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Level: Lara Croft Returns - Episode 3: In the North back home search
Author(s): Boris Samoilenko
total rating:8.63 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Ceamonks890 7 8 9 9
DJ Full 8 9 9 8
dmdibl 10 9 10 10
eRIC 8 9 10 8
Jose 7 8 9 10
manarch2 9 9 10 9
MichaelP 7 8 9 8
Orbit Dream 9 9 10 10
Phil 8 8 9 8
Ryan 9 9 9 9
Sakusha 9 9 10 8
Sarikman 7 9 7 6
Shandroid 8 9 8 8
category averages
(13 reviews)
8.15 8.69 9.15 8.54

Reviewer's comments

"In the same line of the previous episodes, too many switches/buttons to pull and no puzzles to solve. This time the enemies are not well balanced, sometimes there is not a single enemy for a long way (first level) and another times there is an enemy in every corner (train station). Anyway you'll find a lot of ammo and medipacks and even in the last room with Sophias I got no problems. As usual, excellent architecture and texturization, good use of cameras and sounds and few objects to ornate the rooms. All in all, a great adventure worth to play recommended for everybody. Good work, Boris." - Jose (23-Jul-2017)

"Although this series is now bundled as a single download, it is divided into three segments for review purposes. Using Harry Laudie's walkthrough as a guide, the first segment consists of levels 1 through 8. However, after finishing level 8 you're taken to what the reviews consider to be the beginning of the third segment. When you finish the penultimate level of that segment you begin the second segment, so I consider myself qualified with that background to review the third segment before I begin playing the second segment. The gameplay is roughly similar to what has gone before, so I've decided to retain my scores from the first segment. Lots of enemies, lots of ammo and armament, some puzzles thrown in along the way, fairly complex and moderately entertaining, but I'll be happy when I finish the next segment so I can move on to something else." - Phil (20-Jul-2017)

"So, here we are then, the final episode of the trilogy and it was as good as the others. After the cramped stone hallways and rustic settings of Episode 2, the wide open spaces and snowy atmosphere provided a refreshing change of pace. We now get to ride a quad bike, meet Winston briefly, fight a lot of mutant spiders and have an encounter with lots of Sophias. At the end the credits roll. Overall, this was an enjoyable and rewarding series. I liked the custom load screens and the variety of settings. I congratulate Boris for putting it together and can recommend it for anyone looking for a high quality TR3 adventure." - Ryan (17-Jul-2016)

"Much like the previous two but well concluding and highlighting. Redundant passages still exist but exploration and tasking matches Part One while combat even exceeds it - the SAS battle is the best I fought despite of overfilled object memory or whatever else made these guys disappear, and the spiders I could take down without a scratch. Monkeyswinging under Sophia fire is condemnable." - DJ Full (18-Jun-2016)

"So now that we've finally reached the ending for this three-part saga, how does it necessarily hold up, in comparison to the previous two episodes? Well, in all honesty, its kind of a mixed bag for me. While the texturing, atmosphere and lighting were done in the best possible way under the TR3 engine here and the gameplay managed to retain the high immersion quality that I've come to expect from this long series somewhat for the first two levels included within this episode, I quickly began to notice that this release was actually starting to run out of momentum towards the end(with a concerning number of rooms still feeling a tad too empty for my tastes.) And after finally getting rid of Sophia for good(until she appears in a future custom level that is), I was absolutely drained and completely relieved that it was all properly concluded. So overall, despite having its low points and its high points, this is still one entirely massive project that I greatly recommend anyone not afraid to dip into the back catalog of releases under the TR3 engine, to go through at least once as a whole. Trust me, you won't regret it." - Ceamonks890 (16-Oct-2014)

"I am a little bit confused with these series. I saw that there are three differnet pages wich has the same file to download. I can't remember exactly which one I downloaded, so I will write a review about all of them at once. It was a quite nice adventure with lots of tasks to do. Very interesting and nice Lara outfits. Using textures from AOD made the game seems greater, but I have to say I am not impressed by the way the author used them, I mean they are nice textures, but the author didn't place them well. He didn't turn them some degrees so they could fit better and sometimes I couldn't understand why there were some textures on the walls without fitting with the others. The worst thing was the lighting. The author managed to do good work at many parts with it, but he really messed up in rooms's connection. The light just stops and doesn't get in the next room. Pretty annoying. There were good parts, but the bad ones were more. It was nice to see items from other TR games. The enemies were good too, but, especially in the station, they were acting silly. They were just going away from Lara and they stucked in front of walls or they were passing through statics. Some enemies could walk in lava. The author should test it better. As for the puzzles, some of them were interesting, like the one with the letters and numbers, but the most of the gameplay was to find a switch to open a door where there will be a switch that will open a door with a switch that will open another door with a switch, in order to open the last door. And all of them by running many miles around big rooms. I didn't like that there were not no secrets in most of the levels, but that is not an issue. An issue is that many times there were not cameras to help you and showing what is done by using a switch or other times the camera was switching and it was pointing to nowhere. The level with ghost Tony was my favourite and I enjoyed the fight with him. These series are pretty interesting, but they need fixing, so that's why I am going to give some not so good rates. I almost forgot... I liked the story a lot and playing as Natla was quite enjoyable, but I was facing some bugs when I loaded my savegames in that level or when I was using a flare. Natla was holding her head and not a flare... I surely recomend this game, despite the drawbacks I said." - Sarikman (17-Nov-2011)

"The absence of enemies in the 13th level was quite a change from the other levels of this series. At first glance, the snowbound town appears to be sleepy and peaceful, but a few surprises shatter the player's first impressions. It was quite interesting to see a car move when Lara activated a switch, and the quad bike sequence was quite tricky. The shimmying sequences (in order to avoid slipping through a snowy roof and in order to avoid falling into a huge pit) were pretty smart too. The 14th level however brought back a significant amount of enemies, and some enemies even got stuck in walls. Luckily there aren't any deadly trains here, even though the tracks would make the player think of that possibility. The keypad puzzle required precise jumping, and the mutant spiders were scary. Then, Sophia took away most of Lara's artifacts and weapons. Fortunately, Lara had just enough artifacts to open a door, and the pushable block puzzle was well-designed. The only downside was the presence of a few invisible walls, but they didn't affect the gameplay too much. The final boss battle was incredibly challenging. Like the battle against Tony in level 9, Lara had to time her jumps very well in the fight against Sophia. But what made this boss battle more challenging was that multiple Sophias came up as Lara progressed, and Lara had to make a huge effort to avoid flames on multiple fronts, especially since the impact of the flames varied from slight to considerable. Even when Lara defeated the Sophias with the flick of a switch, Lara just had enough medipacks to not only recover from the effects of the blue flames but to also climb out of the deadly freezing water. I also enjoyed having Tomb Raider Legend music throughout the game (very appropriate in the boss battles of this series). It's worth noting that the author seemed to alternate considerably between having lots of enemies and ammo (especially level 14) and having little enemies (especially level 13) or ammo (especially level 15). The player will be considerably rewarded for completing this game, trust me, it's worth it." - Sakusha (01-May-2011)

"And now the great series comes to an end.
Northern Town (7-8-9-9) was a peaceful little city, with many exploration but unluckily no puzzles. The sound was great and also in the brothel - I laughed so hard when I found Winston in it! After 30 minutes of lever-searching you suddenly get to a quadbike, and you had to climb stairs and slopes with it and perform two jumps, one quite tricky, the other rather not. Textures remained on the TR 4 Alexandria level and the TR 5 Rome levels. However I really think there could have been some enemies, as the level got a bit boring without.
Excavation Site (10-9-10-9) - simply amazing what can be done with that engine. This was the best level of the entire series, and for sure better than most of the original TR 3 levels. Tons of enemies were included here, very well placed, I think, at one time I got a real shock. Objects were futuristic, as well as few textures, and the atmosphere was great again. Sound choice is even better than in the previous level. There was a fantastic puzzle in it, you had to search for a card where some numbers and letters were written on and with that you had to open three doors. I have already mentioned the telephone puzzle in part 1, this one is a perfectly enhanced version of it. But why does the outfit of Lara change after pulling the switch? I don't get that. The last area with the spiders was a nice battle, the final in the whole game, you will see. Objects in this room looked great.
Temple of the five artifacts (9-9-10-10) was a short runthrough through a beautiful textured level, reminding on the "Ancient Halls" level of Part 2. The trapdoor puzzle and the red and blue textured death/water tiles were innovative and well done, too. After placing the two remaining artefacts (why not five) you get to another short level.
Altar Isis (8-9-10-9) was again good textured, but at the end way too dark and you hadn't got any flares. The main task is to avoid the fires the Sophias shoot on you and climbing up to a lever that kills them all. A nice ending, similar to the original level, finishes this great levelpack lasting about 8 1/2 hours for me. Thank you, Boris, for great fun!" - manarch2 (07-Jan-2011)

"Here is the final episode of this level series and it is a bit of a mixed bag. I had a lot of fun in the Northern Town and Excavation Site as they are quite different from one another. The first being about exploration and the second about shooting a thousand or so enemies! These were well done. I was very, very disappointed in the Temple of the Five Artifacts. Actually, the transition between the Excavation Site and the Temple was in dire need of a cutscene. I have no idea why Lara had all the artifacts and her weapons before sliding down a slope, then lost them all when she enters the temple. Why is she left with only two artifacts, which is conveniently, all she needs in the temple of FIVE artifacts? This was a majorly missed opportunity. What happened to the other two, if Sophia was hanging onto the one that looks like a crystal railroad spike? Anyway, the author laments not having the ability to use cutscenes, and I think this is why. I did find the final battle to be rewarding, even if getting out of the freezing water was more difficult than getting to the switch that kills Sophia's clones. Boris has achieved a very fun and generally well-done level series despite using an old engine and he is to be commended." - Shandroid (23-Oct-2010)

"Northern Town (7/7/8/8, 35 min): A pleasant city setting in winter here and you meet Jean Yves and his brother inside the houses, which seem to have rather too high rooms and many, manby buttons and levers throughout, although several doors just open (and close) on approach as well. I had to laugh at the hint of an erotic establishment and of course at Winston roaming that place. The 2CV animation is also worth a chuckle. Gameplay wise you go around in circles with solid camera guidance and the ride with the Quad bike is fun too. A quiet level, as there are no enemies.
Excavation Site (8/9/9/8, 50 min): This part is anything but quiet then. Starting underground with overdimensionalized trains & wagons, you quickly start using your weaponry against a myriad of guards who try to protects the area. At times this almost turns into a Base level. The highlight is of course a very clever code card puzzle and then a worthy boss battle against a bunch of willards! Great fun and for me one of the best levels of the entire set.
Temple of the Five Artefacts / Altar Isis (7/8/9/9, 10+10 min): These two short levels were a bit underwhelming and you cannot help think the author kind of shortcut the work on them. Especially the first offered so many options to have it easily expanded, as you only get to solve a small trapdoor puzzle and push a few blocks around in a nice colourful room and then the second is a quick escape while enduring Sofia & her clones.
Overall, the three Episodes comprise a great level series with many diverse locations and solid enough looks, given the age of the levels and the engine chosen. Gameplay is maybe a bit too easy, repetitive and strightforward most of the time to keep the interest very high for the almost 8 hours of net gaming time that the entire series has, but if you are in for a more relaxing but longer raid then this may be just for you!" - MichaelP (25-Jul-2010)

"NORTHERN TOWN [44 minutes / 8 8 9 7] As in the previous episodes, this one starts rather slowly with this first level where a little town has to be explored, this was quite pleasant neverthless with a good winter atmosphere , gameplay consists of spotting a few things before using the quadbike, the author has added another one in case of... The looks are good even with some thin wall. No enemy here but we have a couple of Jean-yves , one of which seems to be the boss of a business of little morality. I quite like the shimmying at the end along a cable. EXCAVATION SITE [52 minutes / 7 10 10 8] Another army base , more modern , very fast paced and much enjoyable. There is firstly the traversing of a room with jumps monkey swing and back, then much of the level turns out to be a shooter with the slaughter of plenty of SAS. Near the end a great puzzle with a code (well done !), and a big battle with giant mutant spiders (great !) The use of music here adds a lot to accompany the course. TEMPLE OF FIVE ARTEFACTS / ALSTAR ISIS [12 + 13 minutes / 6 9 10 8] The author has chosen again the AOD textures for this finale , where Lara is without weapons ; she first has to do a bit a pushing in the first part , I really like the background atmospheric audio in this one, then in the second part has to escape from Sophia's dangerous darts while climbing a huge room , escape from Sophia's doubles and defeat them all by flooding all the place. The invisible walls near the top of the room were a bit annoying and the last crawlspaces after the impressive special effect where the Crystal appears were superfluous Anyway an impressive and suitable ending for a great series that you simply can't miss." - eRIC (09-Nov-2009)

"The exciting conclusion of the series, four levels, starting with "Northern Town." Starts with Lara standing in the snow, and a red car should be nearby. This is supposed to be northern Scotland, according to the author's doc file, though it looks more like a Baltic town, and note the signs in the brothel, where Winston seems to have gotten lost. Nice design, and Lara gets to ride the quad bike; not a retextured motorcycle but a superior quad bike. After this quiet level, there follows an action-packed "Excavation Site." Around a train are a squadron of sniper guards, and every time Lara tries to look about they start shooting at her. In self-defense Lara has to clear the area. Use the MP 5, and let her target one guard after another (some you won't see until Lara spots them). This took about 400 rounds for the MP 5. (At the end of this level Lara loses all her weapons and ammo, so freely indulge in the mayhem.) To solve a matrix puzzle Lara needs a security card, but in inventory the card won't stop rotating to allow one to read the markings. The first time playing this, I had to take a screenshot or load the game in fexinspect to read the card, and work out the solution. Now one can use the walkthrough. Next everyone will enjoy the giant mutant spiders. There is a brief linking level, before the encounter with Sophia. In the author's doc file there is a conversation (not actually in the game) where Sophia demands an artifact, and Lara graciously agrees to enclose it when she next mails Sophia her Christmas card. The final brief level has Sophia laughing maniacally, and shooting energy bolts, while Lara climbs a tall room. When I first played this, it took a few attempts to learn the route, but it all goes very quickly. This is in an Arctic slot, so the water is freezing and deadly, and will also destroy multiple Sophias. One hates to see the series end. There should be a number of closing credits, but because of this buggy release none of the credits showed on my screen at the end. This is a major and professional series, and players are doing themselves a disservice if they do not experience it." - dmdibl (02-Nov-2009)

"The final four-level episode of the trilogy doesn't disapoint,although it is markedly shorter than the other two.The first level is probably the best of the entire series,with terifficaly thought-out progression through a northern town.Inspired moments abound;but it was Lara's discovery of a Bordello,with Winston offering tea to one of the girls,which was the undoubted highlight.The second level was a somewhat prolongued shooter,with one highly cryptic puzzle (thanks to the redoubtable Harry Laudie for the solution);while the third and fourth levels were very quick and fast-moving,leading to a good confrontation with four Sofia's. If gameplay wasn't perhaps quite as varied as it could have been (too many bullets were needed to get through the second level),the variety of the enemies more than made up for it;while atmosphere,sound,cameras,lighting and texturing were all as superb as can possibly be achieved within the confines of the Unnoficial Editor. All-in-all,this is a fantastic 16 level series and should be far,far better known among the TRLE community.What wonders Boris could achieve if he ever worked with the NGLE I cannot begin to imagine,but I hope that the day won't be too long in coming before he releases another masterpiece.Hearty applause from me for a superb achievement." - Orbit Dream (31-Oct-2009)
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