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Level: BtB2016 - Lara Croft and the Forty Thieves back home search
Author(s): Chronicles5
total rating:9.26 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Adrian 10 10 10 9
Drakan 10 9 10 10
Gorty 8 8 10 10
Jay 9 8 9 10
JesseG 9 9 9 9
Jorge22 9 10 10 10
Josey 8 10 9 10
Leeth 8 8 7 9
Magnus 6 6 6 7
manarch2 9 8 10 10
MichaelP 10 9 10 9
Mman 9 10 9 9
MrJavi94 7 10 10 10
Mytly 9 9 10 10
okuhtfesq 10 9 9 10
Phil 10 10 10 10
Revenge 10 10 10 10
Ryan 9 9 10 10
Thiago 10 10 10 10
Tolle87 10 10 10 10
totizedger 9 8 10 10
Treeble 10 9 10 10
Zhyttya 8 9 7 10
category averages
(23 reviews)
9.00 9.04 9.35 9.65

Reviewer's comments

"I do not hand out a 10 for gameplay easily, but this adventure really gets a lot of things so very right. Take note though that I am talking as a seasoned raider here - novices will likely be quickly and easily frustrated and may even give up not far into the game, as some of the jumps, traps and timed runs are not for the faint of heart. Personally, I had a ball playing though. The main areas are very well constructed and impressive in design and looks. With only two more levels to play in this competition this one is the first to make extensive and memorable use of flowing lava and plenty of burners in one area. The bathhouse is a great large room as well with its unqiue mechanics of going down and up a water column and if you do not get confused in the palace with the mirror rooms then you must really have a perfect sense of orientation. I did suffer from a little bit of lag in some places, but nothing too bad really. I counted 25 thieves, so I guess the other 15 must have been on holidays or so ;) And I really liked the secrets, especially the final one that required a bit of planning and stealth to get. Wonderful adventure, but needs a skilled and patient raider to conquer it. [87 min, 5 secrets]" - MichaelP (30-Jul-2017)

"This was one of my favourites in this competition. You basically explore a huge city setting which screams eye candy which is both a postive thing and a negative thing at the same time. All of the objects lead to the frame rate dropping when looking in certain directions which got pretty annoying. This level is also not for beginners as there are some nasty trap and jump sequences here. Only part i didn't like about the gameplay was jumping around on the roof to get to several items as that wasn't very obvious. The mirror puzzle was quite tricky but i really liked that, also having a good sense of orientation is needed here. What this level does best is it's visuals and it is quite impressive in that way with being able to see the whole setting from the rooftops which really makes the setting feel authentic. A level that can be enjoyed by moderate to expert players as some of the tasks can be a bit annoying for beginners. Highly Recommended!!" - totizedger (30-Jul-2017)

"As soon as the opening flyby starts, you realize an expert builder stands behind this level. It looks more like a movie sequence than the level intro with some doors opening and people doing their own business, while all being followed by the appropriate audio. At the moment you gain control over Lara, you'll see the point of the title as you are immediately surrounded by bandits. After a short battle, you will have some time to explore your surroundings and it won't take you long to realize that you've found yourself in the fully functional city. It's not just typical setup that consists of just a few streets. It's huge, breathtaking and brilliantly designed place. There are palaces, gardens, bathrooms that can be reached only by the river which flows through the city and much more. Texturing and especially lighting are just perfect. At few points, you can even reach the rooftops and have a full view of the city from the above. It might bring some lag, but I really can't force myself to take any points for that. The tasks are also great. The main goal is to find four star items in order to gain access to the current changing mechanism. The stars are scattered throughout the city and you can search for them in any order you like. On your way, you will visit already mentioned bathrooms with some elaborate water physics, a lovely and mysterious mirror palace (maybe a little obscure at some points), some old temple ruins with some complex agility tasks and one hub-like area with some nice lever puzzles. As the title suggests, there are many thieves in your way and they are more annoying than dangerous. It's that kind of enemy that can reflect uzi bullets by casually moving their sword in front of themselves. Fortunately, there are not 40 of them (at least not directly killable). Sound and cameras are great from start to finish. Every area has appropriate introduction, starting from already mentioned opening flyby, to the final palace and epilogue. The boss fight is a common big room scaling sequence, something that has become typical in recent years. Not much more to say, you just have to play this game, it's a masterpiece in every way!" - Tolle87 (02-Jul-2017)

"A lovely laggy experience. Even if it was a beautiful place, full of lovely details on puzzle and simple but satisfying puzzles to solve, the hole experience was a bit spoiled by the lag it had if you were in areas with a big draw distance. It's not the first but one of the rare levels that this happen, and i was not expecting this on a BtB. The open world experience was a bit confusing at the beginning but it turned out amazing, the platforming was great as well. Enemies had a big variety and were really different to defeat from each other. One thing that annoyed me as well was the music, it was a great choice but the way it starts and end really gets on you, a bit of work in that department would have help a lot! Still, highly recommended for a full tomb raider experience since its a really complete level" - Leeth (01-Jul-2017)

"This was really a good experience, and the first one of BtB 2016 for me. It had a good vibe between non-action and action scenes. It had a horrible lag issue, hence my 7 on the 3rd topic, but honestly it almost didn't bother because i was just amazed by the rest of the scenarios that i was watching, still it's annoying and sometimes it got on my nerves. There's really nothing to point out on the level design, it is an open level so you will roam a lot at first, but once you start going, then the level actually becomes quite linear, and not that hard to play through. The horse fight was a bit problematic though, the speed of the horses was high enough that i had problems on turning around to kill off the rider, but eventually he fall off and i killed him. Not my top favorite TRLE but it's pretty close. Completely recommend anyone to play through this, just bare with the lag issues and enjoy the breath taking areas and the overwhelming music (even though sometimes it's just a BIT to loud)." - Zhyttya (01-Jul-2017)

"I started playing this level right at this beginning of this BtB, but I was so frustrated at the extreme lag in the outdoor areas – in some spots, the framerate was down to 2 fps, and Lara took several seconds to move one step – that I put it aside to play later. When I returned to it several weeks later, I managed to grit my teeth and deal with the lag, but I did have a couple of other issues. I missed the Magic Staff in the Fire Temple, and had to backtrack through the whole fire temple to get it. The maze-like interior of the Mevlana Palace, with its numerous mirrored rooms, was rather annoying – I had to resort to following the walkthrough step-by-step in order to keep from running around in circles. That’s all the bad stuff; now for the good stuff – and there’s lots of it. I love the whole bathhouse area, especially the two timed runs there. The three-switch puzzle in the gardens is great too. The jumps in the fire temple are fun – I didn’t even really mind doing them twice. Changing the current of the river is a really ingenious idea. The stealth part for getting the last secret is nice.
I was worried that – going by the name of the level – it would be filled with enemies. However, the enemies are pretty well used (though there are indeed plenty of them), and there’s a ton of ammo and weapons, so you can deal with them quite easily. The boss fight – in which you have to avoid a boss rather than fight it – is not bad, since it isn’t very long.
Looks and atmosphere-wise, this level really can’t be beat. The city of Yazd is beautifully built – the view of it from the rooftops is spectacular. Each of the individual locations – the bathhouse, the fire temple, the gardens, the palace and the thieves’ hideout – has its own colour scheme, and they all look amazing (my favourite is the bathhouse).
Overall: Apart from the lag and the couple of other problems mentioned above, this level is nearly perfect in every way, and one of my favourites in BtB 2016. Highly recommended." - Mytly (29-Jun-2017)

"When picking the first level to play in this year's (last year's? It's a bit confusing) Back to Basics competition, I naturally *had* to start with the level based on Disney's classic direct-to-video sequel Aladdin and the King of Thieves. Things were off to a rocky start when I couldn't install the level (I miss the simpler times, when all you had to do was download the project file, load it up in WinRoomEdit with the appropriate wad and texture sets, output the wad and create the TR4 file in Tomb2PC), but in the end it turned out that the problem was my lack of a grasp on how WinZip works. All that was forgotten once I finally managed to boot up the level, and was greeted with a flyby showing some thieves running amok on the streets of Yazd, Iran (although if you haven't read the story for the level, you'd think the circus had come to town, with all the jumping around the thieves are doing). The goal of the level is to find four star keys in order to reach the thieves' hideout. To find them you have to go through four different areas: a bathhouse, a fire temple, an... um... mirror shop and a... door area. The streets look really nice, and you can get a nice view of the city from the rooftops, but the framerate takes quite a hit because of those big outside areas. The author seems really fond of the most garish textures and there are generally way too many objects in every room. It looks good sometimes, but other times it's a bit of a visual mess. The actual challenges you have to overcome to get the star keys aren't that interesting, and I sort of sleepwalked my way through the level. Whenever I got stuck, it was because of something stupid, like when I pulled a switch and a camera showed a block being lowered - and it turned out that there was *another' block that had also secretly been lowered. Or when I missed a key outside and I had *no idea* where it could be and I ran around for ages trying to find it. Or the whole mirror area, where even once I found what I was supposed to look for I couldn't tell what it was and you then have to look in a mirror that isn't actually a mirror and the whole place is just a mess. Otherwise, it's a very standard adventure, with some switches and some easy traps and plenty of thieves to shoot (I didn't count forty, but maybe that's for the best). The highlight for me was reaching the roof of the fire temple by jumping on rooftops from the roof of the bathhouse, which allowed me to skip what seemed like an annoying timed run involving fire. The whole thing is a typical middle-of-the-road level, which is neither great nor terrible, and it's just sort of bland and doesn't leave a lasting impression. It's a bit like your standard Disney sequel that way. And like your standard Disney sequel, it'll take you about seventy minutes to finish, and you’ll be glad when it’s over." - Magnus (26-Jun-2017)

"The setting is very well realised here, with a town area that you gradually open up as you explore. There's scale, variety, and good object use to enhance things further. The only general issue is that performance is a little bad at times (if understandable with how open it is). One or two areas are a little less interesting looking and it doesn't quite have the wow factor for me to go all the way, but it's very close. As I mentioned earlier, the level does a great job having an open design that gradually unravels. There's a good mix of tasks (including some original features like the waterfall use at a certain point) and it's relatively intuitive despite being quite large and complex. A mirror maze section felt like it went on a bit without really mixing up the concept much, but that's the closest thing to an issue I had. The open layout also allows you to access certain parts earlier than intended, although it's pretty obvious when that's the case. An excellent entry and likely to be a contender for one of my favourites in this contest." - Mman (10-Jun-2017)

"This level starts with a quite impressive starting cutscene you really have to see and really delivers afterwards. It's obvious that the builder took a lot of time to create the huge and breathtaking temple area, lighting and texturing are also of a very high standards, aside of a couple of not perfectly clashing blue brick textures and one or two areas with ever so slightly flat lighting I really can't fault this level much and the sheer beauty of these vast areas is something that is barely seen in other levels. This is also one of actually few levels that manage to combine exploration, traps and puzzles into a coherent and immersive raid that is not without its not so good moments (yes the lag is quite prominent especially in the upper levels of the bathhouse and the gameplay is a bit slow at times, so I think one point lower in the second category is agreeable), but mainly is very entertaining and has many highlights like the timed run in the bathhouse, a great and extensive mirror puzzle (not really confusing if you ask me), a lot of nice traps and so on The combat is also quite nice in this game, one sequence with a hard weapon and some fixed cameras is also memorable, yet also the fight against the last thief wave in the palace, which is even more nice if you go for the last secret which is really awesomely hidden, as are the other four secrets. It all ends with an epic finale and so I was rather sad when the level ended after 55 minutes for me. One of my two favourite levels of the competition – highly recommended of course." - manarch2 (29-May-2017)

"Lara goes sight-seeing in Yazd to seal away a Djinn whose bandits keep harassing the town. The gameplay length was just right and had a satisfying conclusion. There is a good amount of timed runs and traps to get in Lara's way, and often times those two appear together. I particularly liked how you would make the river current reverse directions to reach the final area. The only thing I would change would be to add more puzzles to round out the level with the rest of the gameplay. The combat was engaging, but the "boss fight" at the end was a bit of a let down because your guns get disabled (I'm usually saving up my ammo for this moment!), and you have to use ropes and shimmy around while he's shooting at you. The decor is quite lavish in most of the areas, helping the town feel alive. The town is big and sprawling, but it is structured in a sensible manner overall and I enjoyed exploring it. The audio is used well and enhances the combat scenarios. There was a missing camera cue for a jumpswitch lowering a raising block, which can lead to wasted time if the player doesn't recall it. The flybys are used very well, especially the beginning and end. As far as texturing goes, I would have broken up the flooring a bit more, but otherwise they are well done. The lighting is great as well, I particularly liked the lighting they used on the mist, to give a dusty feeling to certain areas. Overall the level is solidly built in every aspect, and a strong contender in my book. 1 hour 33 minutes." - JesseG (28-May-2017)

"This is definitely a huge adventure. A dazzling and dangerous stroll through the city at night. The map is large and may seem intimidating at first, but once you get used to it, it's easy for you to come and go. I loved the mirrors rooms puzzle. This was the level that took the most time to complete of this BtB, but it was rewarding. Super recommended and congratulations to author." - Thiago (28-May-2017)

"Up to the Mevlana Palace part, I was indeed convinced that this level certainly deserved a full round of 10s. What with the creative traps, not too difficult, and great fun (didn’t you enjoy those sliding walls?), the smart use of waterfalls at that lovely part of the Babylon Bathhouse (I even liked the timed runs, and generally I hate them), the nice levers’ puzzle, and the astoundingly beautiful view of the city from the rooftops, coupled with a sequence of tasks that was non- linear, but didn’t make the player feel stuck and lost, a round of 10s was certainly indicated. Well… all of it lasted up to the Mevlana Palace, as I have said, because that part was quite confusing and frankly irritating, with the multiplicity of similar rooms, the far from clear indications of fake walls, and so on. Next, we have an annoying camera part where Lara has a lot of difficulty to find a valve wheel, a series of not very clear necessary or unnecessary actions at the thieves hideout (what was accomplished pressing that button near the flautist, was a mystery to me, before reading the walkthrough), and an unnerving boss sequence for Aladdin’s Lamp! The only solace was the beauty present everywhere… So, we have here a level done by a seasoned, talented and creative author that just missed to be excellent. Nevertheless, a sound, mightily good work." - Josey (23-May-2017)

"When I started I immediately said: "oh lala, still a very long adventure" because I could not find anything to do except run around lol. But after having inspected everywhere, I started in the pool room with the 2 timeruns, everything was chained, apart for the last city seal that I was able to recover in the maze mirror. Final fairly easy with the gun to kill the last enemies, and jump rope to finish on a nice flyby. Recommended." - Drakan (18-May-2017)

"This amazing creation only has a problem, which wasn't so small after all, and is the lag present in many areas of it, especially in those outdoors area of the palace, including the Babylon baths and some other big areas. But aside from that, this is the result of a great effort presumably made by an accomplished and experienced builder who paid lot of passion in creating such piece. Needed 39 minutes to finish this really nice level (except for the extremely annoying lag, that explains the grade given to the Gameplay section) with the five secrets found on my own, last of which was a pretty nice and original quest. Congratulations to the builder and also big thanks for giving this precious gift." - MrJavi94 (08-May-2017)

"This is an astonishingly gorgeous level, so gorgeous that I didn't all mind the two hours plus of gameplay that is required to complete it. It's complicated as well, with many side rooms that must be passed through several times, so I found Dutchy's walkthrough indispensable for keeping things straight in my mind. Anyone capable of conceiving and executing such a masterpiece in the limited time available must surely be an accomplished builder, and even though I'm not yet at the halfway point I suspect that this level will either win the BtB competition or come in a close second. The action takes place at night, but everything shows up quite clearly and the colors and accoutrements are extraordinarily beautiful. However, the gameplay by no means takes a back seat, as there are many difficult tasks to accomplish. I didn't count the thieves, but there could well have been forty, together with an assortment of other enemies that are encountered along the way. The boss at the end cannot be killed, and is taking pot shots at you while you're having to negotiate not one but two ropes. A job well done. Highest recommendations." - Phil (07-May-2017)

"Astonishing is a good word. And it's also a fitting one to describe the scope of this level: it's a huge city which is likely to cause lag in some machines -- it certainly did on mine. However, it's such a good looking city that I wasn't going to sacrifice looks in favor of performance so I struggled with the frame rate drops near the central structure. Fortunately, however, the vast majority of the action happens all around it so it's all good otherwise. As you search high and low for four seals you clear a variety of tasks inside different areas of the city. I'd say the gardens were my favorite part, with the mirror palace being a close second (although admittedly I spent way too much time running around aimlessly in the latter, not realizing some of the 'non-mirrors' had actual mirror images). You also get an extensive use of soundtracks all along, which is a good thing as the musical selection for this BtB is marvelous. While I still have another 10+ levels to go, I am fairly sure this will be among the top tiers once BtB-Persia comes to an end - and with good reason. 110 minutes, 4 secrets. 04/17" - Treeble (29-Apr-2017)

"A great contribution to this contest and a wonderful level in its own right. I'll get the downside done with first - the annoying lag which detracted from the experience ever so slightly. But apart from that, I absolutely loved it. The scenery is beautifully made and shows off those Persian textures to good advantage, supported by good music tracks. Gameplay is very entertaining and centres around dodging traps, exploring a bathhouse and rooftops and accomplishing some brilliant timed runs. Definitely likely to be one of the forerunners of the contest. It already is, in my book." - Ryan (29-Apr-2017)

"Definitely eye candy and adventure packed. I can only complain of the lag due to, I think, the excessive use of objets - other than that, even though it does get confusing at times, the level's really well put together (gameplay, music and sounds, overall atmosphere) and I obviously recommend it." - Jorge22 (24-Apr-2017)

"I know that several others have mentioned this, and I hate to beat a dead horse, but lag really is a huge problem with this level. At points, the lag made the level almost unplayable. However, Lara Croft and the Forty Thieves is so gorgeous and was so much fun to play that I can overlook the lag! The gameplay is very fun and involves exploring the massive Persian town for four seals, which gives access to the final area and the final boss. The level is complete eye candy as well, with plenty of beautiful structures to explore and climb on, and the lighting and music are used to good effect. The puzzles are extremely tricky, so the 'Stuck in a Custom Level' forum or the walkthrough, when it comes out, will most likely be needed! The level is quite satisfying to beat, and the secrets (of which I found 4) are quite satisfying to find! My only complaints other than the lag are that the level is missing some camera hints, and it runs a little long at about 2 hours or more of gameplay. Otherwise, it is highly recommended! 10/9/9/10" - okuhtfesq (23-Apr-2017)

"Surely a contender for the best level (for me at least). A beautifully designed & laid out level with a nice varied tasks to be carried out in the gameplay. Sneaky use of mirrors - especially one that doesn't reflect Lara! The use of waterfalls to get down & up again in the water palace was inventive. Good secret placement & I liked the inclusion of stealth for the last secret. Enemies & objects were well used. The sounds and atmosphere were excellent. I did notice at the beginning of the level that the water under the grating flowed the wrong way though I realised at the end of the adventure why that was (the builder I suppose could have made the water flow the correct way for those textures too & flipped them when the current changed). I didn't suffer the degree of lag that affected other players and I never, ever complain about a level being too long if it is enthralling playing it - why would you want it to end?? 5 secrets in 5 hours." - Adrian (23-Apr-2017)

"Actually, ignoring the few in the ending flyby, I counted about 23 thieves, but it was quite sufficient. This is definitely not for beginners, having some rather challenging (and extremely cleverly devised) timed runs/traps etc. It's well conceived all round, with excellent use being made of the beautiful objects and textures provided this year. The level is large and somewhat confusing and I found myself occasionally irritated by the fixed camera angles, but they weren't frequent enough to be a major problem." - Jay (22-Apr-2017)

"Another incredible level submission to the this years competition and the third one I’ve played so far after Lara of Arabia and Tale of the lost brother. The player starts in a massive huge area that feels like an open Arabic world to explore. It looks incredibly beautiful, astonishing with great architectural design and texturing. Only a few times a stretched or too squeezed texture is noticeable. The light work in this level was better than in the previous two I’ve played. One thing that gets noticeable right at the beginning is the horrific lag ( frame drop ). The intro, which is very good in scenery, is going through so slowly that kind of destroys it. Walking through that huge area is also very annoying due to the lag. There is a good use of objects, but it’s obviously abusively overused that it’s a shame that the author decided not to remove some of the objects in order to preserve that nonfunctional beauty of the level. The problem with the frame drop is affecting the overall gameplay in big parts of the game. First time in history of level playing there is a lag in the loading screen. The beginning of the level is a little bit frustrating as it takes ages to explore everything and to find the path to the first key objects. Giving at least some direction would be really nice. This seems, so far, a popular approach in level building this year to create this huge areas and let the player die of exploring. I noticed a very nice use of cameras to show the beauty of the level from the right angles. Also, a very good integrated triggered events through the game. I started this adventure in the bathhouse and continued through the mirror room, fire temple and so on. Maybe bad approach as the first two stones include some ˝bad˝ ( not literally ) gameplay parts. The bathhouse had a wonderful use of water pillars as elevators. It was actually hard to figure out that I was supposed to swim against the current in order to teleport myself in the lower parts. The two timed runs were a nightmare as it made the already frustrating gameplay even more frustrating. The lag problem was less noticeable in inner parts of the game, but still appeared sometimes to give a good slap in the face. After getting on the roof of the bathhouse the game become unplayable. Killing the two swordsmen was inhumanly difficult because the frame rate dropped to like less than 10 pictures per second ( maybe even more ). Somehow I managed to kill them with avoiding to look at the part that showed the whole level. The mirror palace looked very good but all rooms looked the same so it was very difficult to orientate Finding the first go- through wall was very hard as the wall was way behind the mirror in a totally different rooms. Even after reading some hints in the forum I couldn’t see that in the mirror. I could spent a lifetime analyzing the mirror palace and not discovering the right wall. After getting the first two stones I really started to like the level and appreciating the room that the author gave the player to explore. The fire temple and the gardens were really nice. After finally collecting the 4 stones the gate opened and a cool boss fight started. I thought this is now the end of the adventure … but, no, it continuous. A really nice use of camera that follows Lara through the fighting and climbing. I activated a wheel that turned the water stream in a different direction. Finally, this must be now the end of this beautiful adventure …. Oh no, it goes on ? Another big area opened up. I’m already a bit exhausted from this level. Another boss fight started, but this time it was more difficult to fight against the lag than the boss itself. I finally thought his must be now the end. Collected the sword key again, opened a door and it goes on and on and on …. C’mon. It’s supposed to be one hour long for this competition not more three hours of gameplay. I really don’t want to spend 3 days playing one level. It’s not even fair to submit so long levels. I’m even tired of writing this review so long. Overall, this is an incredible and beautiful level, great design, great light and texturing. The level is partly destroyed by the lag, some frustrating gameplay elements and the too long adventure. The rating for the second category reflects the lag and in some degree in the gameplay. Highly recommended !" - Gorty (19-Apr-2017)

"This level is one of the palace complex kind of type, and I'm not gonna lie, I love those. Contrary to what I expected, this level doesn't contain that much ennemies, but it still does have a decent amount of them, so most of the time I could stroll peacefully around the place, which was amazing because this level is definitely a blessing for the eyes. The gameplay was just difficult enough and most importantly, very clever, helped by a brilliant level design. I had to look on a walthrough for the mirror puzzle, which was nonetheless extremely well made. The music was perfectly chosen and the atmosphere was on point. I can't really find an important flaw to this level, just maybe the ending that was a bit abrupt (I didn't expect it when it happened because I thought we would have to go back for the heart item), but other than that, it was a pure gem which gives a nice feel of achievement at the end. Definitely one of my favourite custom levels ever. Stats : 2h55 and 2 secrets found." - Revenge (17-Apr-2017)
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