October 7, 2009

Babylon Is Fallen - Review

name: Babylon Is Fallen
release date: May 2009
class: Middle East
number of levels: 4
author: eRIC
exe: patched, no TRLE needed
size: 77 MB
type: TR4

download link: http://www.trle-hosting.net/levels/2009/0509/eRIC-BabylonIsFallen.zip
walkthrough: http://www.trle.net/walk/1991.htm


Year 2009. Some ruins have been found in Central Iraq. The team of archeologists expects these few vestiges to be part of the ancient city of Babylon. A small tunnel which seems almost intact has been excavated and further exploration is planned. The next day at dawn, while everyone is still asleep, Lara Croft who is part of the team cannot wait to discover what is beyond that tunnel. She quickly discovers a golden lion statuette. But while she tries to grab it, the ground disappears under her feet and she plunges seemingly to her death. In fact she has been caught in some kind of time passage. A few moments later, she finds herself safely in the same place but in the 6th century BC under the reign of King Belshazzar, just before the fall of the Babylonian Empire. A little earthquake shakes the ground. Is it caused by her sudden intrusion from another period of time? Will Lara be able to return to nowadays time dimension? And what kinds of riddles will she have to overcome?


This mini-game by eRIC is most highly rated at most TRLE sites, and I believe that to be due to the fact that this game is new and set in the ancient Babylon. Babylon levels are so few and rare, and Lara in official games never visited Babylon. The museum of Babylonian culture in Baghdad was plundered in the 20th century during the first war in Iraq, and all excavations have stopped since then. Ancient Babylon continues to remain a mystery, and all we know about it could be found in the Old Testament (the Book of Prophet Daniel, more precisely). The author of this game referred to the Old Testament when naming his levels. It is obvious that he read this part of the Bible and use stories told in it to create this adventure.

Soon after the beginning of her adventure, Lara falls through a hole and ends up in the sixth century BC, just a moment before the fall of Babylon. In the rest of the adventure Lara raids the Babylonian palaces and hanging gardens, trying to find a way back to her own time. So we have a really beautiful setting inside these luxurious buildings. We all know that the ancient Babylon was a developed and rich culture, and eRIC managed to show us that.

While the overall setting is really interesting and beautiful, enriched with brand new textures and objects, with lot of plants, columns and statues, there is, however, a huge shortcoming in all the game. The author failed completely at setting the lights, so we have the same lighting in the open areas as well as in underground tunnels and rooms. Not even once did I need a flare in the whole game. The overall setting is really beautiful, and could have been made even more realistic should the lighting have mattered and made any difference.

Also, there are some minor bugs and glitches in the game, and eRIC should have fixed them before release. He used TREP to patch his exe file, but I don't understand why he hasn't use TREP to fix the drawing distance range, for example, as well as many other things that TREP can fix. I don't know why, but eRIC did not patch his exe file with XP patch, and we have levels that load very slowly, even on fastest machines. It is particularly frustrating when you get stuck in a challenging part, when you easily die and need to try a certain series of tricky jumps or timed runs for several times. I myself was ready to give up on this game because of this slow loading time, when I got into that room with deadly pool, invisible ledges and falling blocks (level three). Luckily, I am stubborn enough, but nevertheless I was really annoyed with this.

But all these flaws do not and should not mean that this game is bad, because it is quite the contrary. Although my rating will be quite lower than that of other players', I still highly appreciate the new ideas and the effort of the builder, and rather accurate background of this Lara's adventure. The game is interesting, its flaw is great, and as levels get harder and more challenging, as much you actually enjoy it. It seemed impossible that any author today can come up with some new moments, it seemed that everything had been already seen. But this game proved this to be wrong. The best part of the game certainly is another pushing the limits in Lara's combo moves, not seen since the Himalayan mysteries by Titak. I certainly was surprised to see that Lara can perform jump or that she can crawl onto a slanted block. I enjoyed playing this game a lot, and there is a reason why I was patient enough to wait for the game to load after every game-over.

The game is progressively getting harder and that is a good thing, showing that the author had a plan before he started building his game. This is an excellent mixture of good action, jump sequences, puzzles and luxurious flybys. This game is built thoroughly and it is obvious that eRIC invested a lot of time and effort to making this legendary custom game. The author mostly used custom texture sets and some new objects, and did his homework in Babylonian history and mythology. The traps, enemies and surrounding well fit in the storyline and you certainly can learn a lot about this ancient culture.

My rating: 8.9

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