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Level: Reign of Chaos - Cordoba back home search
Author(s): Horus
total rating:9.43 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Akcy 10 9 10 10
CC 10 8 9 10
Christian 9 9 10 10
DJ Full 9 10 9 9
eRIC 10 10 10 10
eTux 10 7 9 10
Gerty 8 9 9 10
Jay 10 9 10 10
Jose 8 9 9 10
Kristina 10 9 9 10
Leeth 7 8 8 9
Loupar 9 9 10 10
manarch2 9 8 10 9
Mezcal 10 10 10 10
MichaelP 10 8 9 10
Mman 9 10 10 10
Moonliteshadow 10 10 10 10
mugs 10 9 10 10
Mytly 9 10 10 10
Necro 9 7 9 9
Obig 10 8 9 10
OverRaider 10 10 10 10
Phil 10 9 10 10
QRS 10 10 10 10
Ryan 10 10 10 10
Selene 9 9 10 10
Sutekh 10 10 9 10
TombRaiderFan 10 9 9 9
Zhyttya 7 8 10 9
category averages
(29 reviews)
9.38 9.00 9.55 9.79

Reviewer's comments

"Cordoba was a beautiful set of two levels, filled with tremendous hard work on the decoration and atmosphere of the chapter. I confess that Venice remains my number 1 favorite of this series in terms of the game play. When comparing the two (because i had to do that to evaluate the game play) Venice just seemed more coherent and provided with a better fluid experience, while Cordoba seemed a bit too confusing (specially level 2) since you have to explore a HUGE area and you can easily get lost until you are more familiar with the area itself. It had almost no enemies, so i kinda missed the action part a bit, but the decoration was fantastic, so 8 for the second topic. Atmosphere and texturing where without a doubt the best ones in the series, even surpassing China, which now takes second place on my ranking. To finish off i just want to say that level 2 was definitely the highlight in this chapter. The atmosphere and textures used on level 1 just didn't do for me, but this is more of a personal preference, that being said i took away 1 point on the last topic 'cause of level 1. Still, great level design, completely fell in love with level 2." - Zhyttya (29-Nov-2016)

"This level had so much potential but it had the problem of being to big. Everything was well sorted out and every puzzle was amazing (the one witch you can see trough the glass floor was the best one for me) but it was a bit to long. You have to walk around a bit to much and that makes you lose the motivation even if the platforming was great. The puzzles, boxes and gaps really meshed with the ambiance and I really have to congratulate the author for that, except a random room full of traps that was way out of place. The textures were great, I just didn't like that we had two different quality of textures for boxes (level 2), they seemed a bit out of place. Still, lovely experience and a joy of level to play if you really love exploring. A bit more of action in would be great to wake us up a bit but still one of the best in this series" - Leeth (29-Nov-2016)

"Wow, Nadine's Cordoba section is really something. This section is two levels, one in a darker, hellish environment and one in a picturesque sunny location. The timed runs were fiendish but doable and the puzzles were greatly set up. Onto Natla's Hideout..." - Ryan (21-Apr-2016)

"Do you know what I hate the most in community projects? Rating all levels separately, especially when they feel as a whole, what applies here especially to the untrimmed version (I got one from our dear Hungarians but I still ticked the green link to boost the fake counter). I could just make a long commentary and paste it under each episode with links to other chapters - less chaos and you only read once... why not? The whole adventure will also get common rating however I will highlight the aspect which stands out in each part. So here we are in the age of TRLE which is real archeology to me, like digging out blurred Indian tablets, or analyzing broken Chinese china to repicture the whole thing before it broke. Or like drilling Tutankhamen's mummy... I mean tomb! for deeper impression in the new old chamber. Same for the levelset, the sole storyline of which raises questions. How can Lara survive the gems which feed on nearby life? How could Natla's followers carry her body if they're braindead mummies? Did they use just the claws or also wings? What happened to the New York episode, has it become Be My Valentine, should I seek elsewhere for full experience or is it utterly gone, vanished, forgotten? Not lost in chaos, for in such case it would be here. Most of these won't be resolved even in a long trip which takes an Airport... Agnes, we meet again, what a nice surprise. I liked her previous levels, here I looked for similarities, but this location, while convincing and even holding the first secret, is just a hub filled with trunks, passengers and killable staff, so I shortly departed straight to Mexico, on the contrary instantly familiar. You could think it's nothing special, just a bunch of primeval corridors and basic bulbs, but the essentials are flawless, forming a mini level of maxi efficiency. As expected we hear custom tracks, starting with Ennio's harmonica well highlighting the great loss overwhelming a defined ghost town. I would like the background Mike to be cut with less hearable seam, also the horizon doesn't quite match and few casual objects bring random Egyptian blend. A real nail in the cactus was trying to obtain the revolver but once I figured it out things went comfy and easy, focusing on exploring western cityscape, a truly heartwarming preparation that encourages despite of being cursed and infested with evil enemies - I could even take the wraiths. As soon the level jumps to Free Mexico, we get bashed in the head by some sombrero civillain... hey dude, shouldn't you be grateful, I've just freed your town! But since Lara holds the gem we can assume the guy just mistook her for the reason of curse (or we can just ignore the inconsistency). Right after that we get a bit of wonderful relief (with much better handled Mike), as we start to understand and appreciate the brilliant concept underlying this game - apart from the usual common pickup link, the plot structure is based on enslavement/freedom bipolarity which feel nothing but great when interleaved. I hoped this contrast will last for the entire game. The subsequent transition from the plane flight straight into a Sewer System could be less intense, in fact they could skip the sewers totally, but this instance is different - sharp, bright lighting occurs while the map makes sense. After unlocking more places the intended path gets unclear so we'd better had some plan or local indicators about where we came from and where we go next. Puzzles were mostly about keys and switches and at that point I started to miss something creative. The finale with a cinematic flyby gave me just that, as I usually appreciate one decent cut more than a million flawless textures, but I still wanted to resurface as fast as I can, for a deserved Hereafter Holiday, a whole different approach to Venetian scenery - though the cityscape is missing rooftops, it's convincing and filled with creepy details like floating corpses, blood fountains or zombies hunting Lara's brain to solve tasks on their own. This is a cursed level which follows another, so we may think the balance between ordeal and relief is lost, but this weird platformer under menacing sky where music keeps fitting is still lighter than the preceding sewer so the atmosphere keeps happifying. If the forced medikit usage at the fireplace was intended I strongly disagree with it, but all other gameplay makes sense. Next in order, Say Cheese explains the previous level as an intermediate pre-relief or sub-relief before a really defined purification unit - not until now we were supposed to lively smile and sunnily enjoy, and the disenchanting process has been amplified from two levels to three. In short: things get serious. I wish the final marina was more than a cutscene but I forgot about that little inconvenice as soon as I landed in Underground Temple. This is another kaboom-like transition from an unchained city to an isolated, water-overflown dungeon. Notice how the scope of particular episodes has developed so far from little city through big city to a large temple where scale change implies reasonable emptiness: two-square wide corridors are overwhelming and uncomfy but also give more space for exploration and combat, as chaos appears in form of nasty creatures - things get even more serious. But an enemy more fearsome than spiders and abandonment by everyone else is the inhumanly long multi-floor pushable which, unless Christoph just went chaotic evil, was designed I don't know why. Cave craft, multilevel stack, logical trigger design and other skills needed to create big complex things are involved, yet bearing the task without Silmarillion audiobook in the background would be unmeasurably hard. I wasn't listening about good gems in order to balance bad gems, I just wanted to check both for few years already and before I sail to Aman, and their timing has matched, be it nature or Valar intervention, though the Ungoliant chapter came a bit too late to fit the arachnid content of this level. The next one, China Garden, invites to explore, largely redeems the pushable and is the first one sized to imply a split in two parts (sounds like a compliment). More and more locations get memorable (that was a compliment), I will remember the village, still isolated but differently peaceful. And the outer temple with transition to the rooftops. I also liked the waterfall ways in and out of the blue key area. Possibly the author couldn't decide which one was to be which, but I easily imagined both options for both paths. The key itself could be placed in less ordinary location as well as some other pickups, and in certain places a faster way back could be provided. All concludes with a boat getaway and before I took another plane I noticed the Airport has changed - I wonder if this level was also variable before and it doesn't feel good to only realize now it might have been. Anyway Lara arrives in a toilet, for the first real puzzle, both about time. The task involves destruction but when the door opens the security doesn't bother, I could kill the same guards again and also at each previous return. Though they don't drop a thing I had tons of medikits, but somehow the shotgun was still missing. Its absence had nicely forced laser sight usage, but that was two episodes ago in Mexico. Later it appeared the game allowed to find all secrets but also miss the shotgun, leaving me with 200 shells and no chance to use them until the last episode. For now I just flew unaware to an ominous place holding a Mystic Tree. This is where construction starts to get really complex - after you thought China was big the game expands along another dimension letting us into a mysterious abbey which is more vertical than horizontal, and intensely crafted in all directions. It also feels like a mosque because of intense Cairo wad usage, and while I never liked these red doors the other casual objects are unusually located - unexpected ornate pillars and arched passages form structures which weren't included in the original TR4 but possibly should have been, and the track 109 I found spooky when I had played the core game now sounds beautiful (or maybe I'm just going chaotic evil either). Some texture chunks don't match geometry so I had trouble perceiving certain structures as a whole. The ornaments seem to occur in correct amount but they might have been more understandable if they didn't vanish among similarly ornamental texture patterns. If I mentioned unsatisfactory key placement before, here it evolves with the Tower Key placed on a catwalk (where it would have no chance to remain) and destined for a hole located few squares away. Another key lies on a random roof, but at least these two, the Backyard Key and the Chamber Key are fairly named - because later on the ground we find an Enchanted Light Key which sole name shall be read with epic horns in the background, cause thunderstorms and raise people from the dead... but no it opens a door. Still the place has unique parts like surprising dog usage and possibly the best Lara_Double I encountered until now. After that we get the fourth gem and Córdoba is brought back to normal... Córdoba? Not having heard until now that I'm in Spain only intensified the feeling of being trapped in the middle of nowhere, so despite of mistaking the mosque for an abbey I take it as a well-executed intention, and the 1/1 unit balance between cursed and blessed levels is restored to produce the most intense contrast since the sewer jump. Struck by sudden brightness, I again felt a bit uncomfy, this time because of scenery collage - where have I really been thrown into, a garden, a city, a castle, a palace, a patio, a river? What is real nature of this level? If this is based on a real city, how could any ordinary inhabitant proceed across? Any bit of explanation what really happens here would be invaluable, for instance puzzle items could say a lot... but nope we again get a "ruby cube", "fire opal", "sapphire ocular" and no clue whatsoever. That's why the word "playground" reappears in mind, likely summoned from some Tibetan monks contemplating Mr XY's works in the meantime. This impression only amplifies as we solve the gate puzzle, the first serious riddle I would anyway halve in length because I was already mesmerized and acting like chaotic stupid. I generally love this trope, it works great in non-alterable fiction like voiced cutscenes missing so much in this adventure, but I suppose it might be either totally enjoyed or utterly hated within a bright, open level requiring omnidirectional exploration (I was panned about 65-70% left in this awkward stereo). But the texturing is coherent and while the place is unspecified it might also feel unified because of its slight surreal overlay. I found one banana jump shortcut, but another spot felt like a fast getaway trigger fail so I take it as chaotic neutral, still a tie between good and evil. What I really like was the shrine pushable, one of these nice little things I value over epic sights and generic awesomeness - here's what I consider a masterclass: instant focus, one push, quick item grab and no wondering if anything else is supposed to be done with the pot. After all we take the chopper back to the Airport, and what... the heck has happened here? I'm almost sure this is where the New York segment was supposed to occur, because the plot hole screams with volume of Lara's backpack and feels like substituted with a quick hub action. But it's also good to actually perform some task in this place. After that we can stuff all the gems in the lead-isolated trunk to ensure they won't radiate in the plane (not wanna repeat the Cai'xia scenario) and set off to the final destination so Nadine can again test our geographic knowledge - yes, just like I did with Nevado Huarascan Plateau, I had to google Alnwick, and... what do you mean "England"? Are you sure it's not a sunken rift volcano in the middle of North Atlantic? Or did Natla bother to awaken an uncharted British range for Hellforge? After a brilliant opening when retrieving all gems unlocks the initial door to invoke immediate need for exploration, I found a real treasure of the old editor - a vertical diagonal wall. Even the sun has frozen to watch it for a bit longer, however it's another item which opens a normal door despite of the name scored for high brass, piercing strings, mixed choirs and timpani. Graphic overlay starts to get really coherent at last, it's really the further the better in this game, though some clusters still require quadruple vision to comprehend - maybe these spiders of China would feel entirely comfortable in here, or maybe Nadine is just a WOMAN so to hell with my male 16-bit color perception indeed: I swiftly glance at lightrays and windows, then I focus on my task and I think the moveable bowls of tomato soup are yummy. I thought this even playing that part after dinner, what confirms I liked the puzzle for reasons other than being hungry. Lavafall has more rivers of molten spaghetti, also more lightrays, some so bright I couldn't see through them. Custom objects appear more frequently, puzzles get much better to live their own life or death. Again we get more than a single cursed level, so the 1/1 balance is abandoned for the second time, but this arrangement contrasts more efficiently with the brief breath of Spain - quite fitting considering all the stones are collected and we can entirely focus on breaching the Core Of EVIL. This involves watching your steps, careful trap negotiation, battling flying skeletons... and here's where I realized something doesn't match. Where are Natla's monsters, minions and advanced equipment? In fact I expected them to appear in proximity of every gem, and accumulating with each next stone retrieved as the enemies would slowly realize the seriousness of trouble they're in - but so far no references to Natla's world have been given except from a single meat texture beneath my feet, and without a single trace of her activity you won't even know the mission involves her if you skip the readme, what is definitely the supreme flaw of the game. It felt even more off-topic in the Library, where various book genres resemble a cursed instance of Hogwarts specializing exclusively in black magic, instead of anything remotely linked to Atlantis. Such change of mood would do great in any point of the plot except from the prefinale build-up which should focus on the final goal. This is tricky to explain so just imagine Merlin's Caves as the prefinal level of KAP instead of a side task it is now, and you see what I'm talking about. Later I figured out the real meaning of the Alnwick castle, but at the time when I played the levels I had absolutely no clue. In the same library I also found the only proto-gamestopper - I missed a secret, returned for it and got halted by a one-shot door in the Rusty Key chamber, while the way in was closed for good. The key has a twin and each of these items takes a whole level to find, so as much as I was disappointed with keys before, these two are textbook examples of rewarding effort - I had a whole new dose of motivation when they unlocked the Cathedral. It seems another split has been done here, between this level and Death and Resurrection, as they feel the most coherent with each other - in the first one we breach the scene of closing battle, in the second one we prepare the stage for fight and do the fight itself. The conclusion marks all the essentials: climatic action velocity, the strongest usable items, the most powerful enemy and a getaway with a well-deserved ultimate prize. The final artifact is of really bright concept, though going the opposite way would possibly make more sense, and could also justify the ingame flaws. As a possible better design I can bring here an unplanned other example from King Arthur Project: there are two gems, the official light one and the secret dark one, to fulfill hidden wish of balance. Heck, now I think this levelset and the Arthur game have a lot in common. I wonder what would happen if the two teams cooperated. SUMMARY: Sometimes... chaotic... phfffrrr... <0i>[the author falls from the chair into uncontrollable, spasmatic laughter in admiral of his own brilliance, the rest was written horus later when he finally rose from the floor and restored keyboard aim with fingers still shaking due to lost energy (apparently he got immersed too much so the gems took a bit of his life as well... oh NOW he understands the full meaning.] Variety of objects and locations isn't unified the usual way, resulting in a mix of TR2/3/4 with a TR1 boss, but the overarching contrast of enslavement and freedom, the bipolarity of chaos and order, eventually the location-independent fight between good and evil cement everything instead, and all the authors cared to obey this idea entirely so no single episode subparly executes it. I of course wouldn't mind if this extraordinary glue worked together with progressing Atlantean theme, and if the tasking was more creative, because in such case the project as a whole would be close to perfect - but this is still much more than a pack of levels linked with similar gems: it's rather like a complete symphony you need to analyze bit by bit in order to fully understand, and don't you dare sleep before the finale no matter what dissonances you hear on the way." - DJ Full (02-Apr-2016)

"The fourth level Spain in Reign Of Chaos project was an amazing one!!! I liked everything in this level especially chalange. very beautiful atmosphere and music choise, very nicely hidden secrets, clever puzzles and enjoyable gameplay. Overall perhaps not a true masterpiece but i couldn`t give less than 10/10/10/10" - OverRaider (11-Feb-2013)

"Mystic tree: Arriving at that small Spanish courtyard, making our way through a reddish hall we hear a dog barking out of a distanced area. Lara hasn't only reached another destination in this series, but also another league of level-building. Lightning, textures, everything in every corner is perfectly worked out. Cordoba doesn't welcome the player with an a depressing, dark atmosphere caused by the 'reign' as it is obvious in most of the previous levels from the very 1st moment. The barking heard in the perfectly created environment in the starting area is the very only small hint that we are very close to a nightmare. The dog Lara soon will meet is out of hell and immortal and has to be lured into a cage before she can proceed. This is only one 1st example for the well thought out gameplay we can find here. A tight timed run over a triangle ledge is demanding but doable another example for that. Graphics are stunning as it could be expected, texturing is perfect. When a courtyard with the mystic tree is reached, still a lot of tasks have to be done before Lara finally gets the chaos gem. A very, very hard timed run has to be performed; a lot of traps have to be avoided. A few more hints could have been helpful in this wonderful level-part (9 9 10 10) Cordoba: This part of the level is characterized by some pushing- and lever puzzles, several timed runs, and a lot of challenging tasks to perform almost in outdoor-areas with very convincing and stunning atmosphere . Though this 2nd part is quite as huge than the 1st one, there's not that much to add out of a reviewers perspective. (9 9 9 10)" - Christian (22-Jan-2013)

"The Mystic Tree (8-7-9-9): Maintaining the"dark" style of the first levels of each levelset within the series, this level was made using a lot of classic TR 4 city objects and textures I tend to not like very much and thus wasn't able to fully enjoy the setting. Despite that, the level oozes professionalism with clean texturing (at parts maybe a little patchy) and very good lightning and the Moorish ambience was quite well done. Nevertheless I thought many rooms looked somewhat empty and more object design would've suited this level. The gameplay is somewhat different to all the other previous RoC levels with much more challenges (i.e. tougher jumps and timed runs) put in and that made up for a nice change. I loved the complex and creative usage of the torch, especially in the room full of fires, and the exploration up and down the"tree" area was great fun. The locking of the immortal dog was an original idea but apart from him and two harpies at the very end that perfectly supported the storyline there were no additional enemies, I often don't care but this level was really lacking them. At the end of this level all grew a little bit weary and tedious - when I thought the level was nearly over another rather unnecessary swim session had to be done so I was rather glad when I finished this level. 45 minutes.
Córdoba (9-8-10-9): This is perhaps the most beautiful level of RoC for me (at least on par with the Garden levels from China, with the neat usage of waterfalls and water throughout most of the level, I really liked the strong bluish colour they had and there are lots of details to enhance this beautiful atmosphere. Gameplay in this part is certainly even more delightful than in the first level, with a plethora of pickups to find in the beautiful scenery and really fun puzzles had to be done to get them, especially the pushable vases puzzles and the long and elaborate door maze puzzle which I liked best, despite having to traverse up and down for activating the levers. But just like Mytly, I found the shortcut via the banana jump before getting to the block puzzle and only by chance got to know how the intended route was. Normally, this is no problem since banana jumps aren't exactly the intuitive way through a level, but since those are required to get a secret in the previous level I accepted this as a legal way. Another complaint of mine that slowly but steadily gets old now is the (now complete) lack of enemies. The object design is really great in this level - lots of great fauna and decor - but why not putting some combat elements in this level is beyond me. Of course there should not be a high amount of enemies in the brighter parts of the levelsets but I'd take Mexico as inspiration as those sombrero guys and some scorpions were perfectly fitting to the setting without harming the peaceful climate. My last complaint is about the textures taken from TR 3 Gold (or was that only the inspiration?), I think they don't fit very nicely to the wall sections and confuse the atmosphere ever so slightly; lighting was a little on the bland side too without being bad at all. 60 minutes.
Summary: A large step upward in gameplay quality and also a great setting with care for detail, mostly in the second level, and for this level alone the 10 in the third category is deserved. While lighting is mostly first-class throughout both levels (except a little bit in the second part), texturing is not what I would call great, the buildings of the first level had too confusingly applied textures. Undoubtedly there are ingeniously crafted rooms with great texturing in both parts, but some textures even in the second level felt a little out of place and they felt so much more coherent in the next and last part, which undoubtedly is the highlight of the whole series. 105 minutes." - manarch2 (30-Dec-2012)

"The Mystic Tree: Set in some sort of Moorish church, after the somewhat light atmosphere of the China"dark" level things are back to being apocalyptic again, with a very moody atmosphere, the architecture is as excellent as in China however, with one great looking room after another. Gameplay becomes even tougher with all manner of tricky jumps and switches, but it still remains mostly fair, and there are some interesting new ideas like how you deal with one invincible enemy. The layout also interlinks a lot and just when you think it's over there's probably some more to do. If you don't hunt for switches as you go along though you could miss some vital switches and be forced to do a lot of backtracking, I managed to avert that though. Also, one timed run with spikes seemed only possible if you stopped them at exactly the right time, which seemed kind of cheap. Other than those problems a great level.
Cordoba: This is one of the most beautiful TR levels in existence (even beating ROC China), between the waterfalls, textures and objects it's one incredible visual set-piece after another. Gameplay continues to ramp up; you might be safe from enemies but the massive size, puzzles and timed runs make this even more complex than the last level, it's also really long. There is one part with a maze I recalled ruining this level for me last time, but it really wasn't bad at all this time, one slip-up and there's a ton of backtracking to do; you might just have to load a save game, but I don't see what stopped there being a shortcut or two to get back. As I mentioned it's very long (quite possibly one of the longest single levels around), and just when you think it's over there's a new area or it interlinks in some ingenious way. While I loved it I can't decide whether it's one of the most brilliant things ever made an or exercise in pure excess-like swimming in chocolate and vomiting it up after- I guess it's a bit of both..." - Mman (01-Sep-2009)

"The Mystic Tree: This is easily one of the best levels in Reign of Chaos - the only thing preventing it from being *the* best is Horus's own genius, which goes into overdrive in the next section (Natla's Hideout). In any case - it's definitely the best"dark" level in the game. Every builder who wants to build so-called"dark" levels should be made to play this level first - in order to show them that actual darkness is not in the least bit necessary for a"dark" level, and bright and colourful lighting and textures can be used to create a brilliantly spooky atmosphere. Horus has recreated the Moorish architecture of the city of Cordoba beautifully. Some of the textures and objects are recognizable from TR4's Cairo levels - but used in entirely novel ways. And speaking of novel - the use of enemies in this level is fantastic. Only 3 real enemies: a zombie dog that can't be killed, only trapped, and 2 harpies that attack the Mystic Tree, which seems to be directly connected to Lara's life force. Add to that superb gameplay that keeps you on your toes with torch puzzles, tricky timed-runs and fiendish traps - and it results in a perfect level. Cordoba: Ah, the light level. The setting seems to be a cross between a castle and an enormous park - but whatever it is, it's mind-bogglingly beautiful: waterfalls galore, colourful flowers and greenery everywhere, and all of it amid magnificent architecture sporting stained glass windows and beautiful mosaics and metalwork. However, the beauty is slightly spoiled by the not-so-perfect gameplay. Right at the beginning, you face a long and rather dull crate-pushing puzzle - which is completely unnecessary, as you can bypass the whole area and get to the exit with a simple banana jump. Later in the level, there is a long and complex maze in which you have to open gates using switches set at an upper level and shooting balls within the maze. But making your way up and down between the maze and the switches several times over is a very tricky and tedious task. Oh well, to an extent, such things seem worse than they are just because the rest of the level is so amazing. But in spite of the many positive things to be said about Cordoba, The Mystic Tree is still my favourite level in this area - the only case in this game where I prefer the darker level to the corresponding lighter one. Cordoba (the section) is simply fantastic - like all of Horus's levels, it's a feast for the eyes, and a major challenge for the brains and fingers. As a part of the Reign of Chaos game, it fits perfectly with the rising challenge level throughout the game: it's distinctly tougher than China, but a piece of cake compared to what's coming next: Natla's Hideout." - Mytly (26-Aug-2009)

"Whoa, this stuff is free? The Mystic Tree: Magical fires, dark Moorish beauty, intelligent game play, and a perfectly scored soundtrack cast a tale into the ancient mystery of the Mystic Tree. Has this young author actually set us on that eternal quest for the Golden Bough? What journey is she really on? I was stunned to see the Harpies take control of our destiny when at first, we foolishly believed we had escaped their wrath, and were on the correct path. Not! And all that superbly gorgeous artistry mixed in with some of the most exciting timed runs, devilishly clever traps, and humorously well-hidden objects that I have ever experienced in this addictive hobby. Like every truly original genius, and gifted artist, Horus is an acquired taste; and most fittingly, she has already become a legend. There are only one or two other builders who demonstrate this level of creative power, and this one level set from the Reign of Chaos is an incredible example of that perfection. I'll get to her other works later on down the road. My first experiences with some of her other Hall of Fame levels were short-lived and didn't go down well. Once, when I posted an inappropriate rant about what at first I considered sloppy backtracking game-play, a fan jumped to her defense, castigating me for complaining about a work I hadn't paid for and all I was losing was time, perhaps as yet too inexperienced to understand one of the most important definitions of time, and what it truly means to pay for something. Sometime later, Nadine patiently explained to me that her non-linear style of game play was just not everyone's cup of tea, and, as is her prerogative, advised that I could take it or leave it. But of course, the power of her work will not leave any one who truly loves this hobby in peace. And in this Cordoba level set, I eventually came to appreciate that one of the most enjoyable attributes built into her master work is indeed the time we do get to spend in worlds imbued with superhuman attention to detail, elevated conceptual challenges towards the tasks at hand, and above all, a much more elegant, demanding, and original creativity. As for game play design, just embrace her style, the rewards are breathtaking. Consider the lever/chain action going on up in the Mystic Tree courtyard. If you don't take the time to figure this out, when you first see it, you are going to be in for a long, unpleasant, non-linear backtracking drudge. But the author has put the path right in front of you, shrouded in her wickedly demanding wit. You can see the block that will take you where you need to go. But after studying it for awhile you think that there is really no way to access that block, and are tempted to pursue another direction elsewhere. You are not going to see the path right in front of you, hidden along that darkened wall adjacent to that block unless you take the time to look for it. Later, you are going to need two amethyst jewels. Securing the first one is a simple and straightforward discovery process. The second one is hidden. You know you need it, you know you are in the area where it must be, but you can't find it. But if you take the time to look, you'll find it tucked away, very cleverly, deep down in the water; in a huge submersed area....hidden in a obscure corner, nestled inside a dark, tiny, underground chasm. And so, ultimately, for me at least, this is how I want to be challenged in any of these works. As time is indeed our most precious commodity, this author's absolutely singular talent to engage, and challenge us with enormous intellectual power built into uniquely gorgeous artistry, puts her work in that rare category of the most original raiding experiences found in any custom level. It's hands down, first class mystery, magic, beauty, humor, and genius, which are the most rewarding gifts for anyone's time. Contrary to some other reviewers, I really liked the entire dark atmosphere, and texture theme throughout this level, and had a lot of fun freeing myself from the malevolent side of Cordoba. Thanks also for reminding us that if we expect to succeed in our journey; there are times when we have no choice but to throw ourselves against damage, just as every honest journey demands of us in our quest to survive and conquer. Cordoba: Well, duh, I can only contribute a speechless review. Hands down one of the most lovely, intelligent, and interesting levels ever created. While this is complicated stuff, the softly tolling bells were always a pleasantly constant reminder for me to savor every challenge, study the landscape, and to control my frustration throughout, because the rewards are simply awesome complex genius, and raving beauty. Nadine ought to run away with Dick Lawther, as their progeny would no doubt design the key to the cosmos. And as for abandoning us for now, surely even she knows in her heart that won't last." - Mezcal (22-Aug-2009)

"The mystic tree : must be one the best levels I ever played. I like everything here , the gameplay which is what all good gameplay would be about , it is great fun , the traps, the timed runs, and some good jumps are not too challenging , and the progression you have is quite exciting. I simple love the setting made with these textures and objects , many from the Citadel/Cairo levels. It is incredible how this stuff can be so beautifully put in condition (to be true there is also new ones than those of TR4), love these orange and red ones. Only a few enemies here , but there are greatly used in an original way. Cordoba : I thought it would be hard to top The mystic Tree in terms of beauty and entertainment , and if I have not liked it better I liked it as much. The central area is really stunning , and the rather free progression we can have here give lots of pleasure , spiced up with fun timed doors and good puzzles. I noticed that the first excellent pushable blocks area was not necessary, but it was good all the same." - eRIC (15-Aug-2009)

"Wonderful atmospehere and music, exceptionally beautiful rooms, sometimes I just wandered around, marveling. Also the fly-bys, I watched some of them many times, they were so great and atmospheric. There was a shortage of enemies, I can recall a single zombie dog, but we can't kill even that. Still I didn't miss them. Fantasticly planned levelbuilding, thoughtfully organized gameplay with remarkable texturing and object useing, made these simply one of the best looking levels I've ever seen. Don't miss them." - Akcy (06-May-2007)

"One thing for sure Nadine is in my book one of the great level builders out there. Going through a level is pure eye candy so do stop and look around. The game play is very clever done and she does capture the right atmosphere. It never is a walk in the park though, not only are you looking for artifact but I got a bit of an overdose in the nasty timed runs she seems to love. Well I don?t. I needed help twice in Cordoba and that is a big no in my book. The puzzles are great, there is no doubt about it (one for sure need to stop and think about the solution); her choice of music does fit also extremely well. I played it when it came out but I felt like I rushed things so this time I took it easier and I could appreciate it much more. Here you have two levels, one dark and spooky the other more cheerful and I loved all the waterfalls and nooks and crannies." - Gerty (28-May-2006)

"I did write a review ready and then saved over it so I am trying to do this again from memory. Only parts of this level are coming back to me - maybe more as I go on, I loved the idea of the Mystic Tree holding Lara's lifeforce with some demon-birds attacking it. It was a little tricky as you had to be careful not to target the tree. I remember finding some of the keys were hard. I was stuck for a long time until I found a way to get to the roof (cleverly hidden) to find the silver key. There are a lot lot of lighting brazier puzzles which I liked. The next level had some good uses of the movable crate puzzles. I remember having to double-back for a few missed puzzle pieces. The overall design of the place was great and the new objects (well, new to me), were nicely done. The movable flower pot puzzles to good too. I was also fooled at the end of the level - I saw the chopper and then fell into the cleverly hidden gap to be swept underwater by the nasty current. Nice!" - Necro (28-Apr-2006)

"The Mystic Tree (10/8/8/9, 60 min., 3 secrets): Despite the fact that this level uses textures that do not appeal much to me, it certainly was a lot of fun to play. In essence it is a hunt for 6 keys, but with many special moments along the way, like the undead dog that you need to lock in, three tricky timed runs, use of the torch, great looking lava and tricky jumps around this lava and burners and a few nice trap gauntlets. Enemies are only the two rather fierce harpies that are hard to kill around the Mystic Tree. If anything, I thought the level was even a bit too overloaded with objects placed everywhere, but this is only a minor gripe. Cordoba (10/8/9/10, 70 min.): Ah - sunshine again. With the Chaos Gem found you enter much friendlier surroundings and listen to beautiful audio along the way. Gameplay is anything but easy though. The timed runs are creative and fun, there is some clever box and object pushing to do, jewel pieces to find, a complex but fun door maze / switch puzzle and towards the end more jumping, cage raising, exploring around the roofs until you reach the helicopter. The setting is utterly stunning with the waterfalls, the greenery, the balconies and exploring this multi stories environment is not always easy and far from obvious, but eventually it should not be too hard to figure out. Fabulous adventure!" - MichaelP (16-Apr-2006)

"I believe that this level has just about got it all. It's absolutely brilliant. The total game is just amazing and in this level you certainly feel that you are getting closer to the dangerous Natla. There are lots of timers which I normally don't like but I really enjoyed the challenge of these ones. The puzzles just kept on coming and loved dealing with the hound from hell. I did miss a lever and had to back track, but it wasn't so bad as I found it a bit easier the second time around! Another fantastic level in this Reign of Chaos." - Moonliteshadow (13-Jan-2006)

"I had a brief letdown at the beginning on this two-part adventure. After the stunning beauty of the Chinese levels, the dreary surroundings that met Lara in Cordoba acted as a spirit-dampener the way a thunderstorm can spoil a gorgeous day. But the feeling didn't last long. The gameplay from the starting gate was crisp and challenging, and I soon found myself engrossed in the process of overcoming one obstacle after another. All of this was a buildup for the second segment, which is perhaps the most visually creative level I've ever played. Without Sutekh's gloriously detailed walkthrough (which is a work of art in its own right, reflecting the sense of greatness in these levels that she must have felt while writing it) I would have been hopelessly lost in no time. This gifted young builder (and mighty attractive, too, all of which will make her a prize catch for some fortunate suitor) exhibits an imagination and intellect that leaves me awestruck. The timed runs were rigorous but fair to the gamer, and again Sutekh's precise instructions were vital to my success. I'm nursing this series to drain every drop of goodness from it, and I've been at it for nearly three weeks already, taking 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there. Many thanks to all involved in putting together this fantastic collection of superb levels." - Phil (22-Sep-2005)

"The way that Nadine has contributed to the Reign Of Chaos project is truly impressive. The sparkling way that her levels are made leaves a lasting impression. Córdoba consists of two levels, which creates a perfect balance by the first being as dark and sinister as the other is bright and beautiful. I'm completely unable to decide which part is the best of the game; this or Alnwick......they are both simply sheer splendour. The first level of this part, Mystic Tree, has very few enemies and that's probably the only thing that draws this level down a bit for my part. The three enemies that are though are made stars in my eyes simply by the pure brilliance of imagination that created them. These will definetely be the last type of enemies you expect to be seeing around. The first level consists mainly of searching around for lost keys, dodging traps and finding a torch for some tasks that need to be done. There are doors to open, chains to lower, blocks to raise, switches and levers to pull, swimming to do, some objects to find and of course timed runs. It's never too easy in other words and it never stops being fun. The second level(simply named Córdoba) is mainly about finding your way around large(at times too large) areas and finding various items(a Smaragd Cube and a Fire Opal Ocular to mention a few) to open ways into new and unexplored areas. There are MANY timed runs in this level, some traps and lots of tricky jumping to do, but nothing is ever too hard to be fun. The only thing that draws this level down for my part would be that it is a tad too long for my liking and at times the large areas become a bit overwhelming when you are to scour them all looking for items of use and cleverly hidden switches. There are no enemies, but that doesn't mean in any way that it will be too easy on you. One thing Nadine never misses(apart from the high level of difficulty) is gorgeous textures combined with perfect lightning and wonderful soundtracks. Another gem from this author which I really hope I'll be able to see more of in the future!!!" - Selene (12-Sep-2005)

"I had some problems with the puzzles of this level: particularly with the rising platforms. After all, it was not so difficult and I could enjoy with the rest of the levels. Córdoba, through Nadine's eyes is a beautiful city even when evil stands everywhere. It's a dark city full of gorgeous details and secret places. After Lara finds the gem, Córdoba is more beautiful and one can enjoy the nice settings (trees, bridges, cascades, small courtyards). I missed some enemies but the exploration always is good in this kind of levels. I found all 3 secrets and keep playing." - Loupar (28-Aug-2005)

"Nadine's levels from ROC are my favourite along with Christoph's China. Not that the others are not good levels of course. I liked the way your progress in these, the idea with the dog you have to trap because it can't be killed which is spooky and all the beautiful garden-like areas in Cordoba. There is a good measure of puzzles and enemies although the puzzles will occupy you more which is something I like. In the first level you will be searching for keys and artifacts near the end. The torch puzzle is used twice and there is jumping involved as well. The main structure is a house of some sort with a shallow pool at the back where you can find the Mystic Tree. The reason it is called like that is probably because it is alive somehow and linked to Lara. When the key is used and harpies get released they seem to hurt the tree to get to Lara so be quick and kill them. The underground flooded area is well done too and is the passage to the next level. In Spain and in Cordoba, you'll find half flooded areas with gardens and puzzles to solve. There is challenge in this level with timed tiles above deadly water and mind boggling puzzles like the one with the three switches and many gates. I have to say that I simply loved the setting and enjoyed this set very much. I found three secrets." - Kristina (25-Aug-2005)

"Another couple of good levels by Nadine with professional features. Well looked after scenes with a great ambience, good architecture and textured areas and objects, I missed some many enemies to do more moving the game. Gameplay is not very good, in first level you could miss the Enchanted Light Key and if you don't pull the lever to create the long chain you have to take the long way back to the terrace where the keyhole is. Second level is a bit better, but there were some difficult timed runs and hard puzzles which make the game more slow and tedious like the doors room. Recently the level builders seem to be a bit bored or out of imagination, 'cause they think more and more in very complex puzzles. A level don't have to contain very tricky tasks to be a good level, it should be a level for majority players in the world." - Jose (22-Aug-2005)

"What can I say..the first levels I play by this author and they totally blew me away! First of all, the gameplay and riddles were hard, very hard in my opinion. Especially 'The Mystic Tree' level. The textures, lighting perfect. The atmosphere, sound and cameras perfect. I have absolutly nothing to complain about except that it is hard j/k! Not a complain though, I like it that way :) The second level was amazing. After the spooky first level, It felt nice to see some nice bright areas. The waterfalls, the maze.. everything is extremely nice looking with perfect gameplay. Nadine is a talent, that's for sure! Another thing I did notice is her cool way of 'bending' the limits in every way. The ledges, puzzles etc are always close to what is not possible to reach/solve. I really like that. Nothing is obvious. Also, the imortal dog was a very clever thing! No idea how such a thing is done, but it sure had me puzzled for a while :) Amazing work, Nadine! I'm on my way of played the rest of the adventure soon! All tens from me." - QRS (22-Aug-2005)

"What a beauty this one! The first level takes place in some sort of doomed Mezquita, with a haunted Moorish atmosphere and all the fountains turned into deadly lava pools. The second one is... refreshing, with cascades, winter gardens, pool of clear waters and a lavish palace. Gameplay-wise both are difficult, albeit quite different. In the first level, research is pretty straightforward, but there are many obstacles standing between you and the task at hand, be it traps, enemies requiring a 'special' treatment - meaning you have to think to get rid of them - and some tricky moves. The second one relies heavily on research, puzzles and realizing that some jumps you think impossible can be done. Both do have a common point, though: the sheer number of timed-runs. I don't think having already met so many in a level but Horus manages to make them all different, each with a particular way to perform, so they're by no means repetitive. All in all an excellent game, maybe lacking a tiny little bit in the atmosphere department, but still a masterpiece." - Sutekh (07-Aug-2005)

"The Mystic Tree, is an enormous, dark, spooky, Moorish castle type place. It wasn't easy at first to see what had to be done or where to go. But soon enough we find ourselves in the basement with a dog that can't be killed. I eventually came down off my hiding block to find a way of trapping it. Great idea! There are many excellent timed runs in these levels, this first one being a run jump over lava and through a door to a bridge. This is where I was stuck for a long time, because I couldn't see the torch. The torch, like a lot of other essentials are very hard to see in these richly textured rooms, and they blend so well with the decor, like the jump switches and that famous shimmy crack high above outside. Although Nadine supplies another torch later on, I was able to carry this one with me through the entire level, which was great, as it plays a very important role. A lot of those 'bowls' on the floors have to be lit. The lava room with the monkey swing above was terrific. A hint though when climbing the ladder to backflip to the ledge behind - have Lara on the left or right side of the ladder, not in the middle, or she'll hit that pole behind her and fall. There are some very tricky jumping exercises to do here. Especially the one where you have to jump through spikes shooting out all round, through sliding spike blocks, past large turning blades, to jump at the right time on slopes and grab a chain. There are more chains to climb later on. The outside area shows the Mystic Tree standing on its own island. The tree itself is like a Lara clone and near the end harpies will attack it. I did shoot them, but I never checked if Lara's health would still be affected if I just ignored them and dived into the huge underwater room below. And here again, I spent a long time trying to locate the second extremely well hidden item on the bottom of this enormous water room. Cordoba. A much brighter, more pleasant looking place. But immediately it's obvious that it ain't a walk in the park. That first switch and block pushing puzzle is just a taste of the excellent puzzles to come. Here is a beautiful and extremely well thought out level, with bridges and blocks over water, high waterfalls, gardens, balconies, grassy ledges. I just loved the route around this place, from the watery area below, to the very topmost section, and I loved all the puzzles, especially that one of trying to get a flower pot up three levels with rising cages. There are many more terrific timed runs, one great one over falling ornate ledges. One of the most memorable tasks was the maze, shocking though that might read. We see it from above through another glass floor. There are three switches to pull to raise and lower gates in the maze so we can work our way into it to shoot swinging balls. Getting down, and back up again, is via another chain. And when finished we go even higher to rope swing. Excellent. At the very top is a lovely aquarium room with another torch task and monkey swing, to reach the roofs and ledges that lead, with shimmying and jumping to the final beautiful garden. More flower pot pushing and a zip ride to the helicopter. There are no enemies in these levels, but there is no need for them. Beautiful objects include the flower pots and that swinging chain retextured as a garland. These levels are simply brilliant. Excited now about what is coming in the final levels." - CC (01-Aug-2005)

"The lovely Moorish architecture at the beginning gave this level a nice authentic feel. It was also my first meeting with 'the dog who will not die' - fascinating. Nadine really is a delightfully sneaky builder and extremely good at hiding levers, crawlspaces etc. There's a superb mix of gorgeous areas, inventive puzzles and satisfying agility tests, in other words a great all round raid. The settings just keep getting more and more stunning as the level progresses and as I neared the end I just found myself going 'wow' and 'ooooh look at that' all the time, which probably wasn't a good idea because you really do need to keep your wits about you at all times. Nadine certainly has excelled herself with this one." - Jay (27-Jul-2005)

The Mystic Tree: This level is also wonderful. But sometimes we have to face extremely hard tasks. We have to attain the next Chaos Gem while adventuring among burners, flames, spikes, moving walls and swinging blades. There are timed runs, even more of them. Probably the hardest part is when we have to get through the swinging blades. I had to reload around 30 times until I finally made it. :) We are adventuring in a castle. The enemies are an immortal demonic dog (but it can be closed up) and two harpies that shoot our energy-tree. I managed to complete the level without using any medipacks, but it was hard. I could only hardly find the 3 secrets too. We have to find keys and well-hidden jumpswitches that fit themselves into their surroundings. Cordoba: It's a great continuation of the previous level. There are no enemies, but more of tasks. Well, there are good brain-rackers and neck-breakers on the level. :) This is a good challenge for everyone. The level is not linear at all, so I had to complete it three times until I could find the best route and write the walkthrough for it. We have to find several keys, talismans and some levers of course. I liked the cage-door that was controlled with 3 levers very much. The torch has also a role, but it is hard to notice in the empty room on the black drainpipe. There are many timed runs, but they can be solved after some practice. We also have to push rose-bowls, these have important roles too. At a certain place we even had to bring it up on the upper floor. The textures are wonderful. I can only suggest it for everybody. It was a good adventure. You can find a Hungarian walkthrough (as we don't have English version), savegames and pictures here: http://treditor.hu/15/reign_of_chaos.htm - Obig (18-Jul-2005)

Another great one from Nadine! Though the evil part of the duo - the mystic tree is very cool in its own creepy kinda way, with the threatening and overwhelming atmosphere of the Muslim buildings here, and the dog that refuses to die and has to be captured instead (neat touch!) I actually found myself enjoying the happy side of Cordoba myself much more. The tasks, like moving a box out of way so you can do a timed run in time, a fun and clever maze for a change, were clever and though initially some areas are mighty confusing all becomes clear as you move on and explore in the medieval castle like setting, which seems highly deserted though, as I hardly remember any enemies in here, if there were any at all. Though the levels are nice, and generally I'm not too fond of the TR enemies, I think this would've benefited more from some, as it did feel quite lonely here at times. I suppose it pays up though with the beautiful surroundings and excellent (though mainly timed-run based) gameplay. The best this far in the 'Reign of Chaos' game, but it seems so after having finished every previous set of levels, and the grand finale is no exception from this increasing progression of level quality, but more on that another time in another review... ;) - eTux (17-Jul-2005)

There is so much 'eye candy' in these levels that it's hard to know where to start with my review. Cordoba lives up to its name - it has a rich Spanish flavor. Horus has spiced up the game play with her contribution to ROC. We've come to expect that from her and she delivers! There are many timed runs - some with a high degree of difficulty, but this 'senior' member was able to persevere and get the job done. So, don't give up! I thought the maze of iron gates was novel - and I became quite proficient at scaling chains. There are many levers to pull and push - make sure you don't miss any. I did and had to back-track - which I thought was impossible at first, but Nadine made provisions for that. This was excellent, but wait until you see what Nadine does next in this series. Spectacular! - Mugs (09-Jul-2005)

This is excellent. The design and everything is just perfect. The gameplay throughout is flawless and textures were applied beautifully. The 1st level is set in a kind of temple. I liked this alot. The atmosphere of the whole setting was superb! The 2nd level, I thought was the best. It is one of the best single standard levels I've ever played. The architecture used was excellent and the textures looked really 3d and shiny. There is always things to do in these 2 levels, and not one bit did I get bored or want to quit. I loved the gate maze on the 2nd level. It consisted of trying out different combinations of switches to open gates for you to shoot a swinging object. Torches are also involved here, as you try to locate several trays to light, enabling Lara to proceed. I also liked tree on the 1st level. Some birds would come and start biting the tree. This damaged Lara's health and so it was vital to kill the birds as quickly as possible. Overall these set of levels were very well built. Excellent. Well done Nadine! - TombRaiderFan (05-Jul-2005)
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