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Level: The Training - Episode Zero back home search
Author(s): Dnf Productions
total rating:9.56 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
DJ Full 8 10 10 9
Jorge22 10 10 10 10
Jose 7 10 10 9
Killer Gameplayz 9 9 9 10
manarch2 8 10 10 9
McRaider 10 10 10 10
MegaGamer 10 10 10 10
mugs 10 10 10 9
OverRaider 10 10 10 10
Phil 9 8 10 9
requiemsoul 10 10 8 9
Ryan 10 10 10 10
category averages
(12 reviews)
9.25 9.75 9.75 9.50

Reviewer's comments

"Another epic series by Donald and epic it is, taking me close to ten hours net time. As you can deduce from my scores, I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. Lara begins her training in Brazil, where guards and machine guns are out for her blood. A few key cards, some weaponry and some keys and Lara is choppered to Egypt. She joins forces with Kurtis (also a playable character) to explore Amenhotep's Chamber and the Luxor Temple to obtain the Scion. Next up is Nepal. Cue the snowy valleys, warehouses and freezing water. A beautiful main hall in The Big Search was definitely a highlight. A quick explosion later and we are off to good old Venice for some boat riding. Some challenging timed runs, block puzzles, keycards, a crowbar and some fun exploration elements and then Lara begins Saudi Arabia Episode One. Overall, this is a brilliant series and every minute was worthwhile. Kudos to Donald!" - Ryan (04-Jan-2017)

""If the full version is more clear..." mwahahah what the hell did I think? This one is the least clear of all, including unexpectedly important items, similar items, similar slots, painted slots, far gates unlocking without warning, sudden requirement to switch levels, odd ways to open doors and constant play of spot the difference. Every few minutes an outbox thought is required while one or more levels are often fully open so losing focus for a second implies hours of confusion - there was one or two levels where I didn't get stuck. When I noticed the combat training secret required better combat, I hoped other parts will follow the pattern - puzzle secret could be a hard puzzle, agility secret could be expert trap challenge etc. But the secrets are random, share flaws with main gameplay and you cannot tell which is harder. For example that shatter wall in Egypt, for heaven's sake why. There were so many unused and creative options instead, whatever has happened to impressive puzzle design of Episode 3. The author said he wanted to finish a story, but the long readme does just that while it could just say "this is a training prequel to previous episode". So I guess the real reason was pure will to create and give, what is simply great but why to break all rules of fair design if we don't break rules of fair play? Again the game covers multiple locations but just Venice and Egypt feel like themselves while Nepal looks like England, digsite Brazil is plainly Irish, train station could be missing from Russia and since the training topic overwhelms the game, all the other levels feel like a storage. Still the best storage... but still a storage. It has unique remarkable parts like laser breach, mutant sight shot, radar deactivation, different characters using different moves, or excellent headset-guided progress through the lab which was the immersion peak for me. But what I will remember from this game after few years will be... crates... lots of... crates... more crates than in... any... level... ever.... SUMMARY: Often boring and unfair, with certain moments of brilliance, top-notch camera work, wonderful cutscenes and cutting-edge voice acting though the lines could be louder and locations like the submarine could be less oversized. What did I say? No, I meant they shouldn't be oversized at all. SUMMARY REVISITED: Worth to play, possibly worth to replay in revised version, if the revised version is revised enough." - DJ Full (28-Apr-2016)

"Great game! The military commando feel of the game was the big thing that lured me in, and it doesn't disappoint! as the levels progress the enemies and puzzles become more challenging. Great scenery and music. Killer Gameplayz" - Killer Gameplayz (03-Sep-2015)

"This level was really well done. It's very long, it's entertaining, and it feels like a real game. Excellent adventure. Recommended." - MegaGamer (08-Apr-2014)

"I downloaded this in late May and started playing shortly thereafter. Nearly four months and 20 net gaming hours later, I can only say whew! Some of the individual levels are extremely complicated and are to be played only with Dutchy's excellent walkthrough close at hand. And I encountered a couple of game-stopping bugs along the way, consisting of enemies carrying essential pickups who never showed up in my game. After reloading and trying again several times, I was always able to trigger the desired event, but the resulting frustration left a bad taste in my mouth. Although the secrets registered, I never once heard the familiar chimes. Those minor drawbacks aside, I was impressed with the visual effects and the variety of playing environments provided by the builder, who has given us a number of epic releases. Some of the tasks are a bit obscure, but if you know what you need to do (by referring to the walkthrough) everything flows along quite smoothly and there's nothing of insurmountable difficulty. I had a good time here, but I admit to have gotten a bit weary along the way, and I could have spent the same amount of time playing and reviewing at least 20 standalone levels. Bigger is not always better, but I'll nevertheless look forward to playing this talented builder's future releases, no matter how massive they may be. High recommendations." - Phil (20-Sep-2013)

"First of all give many thanks to the author for all that huge work to bring us a lot of hours of fun. Impressive. The levels are not very hard to play, timed runs are not too tight (great!) and there are not excessively tricky tasks. A great set of levels to enjoy. I liked a lot the new special features, like Lara's invulnerability; the cutscenes and the flybies; the coll musics; excellent architecture; the great atmosphere and objects; and secrets not too hard to find. On the other hand, sometimes you must shoot something with revolver + sight and you are out of ammo for this gun; many times you must jump between levels to look for the items you need and it forces players to find often dead ends in many levels and make gameplay confused; there are rooms totally black (I can turn off my computer and it's the same, LOL!), another times you must shoot textures!!! in wall panels (I've never seen that in a custom level) and it's very easy get stucked 'cause you're looking for an object to shoot which doesn't exist; finally, in some levels like First Mision or the labs, was very tedious for me going here and there running a lot of times through the same places only to look for keys, press buttons or pull switches to finally go back a long way again and again to continue playing. Even so it's a fantastic adventure you can't miss. Congratulations." - Jose (11-Jun-2013)

"There you go, Donald is still one my very favourite builders with his classic yet original and varied games. There's the black & white touch of Lara's first encounter with adventure at the start and it develops from there on, with several very tough moments (but not as many and as much as publicity leads us to believe) and generally a rather interesting and accessible enough gameplay. Lara goes through Brazil, the snowy Tibet and its dreaded freezing water, labs a go go (and I do like lab environments, even the one that was already on the demo and which was slightly changed), Venice, a hotel, etc., until she ends in Saudi Arabia for perhaps a new adventure in four years from now, who knows? You can certainly tell why a good level takes so long to build... There were baddies all over, doable puzzles to keep one entertained and several different environments, plus characters other than Lara (I believe there's a less feminine version of Kurtis somewhere, am I wrong?) and a different sound for whenever you find the always welcome secrets (because most do come in handy). I actually can't tell what I liked the best but I can assure you I'll be looking forward to Episode One, oh yes I will!" - Jorge22 (31-May-2013)

"Excellent work and great adventure brought by Donald, is awesome the way that covered all aspects and each of the levels.22 levels of great quality and a very well designed gameplay, I thank the author for these six years of work, reflecting the great creativity and dedication, thumbs up Donald!" - McRaider (01-May-2013)

"Kudos to the builder for this super-hyper-massive large mega series (did I mention it's a big game?) - he managed to entertain me for over a month. Gameplay & Puzzles: get an 8 from me because I think that it's a nice achievement the builder created a 22 level game without overly boring the playerm but this game definately lacks variety in the puzzles and I think that several gameplay ideas get repeated way too often for me. Of course there are a few superb ideas, like the whole Egypt section which was highly inspired in my opinion, and most of the Brazilian levels (probably because they were placed at the start) were good fun too. Another problem is also that most levels are excessively large and it's hard to orientate in them, even more so since the path is as non-linear as it can get and camera hints were needed more often. Especially the final Venice levels (except the firs) are utterly confusing, the "highlight" being the maze-like submarine level where any kind of fun was killed by the maze-like layout and no clue where to go, and the hotel level that had too sameish rooms and thus one never knows where to go next. Still, the builder managed to create a great storyline that was carried through until the very end, the dialogues were supporting it greatly and all in all the sense of achievement is high throughout. Enemies, Objects & Secrets: get a full 10 for me and this is the category where I didn't have to think long before giving the rating. All technical achievements are fantastic and it's hard to list all of them; enemy placement is great (and I can forgive that in some levels there were a few too many); the mostly custom objects are doing their job extremely well and finding all 70 secrets (one of the rare occasions where the secret counter wasn't changed and is still correct!) was a fun sidequest - OK a small part of them was not really hidden at all but the rest of it really takes time and careful exploration Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: also get a 10 but I wasn't utterly sure about that. Granted - the five locations are nicely designed and the structure of the levels is great. But just like in the gameplay there are too many areas that looked pretty alike and the same object and texture usage in the respective section was not really helping that feeling. I still decided to give full marks because the whole design of the game, with all that in-between sequences, speeches and cutscenes is what really makes this game special and thus I couldn't really downrate it. Also, the sound usage was pretty perfect and the camera work is great - despite the fact that some camera shots for the next actions would be great. Lighting & Textures: get a 9 for me because there aren't many faults concerning texture placement (and I can forgive all I found), but the lighting has some room to improve since it's not very dynamic and often rather too bright and uniform, e.g. in Lost Island and Train Courtyard. Also, partly the choice of textures did not appeal me, some TR 2/3 textures felt a bit dated and the game would have benefited from a more fresh appearance, but that's a personal issue. But there are also some nicely designed areas - to pick a few, several of the interior areas in Dig Site and Underwater Exploration, and the Venizian outdoor areas looked quite pretty. All in all a very special game that will give you a lot of pleasure for your patience, and an undoubted masterpiece simply because of its sheer size. The only thing is that I don't think one should rate quantity over quality, and the quality of several levels is not that close to perfection that I can award it near-perfect to perfect marks, but if you search for a long adventure that still entertains highly, this one should be on your to-play list. Net gameplay time 12 hours 30 minutes." - manarch2 (25-Apr-2013)

"The first word that comes to mind in the review of one of my favorite builder's latest game's is: complicated! There are dozens of levels to play through - many of which you will re-visit. The gameplay is often difficult, but nothing insurmountable. Complications arise in a couple of different forms. For example, a shot guard will drop a key card, but only if you have completed a certain other task. If you shoot him too early you'll miss the card. DNF must have maintained a huge list of triggers in order to keep all this straight! You also find that if you're missing something like a key, you better re-visit all those areas you've been in because things may have changed since your last visit. After having played through all these levels you begin to loose track of all this stuff. It took me days to play this game, but I spent a lot of time back-tracking. There are also a few crashes in the game - no real idea what triggered them - reboot solved. But, oh wow! the gameplay! This game is chocked-full of wonderful, varied gameplay. It is so much fun! There is something for everyone here and just about every kind of venue. The enemies are also varied and tough on our girl - my advice is collect every piece of ammo and medmaks you can find. You will need them - and use them sparingly! So, what's the game all about? Lara is young and untested so into training she must go. All this is in preparation for her first mission. The tests are many and arduous, but Lara's up to the task and so are you! Thank you DNF for another masterpiece! And remember those beta-testers - they're worth their weight in gold!" - Mugs (02-Apr-2013)

"Total and insipensable adventure. Superb and different challenges (puzzles, traps, timeruns, exploration...). Graphically has a nostalgic factor. Cons: the use of the camera: Indicate nearby places but no distant locations or important objects." - requiemsoul (30-Mar-2013)

"Oh man now this is a game!!! Well, we have many talented builders on this site but only a few of those can build masterpieces - Donald is one of them!!! I played also his two previous adventures (Russia Episode 2 and Costa Rica Episode 3) but I haven`t reviewed them yet, I will when I replay them. I haven`t played a demo of this game but I knew the full game will be something special. I was waiting for this game so much!!! Donald can make very challenging gameplay in a classical style. Puzzles: yeah perhaps the strongest point in this game! They are so complicated that even experienced players may have problems to solve it. And of course you can find here many different puzzles which require lot of thinking, exploring, trying, noticing, and spot detials! You will be stuck here many times not knowing what to do next, some puzzles took me 3 or more hours to solve! But then the feeling that I finally solved it was great! I was stuck many times even in a small room (good builders can "lock players in a small room" ) or a solution was in front of my eyes but it was just hard to notice! Perfection! Enemies: all enemies are placed perfectly and every enemy is very well chosen for its typical location, maybe there are just too many of them, but you`ll have enough ammo, enough medipacks, perhaps a small amount of flares but you don`t need it there are no overly dark levels (there are just a few places where you use flares). Objects: all objects were very well placed and perfectly chosen and fitting the atmosphere. Music and background sound: very well chosen background loop sound and very beautiful audios fitting the situation and atmosphere as well. Cameras: Fantastic cutscenes and flyby cameras are accompanying you throughout the game. About the camera clues: well, there were many and helpful but perhaps more camera clues would be appreciated. Textures and lightings: just perfection, and very well applied. (There were some streched ones but it wasn`t so terrible) All of these aforementioned things are creating superbly amazing atmosphere!!! Overall: 22 levels plus revisiting some levels in various locations like natures, laboratories, cities, sewers, buildings, dungeons, train station, temples, underwaters etc. Well, now I must mention some of the bad things in this game. WorldFarView could have been set up in further view in some levels. Next there were some bugs reported like reaching the level which is not supposed to be reached yet (but it should be fixed now as author mentioned he sent a fixed tr4 file). I will not low my rating just because of these things. We must keep in mind that author was building this game 6 years and he also beta-tested it all by himself! I just can`t imagine how much work had to author put into creating this game. Even very experienced players will definitely gain some experiences in this TR. Took me 17 hours and 10 minutes of net playtime and I have found 55/71 secrets (very nicely and cleverly hidden secrets and I must definitely replay this game to find them all). The Training - Episode Zero became one of my top collection and I can absolutely recommend it for every TR player. Hm, difficult game? Yes absolutely!!! But my words are: If it wouldn`t be challenge than it would be boredom! Thank you so much Donald for this breathtaking unforgettable TR adventure. I am waiting for your next one :) 10/10/10/10" - OverRaider (28-Mar-2013)
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