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Level: Lara Croft Returns - Episode 2: In Search of the Duplicates back home search
Author(s): Boris Samoilenko
total rating:8.56 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Ceamonks890 8 9 9 8
DJ Full 7 9 9 7
dmdibl 9 9 10 10
eRIC 8 9 9 8
Jose 5 7 8 9
manarch2 8 9 10 9
MichaelP 7 9 8 8
Orbit Dream 9 8 10 10
Phil 8 8 9 8
Ryan 9 9 9 9
Sakusha 9 9 9 8
Shandroid 9 9 9 8
category averages
(12 reviews)
8.00 8.67 9.08 8.50

Reviewer's comments

"If you play this mammoth level set with the walkthrough close by, you're likely to become confused in short order. Episode 1 is fine, consisting of levels 1 through 8 as set forth in the walkthrough. When you finish level 8, however, you're taken to level 13, which is the first level of Episode 3 in the walkthrough. When you finish level 15, you're then taken to level 9, which is the first level of Episode 2 in the walkthrough. To finish, you play levels 9 through 12, then the boss level 16 with Sophia to complete the game. All told, I spent just under 10 net gaming hours here, and I found the last segment (Episode 2 plus the last level of Episode 3) to be the most rewarding gameplay-wise. The cockeyed level progression means that you lose all of your accumulated weaponry and ammunition before you're halfway through the game (using the order in the walkthrough, you're almost through before this happens), and I found that situation so intolerable that I used a savegame editor to restore my hard-earned goodies. For a TR3 adventure this is quite well done, but it's not in the same league as the better TR4 custom levels." - Phil (25-Jul-2017)

"Not agree with the other reviewers, this second part was not so good than the first for me. No puzzles to solve except move some blocks, many times you left behind closed doors and walk a long way to the buttons to open them and take the same long way back to the doors doing the same tasks/gymnastics like climbing very long ladders or advance through the same crawlspaces. Excessive switches/buttons to pull/press, unmarked ladders and a phantom crawlspace in the last level; the other features are similar to the first part: good lighting and texturization, cool musics, a lot of camera shots showing the doors opening, well balanced enemies and a lot of pickups. We'll see the next episode." - Jose (13-Jul-2017)

"The second episode keeps up the high quality of the first. This time we have imposing halls, rustic stone rooms, a Temple of Xian inspired environment and a research base. Texturing and lighting was well done and I was surprised to hear music excerpts from newer Tomb Raider games and they really added to the atmosphere. Onto the final episode now..." - Ryan (17-Jul-2016)

"As a second part of trilogy, this one is the least defined as it neither begins nor ends, however chapter climaxes exist. The game has several strong points but also a lot of long runs and the author has a bad habit of forcing passage repetition which is even more intense than in the first part, so it really drags way too much than it should. A bit of time is saved on secret absence - the idea to equip Lara with them in the previous part and not bother anymore works really fine. Scenery is more varied than in the preceding adventure, but loads of wallpapers and mediocre rooms sufficiently reduce the impression received from the visual highlights - sometimes it's neat and eye-friendly, sometimes a pure sketch I wanted to clear asap. SUMMARY: Might be a little step back, but has worthy spots just like the first part did." - DJ Full (17-Jun-2016)

"Continuing onwards in our quest to stop Natla and Sophia once again, we find ourselves having to deal with more puzzle-orientated gameplay(which was a much-welcomed change from the last episode for yours truly), leading to quite a clever number of brain teasers that on the odd occasion, left me scratching my head and trying my best to not look at the walkthrough I had opened in another tab too often. And with a much tighter design focus at the forefront here, generally lead to an experience that was incredibly immersive and satisfying to play through(perhaps even more so than the first third of the project as a whole.) Unfortunately, as entertained as I was with this second half however, I couldn't help but feel like a lot of the rooms were a bit too empty for their overall size this time around and with texturing that felt too considerably wallpapered throughout a good number of the environments, left a strong feeling of lifelessness to them in my eyes. But beyond these issues(and a number of other small pet peeves that don't really bare mentioning), it was practically a very smooth playthrough for me throughout. And I'm eager to conclude this level series properly with the third and final part of this thrilling saga, when I have the opportunity." - Ceamonks890 (16-Oct-2014)

"This adventure felt like a combination of TR4 and TR2 at the same time. The first level made me think of the Lost Library because of the wit required to get through the level. Aside from the doors to open and the serpent stones to acquire, there was a difficult boss. Even though there was only one enemy in the first level, that enemy was a difficult boss who could put Lara in flames even from a distance. The only way to survive that boss battle is by timing Lara's jumps correctly and even shimmying before pulling up in order to avoid the fireballs. The next level made me think of the Great Wall of China and the Temple of Xian with the blade-studded ladders and the traps, but there were also lots of Shivas (from TR3 in India) to deal with. Some portions were quite dark, but luckily, the flares from TR3 last longer than in TR4. The 3rd level made me think of the Offshore Rig and the Diving Area from TR2. While there were many guards and frogmen to defeat, at least there weren't any flamethrowers to contend with. The ocean is also pretty breathtaking. After a long swim Lara discovers an ancient Antarctic temple for some reason. The guards are retextured as SAS soldiers and the mummies are beatable. The 4th level contains interesting jumping (the white globes denoting safe areas were a nice touch) and switch pulling sequences. The second part of the series is similar to the first part of the series in some ways (enemies to beat, keys to find, switches to activate, jumps...), but in other ways it's a bit easier (no electric machines to avoid). Overall, it's quite enjoyable." - Sakusha (01-May-2011)

"This levelset was even more entertaining than the previous, with more traps and different challenges. Temple of the Twins (7-9-9-8) contained a completely different Lara outfit, similar to AOD. The gameplay was more puzzle-based, but a bit slow with the block pushing and the long ladder. The textures show the good old times of the Lost Library from TR 4. The final fight with the fireballs was clever - not a shootout all the time, but some nice lever-searching to finally kill him. However, the task to find the four jewels was entertaining.
Back in China (8-8-9-9) was TR2-like, with textures and enemies, and the gameplay was a bit more interesting here. Few hard slope and jumping parts here. The long ladder climb at the end was unnecessary.
Research Base (9-8-10-8) had the best gameplay in this part of the series. Not only with immensely entertaining traps, but also with a nice location.
Ancient Halls (8-9-10-10) was a brilliant atmospheric level that appealed with the textures way ahead of the old TR3 engine (only look at the stairs). Gameplay was good, some nice lever objects spiced up that level. At the end you had to kill some nice enemies like the mummies and the odd creatures, which was a nice conclusion of the game.
All in all this levelpack again shows us what is possible with unofficial levels. A special experience for sure." - manarch2 (06-Jan-2011)

"Here is part two of this fantastic level series Lara Croft Returns. I had a completely awesome time playing part two. Lara travels to two ancient temples, with one ending in a terrific nail-biter of a boss battle. These types of boss battles, I think are much better than the "shoot it with a billion bullets til it drops" type. Lara also visits a fabulous research base which should impress anyone who enjoys bases. I would like to mention the realism in this particular sub-level. When Lara is inside one room, she can look out onto the ocean below and a spectacular orange setting sun sky. I could truly imagine being there, and that is really what a good game is about. Lara goes to China as well, and although the level is very well done, with lots of traps and the oddly placed Hindu Shiva gods, I didn't enjoy it as much as the other levels. This is not to say the level is not great, because it is. Lara finds her final prize in a wonderful place called ancient halls. Although the author could have spruced the place up more with statues and pots, it didn't matter all that much since gameplay was very solid. Boris is quite adept at utilizing music in all the sub-levels, however, again, he uses the alarms way too much in the research base. That really killed my brain. I also forgot to say how much I detest the Lara face that Boris chose. I can't remember if Lara looked this homely in TR3, but I don't think so! This Lara model has really far set eyes and she really looks ugly. I wish Boris used a different Lara model. Well, even though Lara is ugly in this series, I am completely stoked to play episode three! Bring on the North!!" - Shandroid (23-Oct-2010)

"Temple of the Twins (6/9/7/7, 30 min): Episode 2 starts a bit slow, with a tedious push puzzle and plenty of jumps and levers in a huge high room. There are library WAD elements and virtually no pickups and enemies. You also end up climbing a long ladder a few too many times as the builder sends you up and down to open a series of doors to collect 4 masks. But the boss ending is an interesting challenge and well executed.
Back in China (8/8/8/8, 35 min): Always a pleasure to see the Oriental objects and textures and no different in this part. The strong point of this part are many fun jumps you get to master, quite a variety of blade traps, spikes, moving spikewall and the battling of half a dozen Shivas throughout. The downside is a fairly uninspired maze area and several long climbs again.
Research Base (7/9/8/8, 40 min): New outfit and new location as you infiltrate a building from the top after a heli dropped Lara off. Naturally that implies killing a dozen or so guards and an equal amount of frogmen, and (unfortunately) an alarm sound that accompanies you through a large part of the level. The AoD soundtrack fit in well and as you dig deeper into this Marine Base, you also find a small sunken ship area and a Temple at the end.
Ancient Halls (8/8/9/9, 40 min): Clearly the best looking and a very enjoyable part that ends this Episode 2. There are many doors and you go back and forth a lot, but cameras do help and it is smooth and fast paced. The rooms are nicely connected and things just flow and even the guards and lizards do not stop you much with all the weaponry that you have acquired by now. There are a few climbable walls that are not particularly well marked, but that is a minor gripe here.
Overall the second Episode impresses with the four different locales and as such is diverse and fun to play without being difficult at all. Onwards to Episode 3 then..." - MichaelP (25-Jul-2010)

"TEMPLE OF THE TWINS [ 34 minutes / 7 8 8 7 ] Not the most inspired level of the adventure , in this temple textured mostly with the TR4 Library textures , but not unpleasant either as you firstly have to make your way around and down a huge hall , before entering in darker places to retrieve 4 masks. The end is more dynamic, you have to deal with the Boss the only enemy here, firstly trying to escape the bowls of fire he throws in the air, then at last be able to kill him and pick up the first artefact of the adventure. BACK IN CHINA [ 43 minutes / 9 9 9 8 ] One of the most enjoyable levels of this adventure , and good looking too , especially the big room with the Xian statues is very harmonious. I quite like the puzzle with the trapdoors and the pushable block in that room, also the jumping room was quite enjoyable. There is a few traps with plinths blades and others, there is a mistake with the moving spiked wall as the player -if too prudent- can let the wall pass and then the player is stuck for good. Aside from this a very dynamic and enjoyable exploration in all parts of the temple. RESEARCH BASE [45 minutes / 9 9 10 8] In this one too a fluent and enjoyable gameplay that reminds a bit of TR2. There are many enemies here including frogmens ; at the end there is also a bit of rusty places like in the wet TR2 Russian levels before arriving to an underground temple. Excellent ! ANCIENT HALLS [49 minutes / 7 8 9 7] The author has changed some things in this one with the more recent textures from AOD , also the gameplay is different. Mostly an atmospheric level as the tasks at hand are not that memorable , I did not really enjoyed a couple of climbable walls which were not obviously climbable. Also if the textures are sometimes appealing (the room with ledges and spheres on them is nice and so is the main big wall) the texturing is average. Still a good level, but the author seems to be more gifted for levels displaying contemporary settings and use of objects than for ancient places." - eRIC (09-Nov-2009)

"Episode Two is the four levels 9-12, and the series just gets better and better. If Lara is standing in snow, and there is a red car near her, then the player has mistakenly gone into Episode Three. Reload the end of the previous level (Lara aborts the rocket launch) and at the level break note the words at the top and bottom of the screen. You may need to press Right Arrow, Enter, to get to Episode Two. Lara should be standing in a cavern, on a slope that leads to a big hole in the floor. This is the "Temple of the Twin," which starts out slow but ends with a boss encounter with Tony, who seems indestructible and shoots fireballs at Lara. Don't panic, which is easier said than done. The trick is to keep Lara in motion, so that the fireballs land where she used to be. Lara is combing the world for power artifacts, and here she gets the first. Next it is "Back in China" for a Xian dagger. Then to Great Britain for two superb levels. "Research Base" has great game play and atmosphere, and utilizes features unique to TR3, such as the MP 5 long range weapon, and the harpoon gun to use against numerous frogmen. You may remember from the original TR3 that defeating the giant spider at the end was easy because of the MP 5: shoot the spider nine times with the Desert Eagle, run down a tunnel to an artifact, roll, and a short burst with the MP 5. No other weapon would do. In TR4, all weapons have the same range (confirm this with TREP), but TR3 is more flexible. After penetrating the Research Base, Lara enters "Ancient Halls." Parts of this are beautifully done, exceeding even the good design and texturing that have gone before. On first playing this, I was baffled by a relief carving on a column, and didn't realize that it was climbable, but now the game play seems obvious. Wonderful detail and use of color. At the end Lara gets the final artifact and is ready to head north. (The buggy interface from Episode One doesn't seem as bad here.)" - dmdibl (01-Nov-2009)

"'Stunning' is the only word I can think of which aptly describes this 2nd episode in the continuing saga. It's not that the author uses previously unseen colourful effects and interesting architecture with which to embellish this four-level set;it's that he uses all these within the limitations of the Unnofficial Editor to do so,and as a result proves conclusively that such things are perfectly possible (even within this restrictive format) provided you have the skill and the patience. Although the story is rather less cohesive this time around (I felt as if I was playing four separate levels which he had conveniantly combined within the same umbrella title) each of the adventures presented here is supremely well crafted,and all four have atmosphere in spades. Lighting,room design,music,enemy placement - all are superb and well judged. Gameplay is involving,although not too concerned with actual puzzles;it's mainly "how do I get up and out of this beautiful and huge room?" Of the four levels,the 2nd and fourth were the most atmospheric (positively creepy in places),while the third was a straightforward Sea Base adventure,with nasty underwater frogmen and good 'industrial' atmosphere (think OffShore Rig from TR2),and provided a decent change of pace. Enemies throughout are splendidly varied,although the huge military arsenal you will have amassed over the length of the two episodes will ensure that none pose much of a challenge. A few sneaky moments (an untextured climbable surface;a deceptive crawl-space) mean you'll need to keep your eyes peeled at times,although the four levels tend to linearity. All in all,a thoroughly enjoyable and superbly crafted four-level adventure and I embark upon the third and final episode with great anticipation." - Orbit Dream (30-Oct-2009)
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