Level: BtB2016 - Lara of Arabia back home search
Author(s): BtB 2016
total rating:9.25 Gameplay &
Objects &
Sound &
Lighting &
Drakan 10 10 10 10
Gorty 8 10 10 9
Jay 8 9 10 10
JesseG 8 9 9 8
Jorge22 10 10 10 10
Josey 8 9 9 10
Magnus 7 8 8 8
manarch2 8 8 10 9
Mman 10 10 10 10
MrJavi94 9 9 10 9
Phil 10 10 10 10
Revenge 9 10 10 10
Ryan 9 9 9 9
Talos 6 10 8 9
Thiago 10 10 10 10
Treeble 9 8 10 10
category averages
(16 reviews)
8.69 9.31 9.56 9.44

Reviewer's comments

"In this level, Lara's searching for the Atlantis of the Sands. What took Nathan Drake eight hours and a burning building, a shipwreck and a plane crash to find, is only a camel ride and a short stroll through a desert away for Lara, as she stumbles across the city she's looking for within minutes of starting the level. And although it doesn't compare to Uncharted 3, it still manages to be one of the better-looking levels in this year's competition. There's a good mix of small and large rooms - with larger rooms giving you plenty of opportunities to jump around - and it's all well-textured and well-lit. A lot of care has been put into every area, and it pays off. The biggest issue with the level is its complexity. There are just too many doors that need keys everywhere, and it's too easy to have to backtrack because you've missed something and too hard to know where that thing is. You're expected to remember where every unopened door is, and there are a lot of hard-to-spot shimmy cracks that you absolutely must find in order to not get stuck. None of this is a game breaker, but it's a bit of a shame, since when you are making progress, this level has some of the best gameplay of this year's competition. It's fun and it's snappy, and it's the kind of level where you'll drop sand down so you can push a mirror across a gap, instead of just raising blocks, which always feels somewhat artificial. Little things like that which really pay off in immersing you in the level. It's not really clear what the goal of the level is, since Lara finds the Atlantis of the Sands right at the start, and she goes on to pass through several treasure rooms which don't seem to strike her fancy. After around 75 minutes, she finally finds an artifact and the level ends. I guess she's always had a soft spot for those." - Magnus (26-Jun-2017)

"There have been several great looking levels in this BTB so far, but this one is on another level. It starts off comparatively humble compared to what it becomes, but the starting areas are still the first time I've seen the "desert" theme pulled off convincingly in this contest, and it keeps going up from there, with the "garden" areas near the end being the beautiful areas I've seen in this BTB so far. The lighting is also full of little touches that put it on another level, especially with how it's combined with things like fog layer objects.
The gameplay is very strong too, with a good mix of tasks, intricate areas and some creative ideas and objects uses. There's a ramp up in difficulty for most of it, but the last couple of areas seemed slightly simple; that and the somewhat anticlimactic ending being the closest things to issues I had with this level. There are several good levels in the BTB, but this is the first one that's truly felt like the full package to me, and the leftover ones are going to have a hard time beating this one as my favourite." - Mman (20-Jun-2017)

"Here we find caves again, and somewhat dark and full of crawling things. Other enemies in this game are far more dangerous, though, but mercifully not very difficult to kill. The big hall of the golden cage is very impressive, and that sequence of Lara passing inexplicably from the top of the cage to the bottom, and from the bottom to the top again, battling two enemies, is original, different. I enjoyed it. What I didn’t enjoy at all was the need of passing more than once by those hot chains, and the gymnastics involving cracked pillars, and walls, and the big golden cage, for it was quite difficult for Lara to devise where she had to go. In fact, the author seems to like very much cracked pillars as means of climbing anywhere, and there are quite a lot of repetitions involving some pillars, as in the area of the falling boulders. But as a counterpart, I enjoyed the jump lever quests; not very tight, and with a smart choice of paths for those who don’t like repetitions in timed runs. All in all, an enjoyable game, with an interesting variety of tasks." - Josey (15-Jun-2017)

"The thing that sticks out most in this level is the beautiful variety of sceneries which are seamlessly connected into an overall very atmospheric level. Texturing and lighting are especially well used (perhaps not perfectly) and it's really pure eye-candy most of the time. The gameplay is quite enjoyable and diverse, fluent despite some larger backtracks and not without its challenges. Perhaps it is sometimes not so much of the 'put your thinking cap on' side and the timed runs are also rather easy (the timed run you have to do at least three times is quite generously timed) and a few parts feel quite prolonging the gametimes needlessly. I don't quite understand why there is a door that opens on approach while there's a whole (thus optional) trap sequence which is solely dedicated to open this door. Still there are some nice scenes like the boulders raising a pool and the sand creating some path to move mirrors and the traps are quite interesting as well. The enemy placement is solid, sometimes a few objects and doors are not so perfectly placed. The seven secrets are mostly easy to find, a few are requiring a bit more. On the whole a nice 1 hour long entry in the competition that surely will end up at the upper ranks of the competition, also on my personal ones." - manarch2 (29-May-2017)

"I loved this adventure. Since the desert in the beginning to the wonderful end. Gameplay with traps, puzzles and backtracking here are enjoyable, nothing difficult but attention. Every area is unique, caves, buried temples, gardens... The colors are strong and this is captivating. Perfect atmosphere to a Persian adventure. Highly recommended and congratulations to author." - Thiago (28-May-2017)

"I have three levels still to play in the 2016 BtB competition, but Lara of Arabia is my favorite thus far. Having no knowledge of many of the builders, I won't try to match all the levels with names, but I'll be surprised if I'm wrong about this one. The balance between gameplay and surroundings is superb, and there are few dull and drab moments. The lighting is impeccable and the scenery is as gorgeous as anything I've seen in a custom level. I followed the walkthrough and got through in about two hours and 15 minutes. Anyone making it through in 46 minutes, or even 70, has played the level before and is replaying it simply for speed. Despite the breach of the one-hour rule, however, I kept wishing for the game to go on and was genuinely crushed when it all came to an abrupt end. The seven secrets are well hidden and provide valuable backpack additions to deal with the formidable enemies you'll encounter. The builder isn't stingy with explosive arrows, either. There's a nifty timed exercise in a large room with three jump switches, and an extensive puzzle involving a pushpiece. There are so many innovative touches that I can't begin to cover them all, but rest assured this is a gaming experience that no raider will want to miss." - Phil (20-May-2017)

"Perhaps it was the level that pleased me most, strangely it was the one I had to start again, for I missed an item that I did not find. In fact I had forgotten a switch because Lara did not want to go up where I had moved the block. The second time she went up without problems (?). This level is very attractive, with lots of ideas, large rooms and a few timed runs not very hard. Recommended." - Drakan (11-May-2017)

"A brilliant level that meets the guidelines for this BtB in the regards of length, unlike others like needed even more than a couple of hours to accomplish. Lara is in search for the Spacegoat Timewaster (namely the Hourglass) and she must pass through lots of challenges and timed runs in order to claim the most precious artifact she came for. Needed 46 minutes to finish this attractive level with all seven secrets on my backpack. I, once again, want to congratulate whoever has made this and also thank him/her for giving me (at least) such a pleasant time of playing." - MrJavi94 (08-May-2017)

"Another enjoyable entry and this one is mainly exploration based and involves utilising Lara's new movements, with a few minor puzzles and challenging timed runs contained herein. Not to say it is boring, it is entertaining, but it is mainly the agility tests that count here. The surroundings are again attractive, so that's another positive. This notched up at 70 minutes for me." - Ryan (04-May-2017)

"I enjoyed this Arabian travel immensely. The settings and sounds were great and, albeit not always player-friendly to the core, the action in this huge level was intriguing and clearly well balanced so as to not become overly frustrating. It also contained quite a few puzzles which kept me scratching my head at times but the biggest reward came everytime they were solved. Great entry." - Jorge22 (04-May-2017)

"This one gets off to a slightly slow start as Lara searches for the entrance to the lost city, but, once there, the action gets going nicely. There are some good puzzles, traps and enemy action and the settings are gorgeous - particularly the final room, so I was sorry to spend such a short time there. For the most part, it's logical gameplay although I did get stuck once or twice. I would say the difficulty level is aimed at the average player and can definitely recommend having a go." - Jay (02-May-2017)

"What an absolutely gorgeous level that was. I found myself so many times just staring at the beautiful environments that this level was offering. The lighting was beautiful, and the builder showed that they can build up some impressive complex architecture, that looked as well very realistic and TR-ish (for instance, the spiderwebs cave was very reminiscent of Tomb of Seth in my opinion). The gameplay was very good as well, although a few more puzzles would have been nice, since this level was more focusing on climbing big structures or avoiding traps, along with a good amount of ennemies to kill as well. The level was so good-looking anyway that the climbing parts weren't boring at all and were a pleasure to play, except maybe from a few times when I had to re-climb several times the same places. It wasn't that hard globally as well but there was still some tricky parts and overall it really was a pure pleasure to play. Congrats to whoever made this :D Statistics : 2h27, 5 secrets found." - Revenge (30-Apr-2017)

"Lara explores several courtyards, palaces, and caves to stake her claim on lost Arabian treasures. This was a bit of an extensive adventure. There were quite a few good, challenging trap sequences to keep the adrenaline going, as well as a good amount of combat. It felt satisfying to find those lovely treasure rooms. There was too much backtracking though, a good amount of it mandatory and some that could occur if you missed a puzzle item. There is even one time you have to do the same timed run 4 times in a row! Providing shortcuts so player didn't have to dodge the same traps over and over again would have been nice. There are also some unpolished parts of gameplay like the useless unicorn key. Enemies are used well, maybe a bit too many of those flying guys. It was the first time I got the Viper Staff and I had great fun using it. Decorative objects are used well and help to tell the story of treasure hunting in the middle east. I managed to find 4 of the secrets and enjoyed uncovering them. The level has good architecture going for it, although there was something tiring about seeing all those impractically tall corridors Lara had to shimmy up. Music is effectively used at combat encounters and cutscenes. Flybys were used well to show off the nice surroundings, but some of the fixed cameras held their beauty shots infinitely, making it hard to maneuver Lara when you couldn't see her. In the beginning the textures felt a bit wallpapered and the triangular ones were distorted in places, but the texturing got better as the level progressed. The lighting was too dark and I spent many flares just to do basic exploration. Thankfully there is a torch that helped counteract this, and I carried it everywhere with me until I reached the end of the level. Overall a long level that may test raiders' patience, but is overall rewarding. 1 hour 55 minutes." - JesseG (30-Apr-2017)

"I won't lie - it took a while until this level finally clicked with me. I have encountered several 'problems' here, such as being able to simply crawl under two closed grates, one gate opening early and reaching the end of the world in one of the initial exterior areas (I knew there'd be a secret somewhere in there, but instead of looking down I went up). On the other hand, I just couldn't help but admire how beautiful most of the environments looked. You are tasked with the quest for two prayers and both revolve around a number of minor subquests, at times it's not entirely too clear but mostly they're self contained, so if you find yourself backtracking it's because you've overlooked something the first time around. I don't know if it was entirely intentional, but I also loved the main chamber area, very reminiscing of the syrian tomb in Rise of the Tomb Raider. 130 minutes, 5 secrets. 04/17" - Treeble (29-Apr-2017)

"The first level of this year’s BtB competition I picked based on the screenshots ( seemed to be the best one ). It is really a masterful level and a great choice to begin with. It starts in the sand dunes that look really good textured and lit, but fail to completely mask the ˝end of the world˝. Suggestion would be to lower the floor, rise the hills or build more around them. I had some problems figuring out the skull was pushable as I did approach it from several sites but Lara just didn’t recognize the pushable for some reason. After the dunes I entered some beautiful designed caves. Some really good usage of fog objects there. After that I found myself again in some caves and dunes that did look a bit odd in texturing. I entered a side crack in the cliffs and landed in a magnificent, stunning and beautiful designed caves … breathtaking ! Great combining of architecture, textures and objects. Also, I have to admit praise the good usage of music in triggered events. Gameplay was interesting with no cryptic hidden key segments. After a while I discovered the beautiful designed huge room that did had some objects with non-proper light. This problem with the object light continued further. After entering the big room the gameplay got confusing and too cryptic in some parts. The room with the 3 jump switches gave me real headache. Also, the room with the pushable mirror … I lurked there around ˝for hours˝ trying to figure out what to do, push every wall and jump on everything. You know you are frustrated when you draw the pistol and shoot around like a crazy person to eventually hit something shatterable., but the answer to my agony was on the opposite side of the level. I enjoyed many gameplay parts and some ideas were really interesting ( the cage in the middle of the room, some really nice climbing passages ). The boss fight were triggered very nicely and effective, but the boss in the golden cage was an example of bad placement as I just standed still, while boss was just firing out of direction, aiming for ghost. Some beautiful environment revealed itself again after placing the hours glass. The level did continued for a bit too long. Took me more than 2 hours ( recorded time ) to finish, which is too long for a BtB level. Mostly I progressed through the level smoothly until some of the very unlogic planned parts. Overall, an amazing level with a bit too long and sometimes confusing gameplay. Highly recommended !" - Gorty (19-Apr-2017)

"Start review of the levels of BtB Persian with this. Lara is in search of the legendary Ubar (or Iram of the Pillars), known as the Atlantis of the Desert. Following the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia, our heroine reaches the ruins buried by the sands. Exploring the ruins of the city there is immediately made aware of the vastness of this level, and the rooms nothing short of huge. And these are the real problems: the sheer size of certain rooms (why create such large rooms? Why?!) And the gameplay too long. Too much, really. I took 3 ½ hours to complete this level, and it's a lot. A whole part of gameplay seems useless, only inserted to stretch (and nervous) player. Everything is great until the enigma with the sand and the hourglass. Then he starts to become a bit 'too excessive. Up to go nice when you grab the torch, until the end The beginning and the end instead are very beautiful, but it's what's in between that often tired. Which it is a shame, because the level is very nice, but it is exaggerated. Dispersive and much backtracking, and with huge rooms is even greater. Some rooms have an architecture quite implausible (Assyrian and textures along with those Moorish style) The puzzles and objects instead are magnificent, not trivial (I love them, I want them !!) and intuitive (if you know Prince of Persia The Sands of Time, Warrior Within and The Two Thrones are benefited with this BtB), but it is the excessive length of the level and the extent of the real problem areas. In conclusion: a valid level, but vast and dispersed. Still worth a play. I really enjoyed that, despite this." - Talos (18-Apr-2017)
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