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Level: Search for the Golden Elephant - Part 2: Inside Valek Ruins back home search
Author(s): Lara_Fox_Croft
total rating:9.01 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Angel_K 10 10 10 10
Bigfoot 10 10 10 10
DJ Full 8 9 9 8
Don007 8 9 9 9
Drakan 10 10 10 10
Jay 10 10 10 10
Jose 6 8 8 8
LarangL 9 10 10 10
lesandwichpants 8 10 10 9
manarch2 7 9 8 8
MegaGamer 10 10 10 10
Phil 9 10 10 9
Rambo 6 8 9 7
requiemsoul 7 8 8 8
Ryan 8 9 9 9
sonnyd83 10 10 10 10
TimJ 8 8 8 8
category averages
(17 reviews)
8.47 9.29 9.29 9.00

Reviewer's comments

"This is a very, very large and expansive level, despite it only being a single one. Don't get me wrong, it is very good, but in no way is this a quick raid. It's very complex and occasionally confusing, with new areas opening up very often, mostly with the acquisition of keys or the activation of switches. It's not that the actual gameplay tasks are difficult (with the possible exceptions of the monkeyswing-to-rope manoeuvre and the tightropes), but there's a huge area to explore and it's difficult to get started. Once you establish a starting point, it does flow a bit better and mainly revolves around exploration and item finding, but there are a couple of nicely thought out block puzzles and even a boss battle to contend with. The atmosphere is certainly impressive and the main courtyard is a thing of beauty, so no complaints there. I did find myself experiencing lag, so I had to play in windowed mode, which was slightly irritating, probably due to the vastness of the map. But there are some pretty neat touches here like the combination of herbs to make medipacks, and the way that the environment didn't seem so blocky. A good option for those who enjoy exploration." - Ryan (04-Jul-2018)

"A long level in a very large map you'll have to memorize if you don't want to be lost. Once you have it in mind, which may require playing the level twice - just as I did - everything is easier. Then you see all the creativity of the author who made a level based on exploration with a lot of work behind he scenes. Preventing the player from finding shortcuts in a large closed map is something really hard to do I presume. The atmosphere, gameplay and sounds are all very well balanced together to bring you a unique experience. The only things I would complain about are some textures not well applied/aligned in some places, the long tightrope above lava where you can't save, and also this monkey swing to rope movement almost impossible to do in less than a dozen of attempts. Despite these little annoyance, all the rest is brilliant. I'm thinking especialy of the pushable/raising blocs puzzle which is well thought and needs some thinking, or simply some small details like items in Lara's hand when she uses them or the sword (crowbar) on Lara's back. There is also some meta work to enhance long flat walls and bring some round shapes but not too much, which keeps the level a classic one. In conclusion, I strongly recommend this level to all players." - LarangL (01-Jul-2016)

"Here you have a textbook example of a custom animation which is so great it disturbs the progress - I tried so many times to grab that rope that I eventually thought the animation is supposed to work against grabbing it, and so I got lost until the walkthrough. Also this is one of kinds when usage of meta wasn't necessary, for instance the light beams coming through the doors look like graphic errors instead. Now for the good, the game is a total reboot and much improvement of the builder's style - the environment is more natural, item focus is balanced between minor and major pickups, enemies are placed in correct spots, secrets are satisfying and several modern yet not overdone NG tweaks are applied like the temperature timer and unusual medikit combo. SUMMARY: I cannot say this is my type of level because the mood is constantly heavy without any break, but the design is mostly technically fine and some neat stuff is here to watch." - DJ Full (11-Jun-2016)

"The first thing to say, is that I've been playing TRLE levels for 15 years now and for me, this is one of the most unique and special games I've had the fortune to play. It has left a lasting impression on me, and only a few levels do. One of the most important things to mention is how long I spent here. The timer in game gave 5 hours 52 in the credits at the end, but it did take about 15 hours so almost 3 times longer! Bear in mind, this is just one level, so don't be fooled by the number of .TR4 files - most of them are cutscenes. The fact that Anthony has managed to squeeze so much into a single space, is just testament to his professionalism and quality of his level building. So to the important part, the level itself. This takes place inside the Valek Ruins, which appears to be an abandoned village in an enormous cave. I did once play the demo of outside the Valek Ruins, but not the full version. The first thing that strikes me here, is that the geometry is fully 3D and he has created special 3D walls, so softening the edges and creating a realistic and convincing environment. He has used many objects such as boulders to stop Lara from entering areas she should not go. The texturing has the appearance of a castle in many places, I can certainly imagine myself being here centuries ago. One thing I noticed was the attention to detail, it was the smallest of things, and these include amongst other things, some floor textures had light spots to simulate shadows, keys stayed in key holes when placed there, chickens roaming about, Lara's 'being crushed to death' animation when a ceiling comes down on her, she only dies if she falls on the tops of spikes rather than being on the square, obviously the new way to combine herbs into medipacks, and the sound effect of objects like the rope (chain). The soundscape was pretty good with some beautiful or tense music tracks where required, but I noticed the same spooky TR4 track playing in the background throughout. There were a few flyby's but not too many, but the main camera sequences were at the beginning when Lara finds out the details of the mission, and the credits at the end for example. Of course, I've saved the best bit until last, which is the gameplay! The level focusses very much on exploration, which of course, is what Tomb Raiding is all about. You need to search for 3 crosses, and sword pieces. The latter form a crowbar and once found, you get access to many more areas to explore. In fact, the more buttons you press and keys you place, the more the level seems to get bigger! There's a lot of incredibly dangerous moments such as traversing monkey bars or lava whilst flames are switched on, deadly spiders, ghosts, and generally climbing about at great heights. Some of the best parts of the game, were the boss fight at the end with the giant eyeballs firing down at you, underneath the church with a lava filled room - believe me, Lara was not the only one screaming in agony when she happened to fall in lava when almost across a tightrope! There was a long puzzle with pushable blocks where you had to raise some blocks up in order that the pushables can be placed on a specific square, this is not as easy as it looks because pulling levers on one side also affects blocks on the other side of the room. The timed runs were reasonably timed throughout the game which is always a bonus. There's only a couple of minor bugs, the first is that when you place the puzzle pieces in their respective slots, the 'puzzle done' objects appears before you fully place the puzzle item! The other is occasionally when you jump into an object by mistake, Lara jumps into the air and then falls down to her death, this is noticeable when jumping from a second rope (chain) to an unintended roof below. One more thing to note is that most of the treasure chests in the game are empty, more so near the beginning, I would suggest more of them contain items. In conclusion, this is very special game and truly deserves the high ratings it has had so far." - sonnyd83 (16-Nov-2015)

"Long and complex level. Many exploration in these large rooms, there are few enemies before the final fight pretty hard against the hydra, we must understand it as I did in my video. There is a great puzzle with poussables. Excellent." - Drakan (13-Oct-2014)

"What a long and complex level! I spent more than 4 hours of net game to finish it. The village is huge and there's a lot of exploration and a lot of tasks to do, but most are pushing buttons and finding keys to open doors. Very few enemies and very few puzzles to solve, the one with four floor levers and two moveable cages was really tedious and complex, also the drop to grab the chain from the wooden monkey bars took me a lot of tries and reloads. Anyway it's a solid level with a convincent environment and a lot of work behind with many cameras helping you along the way. Recommended if you like huge doses of exploration." - Jose (24-Aug-2014)

"A successful and magnificent level! It's not perfect, but very good, there's maybe a bit too much confusion but I still enjoyed it for a breathtaking scenery and good traps. Very well done." - Don007 (13-Jun-2014)

"Despite the formidable download of 212MB, this is a single level that packs in enough gameplay to consume about three hours of net gaming time. My default setting is windowed mode, and so I never experienced the lag reported by other reviewers. There's a provided was.exe file that I assume addresses this problem, but I noticed no difference whether I used it or not. The game map is fairly compact but consists of a number of different areas, some of which need to be revisited from time to time. You get no weapons other than the high-powered pistols you start with, but they provide plenty of firepower to handle the relatively few enemies you encounter. There's a slam bang fight at the end with a demigod and a trio of eyeball hydras, and it takes considerable effort to find a safe vantage point from which you can start picking them off. The overall atmosphere is dark and forbidding, but I had no problem seeing everything around me quite clearly. The flares last an inordinately long time, too, and I rarely found the occasion to use one. Lesandwichpants has provided a helpful YouTube walkthrough, and the builder was kind enough to point out to me the location of the five secrets (although I'm still looking for one of them). A high-quality adventure that should be enjoyed by all. High recommendations." - Phil (16-Apr-2014)

"I can just congratulate this wonderful level through Russia. The game start with a very beautiful cutscene who resume the part 1 and then the game start. We discovered a giant cave with a lot of castles, houses and ruins and of course a lot of tasks to do. The level is not very difficult, some objects are very well hidden but I think nothing impossible. There are also a very good brain teaser with 2 pushables and 4 switchs. Someting I really liked is Lara has the items in hands when she use it in a puzzle hole and key hole. Not many enemies exept few spiders and boss and not very difficult to kill ... except maybe for the last three boss but if you are logical it's finally easy to kill them. I have really enjoying the author use Meta2tr because it's look like a real cave. I have also really enjoying the textures and the lighting is not very dark and not veary clear. My only regret is I not found the all secrets, just 2. After the final battle, we are a beautiful cutscene and I can suppose a part3 is still coming. To conclude: A perefct game to keep on your computer. For me a perfect 10 because a lot of original and beautiful news things ;). Recommended for everyone." - BigFoot (07-Apr-2014)

"Gameplay & Puzzles: A very boring game with not many puzzles, those are interesting and fun, but the rest is just running from one place to another, as great as others might think it is, it wasn't for me. Enemies, Objects & Secrets: There are good new objects in this level, but some of them are buggy and there are wrong animations, e.g. pickup in a crawlspace. Secrets were well hidden as well as (too few) enemies. Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: The atmosphere is good, nice sounds and cameras, the architecture is great what I didn't expect from a underground area (one mistake: a bit cubic), the lava areas - well done. Lighting & Textures: Solid textures/lights but as said all the same, all buildings have the same textures, and lighting is too flat. Total: 7,5/10, not entertaining and beautiful enough, at least well atmospheric." - Rambo (05-Apr-2014)

"Nice! Bravo! Flawless! Great! Excellent! I have more great things to say, but that might take days! XD Anyways, another great level that put a smile on my face. Nice job Anthony! Totally a level that deserves a spot in the hall of fame! :)" - MegaGamer (03-Apr-2014)

"Solid level. Not particularly brilliant, but lacking major defects. Interesting exploration, worked atmosphere, few enemies and lack of some more creative puzzle.Recommended" - requiemsoul (03-Apr-2014)

"Excellent level! We saw how many effort you have made. Don't give up!!!" - Angel_K (02-Apr-2014)

"Overall, Inside Valek Ruins is a beautifully designed and unique level. The puzzles mainly consist of buttons, levers, and a lot of backtracking, so I wouldn't recommend this to you if you are looking for a more linear and straightforward level. A major problem of this level is that the map is extremely huge. It may possibly cause frame rate issues and lag, so that could ruin the experience for you, but not entirely. Besides this, there aren't many other major faults that caught my eye. The level design is consistent and resembles what I believe to be an ancient, underground village. The textures, audio, and scenery definitely lives up that theme. The plot isn't a major factor in the gameplay. It's mostly there as context then leaves you with a cliffhanger (which isn't a bad thing). There are a variety of enemies both cleverly placed and entertaining to fight. I enjoyed playing the level and look forward to a sequel!" - lesandwichpants (01-Apr-2014)

"After some serious consideration I decided not to write a more elaborate review about this level, because IMO, Tim has already excellently described it all. The start was really confusing and I'd have appreciated if the various paths the builder has designed all would lead to a place where one can actually perform some action, instead of realizing there's nothing else to do, leading to quite a bit of pointless exploration. The further you get into the game, the better it gets though and there were some neat ideas in this level, tough timed tasks, fun secrets and great fights, but I felt that everything could be somewhat coherent and intense than it's presented here. The looks and animations used are more than decent, and the sheer scale of the area is impressive alone, with particularly some great novel effects put to good use, but the atmosphere suffers from the lack of a sun in each room and the overall similar-ness in texturing. With this level the builder has proved he's highly talented, but at the same time he definately should hone his "classic TR" building skills more and shouldn't rely too much on the next generation supplies. Found four secrets in 90 minutes." - manarch2 (31-Mar-2014)

"This is a level of delightful contrasts, the huge, somewhat forbidding architecture versus the homely comfort of chickens clucking away in the courtyard being a good example. It certainly is a big area to explore, but you will eventually become familiar with the various routes as you'll almost certainly be visiting a lot of them multiple times if you get as confused as I did. Not that I minded in the least as I was having such a good time. Difficulty wise, this may not be for beginners but nor is it aimed at the elite few top players either. The timed elements are generous and the only thing I found at all tricky was the tightrope walking. There are nice touches throughout the game - medipacks are made by combining various plants Lara forages along the way (generously supplied) and in a couple of lava rooms Lara's health diminishes with the high temperatures so you can't afford to hang about. Enemies range from the familiar and easily dealt with to the unusual and definitely bothersome, all effectively used and somehow surprisingly organic to the plotline. Puzzles are well thought out, if a touch over reliant on pushables, and the overall atmosphere is excellent. I found it to be such an immersive experience that I lost all track of time playing it, which is probably one of the best recommendations one can give. I just loved it." - Jay (30-Mar-2014)

"Inside Valek Ruins is a long level (2h and a half for me) set in an underground city. You're visiting various middle-age building including a cimetery, a church and other places that are bit more unwelcoming (with lava and fire). The level is not too hard but involves a lot of exploration and backtracking with levers opening doors on the other side of the map. You'll have to search for numerous keys and puzzles among the ruins, avoiding ghosts and mostly killing spiders. Their was some clever placed enemies and even a puzzle involving a quiet march to avoid waking some furious beasts. All in all the level was pleasant to play but I began to look forward to finishing it near the end. That might be due to the global gloomy atmosphere. I'd have appreciated some places with a change in the ambiance. Lara Fox Croft used meta2tr to enhance the look and feel of his level. I don't really know what to think about this. I can see that much effort has been made throughout the level in its entirety, but was the result satisfying ? The uses of this tool did not remove the cubic aspect of the game and added some bugs like disappearing walls and above all an enormous lag. The added light effects were nicely made but seemed less dynamic than the game engine light. On one side I'd say that the use of meta2tr wasn't useful and on the other side I'm sure that Lara Fox Croft should continue using it to improve its mastery over the tool. What I saw here was a glimpse of the given possibilities and it looks promising for future levels. I'd add it's a pity that much effort were put in reshaping the level with meta2tr when on the other hand some static objects did not look like well integrated in the level. The overall aesthetic effort was not complete. But lot of over details impressed me like the crowbar on Lara's back or the animation when she used a key or a puzzle. I'd like to say that the secrets were not hard to find but I missed one so... they might not be that easy. The final sequence with the boss fight left me a bit puzzled as I don't really know how I managed to do it. It seemed a bit random and based on luck. If you like exploration and gloomy atmosphere this level is certainly recommanded and I'm looking forward to playing part 3." - TimJ (29-Mar-2014)
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