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PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews

Developer: Core OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Eidos 1 Player
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 

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 

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 

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 
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. 
GRAPHICS: 19/20 This 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.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 19/20

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