September 16, 2009

Shakespeare Cliff Revisited - Review

Level Info:

name: Shakespeare Cliff Revisited
release date: August 27th, 2009, updated on August 31st, 2009
class: Base/Lab
author: Joerg Zerbin a.k.a. Die Basis
exe: TREP, patched, no TRLE needed
size: 47 MB
file type: TR4

download link: http://www.trle-hosting.net/levels/2009/0809/DieBasis-ShakespeareCliffRevisited.zip

Storyline:

Lara goes ashore on England's Coast and is searching for a way into the Chunnel as there was a train crash. Aboard was a professor who wanted to give Lara a suitcase with secret information. Unfortunately, the professor was killed in the accident. But the suitcase wasn't found among his property. So Lara searches for the suitcase near the scene of the accident.

Review:

All experienced custom TR players know that Die Basis never released a bad level. Although there are quite a few mistakes, bugs and gameplay "killers", both levels are great and worthy of playing.

There are a lot of confusing moments in the game, and with the first one you have to deal at the very beginning of the first level. I thought I was stuck at the beach at the beginning of the first level, because I had nowhere to go from there. When I accidentally found a tricky way to jump across the fence, I thought it was a bug in the game, I thought that the author had made a mistake here and accidentally left this slope too high. Not until later did I realize that it was not a bug, that it actually was the only way to continue the game. There are several similar moments in the game, when you need to perform exactly the same jump in order to reach to the other side of the fence.

So, this jumping across the fence is not a bug, it is supposed to be done. But it doesn't mean that the game is without bugs. There is that notorious fence-bug, and I triggered it while I was fighting with two orange-overall workers in the pool area. While I was jumping around and shooting at them, I jumped through the fence and found myself outside, and the workers mysteriously followed me through the fence either. Also, these orange-overall workers have a very buggy AI. At several locations, mostly indoor, when I ran into two of these baddies, I start shooting at them, and for no obvious reason, the two of them would start chasing each other, completely losing all interest about Lara. Well, this was very helpful, since I could kill them easily with no loss of health, but it seemed awkward and silly to watch these enemies running one after another in a circle. Really silly! Sometimes, when close to an opened door, an orange-overall worker may get stuck in the door, and you can easily kill him. Maybe this bug with these enemies might be useful for some players, but for me was annoying, since I like fighting when playing TR.

Also, there are some bugs that are included in TRLE itself, and every author must find a way around them. Die Basis used TREP patched .exe to fix holster bug and to increase drawing distance range, and both were excellent ideas. Still, the author should have found a better way to make the beach and the sea. After only a few meters of swimming from the shore, you bump into a dark wall... I know that there had to be a way to limit Lara's swimming, but there are some better ways to do it. For example, he could have placed a strong sink (current) a few meters away from the shore, and Lara won't be able to swim any further.

Both levels are very realistic, with lots of static, animated and interactive objects placed perfectly in the appropriate locations. I found not even one misplaced object in all the game. Sound is perfect and I found not even one sound bug, although TRLE sound bugs are notorious and most difficult to fix, especially when you use objects that are not "default" (e.g. the TR3 underwater switch or the big TR2 spider). Die Basis did a very good work with sounds, I must admit.

There are also some interesting movable objects, like a movable coach next to the big drill at the end of the first level. Also, I was amazed at the way the author used static objects' collision (I thought Lara cannot crawl under those pipes, but actually she can, and that was really excellent). Although someone might think that dozens and dozens of switches may ruin the gameplay, this is not the situation. There are indeed a lot of switches and doors to open, but none of them was a gameplay "killer". The real gameplay killer was, for example, a merciless timed-run at the end of the first level. I lost two hours trying to jump to the crevice from the second trapdoor. I hate that part, really. Those timed-runs by Die Basis are really tight.

All in all, the game is good and interesting. The ambience might have been improved by better lighting (I never used a single flare in all the game), but it was not so bad after all. Also, there should have been some flyby camera cutscenes, not only fixed camera cutscenes, the mine field might have been made better, but still, I have no regrets for spending four long hours playing these two levels. You have to have quite a skill to be able to perform some really tricky jump, you have to be very creative to solve some puzzles, and these are all good things, in my opinion at least. Playing Shakespeare Cliff Revisited was a great fun for me, although it may have some annoying moments and stupid bugs. My rating is 8.5 of 10. Well done, Die Basis!

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