March 17, 2010

Beyond the Scion - review

name: Beyond the Scion
release date: March 2010
class: n/a
number of levels: 6
author: EssGee
exe: patched, no TRLE needed
size: 182 MB
type: TR4

download (normal version):
download (hard version):


Some time ago.....Lara Croft, renowned archaeologist and adventurer embarked on a search for the three parts of the Scion - A set of artefacts forged by the three rulers of Atlantis,and said to harness great power when all three pieces were combined. Previously, in Tomb Raider 1, we saw, how Lara followed the trail of the scion pieces through the ancient tombs of Qualopec and Tihocan, and finally to re-discover the Lost City of Atlantis, where she defeated Natla and her ‘new breed’. We saw the pyramid of Atlantis destroyed and presumably along with it the scion. In this installment, we explore a ‘what if’ scenario. What if all three rulers of Atlantis were immortals, and the other two rulers - Tihocan and Qualopec, like Natla, had survived the destruction of Atlantis and were able to take on modern day identities just as Natla did? What if Lara acquired the three scion pieces before the destruction of Atlantis? We commence by rewinding the clock and picking up the story prior to the end of Tomb Raider 1....


I cannot say how amazed I am with this levelset by EssGee. I know that he spent more than three years in building this game, and obviously, it was well worth it. This is probably one of the best custom games ever. EssGee has always been a master of level building, but this particular levelset is even better than a master-piece. We were eagerly waiting for Beyond the Scion to be released, and we are not at all disappointed. Judging by the rating of this level, all raiders around the world enjoyed this game immensely and were fascinated by it. And certainly not without reason.

The overall story and ambiance of this game is great: This adventure begins in the Lost City of Atlantis, with the last chapter of TR1. The first level is actually a remake (or re-image) of the last level in Anniversary, and I must say here that I've never seen a better remake of any Anniversary level than this. It is beautiful, faithful, hard and exciting. It could not be made more similar to the Anniversary level 14 than this.

The story continues when Lara accepts the mission of hiding three pieces of the Scion in three secret ancient temples in Peru, Sri Lanka and Congo. Before that she must visit Australian outback and find the map of these secret temples. So we have here a big comeback of ancient ruins and real tomb raiding, which is always a good thing.

All five different locations (Atlantis, Australia, Peru, Sri Lanka and Congo) are perfectly imagined and designed, as realistic as they can be with TRLE. The vista is gorgeous and you will certainly be stunned at some points by the beauty of the surroundings. You'll see completely new objects, textures, architecture and interactive items. Many areas are designed to look like those in Anniversary and Legend, and they are done fantastically good.

But these beautiful places you'll have to explore are not even the best part; the gameplay is absolutely amazing. Here we have a perfect blend of adventure, action, puzzles, traps, hard-core platforming and on top of that, very well designed kayak ride, that will simply take your breath away. You won't get bored one time, I guarantee you that, and the game is not so sadistically hard as most good and high-rated custom TR games. It is hard, but not excessively, meaning that we are given clues to the puzzles, that you cannot get stuck almost anywhere, that you won't get lost in huge rooms, that you won't have to do too much backtracking, in other words, the game will flow perfectly.

However, at some points, the game is really hard, in the first as well as in all other levels. If you are a beginner, I recommend playing Adventures of Lara Croft or Last Revelation (or easier custom TR levelsets) first. There are a lot of new moves, and even without them the game gets really hard from time to time. Certain timed runs or jump sequences are really merciless, and you have to be very skilled to finish them successfully. Some puzzles also, are brand new and you won't solve them so easily. But they are all immensely interesting and inventive, so enjoy this great raid.

What I liked particularly here was the reward system. In some levels you have to collect three artifacts in order to gain access to the Prize Room of that level, where you will be rewarded with bonus artifacts and goodies. Secrets are always well hidden and you have to involve all your skills and brains to find them all. They sometimes look like side missions (for example, the quest for the Silver Artifact in the Lost City of Atlantis), and they are not obligatory, but somehow, they are compelling and I doubt that there is a player somewhere who is indifferent about finding all the secrets in this game.

Also, various inventive details in this levelset will surely amaze you. All you want to see in a custom level and had no chance to see, you'll see here. For example, a kayak ride, moving stargate trap, pushing boulder, shiva as your enemy (with developed AI), bouncing pads and many many more. From magnificent flybys and cutscenes, to little details such as koalas in treetops in Australia, every single part of this game will definitely take your breath away and you'll never forget this custom Lara's adventure.

Honestly, I have never played a better TR, not even the official games, and this levelset definitely beats even my favorite (so far), Himalayan Mysteries by Titak. I highly recommend this game to all raiders who would like to go back to the good old tomb raiding and to see something not seen before. Enjoy as I did!

My rating: 10 of 10

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