Level: Back to Basics 2008 - The City of Parabailarlabamba back home search
Author(s): Thierry Stoorne
total rating:8.20 Gameplay &
Objects &
Sound &
Lighting &
Andzia9 9 8 9 10
Bene 9 8 9 8
diamond 9 10 10 10
dmdibl 8 8 9 8
eRIC 9 8 8 9
eTux 7 7 7 8
Eva 10 9 10 9
Gerty 7 8 8 7
Jay 8 8 8 8
Jose 8 8 8 8
manarch2 6 6 7 7
MichaelP 8 8 8 8
Minox 8 8 9 8
Mman 7 8 8 7
Phil 10 9 10 10
Ravenwen 9 8 9 9
rjb 9 8 9 8
Ryan 8 8 8 8
snork 8 7 8 9
Spike 8 8 7 7
Treeble 8 7 7 7
category averages
(21 reviews)
8.24 7.95 8.38 8.24

Reviewer's comments

"I wasn't fond of this level initially: the opening area, although well made, seemed rather empty and the irritating crashing issues somewhat turned me off at the start. However, as soon as I descended into the underground areas, the crashes ceased and I found that it got better. Some nice task-based gameplay involving push puzzles, trap avoidance, exploration and a nice flooding sequence for the level's climax. If it doesn't appeal at first, bear with it." - Ryan (23-Feb-2017)

"This level bears a lot of trademark elements of Thierry, like competent texturing and rooms with complex architecture, yet also even more grey and monotonous lighting than in other releases. The gameplay is also quite platforming based here, and there are some rather nice approaches at the start (like the vase that has to be shot in midair to deactivate spikes) and generally nice use of traps, but all in all this did not work so well with me. The platforming parts are generally easy and often very, very long, have to repeated sometimes and feel quite tedious here. Also the crashes that appear when using the Look key in the first room, but also other areas in this game is very annoying; towards the end the game gets less and less inspired, with a lot of undemanding puzzles and backtracking - this level is also too long for its own good, I was more than glad to have finished it eventually after 45 minutes, even if the finale was fairly disappointing. You also need at least one of the first two secrets in order to progress which is a pet hate of mine. There are very few dino enemies that are quickly finished off, and the rooms are mostly empty of objects. I liked the names for the key items though. Overall the level is still okay, but not exactly among my favourites of the 2008 BtB competition, mainly because of the gameplay that fails to convince. Four secrets found." - manarch2 (18-Mar-2016)

"My detailed review was lost so I'll stick to a summary of what I remember. Nice architecture and scale (in typical Thierry style) but very flat lighting that seems almost non-existent at times. Gameplay is generally enjoyable and has some challenging moments but also seems a bit dull at times (with several areas feeling kind of empty) and is quite backtrack heavy, there are some nice areas like the sloped temples in the second half though. Thierry tends to be a little hit and miss with their levels (even if their "misses" still tend to be above average) and I'd say this level leans more towards the "miss" side." - Mman (12-Nov-2012)

"Another great game. The rooms and the outsides are beautiful. Ancient and colourful buildings and walls, amazing impression. Level isn't difficult but there is few tricky moves. Enemies are very easy." - Andzia9 (11-Feb-2009)

"The solid work that went into this level can be seen since the first room. Actually this is a great map with some impressive areas textured with a lot of care, that provides at least 1 hour 30 of very solid raiding with plenty of good ideas here and there for some puzzles challenges or secrets, I like the utilisation of some static objects, and some of the rooms were a great delight to raid , like the trapped room near the beginning where you eventually shoot a vase , the great area that will be flooded later on, and the place with many swinging ropes which was a bit challenging as was a couple of others places (the room with the two chains and the trapped underwater passage) ; nothing too difficult though , the average player will complete this adventure without too much problem. There is possible crashes in the 1st big area if you hit the “look” key when Lara is in the corners ; Also I got stuck rather stupidly because the receptacles for the beetles were hard to see. These minor things did not hinder me to have an excellent time with this level and admire all those places magnificently textured. I enjoyed the gameplay quite a lot despite there are a couple of places where you have to redo some of the tasks 2 or 3 times. Over all very enjoyable. 1 hour 55." - eRIC (01-Mar-2008)

"A beautiful game can be simple too. I think this could be the right outline. This level is just another piece of art for me. It begins in this big temple and then you have to visit so many different places with so different enviroments, and what I find really emotional was the transformation of the big temple in a beautifull waterfall. It has been just amazing. The author of this level is like an architect, he just create and feel big space, and I think its very very difficult to recreate with this tool so beauty big space without the impression to be too empty. So really congratulation to the level designer for his taste, really really good for me. The only thing of the game that is just normal I think are the puzzles, they arent at all. But its just too big and the game is so focused on the exploration session that you are not going to miss the puzzles. Very good use of the music and the choice of them, and very good use of the camera too. In the end not too much enemies. For me this is another masterpiece. I am sorry that here they ask me the vote for the puzzle, and I cannot put ten." - diamond (29-Feb-2008)

"While gameplay tends to be always on the easy side, it has a couple of moments and it's never frustrating. I experienced crashes, and not only in the first rooms, and I was lucky to always have a save just seconds before. Unfortunately for Lara, she won't dance la bamba nor anything else because, for some reason the level was completely lacking audio tracks, and even the lack of a background ambience track makes the atmosphere suffer. Visually the level is appealing, however it could have used of more dynamic lighting. Some rooms are crammed with objects and that caused a few slowdowns on my PC, but generally objects fit their place here. I wouldn't mind some more baddies, though. 80 minutes, 3 secrets. 02/08" - Treeble (24-Feb-2008)

"Classical Tomb Raider at its finest can be experienced by Lara here again... Absolutely impressive high column halls, hidden chambers and water passages, shallow illuminated, dark areas and such, which are dipped into red glowing from the lava ... everything is harmonious and put lovingly into practice in all details. High point was for me the large on top opened huge hall, which had to be flooded by Lara...that was made masterfully. Cracks or texture bugs I didn´t find. The gameplay is just as beautifully made. From everything there was something; ingenious jump combinations, which are not easily mastered, correctly proportioned traps and some beautiful puzzles hold the gameplay interessting. Only one small bug was were the game crashes in the first part if one pressed the look key. Otherwise: Absolute must for all players ;)" - Eva (21-Feb-2008)

"Interesting name and interesting gameplay, especially the first part. Beautifully done outside water area but what was up with the later beetle receptacles? There is one very tricky jump that I managed but I don't think I could describe HOW I did it - I just got lucky as I was trying to do something totally different and landed in the alcove for the 4th secret..perfect spot. I was also lucky in having a great deal of help with the walkthrough in that it cut down on needless time exploring things that went nowhere. The lava/jump room was one of my favorites of all the entry levels. The surprise of finding a shimmy crack to get me back to the front of the room to make another go - around to reach the needed Key was memorable, satisfying and just great good TR fun. There's solid puzzles and enough tricky jumps and maneuverings to engage most Raiders even if it was longer than most entries." - Bene (11-Feb-2008)

"My favourite of the 6 BtB08s I have played so far, with its architecture, its need for backflips and curving jumps, its general layout and its very real 'Incan' atmosphere. ('atmosphere etc' almost made 10 but the sound perhaps lacked something.) I really liked the 'shimmy and jump' start and found I did not need to return to the ground at all (including for the shotgun secret - reachable from the final wall-door passage) until I was ready to leave the room via the dinos, because the builder had very cleverly worked out ways that we could stay at a higher level throughout (contrary to several review comments and even the walkthrough). The huge area with all the pillars and slopes, reached suddenly, was so 'Incan' that it made it the centre-piece for me of the Incan city. I liked the repeated theme of 'jump and then curve a bit' that was used: the neat jumping over the poles near the end, the bouncing over lava/toxic water and again, right at the start, to reach the opened high wall-doors. The 'look' key (that I use a lot) bug (because this was such a long game? - at 40 mins 'fastest speed' this became the longest of any BtB I have played), touching the sky in one late room, the 'invisible' 'beatle' receptacles, the lack of a flare pick-up anywhere (unless I missed it - though I didn't have too many problems with 'seeing'; cue to builders: please give us some flares) and several of the 'return journeys' were perhaps less good (but this last meant that sometimes we used shortcuts and had to do slightly different things to come back) but there was so much that was positive, especially the atmosphere, that I found I didn't mind those things hugely. I was also entirely happy with few enemies, as that added to the 'centuries-old deserted city' atmosphere. I almost made it with no health loss but from one late jumpswitch drop a smidgeon (4mm) has to be lost, it seems." - rjb (07-Feb-2008)

"I've played 17 of the levels in the 2008 BtB competition, and so far this one is my favorite. It has a little bit of everything--challenging but never frustrating gameplay, some immense areas that seem thoroughly daunting at first but never cause you to wander about aimlessly, beautiful scenery, etc. Above all, this builder has shown us how to provide a suitable ambiance, while at the same time giving us ample lighting so that we can perform our assigned tasks without artificial distractions. I defy anyone to compare this level with "Inti is Watching You" and tell me there's no difference in lighting. I spent several nights completing the level so I could finish Selene's walkthrough, and my game clock registered an astounding 2:36 when it was all over. We gamers, I'm convinced, have been treated to the best assortment of all-around fun ever in this latest installment of the BtB series. It just keeps getting better, and this level deserves to be ranked near (or at) the top of the list. Highest recommendations." - Phil (06-Feb-2008)

"Has grand soaring architecture to please the eye. I could have wished for some more color--a lot of the surroundings are brown and gray stone--but the author's choice probably gives a more authentic feel. Much exploring over vast distances, with good gymnastic sequences: Lara jumping over slopes and blasting with pistols to lower spikes on a ledge ahead; or the horizontal pole vaults at the end. Everything works. (Some people complained about the game crashing, but I never had any trouble myself. Look function and binoculars work everywhere. I played using a TREP patched tomb4.exe, with things like crawlspace climb and improved dynamic lighting.) There is a lot of repetition; this is somewhat inherent in Tomb Raider, but here every clever setup seems to be repeated two or three times so the player will notice how good it is. By the finish it feels that you and Lara are exhausted. To me this level lacks excitement. I don't necessarily mean Lara hanging from the edge of a cliff, or Lara racing to cross a burning bridge before it collapses (though these can be exciting). Just a good storyline can make a level exciting. But here there is a huge area with ramps that will become water channels when this basin is flooded--the visuals are impressive, and in some ways this is a highlight of the level. But in game I am thinking about how the author made one quarter of this, and then used the editor's mirror room function to double the width of the ramps, and then used it again to create the slopes on the other side. I shouldn't be thinking this, but should be wondering how Lara is going to deal with the situation. The architecture is perfect, but perfection is finality and finality is death. Something is missing. Still, I was glad I played this well made level. Has some good solid game play, and I recommend players check it out for themselves and see what they think." - dmdibl (31-Jan-2008)

"Despite the humorous name of the title's city ("para bailar la bamba, se necesita una poca de gracia" like the song goes), this level offers some serious and solid gaming; it's thoroughly crafted and its vast areas, built with care and attention, are ideal for exploration and gazing around (especially the big complex with the many slopes that you get to flood later). There are a few good challenges, with the rest of the game being absolutely enjoying and fast. You need to find several items; most of the times you get to locate first where you have to use them, then go on the hunt for them. Although most areas are quite big, the environments are made in such a way that you can easily get familiar with them and plan your moves. A few nice traps for spice, and there you have a perfectly decent adventure, bringing up memories of the good old TR classics. As a side note, I loved how the water looked in this level, it was simply awesome." - Ravenwen (28-Jan-2008)

"I found this level excellent, it is not very hard and pleasant to play and the colours are grey, a real level of peru, the road is long to find the last key that takes us towards the end of the level , I did not find textures imperfections, and I really liked the cameras every time we opened a door. Just a default, the crash with the view key but it is a detail." - Minox (24-Jan-2008)

"Although there is a bug at the beginning of the level (it crashes using the look key in the corners) is a good level very playable. Half-lineal with few tricky tasks it's a level to enjoy. Very long, good geometry, sometimes you'll have to come back after getting some items. No much enemies, but I couldn't find the shotgun 'cause perhaps I missed one of the secrets of the level or I didn't explore very well. The worst for me was that I couldn't find enough flares to explore with tranquility all the dark areas, but even so, you'll not have to look for very hidden items on your way. Good cameras to help you and well lightened and textured makes a level to have account. Good work." - José (23-Jan-2008)

"Another tongue twisting name, they should arrest the builder for that though, although I had to chuckle when reading the names of the other pick-ups. Then whip him (or her) for having that nasty “look” bug as I had too many crashes for my taste. This is thus THE game I saved the most, as I was scared that I would loose the ground I already travelled, especially after a nasty jump. For the rest, in general I don’t mind travelling back and fro twice, but in here I had to do the same route over and over and over again till I finally managed to open the big doors. And even then it wouldn’t let up. I have to say that the huge rooms did look impressive, although they were very empty. Found 4 secrets." - Gerty (20-Jan-2008)

"Here's another one for those who like their levels long. With taking me close to 80 minutes to get through (all 4 secrets included) this was the second lengthiest level in this year's competition for me - and unfortunately - just like for the longest one, the gameplay methods used here to make up for the game's duration didn't always do it for me. Bar a few exciting jumps it's a pretty run of the mill level as it is, so I was a bit peeved when at times the author had designed the area in a way that required the most tedious possible way (shimmying along roofs till you can make the jump to the higher level's ledge, for example) to progress - and worst of all - required you to do it repeatedly. And while there were a few exciting jumps along the way, as mentioned - mostly it's just you and this maze-like temple/city and all you do is go from point A to point B - shoot some dino's along the way, pick up some items, use them to get more items and so on till you're done. Doesn't sound very exciting? Well, I'm sorry to say that frankly I was bored through most of the time I spent here - and while there's nothing overly bad about the way this level plays, and it certainly might be some player's cup of tea, it wasn't mine. To add insult to the injury - there of course were the crash matters (the 'look' key is not your friend in at least 2 areas in this game - the starting area and one of the underwater tunnels with the timber structures) and the need to find at least 2 of the 4 secrets to progress in the game. These of course are minor issues - and the latter a matter of definition, I guess, because I always thought of secrets as optional sidequests, that are not needed to finish the level legitimately, but in here I couldn't really find other ways to move on without finding at least two of them. But they're simple enough to find whether you need them or not, so it's not that bad. If all this sounds pretty negative, then as a redeeming factor I could mention the looks. There's nothing overly special about them either, but they're technically well done, the design is pragmatic, yet fairly interesting all the same and reminded me a bit of an older level "The City of Blezqi Zatsaz" in the atmosphere it conveyed. Overall - I think this could've been done much more interestingly and more appealing with a bit of effort, but it's an average, nice level as it is too." - eTux (16-Jan-2008)

"Another catchy little title that just trips off the tongue. This level did crash a bit initially, but soon settled down so don’t be put off if it happens to you. It’s yet another entertaining level in this cracking series, with all the proper elements in place – lots of interesting things to accomplish, albeit with quite a lot of to-ing and fro-ing – and a medium difficulty level overall. Flooding the large outside area was very effective – it’s a scenario I always enjoy and it looked great. This is one of the longer levels in the series, but the time passes pleasantly. Good fun." - Jay (14-Jan-2008)

"I started this one with mixed feelings as the intro flyby is nice but the initial area seems a bit blocky and not so well lit. But then after the sneaky start it unfolds quite well and turns out to be a very long and busy level of just over 90 minutes (and still a little over an hour when I played it again). I had only a very few issues with crashes near the start but nothing too bad and reload worked ok each time. The level is very task oriented as you get to manage room after room with jumps, push objects, traps, target shooting and more. Some of the jumps are actually quite tricky and also require curves and while the huge temple area is very impressive to look at, gameplay also becomes a little tedious here, as you have to make your way around the maze like area and there is quite a bit of backtracking involved. But the great flyby as you make the water flow makes up for it and this is definitely a level you should not miss." - MichaelP (04-Jan-2008)

"The first BtB level I've played from this year's selection, and definitely an enjoyable start. Standard TR gameplay can be found here, mostly involving navigating through rooms and traps in order to find those all-important switches or puzzle items. Room layouts were clever, but most of the time I could see pretty quickly what to do and where to go. That said, the level trundled along quite slowly and it didn't feel like there were too many exciting parts to it, and while 1.5 hours worth of gameplay is definitely a lot, it felt at times like it was lasting a little bit too long. The objects in the level are placed well, but they could have sometimes been lighted a bit better so as to blend in more with the environments. I also have to commend the author on the positioning of the swingpoles, in that Lara grabbed directly onto them almost every time without the bug of floating a few inches above or below as in many other levels. Texturing in the level was good, and there weren't many cases of any badly stretched or squashed textures, although I did occasionally notice some textures that were visible when standing on top, but oddly not when underneath. On the other hand, the lighting throughout the level was sadly very bland and monotone. Most of the rooms seemed to be varying shades of grey, and this also dragged down the overall atmosphere quite a bit. Audio was also generally used quite well even though it was mostly original TR4 music, although the fact that the same audio track was played almost every single time we saw an enemy seemed quite repetitive. Despite the few negative things about the level, this was overall quite fun and worth a look." - Spike (01-Jan-2008)

"The first BtB Peru I played. What I liked about the gameplay was that it had me fooled some times. Appearing difficult, but when I tried this or that, it would turn out to not be that difficult after all. Also nice : one should not ever end up having no idea where to go or what to do. To me the (maybe a bit too long for the competition?) level was somewhat halved in two parts : the first part until the big outside areas that Lara needs to float, and everything after. Sadly the 'everything after' part was less inspired, had some (little) back- and forth- tracking and one swinging pole jump that for it's awkwardness stuck out in comparison with all the rest of the level. You land exactly on the seam between two sloped triangles, keeping Lara from jumping to where You would want her to and also no way to have her sliding the slopes backwards. I could only solve it by doing s-curves in the air when leaving the swinging pole. Not that this would be overly difficult, but it did not fit into the level and You have to repeat this way anyway some times, so with every experiment and miss *sigh* ... another round. A few too many for me. The first half however was very much to my liking. All of it but maybe the enemies - that goes for the whole game. Few enemies and often they appear when they pose no threat, like the first two raptors appear when Lara is secure high up in an alcove. The plonk to desktop bug in the beginning is a shame, the saving every other second severely affects the athmosphere and resulted in me no more using the look button at all. Maybe that is the reason I never found the shotgun ? The other three secrets (?) are very easy to find, one is needed for progression and one is in a place I think Lara has to visit anyway to go on - after that jump mentioned above. Textures are really good and I don't mind the lighting not to be so over-colourful, quite nice for a change. The insides felt damp, dark and mysterious or dangerous, the outside at the big flooding place felt (half-) sunny and outside. Music tracks were short and well set, never annoying. Cameras and flybies were OK or good and helping but for the very last key :D. Highlight to me was of course the to-flood place around which a complex was wellbuilt." - snork (01-Jan-2008)
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