Writers Raid: Tomb Raider Level Editor ~ Lara Raided Fantombs

Tomb_Raider_Level_Editor

Today I want to take you on a journey. Together with various other writers, we decided to celebrate the Tomb Raider series. While a lot of people look at the early Tomb Raider games as games that didn’t age well, I don’t mind that much. True, the games aren’t the best to play nowadays, but I still enjoy them. I knew that there was a level editor as a child but I never taken the time to learn the ins and outs of the tool. In the past, I thought that it was a cheating tool that allowed you to edit levels to give you an advantage. Anyways, the level editor, that’s the theme of this article.

History

Now, what’s the TLRE? What’s the Tomb Raider Level Editor? Well, it’s the actual tool that Core Design used to create the first 5 Tomb Raider games. This tool was released to the public in 2000. Included in the package were beta versions of various levels and a couple of completed levels. A bit later, Eidos Interactive released another few levels. You can dig deeper on the details of those levels on the Tomb Raider Wiki.

If you want to mess around with the tool itself, you can find it here. Out of personal experience, I can say that the tool works on Windows 10. There are various tutorials you can find online. On YouTube and on various forums. Here are a few links you could use:

http://www.tombraiderforums.com/forumdisplay.php?f=16

https://tombraiders.net/stella/trle.html

http://www.trle.net

https://www.aspidetr.com/en/tools/tomb-raider-level-editor/

There is also an updated fan version of the tool called Tomb Raider Level Editor Next Generation. It’s quite a mouthful, but it has more features then the original tool. It also has widescreen support and various other features. More information can be found on this website: http://www.trlevelmanager.eu/ng.htm or you can read about it in detail on this forum thread: http://www.tombraiderforums.com/showthread.php?t=216848

Before I continue with this article, I have to admit that I’m not that good in creating levels with the tools. So, if you are looking for a review of the tools, I think you are at the wrong place. In this article I want to take a look at some random levels I played. Most of these levels are created by other people and the download link will be provided. If you want to play any custom created levels yourself, the best website to find them is: http://www.trle.net

Do keep in mind that all of these custom levels run on one the engine of Tomb Raider I, II, III, IV or V. So, don’t expect HD visuals or anything that the engine can’t handle. So, if you aren’t into the original Tomb Raider games, you might not get into these levels. But, if you are a Tomb Raider fan or enjoy retro adventure games, do give them a try. And don’t worry, there are reviews on almost every level on TRLE.net so you know if a level is good or not.

To play the custom levels you don’t need to have the level editor itself installed or any of the Tomb Raider games. The way how you play these levels is quite simple. After downloading a level, you unpack them and click on the exe file. In some cases, you can hold the CTRL key down to adjust some options like the visuals and things like that. Sometimes there is a readme file included by the author to aid you when certain problems occur. Do read them, since sometimes there is useful information in there. Uninstalling a custom level/game is quite simple. Since you didn’t have to install anything, you can just remove the files.

For beginners

Now, if you decided that you want to give these custom levels a try and you haven’t played Tomb Raider in the past or it was too long ago, let me give you some advice to better enjoy these custom levels. This might look like a lot to take in, but you will get used it to when you play more levels. Start with the highest rated ones. Those are really well built and rarely have cheap traps or overly difficult jumps in them.

First of all, if you run a level that’s made in TRI, II or III, you are able to change the controls from the main menu using the option with the arrow keys. If you are playing a custom level created in TRIV or V, you are able to do so using the “P” key during gameplay. Here is the basic lay-out for the keys:

TRLE1

Feel free to use these pictures as a reference in case the game is in a different language. The sequence of this list almost NEVER changes. To my knowledge, you are unable to rebind the keys in levels created in TR I, II and III. In other cases you can select the action using the arrow keys, press enter and press the key you want to bind it too. Pay attention while you are doing this since the game won’t complain if you bind two things to the same key.

Alright, now while playing this game, know that the game never autosaves. You can save by using F5 and load by using F6. You can save at any location you want, apart from when you are in a cutscene. You can’t pause the game using esc during cutscenes either.

Remember that Lara never automatically grabs ledges. You need to hold down the action button. So, if you jump towards a ledge, hold that button or you will fill. The same button is used to flick levers, pick up items, press buttons and so on and so forth.

You can save while hanging from a ledge, but press the action button right after the game loaded or you will fall. But, the action button is useful for so much more. From pushing boxes to opening trapdoors. If you are stuck, look for a place where the action button does something. Also, when you are trying to open a trapdoor, always try the action button while standing in the middle of a side. The final useful thing to know is when you press action in front of a keyhole and you have the actual key, your inventory will automatically open.

Do experiment with Lara’s jump, since she is quite acrobatic. Something I love using is backwards roll, when I press a button and quickly need to run away. This can be done by pressing the up and down key together while you perform a jump. In one custom level I have to jump back and forth between platforms to make it to the other side.

In some cases, Lara will be able to climb up. Whenever she needs to pull herself up in a tight spot, use the duck key while pulling yourself up. That way she will squeeze herself into the tight space.

Here is another hint. If you need to jump from a ladder to something behind you, don’t jump from the top. Lara will bump her head on the ceiling and loose height. You can jump from a ladder by pressing the down arrow and jump (while letting go of the control key), and then hold the up arrow and control. This technique will proof tricky at first, but practice makes perfect.

Now, I could keep explaining the whole move set Lara has. But that’s something you will learn when you play custom levels. Whenever you are stuck, simply google the name of the custom level and add “Tomb Raider Level Editor” behind it. 9.99 out of 10 chances you will find a walkthrough on it. Unless the level just released, in that case, you can either use the TRLE.net forums or wait a day or two.

Or you can experiment by downloading the level editor and playing the first two included levels. These have very easy levels that aid you in learning how the game is played. The download link can be found earlier in the article.

Oh, and it’s maybe handy to know how to exit a game. If you don’t find the quit button easy, just “ALT+F4” always worked for me.

Now, one annoying thing I want to mention is that “ALT+TAB” doesn’t always work. Be careful if you want to look at a walkthrough or something. Since, it’s possible that you are unable to open the game again. It might either crash or black screen. If that happens, use task manager to kill the process of the game and load it up again. That’s why I use the F5 key to quickly save before “Alt+Tab”. If you use “Alt+Tab” the safest way to get back to the game is to “Alt+Tab” into the game again. It’s possible that it has two open windows, the best best is choosing the window that has a title displayed. In most cases, that’s the name of the engine that’s used.

You can quickly load your game using F6, this is very handy. Since you can save everywhere, you can also save while on ladders or while hanging from a ledge. If you press the Action button (usually the CTRL key) during loading, you won’t fall off the ladder or edge. So, be careful with that.

With that said, it’s time for me to look at a few randomly chosen levels over at TLRE.net. I’ll give my opinions on the levels and a small score. If you know of some amazing levels, please do share them in the comment section down below. Footnote, every rating is on a max score of 10. Be aware, I’m not going to give these levels an in-depth review. Just some quick thoughts.

The Wolf Pack – Part 2

Image00001

Created by: JesseG

Created in: TR4

Rating: 9.25

Released: 23/08/2018

http://www.trle.net/sc/levelfeatures.php?lid=3065

This is at the moment of writing this article, the most recently released entry. This level isn’t beginner friendly since it requires some precise jumps from ladders. Especially backwards. To more experienced players, this level is a nice challenge.

In this level, the character model of Lara is replaced by a wolf model. This model is very nice to look at and the visual presentation fits the visuals of Tomb Raider 4 nicely. The custom music and sound effects are decent. It was quite unexpected to find more MIDI-sounding music in a Tomb Raider level.

At first, I found that the music didn’t fit the Tomb Raider universe at all, but the more I played the game and the more I heard the music, the more it grew on me. I’m adding the music to my game OST library since I like it that much.

This is quite a lengthy game. In a matter of fact, this game can take up to an hour to complete the three levels. In these three levels you play as two different playable characters. Yes, you have two playable characters. You can swap between them using swap points you find at certain places. Both characters have different unique abilities. This is something I rarely see in TRLE levels and was a pleasant surprise to see.

Since I have played the second part before the first, I think it would be handy if the creator included some sort of link to download the first part of these levels in the download.

The only points of criticism are as follows.  First of all, while almost all sound effects have been changed, I found it strange that the sound effect to falling to your doom hasn’t been changed.

Secondly, I found the first jump from a ladder you had to do pretty annoying. I think it would be better if the platform had a different color or a bit more identification that you are supposed to jump there.

Thirdly, I think that the levels were either too long or too short. The first level was too long and the two other levels were over before I knew it. I think it would have been better if the first level was cut into more levels and the 2nd and 3rd level were merged into one level.

Overall, very creative level pack but needs some minor polish to get perfect. This level pack does a lot of unique things in the TRLE community and is really recommended for veteran players or new players looking for a challenge.

Personal score: 9/10

Wolfpack screenie

Lost in Temple

Created by: Sal

Created in: TR5

Rating: 5.98

Released: 11/10/2015

http://trle.net/sc/levelfeatures.php?lid=2873

This custom level is according to the TRLE.net walkthrough a remake of Fenician Temple 4 from Tomb Raider 3. Something that I didn’t like for this model is the outfit Lara is wearing during this level. I felt that it didn’t fit the theming of this level at all.

Lost in Temple screenie

While this level impressed me at the start with some amazing camera angles and two big rooms filled with jump puzzles, the issues with this level became clear to me quickly. This level has quite a lot of backtracking.

This level honestly got a bit boring in my opinion. For example, to solve one block puzzle I had to run from one room to another so many times.

Also, I was unable to play this game in full screen. I had to fix the broken shortcut to the setup tool, which was easy to do. Just replacing the path where the EXE of the game is located. I had to play windowed. But, from the reviews I have read, this might be an universal issue with Tomb Raider 5 and Windows 10.

This level would have been better if there was a bit more direction as well. I had to consult a walkthrough since I didn’t find were I was supposed to go. It turned out that I was able to grab a wall. The thing is, it used the same texture as the bottom part of the wall where the wall isn’t grabbable nor climbable.

Also, I found the walkthrough of the actual author of this level. And he had to speed up some parts of his video. Looking at that video, this level goes on for quite a while. I have quit playing this level when I had to fight enemies in the dark. I just felt done with the level.

Looking at the reviews on TRLE.net, I’m happy to see that there were people who enjoyed this level. Since, I have seen much worse. This level is balanced and very detailed. But, it’s unpolished and isn’t fun to play in my opinion.

Personal score: 4/10

Poseidons Sanctum

Poseidons Sanctum screenie

Created by: Sarikman

Created in: TR3

Rating: 8.94

Released: 21/11/2011

http://www.trle.net/sc/levelfeatures.php?lid=2478

This level was quite a good one. This level is created in an unofficial editor called DXTRE3D created by Trubo Pascal. This level is also pretty tricky but it’s doable. You will have to think old-school Tomb Raider to find every secret and the way forward in these levels.

I had a great time playing these levels. If you decide to play these levels, I have a tip for you. At first, you might think that the camera does some weird things but pay attention when the angle changes. What is it showing you? Seriously, it shows some extremely helpful things.

Visually, this level looks amazing for using the Tomb Raider 3 engine as a base. I started Tomb Raider III right after playing this one to compare and I like the visuals a bit more in the custom level then in the original one. Sadly enough, there were some minor texturing issues here and there, but they weren’t too noticeable.

The music selection in this level pack is top notch. I really liked how the music went more silent when you were under water.

While this level pack has a few bugs, the author provided some screenshots and explanations on how to fix them or how to avoid these bugs. The author also provided a text file with some interesting advice for people who got stuck and not only that, it’s written in a way that Lara is talking to you. Very interesting and fun read.

I won’t talk too much more about this level since if you want to play an amazing example of what people can do with the level editor, just play this level. It’s one of the best I have played in a long while. I haven’t finished this level but I’m going to play this over my next break.

The only advice I could give to the author for this level is, if you create bug pictures and such, use more than an arrow to point out ledges. If possible, give them a color or make it a bit more clear which ledge you mean.

Personal score: 8/10

Final words

Thank you so much for reading my entry for the Tomb Raider Writer’s Raid series. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this one. I play from time to time various TRLE levels. I enjoy them quite a lot. Seeing these new levels makes my retro hart happy.

While I completely understand that there is a crowd that dislikes the old Tomb Raider, I’m not part of that crowd. I enjoy playing retro games quite a lot and I’m always curious what adventures I’ll find myself in next.

I have been in various unique situations while playing Tomb Raider Level Editor. I wanted to write about this tool for quite a while now. It has been on my “to write about” list for three years now. So, the ultimate excuse was this project.

If you want to read some nostalgic articles from other writers about the Tomb Raider series, feel free to go to the hub article where various amazing writers talk about their experience of the Tomb Raider series. You can find a link here.

With that said, it’s time for my usual outro. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to meet you in another article but until then take care and have a great rest of your day.

Tomb_Raider_raid
The logo for this project is created by The Well Red Mage

 

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Review: Halo – Combat Evolved (PC) ~ Not On The HaloBox

Halo-Combat-Evolved-Cover-Art-wallpaper.jpgWikipedia entry

If you would ask my friends and old class mates what the best shooter is, they would reply with a game out of the Call Of Duty series. But for me, that was Halo. That changed when I played the Bioshock series. I have already talked about the Bioshock series, so it’s time to talk about the original Halo game. The game that started this whole franchise. One series I can’t finish sadly since I don’t have a XBOX or XBOX ONE. So, I have only played this entry and the sequel. In any case, enough introduction! Time to talk about the actual game. And as usual, feel free to leave your opinion on the content of this article and or the game in the comment section down below. 

Cortana

halo1

In this game, you play as a very iconic character in the video gaming world. The name is Master Chief. So, you get woken up from your slumber and go through some basic tutorials before your ship gets attacked.

You crash land on Halo. And things happen from there. The story isn’t that much present in the game. But, that’s because the game is only 10 hours long. The base game is really short, but it’s a whole lot of fun to play through. But don’t worry, if you don’t have enough Halo, you can either go and play the multiplayer or download one of several single player campaigns made by fans.

In addition to that, Bungie released in 2004 a special version of Halo with mapping and modding tools. Called, Halo Custom Edition.

The story itself is good. It’s not great since it ends with a big cliffhanger so you have to buy the sequel to know how it continues. I wish that the story got a bit more development. Since we got amazing voice acting. I love the voice acting in this game. Also, we don’t have a silent hero for once!

The writing itself is also good. But again, shame that the game is over so quickly. I do have to admit, that I played over 100 hours on Halo. I have played a lot of multiplayer and I got okay at it. I’m terrible at playing shooters online, but I enjoyed my time on Halo. Mostly with the Capture The Flag mode. I’m also surprised that after 16 years, there are still people playing this game online.

What I was even more surprised about, this game still gets the occasional update. Something quite handy is that when you have an out-of-date version of the game and want to enter the mutliplayer, you get a message to update your game and the updating tool automagically launches.

Multiplayer and such

halo 2

Like I said in the previous paragraph, I rather enjoyed my time in the multiplayer. There was also a possibility you could have edited maps, and you didn’t have to download additional mods to play on them. I rarely got lag issues.

But, for the sake of this review, I’m going to focus on the single player. The only other thing I’m going to say about the multiplayer is that it’s difficult to find the same server to play on with friends sometimes. I had several Skype calls lasting over 30+ minutes of me and my friend(s) trying to get into one server.

Visually, this game still looks pretty great in my opinion. I wouldn’t have changed one thing at all when it comes to the visuals. The animation is also very well put together. You visit various inside and outside locations. Something I really like is the consistency of the visuals. I don’t mean that every area looks the same, but I mean that a lot similar building styles return over the whole game. But, I think you will better understand that statement when you have played the game.

Actually, now that I think about it, there is one thing that I would have changed. It would be awesome if this game had a bit more enemy variety. Since this game has the “recolor but stronger” issue you find in a lot of RPG’s. It’s such a shame. But, the campaign is such a wild ride, it didn’t bother me that much.

Something I really enjoyed in this game is the difficulty. The further you get in the game, the more difficult enemies and situations get presented to you. Another big plus in my book is that the differences between the difficulty settings are not only the amount of damage you take from enemy hits. Oh no, I have the impression that the enemies are also more aggressive in the harder modes of the game.

There were a few things I would have changed in the single player. First of all, I find it disappointing that the plasma swords can’t be used in the single player nor multiplayer without mods. This is a shame, since you can use every other weapon that your allies and enemies use.

I can’t sign.

halo 3

The controls of this game are excellent and very responsive. I also like that during the tutorial section, you get the option of selecting which camera control you would enjoy more during gameplay.

Something I didn’t always like were the controls for the vehicles. They lack just a tiny bit of weight to them.

While there aren’t a lot of different weapons to use in this game, I don’t mind it a whole lot. Since each weapon can be used in it’s own situation and it’s so fun to master a certain weapon.

Honestly, I wish I could sign along with the chanting of the soundtrack. Since the soundtrack for this game is amazing. It sets an amazing mood and I love listing to it. When I hear the main theme, I always get so nostalgic.

Speaking about that, the sound design is amazing as well. Also, your enemies use the right balance of speaking just a little bit of English, but the sounds they make when being hurt are great as well. The atmosphere the music, sound design and the visuals make is so great. I get pulled in every time. Even when I was replaying parts of this game for this review, I always played longer than I intended.

This game is that much fun and addictive. You go from place to place shooting down loads of enemies. With the help of your radar, you navigate through some various terrains.

For those who don’t know, this game has a quite unique mechanic. It’s the regenerating shield feature. When you get hurt, it goes off from your shield meter. When your shield meter is down, your health goes down. But, when you don’t get hit for a moment, your shield meter refills again. So, skilled players can beat this game without picking up one health pack if they want too.

But a feature I liked the most are the sticky grenades. They were so fun to use. Too bad, that there wasn’t anything you could do during multiplayer matches when you wanted to get them off. Well, it’s a risk you had to take.

One nitpick, I have is that the sections where you could use the enemy vehicles were a bit too short. But don’t worry, you can use these a whole lot in multiplayer. Just like the shield mechanic. This made multiplayer matches that more thrilling to play. Since you can’t easily kill everybody. You need to have more than one shot to kill somebody. Apart from fall damage, there isn’t a way to one shot kill somebody in this game as far as I know.

So, that’s all I wanted to talk about this game. I think it’s time to wrap up this article and give my conclusion (or my TL;DR for the lazy people)

Conclusion

The bad:

-The main game is way too short.

-It’s difficult to find the same server or game sometimes.

The good:

+ Fun story, writing & voice acting.

+ Great visuals.

+ Amazing soundtrack.

+ Great multiplayer.

+ The modding community.

+ …

Conclusion:

This game still holds up after being over 16 years on the market. When you want a more updated version, you could play the Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition that came out in 2011 for the XBOX360 and XBOX ONE. But, I don’t own either of those consoles.

The biggest flaw of this game is that it’s way too short. Yet, due the vast amount of mods, maps, campaigns and such you can download and even an editor that’s released free of charge, you can download a lot of additional content for you to enjoy. Apart from that, the flaws in this game are so minor, they would be all nitpicking. This game is a fun ride from start to finish.

I do have a lot of nostalgia for this game, but I replayed it recently before I started writing this review. And all the nostalgic memories come flooding back. It’s quite a fun game to play and I think I might go and beat the game again when I have the time.

If you are a fan of shooters and haven’t played this game yet, you owe it to yourself to play this game. If you aren’t a fan of shooters, well, I think you read the wrong article. If you have played this game, I hope this was an enjoyable trip down memory lane.

On that note, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game, I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoy writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Score: 90/100

First Impression: Rise and Fall – Civilizations At War (PC) ~ RTS with First Person Twist

_-Rise-Fall-Civilizations-at-War-PC-_Wikipedia entry

This game brings back so many memories. But recently, I fixed an old computer that runs Windows XP. I was looking in my collection for some games to play and I came out in this game. I installed the game without a second thought and started playing it again. So, in this article, I’m going to share my opinion on this game from my latest playing sessions. I tried to not be nostalgia blinded for this first impression. So, it’s time that we gave this RTS game a shot. I could have reviewed this game but I played more free games instead of the campaigns, so since I haven’t finished all the campaigns, it’s a first impression. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Who do you wanna play?

Rise&FallScreenyIn this game, you can play as different major historical figures like Julius Caeser, Cleopatra, Achilles, Sargon II and 4 others I won’t spoil for you. I have now played the first introduction campaign and a handful of free games. So far, my favorite character to play as is Cleopatra.

The voice acting of the characters is pretty well done. But something I noticed while playing with Cleopatra, is that the heroes don’t have taunts or speak when you aren’t in first person mode. That’s a shame because the voice clips of the first person mode could have been easily used in non-first person mode.

There are two main campaigns, and that’s about it. But, there is a very big campaign editor in the game that’s easy to use and has a lot of tools to play around with. So, you can download and install additional campaigns easily. It’s a shame that there aren’t too many custom campaigns floating around on the internet. I have to admit that I haven’t played any custom campaign, but I will fix that in the near future.

In the two main campaigns you play as either Alexander or Cleopatra. So far, I have only played parts of Alexander’s campaign and the story is rather interesting. You play through his journey to the throne. I wonder how Cleopatra’s is going to be.

The presentation of the past

rise-fall-civilizations-at-war_14

 Visually, this game looks quite nice. While you can see the game’s age in the graphics, I think that they hold up quite i well to this day.

I love the menu of this game. It’s quite easy and simple to use. Also, the demo movie of this game is playing in the background while you are browsing the menu. That’s genius.

I have played this game both on a machine that can handle the minimum specs and on a machine that can run this game in HD twice. On the minimum machine, I noticed some slowdown in the animations when there were too many things on screen, but the game seems to not go in “not playable” mode.

The animation are quite nicely made. I especially love how the game looks in first person mode. It made me miss the ability to rotate buildings. Since I like to build statues at the edge of my city and walls around that, so I can’t see them in first person since I can’t turn them.

But the soundtrack, let me tell you, it’s one of the best ever soundtracks in a PC game I have ever heard. I love to put the soundtrack on to write articles or to just casually listen too. It’s one of the best soundtracks I have heard in years for RTS games. It might be one of my favorite soundtracks ever made to be honest.

Charge!

304997-rise-fall-civilizations-at-war-windows-screenshot-main-menuSo, in this game you have a RTS game with a first person view mode. You can watch and control your hero when he/she reaches a certain level. Then, with one easy press of the button, you can control your hero and do their special moves.

Each hero has her/his special abilities and weaknesses. When you are selecting your hero, you always get a very descriptive textbox telling you what they are. Each civilization has two heroes you can pick from.

There are a few other things that are handled differently in this game then in your typical RTS. First of all, you don’t have to collect food. Secondly, you don’t have to go through the ages to unlock technology, you have to upgrade the level of your hero. Thirdly, there isn’t any siege workshop, your villagers build your siege units. There is also an adviser and glory system. But, I leave that for you guys to figure out.

Something I really love in this game is that you can place units on top of your walls. Also, your regular units can’t attack nor destroy walls. You need the special ladder units or siege units for that.

You can also climb any ladder in first person mode. So, when you see an annoying siege tower in your enemies base, go in first person mode to climb up it and kill those archers.

There are so many details and things I love in this game, I could continue for quite a bit more, but I’m convinced that when you enjoy RTS games, you will enjoy the breath of fresh air this game is.

Also, something that threw me off guard is the fact that each map has a special goal you can meet for winning the scenario. So, be warned, some are economic goals and can creep up on you before you know it. But, you can disable these goals before you start the single player match.

I’m certain that this game has me hooked. Apart from the slowdowns on the older machine, there isn’t a lot that I think this game does wrong. I do have some nitpicks, but I have mentioned them all in this article. When I finish both the official campaigns, I think I will write a full review of this game and give my final opinion on this game.

But for now, I think it’s time to wrap this article up. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much I enjoyed writing this article. Thank you for reading and I hope to welcome you in another article. But until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.