MichaelP 7 7 9 9
Miguel 8 9 9 9
Obig 6 7 8 8
Orbit Dream 5 6 10 10
Phil 7 9 9 9
RaiderGirl 8 8 10 10
Ryan 7 7 9 9
Sakusha 8 8 8 8
Sash 6 4 8 8
Sethian 6 6 7 6
Spike 8 8 9 9
Staticon 8 9 10 10
Treeble 7 7 10 9
category averages
(24 reviews)
6.67 6.71 8.63 8.83

Reviewer's comments

"Once again, Jackie proves his flair for creating artistic and beautiful environments. I was amazed by the beauty I found here, particularly in the waterfall areas and the pagodas. It's a shame, then, that this remains incomplete due to the need to DOZY in two places (one to access a crawlspace and the other to access an opening past a non-working crack). You may want to check this out for the scenery alone, though." - Ryan (20-Jun-2017)

"A pain that the author couldn't properly finish this building; I had to read the walkthrough a couple of times and use the flycheat. Even when there are not great puzzles, the gameplay is good, based about the pure exploration and the gymnastics through impressive environments: the excellent architecture and texturization is the best of the game. Few enemies to shoot, not hard secrets, good atmosphere and well worked lights (perhaps some places very dark but not too rough for the player). I liked the style from this builder so, even with the bugs I found, I have to recommend this adventure." - Jose (27-Oct-2016)

"I was surprised to learn that there was still a GeckoKid level out there that I hadn't already played. This one was compiled more than a decade ago but still appears fresh and appealing. Sad to say it remains unfinished, but I still gleaned nearly two hours' worth of gameplay out of this release. There are a couple of huge golden statues that you explore inside and out, a bug requiring use of the flycheat to enter a crawl space, and an anticlimactic finish where you wind up in a room with receptacles for five gems (whereas you have only four). Still, I felt as if I'd had a complete and fulfilling gaming experience, so I'm not complaining. The environs are well crafted and well lighted, a combination that's all too rare these days. There are a number of reviews for this level, but only a couple from recent years, so it would be nice if some of our newer players could be motivated to give it a try. Recommended." - Phil (06-Jun-2013)

"It’s hard to review this one since it is unfinished. However, I would say that even though this is Jackie’s second level set, his first “Forbidden City” one is actually a lot better. Gameplay here is fine and rather straight forward, however mostly uninventive. Not many interesting enemies… lots of crocs and bats. The crocodiles are placed well again in the underwater passages, and a few are quite scary as they come around corners. Secrets are hidden quite nicely, and my favorite one is the one we can spot early on hidden behind a little window texture. Atmosphere gets better as the levels progress – I like the dark feeling that the two Tai Shan levels have. Sadly there is no music, but the ambience fits on all occasions. Cameras are placed well during the Jeep ride to enhance the moments where we fly over giant gaps in the cliffs. Texturing is alright but gets more boring as we progress, whereas the lighting becomes more atmospheric, however too many shadow bulb blobs. Some of the rooms towards the end are too enormous and what you would expect from a beginner I guess who hasn’t figured out sizing yet, however once again it is a bit of a shocking step down from his previous debut level. I did love the giant golden Buddha room though and the pink diamond room with the bubbling lava pools. It’s not bad for an unfinished project, and hopefully we will see some of it return in “The Beginning” ;)" - Sethian (17-Oct-2011)

"For an unfinished level, this is definitely one of the better ones that I have played. While there were a few bugs here and there, there isn't anything serious that detracts from the enjoyable gameplay on offer here. Running around the large and varied environments is a joy in itself, and exploring the caves and temples within is also fun. There are several different traps that Lara has to avoid, and a bunch of tricky jumps as well. The only downside to the gameplay was the occasionally long climbing and shimmying sequences. It looked beautiful too, with excellent texturing and large, atmospheric temples and valleys to wander around. The 'Lighting & Textures' department would have easily scored a 10, had it not been for the fact that some areas were almost pitch black, or smothered in particularly thick fog. The camerawork was great, and the fly-bys were executed well, with no 'flying through walls' on their part. In general, this is a great levelset, and while it does suffer from the lack of a finishing trigger and some missing door textures, it's still a very enjoyable experience." - Spike (09-Oct-2007)

“Even though Mount Taishan is not the highest mountain it is the most famed one in China and symbolizes the Chinese Spirit. Since the Qin Dynasty (221BC ~ 206 BC) Mount Taishan as the royal object of cult was the venue where past emperors used to worship Heaven and Earth. The intense grandeur from its mountainous bearing and spectacular breath-taking scenery exudes sheer elegance profundity and immense vastness while touching on serenity merged with an air of mystery and tempestuous danger. The Buddha light shines on the top of Mount Taishan like a multicolored aureole and people who are shined upon take it as a lucky omen of great honor. I have to say that the author has successfully created a subliminal atmosphere in this adventure although it is marred by a few bugs. Some areas are untextured one needs to use DOZY at some point (there was an unreachable crawlspace) the game crashes to the desktop when Lara puts the horseman's gems in the slots at the end of 'Tai Shan 1' and after I've finished the two parts of 'Sea Without Waves' and 'Sea Without Waves-Start Me First' I was stuck in 'Tai Shan 1' and I had no choice but to select 'Tai Shan 2' in order to continue the adventure (there was a door that I couldn't open in part one of 'Tai Shan 1'. Perhaps there was a hidden switch that I couldn't find). He has also received some inspiration from Tai Shan (Mount Pedestal) itself for one can see a Buddha statue (like in real life) the textures the buildings and the objects create some breath-taking scenery and the traps (as well as the darkness) create a sense of danger and mystery. There are timed spikes fire traps boulders lava and blade traps which can be difficult to avoid. The difficulty makes the adventure all the more fascinating. The dragon can make one think that Tai Shan is a place of worship because the dragon symbolized happiness immortality procreation fertility and activity. In this case this dragon is probably the Ti-Lung the Earth Dragon in control of the rivers and all the water on Earth. Enemies mainly consist of tigers bats crocodiles and sharks. The levels are simple at the beginning in order to encourage the player to continue playing but after it gets more and more difficult (each level is more difficult than the last) which is very interesting. It's a pity that this project was never finished (it's quite disorganized) because it looks very promising. After I have played this adventure I told myself not to release my second level until it is completely finished. Otherwise it will appear incomplete. By the way the pagodas and the lily-pads are stunning.” - Sakusha (26-Dec-2004)

“What a gem of a level this is. The whole design and layout of this set of levels is truly breathtaking. It is absolutely beautiful. The real tragedy is that it is incomplete with no chance of ever being finished. Favourite parts? Lara jumping on Lilly-pads the passage through the golden dragon that huge golden Buddha (though it felt wrong to find a shotgun hidden here) those oriental buildings. Just about everything deserves a mention. Just play it and enjoy. Note to author: Please don't make us wait another two years for your next level. :-)” – Staticon (01-Aug-2004)

“I am not really sure if I am sorry or if I am glad that this project has been cancelled. Don't get me wrong - this is an amazing adventure and Sea Without Waves on its own was very good. Tai Shan wasn't really complete so I am not sure if I am being accurate here. I think we all should be glad because I felt some kind of deja vu when playing Tai Shan - Jackie surely is recycling the best of his ideas from here to his new level. So for that I believe we should be glad. Sea Without Waves (30 minutes): it starts off with a quick racing level. It was superb in my opinion. It had this incredible atmosphere well crafted in this outside course. The textures were very well applied and although very few texture tiles were used you never got that wallpaper effect. Eventually you'll have to leave the jeep behind and go on foot. The second part of the level is just amazing it's clear that a lot of effort has been put here to make this jaw-dropping place. It really is very well done. Soon you'll be back to part one to find a (sort of) temple and what I believe to be the so called sea without waves I might be completely mistaken though. Tai Shan (30 minutes): Boy was this confusing. There are several areas to cover here and soon you'll find you're running in circles. Your mission is to gather the gems that are all around the place (I found 4) to finally put all of them to get access to the passage that would lead deeper in the level IF it would have been created. The huge buddha statue was very well done just as well as the dragon and there are some nice puzzles here although I never came to find that Chinese game I saw on the pics ages ago. Unfortunately there is a bit or two you HAVE to cheat to get through. These levels were really nice and it's a pity that the whole project was cancelled but at least we got a teaser of what we would get. I am sure all the waiting for Jackie's new level is gonna be worth no matter how long it takes.” – Treeble (11-Apr-2004)

“Jackie Wu’s The Dawn starts with a nice Jeep driving-Scene – with good Camera perspective. Then you will see a lot of wonderful Waterfalls and Landscapes – and the first enemies – Bats Tigers. Be careful of the Teeth spikes and Fire traps if you want to collect some goodies. Time is passing by and Lara gets in the evening – the weather is going to be bad. Then it is night and some real good challenges are awaiting Lara. What impressed me was that good ambience that Geckokid made here. – Light and Shadows and Colors helping too. Even if there was no possibility to go on without the flycheat (readme) – I found it well done and really China! Meet again the old chains traps lavas jump combinations. There is no finish trigger – but doesn’t matter – I like it!” – Miguel (26-Mar-2004)

“It took me around forty minutes to finish this level. The reason for that isn’t that it’s short it’s only that it’s both easy and short. And it’s not even finished. But does that matter? Would it have been better if it had been finished? Well naturally. Though it’s still a lot better than many ‘finished’ levels I’ve played. The texturing is really nice but it’s lacking in some places. Mainly because the author never finished the level. And of course you can reach the end of the world several times. The level is filled with bugs like these but there are only two places in which they hinder gameplay. The author mentions both of these places though so you don’t need to worry about getting stuck. As mentioned earlier the level is very linear and easy. Is that a bad thing? Well… Yes and no. Though I prefer harder levels it’s sometimes nice to play an easy level. And it’s nice not getting stuck. Overall I liked this level. It’s a shame that it was never finished.” – Magnus (29-Jan-2004)

“I've always been impressed by Jackie's artistic talents and after playing Beneath the Forbidden city a few times I couldn't wait to load this one up. I'm glad he decided to release this one even though it's not quite finished as I love Asian influenced levels and I'm not likely to forget this one any time soon with it's huge temples and giant Buddha and dragon statues. The area seems a little too big sometimes as you search for a number of gems and you'll spend a lot of time going back and forth looking for what to do next as you come across one huge area after the other. Overall the level was a brilliant work of art that I could have spent days looking at.” – RaiderGirl (30-Oct-2003)

“After seeing a lot of cookie-cutter Egyptian levels I was astonished at the originality and beauty of this level. I doubt if the TR4 engine can be pushed any farther in terms of creating attractive effects for rock formations trees and outside environments. The huge settings buildings and statues are wonderful. Due to the sheer size and lack of gameplay I thought it was a bit wearing to get through. It may never be finished but visually it stands with the best of them.” – Duncan (21-Oct-2003)

“This begins with an attractive watery area and soon develops into a short but quite hair raising jeep ride along some impressive mountain paths. The scenery is really beautiful and although there isn't a great deal to do along the way just enjoy the view. The latter part of the level is darker but no less visually stunning with some amazing statuary (dragon and Buddha) with which to interact and some fun exploring on the rooftops of a small village. I must say it comes as quite a novelty to be asked by an author to DOZY through parts of a game. The unfinished nature of the level is obvious but it is still well worth playing which I suppose is a testament to Jackie's undeniable talents as a level builder. I can't wait for his next offering. 18.10.2003” – Jay (18-Oct-2003)

“This was a truly amazing level especially in the areas of Jackie's expertise. I can never get over his lighting and the way he uses it makes a room that would be boring in any other level look very nice. New textures are used in this level as well as some from the other games and it all mixes nicely. As for sound there wasn't much but in respect to the cameras they were used efficiently and added to the atmosphere. As for the atmosphere it was incredible. The first two levels are more of an outdoor experience most of the gameplay is found here and the atmosphere was breathtaking. Very beautiful scenes. I liked the second half of the game better especially the part with the waterfall and dark path the thunder clouds (another nice effect) lit up the scene and it was perfect. The same goes for the inside and outsides of the temples the geometry was set up perfectly and the textures were used well. I loved the outdoor temples the giant statue and the dragon the most in regards to atmosphere. But when we get to enemies there were few but that is ok. The setting seemed like it should be just Lara and not a bunch of random enemies running around. It was better this way. As for objects Jackie tends to use complicated designs with the blocks of the editor itself to make things instead of placing a bunch of newly crafted objects everywhere though I know he is skilled at both. There are some nice objects though throughout the level. Secrets are not really defined as secrets by the familiar sound but it was fun to find them and pretty hard in the big open areas. In gameplay there wasn't too much like previously stated it was mostly find your way out of this area to the next one but there were some great traps near the end of the level and those were a lot of fun. There wasn't much in the way of puzzles besides the traps but that's ok. After all it never was finished. Also concerning the fact that the level was unfinished I don't think it's too big of a deal but it would have been nice to see what happened when you put in the four gemstones. The level was beautiful to look at and nice to play and I think Jackie really did a good job on this one. :)” – Chronicles5 (09-Oct-2003)

“This is a very good level consisting 4 parts. I have a bit problem with these levels. There are many things I don’t understand. I started with the Tai Shan levels as they were the first in the Menu. On the Thai San level #2 I found 2 secrets: the Shotgun on the back of the golden Buddha and the other on the rocks next to the entrance of the monastery. But I also had the Pharos Pillar which I couldn’t use anywhere. I found 2 bugs on the Tai Shan level #1. Firstly Lara didn’t want to climb over to the gap of the wall. If I hadn’t saved the game from the floor earlier she managed to climb over. But I couldn’t grab the passage leading to the 3rd Gem no way. Then I was told that a Fly Cheat is needed to get through. Although it is written in the Readme but I never read it. :-) I found 4 Gems instead of 5 and placing 2 of them the level finished. On the Sea Without Waves levels I found 3 Secrets so I had total 5 Secrets. Anyway I like the levels the rooms are huge and the levels are linear. The enemies are a few of tigers bats sharks and crocs. I loved very much jumping on the water plants at the last Gem. There are no added sounds but the textures fit well to both of the 2 levels. I’m sorry for these bugs. I used the Fly Cheat for the first time in this level as there are no other solutions. These levels seemed to be a bit unfinished. But it was a good adventure.” – Obig (09-Oct-2003)

“It's a great pity that this level wasn't brought to a finished state. It's absolutely beautiful in places think Barkhang and Great Wall houses on stilts battlements and castle walls pool with giant lily pads floating on the water a gigantic golden Buddha and dragon that you climb into its mouth and down into its gullet. The idea is to get 6 gems to place before an obvious end of level but I only found 5 and after dozying around for two days I've now thrown in the towel. Perhaps sometime in the future Jackie will get back to this I hope so because even in the state it's in it's worth looking at.” – CC (09-Oct-2003)

“Originally intended as part of the 'Big Project' that never came to life Jackie finally decided to release this set of levels and even though it is unfinished and he lost the project files and cannot work on it anymore we should be happy we get to see what is there. Sea without Waves (7/6/9/10 35 min. 3 secrets): Starting with a few minutes of fun jeep riding (and jumping) in an awesome mountain setting with gorgeous waterfalls you then get around with a few interesting jumps finding pickups and all the time admiring the beautiful scenery with trees fog caves and more. Only a few tigers bats and crocodiles to disturb the peace and a few boulders slicer dicers and rope swings to master and a bit of swimming at the end. Tai Shan 1/2 (7/8/9/8 50 min. 1 secret): The atmosphere here is darker and more moody with lava around and exploration in and around oriental buildings. I really enjoyed some of the cleverly constructed jumping sequences and the dragon snake and the Buddha structures are very nicely done and integrated into the game. The long shimmy passage along the roofs was rather tedious of course but the quest for the gems is fun nonetheless. Towards the end there are a few more traps and even movable blocks before you reach the designated end (as there is no finish trigger). All in all it's a pity that Jackie has not had the chance to finish this up clean and proper as there is really only a few tweaks missing here and there. The fact that you do need DOZY a few times does not hurt the overall impression much and I am glad I got a chance to play this set of levels and look forward to the result of the work that Jackie is currently involved in.” - Michael (08-Oct-2003)

“This starts off with finding the keys to the jeep and ends abruptly with finding and placing some gems and a Pharos Knot that is really not needed. As this is an incomplete never to be finished level there is a need to use DOZY to progress at one point. The jeep ride is fun - although I constantly got off to check if I was missing something. There is some going back and forth between levels which can be confusing. There's some tricky jumps and clever rolling balls breaking open an exit. After a long monkey swing there's a beautiful sky that was maybe better than any I've seen a builder make. Lots of potential and I wish it had been completed but even so memorable and really beautiful.” – Bene (08-Oct-2003)

“Such a pity that this is (as Jackie calls it) unfinished as it does have loads of potential. Just the looks of those levels I thought were great. That plunge into the water at the start of this game I had to do that again as that was great. Gameplay was a bit on the weak side and there aren't that many enemies although I jumped in my chair when almost at the end the hammerhead sharks appeared. I loved the waterfalls and later that temple. Getting your hands on those gems is another story as first time around I got into the third level with absolutely nothing in Lara's backpack. There is some great jumping to do but that alone doesn't make a game. I hope Jackie will build another one and will finish it properly as the guy has talent. 30-09-2003” – Gerty (05-Oct-2003)

“I find it very hard to review an unfinished level but since Jackie has asked us to...I find the atmosphere and the surroundings brilliant. Especially the outdoors ones with the trees (that I wanted to climb but couldn’t) the Asian style buildings and the water areas with lots of waterfalls. The level starts with a jeep-ride through mountains and over gaps and when I much later came back over one of those places but even higher up the feeling was WOW! Enemies were bats a few crocodiles and tigers and a group of sharks. There seems as if there should have been more pick-ups and a little more puzzling wouldn’t have hurt either. Anyway - this is a level to play for its beauty and I really recommend you to do so!” – G.Croft (04-Oct-2003)

“I honestly don't believe I have ever seen game environments which are as beautiful as the one's featured here. Jackie is an artist no doubt of that. There wasn't a single room or outdoor area which didn't impress; indeed much of the scenery in this adventure is utterly sublime. You could take a screenshot (especially of the Chinese temples) frame it hang it on your living room wall (next to that old painting of a Vase of flowers that your Granny left you) and impress your neighbours; it really is that good. If ever I get too stressed out again I shall re-visit this level and just potter about among the quiet still and beautiful scenery. As for bothering to actually play the level; well that's secondary. Partly because the gameplay (when it's there - most prominently in the first two levels) is very straightforward (find how to leave the current area and progress to the next) and partly because (being an incomplete work) it fizzles out completely after about an hour. Which ultimately left me feeling very frustrated as (with no element of finality) the whole thing just comes to a pitiful halt. I can see why the author felt the need to release it though as it is a veritable work of art. But it felt more like an indulgence rather than a bona fide Custom Level.” – Orbit Dream (03-Oct-2003)

“As the author states this is an unfinished game therefore don’t expect much. The places are great with temples houses and waterfalls but the missing textures and the use of DOZY in a couple of places are the game’s downsides. There isn’t much to do apart from find four gems in four levels from which you revisit two of them plus a Pharos Pillar. Fortunately the author warns about the problems as well as the crash at the area with the gems. The enemies are very few tigers and some sharks. The Buddha statue was impressive along with the dragon later on. It’s a pity these levels can’t be finished I really liked the areas the general idea. I found only two secrets and a couple of times got a little confusing with the back and forth between the levels. Take a look at it if for nothing else for the wonderful statues and nice atmosphere.” – Kristina (02-Oct-2003)

“Well even if it sounds a bit disappointing to hear that this is just an unfinished project Jackie managed to release and is buggy at certain points it really isn't that disappointing as sure it really seemed like there must be more to it after finding the 4 gems in the huge fantastic meteorite cavern alike area but the hour spent here was nice. You start off with finding the jeep keys and take a 5 minute ride through the mountains which is a very enjoyable ride despite it's shortness with some nice camera views kicked in at thrilling moments. There is a certain lack of puzzles but the fun jumps and moves do keep you occupied thorough the level - as said more puzzles are needed though to make the experience less 'monotonous'. The first half an hour is spent in some wonderfully-looking mountains valleys with rivers and waterfalls and well made trees which altogether make a beautiful scenery - the next 40 minutes or so are spent underground (with appearing in some well made and threatening outside areas time after time again) and practically most of the areas are highlights here - the most memorable meteorite-cavern-alike room with the purple crystal the fantastic dragon room and the village on wooden pillars to where you get after getting inside the dragon and more more more... Well what more can I say? Too bad Jackie didn't have the opportunity to finish the project but hoping that there's more to come anytime soon all I can do is to recommend you the levels even if only for the picturesque environments and a couple of easy tasks (you do have to dozy inside a seemingly inaccessible crawlspace though - doesn't hurt much as enemies are scarce anyway) not to be missed if you like oriental levels!” – eTux (02-Oct-2003)

“A set of 4 levels that Geckokid decided to release although he had given up on finishing them sounds disappointingly unimpressive doesn’t it? But it actually isn’t. Sure the gameplay is a little weak with the main theme being just getting around with some cool jumps and moves as well as the jeep as you explore the environment and this is where the levels don’t let it down. The first two intertwined levels are set outside in beautiful waterfall rocky still watered areas that I have to say I thought were just delicious you also come across he first workings of the temples that become a major part of the setting you even get to drive over the roof of a submerged temple with the jeep. The last two intertwined levels are set predominantly inside a whole series of temples and pagodas you even get a lot of shimmying and jumping around the roofs of them as you go in the search for 4 gems. I felt a little complacent though through all levels as enemies were scarce to say the least with only a handful of tigers bats and crocs even Jackie tells you there is no enemies in a certain level so surprise surprise when in that level I land in a pool of water at the base of a brilliant dragon statue that you later enter through the mouth and climb down inside its snake like body and am greeted by a pack of hammerheads! Speaking of statues you just have to see the giant golden Buddha statue that you come across it’s awesome. There are though 3 spots you have to flycheat through as Jackie states in the readme and it didn’t really hurt the flow at all however the levels although lovely to look at all felt a little empty and that made them feel unfinished. It took me nearly 90 minutes to play and I found 4 secrets along with a deadly to collect knot that had no use and just had wished that Jackie could have found the inspiration before he shelved these levels to have finished them properly as they really had a whole lot of potential.” – Sash (01-Oct-2003)
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