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Level: Powell's Hidden Valley back home search
Author(s): Dnf Productions
total rating:7.20 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
DJ Full 5 6 7 7
Dougsan 6 6 5 7
eTux 6 7 6 7
Gerty 7 7 7 7
Jay 7 7 8 8
Jose 5 7 6 8
Kristina 7 7 8 8
manarch2 6 7 7 7
MichaelP 7 8 8 9
Obig 8 7 8 8
Orbit Dream 8 7 6 9
Phil 8 8 8 8
RaiderGirl 8 7 8 9
Ryan 7 8 7 8
Sash 6 7 7 8
Scottie 8 8 7 7
category averages
(16 reviews)
6.81 7.13 7.06 7.81

Reviewer's comments

"This is a well made taster for the full Russia Episode 2 series and holds up well as a single level. The gameplay is enjoyable and fast-moving but somewhat spoilt by the stingy amount of camera hints for the many levers you pull. As a result (and since the walkthrough isn't exactly a model of clarity), I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for my next objective. For this reason I had to downgrade the third category, as it became a problem throughout the level. I also found the unmarked spike traps an annoyance. Aside from those you get a solid raid in a pleasant icy setting, and a few nice touches along the way." - Ryan (29-Jul-2018)

"If you play this level, you'll recognize the particular style from this builder: convincent architecture, good texturization, good care with the small details... I missed more cameras when pulling switches, specially when they trigger objects in distant places and when pulling the timed underwater lever near the end, missed more musics too. The gameplay is confusing in the first part of the game, much backtracking and re-exploring the same areas. I didn't like the unmarked spike trap in the dark corner and the absence of a hint (could place a camera target or so) to know the shootable object and get the circuit board. Not very pleasant but enjoyable if you follow the walkthrough instructions (not very clear, of course)." - Jose (08-Sep-2016)

"The beginning is rather confusing, the left cavern has a set of elements hard to guess how they relate with each other. A trapdoor sound plays but a door opens. The screen shakes like for TNT but instead of an explosion-carved hole we see a raised block (though the hole was there by default). A simple shortcut through the top of the scaffolding made me know even less. But the setting was really pleasant and the arctic winds always work for immersion so when I didn't know what that block was raised for I just left the location for later, not discouraged at all, and checked the middle cave. That one was clear but the right corridor offered instant death and confusion... what did I say about hidden spikes and grab inconsistency? Then I returned to the left cave to discover I had been stuck because of another grab inconsistency - tell me why I could monkey swing under that scaffolding if the identical pillar texture isn't climbable? All the time we get very few camera hints and even if things occur nearby they are missing sfx so we might search the whole map anyway. In this case thankfully, puzzles are rather predictable and eventually solvable, just using unnecessarily troubling amount of player memory. Hint handling gets better in the second half of the game so we can also ask why it couldn't in the first one. Placing an interactive object after identically looking statics is what I consider another mortal sin of levelbuilding, and just moments earlier our bike gets nailed by more unmarked spikes which I don't even know why the author contrapted in that place - it almost feels like if they were meant to sit in the death pits below but Donald forgot to move them from their temporary location on the catwalk (the effect is equally bad regardless from the reason). In the end I wanted to finish as soon as possible so I didn't bother to look for the shotgun, but then I fixed myself, reloaded from that point and replayed to the end for appropriate shell kill experience. On that way I also realized I had forgotten to open the kitchen at the first attempt, because the secret registered when picking up the key to it, so the game suggested I didn't skip a thing even though I didn't collect the actual prize - so it would be much better if the chime sounded in the reward room itself or if both places were secret. I generally think demos like this should include more secrets - the extra lockups I could visit here are done very nicely but why not to go crazy if you have space? SUMMARY: Is this really the same builder? It feels like if his head has been hit with Antarctic drill (not included here) because almost everything except sound and scenery is subpar to the previous release. I see one explanation: the map predates Episode One, so the author released it as a demo to revise in the full game. One may ask why not to move straight to the ultimate version, but I like to witness evolution in progress so I possibly enjoy these early wips more than most of you will. Play if you're as curious as I am." - DJ Full (17-Apr-2016)

"Slowly but surely I'm making my way back through our inventory of levels rated between 7 and 8, and I'm finding the time to be well spent. This one is billed as a demo for the builder's massive Russia Episode 2 release, but it's a one-hour raid that certainly deserves to stand on its own. The action takes place in an Arctic outpost, and there's plenty to do in a relatively compact game map. There's even a segment where you get a workout on the snowmobile. The enemies are limited to guards and dogs, and they're well placed. There are a lot of keys to find and use, but the hunt for them is entertaining. A good level to play between the more complex level sets. Recommended." - Phil (16-Jan-2015)

"I actually like the idea of providing a short level which roughly tells what is there to come in the game, but as the builder already said this level isn't very well done as the gameplay mainly is about running around a huge map flipping easy to miss levers without many camera hints; the timed run near the end was the most annoying in that regard. The best thing about this level is the nice combination of TR 2 Gold, TR 3 and TR 5 texturing and objects. A nice snowmobile is included here which at least provides a bit of fun as you go on the search for nitro to be able to jump over a large pit, then search your way through a badly indicated spike field. Also, one secret is quite clever hidden and only possible to get with thorough planning, which I found good. Apart from a few streched textures and too low walls at the start the visuals and the lighting were OK but there was no room I would consider realistic. Finished in half an hour, two secrets found." - manarch2 (21-Apr-2012)

"I know, this Review is, actually, an anachronism, finally, Russia episode 2 has been published a few months later. But I have not played Russia episode 2 up to now yet, therefore I do sometimes in such a way, more or less, as if the level was not published yet. As the level builder has written, this demo is built quick and cheap. This has with Donald Forgues of course another meaning than with others, not so experienced level builder. However, there are absolutely a few remarkable little things. The walls in the ice caves do not look so good. This are just always resemble stretched textures. Furthermore strikes that there are not enough flybys. With many levers and many doors this is not so nice of course if one does not know where now just a door has risen. But apart from that the level looks quite really good. And now I go intoto the corner and am ashamed because I have not played Russia episode 2 yet." - Scottie (06-Jun-2009)

"'Powell's Hidden Valley' may have been better named 'Lost Valley' or 'Lost Lara' since all I had Lara doing was running/driving around in circles pulling/pushing/shooting stuff until something useful fell out or happened. What a silly waste of time imo. No action appeared to support any other action. Of course actions supported each other but they did not appear to. The designer apparently doesn't like to add camera work (too difficult time consuming can't be bothered take your pick). There was a timed run I found challenging (underwater switch to aboveground door) and which I had to do three times because I'm really dumb at times but the balance of the game was easy and silly. Lara visits a lot of rooftops with and without the snowmobile some for viable reasons some because they are there. She has to use the snowmobile to access certain areas and to make one neat jump. 'Hidden Valley' is a demo whatever that is in our world or trle. I don't think it's worth playing." - Dougsan (22-May-2003)

"With a great little arctic base built inside ice caves everything in this 45 minute level was well placed giving it an authentic feel unfortunately it was soon evident that this was going to be nothing more than a lever fest with a snowmobile thrown in for good measure. There are dogs and red suited guards to get in the way of you hitting the end trigger here although the biggest hindrance was actually finding a circuit board that was so well hidden under a shootable object that it could only be by accident that someone would shoot it and find the circuit board. Besides that it is all very straightforward and if you've played an arctic base level before then you'll know exactly what to expect. Fun but no real twists." - Sash (18-May-2003)

"Apart from the missing cameras this is rather a nice Arctic level. I see I have to get used to using the vehicles as more and more levels do have another transportation than Lara's feet although the best levels in my opinion would be the ones you can do on foot as well. Finding keys (and do look good as they blend in very well in the floor) and the crowbar is your main goal here. And pushing levers. The moveable blocks are a bit hard to see but apart from one hidden lever there is only goodies to get. Nice outfits for the SAS men and together with the dogs they are the only enemies in this game. Get the nitro and a card as you also need that and when in doubt shoot everything in sight. I am still a bit baffled at the spikes that popped up though. 21-04-2003" - Gerty (28-Apr-2003)

"It's already obvious what a great adventure this series is going to be when completed. While the first series takes place in a hot dry climate this one takes you to the arctic where you'll explore a snow covered military installation and locate the snowmobile to perform a great jump using the nitro. Exploring the base is a lot of fun but in the final version I would love to see less switches more puzzles and a lot more camera work as it was impossible to tell what most of the switches did. The environment is very believable already kind of a mix between the TR 3 Antarctic levels and the Cold War level from TR 2 Gold. Having played and loved Saudi Arabia I know the final levels will be brilliant and can't wait to play them." - RaiderGirl (07-Apr-2003)

"Not a bad arctic level just as the author said in the readme - cheap and fast. I have no grand complaints or anything like that - except for the lack of cameras room lighting and atmosphere. The texturing is not excellent either not that it is bad but there just isn't anything special about it. The spikes without mentioning that they pop out from the ground without a warning are out of place in this setting also. The part with the monkey swing was strange since there was a special route on the gratings even if all the spots - swingable or not looked identical. Finding the chip in a beverage automat was just as strange I am actually wondering how anyone found that one? The small timed run and snowmobile ride are a thrill but I was bored through the rest of the adventure actually. The author claims the real thing will be much better so I'm looking forward to it." - eTux (05-Apr-2003)

"I don't usually expect much from a demo level so I was pleasantly surprised to find this playable in its own right. Certainly the finished product should be one to watch out for. It's a fairly standard arctic/base setting with the usual guards and dogs for enemies. Glad to see Lara warmly dressed for the conditions. I really hate seeing her running round icy wastes in her shorts with her legs turning blue. The gameplay is very much of the 'find the key throw the switch' variety but it manages to be quite enjoyable for all that. You get a snowmobile (well OK it's a retextured motorcycle which isn't quite as much fun of course but it does come in handy for running over the bad guys). Initially the level looked very non-linear but everything came together nicely and I didn't get badly stuck anywhere although I only found one secret which doesn't sound very impressive and I never did make my way back to the kitchen to use that key. Oh and I don't think I would ever have found the circuit board without the handy hints on the forum. Ah well you can't win 'em all. Definitely looking forward to the 'proper' version." - Jay (02-Apr-2003)

"Lesson #247: "How to tell the difference between a Good Custom Level and a Good Professional one" 1) Upon entering the first area take note of the quality of the textures. Are they stretched or compressed noticeably? If they are not you may indeed be playing a 'real' TR level. 2) After activating the first lever is there a camera cut-away showing you the resultant door opening? If 'no' you may still be playing a 'proper' level but it is becoming rather unlikely. 3) Do nasty unexpected spikes come shooting up for no apparent reason and with no warning whatsoever? If 'yes' then (no matter how well made) you are definitely playing a Custom Adventure. These latter two points are most clearly confirmed in the affirmative with this level which is a great shame as it is otherwise a rather splendid adventure. The Antarctic setting is well realized (I loved the maps on the walls); the use of the Snowmobile is effective; the gameplay (on the whole) moves along very well and is pleasantly non-linear; and the 'collect keys to continue' puzzles are perfectly fine; (although the 'sequence of events' scenario is a little tiresome). You find a key which unlocks a door which gives access to a lever; which opens another door; which gives access to another key etc etc). But it is here where the 'not a proper level' factor makes itself most keenly felt; almost no-where (until the very end when it is pretty much irrelevant) is there a clue as to what reaction has been caused by a particular action (Newton's Law?) Subsequently I spent an awful lot of time running around trying to determine where to go next. Apart from that this is a good level indeed and is completely immersive and well-paced. And there's also a great 'so this is where I've ended up!' moment. Definitely worth trying." - Orbit Dream (31-Mar-2003)

"A very confusing hour spent in this level. The setting is ice but of course this is supposed to be a Russian base and the enemies are dressed in red with their faces covered and followed by dogs. There are many switches and doors plus different paths to follow and without any cameras it gets very confusing to find your way. In my opinion the cameras that are there are not necessary because by that time there aren't many places left to explore or the opened door is very near. I missed the snowmobile and got stuck that's what I get when I don't light a flare in a dark corner. I found no nitrous so I made the jump to the blue structure I also found two secrets with one of them being a kitchen key which I thought of trying in my house because there was no kitchen in the level or at least I found none. I haven't found any keys to open the two doors down in the area with the jump and I tried the kitchen key but it didn't work. About the chip don't listen to Michael lol it's at the area past all the pools and not near. Anyway waiting for the actual level and lets hope it will be less complicated or it will have some cameras for help." - Kristina (31-Mar-2003)

"Well if this level is only a demo I am waiting curiously for the full version as I love this game very much. By the way it caught me a bit as I didn't notice the Silver Key which was dropped by a soldier but it was great. The level has an Antarctic atmosphere. In the beginning you have to find 2 keys then you continue the level down in the depths before the jump-over. In the end Lara is wandering about in a small Russian military base and after pulling some levers a current puts her over to the next level. I found only 2 secrets in the level - anyway I am not sure how much of them are there in the level. The textures are great and the added sounds are also unique - I was nearly shivering with cold while sitting in my chair. :-) There are only a few and not particularly dangerous enemies: some soldiers and dogs. I recommend this level to anyone." - Obig (31-Mar-2003)

"Mr Saudi Arabia is back and as he did with his first big project he is giving us a taster again. The venue is an Arctic Russian Base that you have to explore and it took me about an hour of net gaming to get through. It is kind of non-linear with three branches expanding from a central starting area with quite a bit of to-and-fro and the key reasons why I spent so much time here were my blindness (as I missed almost every crucial pickup the first time) and a severe lack of cameras for the many many levers that you are pulling. Enemies are remodeled SAS in a red jacket and dogs. You need to find four keys (one for a secret) a fuse the nitro for the snowmobile and a circuit board (hint: it is not far way from the receptacle. If in doubt shoot something). Overall though it is a well crafted environment and fun to explore even though the cause-and-effect scenarios seem a little enigmatic at times. Found two secrets and found the unmarked spikes to be more than annoying. Still it looks like we have another great series of levels from Donald ahead of us - can't wait to play the whole adventure once it's ready." - Michael (21-Mar-2003)
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