Level: LB Advent Calendar 2010 - No Xmas without a Tree back home search
Author(s): l.m.
total rating:9.64 Gameplay &
Objects &
Sound &
Lighting &
Adriel 8 10 10 10
afzalmiah 9 10 10 10
Bene 10 10 10 10
Diz 9 9 10 10
DJ Full 8 9 9 10
dmdibl 10 10 10 10
eTux 8 9 10 10
Gerty 9 10 10 10
High Priestess 9 10 10 10
Jack& 9 10 10 10
Jay 9 9 10 10
JesseG 9 10 10 10
Jose 9 10 10 10
Josey 10 10 10 10
manarch2 9 10 10 10
MichaelP 8 9 10 10
misho98 10 10 10 10
Mytly 8 10 10 10
Phil 10 10 9 10
Raymond 10 10 10 10
reborn1995 10 10 10 10
Ruben 10 10 10 10
Ryan 10 10 10 10
Scottie 10 10 10 10
Seilion 10 10 10 10
Shandroid 10 10 10 10
TheStig 9 10 10 10
TonyG 6 8 9 9
VampBunny 4 10 8 10
young Lara Croft 10 10 10 10
category averages
(30 reviews)
9.00 9.77 9.83 9.97

Reviewer's comments

"Wow! What can I say? Stunning beyond belief in terms of lay-out. However, I knocked a point off because it is exceptionally easy to get lost here. There is much rooftop- jumping involved but sadly the video walkthrough uploader kept missing parts out as in skipping the to-ing and fro-ing so even with the aid of that I was still confused with which direction to head in after performing an action of some kind. This led me to waste a lot of time running around in virtual circles but this didn't frustrate me too much because of the ambience. Several trigger points here will see the commencement of my favourite sound - church bells. The object here is to locate the owner of the Christmas tree shop and inform him that he needs to open it up so people can buy their trees. When Lara extinguishes a fireplace from a grate above, a VT and some dialogue conclude the level. The visuals here are simply stunning and the attention to detail is to be commended. I was unable to hear the Christmas track but all other sounds were audible and in particular the most impressive sound file to date in my eyes was in the Cathedral. One can really feel the echo of muttering voices - amazing sound and very realistic. It's by no means as linear as I would have hoped but again, it is such a beautiful town that one finds themselves blissfully swamped within it - right down to the graffiti and bulletin boards. Stunning and highly recommended!" - High Priestess (27-Oct-2017)

"I definitely had a love/hate for this one. It was truly beautiful. The amount of detail that went into everything was remarkable. My main gripes with the game were that it required moves that aren't "traditional" TR moves in order to progress and that it wasn't linear at all, with no hints as to what you're supposed to be doing. Even after watching a walkthrough video (which I had to just keep open on my PC just because it's REALLY easy to get confused in this one) I would see that it wasn't one of those things that is obvious and after I see what I'm supposed to do it all makes sense. It requires two banana jumps and a half-tile run and jump. If you are a player that has always just played TR games in the way they were designed, you'd have no clue what any of those things are, let alone how to perform them. There's also a slope jump that has to be pixel perfect to get into the area with the bell. And the amount of times I got lost was pretty bad. This isn't one of those games where you can play over the course of days because you'll forget where everything is. Even when I played a majority in one day I still got lost. There is a camera angle that is killer, but luckily only one that I can remember. But the beauty of the level is great. I wouldn't call this game relaxing, which is usually what you get with the Xmas TRs. There were plenty of times I raged. (Can I do a banana jump? Yes. Does it take me a stress-inducing amount of time? You betcha!) I recommend this for a challenge and for practicing some harder moves. I definitely came out of this one feeling like I brushed up a little." - VampBunny (03-Mar-2017)

"Another quite stunning level made by Leif. When I met him at a TR meeting a couple of years ago (doing the treasure hunt) little did I know what a talented guy he was or else I would have picked his brain clean. It took me a long while to finish this one because of all the hidden nooks and crannies (so to speak) and I am sorry to say, the walkthrough that is out was for the most part unreadable for me. Question I still have... did Leif and Nina get married on May 5th that year or not? You have to love all the messages you can read everywhere." - Gerty (22-Jan-2017)

"I absolutely adored this beautiful Christmas adventure by a great builder. I enjoyed exploring the peaceful city solving great puzzles especially the clock one. Many objects are taken from Trix's A Time Odyssey and work well here. Wonderful. The secrets required some thought." - Ryan (05-Apr-2016)

"One of the best Christmas levels! It had a beautiful story and a magic setting, everything was crafted with care and attention to detail, the puzzles are clever and so is the gameplay. I loved moving through the town , observing details and admiring the buildings and the architecture. It's a great level, I highly recommend it!" - young Lara Croft (25-Dec-2012)

"Another great level by this builder. Nice puzzles, professional objects, Xmas atmosphere, lovely piano music and hq textures. What more should a player want?" - misho98 (17-Nov-2011)

"This was a well set up level...but honestly it didn't feel like the Tomb Raider I love to felt like AOD kind of...maybe even less so Tomb Raider to me then AOD. It was very creative and decent to play just wish it would have seemed more relevant to me" - TonyG (20-Apr-2011)

"This is another amazing level from l.m. I can see that each of his level are totally different. That's why he's brilliant! This is the best city level I have ever played. The textures are really good and lighting was cool. I didn't really like the jumps on the rooftops. The church was pretty nice and I like the puzzle with the poor man. Lara's oufit was nice and the voice actress for lara was kind of good. Play it." - afzalmiah (06-Mar-2011)

"I have had quite passable Christmases without a Christmas tree (though it might be somewhat blasphemous to say so, considering that Riga is famous for apparently being the place where the tradition to decorate Christmas trees started), but as far as I'm concerned any excuse that allows us to immerse into another one of Leif's TR worlds works fine with me. Not that we need more evidence after Fortress Stonerock and One Day in Venice to prove that this dude has got a serious aptitude for bringing city and castle settings to life, this adventure for the advent calendar should shed the last doubts anyone might have had. I don't claim to know every city level out there, but among those I've played this one has been by far the most stunning, enchanting, immersive experience so far. True, it unfortunately is quite labyrinth-esque, but when it flows, there's nothing quite as fun as figuring out your course over the rooftops, spotting hidden doors, balconies, passages that connect you with new and familiar areas in a fun way. And I can only simultaneously admire and envy Leif for coming up with the ingenious course you have to cover in order to get your torch lit, not to mention some of the clever uses for the objects (break a barrel to reveal a key hidden inside, etc.), and the neat side-quests you take on for the secrets (found all 6, and would recommend anyone who wants to play to make an effort of finding them all). On the downside - since you don't encounter any opposition over the course of the game, the pickups are for most part redundant, so when you do come across another matchbox or medipack, it mostly has the feeling of being put there to fill out space or have something to do for Lara while she's there. Despite all of the author's efforts to make the game as player-friendly as possible, it's inevitable that the player's will still eventually end up feeling "Uhmm... so what's next?". I suppose that in itself is natural for non-linear levels anyway, but, while I don't want to undermine the use of the hints employed here, I think the level might have functioned better had you been able to set such gameplay objectives as the crowbar doors apart as something that will play a role later in a game before you even acquire the crowbar. Then the somewhat forced 'hints' might not have been necessary. Another example would be the locks - most of which are opened via the use of keys, but the only lock I actually recall having a keyhole drawn on to it, has to be shot for some reason. If you follow the walkthrough, none of these things will be of issue anyway, but it certainly will stand out to the player who wants to take it on on his/her own. But that said - this is just something for the builder to ponder about, and I would not say this to be a sufficient excuse to turn away any players wanting to give this a go. Highly recommended!" - eTux (03-Mar-2011)

"This level contains a very realistic city that really makes me fell I'm there. The gameplay is confusing sometimes because of the many ways of the city. Sometimes I felt a little frustrated to do many things just to open a shortcut and continue stuck in the level. Find your way in the streets is really easy comparing to find the ways in the roofs. Sometimes I had to spend a long time to find a possible way to climb to another rooftop. In stead of that I loved so much the ideas of this level and the soundtrack. The story is entertaing too." - Adriel (20-Feb-2011)

"Simply: Lara must convince a shopkeeper to open up his xmas tree shop. But even getting to the shopkeeper is a colossal task. The sheer scope of this level is impressive. Right til the end, i was unable to keep a clear mental map in my mind to determine where places and previous jump sequences were. The decor is spectacular. No detail is spared. The gameplay was very challenging despite no enemies--i'd have never made it if it weren't for the forums and walkthrough. i would definitely play this level again. --guy" - reborn1995 (10-Feb-2011)

"This review is messed up, to show my mixed feelings. Texturing is great, and we can see the old, good distance fog effect covering the village... but all roofs look similar and I don't like getting confused on each of them. I don't like Lara talking too much. It reminds me of AOD. Everything else perfect. Lara knocking on the door! I like custom animations. She looks a lil'bit scared. And more like a doll than like a woman. There some inaccessible roof she should be able to grab, and she cant. Cathedral too small. Too many unnecessary NG features. Crowbar hints nice. Jump with a torch ingenious, but it seems to be optional and many players may not find it. Even the builder reading this may not be sure what torch jump I am talking about. One serious flaw when one has a torch, wants to jump from one roof to another, and suddenly lands in the water, what forces him/her to backtrack all the way up on the rooftops. There is only one path allowing to do so, killing non-linearity intended to be present ingame (l.m. mentioned it in the readme). Disappointing ending, not allowing to explore the apartment at all. Objects simply beautiful. No enemies, but it is one of the main assumptions, and the level is really peaceful, so I give 3 for those non-existing baddies. Secrets require careful exploration and that's good. But they mostly comprise or useless matches (flares) or ammo, so - compared to whole hidden locations from Fortress Stonerock - they appear rather poor. Fortunately, finding little trees is quite satisfying - they look cute. BTW, is "cute" a proper word to describe a tree? Sound quality sometimes annoying, but custom voices are great. Flybys are nice, but not allowing to take a look at the village as well as they could. Also, even if everything seems realistic, I can feel lack of that "something" bringing masterpieces to life. I wasn't immersed at all - I still felt it's only a game, not a real place. So now, when I missed 2 secrets, it's a duty for me to find them - not a pleasure at all. SUMMARY: Definitely one of the prettiest levels I've played so far. Filled with NG features making it look "modern" and drawing our attention away of not so inventive gameplay, it may seem to be a hit - only because it looks very good and "modern". To be honest: when I look beyond that NG mask, I can feel this game lacks lot of raiding feeling I've experienced in Fortress Stonerock, which is a kind of masterpiece. No Xmas is "only" a very good attempt, and I'm quite sure it will be forgotten by many players if only the next Advent comes with another truly genious level like Mystica. People, listen to Yourselves: do You really think Beyond the Scion, TechnoEgyptians or Babylon is Fallen are WORSE than this one? If You are in classic or fantasy/surreal raiding mood, No Xmas WON'T SATISFY YOU, so look for this kind of creativity somewhere else (e.g. in the adventures mentioned above), leaving (but NOT skipping!!!) No Xmas for a day when You will be after something (only) beautiful. That day, this level will reward You. So I consider it recommended... for "a right time to arrive"." - DJ Full (06-Feb-2011)

"What an amazingly beautiful and atmospheric level! L.M. shows off his talent for creating superb environments again. Unfortunately, he also shows off his talent for creating confusing environments, as this level is very complex and the correct path is rarely clear. Even with many peeks at the walkthrough, I clocked in about 2 hours of gameplay, which is surprisingly long considering that the map is not particularly large and the tasks themselves are not difficult, except for a couple of tricky rooftop jumps. Of course, I did spend some of the time merely 'sightseeing' all around the beautiful fog-shrouded town. It reminds me strongly of the most beautiful city level ever, 'Somewhere, Sometime' from Trix's 'A Time Odyssey' - not surprising at all, since L.M. has used textures and objects from that level. But the most beautiful spot, the cathedral, is unique.
I also love the little touches like the graffiti announcing the builder's impending marriage (congratulations!), the broken railing that Lara can squeeze through (never seen that before!), the hint for the crowbar doors, and the helpful maps on every street. The cutscene showing Lara trying to reach the deaf old man is very nicely done. The tiny Christmas trees which form the secrets are very cute too, though the six secrets are very hard to find - I certainly wouldn't have found half of them without the walkthrough.
Overall: A little confusing in terms of navigation, but otherwise almost perfect - a must play!" - Mytly (13-Jan-2011)

"Yes, this was the best advent level released this year. The foggy atmosphere was very nice to see, brilliant new textures were making this city special. The cutscenes were brilliant and support the wonderful storyline. The feeling for Christmas was very high here, it is for me the most Christmassy level this year. The only real puzzle in this level (this game doesn't need more) was innovative but the item you get afterwards (the waterskin) was a bit of a let- down for me, as I expected a golden cross or some expensive thing, but not that I rated lower because of that. The tasks you had to solve were completely new, like jumping over the whole city with your torch and using it on several places like opening a door and many more things. The only thing that enerved me was the senseless searching in the city for hours just because I didn't jump over a slope to a door. The idea of making pictures for the crowbar-doors was very nice, also the hint for the cathedral puzzle and the secret counter, but there were many places you could hardly spot without any hints. This should be the only point I lowered, just because this game otherwise reaches perfection only because of the reality this city radiates." - manarch2 (10-Jan-2011)

"Another superb and complex Advent level, and by far the easiest on the eyes in my opinion. It was a sheer delight exploring this quaint little town, which was opened up more and more as you went along. The lighting was impeccable, and I wish all builders were as considerate of their players in that regard as this one is. (Why spend untold hours crafting detailed architecture and scenery, and then shroud your work product in darkness? That's never made sense to me, and thankfully l.m. avoids falling into that trap.) Manarch2 has provided a most helpful and concise walkthrough to guide the player through the alleys and over the rooftops. Maybe a little too concise, in fact, because I had to wander around several times during the game before finally regaining my bearings. The secrets were cleverly arranged as well, but for some reason they were bunched toward the end of the level. I decided to pass on the last two secrets, because by that time I'd already spent more than two hours here and was ready to leave, and I felt that enduring all that backtracking (with the torch in hand, no less) simply wasn't worth the effort. This is a milestone in level building, sure to reach the Hall of Fame in short order, and I recommend it heartily." - Phil (10-Jan-2011)

"I absolutely adored exploring this gorgeous European town. For some reason, this is the Christmas level environment I like the best, perhaps because it is so different from what I experience here in Nebraska. Everything is done beautifully here, from atmosphere, to texturing and lighting to music and gameplay. It was a bit confusing at times, but Leif tries hard to provide much help in the read me as well as in the game itself. Gandalf's voice is so lovely and relaxing, and I loved how she also provided Lara's "umphs" as well. I am so happy I played this game, even if Xmas is long past now. Please keep on building, Leif, your talents are limitless and most appreciated. Oh, and by the way, congrats to Leif and Nina on their engagement! Wink wink, someone was kind enough to put up and announcement on a brick wall." - Shandroid (09-Jan-2011)

"Leif is certainly a genius. This beautifully conceived and texturized level deserves an "all 10" evaluation. The city is stupendous; I've never seen streets and buildings so real in a game. The background music is also perfect, without any overdoing, and the lighting is quite good. For me, the only drawback was that, being the person for whom GPS was developed, I found the environment unnecessarily mazy, and the necessary actions too complicated for my taste. Cheers, Leif!" - Josey (07-Jan-2011)

"I had a lot of fun testing this level and giving it the last polishments. The gameplay is highly entertaining with the last jump sequences on the roof tops, the nice puzzles like the "clock puzzle" in the cathedral and the torch puzzle. The hunt for the 6 secrets is an extra bonus. The complexity of the level is relatively high, so you need really a good orientation in space and a good overview to get the gameplay elemets together. Really a challenging and highly rewarding level, fully to my liking. And not to tell about the superb looks, you`ll meet here! This level is really an expression of the high art of building beautiful surroundings. So no other chance then to give it all 10! Highly recommended to all!" - Raymond (02-Jan-2011)

"This was one off the best christmas game i ever played - iff not the best !! - very nice buided city and great sound + top notch visuals . this game involve some thinking too + some skills too cos contain 3-4 very tough bananna jumps + even a swan dive jump ! + nice puzzles ....u need to find some keys and items + a torcs puzzle too the ending was very nice with a nice flybye ....... i admit a bit confusing time to time but all in all excelent game -Happy New Year at everybody cheers ...." - Jack& (01-Jan-2011)

"I've been burning through all of the advent levels for 2010 trying to get them completed before the end of the year, but it looks (like last year), that I'll just miss the mark yet again. This level on the other hand, hits the mark perfectly. It's got just the right balance of being expansive and slightly non-linear, but not enough that it puts you off your gameplay. It is soothing, relaxing, challenging, beautiful to behold, and felt very smart and very real. Texturing, and lighting are sublime, and all of the music queues are perfectly selected. Some of the roof-top jumps are a tad on the challenging side, but a little creativity should have you getting into most of the spaces that you need to go. All in all I got 2 and a half hours from No X-Mas without a tree. I really enjoyed it, and another Christmassy fly-by is getting me in the new-year spirit. Highly recommended. Stiggy" - TheStig (01-Jan-2011)

"A very large city that took me over an hour and a half to explore. Normally when a level lasts this long, it's because there is too much backtracking. In this case, I would say that it is simply a very well done level. Expect a few tricky jumps as you cross the rooftops, some interesting puzzles, and many locations to discover. Because of its sheer size, perhaps a few more hints as to where to go next would have helped. Other than that I have nothing negative to say about this level." - SSJ6Wolf (29-Dec-2010)

"This was one of those levels that I was sad to finish. Indeed, I delayed finishing until I'd got all 6 secrets (wow, some of those were tricky!), so determined was I to wring every last drop from it. I really like non-linear levels with a three dimensional element and this one certainly came up to the mark. This is definitely one for players that like to find the correct routes with plenty of bouncing around the rooftops. It gets even better when you have to do it with a lit torch! A large area, it never really gets too familiar, more like a holiday town that you know your way round by the end of the fortnight. The buildings and streets are just stunning, matched only by the incredible interiors. My one criticism, and it's tiny, is that I would have supplied Lara with her guns rather than the revolver with limited ammo. This would have saved an awful lot of 'try to shoot a window, reload the savegame, try to shoot another window, reload' etc. A problem that I would guess most players faced. Loads of fun to be had from this level. A 'must play' - Enjoy!" - Diz (29-Dec-2010)

"Echoing another reviewer, I was a bit conflicted in writing this review. By any definition, this is a brilliant piece of work: the design; atmosphere; the hints - done with notes and Lara's voice and the animations with Lara doing the work, such as melting the ice pond but leaving the player with the still necessary torch for secrets and further gameplay. With all the hints there is still plenty of mystery and exploration: such as what did Lara leave behind and why can't I find it after looking into every nook and cranny?....nicely placed and not easily found. Slipping through the gate with, finally, the key in hand was no automatic guarantee that the necessary object would be found easily or quickly.
Mistakes made were mine, not the builders. I overlooked finding the crowbar 'till late in the game and, worse, did not realise the H key would show me the location of the gates that could be opened and which left me searching for the one that was needed to bring the torch to the lit candle. I never did find the first disc for the clock puzzle clue but having the second one enabled me to figure out and complete the puzzle but shortening gameplay so, for me, this is definitely a must do-over.
I try to write reviews from both the builder and the player point of view and this is one of those rare games that an author fully takes into account the player's view point and he does so brilliantly. He either truly listened to his testers or had the patience to play through as a 'novice'.
The conflict came about because of the 'grab' bug - for me, there were times I didn't know if it was the bug or 'game intended' and there were too many times, just as I was really getting somewhere, Lara would refuse to grab. I don't know if that's a fixable bug (other than exiting and then returning) or something beyond a builder's control so, not really fair to take a point or two off for gameplay.
Secrets also had to be a ten - a search for little xmas trees, very appropriate, placed well and just plain fun to get. Highly recommended - an extraordinary and truly memorable gift from the Advent Calendar. Don't miss this one." - Bene (29-Dec-2010)

"First, a warning in advance: If your sense of direction tends to zero (like mine) and you often forget where what was (like me), then, yes then you should make a big curve around this level. But then you would miss an absolute masterpiece. And because there are the excellent help forums, nothing should stop you from playing this level. Then you can see because some absolute highlights.
-the cathedral: The cathedral looks from Outside rather insignificant. The building looks quite nice, however, stands out not particularly. However, this changes quite massively if you pass the front door. You must have seen this! These columns. And these pointed arches. And still a lot more what you can discover. And above all the background noise! Now it is really absolutely hearing-worth. There the level builder has done a lot of work with this.
-the animations: Several of the animations will move you into astonishment! Lara knocks at a door. And listens whether somebody is there. These are only two examples and good reasons, why it pays to play this level.
This are of course only a few highlights. One can see here a lot of very well formed corners. And it gives damn a lot of pleasure, to jump over the roofs. Of course one can also get lost sometimes, but there are many information boards for tourists where is shown where one just is. This is very obliging from the town. Well, once again is confirmed what for a really good level builder l.m. is. There one can raise only all not available hats." - Scottie (29-Dec-2010)

"First I have to say: WOW! Story: Lara has to remember an old man to open his christmas shop. And Lara doesn't know that she has to do a lot of things to reach him! Climbing over roofs, visiting the whole city, solving puzzles in the church, giving an old man money, stealing money for the old man (lol) and so much more. The gameplay was really interesting and and also really enjoyable. But sometimes it wasn't all that easy (like finding the jumpswitch in the room with the torches or finding the shatterable windows etc.) For me the gameplay was a bit too nonlinear for me, but maybe it's a matter of taste. The big plus was the puzzle in the church. It was something really new and never seen before in a custom level! The secrets were all well placed and not all that easy to find. It looked like the builer really tried hard to make them difficult to find. The atmosphere is just unbelievable! It really looked like it is totally cold out there! The sound was also really good and well placed, I especially liked the track when lara entered the big area with the statue. There were a lot of hints to help the player! This was really great, because sometimes if you stuck, theres help like with the H button to show the crowbar doors or the hint with the torch. If you want to celebrate Christmas with a level, choose this one! Extremely high recommended!" - Seilion (29-Dec-2010)

"Well , he`s done it again ! The fantastic NGLE supplies the tools and our builders do the rest of it. Many have tried but only few get up to this almost professional stage using it in perfection and create a little masterpiece such as No X surely is. Again this buider shows forth all his subtle skills in level designing of the finest art . This TRLE custom level looks good , feels good and is definetely an outstandig experience to play. The player may get lost many times exploring this beautiful french village ,but simply take your time ,the builder has supplied a lot of useful things like the tourist information boards in the streets of the city , the use of the H Key to show the way to the crowbar doors and last but not least the hints that Lara gets about tasks to be achieved when she encounters a problem yet out of reach by listening to her inner voice , another perfect job done by Regina. I believe this time Leif has surpassed all he has done before by realizing a perfect idea bound to please every player`s heart. What more would you expect from a christmas present supplied to you at no cost by our fantastic TRLE communities ? I feel ever so proud to be a member in some of them and I really do appreciate the whole work in it by all its people ,famous or unknown . May we never take it for granted !" - Ruben (28-Dec-2010)

"That's was I expect when downloading the package from this author. A very professional work with all those good ingredients from a good level: very good architecture, good puzzles, nice environment with all kind of details... Difficult only for the new objects you don't know how to interactue, but not so difficult so far for a good raider. From the "dark side" I had to run and jump over the roofs many many times doing the same gymnastics. Of course, there are some shortcuts, but even so after playing I feel myself more a cat than a person, lol! It seems that the author is going to marry next year... If it's so, my best wishes for him and his future wife. Congratulations!" - Jose (27-Dec-2010)

"I am a bit torn in my assessment of this level. On the one hand it has many aspects that show the pure touch of genius, such as the overall stunning architecture (that we have come to expect from this builder), which gives you a great feeling of 'being there' in this small town. Or the wonderfully clever path to follow with the torch across the roofs to the candle (and also to several secrets). Or the brilliant clock puzzle in the cathedral. But then, it also went out of balance a bit. On the one hand it starts nicely, with some text hints thrown in that kind of give you an idea what to do next and I really liked the way of showing the three crowbar doors - but I got rather lost when finding the revolver, as I had no idea what to actually do with it and spent literally hours running around the village (which by then was already nicely opened up), until I realized which windows can be shot and which ones not (how am I supposed to know or see the difference? And I got also very confused when I mixed up the clock puzzle and thought the gong told me I got it right, when in fact I had one of the two parts wrong - which lead to another hour of searching the city high and low for that elusive waterskin. So in the end the overall impression of this wonderful adventure was marred a bit by too much time spent running around wondering what to do, but arguably that was my own fault to some extent, so you may be more lucky than me and thus give this level even more of the credit it certainly deserves. I was glad to reach the end after 2.5 hours of net gaming time with 5 of the 6 secrets found." - MichaelP (26-Dec-2010)

"Absolutely topnotch design work, and a visual feast for the eyes, but the point here is the creative game play that--be warned--has a couple of rather difficult jumps. I was actually forced to learn a new technique for one banana jump, and that is rare these days. One sequence has Lara taking a torch to ignite a bale of hay, and this requires players to have a full knowledge of the level, and to have thought out what is necessary. If other builders created a single such sequence they might feel that was enough, but here the sequence is one of many. I replayed this level and found that everything can be done in about an hour, though the first time through it will take a lot of wandering about. Lara has to use the torch repeatedly for secrets, and also has to hunt out shootable windows. This is supposed to be an Advent level, which is deceptive. At the start it feels like an Advent level, with Lara giving helpful (accented) voice hints for the most obvious directions: "Oh, look, he lives to the right!" When Lara goes into town there are maps on many corners saying "You are here," so players can't possibly get lost. Players feel reassured. Then reality sets in, for Lara will spend much of her time traveling the intricate roofs of buildings, and players can forget about any helpful maps. (I always enjoy having Lara up on roofs for good jumps.) It is difficult to know what is a secret, and what isn't, so players may think Lara is required to do a banana jump sequence. And the alternative at this point, reaching the roofs and a key, also requires a tricky jump. It can be a challenge working out the route and proper jumps on the roofs, particularly when Lara carries the torch. However, there are still helpful hints late in the level, such as when Lara, thinking out loud, remembers an icy puddle she can melt with a torch. I want to convey that all this is absorbing, that the author is among the best, and has produced original game play with puzzle type secrets that are memorable. Outstanding." - dmdibl (26-Dec-2010)

"I sometimes wonder how a builder manages to construct a level of such complexity - twenty minutes in and I'd completely lost the plot. If you don't object to feeling confused and/or spending a lot of time haunting the stuck threads then you can have a lot of fun with this one. Exploration of the beautiful city is a pleasure, albeit time consuming, but I really wish I could school myself into making notes because I lost my route on numerous occasions. There's a lot of ingenious gameplay including a most interesting puzzle and taking a torch across the rooftops, although admittedly quite a lot of the trickier manoeuvring is required for finding the six secrets, one of which I missed (I could see it but never found a way to access it, which is always frustrating). Overall, I enjoyed it a lot, but it did on occasion prompt the sort of language possibly not entirely appropriate to the 'season of goodwill'." - Jay (26-Dec-2010)
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