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Level: The Beginning (Demo) - The Cai'Xia Temple back home search
Author(s): GeckoKid
total rating:9.30 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
AdamR 8 8 10 10
Adriel 10 10 10 10
afzalmiah 8 9 10 10
Bigfoot 10 10 10 10
Blue43 9 9 10 10
cho7 9 9 9 9
Christian 8 9 10 10
Chronicles5 9 9 10 10
Cory 7 10 9 10
DatoDavid 8 8 9 10
Diz 9 9 10 9
DJ Full 9 8 10 10
dmdibl 9 8 10 10
Ekrixi 8 7 10 10
eTux 8 9 10 10
Fabio 10 7 8 10
Gorty 8 10 10 8
High Priestess 10 9 9 10
Jack& 9 8 8 9
Janny 9 8 10 10
Jay 9 9 10 10
JesseG 9 9 10 9
Jose 8 8 9 9
manarch2 8 9 10 9
Matie 10 9 10 9
MichaelP 8 10 10 9
Minaru 9 8 10 9
Mman 10 10 10 10
mugs 10 8 9 10
Mytly 9 9 10 10
okuhtfesq 9 8 10 10
Orbit Dream 9 9 10 10
Phil 9 10 9 10
requiemsoul 7 8 9 9
Ruben 8 8 10 9
Ryan 8 9 10 10
Sarikman 8 8 10 10
Scottie 9 10 10 9
Sethian 10 10 10 10
Shandroid 8 10 10 10
Soul 9 10 10 10
Teeth 10 10 10 10
TheStig 9 10 10 10
Treeble 10 10 10 10
TrueRaider 9 10 10 9
Xela 9 9 10 10
category averages
(46 reviews)
8.83 8.96 9.74 9.67

Reviewer's comments

"Usually I’m always blown away after playing a level from the Hall of fame, but his time I left with mixed feelings. First of all, this is a really amazing work from the author and really impressive. It’s a demo, so it can’t be perfect. One thing I immediately liked is the sound changes and new animations or moves. The architecture and design of the game is just astonishing. A real beauty of level building. Complex level building at its fines, but on few occasion it seemed a bit too simple ( really just rarely ). Nothing bad to say about the room design. It’s also very innovative and creative. The light was great, but not great as in some other levels I’ve played. The texturing is actually something I was shocked to see. Really many texturing errors catch the eye while playing ... stretched, wrong rotated and squeezed textures ( especially squeezed ones ) are very frequent … too frequent for a hall of fame level in my opinion. It could be so easily fixed. A big plus are the custom textures used ( at least I think they are custom made ? ). Object use and placement was superb. The gameplay was enjoyable, but somehow too hard. Often it was intersected with some hard timed runs and hard jumps. Often I checked in the walkthrough to see if I’m really supposed to do some runs or jumps. A problem that always occurs in levels that open up too fast is the fact that the player can get easily lost. As someone already mentioned in the review, pulling switches Is also something very frequent. Overall, probably one of the greatest demo games ever released here, but has its flaws that can bother some players. Highly recommended !" - Gorty (20-Nov-2017)

"Fantasic level. I really like Lara's new animations, it makes that level even more original. I think there were not enough enemies and there is only one sort of enemy. I personaly liked to kill Lara with the bamboo spikes because I really liked the animaion. Anyway, that was a great level ! Congrats !" - Fabio (27-Feb-2017)

"Quite possibly the most beautiful demo I have seen. The gameplay is limited, mainly searching for prayer wheels, but it all takes place in beautiful surroundings. I can't wait for the full version." - Ryan (17-Feb-2016)

"I missed absolutely nothing in the two last categories. I particularly admire the whole effort put into editing countless samples or referring to the classic ones where needed. Also despite the enormous variety of used textures they don't feel too divergent from each other which is usually pretty hard to achieve. What I only lacked was some variety in enemies (a long-forgotten temple like this should be infested with life), weapons (never get some decent uzis to deal with the tinmen, what could be correct in a multi-level adventure where we get some firearms later, but can't work within a single-unit ) and secret content (the challenge and reward are here but the usefulness isn't, and the number typed in the stats is highly misleading so I felt I'm missing something for about half of the level). Gameplay points to TR2 with ladder climbing, spike evasion and hopping over the rooftops in search of prayer wheels. It lacks some stuff never seen before but is all well balanced. SUMMARY: I played this for Jackie's birthday but it could be mine as well. Highly recommended." - DJ Full (13-Aug-2015)

"This demo is absolutely gorgeous. Every inch of this level is dripping with personality and wonder. The level itself is a fairly standard hunt for all of the pieces to complete the level, but the open-ended process gives the player the chance to slowly soak in view. Each portion of the temple is distinct, but carries on the overall theme very gracefully. The puzzles themselves aren't overly complicated or challenging, but I don't think they need to be here. I found the level to be rather relaxing because of those gameplay choices. Music, both atmospheric and event-based, were well chosen (and well composed, if the author composed the pieces themselves). The whole thing just fits my tastes like a glove, and I am so glad I got around to checking this out. This is a must play for those who like Asian-influenced architecture, or who are just looking for a low-stress level to gander at." - Xela (18-Aug-2014)

"Just like Jackie's debut level so many years ago, this level will without a doubt leave an impression on any player and stick within your memory for quite some time. It is all those little touches that make it so special. All embedded in splendid visuals, beautiful objects, well re-desgined animations, it just turns out to be more than your usual Tomb Raider level. But you still do get some of the usual for your entertainment with a few not too hard timed sequences, a nice spike trap area for the secret, some pushing of objects and finding of levers - all to collect those vital six prayer wheels in a fairly non-linear fashion. And as such it serves as the Demo it claims to be, with about an hour of game time and a very abrupt ending that will leave you wanting for more to come. Good solid level to play with way above average visuals to feast your eyes on." - MichaelP (19-Dec-2013)

"There is no doubt that this level looks astonishing, and a lot of time and effort has clearly gone into making this demo one of the best looking levels available. However, the gameplay aspect of the demo has been somewhat overlooked. If you're not doing a timed run, then you're doing a pushblock puzzle or just pulling multiple levers. One of the 'puzzles' in this level consists of pulling all 4 levers in an underwater room before Lara's air runs out. There's nothing particularly fun about just pulling levers without thinking, and likewise with just pushing a block from one square to another across the room. I would have thought this was done for padding, but as the level clocks in at about an hour, there's no real need to increase its length further. Enemies encounters are few but tough, while object placement is immaculate. My only other quarrel with the level is the cameras, where we occasionally get a nice, but pointless, flyby, which shows off the level, while the fixed cameras make the popular mistake of showing a door opening, but not where it is. This means that most of your time spent in the level is just running around looking for a newly opened door. Overall, a beautiful level that is a bit lacking in the gameplay front. 55 minutes, no secrets." - Cory (29-Jul-2013)

"Normally seeing the word demo means your likely to be playing someone's half-imagined creation or something that the builder might have been overly keen to rush before it was ready. What Geckokid offers however is a tantalising glimpse of a larger adventure to come which is crafted with polish and professionalism. The screen-shots you see here speak for themselves in terms of the environment. I love the animated water reflection textures on the walls above some of the pools too. The custom animations are great, and make Lara feel more alive and spritely than you may be used to (pull-ups and wall-climbing all happen much faster). You set off here in search of 6 prayer wheels. One of the wheels is off in various different directions giving you a nice and non-linear choice for how to tackle the level. There's allot of very large and wonderfully detailed spaces crammed into a single map. Gameplay wise Geckokid has wisely kept the gameplay difficulty well balanced. Puzzles are straight forward and the timed runs sufficiently generious that most players should find this level immediately accessable. Despite the non-linear layout I never felt lost or unable to guess where to explore next. Medi-packs however are not in abundance and those guards really to take allot to take down. All in all I netted just over an hour and a half from The Beginning. The nice custom features, animation, strong gameplay, well balanced puzzles, sweet sound track make this one that should absolutely be on your play-list. Geckokid, if you need a beta tester when it comes to the main release, please get in touch! :) An absolute pleasure to play and 100% recommended. Stiggy." - TheStig (02-Feb-2013)

"This author is a master in creating outstanding atmospheres and wonderful environment. There's so much work invested into details - so we have hall-effect in rooms where sound normally is reflected. This - and other moments- make atmosphere that convincing as rarely seen before in a cuszom level. Gameplay could be a bit more creative. But this wonderful hunt for a few prayer-roles is really hall of fame stuff!" - Christian (24-Sep-2012)

"Well, I have been waiting so long for this level to be released and finally I found time enough to play it. It really was short, I hope you have the full game soon. I loved the style of the whole game, the oriental environment was really "refreshing". However, the construction itself seemed a little bit old to me, everything was too much geometric. The different rooms where beautiful and the decoration was placed just where it was needed, I love restraint in these things. The music for each scene was perfectly chosen as well as the lights and shadows that make everything look realistic. The puzzles were not too difficult, yet they were entetaining (a perfect combination). Everything is humanly achievable and that is something to be grateful for. In the end I missed some spectacular cutscene, I was wondering what would occur when I had placed all those whels, but in the end it was a bit dissapointing. Leaving that aside, I loved it pretty much and I look forward the full version to be released. Keep up the good job!" - Minaru (06-Apr-2012)

"The best asian themed level that i've played soo far. I loved the textures and scenarios. The arquiteture of the rooms made me remember Jade Empire, other game that I really love. This is a great game and I can only tell that I am anxious for the complete realese. Not very relevant bad aspects found here. It deserves a great rate for the great effort put on for the author here. It is really admirable." - Adriel (02-Jan-2012)

"Very beautiful level. I would rather play the whole version than a demo. That's why I am not ready to give it a high score. Sure it is a great start of a levelset. Texturing is awesome and lighting too. The atmsophere is realistic. Maybe it is one of te most beautiful levels I played. Puzzles are limited and gameplay too, but this doesn't make the game bad. I wish we could play more, so I could have more things to say. I hope the author will add more puzzles. I didn't like the part where a door is closing in front of Lara if you step on one square and the enemies who seem undead, but you have to shoot them into the heart. I didn't find a clue to do that. I discovered it accidentaly. Conclusion: A very beautiful level, with nice textures and lighting. I wish it had better puzzles and gameplay. The enemies are not so easily to understand how they can be killed and they are not dangerous. I am waiting the whole version. I think it will be great." - DatoDavid (12-Dec-2011)

"I don't really understand the existance of demos in this site. I would rather play a whole levelset, than just one part of it. I have to say that this level is very beautiful and well textured, but the gameplay and puzzles are a bit limited. Surely it's a good start of a levelset, but for the time being we have just a demo. It took me some minutes to complete it. Firstly, I felt kinda lost in the level because of the many paths you can choose and I had to remember every single spot of it, so I can find out what to do next. That's what I don't like in many customs. I liked Lara's new animations though. The tasks are easy, but running around the level it's good, because the places are beautiful. I think the author is talented and he can do much more than that. What I really didn't like here, is that many times it didn't remind me of Tr game. This level worths a try, but I can't say anything else till I see the whole project coming out." - Sarikman (01-Dec-2011)

"This little demo is a very beautiful present by Geckokid. Everything is enjoyable in this adventure. We discovered Lara in a Chinese temple. The outfit is very nice and the Chinese atmosphere too. The gameplay is very interesting, not too hard and not too easy and so playable for the beginners. The textures are very wonderful. The lighting is also very well and the many new objects too. An exellent job by Geckokid and I really looking forward to play the full version of this amazing game. VERY RECOMMENDED" - BigFoot (27-Nov-2011)

"i just played yesterday that level. What is impressive about it is the textures. Very well placed... It is one of the most beautiful levels I played. The lighting is very nice too. What I think it could be better about it is some good enemies and more evolced puzzles. They were good, but very simble. Also, I didn't like at all the puzzle with the tile which is closing a door in front of you and Lara has to hang from the ledge to overcome it. I don't think that this was nice or the enemies who can be killed only by hitting them into the heart. Their bodies don't give you that clue. Firstlly I thought they can not die, till I understood they are like the axe's holders fro TR4 with the blue gem as a heart. Sometimes you will fell a bit lost, but you will find the way soon if you pay attention and explore some big, but beautiful rooms. As for the music... Hmmm... I think it makes the game looses score than raising it. It fits to the level, but the author could find better." - Ekrixi (27-Nov-2011)

"The best thing here is the textures. They are so nice. It is the the most well textured level I have played. Lighting was succesive too. In my oppinion, Lara was kinda "fat". I didn't like some animations, like the roll. I loved the way she uses the stairs and her backflip. Well, except the perfect texturing and the some good animations, there is a lack of enemies, which isn't nescesary bad. Tha gameplay is very simple. Very easy timed runs too. I can't say I consider any of the tasks to get the 6 items as a puzzle because they are quite easy and everything is mych more than clear. i'd rather to face a good puzzle in these so beautiful areas. Surelly a very good level. I like that it is classic, not some other new type "beautiful" levels." - AdamR (25-Nov-2011)

"The Beginning by Geckokid? Never heard of it. Just kidding. One of the most anticipated projects there is. Then this demo appears. Surprised but very excited I downloaded it. Rather than repeat everything other reviews have said, much of it I agree with, I just want to point out a couple of things. If people want to release demos, then they should take this one as an exmaple - betatested, virtually finished and stand-alone. As a level by itself then, it works perfectly well. There is one major task of collecting the prayer wheels through various means. The gameplay was for the most part varied with some of Jackie's trademark sloping jump sequences. I say that because I remember them so fondly from Beneath the Forbidden City. They're simple but remarkably fun. The comparative lack of enemies didn't strike me as something negative, in fact I felt it helped the atmosphere somewhat. The level by its very nature is puzzle based and throwing in more enemies would not have enhanced the experience. One other aspect I appreciated was the relative lack of objects in comparison to other "pretty" levels. Jackie has managed to create a beautiful temple mainly out of textures and geometry with only necessary objects making an appearance. What that meant for me was no lag. The idea of having waterfalls cascading down into virtually every area is exceptional and adds a ton of atmosphere and enjoyment. The gameplay can get somewhat "switchy" in places, which as a stand-alone level can detract from the enjoyment slightly, but as a level in the middle of a series it's not something you tend to notice. So this level will work even better when the full series is released. I also noticed some slightly squashed textures which occured from having faces without even sides. Often this can work okay, particularly when using natural textures like mud, grass or rock. But here when brick textures are used it is noticeable. Apart from that though, the only thing I would criticise is that Jackie has made it even more unbearable to wait for his masterpiece now that we have had a physical taster of it!" - TrueRaider (30-Oct-2011)

"This is a demo, not much reproach.A few textures askew. Everything is beautiful, well done, the gameplay is simple, the timeruns are fairly easy. Beautiful objects and the new animations are nice. When we start, we really want to go to the end. Congratulations." - cho7 (25-Oct-2011)

"Years ago, I saw footage of this game on Youtube, and straight away I knew I wanted to play it. So when I found out recently that this demo had finally been released, I raced to TRLE.net to download it. So was it worth the wait? Absolutely! This is, without a doubt, the best custom level I've ever played. The gameplay, sound, graphics, effects and atmosphere are all amazing, and it all makes for an almost flawless gaming experience. As a designer, there were plenty of "how on EARTH did he do that?" moments. I will assume Meta2TR was used for certain effects such as the light refractions around pools of water. If so, it was done seamlessly and very effectively. The use of Tomb Raider Engine Patcher made me very happy; NG Tomb4 just limits everyone to the same features, while TREP allows builders so much more freedom, customisation and creativity, and it was certainly put to good use here. While I felt the use of Tomb Raider 2 sound effects was odd, due to their lower quality compared to the other classics (Fun fact, it's because Core accidentally used the PS1 main.sfx file for the PC version) I thought the idea to have alternate lines for Lara's "No" was very clever and original. And it's nice to hear people actually bothering to get Jenni to record those lines. :p The echo added to most of the sound effects was a clever trick which did a lot towards the atmosphere and feeling of vastness the level provided. The gameplay was absolutely sublime. So many custom levels have terrible gameplay and "fake difficulty" despite showing off pretty graphics. This was intuitive and legitimately challenging - the area was expansive and fun to explore without becoming too confusing or maze-like. The idea to "wall in" the player in certain areas helped; you would know the solution to the puzzle must be somewhere in that room and would find it less stressful to figure it out. So all in all, excellent work from GeckoKid, the long development has certainly paid off, and I can't wait to play the rest of it!!!" - Teeth (22-Oct-2011)

"This is one of the most spectacular and enjoyable custom levels ever created."The Beginning" is one of the most yearned after projects that everyone has been waiting for, and this demo acts as a wonderful teaser for it... however, we still want more and I truly hope Jackie completes his project in the near future. A lot of people don't realize how long this has been in the works. It is by far the most top notch level set with an Asian setting. It is this level set that has inspired so many others like"Jade Empire" over the years - even though these came out before this demo was released, they were actually made after this project was already well underway! We all know Jackie has been working on these levels for a long time and sharing screenshots with us once in a while. Where to begin? The gameplay is a lot of fun and feels like a mixture of TR2's"Temple of Xian" and"Barkhang Monastery". Each Prayer Wheel is guarded by its own puzzle, where we get to see the beautiful world that Geckokid has created for us. Everything looks like it isn't even the old TR engine anymore; however it still has the classic puzzles from the old games. The best aspect of this entire level is the object design. Not only is everything custom-made, completely new, and wonderfully crafted, but he has also taken the time to add all the old TR2 sound effects to give us even more of that nostalgic feeling. I personally think the enemies in this level are fine and not lacking, but I also know that this is just one of many levels and that we get to see all sorts of different enemies as the journey progresses. Perhaps though some small spiders, or scorpions, or bats could be added here and there? Either way, the terracotta warriors are a lovely touch and something you would expect from a tomb raid in China. I also did not have a problem with Lara's animations - they are by far the best custom-made ones out there. So many custom levels attempt to give Lara new animations based on her recent Legend/Anniversary/Underworld moves, but Jackie is the only one who actually manages to pull it off and it still looks good! I didn't mind the roll-issue either that other people have been mentioning... sure, it takes some getting used to, but eventually you just realize that when in combat you press"up" and"down" together rather than the"end" button. The Secret in this level was also beautifully made (of course it was a Gecko) and I loved how it had its very own area with traps and puzzles guarding it. The timed run we had to go through in order to get to it was a bit tough, but for a secret I think this is acceptable. The Atmosphere is great, even though I am usually one for darker and more sinister environments. It fits to the time and place and where we are, and that is what matters. The light-beams and fog effects add a wonderful ambience to the entire level, making this temple truly feel like its own little"Lost Valley". Music is also good and very fitting to Lara's action-y acrobatics, but I wonder what it might sound like if instead audio tracks and ambience from TR2 itself would be used throughout this game? Might be worth trying ;) Camera's are well placed, and all the flybys flow beautifully - either showing us where we must go, or simply to show off the beautiful environments, with good reason. Lighting and texturing is flawless in my opinion, and everything looks authentically Chinese and"new" - none of this"Oh, that's the texture from the _____.tga that I've seen 500 times". The level also has some of the most beautiful waterfalls and cascading river and water effects that I've ever seen in a level. Also, the water reflections on the walls and ceilings are a wonderful touch of realism that I don't think anyone else has ever tried out before. I can't wait to play the whole game one day and have full faith that it will indeed be completed! Well done Jackie!" - Sethian (11-Oct-2011)

"This is without doubt a level of uncommon beauty, and for that reason alone it should be played by all. But the gameplay is engaging as well, providing a raid of just about an hour. Although it's billed as a demo, it stands on its own quite nicely. The lighting is superb throughout, which is a good thing since you're provided no flares and none are found during the game. No matter, you don't need them. The most current TRLE amenities are put to good use here, and I understand that some of the animations are the builder's own creations. That timed run near the end to get a secret gave me the most problems, but once I figured out how to do it (you can't waste even a tenth of a second) I finally got through that closing door. A milestone achievement that should earn Hall of Fame honors before long." - Phil (09-Oct-2011)

"Whenever I have felt like I spent a lot of time in the animation editor, GeckoKid always humbles me with his dedication in that area. The first thing that struck me was the custom animations which were overall a great change that added some flair to Lara's movements. The shaking effects for her landing were an interesting touch but also distracting as I always thought I had just set off an earthquake! Some animations looked weird with her guns drawn, in particular when she does a cartwheel on the ground. But these are minor things. The area looks beautiful and uses some intuitive water reflection overlays on walls adjacent to water pools. It is well ornamented and everything blends together from the bamboo spike traps to the guards, though I wish there were more of the latter as combat was a bit sparse. There are many puzzles to solve and timed runs to outrun as you search for six prayer wheels, and these were of sufficient challenge (the one where you simply moved a pushable from one room to another was the only dud for me). Recommended." - SSJ6Wolf (03-Oct-2011)

"Ok, first of all, I think Jackie is an immense talent and I feel so grateful that he has put his skills at work here in this demo. When the level begins, I am first mesmerized by the super pixelated and gorgeous Lara and I immediately have to put her in the corner so I can take a look at her lovely face. Yep, she looks good. For the most part, I really like her new moves and her more natural running. I do not like the turn around feature in place of the roll. It didn't really matter until fighting those tin men. I fight those things by backing up and firing, then doing a roll. Blah blah blah, I think any raider would know that the roll feature is crucial in heavy enemy territory. The only time the turn around feature can replace the roll is in a level without many enemies or none at all. Next, was the incredible fly-by. I was so ready to start digging in to exploration after viewing that wonderful fly-by. Before I forget, I wanted to mention that the music was absolutely perfect in this level! Music choices sounded lush and rock-n-roll Oriental at times which were so cool that I looked up a way to play the files on my music player. Continuing on, I thought the atmosphere was perfect. I am not a builder and didn't notice any stretching of textures, and I was perfectly happy with how everything looked. There were amazing objects and how the water reacted was so sublime! I noticed how the water swirled behind Lara when she walked through it and the reflecting water on walls was never more incredible than in a room with four Buddhas surrounding a pool of deep water. Lighting was perfect in the room and I had to stand in there for a few minutes to soak it in. Also, did anyone notice the Great Wall far off in the horizon? Awesome! Ok, I think we can all agree that the level looks amazing. However, gameplay was not as awesome as it could have been. There were moments of greatness, one of which was saved for a secret area, but thankfully, I found it. I thought the level may have been a tad too easy and switchy. However, I would much rather have too many switches than too many block pushing puzzles. I thought the puzzle with the birds and fish that you step on was going to have to be solved by looking for a clue, but it was just trial and error. In that same vein, when Lara goes down a waterfall to obtain a prayer wheel, there is a room change and I was ready to do some tough jumping to get back up, but no. There was only a minor amount of finding the safe way to the door up at the top since the water pushed her back. Perhaps on the full version, Jackie, you could drop those blocks and make the water rush too much at the bottom so that Lara has to use the blocks to make it back. This would make it more of a challenge, albeit you would have to lift the ceiling a bit, since she can't jump to all the blocks without falling into the water. Also, in the lever room, you could again have a more difficult puzzle there that opens the doors, with a clue to be found elsewhere. I don't think gameplay was lacking enough to give it a lower score because I had a lot of fun and it was challenging, just not hugely inspired. With a bit of tweaking, gameplay could be phenomenal. I really hope we see more from you Jackie, because if future levels look this good with incredible gameplay, they will zip right up the Hall of Fame list!" - Shandroid (02-Oct-2011)

"The first few minutes show that this is no ordinary demo, as you're treated to a flyby of a superb oriental temple in a large cavern and some of its surrounding areas. The beauty and atmosphere are so amazing, that at first I completely forgot about the gameplay, and simply wandered around exploring and taking screenshots. From the aesthetic point of view, the visuals are nearly flawless. From the technical, not so much, since there are a huge number of distorted textures (apparently, this is due to a deliberate attempt to avoid cracks), but fortunately they don't detract from the overall impression of the gorgeous central temple, and equally gorgeous surrounding areas. There are a couple of other minor visual glitches, like the fog that visibly changes colour at times, but I assume these will be fixed in the final version.
The level revolves around opening up routes from the central cavern to the various off-shoot areas which house six prayer wheels. At first, the number of possible ways to go can be a bit confusing, but once you begin exploring, it all comes together satisfactorily. The tasks involved in getting all the prayer wheels range from the mildly interesting to the very enjoyable. The fish-and-bird puzzle/timed-run is my particular favourite. I also like the extra little trap area where the sole secret can be found. I didn't find it during my first playthrough, so I replayed a section to get it. The tinmen enemies are rather annoying - frankly, this level would probably benefit from having no enemies whatsoever. The ending feels a little abrupt, but I managed to bypass the end trigger to discover that the level continues for a few more minutes: mostly a flyby in the main area and a very cool cutscene in a new area. Why the builder chose not to end the level there is a bit of a mystery.
Lara has a number of new animations, some of which are really great, like new handstand and the backflip with a twist. The turn-around move instead of the roll can take some getting used to, but I must admit, it's a far more realistic move than the roll.
Overall: I do hope this demo doesn't go the same way as Piega's Sanctuary of Souls demo, with the full - and potentially amazing - game never seeing the light of day. Because if this teaser is anything to go by, The Beginning has the potential to be one of the best TRLE games ever. Waiting for it eagerly!" - Mytly (27-Sep-2011)

"Right at the beginning of this (demo) level a beautiful flyby takes over and once it is finished, it is clear that the player will be in for a real treat. The game play is as good as one can expect after seeing the introduction and there is really everything included that makes a classic raid. The goal is quite simple and all Lara has to do, is to explore the place and find six prayer wheels. Of course some are a little harder to get than others but none of the tasks are overwhelmingly difficult or frustrating. There is some precise jumping to ledges and little triangular outcroppings here and there, a couple of timed sequences, multiple spike traps to avoid and a bit of underwater action. In general the game play was very fluent and I never got stuck a single time, which amazed me, as this is rather unusual in my case. There are also a few combat sequences with hard to kill warriors and since Medipacks are a bit in short supply, one has to be careful as they cause some serious damage when they come close to Lara. The raising block puzzle with the timed triggers is simple and effective. As if the game play wasn't excellent already, the visuals in this level are stunning at times. The architecture of this temple is amazing and complimented by beautiful texturing, where it is obvious that the builder has spent lot of time spent with detail work. While the texturing was flawless, I thought the lighting on Lara was little on the bright side but this is not a complaint, just my personal opinion. Lara has many new animations and most of them look just great, although a few seem a little overdone and the turn animation instead of the classic roll seems confusing at times. Besides the good looks and animations there is also a great atmosphere with excellent music and of course there are also several custom sounds used like the brass dropping on the floor after firing, which sounded great through my surround system. This is probably the most promising"demo" level I have ever played and I can't wait to see a full release one day. Highly recommended and you don't have to be an expert to play this which is especially nice. (About 1h, 0 secrets found)" - Blue43 (24-Sep-2011)

"The release of this demo is actually rather surprising, most people know just how long this custom series has been in the making and all of them are definitely believers. I have had the opportunity to play this (and the other levels in the series) a couple of years back, and while it hasn't changed much since then, it's still mighty impressive and quite enjoyable. The quest for the six prayer wheels has defies the player in all possible ways, and there's such an intricate and elaborate level design here that you're always brought back to the ever impressive hub area. There is a plethora of novelties here (some of which have been featured in levels built inspired by this one), and quite a lot of recycling so it feels fresh every second of the journey. All in all, you can't go wrong with a Jackie Wu. Guess it's safe to say we'll all be here when the full version eventually hits. 50 minutes, 1 secret. 09/11" - Treeble (19-Sep-2011)

"It felt as if christmas had come early when I looked at the level listing and saw Geckokid among the list of authors. This project always was and still is placed very high in my "things I'm looking forward the most"-list and so I istantly downloaded the Demo and started the game as soon as it was successfully transfered to my PC. The first thing I did was trying out the various new animations and they were flawless and looked amazing - I would however maybe change the roll animation, so that Lara doesn't stop before doing it if I was Geckokid. I then started with gameplay and after some minutes of admiring the beautiful objects (waterreflections on walls!) the first flyby kicked in and left me speechless. I hardly saw such a well-crafted chinese temple before (at least not in a released level ;) ) and 1-2 hours of pure Tomb Raiding ensued. Without going into detail too much: Lara has to find 6 prayer wheels in any order and gets to explore this huge temple and its surroundings. None of the architecture that was put into the level felt wrong or "just added for gameplay" and it was just pure fun to explore every single meter and see everything this temple has to offer without having to backtrack. Highly recommended to every raider out there and definitely a contender for the Hall of Fame!" - Soul (19-Sep-2011)

"well what i can add .....is not bad game for sure ...... but under 9 mark at my opinion ..... first is a demo .. so is short one . the visuals are good .... setting . good also..... chinnese temple with some custom items and some fairy run-jumps the aim is to get 6 Prayer Wheels and use it .. well the Wheels are scattered at indoor places also to can put it u need some back-tracking for pulling both levers wich rise the floor trappdoor alowing some pots to be placed in the right poz. and further to rise the platforms to gain acces for the 6 wheels placing ........ this builder have alot off talent i must admit .... but still i cannot give higher mark than 8.5 - 9 max . cause - KEEP IN MIND !! IS A DEMO ONLY ! - .... ok recomanded game but not Hall off Fame material ........ maybee will be the full version .. who knows ?? is a good start anyway ....." - Jack& (19-Sep-2011)

"This is a short but great adventure, and I hope the full version is released! The gameplay and puzzles, while nothing we haven't seen before, are fun and not too challenging. I especially loved climbing up the buildings and rooftops and all of the platforming aspects. The enemies are quite boring, with only some animated statues to fight; there was only one secret, and items were few and far between. I would definitely add more in the these categories. The atmosphere was stunning; my only complaint is that many rooms just looked and felt empty. Despite most areas being pretty large, most of them had little purpose other than completing at most one or two tasks, or simply going through them to get to the next area. Still, the level was built masterfully and all of the structures and areas leave a very realistic impression. The lighting and textures were absolutely beautiful other than some odd (misplaced? glitchy?) textures placed throughout, particularly at the beginning. Overall, a great achievement of a level; I would glad to play a whole game of levels like this! I found the secret and beat the level in about an hour." - okuhtfesq (18-Sep-2011)

"Somehow reminds me The Beginning to Duke Nukem forever. Start of construction work was many years ago, the release date is pushed out on and on, every player waits longingly and if one does not think about it at all, the surprise is big. Well, this level is "only" a Demo, but, finally, at least, we get an idea of the level. And what should I say: The time of the waiting has been worthwhile in any case. The level looks excellent already in the Demo. However, there are a few places where I have liked the textures not so much. There the textures were not applied carefully enough. There are a few new animations and there I like very much the climbing up animation. It looks much better than the normal animation and Lara climbs faster upwards. However, I miss the role animation. Though it may be more realistic if Lara stands and turns round, but, nevertheless, I have better liked the old animation. I have no problem with the fact which Lara had at the level beginning no Medikits, however, I hope that this changes in the finished level. I have well liked sound and camera work without exception. The lighting was good, but now and again there were for my taste too many lighting effects. All together it was a very good level which has, however, still a little improvement potential." - Scottie (17-Sep-2011)

"I don't tend to pay much attention to fly-bys so to avoid seeing what is ahead but on this occasion I felt a reload to start a new game was temporarily in order since the area looked a little too vast a few minutes into my initial game play. I was wrong to an extent. In fact, in spite of being convinced I had missed objects/areas I was surprised at how relatively easily I picked up my first two prayer wheels, then the third, forth, fifth and last whilst managing not to get too lost. Lara's movements were of the more revised and fluid variety and the colours and textures were very pleasant throughout. The timed runs (always an unwelcome element where I am concerned), were achievable even for me and that's saying something. I am still amazed how some can complete this in 75 minutes or thereabouts however. It took me a good six hours at least although not all in one go - which is a sign I took my time and explored each avenue. The longer the level and perhaps more importantly, the further I get within that level is indicative of it's entertainment value and comparative ease (for me), of game play. This was one such achievable level and I look forward to more from this builder." - High Priestess (15-Sep-2011)

"If this gem from Jackie's long-awaited series was near-perfect six years ago, it shines even brighter today. I was surprised and delighted to see this level up for download, and even more so when I started playing. The effects, animations, sounds, and other details have been improved tremendously, as well as many of the objects and textures. These details enhance Jackie's signature architectural style and fun gameplay ideas, making for a level that is as beautiful to look at as it is enjoyable to play. Gameplay here is very non-linear, though all the paths that can be taken branch out from one central area, and it's never too hard to find the next path to be taken. The traps and puzzles present varied levels of challenge, and if one is nimble enough, Lara can make a graceful swan dive into a secret area before a timed door closes. Even the animations are breathtaking. Not only will you have fun repeatedly backflipping and diving into the water, but the increased speed of animations such as climbing and pushing make certain repetitive tasks much faster to complete. I dreaded moving a particular pushable object at first, but the task was over very quickly. Lara's sounds are very nice, as are the audio tracks. I particularly liked the first battle sequence with the two soldiers. I would have liked some greater variety in enemies, as well as more pickups overall. I found different types of ammo but no guns to go with them (though I do know this level is part of a larger series and those guns may come later) and also very few medipaks. Poor Lara was in very ill-health for a large portion of this level, though that may have just been myself being careless with medipaks. One or two more of them would have been helpful though, even if they were very cleverly hidden. I can mirror what others have said about the textures, but it's true there are very few cracks, if any at all. However, squished textures are rare here, and far eclipsed by the many times I sat in wonder at other textures so perfectly applied to their elaborate geometry. Jackie is a true artist in TRLE, and it's wonderful to see his work brought to new life with wonderful next-generation effects. Perhaps the best part of all this is that we have an entire series of this quality to look forward to in the near future. I for one can't wait! I spent exactly one hour here and found one secret." - Chronicles5 (14-Sep-2011)

"A most beautiful little adventure . Some of this years BtB contenders would be proud of a game of such moderate length, but it`s a demo anyway , isn`t it ? It reminds me very much of one of my favourites , Christophs Jade Empire. But it feels like an empty location which , however beautiful it may look , was filled with inhabitants afterwards to make it come alive . Like a book that is written after the table is laid. Very few builders are both excellent architects and storytellers and only the very best have the natural talent to combine both arts in a way that turns a TRLE game into a real movie. The Beginning shows the builder`s outstanding abilities to create TRLE levels and I really hope this little demo was just the shape of things to come." - Ruben (14-Sep-2011)

"It's been a while,but Jackie finally rewards us with another superb example of his artistic and creative abilities.Admittedly,being a demo,the ending is severely curtailed;but in all other respects you have 75 minutes of superb and extraordinarily beautiful adventuring and exploring. It perhaps takes a while to get going,as you have absolutely no idea what you need to be doing for quite a long time;but the stunning architecture and plethora of explorable places quite takes your mind off any possible irritations,and the gameplay gradually develops amid fun and reasonably demanding challenges (timed runs;puzzles;jumps).It's generally non-linear,but the freedom to roam is an asset in an environment as beautiful as this;and the sense of accomplishment once all the prayer wheels have been collected is considerable.Atmosphere,sound,cameras,lighting and textures are second-to-none (there are even rainbows created by the sunlight playing through the falling water);and a few cheeky mis-directions help to provide a challenge for the player. Perhaps the enemies are a little too few and restricted only to swordsmen;but that is mere nitpicking. Play this and hope that Jackie doesn't leave it too long before completing the entire adventure (and therefore,among other things,allows the general public to experience his amazing dancing Panda!)" - Orbit Dream (14-Sep-2011)

"Jackie has used his considerable artistic skills to produce a level of breathtaking beauty. The quality of light alone is stunning, especially the way it reflects off water. Objects and textures are also ravishing so exploring the temples and waterways is a real pleasure. Enemies are just a few warriors from time to time (well re-textured tin men). The quest is to find six prayer wheels and getting them is great fun, involving a variety of timed runs and agility tests of a medium difficulty level so hopefully accessible to almost all players, because this really is a 'must play'. At over an hour, this is a long demo, but I can guarantee it will leave you greedy for more." - Jay (13-Sep-2011)

"The visuals here are near perfect; great mesh use, atmospheric lighting and texturing and lots of atmosphere. What takes it further is all the little details, such as the water reflections on walls and just about every mesh being modified to fit the setting rather than being from an already-used collection.
The gameplay is just as good; there's a varied series of tasks to do with a good flow and an interesting non-linear layout with lots of exploration. The challenge level isn't that high, although there are a couple of tricky parts. The old real issues I had was one block-pushing puzzle that felt a bit uninspired compared to the rest, and the new Tin-man enemies seem to have had their health buffed in a way that makes them take longer to kill without really adding anything. In addition to everything else another stand-out is the amount of new animations and tweaks here; some are just aesthetic, but others improve/speed up the controls in ways I haven't seen done before, such as faster ladder climbing and block pushing. It's almost like an all-round patch of the base TR controls and animations (as opposed to the hybrid approaches most take). The only thing I didn't like so much is that I thought Lara's arms swung a bit too much in the default running animation. If this demo represents the final pack at all then it will live up to the hype and then some." - Mman (13-Sep-2011)

"Six years and it's still in demo form, but at least I got to wet my whistle on a precursor of a game that should ultimately be quite spectacular. In this demo, Lara is searching for 6 prayer wheels carefully hidden throughout the Cai'Xia Temple. The Temple venue is beautifully crafted with only a few minor flaws (a few textures left askew). The lighting is top-drawer although I found the mist (or was it dazzling sunshine?) in a stairway somewhat overplayed. I was a little disappointed in the music as I felt it ended abruptly in several places. Enemies consist of a rather bland collection of Temple guards. I think they need to be much more colorful - both in garb and gameplay! The overall gameplay and puzzles I thought were excellent. I love the new animation that has been added to Lara - especially the climbing feature! I loved what I saw and, of course, I'll be anxious for the total package to make it's way to the screen. Thank you, Jackie!!" - Mugs (13-Sep-2011)

"Wow!! What a nice temple! Beautiful waterfalls and rainbows! The whole place is so big and I found it hard to know where to go but eventually I got the hang of it. You don't start with any medipacks but soon you get some which makes up for it. I looked at the other levels Geckohid made and his latest level was the back to basics 2005 level! That was 6 years ago!! It's good to see that he has returned to level building and I hope he makes more levels and I hope he releases the full version of this spectacular level. Highly recommended." - afzalmiah (13-Sep-2011)

"I suppose this should be classed as a 'hub' level as most areas are accessed from the central part in one way or another but it's so nicely done that there is none of that"right, I've done the first door, now for the second door" feeling that most hub levels have. It's more of an exploration in three dimensions orbiting the central part, and it's beautifully done. Apart from the initial choice of left door or right door, none of the areas seem to be accessed in quite the same way, climbing up rooftops, underwater swimming and pulling levers, timed spike runs (that was fun), combination levers opening various doors, you name it, this has it. Add to this the fine scenery, excellent use of textures and lighting and, if this is the demo, I can't wait for the full version. One hour forty two minutes and I only found one secret." - Diz (13-Sep-2011)

"This is a brilliant demo of a very promising project. I've been looking forward to the release of it for a long time already (ever since I've seen a short gameplay video on YouTube), I was so happy to see we finally get to play at least a shorter part of it.
Right in the beginning we arrive to the main room, many beautiful areas we can visit later are shown in the first flyby. From this point there are more paths you can take in any order, the task is to collect six Prayer Wheels, rise the blocks in the main hut, then insert the wheels. There are several challenges to be completed on the paths leading to the Prayer Wheels, such as timed runs, traps and interesting puzzles. The raising block puzzle idea was especially great, standing on the correct blocks raises two others, that are timed. Mostly exploration is dominant, you find more and more marvellous-looking areas. The new animations were great additions, they made the way of controlling Lara seem more fluent and convenient.
There wasn't much variety in terms of enemies, there were some guards around only. At first I was expecting some birds or other kinds of enemies to appear, but then realized I don't have to run through with pistols at hand all the time. On the other hand, it gave the game a kind of 'relaxing' feel at several points, which went together with the beautiful scenery nicely. Objects were top-notch, I can't remember any that would have been kept in its original form, everything was new. All the objects were used well, even for gameplay, such as the broken railing that made me realize how I could avoid the door closing. There's one secret in this demo, it's really worth getting it even just because of the gameplay in that secret area, I found the idea really awesome, it was all very well done.
Atmosphere and the sounds were perfect, the music fitted everywhere, the new sfx sounds were good, too. Fog, lighting and reflection effects really spiced up the looks where they were used. There were nice camera sequences, camera hints were useful and helped the nice flow of gameplay. Lighting was very good everywhere, so were the textures. If the squished textures weren't there, everything would have looked absolutely perfect, but it has already looked pretty fantastic anyway!
All in all, it's a very enjoyable demo, definitely a must- play! I'm looking forward to playing the full game, now even more!" - Matie (13-Sep-2011)

"I dare say this is one of the most anticipated releases in the history of anticipated releases (maybe apart from Sanctuary of Souls, but since that one may not happen, let's hope we still have this to look forward to!), so this demo release might be just what the doctor ordered for GeckoKid's motivation to move the project in the direction of completion and for the players to anticipate what a treat they are in for when he finally does. The wonderfully crafted settings with details like water reflections, rainbows, ornate decorations and much more just have to amount to be the best Chinese-culture-inspired ones I've seen to date, and could probably be surpassed only by another level of his. The custom objects are detailed and fitting without being cliched and the updated animations masterfully done, all amounting to that wonderful feeling I usually associated with a new TR game coming out back when I was still excited about stuff like that. The hunt for the 6 prayer wheels has a pseudo-non-linear feeling to it, which is very fitting for the level, and the tasks themselves are wonderfully varied and never leave you bored. If anything - the falcon and fish puzzle does have a feeling of puzzles like they usually don't make them anymore (mostly for good reasons), and it might be a bit too switchy on occasion, but it's a great and varied experience overall. Well done, GeckoKid, can't wait for the full version!" - eTux (13-Sep-2011)

"A very challenging and beautiful one-hour (or a little less) demo that surely isn't an early effort but a finished first level of the upcoming levelset. Six years after his last level, GeckoKid provides a very special level with lots of novelties in lighting and object usage. The looks are outstanding, e.g. the waterfalls and the enourmous huge temple areas. Some certain textures though could be tweaked a bit as they were squashed a bit. The gameplay is quite difficult - finding six prayer wheels (not the only thing where this level reminds me on Barkhang), nearly every lever is more or less tightly timed, there are tons of traps and cleverly placed (and beautiful) warriors, some pushable and lever puzzles, especially liked the three lever room where you could open one of three doors each with a certain combination). The long pushable sections got fastened by a new push move, one of many, many new moves that mostly make life easier, but the mid-air turn with a jump in the rock area in a earlier part of the level was quite annoying to do because of that. Else than that, one or two wheels felt a little bit too easy to find, without actually much to do (in the gorgeous big waterfall area for example), just a little complaint, but everything felt so good I am now hoping the full levelset will provide levels at least as good as this one, but I am sure there even will be better." - manarch2 (13-Sep-2011)

"Wonderful to see the return of the GeckoKid with a level that has a number of wow moments for its scenery, with colorful temple decor and objects, light that dazzles on waterfalls, a rainbow, and reflections of light from the water surface onto the walls. Lara is searching for six prayer wheels, so there are connotations to the TR2 temple and quest. There are even new animations for Lara to enhance....okay, pause a moment here. Lara's speedy boost up on blocks, or her new climb, certainly are more energetic. But replacing the roll with a turn drove me crazy. Lara would do a long leap, hit the ground, and do a roll--nope, Lara turns around, which compared to what was expected looked silly. Lara would run from those drab tin men/clay warriors, and do a forward roll--nope, she turns around, right where they can hit her with their green swords. Even bouncing on a series of slopes to work upward was deceptive, because the animation onscreen looks like Lara back flips, lands, stumbles and begins to fall. Ignoring what I saw, I worked the keys and Lara bounced upward after that false stumble. The exploration is fun, there is good climbing over temple roofs and on rocks, and timed runs and agility tests are well within reach of most players. I found only five prayer wheels by the obvious doors and spike timed run, but after about an hour finally figured out the one place Lara hadn't searched. I hope that the delay in releasing this demo means that the full game is soon to to be revealed to eager players." - dmdibl (13-Sep-2011)

"It has potential but I got considerable doubts, specially in the gameplay. -The best are the lighting and some objects. Also the atmosphere is excellent and very inspired from Jade Empire. -The animations are well worked, but they have no much influence in the gameplay, they are pure decoration and sometimes can bring confusion to the players. -There are some stretched textures to be fixed. - I have found a bug -or at least I think so-. In a room after pulling two switches, spikes appear in the water, but you don't lose life when going through. -Near the end of the level there's an unnecesary backtracking which could have been avoided. -It notices an abuse of the levers. There are too many switches. -The block puzzle with the animal pictures is interesting. But having so small number of blocks it can be solved randomly instead of logic and observation. -In the puzzle where Lara steps in certain tiles and the door closes, it should have been used a different type of tiles, otherwise, actions seem to happen magically and not by the existence of a mechanism. Victim of Hype? I hope not.:)" - requiemsoul (12-Sep-2011)

"I just finished it and I liked it a lot. Not too difficult gameplay and the chinesse scenarios are very well recreated, amazing objects with well worked lighting, good architecture and textures pleasing to the eye. Of course, there are very few enemies and only one class, few traps and puzzles and ultimately must take a pretty big detour for sites already visited in order to place the six prayer wheels. Even so have been a very good level. Looking forwar for the final release." - Jose (12-Sep-2011)

"I've always said that there's little point in a level being amazing later down the road if it doesn't grab you from the very first seconds. And this demo managed to grab me and not let go until I was well into 45 minutes of playing. The textures and lighting create such a sublime atmosphere that at one point I actually found myself staring in awe at a flyby instead of impatiently tapping my fingers and waiting for it to end. You have to hand it to a builder who can make a level that is not just visually gorgeous but also really entertaining and enough challenge to keep it interesting. (I got really disoriented during the underwater maze of identical doors and levers.) Even though the enemies are pretty lacking I found myself having a lot of fun just trying to figure out how to pass the burner puzzle or just messing around high ledges and swandiving Lara in the most creative (and equally bone-crunching) ways I possibly could. Which just gets to show how much fun you can have if you've got a smartly crafted level available. I've been looking forward to this level set ever since I saw a clip on youtube years ago and I can honestly say that I'm willing to wait even more if the result will be just as wonderful as this demo. Also, big thumbs up to any builder who uses the Lara audio from good ol' TR2 and 3. It's makes for a fantastic nostalgia trip." - Janny (12-Sep-2011)
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