I played 1600 custom levels and still needed a week of research for this blog. That's how big the custom level world really is. It's huge, it's vast, it's immense, it's enormous, it's gigantic. It's big. Yes... yes, it's very big. Anyway, since TR25 has left Bouchard's new premises and focused on LAU in the recent months, we also streamed some corresponding custom levels. Below is an extended list.
It is usually a synthesis taking the best bits of LAU manors, just like it happens with TR1-3, and sometimes even all six manors are combined for the ultimate experience.
Skyscraper parkouring and penthouse infiltration isn't a common topic in custom levels, but there are some which have it and stand out.
Tomb Raider is packed with jungles, but the African one adds might and majesty opposing lightweight and ornate India - just like a big, wild savanna elephant would challenge a cute tamed tractor one. Crude blocks even tropical flora has a trouble to conceal speak loud when uncovered, becoming a good foundation for adventures that depict civilizations stronger and more advanced than those we commonly know - so while these levels vary in details, if you check them for Legend influence, it's Ghana be there. And now I wonder if we got two elephant artists, Asian and African, which one would paint a better picture.
The series had hidden bases since TR3, but Kazakhstan added that eerie feeling of an experiment going wrong in a cold, remote, hi-tech facility. We have a lot of such infiltration and exfiltration levels since Lara can never resist being nosey.
Nodding to civilizations built on remnants of older civilizations (or to Monty Python's Society For Putting Things On Top of Other Things), it might happen you take a casual refreshing dip into a sewer and, as soon as you resurface, you will see something rooted in Cornwall.
Supporting a level plot with this asset, polarized by dominant ice, is harder than a winter ascent to Nanga Parbat. I actually don't know a builder who tried and didn't fail, and Zolee's expedition got stuck in the base camp, waiting for the weather change. Still, attempts were made, this territory is yet to explore, and maybe you can grab your climbing gear and go. Unless you pick humble trekking and see cold defenses turn into warm welcome, as Nepal reveals its more frequent face - a friend and enhancer of Tibet, often essential in making a unified story.
I list this long group together since resource packs are mostly collaged of assets from multiple games. But even if unmerged, this topic is widely represented: constantly resurrected by independednt builders, picked for a Back to Basics competition, incarnated in post-BtB levels, and let's not forget whoever tries to remake TR1, he usually gets to Peru.
Greek mythology and history is a cornucopia of ideas. It attracted even more competition builders than Peru, and from the works in progress it seems it's never gonna end.
Remember the meme where Godzilla fights King Kong but Rinny's doggo bonks them both with a baseball bat? Yes, it looks like no matter how hard Peru and Greece compete for dominance, there will always be an Egyptian level shoving hectolitres of rude sandstorm into the level editor scene. I covered some of these maps in previous chapters, since the sand is coarse, and rough, and irritating, and gets everywhere - so in fact this time I could just skip them, right? NO. Nooo!...
How did I even get here? I'm still blinded by the Egypt sun. Thankfully, Natla turned the lights on, making it visible why Atlantis is one of the hardest chapters to take inspiration from, because of its inherent pre-baked mood of plot finale which first needs to be un-finaled in order to allow any storyline progression whatsoever. This is why there are almost no good Atlantis levels and I HaVe ThE RiGhT tO My OpIniOn. But I found two which match the Anniversary standard... If it's not surprising enough one of them comes from a Wild West project, then both of those levels are by no one else than...
I remember when Codo gave Lara infinite breath, turned her into a mermaid and sent her off to search for Christmas gifts at the bottom of the sea. After a while, a custom aqualung caused a boom on underwater levels. What we got now is a specific niche range for marine life enthusiasts, missing only a giant octopus from Mike McCracken.
When Lara resurfaces from the depths of Mediterranean, Natla points her to the 7th parallel on the West coast of Thailand. I looked it up and I found out there is indeed an island with matching biome... however, it is untouched by civilization. Instead, the game pastes a temple from a remote site, what feels familiar yet overlooked by every archeologist in the world. In 2014, custom levels returned this temple to where it historically belongs - Cambodia. And so, it came to pass there is no "Thailand" category on trle.net, but almost entire legacy of this chapter lives in levels from Back to Basics: Khmer Empire.
I wondered for several days and I still don't know why this chapter of Underworld is the least represented in custom levels. Maybe it's just... protected by the dead, bahahah-
Due to Lara being more interested in shipwrecks rather than in ships staying afloat before she makes them shipwrecks, we're short on levels with ships staying afloat. However we got a couple of levels which went there. The last concept is a WIP and I normally don't post them, but it's so good I made an exception, so please, dear builder, for the love of Thor, finish this level...
This one is peculiar. The location was too specific to be reused in custom levels, but the Viking trope was proposed for a building contest one edition before Khmer. Back to Basics: Northern Legends took several Underworld objects for starters and combined them with fresh Celtic overtone. The outcome felt like TRU Gold - a universe extension which, if included, would fit the game like a glove.
Again because of the location being very specific, Arctic maps are rarely made. Some from the aforementioned Northern pack might be treated as such or not. But one thing often shared between the last segment of Underworld and custom levels is the idea of breaking through the surface ice and discovering things below.
Before I wrap up for today: do you remember that line about mysterious wheels supposedly in motion, implying a disaster which cannot be stopped? It was speculated for long what they might be, but one author chose not to dispute and filled the gap instead.
That's all for now! :))