|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||TOMB RAIDER 2|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Game Type:||Streategy / Adventure||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||November 1997|
Setting the Scene
As we move towards the millennium we can look back over the past century and take pride in Mankind's achievements. Paper planes became Concorde. Man finally walked on the Moon. Transportation advanced from the old horse and cart to the sexy Ferrari. Energy has progressed from glowing log fires and oil lanterns to Nuclear Power, while bows and arrows became laser guided missiles. Well perhaps not everything has been for the better. So what of became of Womankind? She fought with wild animals, climbed many a mountain, performed death defying leaps, swam the worlds most dangerous rivers, and all of this was achieved by the delightfully chested, and equally talented, Lara Croft. The true star of the 20th Century. Set up as a free-lance adventurer, Lara was hired by a powerful syndicate to retrieve the mythical object called the Scion. Using an amazing range of body-flinging moves, Ms Croft entered the Incan City, the Greek world, and the Egyptian world to recover the three pieces of Scion. During her mission, Lara discovered that she was being used as a pawn in a larger scheme, so she took matters into her own hands and discovered the mystical powers of the Scion herself. Having whipped the wolves, terminated the tyrannosaurs and crocked the alligators, she returned to her stately home for a well earned break and a rub down. Some twelve months later Lara prepares for her second outing which has been captured in a vastly improved video game for all to enjoy. Tomb Raider was phenomenal and let me tell you that the sequel is even better. Core Design Limited proudly present Tomb Raider 2. Legend has it that when you drive the dagger of Xian into your heart, you acquire the power of the dragon. Literally. In Ancient China, the Emperor was the holder of this power and with his army alongside him, he was forced to be reckoned with. Thus he staked a claim to the vast lands of China. His final battle however ended in defeat. While people fell into submission all around him, the Warrior monks of Tibet would not relent and courageously fought against his evil. Knowing the power of the dagger, they succeeded in removing it from the Dragon Emperor's heart - reducing him and his army to carnage. The dagger was returned to it's resting place within The Great Wall and locked up for all time... Now, three parties hold the dagger close to their heart. All for entirely different reasons. Lara, forever the adventurer, is one of these. On her travels she will encounter the other two. Let the adventure begin.
Core have raised the difficulty stakes a couple of notches for this long awaited sequel. Tomb Raider 2 remains in the strategy/adventure genre but eases a little more towards being an out and out shoot-em-up. Imagine the most difficult level from the original game and double it to understand how tough a challenge you must face to complete the opening level. I fear younger player may struggle, as for the rest of us, it's exactly what the doctor ordered.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then settle back, crack open a four-pack and prepare to be drawn into the mystery that shrouds the Dagger of Xian. The legend is explained through an introductory movie that will blow your socks off. The effects are mind-blowing, the music is haunting and the animations are silky smooth. What more can I say but.... perfection. Your first glance at our heroine (that's Lara Croft, not the drug) should be within the confines of her stately mansion where a visit is highly recommended, in fact I would say it was essential. Here you can once again brush up on old skills and check out her new moves. Lara has been using the time during her well earned break to keep herself in shape and my first impressions were that she looked as slim and trim as ever. It was also fairly obvious that she has been under the surgeons knife as her previously cone shaped breasts are now smooth and curvaceous (Mmmmm), while her pointed nose has been rounded to further improve her looks. I also noticed that Lara's hair had grown a few inches and now hangs down to her buttocks. It has also been tied into a ponytail that blows with the wind. In the original game the scenery effects were mostly made up of stone and rock while virtually all of the action took place indoors. I had a feeling of déjà-vu when the first level began in the dark shadows of a cave but a few moments later Lara was bouncing around the outskirts of a large castle. On the horizon the sun could be seen setting over the mountains, heather lay in the fields, the fresh air blew back her hair and of course the presence of wild animals could be heard all around. The Venice levels are set in the streets of the sunken city. Brightly colored canopies drape over panelled windows while gondolas are moored by the watery roads. The level of detail is astounding and will certainly not disappoint. Another vast improvement is the light sourcing. Drawing Lara's pistols in a darkened area seemed very much as before but a click of the trigger results in a blinding flare from the barrels which light up the surrounding areas. There is also an additional item in Lara's backpack that is very useful in dimly lit areas. A press of the appropriate button will see her draw a flare from her pack and ignite it to brighten up her immediate location. This will remain alight for two minutes or unless she throws it down a darkened hole.
Sounds and Effects
The music is once again the haunting sound that accompanied the original game only this time it sounds more defined. It moves along with the flow of the game and matches every mood. When the tempo rises, so does the music. When the action eases, the music soothes your wounds. Slotting the game into my CD player I was amazed to note that there were 61 music and sound tracks to browse through. Some were instantly recognizable from the first game while others were lengthy music tracks that could easily be sold in their own rights. Lara appears to have been taking elocution lessons as her Cockney accent has been eased away and she now talks the Queens English. The popular 'ooohh' remains when she takes medication but when she collect keys and weapon power ups she offers a surprised 'Ah ha'. The sound effects have been further improved. When unloading the contents of you pistols in the confined area of the cave there is a resounding echo as the bullets ricochet off the stone walls. When finding yourself trapped in an enclosed area try shooting at the windows as some may shatter with an almighty crash. For a total sound experience slip on a set of headphones to play Tomb Raider 2. You can almost hear the sound of Lara's heart pounding as she moves hand over hand across the rooftops while vicious guard dogs can be heard panting as they pace the courtyards down below. Looking down, you notice that the rabid canines anticipate every single move that you make, just waiting for that one mistake so they can pounce. You often hear the noise of footsteps from human enemies who patrol the floor above. This is even more disturbing than confronting them as it keeps you constantly alert, not knowing when, or from where they will pounce.
The main menu retains the original format where sunglasses represent screen adjust and the personal stereo allows you to set the sound effects and music to suit your liking. There are three pre-set control configurations to scroll through, with Lara responding to each button with an action. The face buttons remain the same as last years game which are jump, roll, draw weapon and action. The 'walk' and 'look around' buttons sit comfortably on the shoulder pad but the sidestep buttons have been changed as you must now hold down the R2 button and press a direction. This frees the L2 button which is now used to light flares when Lara finds herself in the dark - they even work underwater. On certain levels, Lara may encounter vehicles which she can use during the level. To get on board, simply walk or swim to the side of the vehicle and press the action button. The directional buttons control movement, R1 will slow it down while the action button will boost the speed, or fire the vehicles weapons if it has them. Take great care when racing through confined areas as Lara will take damage if she crashes into anything. You can get off the vehicle at any time by jumping left or right. The first thing you will notice is that the loading times are lightening quick, which is just as well as I guarantee you will be saving your progress in virtually every room during the main game. Select the Polaroid to access the interactive training level where Lara will welcome you back into her luxurious mansion which has seen one or two changes over the past 12 months. On entering Lara's Home you cannot fail to be impressed by the magnificent sight that unfolds before your eyes (the scenery, fool, not Lara's knockers). Lara is standing outdoors in front of a lengthy assault course with her ponytail bobbing around. The clattering of glasses will turn you attention to the left where an ageing butler stands holding a tray of drinks in his shaking hands. He doesn't appear to have a name so we shall call him Jeeves. Now Jeeves is a very loyal servant of Croft Manor and he will walk over water to make sure that he always remains at Lara's side. In fact wherever she goes within the grounds the clattering of drinking glasses will not be too far behind. Jeeves does not have a lot to say but if you perform a somersault over his head he will make a noise that sounds like something between a gasp and a fart. As soon as you set off across the assault course the clock starts ticking. Any cheating and Lara will call you back to start again. There are a vast range of jumps and hurdles to overcome and really becomes interesting when she must perform her new moves. Faced with a steep wall, Lara can can be made to climb up, down, left and right by using the direction buttons. Her posture looks like she is squatting for a crap and I found myself wishing that she had been wearing a skirt (Stop it!). Further on she will face an extra long gap between obstacles. Luckily there is a rope fixed between two points and a hand grip on runners. Grab hold of the bars and Lara will fly through the air before a timely release will land her feet first on a small platform. Lara's Home is the almost the size of a whole level and I must have spent a full hour investigating the grounds and playing around on the obstacle course before taking her indoors. Feel free to check out the massive house which is full of surprises such as switching on the Hi-Fi to pipe music into every room and a mysterious lock beside the King size bed for our Queen size lady, but don't spend all day in there as we have a massive game to begin that is packed with even bigger surprises. Another silky smooth intro sees our heroine hurl herself from a chopper, slide down a hanging rope and then leap into the safety of the long grass to begin her brand new adventure. The Great Wall begins in the dark shadows of the caves with the sound of waves lashing against rocks. It feels great to be back and to once again have Lara under the control of your fingertips. So lets have a good look around the opening terrain. The atmosphere is so soothing as you run through her repertoire of moves to confirm that everything is working correctly. Leaping onto sloping rocks results in her sliding straight back onto ground level. Backward and sideways somersaults, the neck breaking dive and that 'oh so sexy' handstand still work. Look, there's some water over there. It looks quite shallow so I'll take her for a paddle. 'TAT-A-TAT-A-TAT'. What's that? Phew, it's only the helicopter returning to base. Now for that paddle. 'WRAAAGGGHHH'. No sooner had she dampened her boots when two massive tigers spring out of the darkness and rip her to shreds. Panic sets in. Which bloody control is the weapon? How do I shoot the damn thing? I want my mum? Lara died! I should have been paying attention on the training ground instead of gaping at the scenery. Tomb Raider is back with a vengeance, and yes, Lara still wears those tight brown shorts, which is just as well on this occasion. Second time around I scrambled to high ground, sharpish. Tomb Raider 2 assumes that you have played the first game as it launches you straight into a selection of tricky moves. There is a steep cliff face to climb which leads to the keep of a castle. Inside the windows are lined with solid steel bars but you can climb up on the sill to take a peek at the scenery. A small grate is set into the floor. Go on. Just put one foot on it... 'Arrgghh... SPLOOSH'. Lara falls through the floor, but thankfully lands in a small pool shrouded in darkness. She lights a flare, swims towards a switch, clicks it, a door opens and she tentatively clambers onto dry land. Obviously you would not wish to perform the opening tasks over and over again therefore your progress may now be saved on a memory card at any point by entering the passport menu. Because of the increase in difficulty this system is much more suitable than the old emerald save point. Easing through the opened doorway the bright sunlight is temporarily blinding as you wander over the draw-bridge. From over the horizon three extremely large eagles swoop from the sky with her eyes as their target. I am barely five minutes into the game and already my heart is racing like a Porsche. The opening is tougher than Lara's leather boots. In fact if you struggle with the first five minutes then you have no chance of completing the next set of tasks. It goes something like this. (Take a deep breath) Dive from the draw-bridge into a stream, fight off yet another vicious tiger, climb back onto the bridge and enter the spider infested room. Kill the spiders before they nibble her ankles away and then move hand over hand above a firing line of razor sharp discs. You best save your game at this point. (Even deeper breath) Run over the collapsing floor that holds deadly spikes only to reach a corridor where two giant boulders have already begun their chase. Out run the boulders by leaping over more deadly spikes straight into a pit where spiked walls begin to quickly close in. If you clamber out in time, the corridor floor that you safely reach begins to collapse with spikes once again down below. You must keep running over the falling floor taking care to leap over the deadly blades that are moving in and out of the walls only to reach another room where spiked walls are closing in. Dive quickly into another long corridor where even more spiked walls are gradually moving towards you. If you reach the pit at the end of this run yet another wall moves in so its through the hole in the floor for a well eared breather. The pace is breathtaking. Venice & Bartoli's Hideout. The mystery leads Lara to the watery streets of Venice where human enemies are in abundance. Snipers are everywhere so you best get Lara out of the streets and into a building where she can do a little sniping herself (which is only fair). Around every corner muscle-bound thugs will attack with huge clubs and if they don't smash her head in, then their guards dogs will surely finish the business. Charging around like a bull in a China shop will not get you far and some gamers may give up if they stick with this policy. To survive you need stealth. You will soon realize that men with clubs hold no danger if you keep your distance. Draw them out into the open and put a few bullets in them. If they get too close, dive into the water and return when they have moved away. Then finish them off. It takes a little getting used to but makes for a far better game. The puzzles retain a similar format to the original game with switches opening the doors that are situated far away from the activating point. Standing on a floor panel will switch off flaming platforms for a limited time leaving you to quickly perform a set of acrobats to pass by the hazard. Too slow and it's burn, baby burn. Without spoiling the content of the game I will only say that if you become hopelessly stuck, look around, and just because certain maneuvers were impossible in the last game they may work now. The first time I was stuck I wandered around for half an hour not realizing that Lara could now climb onto the chandeliers. Suddenly it all fell into place. Quite early on in the game you will get the chance to drive a speedboat around the streets of Venice. Acceleration sees the front end of the boat rise high in the air as the engines churn up the water behind. This is another major improvement to the gameplay and reduces the time spent plodding back and forth over covered terrain. Simply hop into the boat and be there in a few seconds. Wherever you moor the boat it will remain until you have completed the task so you can hop back in and take a ride back. Snow bikes are also included in the array of vehicles that Lara can pilot. To cope with the increased difficulty setting the more meatier weapons from the original game appear in the very early levels, if you can find them. Beginning with the standard pistols you will soon be tooled up with the shotgun, a fine pair of automatic pistols, the superb Uzis (very well hidden), an M16 and a fabulous grenade launcher. One of the minor flaws with Tomb Raider was during the underwater scenes. As Lara gracefully performed the breast stroke, the sight of an oncoming crocodile left many players frustrated, they went for their guns, only to find that they would not work underwater. Well this problem has been re-addressed for Tomb Raider 2 with another new addition in the form of a harpoon gun, which she can carry with her while swimming. The Opera House is very tricky level. The visuals are dazzling and moody with deadly consequences lurking behind every corner. This level is packed with complex puzzles and I am not ashamed to admit that it took me over five hours to complete. Most of this time was spent trying to work out how to get inside of the damn place. It was now becoming increasingly noticeable that most of the enemies appeared in human form but this was soon set to change. Just when you believe that you have cracked this level, it opens up into a whole new set of puzzles and scenarios. The feeling of satisfaction is immense when you finally reach the end of The Opera House, you really feel as if you have achieved something, and then it happens...... Lara is captured and pounded into a state of unconsciousness. After a short intermission FMV Lara wakes up on a remote Oil Rig Platform and the worst thing imaginable has happened.... the bastards have confiscated all of her weapons. Now this really hurts. I had climbed dangerous mountains, swam perilous rivers and fought tooth and nail to collect those meaty firearms and let me tell you, someone is going to pay for this... big time. I'm desperately trying not to spoil the plot or reveal too many of the new features so I will round off by only telling you that there are 16 enormous levels to run, jump and somersault through, new outfits for Lara, a mind blowing underwater level... there I go spoiling the game again.
Value for Money
Tomb Raider 2 is THE biggest game of the year and will not disappoint. The difficulty has been raised to a level that is challenging but fair and to get the best out of the game you must think before you act. Younger players may struggle but I suppose they can always play around on the obstacle course at Lara's House until it's their bed time. Who cares anyway, buy this game now. You won't regret it.
game is a masterpiece. Some of the graphics were beyond description so
you will just have to check them out for yourselves while the music and
sound effects are of the highest quality.
I really wanted to give this game Absolute Playstation's first 100% but there will be some kick back on the amount of times you must save a game to simply stay alive. Core should have named this game Tomb Raider 2 - Die and Die Again. It is very tough. By the time I reached the fourth out of the sixteen enormous levels I was saving my progress after every jump just to avoid covering the same ground again. But so what. If you want to wimp out you can always exchange it for PacMan on the MegaDrive. Me? I loved every single minute of it and I'm off to start again to find all of the secrets.