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Level: The Grand Obelisk back home search
Author(s): Vinci
total rating:7.69 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
AdamR 8 8 6 7
Christian 8 8 10 10
dmdibl 8 9 10 10
eTux 6 8 7 6
Jay 7 8 8 8
Jose 5 7 8 9
manarch2 5 8 8 7
MichaelP 8 8 8 8
Mman 7 9 8 6
Ryan 7 8 8 8
Shandroid 8 7 7 6
Torry 7 8 8 8
category averages
(12 reviews)
7.00 8.00 8.00 7.75

Reviewer's comments

"I certainly hope that you don't mind backtracking because you'll have had your fill of it here, whether you like it or not. This TR3 level is undoubtedly well constructed (and it made a refreshing change to see TR4 objects and textures utilised here) but there's a lot of long crawlspaces and ladder climbs to negotiate numerous times which slow the pace down rather considerably and much of the 148 (!) minutes I spent here was attributed to that. The fire wraith sequence at the end was too irritating for its own good and the maze area was tedious although the idea of the colours was good. On the other hand, the way the architecture is set up is occasionally impressive and I liked the parts where you returned to familiar places but from different perspectives. Enemies are generally well placed (and the soldiers are helpful aids), secrets are nicely hidden (although they only offer a star artefact for your trouble) and it looks quite good most of the time. It probably helps to take a few glances at the walkthrough to keep things moving, but kudos to the builder for putting this one together, despite the annoyances." - Ryan (13-Jan-2019)

"I am normally a fan of Vinci's levels but this one left me wandering why. Why was it so long? Why were the crawling, climbing, running around headless bits inordinately longer than the action bits? Why was this labyrinth so damn confusing and why are there so many keys all the same? If the keys are the same then one would have sufficed to open ALL the doors designated for that key. The architecture was great but in terms of level design I thought this was simply padded to add time and in so doing it lost the very essence of a decent raid. Please look at the walk through by Moonpooka as without this you will indeed be wandering around aimlessly for hours on end. Right at the beginning you need to look for tiny triangular openings in the underwater sequences to find (a) your pistols (as you commence this unarmed) and (b) the Desert Eagle which you will need later on. This trend continues on throughout the level as you look for well camouflaged crawl spaces to retrieve the plethora of keys that you need. At times it becomes quite tiresome and yet this could have been so good. Still, worth a look as are all of Vinci\s levels but this one is not one of my favourites I am sorry." - Torry (05-Jun-2018)

"This TR3 level is builded with many objects and textures from TR4 levels. Very long and complex, you'll soon be stucked 'cause the author lets you advance even when you haven't the necessary items to proceed. This was the worst of the gameplay. There are some original ideas like the maze with many levers and the colours, you can get fool even with that indications; but there are also some tricky and hard tasks, like the jumps from the very corner of the slopes in the dark room afte getting the second prayer wheel. I liked the architecture, the lighting and the texturization, but I think there are excessive ladders, crawlspaces and monkeyswings with few funny gameplay. If you decide to play this level I recommend (as I did) follow carefully the walkthrough if you are not a very expert explorer." - Jose (13-Jul-2016)

"I have to agree with dmdibl that this level is a work of genius. The way how it all connects is really impressive, but indeed, other than for the most patient of explorers among the raiders out there, this should probably only be tackled with the walkthrough really close at hand. Based on the stats screen at the end I spent more than 3 hours in this adventure looking for many, many keys and items to always open up yet another new area. Hence the biggest weakness of this level is probably its overall mazelike feel - and at least one huge and tedious backtrack - and generally a lot of slow gameplay with long climbs and crawls. But if you can appreciate the fascinating overall design of the map, that will not bother you too much in the end. Not a level for everyone, but quite a gem in the TR universe." - MichaelP (10-Jan-2015)

"I remember having started this level nearly three years ago (funnily, it had a 9,13 rating back then, see how things change), right at the start of my custom level raiding career, and was directly stuck in the maze near the beginning. Now when having played this level, this one must be the most fun task in the whole level. There are really a few clever ideas here (like crawling through narrow water to enter a tower, windows showing areas visited much later in the game, the raising platform in the lava pool), but in general gameplay is way too confusing to be enjoyable, varying from too well hidden things (a small triangular opening in a very large underwater area as one example reflects the whole game best), over excessive long ladders and crawlspaces. I really think I spent above 80% of the level with progressing through those ladders, crawlspaces, monkeyswings and "normal" passages, and the actual gameplay amount in this large level is minimal, mostly cramped together at the start and the end of this game - the end at least had a few nice trap sequences a bit out of the ordinary. The "fire wraith" near the end is a unique idea for a TR 3 level but it can be heavily annoying as it most likely will kill you when you use the keys, resulting in reloading dozens of times. The secrets are mostly nicely hidden, but the game got so boring I decided to skip finding the last two and spend a better time quickly finishing this level. Objects and textures are mostly from TR 4 which must have been quite a work for a non-TR 4 game, the atmosphere is mostly nice (especially liked the caves at the start) with the very unusual architecture sticking out of it most, and a few sounds were also used. All in all I spent two hours in this level and as said I was glad when it ended, as despite of some ideas the builder seems to have forgotten that a game should be fun, not excessively tedious." - manarch2 (04-Jan-2013)

"I decided to play this old level and didn't think it would take me forever to finish but it did! There is a lot to this level and if you are prone to overlooking things like me, you will be very confused most of the time. This is not a level to take on without the walkthrough. If you pass over a key in one area you will sit and wonder where it could have been. I ended up going back over places I had been to several times looking for what I missed, and that does not equate to a good time. There are very tall ladders and many crawlspaces that take too much time as well. Gameplay isn't necessarily difficult except for a tricky maze, but the challenge is not missing something, as the level is very extensive. I did find an area that I got stuck. It is in the lava room. I wasn't supposed to jump to the left and tried to get back, but couldn't, which meant that I had to do a bunch of stuff again in order to finish the game. Despite the things that annoyed me, the level is very good and well planned out as long as you don't get lost! There is a really ingenious area where Lara needs to crawl underwater and I had never done that before in a level, so that was cool. The level is a bit barren, and the lighting isn't so great, but I think Vinci was primarily concerned with gameplay, which is pretty darn good. I am glad I looked this one up." - Shandroid (04-Mar-2012)

"If you suffer from claustrophobia at all, I should steer well clear of this level as Lara has to crawl and swim through some extremely tight spaces. I came to a complex maze close to the beginning of the level and, having found myself starting over from scratch for a third time, due to immense confusion, I hunted out my graph paper and made a block by block map. That turned out to be surprisingly good fun, if somewhat time consuming, and at last I finally managed to end up where I was supposed to be. There are good bits and bad bits in this game and I could definitely have done with less backtracking, especially the crawling. I don't know about you, but the sight of poor Lara crawling along stone passages whilst wearing shorts makes me cringe. She must have the scabbiest knees in the known universe. Luckily, the somewhat boring parts are nicely offset by some good action in the form of timed runs, sliding and bouncing routines and some fun spike wall and fire tile agility tests towards the end of the level. It's a large area to cover, but I did admire the neat way all the various sections gelled together in the end, providing some well needed shortcuts. It's well worth playing if you can excuse the occasional longeurs in the gameplay." - Jay (07-Feb-2012)

"Without intending to, I have to say I'm having quite an iconoclastic month as far as reviewing goes, though this time approaching a well known TR3 classic instead of TR4 ones. Having genuinely enjoyed Vinci's fresh approach in most of the other levels of his I've played, I admit, that I was starting this with a certain set of expectations. That in itself never seems to be a recipe for success on the player's side, but with Vinci's track record of creative, exciting raiding experiences I guess one can't blame me. You do actually get some adrenaline rushing moments and finger twisters in form of slightly challenging jumps on slopes over a toxic water pond, trying to evade moving spike walls whilst not stepping on burner tiles, and evading a mysterious source of fire coming from the titular obelisk whilst trying to use keys that will ensure Lara's escape. However - the above description is essentially only of the last 20 to 30 minutes of the entire 2.5 hour long game. I imagine that's all the duration-fetishists will need to hear before clicking download, but I have never grasped the concept of enjoying games because they take a long time to finish and most likely never will. My issue is never with the duration itself really, but with the quality of the raiding. One has to realize that it's possible to squeeze out only so much out of a single level without starting to drag it on beyond requirement and reason. Maybe it's just me, but long crawlspaces (and there's plenty of those here), long climbing sections, tedious mazes (though I suppose the one in here is a more intelligent version than the run-of-the-mill ones you usually see) and heaps of backtracking is just not my idea of fun. But beyond it simply being a matter of taste - I couldn't feel very content over the structure and planning of it as well. True, it gets more exciting when you reach a hub area, where it is possible to unlock doors to almost all of the preceding playable areas, but the level frequently reuses the same puzzle items over and over again, and at times they seem to be arbitrarily placed in what would otherwise be irrelevant crawlspaces (not to mention the whole underwater crawling sequence), so if you're not very observant or observantly following the walkthrough, chances are you'll miss out on a crucial puzzle item once or twice during the course of the game. True, you don't necessarily need to collect all the Ornate Keys to finish the game (an extra set of 2 can be used to access a secret), but what makes this all so annoying is that with some strategic planning from the builder's side (either the use of an even more diverse array of specific key and puzzle items, or lock players in certain areas till they have everything that's absolutely essential for finishing the game) these issues could've been a non-issue. It's also a pity that the kayak only really had a cameo in here, rather than some real gameplay significance. The looks are solid enough - utilizing a texture mix of Lost Library, Coastal Ruins and Cleopatra's Palaces - but the lighting is extremely monotonous, the appliance of textures not always as clean as it could be, and the room geometry rather boxy. All that said, I must admit I enjoyed hunting for the secrets - as while they seldom were more than the secret star pickups, getting some entailed finding hidden paths and squeezing out trying to get out even more from the game. I did get only 4 of the 6, because the walkthrough's strategy for getting the one in the water below the zipline never got Lara down alive, and I simply couldn't be bothered to get the last one so close before completion. With all that put behind me - I don't want to say that the level is a terrible experience from A to Z - there certainly were lots of occasions when I couldn't wait to see what the next room would bring, and some tasks on their own are entertaining enough, it just never quite fit together for me." - eTux (15-Sep-2011)

"This could be a really good work, but the drawbacks are much more from the good parts, at least for me. It is good to see TR3 in Egypt environment. There were impressive constructions and some good made rooms which could create a good atmosphere, but the lighting is very very very monotonous and at some spots it didn't make sence. How could possibly a light could exist in the middle of a cave? How did it came there? The games looses many points because of the bad lighting. The gameplay is mostly the same in the whole level. You have to find a hidden crawlspace or a small opening on the wall. Soon it made me feel bored. Some puzzles were good, like the doors and switches puzzle in a kind of labyrinth. I like the way the author built the slopes in a lava room. On the other hand, I can't understand why he made a pool room with not a lot of water, where Lara should find a spot and crawl and go within the water by crawling in order to get into a construction. How did she breath underwater? That was kind of silly. In addition, there were almost no cameras, so it was hard to understand what was happening when you pulled a switch. Texturing was good, but surely the author could have done better work. This level has few enemies. It is more about going around the same rooms and always going to the same places by using very big stairs and crawlspaces, something that makes the player fell a lot bored. It is a good level, but surely the author could improve it and make it more interesting. If you have patience and you can stand going around many rooms many times and using a lot crawlspaces and big stairs, but also, solve some good puzzles, it is a good choice." - AdamR (03-Sep-2011)

"This is quite possibly the longest single level I've ever seen; it took me over three hours to finish. There are many different areas, and quite a few epic rooms and structures, that include some very interesting (and occasionally surreal) manipulations of shapes for detail. Despite being a TR3 map the level mostly uses TR4 meshes, and they usually fit in fine, beyond occasional lighting issues (covered later). The weakest part is the textures and lighting; there are a lot of stretched textures (although the massive scale of some areas forgives this slightly), and the level goes between Lost Library and Egyptian Tomb textures throughout, sometimes almost randomly. Lighting is very flat a lot of the time, although there are occasional areas with some impressive use of it. There are also problems with the lighting of meshes sometimes being much brighter than the rest of the room.
The gameplay is interesting but has some flaws. The difficulty is very much on the challenging side, but until the end it's more based around finding hidden crawl/shimmy spots and keys; this leads onto the first issues as a lot of the spaces are hidden very well and can lead to some major backtracking if you miss anything, also, some of the crawlspaces and ladders are extremely long; one area in particular has you follow a long crawlspace all the way around a room, when it could have been condensed at no cost to the overall structure of the level. The level is pretty much structured into three parts (that could almost be separate levels in themselves); the first involves some initial key hunting, a big maze puzzle (which is surprisingly manageable) and a small Kayak ride, the second is the bulk of the level and involves exploring various areas around the massive central structure to finally get some masks, and the third is a more action-based series of jumping puzzles and traps, along with a boss fight at the end. The boss is somewhat irritating as you have to use keys, and you seem to pretty much have to reload until you happen to not get caught alight. You might have gathered by this point that there are a LOT of keys, your main pool of "ornate keys" is even used for a secret (if you want things easier you might want to save them up). One section had such a preposterous solution I'm not sure whether to call it ingenious or ridiculous.
It sometimes comes at a cost to gameplay but the sheer size and ambition of this level is appreciable, and it's worth playing to check out just how massive a single level can get; it almost feels like you've been through a whole level set at the end. You'll probably want to keep the walkthrough ready for when you inevitably miss something though." - Mman (08-May-2010)

"Just finished it. I've never played a level so well thought out before. It's a complete artwork we are allowed to move through. It's an absolute brilliant work. So why not 10 in a row? I can't rate a level down because of my insufficient skills to play it. That is already considered in this rating. Without the walkthrough I wouldn't even have reached the hall which is called the starting area there. Two keys are perfectly hidden and can only be found by accident. Perhaps this and other puzzles could have been figured out by frustrating hours of searching but that is not ambitious gameplay. And these puzzles are not part of the fascinating logic this level has and you may (or not) catch on more and more while playing it. The key- and the lever-puzzle at the beginning of the level only say, that the builder didn't have the player in mind. After getting through this a brilliant composition of an adventure starts. The main challenge is not to get lost. There a not that much demanding jumps or runs in the 1st half of the level. There is a timed run (swim) - it's moderately timed for a first door for continuing the game and quite hard measured out for a 2nd door revealing a secret. In the last section of the the difficulty increases. There are some challenging slope- combinations to perform as they were never seen before (or after) this level. I don't build levels. Playing them can be time-consuming enough. So I can't evaluate what the author did with the TR3 machine. But obviously he brought it to its limits. Atmosphere, lightning etc. are more than perfect. It is more than a level. One of the greatest games I've ever played." - Christian (08-Apr-2010)

"A work of genius, the sort of level that I most associate with Vinci. Will probably be underrated because most players prefer a level that makes them look like geniuses, rather than the author. This is a difficult level, though with a walkthrough one can fully appreciate it. The first time playing this, I only managed to get halfway through. But to be fair, it is no different than recent levels that generate seventeen pages on the forum to guide players. The design is wonderful; Vinci has done just about everything that can be done with the Dxtre3D unofficial editor, including colorful rooms on a grand scale. I loved the way the parts of the level eventually interconnect, with keys on the upper levels of room we long ago visited. In the huge room where Lara first meets the mutants there is a pool that takes her back to the first secret, so Lara can get the Desert Eagle if she missed it. The appearance and texturing is superb. Most of the game play is intriguing, though if one routinely uses the short-takeoff jump it will make things easier. One timed run for a secret required Lara to swim through channels, then dash to a door in a bookcase that always closed before she reached it. Actually Lara can slip through a small crack as the door closes, so the timed run is much easier than it appears. The real problem for most players will be the red-blue-green switch maze near the beginning. At first this seems like the most difficult maze in Tomb Raider. The walkthrough is a little vague in places, so I got totally lost. However, by mapping the maze everything became clear, and it is much smaller than one may think. My main quibbles were about places that broke the illusion of reality. Lara can crouch in shallow water, then she can continue to crawl into deeper water, and do a long crawl underwater (without requiring air) to get underneath a central structure. This seems more like a bug than a feature. And having Lara take high dives into water that only comes up to her chest seems odd--the pools should have been deeper. Some switches, keys, and swimming channels were hidden in a way that was aggravating, maybe borderline unfair for those trying to play without a walkthrough. Overall this is one long and amazing adventure." - dmdibl (08-Nov-2009)
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