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Level: River Raider back home search
Author(s): rufierto
total rating:8.53 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Blue43 8 8 9 8
Diz 9 8 10 8
DJ Full 9 8 10 9
dmdibl 8 9 10 9
janachorider 8 8 9 9
Jay 8 8 9 9
Jose 7 7 8 8
manarch2 8 9 9 7
MichaelP 8 9 10 8
Mman 8 9 9 8
Phil 9 8 9 9
Ravenwen 9 8 9 8
Raymee 9 8 9 9
Ryan 9 8 9 9
Scottie 9 8 9 7
Shandroid 8 8 8 8
TheStig 9 9 9 9
category averages
(17 reviews)
8.41 8.24 9.12 8.35

Reviewer's comments

"The remarkable aspect of this debut effort is definitely the convincing sense of place it conveys. The jungle atmosphere is incredibly well executed and really manages to immerse yourself in the setting. The flybys and music choices are also well selected. The gameplay that is connected to these settings also progresses well and there are a few highlights that I think are worth mentioning - the spike wall traps, the water extinguishing fire from a vital item and the timed boat ride as the finale. Enemies are harpies, crocodiles and guards, but they are generally easy to take care of and secrets are hidden well. Recommended for jungle fans." - Ryan (16-Jan-2018)

"Again Another jungle level that is outstanding.rufierto,you are the best." - janachorider (06-Mar-2014)

"I really enjoyed River Raider. Rufierto succeeds in in creating a well balanced and interesting adventure which feels fresh and different. Lighting is excellent. Texturing is to a high standard too, although there is the odd stretched texture here and there (but nothing to significantly draw your eye). There's actually a very TR1 feel to the whole experience, with the large spanning chambers and spaces. Exploring raiders with find themselves rewarded with additional pick-ups by venturing to the edge of the maps. None of the puzzle elements are difficult, and the level is suitable for most players with a reasonable difficulty level. The author has also programmed some excellent fly-by sequences, and the text hints throughout the levels are also a nice touch as is the boat race for the door at the end. All in all I netted just over two hours from River Raider. An excellent release from Rufierto and highly recommended. Stiggy :)" - TheStig (02-Feb-2013)

"This interconnected set of three levels has a really nice sense of place. You will spend about 20-30 minutes in each of the three parts going back and forth and the gameplay is mostly around exploring the areas well, with a few mild traps added and suitable enemies for the setting to get in your way. I liked the occasional addition of some timed action (never too tight), the placement of secrets and especially the really good use of flybys. There are some neat effects built in with objects moving around and a clever and new use of the moving spike walls in the Yaga Temple. At the end it all culminates into a timed boat run to make your escape, which took a few attempts to practice without getting to the point of being frustrating. So, all in all a well rounded adventure that I can heartily recommend, especially if you enjoy jungle/river/temple like settings." - MichaelP (17-May-2012)

"I am not a huge fan of jungle themes. Maybe I keep thinking how poor Lara must feel slogging through humid, bug and snake-infested terrain. I put that aside and tried this little gem and I am quite glad I did. The atmosphere was very open outside, not full of foliage at all, and Lara seemed to enjoy the nice, clean river, minus the one evil fish and two crocs, one of which preferred a tunnel as opposed to a huge river. It could have been much worse, really. Rufierto was not sadistic when he built this river. The inside segments had some very fun moving wall spike traps, however, save-happy players like myself need to NOT save after getting past the spike wall that is enclosed between two doors, and Lara needs to jump to a slope. If you do, the spike wall will be stopped in your way and Lara will be fatally stuck. There is another spot in a water pool with deadly suction. Lara doesn't know right away when entering here that there is deadly suction, however, so again, one must be very careful when saving. I only have two other quibbles with the level. The first one is that the areas are typically pretty big, but there isn't much to do or find. That is really a letdown. I hate exploring big rooms, only to find that the only things to do are two jumpswitchs. The second one is the mixing of nationalities. There were ancient Egyptian along with Greco/Roman and South American. That is annoying, unless it is part of the storyline. All in all the level really looks nice, and I loved the hint Lara statements that flash. I wish everyone would do that, it really adds to the experience. It took me a bit to get Lara through the end door with the boat, but when I did, I felt really proud and thought the level ended well." - Shandroid (06-Nov-2011)

"This is a remarkable debut effort. The three levels flowed nicely into a seamless adventure that took me nearly two hours to complete. The game map is quite sprawling, which made me glad to have Dutchy's walkthrough close at hand. The strongest point to me was the realism of the indoor and outdoor architecture, which makes the player feel as if he's exploring the area in person. There's a nice use of the motorboat, particularly at the end where you have to navigate the river like a maniac in order to get through the tightly timed exit doorway. The gameplay isn't overly taxing, so players of all skill levels should be able to enjoy it from start to finish. Hopefully we'll see more from this builder. High recommendations." - Phil (22-Oct-2011)

"Immediately at the level beginning I had had been frightened. I had not touched any key and suddenly Lara started running slowly. I thought, I would have made something wrong, but I have fast noticed that it was not so. The Flyby looked good, however, has shown already the first problem. I do not like the look of the waterfalls. rufierto could have used here better other textures or objects. Now and again one sees smaller texture mistakes and at one place I could jump upwards and was at the end of the Map. The first time run was no problem, because one had enough time. Maybe rufierto could have inserted a Flyby which points to the fact that there is at this point a time run. The second level looked usually good and was good to play. Indeed, here one could see even more stretched or wrong applied textures. The Flybys and the faded in text hints were very good. Back in the first level it is a bit annoying that one can not interrupt the short cutscene after using the second Yaga Idol and the jump into the water. Therefore Lara loses a little her health because of the crocodile. On the other side is this not a big problem, because one swims immediately into the next level. The third level properly gives pleasure, because he has some good ideas. Unfortunately, one also sees here various texture mistakes. Moreover, the animation of both Ninjas is not correct. I like the hints that Lara has done in level 2 and 3 everything and has to go again back to the first level. Some switches have no sound.
Result: Many good ideas and interesting Gameplay. Of course one sees several texture mistakes, moreover, there are smaller sound mistakes, at a place one can jump upwards and is on the edge of the Map and both Ninjas have when they shoot a not correct animation. But River Raider is a debut level, there such things can absolutely happen. However, apart from the appealed mistakes it was, nevertheless, a good level. Hopefully this was not the last level from rufierto, because the talent exists definitely." - Scottie (11-Oct-2011)

"Good debut from this promising author. All the action around a big river you'll need to explore to get a golden vraeus and finally a dangerous escape with the boat. Architecture is not very elaborated, but effective, with big rooms with few objects/furniture and no much tasks in each room. Level based about finding switches/buttons and some gymnastics, I missed some real puzzles to solve and not only exploring/find/activate. There are some traps too, special effects like moving objects and animatings for Lara and I liked the use of spike walls. The best for me were the good use of the cameras and musics; lights were well worked too, with enough flares to use and enough ammo and medipacks. Perhaps the final timed drive with the boat was a bit tight. We'll see what this author can offer us in the future; I think better and more refined creations. Good work!" - Jose (29-Sep-2011)

"This three-part level is a finely constructed adventure that is a reminiscent of the classic TR3 thanks to its old school style of raiding as well as to its atmosphere and settings. There are vast areas but you won't get lost, as the environments are player-friendly (albeit a bit too dark at times) as is the gameplay, which is very well organized and smooth. You get plenty of enjoying raiding time before you meet a puzzle that makes you stop for a bit, examine the surroundings and find where to start from to solve it, but none of the puzzles will make you lose your patience; everything is flowing, making this a most entertaining game. There are several types of enemies (humans, crocodiles, harpies, demigods, biting fish) but you can easily get rid of them, some of them even can get ignored. The items quest is pretty neat, there are just a few objects to find and you get to use them in order, so you never get confused with where to go next. There are a few flybys and cameras hinting at your next steps, and the rooms are built in such a way as to help the player think of the possible ways of proceeding. Overall its a level that may be easy for an experienced player, but it's very enjoying and keeps your interest high till the final sequence. That said, that timed run with the boat was so good that I was a bit disappointed to see that it was the game's finale." - Ravenwen (26-Sep-2011)

"River Raider (7-9-9-8) is the hub for this three parter. The start was rather boring to average, as one had to search only a few jump levers in a quite vast area. However, that area was very nicely designed, with many custom objects that also can move, like the moving faces and lion statues, and great sound choice. At some points however texturing was quite debut-like and some parts of this valley looked a bit boxy that destroyed a bit of the nice atmosphere created here. There also was a bit of gameplay provided at the end of the first part, with some climbing and also a timed run with two raising blocks that really was a nice idea.
The Bath House (8-9-8-6) is the first side level of this set. While the first level reminded a bit on "Beyond the Scion" this and the last one rather had the "Hidden Garden" charm. Includes a bit more gameplay than the first level with the three chambers full of nasty traps. Texturing wasn't that nice in my opinion here - many a little streched and distorted textures, e.g. the ladders, and lighting also was too flat in my opinion. I really liked the idea of letting an item appear out of a pedestal, vanishing the flames with water coming out of the face's mouth (even if the water is fairly a little late).
Yaga Temple (9-9-9-8) was my favourite level from this set, as it provided fast paced but pure fun gameplay. Great ideas in this level like the spike walls that can move in two directions, clever use of triggers for enemies, I especially liked the room with the spike wall you have to avoid by jumping on a slope beneath the passage and the harpy, but there is a bug that leads to a dead end if you save in this room, so watch out. The flybys were highly professional in this part, above all the ones at the end with Lara moving in the flybys. I loved the exploding lions with harpies in it, but the rather not fitting ninjas near the finale weren't such a fine idea.
It ends with a breathtaking but not too tighly timed run with the boat through the first level (luckily you know the path quite a bit). All in all a more than solid debut by Mike, but he could improve in the way of placing textures and some lighting." - manarch2 (23-Sep-2011)

"Here we have a very nice set of levels, which I was looking forward to play just after finishing and reviewing the BTB series levels. Although this being a debut level it can easily be told that the player has quite a bit of experience in working with the level editor. The game play was fairly fluent and logical for the most part, although the unfair placement of the waterhole in the beginning was something I could have done without. In general this was plenty of fun to play and it sure does have very good timed sequences, jumps and runs, fast moving spike walls, monkey swinging and a bit of diving and boat riding. On the enemy side Lara encountered bats and gunmen, nasty crocs in tight underwater spaces, a demigod and a harpy and also the infamous catfish from TR2. There were also two ninjas with mutated arms, looked like they were carrying TR4 Lara body parts around - funny. The level has an excellent atmosphere and good sound effects, nice camerawork and cut-scenes/flybys. The architecture was very nice as this river valley has a pleasant overall look to it with plenty of water, caves, torches and a fair amount of decoration in form of trees and plants throughout. The texturing itself was nicely done and had a very crusty look to it and I mean that as a good thing. It had this TR3 look and gave the level a nostalgic feel. There were some mismatched and strangely placed textures here and there, but this did not take away from the overall excellent and beautiful look of this level. I enjoyed it a lot and hope this see much more coming from this builder. Definitely recommended - don't miss it! (1h 20min, 5 secrets found)" - Blue43 (22-Sep-2011)

"The basic theme of this map is obviously reminiscent of Madubu Gorge, it's a lot calmer though, as there are no deadly rapids here and the boat actually plays a pretty small part. There are three levels, and the other two are set in Temple-like structures. While the visuals are pleasing throughout the lighting sometimes seems a little flat and, in the Bath House level, most of the pools use only one texture underwater, which doesn't work so well once you've noticed it. I think the temples could have used a few more colourful textures to mix things up in some rooms, although this is a personal preference thing (and some areas have plenty of colour).
The gameplay has nothing in particular wrong with it, but it feels like it's lacking a little "spice", for instance, a lot of the floor trigger tiles and similar are in plain sight when a little puzzle would have worked out better. There are a few enjoyable trap sequences and puzzles though, and the end has a nice timed run to finish things up. There are also a few things I haven't seen before such as moving Catacomb-head objects and back-and-forth spike-wall traps. Be warned that the Yaga temple has one area where saving and loading changes the position of one spike-wall in a way that can get you completely stuck if you don't have any other saves. There's also the strange change of making Crocodiles have collision in water, which makes getting past them in tight areas very frustrating. This is a great debut overall and I'm looking forward to the follow-up that this pack leads into." - Mman (13-Sep-2011)

"Excellent set of levels, atmosphere, texture, puzzles and baddies all very well thought through, smooth and seemed bug free, (none that I could find anyway). Great for both beginners and hardened raiders, timed runs not too difficult. I have never built a level myself so I cannot comment about incorrect textures used and bit mapping etc, but I was greatly impressed with the way all the textures seemed to fit so nicely into place. Looking forward to more levels from this builder." - Raymee (11-Sep-2011)

"You certainly will get to do a fair old bit of swimming in the beautiful waters of this level. From the readme, you will notice that this is not the first level built by this author, merely the first one he has released, which explains its polished look. It's a level in three parts, the river, the bath house and the temple, but water is the linking theme. The outside areas are lush and the water filled with brightly coloured fish, which contrasts well with the somewhat austere, monochrome interiors. Gameplay is straightforward and readily achievable, but never boring, incorporating timed elements, rope work and some agility tests/trap avoidance plus some always enjoyable speedboat racing. Enemies are lightly used, mainly crocodiles, with a demigod, several harpies and a couple of weird looking ninjas. Stand out moments for me were the wonderful animations with the foo dogs and the unique and inventive use of spike walls. The good news is that there are more levels to come from this obviously talented builder. Yes please." - Jay (09-Sep-2011)

"Set in a beautifully made river valley (hence the title) that meanders through tunnels, past ancient temples and some stunning scenery. This level has some excellent bits of agility, some spiked walls to avoid, various henchmen, crocs, crows and a demi-god to dispose of and a really good timed boat ride, yes, I did say boat ride, to finish with. My one regret about the boat ride was not finishing off those naughty henchmen taking pot-shots at Lara - it goes against the grain not to make they pay for their insolence! The whole level is made up of well made and good looking areas, each one different but with an overlying theme so that there's never the feeling of a number of 'good ideas' being stitched together. I must confess that a lot of the areas gave me a nagging doubt that I'd left them before I'd really sucked all the juice out of them but, as I missed only a couple of secrets, I must have done most of the gameplay. About an hour and a half of gameplay which I wish had been longer as I was having a load of fun. Play it, you won't regret it." - Diz (09-Sep-2011)

"Overall this looks nice, maybe its strongest attribute, and has good play although sometimes this is just hunting for a floor lever that was right out in the open all along. At times Lara looks in all the wrong places. This starts out reminiscent of the gorge levels from TR3, and during three levels Lara is working her way toward a temple, using a yellow boat with a power boost feature. Play definitely gets better as it goes along. The temple has what might be considered a little extra area for a secret. The mad dash with the boat at the end (using sprint key) is a highlight and a fitting conclusion. But this has idiosyncrasies compared to other custom levels, which is a strong reason to play it and see for yourself. The texturing can look good, as if personally developed by the author. Then a climbing texture, smack in the middle of a huge wall, will be normal in the bottom half of the room, and compressed in the upper half of the room. The same happens with a tall ladder: normal textures all the way up, then the final block has highly compressed textures. If you've got a terrific looking large-scale landscape, then what are these little things that I would consider glitches doing popping up occasionally? A couple of places music seems to be signaling achievement when all Lara has done is enter a new area or room. The levels borrow a huge catacomb face, normally wall decoration, the mouth a potential fountain, which I at first thought strange until it became animated, lowering into a floor to open up a passage. Or in another place it slowly pulls back to reveal a new section of a room. These were both pleasant surprises to Lara's actions. The levels also use Egyptian canopic jars--here labeled idols--that do feel out of place. Most of us have gotten stuck at the beginning of a level, hunting for that one switch or opening that will start the adventure. That happens here, particularly if Lara is distracted with fruitless underwater searching. It is even more frustrating to get stuck later on, such as when Lara says she should return to the river and search for the temple, and I took that to mean that Lara should actually look for a temple on the banks of the river. There is a concealed jump switch underneath the temple that had Lara wandering about for twenty minutes. I would have preferred more action and puzzles instead of such delays. But there are certainly many good things here, and the speedboat ending is fun. Took about two hours and forty minutes; would probably go much faster with a walkthrough." - dmdibl (09-Sep-2011)

"A TECHNICAL INFO FOR THE BUILDER
Don't include Slot_Flags_0x32 in the package. The file is created automatically after the first run of the program, on any computer. You should also uncheck Word Wrap before submitting readmes in notepad.exe. I did the same mistake when submitting the last walkthru and - at first - we didn't know what's going on.
PREAMBLE
I've been waiting for this level for some time, so I downloaded it as soon as it appeared on our site. But there was one particular reason why I decided to play it instantly: the author says that - with lots of breaks - he's been building it for eight years. This is very similar to my levelbuilding, so no wonder I felt a special community with him. For my co-reviewers: don't worry. That won't affect the rating. I still use the same reference points as always.
TITLE FLYBY
I think the audio does not fit it at all. Also, it has some stretched textures. However, I liked the way the original boat room was rebuilt very much.
RIVER RAIDER
I think the first part of the initial flyby is completely unnecessary. Why to focus on the most boxy corner of the whole setting for so long time? And apart from that, the cam is too close to the house it surrounds. Anyway, its last part, showing the river caverns, brought awesome memories from The Ganges level, TR3 - with the same cavern jumping awaiting me. This is why I threw myself into the water, to see if this means death or not (it does not). Even though sometimes the lighting is applied the opposite direction than it should be, proportions between light and shade look natural, so probably many players won't notice. Also, some wrongly rotated textures disturbed me, however exploring the place a bit has quite immersed me, and this is more important than minor graphic flaws. In levels filled with large quantities of water, I always obsessively look for pickups, potentially scattered around the bottom. So before I started to care for main gameplay thread, I wasted 10 minutes, willing to head to place indicated by initial camera after I find them all. Unexpectedly, I pulled up onto that bank earlier than I intended... When I heard 055.wav, I felt confused. All atmosphere has gone instantly. This is a sound all players relate to the end of the level, and/or after they make much effort to solve a difficult puzzle. In such cases, it causes relief. So never, NEVER apply it in the beginning! You should rather assign it to Lara picking up the Yaga Idol 2, which is completely silent. Instead, all I did to hear it was passing a single pool. I played many custom levels, and, really, I don't remember a worse sound application. The next one is better. However, I don't understand the intention - Lara enters the valley... OK. She enters the valley, a quite bright and green one, with a cat running towards her... Why to make the mood so sad? Unless it's an epitaphium for the cat, about to be shot in few seconds. But I assume it's not. For other enemies: I don't like crocodiles in narrow corners. BTW, hahaha, I thought the crocodile cage is a corridor I'm supposed to escape to... As a result, the reptile has almost eaten me. Especially because those provided in this game have a collision allowing them to bite Lara even more efficiently than it usually happens in such cases.
The sink located in the distant part of this location is illogical to me. Lara needs to fight it, and suddenly she gets trapped near the bottom, to inevitable drowning. And there is a slight inconsequence concerning sinks in the whole level: they are caused by small or no waterfall, while they don't exist under huge falls.
I am glad I had an opportunity to go around those metal bars. It's an important element of a raid, seeing something from one side and travelling around to see it from the other point of view.
In the second part, the level resembles Madubu Gorge, that place You could find a bazooka in original TR3, rather than India. Jumpswitches are hidden in weird places - it's hard to imagine how medieval people could conduct mechanisms through solid rocks.
A fish attacking while Lara is defenseless (watching a camera) is a baaaaaad idea.
Entered the area beyond the moveable sculpture (I like NG feature used here), I didn't like the music application again. So many years of getting used to this theme as to submerged one, it's difficult to accept it in the flaming trap area. I like the idea of classic turning off each flame for some time by three corresponding switches. Actually, pressing two of them only is enough for a player to pass the trap successfully. I don't know if it's a levelbuilding mistake or a clever way to provide a shortcut to advanced players... so I'll treat it like the latter option. Spikes Lara need to deactivate in the distant part of the same trap are missing sound, just like the switch. It's very likely the builder didn't know there is a way to fix it via Screamer. Also, the following gap is unable to jump over the way the author intended - the ceiling is too low.However, I'm sure if only rufierto gets aware of these fails, he'll not repeat them in future levels, as they are very easy to fight. It's shame they are surprising to many beginner builders, though.
THE BATH HOUSE
I was surprised by the name of this level. It sounds like it was ancient Roman or Greek, while it's medieval Europe... yeah, Baba Jaga stars in Polish versions of Grimm fairy tales as well - it's a witch who wanted to eat Jaś and Małgosia (Hansel und Gretel). A texture in the middle of the pool below the rope is rather misleading. A beginner raider will think it's a hidden raisingblock and will look for a way to raise it instead of lighting a flare to know it's only a texture, what may result in losing some time. As much as I was disappointed to see the original architecture mouth from Temple of Poseidon, I was shocked by ingenuity of the sliding gate. This is really creative, and from this moment I became more observant and watchful. And I quite liked the first secret. The way rufierto designs puzzles is quite new to me. I searched everything around the crocodile pool area before I focused on the central island, a thing that is most clearly visible. Maybe this is the mystery - I didn't believe a puzzle might be so obvious. Also, I've never seen it before that someone hides a switch in such place, just like it was in the canyons of preceding level. All in all, it's a weird place... The river bank is variously textured and organic, while if we look in the opposite direction, we can see flat grass and boxy walls. The following animation sequence with burning pickup is fantastic. At last, I can see an author using NG stuff, not OVERusing it for effects. The way Yaga's face retracts to reveal a pickup and cover it in flames share IDENTICAL atmosphere with classic TR puzzles. Just like the pickup was screaming: "Haha, I wonder what You do now to get me!" The setup is even more surprising if we compare it with Yaga Idol 2 from preceding level - which is just placed in a short corridor without a particular reason. Next, I followed a certain stretched slope. I could feel a kind of concept in here, but it could be more well fitting. The slope took me into a chamber with three grated ceiling windows, what instantly reminded me of the panther room from Coyote Creek. In the following spiky/switchy puzzle, I could once again be glad everything ends right next to the entrance/exit that led me here, so I don't have to backtrack at all. Finally, I unlocked the Idol. The waterfall in the last animation appears too late - I assume the author's intention was to flood the fire, and it doesn't happen. It's a shame this final touch hasn't been properly finished, as the flyby is designed very well and it could be a small masterpiece, if only properly tested and fixed. But another thing was finished instead - it appeared the way of building rufierto shows in the spiky/switchy puzzle was not a single event! I mean backtracking reduction. Many people think if level is atmospheric, no-one will mind backtracking - and it's true. However, why not to care about both things? When I saw how the main gameplay path leads to definite end in the initial place and throw me back to hub level without making ANY extra steps, I was joyful - as I haven't seen such design for a very long time. I wasn't shocked nor surprised, nor overwhelmed. I simply smiled, and thanks rufierto for that.
RIVER RAIDER (II)
Apparently an intermezzo. Got to use the boat in the same place, and now it appeared some evil minions have smelt Lara. This way, a familiar place is not so familiar anymore. Well - the more we play the game, the more classic and well-working applications we meet. This custom levelset is simply a good one. And it becomes even better - at last, a perfectly used sound appears, right after placing the second Yaga Idol. I hate inevitable crocodile jaws, but these particular teeth are very entertaining.
YAGA TEMPLE
The first flyby is one of few I have nothing against. I like the way the author mixes detailed architecture textures with stretched one on the central obelisk. And other stretched ones, throughout the whole game (although some players might not understand it). This feels like if Yaga worshipers had their unique culture. Also, watching the sequence, I had a pleadure to listen to another piece of well-fitting music. Pulled up on the bank, I saw grilled uzis... Nice thing. BTW, later it appeared I wrote about them in the review, but I anyway forgot to take them with myself ingame, what resulted in ten-minute loss of progress XD Before I entered the temple, I noticed a certain sfx issue in the initial waterfall area. And it relates exactly to the waterfall it's in here. Well, I don't know whose fault it is - the builder's or the programmers' - but somehow, the sound of falling water simply disappears while Lara goes away from it, instead of subtly vanish among other sounds. What is more, the sound turns on closer to the waterfall than it turns off. Can anyone answer my question? Also, there is a glitch when Lara is supposed to slide, bounce off the ledge and curve right to grab the ladder in the middle of the pool. If I press Right together with Jump, Lara does a side jump from the slope. I've seen this happening in custom levels already, to help players get out of illegal slopes - but in this case, it is simply annoying. What causes this?
As soon as I left the problem behind me, I pulled up on the block containing the key, picked up the item and sometimes told me to draw the weapon. Congratulations for rufierto for creating a setting so suitable for a boss fight that I have foreseen it even before the harpy managed to give off its warning squeak. From this moment, all enemies are entertaining. Puzzles don't get more complex, although switches we have to press (missing sounds all the time, however I have already got used to it) are located around the pool surrounded by moving spikes - so even though we don't solve logic riddles and don't barely need to be observant, we are kept busy all the time, what doesn't allow any sign of boredom. And the atmospheric glooms immerses totally while we walk on these funny carpets, which - unlike most of people would think - fit ancient ruins very well, for one mysterious reason... called Baba Yaga. It's her domain, and - all in all - except that she was an evil witch, she was quite a normal old granny, like most of our grandmas we have and know - so why the heck not to put a comfy carpet in her temple, if she definitely had to have one in her hut on a chicken foot??? I have a weird and haunting vision that one day You'll all realize those carpets has become a legendary element of levelbuilding history. But knowing about eight years of development, there's no wonder rufierto came up with something unique. Being aware of all that time he has waited to release the game, I also expected one more thing - I was rather sure I will see evolution of his levelbuilding skills in this levelset - and I was totally right. While initial settings of the hub are (sometimes!) monotonous and filled with flaws, the final "arena" of Yaga Temple we enter right after the last moving spikes (btw, I wondered what is this transverse slope for, and I got the answer right after the spiky wall came out of the opening door to put all my survival instincts on their feet and make Lara live) is simply marvellously crafted. I call it "arena" because it somehow resembles Little Trouble to me, which is one of deatchmatch arenas from Serious Sam shooter. Atmosphere equals and even surpasses what we know from original TR4, plus many custom levels. Ambience is great, and depth of the pit the place has been erected in is very realistic. As we behold it from the bottom to the top, we see its subsequent layers - the lowest one covered in water, the middle in fire and the highest with large amount of air between thin pillars - so it seems the building has been constructed with cooperation of these three Elements, to carve it in the last one - earth. And of course, the carpets are here! Everything fits everything. Again, there is not much to do here - we press two jumpswitches and climb a bit in order to place a certain star in its slot. Anyway, the place is so interesting we keep admiring it all the way through it, so I felt I could live there myself. So it might be I have no other choice than to meet Yaga and ask her to teach me witchcraft and wizardry - maybe she will allow me to enter her temple and explore for real in addition. The last huge gameplay advantage of the level is going back to the corridors surrounding the pool the way You would never expect. And moving to the next floor and following epilogue location almost without backtracking. It's real tombraiding, and it's the third time it happens in this game. People, hats off! Watch this and keep in mind.
In the end of this level, right after a finishing slope arrangement, a pool filled with blood-thirsty fishes and wonderfully creepy sequence of moving statues, accompanied with even more terrifying soundtrack, I have to shout anyway - as all atmosphere has faded away in a single second. This it how it happened: seen those two guys with mutated hands, I felt a bit scared - as at first, I thought some mighty abominations brought to life by Yaga are about to smash me into the ground. In the next second, I realized the cruel truth. WHO HAS ALLOWED THOSE TWO GUYS MISS THEIR MESHWAPS IN SUCH A BRILLIANT ENDING?! If it's the author's fault - shame on You! If any betatester saw it and didn't report - even more shame on him (or her)! This could be a flawless conclusion! And it is not. If I was the builder, I would fix it and reupload the level. And I hope he does it, because such fatal error doesn't match the preceding beauty at all.
RIVER RAIDER (III)
I demand to know how the "fade to black" effect has been made, for two reasons. First: it looks epic. Second: I want it in my own project, but opposite way - fade FROM black to the level. Was it a simple "cam-going-thru-black-fog" trick just like I wanted to apply? I don't think so, and it seems to be a simplier and less tricky solution than I have invented for myself. The following epilogue sequence is - so far - the best action flyby I've ever seen. I hopped into the boat and hasted to the door, according to the instruction I've just copied into my head, to pass through the door right in the moment it was closing, leaving the game after about one and a half of hour passed in stats, with only one thought in my head: "Holy crap, I want more!"
SUMMARY:
Begins like an average level of a beginner builder. Ends like a masterpiece of an experienced and serious creator. This is why it should be played AT LEAST for one reason - to see time does wonders. Try it ESPECIALLY if You are a beginner levelbuilder and don't believe in Yourself. In the end, only one question wasn't answered: where is Baba Yaga? Will Lara meet her in the sequel? I hope so. And I assume it will be well worth to wait for the second part, no matter how long it takes rufierto to finish it. I'm giving a 10 for ASC - as, despite of missing sounds, and even though the first two levels don't deserve it at all, the final one rewards all patience for any player and I think it will be remembered for a long time." - DJ Full (07-Sep-2011)
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