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Level: Tomb Raider - The Crystal Skulls - Part 1 back home search
Author(s): Matie Tombraider95
total rating:9.56 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Adriel 10 10 10 9
afzalmiah 8 10 10 10
Blue43 9 9 10 10
Christian 9 9 10 10
Diz 9 10 10 9
DJ Full 10 10 10 10
dmdibl 9 10 10 10
Dutchy 10 9 10 9
eRIC 9 9 10 10
eTux 8 9 9 9
Gerty 9 9 8 9
izzynoodles 10 8 8 9
Jack& 8 10 10 10
Jay 9 9 10 10
JoeTheCrazyGamer 8 8 10 9
Jorge22 10 10 10 10
Jose 9 9 10 9
Juno Jim 10 10 10 10
Klona 10 9 10 10
manarch2 9 9 10 10
Mman 9 10 10 10
MrJavi94 10 10 10 10
Mytly 9 9 10 10
Nina Croft 9 9 10 10
OverRaider 9 10 10 10
Phil 10 9 10 9
Ryan 10 10 10 10
Scottie 9 10 9 10
Shandroid 10 10 10 10
Steven Svorticher 10 9 10 10
TheStig 10 10 10 10
category averages
(31 reviews)
9.29 9.42 9.81 9.71

Reviewer's comments

"A visually stunning level set, environments look amazing and the colour schemes are really complimentary. Definitely has a few tricky traps and jumps to make at the start, but once past those it feels like a calming treasure hunt and the music certainly compliments this atmosphere. Secrets are tricky to find. Very enjoyable, a definite must play including it's sequel. Took around 3 hours to play" - izzynoodles (31-Oct-2017)

"I don't know what I liked best in this first part, the challenging agility tests, the unique secrets or the wonderfully rendered locations. Either way, it formed a great game. Excellent stuff, guys. Onwards to the sequel!" - Ryan (13-Jan-2016)

"Excellent Level and it the Atmosphere was perfect the Timed Runs are the best I've ever seen." - JoeTheCrazyGamer (07-Sep-2015)

"Not having enough of Matie after playing her really too short BtB attempt, I moved straightforwardly to Arrival, not caring it was half past 11PM. I finally learnt what prompted SteeleRaider to choose it for the 13th CLSC. This is an absolute marvel that lasted until 4AM and also filled me with power to write what follows. I never expected to feel like in Titia's canyon in a level of any other builder, but it happened here several times, as the rocky landscape is constructed with similar devotion, only with less amount of meta2tr used. The canyon leads to a monastery entrance expanding into a whole next level, and throughout its superstructure (I like that word, heh) we can see slight NG touches bring new life into many familiar Tibetan objects, making experience classic puzzles in a completely new way. TR95 appeared a worthy project cooperator, his The Ancient Monastery not standing behind Matie's at all - friendly monks dwell in, devious traps await to be solved and the final reward awaits in the very core, guarded by five (!!!) security layers. Of course in both levels, despite of the authors' efforts, I found a way to reach the world's end :D, but again this is what I consider an extra challenge rather than an error which could disturb me. And even if it did, the amount of surrounding awe is so great that I simply wouldn't be able drain a single point from anything, no matter how much I want to (and I do not want at all). Of this, I will only highlight what I liked the most - Chinese soundtrack in respectively action and ambient variants, the bench on the rock and themed vase secrets of graduated difficulty - leaving the rest of discovery to You. SUMMARY: Recommanded to play. No, that wasn't a typo." - DJ Full (09-Oct-2013)

"A high quality Oriental adventure. The first level is more diversified in the types of places to visit , and show some of the new possibilities put to good use. Gameplay is good most of the time , with a few precise and enjoyable jumps and stunts in mountains and caves , the use of a boat , timed tasks not too hard , then many puzzles in a little temple which was my favourite place in this level , and a rather large open area where plenty of tasks , a few of them not being so obvious, I wondered sometimes"now what next ?" Anyway , a lot of ideas have been put into this level which is less classic than the second one which does not show the same new features , and is somewhat less innovative , but I enjoyed myself as much , the flow of progression being quite steady. The route around the roofs to get the shotgun was fun. I noticed that unwillingly a little bit of the most challenging area , the one with perpetual rolling balls can be avoided , as one can simply pass through some railing, but even so not a lot is missed. I noticed also a few animals stuck in walls or objects, but these are minor details. The final battle with 2 hydras is reasonably challenging. Quite a good level , not difficult and very lovely. The authors have really made a good adventure , using all the right ingredients in all categories. Very recommanded." - eRIC (10-Feb-2013)

"Very enjoyable custom game. 2 hrs 46 min in two level set with interesting puzzles and gameplay, perfect atmosphere...I hope there will be part 2. Oh and secrets were nice. (found 5/6). Very recommended!! 9/10/10/10" - OverRaider (06-Feb-2013)

"This is quite an adventure where you can find jump levers and wall levers at the weirdest places LOL. It is best played with indeed your eyes wide open because finding your way through some parts is a puzzle on its own. The scenery is very well done; the lighting was overall pretty good. Apart from the artefacts there aren't that many pick ups but more than enough for me. I haven't found all the secrets (missing two) but they are nicely hidden and a quest on its own. Overall the traps are very well done, not too easy but also not frustrating hard. Only complain I would have that I missed quite a lot of camera hints (at least I didn't see them apart from a couple and there are many, many levers and buttons, so running back and fro is a must. Got so far that I was thinking: "Oh no, not again", when I had to climb a long way up again. The swing-pole move I didn't like as Lara went into slow motion. It is nice to see that these builders got together and the finishing product is a nice one." - Gerty (17-Sep-2012)

"I finished this amazing level set in 2 hours and 30 minutes. What I liked about it is the variety of puzzles, the atmosphere and colors are absolutely amazing! What I didn't like is just the vultures are too overpowered, which got annoying. Looking forward to the sequel!" - Klona Croft (04-Jun-2012)

"Now, this is a true TR adventure. It has it all, gameplay will keep you locked to your chair. Much variety, every room has another challenge and things didn't get repeated too much. I did miss the crawlspace roll here and there, but only in a few places. The atmosphere is great, lighting fits the place very well. Music and camera's well applied. Secrets were a nice addition to the gameplay. The route to some pickups like the shotgun were a bit overdone I think. The swing animation was a bit weird, like Lara was swinging in slow motion.. Not too hard so I think anyone can play this level and enjoy it." - Dutchy (11-May-2012)

"An excellent collaboration here from these two builders both of who together have produced a visually stunning and engaging start to what I hope will be a successful series. The first level (working your way to the monastery gates) I loved especially. The lighting work here is fantastic as is the attention to detail everywhere in terms of the texturing and little things like the birds in the sky or fishes in the water. Outdoors has a wonderful warm evening glow and I'd say it's probably some of the best lighting work I've seen. Combined with the lovely organic rock-faces and your into a winner. But Crystal Skulls Part 1 isn't all just about eye-candy. Puzzle solving comes high on the list too, with the 'bell' puzzle of the first level probably being my favorite. The 2nd level takes the difficulty up a notch having you dodge rolling boulders, flame emitters and exploring a dark misty monastery in search of keys. The fast moving locals are friendly too, it's just those tigers and hawks you'll need to watch out for!!! Sound is superb with some nicely looped audio tracks in key rooms (like the blade room) giving a feel akin to a modern game. When you play this it's really hard to believe that fundamentally you're playing something with a game engine originating in the late 90s. All in all I netted 3 hours 30 minutes from the Crystal Skulls part 1. Matie & Tombraider95 have created a wonderful immersive adventure and I look forward with great anticipation to part 2. This one NEEDS to be on your play-list. Absolutely totally 100% recommended! Stiggy :)" - TheStig (11-May-2012)

"This has been an awesome team project built by two builders whose talent is highly notable when you're playing through this game. Addtionally, we already saw Matie's potential in her contribution to the BtB2010.
Arrival - (10/10/10/10): An awesome level with a very good gameplay and with a phenomenal environment. The textures are so beatiful that makes me to play it until I finished it, and without stopping indeed. The little monastery area is a very good idea to enhance the entertainment of the adventure, since there're several tasks to do while being there. The adjacent part to the little monastery is another marvellous and brilliant idea by this ingenuous builder. The enemies are basically eagles and tigers, but they're OK too. I particularly love the tasks Lara must do before entering the Monastery. My favourite part of the Lake area is when you have to collect and place the blue gem in its underwater receptacle, which has been something innovative for me.
The Ancient Monastery - (10/10/10/10) - Another splendid level by a builder who hasn't published so many levels, and which also makes him to be one of the most talented builders. The gameplay has been some more entertaining than happened in Arrival for me. The enemies are still being tigers and eagles, although the traps are more often in this one and the difficulty is a bit higher than the previous one. The environment is pretty splendid and the textures are still being as beatiful as in Arrival.
Epilogue - (8/10/10/10): This is rather an entrance to the second part. The gameplay has decreased in my opinion due to, of course, the length of the level, but the other categories are still preety good. The cutscene is a very good creation. I can't imagine how much talented you are Matie. Looking forward to the second part. VERY RECOMMENDED!!" - MrJavi94 (03-May-2012)

"Outside level: No great problems found Perfect gameplay and gourgeous scenarios Illumination is fine but it could be better, some outside areas have non realistic shadows that made the orange lights become to strong. Loved the way the creator made the scenario exploration essential to continue the adventure. The difficult is on the right point. If the game was more difficult certainly the players would stop playing before finishing the game. Monastery level: Loved the textures and illumination of this level. Challenges are very nice too. The fog effect fits perfectly in the cave scenario. I think the soft illumination is better than the other level. After ending the game I can only say that I am really excited to play the next levels of this adventure. In spite of some errors and room geometry that didn't please me. I really like it a lot." - Adriel (30-Dec-2011)

"I must admit rather ashamedly that I played the two main levels of this game months apart. I played the first level when the game was released, but I kept getting stuck, so I thought I would wait for the walkthrough before starting the second level, but then I got caught up in other games, and came back to finish the second one just a while ago.
Arrival: I already admired Matie's ability to create beautiful lighting and atmosphere, so this level just solidified that opinion. This level is set in superbly made natural areas and inside what are presumably the monastery's outbuildings. The hall with the bell and the lake area are especially lovely. Gameplay mostly involves exploration and traps, though there's quite a variety of tasks overall, especially in the bell room. My favourite part is the boat ride, and I wish it had been longer. Atmosphere is consistently great, though the looping music in the lake area gets a little annoying after a while.
The Ancient Monastery: This level, set in a monastery inside a cavern, is almost as pretty as Arrival, though it's missing the spectacular outdoor areas of the latter. The looks remind me strongly of 'Denboche Monastery' from Titak's 'Himalayan Mysteries' - not surprising, since it uses textures and objects from that level. The gameplay gets off to a somewhat slow start, with an extensive switch hunt and a lot of shimmying. Fortunately it picks up considerably a little later, with a lot of enjoyable traps and platforming challenges, plus a few nice puzzles. My favourite task is the Midas Palace-inspired flaming pillars run.
Epilogue: This is just an expanded cutscene, but there's some good voice acting, and the promise of a sequel.
Overall: If I have any criticism of this excellent levelset, it's only a few minor inconsistencies between the two levels, like the slightly different outfits in the two, though the second level starts at the exact same spot the previous one ends. This is not so surprising, I guess, since the two levels are built by two separate builders, but still, these are the kind of little things that group project builders should be aware of.
On the whole, though, these two talented builders make a great team. I'm looking forward to Part 2 (which is already well into production) eagerly!" - Mytly (24-Dec-2011)

"For someone who's still getting the hang of what you can do as a builder with the new engine, this double-feature turned out to be an excellent showcase of some of the new nuanced gameplay and effects we can expect from it. If it's carnivorous fish, counters showing exactly how much time you have left to do a timed run, fully functional rubber boats, enemies from other games, rollingballs you can interact with or puzzle items that can be placed while underwater - this offers a nice, fresh angle on conventional gameplay, portraying the new features from their best sides. It's certainly useful to know what your possibilities are when starting this game, but fortunately it is not all gimmicks and has enough traditional raiding going on as well to keep you hooked for playing over the 2 hours of net gaming. The first half of the adventure is for most part set in a natural setting of canyons and lakes, thus is more about exploration - while the second half focuses on traversing the various obstacle courses made for you in the vast symmetrically built monastery. The settings are beautiful to look at - the natural settings of the first level have their own distinguishable charm and the fog and lighting make for a moody interior area in the second level. While I was not that engrossed by the storyline and it didn't feel like the choice of location was factored much into it other than for the TR3's 'let's throw as many exotic locations as possible together in an adventure!' spirit, the authors have handled their source of inspiration respectfully and apart from one Aztec object (which I kinda could accept being put here) and the vases being scattered around so randomly, nothing stood out or seemed out of place with the chosen theme. The level is overall nicely paced and nothing ever feels overwhelmingly difficult if you have some patience with it. If I have some gripes, then I was not entirely convinced by the camera use in level 1, which could've at times been more helpful in guiding the player (a camera clue was given, for example, for the entry in the small sanctuary area, but at first I had no clue where that opening in the rocks was, and so on), and sometimes it certainly wasn't very obvious what some actions accomplished (like the very first 2 switch task in the canyon with the lowering floor (I initially guessed the switches just operated that floor), or placing the gem underwater) and the author seemed to assume you'll eventually stumble upon the solution. From a technical aspect - I do have to point out how wonderfully in sync elements of this double level feel, despite that it's built by two authors - but they could've went the extra mile and copied some of each other's gimmicks to be the same for both levels (for example the counter for timed runs could've been utilized in level 2 as well) if for nothing else, then for coherence's sake. But that's about all I can nit-pick here for what is an otherwise wonderfully crafted game. Recommended!" - eTux (21-Oct-2011)

"I loved this level a lot but there was something about it that didn't feel like the tomb raider I know. It was good because it felt like I was playing something new but it felt worse because it wasn't exactly tomb raiding. This mini game was very very good though with very impressive lighting and texturing. The gameplay was fun but a part in the first level which kind of annoyed me was at the lake where you had to swim past a lot of rotating blades. After a lot of tries I did get past that bit and the next level was very nice. It felt more tomb raider-like. I enjoyed this level a lot and hope these two talented builders make more brilliant levels even better than this one." - afzalmiah (23-Aug-2011)

"I really couldn't find anything wrong with this wonderful level! Gameplay was challenging, yet not impossible, the Oriental setting was just lovely, and music was perfect, among other things done just right. Inside the buildings, the lighting was a bit dark, but that's to be expected. I never ran out of flares, although in part 2, if Matie and TR95 would want to add more flares it wouldn't break my heart. I was completely absorbed from the start of Arrival, then when I got to Ancient Monastery I was thinking that it got a bit back and forth and somewhat easy. THEN I went after that shotgun and went inside the monastery. Things got more challenging, so it absolutely evened out and I was just as absorbed in the part TR95 made as well. Let me say that if part 2 is anywhere in the realm as good as part 1, I will be pleased as punch. Very well done, you two!!" - Shandroid (03-Aug-2011)

"Well, this Oriental adventure came as quite a surprise because it's so well done, technically, visually (the final cut scene included) and in the used music and sounds. Everything adds up to perfection in a mostly classic sense. I seem to remember more of the second part, all set in Chinese temples, but I do remember, for example, that the canoe at the beginning of the first is flawless, which isn't the case in every level. Globally speaking, it's hard enough without ever becoming too tough and that makes it suited for every raider. The final combat against the pair of serpents, as at the end of Chronicles' Rome levels, is a very nice touch and it's just great (purposedly or not) that one can easily shoot them unharmed from the small entrance pool because all I had were my faithful pistols, since I got tired before I ever managed to get the shotgun. I can hardly wait for the second part in Vanuatu!" - Jorge22 (24-Jul-2011)

"An excellent series of 3 levels (2 in practice) set in China where Lara, going through the valley of the Tigris is in search of the crystal skulls, as the title may suggest. Let's analize the 2 levels. 1) Arrival. Most of this level is set in open areas, more precisely in 3 external ones and 1 internal: in the first external area Lara has to climb some mountain with different slopes and traps; things aren't among the simplest, since the irregular ground, so it will be important to take good distances and be careful where to jump-landing. After having pulled some levers, avoided boulders, shot at some enemy and interacted with a cube, Lara finds a motor boat with which to proceed but even here things are not linear because you've to first find some lever to open the gates, accelerare by using the boat jumping over some spikes below; then Lara going out from the boat will jump on a tile with the flames and on the other ones by timing them, front a little time trial and try to pull a lever at the right moment because even here we find the flames (getting burnt is inevitable, because of the limited space and time to pull the lever disposed obliquely). After this part fairly consistent in terms of gameplay, Lara finds herself in another area where we will perform particular jumps like the first area, climb on top and pull a lever to be inside a temple. Inside the temple, the gameplay becomes more quiet, but at least there will be more than solid puzzles: the objective is to recover 2 items and find various levers (some of them are hard to reach or at least well hidden) in order to raise the structure where the objects will be inserted and remove the barriers; there are interesting parts such as avoiding boulders, pieces of ceiling, traps, several blades and a small double puzzle where you have to move the jars and then choose the only correct of 4 levers (anyway there's the clue to make the choice). Once out of the temple, Lara arrives at the extensive as well as spectacular part of the level, the valley of the Tigris: perfect atmosphere, various puzzles, levers and objects to be recovered as well as a rather entertaining part. This last just said part is under water and Lara has to cross a series of blades: nothing impossible, but it is quite difficult to keep the full health. The puzzles consist of various objects difficult to reach or levers that open gates away, rather than using a torch in points ever difficult to reach, move another block and so on. Once retrieved the key, we could end this great big level. So nothing else to say: a very solid first level and not at all easy, both in terms of puzzles and in terms of gameplay (some jumps are a bit tricky considering the deformed ground). There are 3 well- kept secrets and some of them require a certain procedure before being achieved. As enemies we find bats, tigers, eagles and some armed man; as weapons we have only the 2 pistols (I have not found the Uzi, so I do not know whether this level or the next one). Great atmosphere, some great oriental music, other soundtracks instead are more "empty" and something else from TR2 and TR last revelation. Excellent use of light-flybys and excellent textures. 9 9 9 10 2) The Ancient Monastery. Another very significant level, perhaps even more than the first one, and in general I would say that it is easier and smoother than the first level, but this does not mean it is bad (I even found this more interesting): even here we find so many puzzles as well as dynamic parts, as well as an excellent atmosphere (at least this level personally caught me a lot). Even here we have several generic areas, starting from the first one that is set in the courtyard inside the structure with the presence of various lateral rooms, in each of which we have to perform various actions: certainly the most significant one is to find the shotgun, by climbing and crossing the vast roofs (it will not be easy because Lara will jump on the tiles avoiding slopes, such as in the Great Pyramid of TR last revelation and try to deal with a small time trial in which we have to use a timed platform in order to reach the other roof). In the lateral rooms, some of them, we'll just pull many levers, avoid other traps, blades, flames and find other objects. Once you have done everything, Lara will enter the heart of the monastery and even here there are several things to do: the goal is to recover 4 gems in order to open another door and getting them means to face other challenges in 4 different rooms (and before entering you even have to find the levers to open them), each of them full of action or consistent puzzles (climbing rooms till the top, finding a waterskin and where filling up, jumping on the tiles with the fire that turn off while starting to run but you must never stop as it is a time trial, jumping on the breakable tiles avoiding rocks and fires in confined areas and so on); surely this is the hardest part requiring more concentration. Once out of the gates, we find ourselves in another courtyard where you've to find and use a torch to open another gate into which we will find the boss (2 dragon heads): of medium-easy difficulty if we have recovered the shotgun, very difficult if we've got only the 2 pistols. Once defeated the boss the level ends and in the next one we'll have just a flyby (Lara talking to zip), we'll collect a key and go out from the Monastery. So even this level demonstrates the fact that the player must stay focused for the whole time, considering actions to be performed. We find 3 other secrets, in my opinion more simple but always well- studied. Enemies: bats, tigers, eagles, dragons (I add a couple of monks as they attacked me even though I had not pulled out weapons). Perfect atmosphere, excellent use of flyby very useful especially at the beginning in which it's shown where the shotgun was placed, excellent music and excellent light-textures. The only little thing even if not influential in the rating: I noticed that most of the rooms, music and objectives to be achieved were all too similar to the third level of Titak's Hymalayan Mysteries: so it should lose in terms of originality, but finally I ignore it for the fact that I was happy to replay a fantastic experience already had with H.M. 10 9 10 10 Anyway the levels of this series are simply perfect and deserve to be played several times. Reccomended Masterpiece!" - Steven Svorticher (12-Jul-2011)

"Another great game !!! There's a walkthru now, but I made it without - did have to look at the stuck thread once, but it was a challenging game, with a lot of good puzzles. The whole game was a big puzzle, but there were no traps to get stuck, that I found, as long as you keep searching everywhere... killed the dragons with 4 shots left... lucked out on a few nearly impossible jumps - all in all, very good !!! Thanks to all the builders !!!" - Juno Jim (05-Jul-2011)

"This is a great pair of levels, built with the latest available tools and placed in an Oriental setting with a great variety of challenging tasks. The first leg took me close to two hours, the second leg a bit more than that, so you get a generous amount of gameplay for your download. I saw here for the first time the ability to place an artifact underwater, wonder how long that's been possible. The credits indicate that this is not truly a collaborative effort, but that the first level was the creation of one builder and the second level of another. I was preparing myself while playing to express an opinion that the first level was the better of the two, as the second level seemed to start off as an exercise in finding a lever to open the next door, etc. I soon changed my mind, however, as the concluding portions of the second level are as good as anything you'll see out there (including a dragonfest at the end that will keep you hopping). Everything here is most pleasing to the eye, and although I was obliged to use more flares than I like, I found this to be a most engrossing and enjoyable gaming experience. Manarch2 has provided his typically thorough and complete walkthrough. One of the best releases we've seen thus far this year. High recommendations." - Phil (29-Jun-2011)

"They say pride comes before a fall. They're right. I was so pleased with getting all three secrets from the first part of this level, more than my wife had got, more than my brother (we're a big Raiding family) that I was fully expecting to get all three from the second part. No, I blew it. Only two. The builders had beaten me. Not only beaten me but provided me with over four hours of crackingly good gameplay. I believe the first and second parts of this level were made by different builders rather than two builders making both levels. Well, I'd be hard put to differentiate between them when it comes to quality and would probably score them the same if they'd been two separate levels. Both parts are very well made, very well lit, excellent gameplay if, in parts, perhaps for the more experienced players. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute and was sorry when I finished. What more can I say?" - Diz (22-Jun-2011)

"well i just finished this one .....and i can tell u i was impressed ..marvelous builded places and monastery inside and outside too ...graphics was stunning - one off the best visuals i ever saw untill now ...off course this game is not for everybody .. but for skilled raiders only .....cause is filled with alot off trapps / burner rooms / time runs one particulary was very hard... across the timed burning blocks... in fact i hate burners at moust .... cause iff u catch fire = gameover & reply ....but alot off slicers too... even underwater ones .....and alot off pixel precision jumps too .......so to resume a game for experts moustly ...... only negative thing from my opinion is that the better guns u get -iff u get ;) - i was not find them - only late in the game . and with standard pistols is hard to keep ur life bar up and not manny medipacks trust me moustly in the first level not manny ...and to get the medipacks u need to search for it in hidden places moustly ..... and moustly u get only small ones ....i was finished the game with standard pistols and at last part was a pain in the ass to kill the 2 snakes wich guarded the entrance off the secret temple ..... took me at least 5 min off shooting them lol ......but apart from that a very very good game ..... 10 in the line from me except gameplay - too much burners and not efective guns + not manny medipacks .. and i think will continue so i cannot make a globaly review untill i play the whole parts off it - untill now a Hall off Fame contender .. i hope in the next parts will be more medipacks and some serious guns ;) high recomanded" - Jack& (19-Jun-2011)

"A game, I said this many times before, has to be a movielike adventure, not a running to and fro between several rooms. There are two levels complementary to each other. The first level, built by matie, shows great ideas concerning gameplay and the greatest panoramical views I have ever seen in a custom level. Some parts are a bit challenging and not made for beginners. A timed run, that has to be coordinated with a burner may even make an expirienced player to take several tries. The atmosphere is extraordinary. A movielike expirience. The 2nd part, created by Tombraider95, starts a bit disappointing and I was afraid, I had to rate the complete level down. But the game is growing from room to room. Two levels combined, absolutly on the same level of quality. Great work!" - Christian (19-Jun-2011)

"Arrival: The first sight is breathtaking beautiful. Around the mountains and below the deep canyon. There one comes into raptures as a player and wishes that the whole level looks so. Then, however, it put to itself fast the question as it should go on, because the flat spots were actually too far away. Then, however, it turned out fast that it was easier, than first thought. The time run after the trip with the rubber dinghy was no problem, merely the piranhas were a little bit too obtrusive. The big valley with both water holes and the buildings looks excellent. Though now and again a camera tip is absent, but this is not so bad, because the ways are short here. It is especially interesting that Lara can use here also a Crystal when she is under water.
The Ancient Monastery: This level looks almost so good like the first part. This should not be called that he is of mediocre quality, but every level has bad cards in comparison to Arrival. I must confess that my expectations were not very high, because, finally, Tombraider95 had built this level and the present level of this level builder have not necessarily knocked my socks off. Even more nicely is of course the surprise that this level is so good. A small problem, at least for me, were the swing poles. I needed every time countless attempts, because for some reasons Lara did not want to hold on onto the swing poles.
Most time moves Crystal Skulls at a very high level. One searches stretched textures here in vain and the lighting is excellent without exception. It was a good decision from both level builders to lay here the Focus on the riddles and not to let fight Lara constantly against hordes of opponent's. The few animal opponents were easy to defeat. However, I had the feeling which the tigers were a little more resistant in the first level than the tigers in the second level. In the second level some levers had no sound and in the first level though the background sound was very nice, but because he recurred constantly, I had deactivated him after some time. With the time runs the inclined player had as a rule enough time. A good detail was the visible timer.
Summary: Hopefully we can soon play part 2, because part 1 was completely successful in every department." - Scottie (19-Jun-2011)

"I was one of the lucky ones to Beta test this level and therefore have explored every nook and cranny of this game so to say. I found this to be an exceptionally beautifully designed adventure with interesting, never boring game play and some very nice challenging sequences. Crystal Skulls has all the good stuff an experienced raider will enjoy and this ranges from some precise jumping sequences, treacherous underwater areas, boulder traps and torch runs to puzzle based block pushing and well-hidden secrets. The builders included good flybys, camera hints and also exceptionally well done cut scenes. There were a few enemies in between like tigers and very annoying birds and some human opponents. The monks were friendly throughout, but did act erratically and got stuck in walls at one point or another. Both parts had their unique atmosphere and flavor and I did like either one as they had great choice of sounds and effects. The texturing was carefully applied accomplished with perfect lighting, which complemented the stunning architecture even better. I can only highly recommended this level set to all intermediate and experienced raiders. You will enjoy every minute here. Great job by both builders! (2 hours 15 min, 6/6 secrets found)" - Blue43 (17-Jun-2011)

"These levels are high quality in every respect and I would be hard pushed to decide which part I liked best - probably whichever I was playing at the time. Arrival: First looks are most impressive and I particularly liked the quality of the light in the canyon. Lara has to make her way towards the monastery and finding the route is not always obvious so consequently great fun. There are lots of entertaining tasks to accomplish, in particular very good use of the torch, and there's a brilliant new animation that may just keep you guessing what to do next. It definitely had me fooled for a while. Ancient Monastery: What mainly typifies this section is the excellent and very well devised sliding, bouncing, climbing and general agility tests, plus some highly enjoyable timed elements. Certainly a reasonable level of dexterity will be required, so not one for newbie raiders. The monks are friendly as usual, apart from the last one Lara encountered who decided, for some reason best known to himself, to have a go at her with his spear. He got shot. Epilogue: Just a short, wonderfully well done cut scene (with a most authentic sounding Lara) to whet the appetite for the continuation of this adventure. Yes please." - Jay (16-Jun-2011)

"Two authors doing two exemplary levels that work well together, the beginning of a larger series. Players should exercise patience to appreciate the design work and innovation that has gone into producing what will surely be a future masterpiece with the release of the full adventure. Both of these levels get better as they progress, each opening up to more elaborate areas. Arrival by Matie has an attractive natural setting, and shows new uses for objects. Lara can place a blue gem while swimming in water. This may seem a small innovation, a new animation, but it is an example of the sort of thing that can throw players, who may assume at first that a pool needs to be drained before the gem can be placed. Lara briefly navigates a zodiac-type boat, and the sprint key gives a burst of power when needed--a helpful aid that players may not even realize is there. The expansive scenery outside the monastery entrance is beautiful, and provides opportunity for elaborate rock climbing, which I always enjoy. Lara takes her time, to haphazardly explore everything; if players approach this in an unhurried fashion they may find the game play fresh. It's comforting to have Lara mention taking a lit torch outside, where the view from the top of the monastery is striking (spot part of a devilish gold secret for the Uzis.) The weak point in both of these levels was the decision to use stupid animals for enemies, as tigers chase their tails, and vultures fly into walls, so Lara spends a long time shooting and shooting until they drop.
Lara was fortunate to start Ancient Monastery by Tombraider95 with a rooftop quest for a shotgun. This feels like a secret, but isn't, and the whole clever sequence is something players can miss out on (from the forum, this rooftop hunt will become mandatory in the complete adventure). If players miss the shotgun, then the start of this level may feel less exciting opening a series of doors. It gets much better. Lara was stuck at one point, unable to shimmy fast enough past moving rotating blades, but use the dash key and Lara shimmies faster. This is logical and helpful (do pay attention to the readme file). There are enjoyable rooms where Lara has to climb to the top among pole jumps, scything blades, fire emitters, and rolling ball ramps, then a good bit with crowbar and a falling trapdoor giving access to a crawlspace. I do have to say that even if Lara has better weapons, the hydra head boss confrontation comes down to a lot of side flipping with pistols blazing. One appreciates the ending cutscene that rounds out the adventure, and tells us where Lara is headed next. The beginning of an intriguing series with exciting innovations, not to be missed." - dmdibl (16-Jun-2011)

"This is a two level (plus ending) set with Lara first exploring the outer sections of a Monastery and then the main interior. Both levels have great visuals; with the first having a mix of large natural areas and small monastery sections, and the second being in a monastery built into a large cave. In particular, the lighting is some of the best I've seen, but every other aspect excels as well. All the objects and enemies also fit, although there seemed to be issues with auto aiming on the Monks.
Gameplay is mostly quite challenging; the first level in particular has a lot of precise jumps and complex areas full of things to find; I actually found the second level quite sedate in comparison, there, the gameplay is more action/trap-based but tends to need less precision than the jumps and exploration the first level. There's also a surprise new item usage that caught me out, but is a very logical addition. The ending kicks off the plot for the next part, and hopefully it won't be too much longer to wait for it. A must-play release, and hopefully the start for a full series to come." - Mman (16-Jun-2011)

"Gameplay & Puzzles: I decided to lower my review mark a bit, because there are some really tricky areas in both levels where you will be stuck for some time figuring out where to go next or how to jump into an opening. Gameplay is fluent and non-linear, but Lara has to do A LOT of things in order to proceed. Sometimes, particularly at the entrance to the main monastery or throughout the second level, there are just too many switches and doors, including backtracking, as well as quite a few pixel and milisecond precise jumps and very tight timed runs, so the gameplay can sometimes give a player a real headache. Enemies, Objects & Secrets: Secrets are cleverly hidden, and they deserve the top score, objects too, but because the enemies are the same in the first and the second level, the mark is not perfect. Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras are all beyond perfection, as well as Lighting & Textures, which are absolutely fascinating. Overall impression: This mini game is so great that the player will instantly get addicted to it. I guarantee that you will have more than one "wow" moment while playing, particularly because of the stunning architecture and the gorgeous vista. I liked many details here, such as Lara while sitting in the boat, or the pushable vases, or highly elaborated puzzles, camera hints and cleverly hidden secrets. The story has sense, and smoothly goes from a mountain, to the lake side, to have its climax inside the monastery, where at the end, awaits you a boss fight of a sort. I also liked how the builders avoided abrupt ending of the game by making a short Epilogue level, where we learn that this is not the end of Lara's adventure. I am sure all those who played this levelset will eagerly wait for the sequel... Recommendable to all players, even to those who would say: "Oh, no, not another monastery level!" I thought so too, at first, but soon I changed my mind. This is not just another monastery level, but a serious Hall of Fame candidate. You don't believe me? Play and see for yourself." - Nina Croft (15-Jun-2011)

"In BtB 2010 we all noticed the great potential of Matie. Tobraider95 also holds a great promise, only we could enjoy short levels from him though. I had the privilege of testing the beginning of this great adventure and the truth is that I liked it a lot. The gameplay is very good, not too easy but not too difficult, with a variety of tasks and not much backtraking, half-linear. Enemies and objects are placed perfectly, and secrets are not impossible to find. The scenarios are very beautiful and I found appropriate music and cameras in every moment of the game. The textures are well implemented and reviewed every detail. Not even missing the final animation to give it more interest to the story and professionalism to the adventure. Definitively, a levels to enjoy a good hours of entertainment without getting frustrated. Looking forward for the next chapters of this marvellous adventure. Excellent job!" - Jose (14-Jun-2011)

"I was very lucky to be a beta tester of this fantastic levelpack, and so comes my early review:
Arrival by Matie (9-9-10-10) was a fantastic start for this series. Lara drops into the mountains and has to find a way to the monastery. Her way is not always easy - she has to do quite tricky jumping parts in the beginning, make very unclassic things with a boat, doing tight timed runs - and that all in a very beautiful environment with great architecture and nice sound choose. The lighting was really convincing and the setting felt damn real. Three secrets in this level to find, Bronze, Silver and Gold, and they were accordingly hard to find. There were only few classic enemies (tigers, vultures and some others) but they were placed really good, they fitted to the scenery - I have to mention the guide that runs away from Lara and then one hears a scream... The objects inside the first little monastery (the bell, the bell and multi-lever lowering fences) were fantastic. After half an hour or so the player gets to the second half of this level, an even more wonderful lake area with a natural stone bridge, one of the many "WOW"- factors in this brilliant level. Many things to do in a limited area, reminds me on Matie's ORC entry that also was very good. Lara gets into a little buggy blade water room and finds her way through, climb that bridge and the top of the entrance of the Ancient Monastery, explores the setting and looses himself in it; there is even a new move to place things underwater... The only thing I maybe did not like that much was the gameplay in the "little" monastery - there were few too many levers to find and one easily forgets one, but the bell thing and the lake area afterwards mentioned above really made me forget these things soon.
Ancient Monastery by Tombraider95 (8-9-10-9) Also in a wonderful setting with great sinister horizon and a large monastery to explore, this does not feel as impressive as the first level; exspecially the first part where you had to wander around and around to find the next lever (...) was a bit annoying, even if there clearly were some high moments like the big room with the block puzzle and rope in the middle or the two trap rooms (fire/slope). The second part was better, still it starts with a search for quite a few levers. You have to search four gems to get on, find four areas where your agilities will be tested well, as in a very tight time run over fire pillars, a tower to climb up and some puzzles to solve too. You do never get completely stuck in this level because it has a clear task, this thing I liked in this level (a little bit) better than in the first one. Enemies were the same as in level one, objects were a bit less innovative but you get to see those cute monks running through the monastery so I can't help giving a 9 here too. Texturing was good too here, I can't complain but somehow it did not fully convince me as in the first level. Still a work of a highly professional builder.
The short Epilogue ends this wonderful adventure and is well used as an appetizer of Part 2 (the location). Well done and for sure a Hall of Fame contender!" - manarch2 (13-Jun-2011)
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