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Perusing Pixels is a photo diary of my expedition through the Tomb Raider series. Use the links to the right to find a particular game or level, or see below for the latest post.

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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Aldwych

Apologies. It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? Three and a half years if we’re counting. In case you haven’t read my previous posts or Facebook page, I had a baby, and it turns out babies take up more time than I thought they would.

I have attempted to restart the blog several times, but thanks to software issues and corrupted screenshots I’ve fallen at the first hurdle. But! I’ve finally completed Aldwych (on the third playthrough) and the screenshots haven’t dissolved into darkness so let’s begin, shall we?

After her attempted murder by one of Sophia Leigh’s henchmen, Lara decides to go underground in her quest to find the Eye of Isis.

We begin the level with Lara falling to her death, the new, extreme-sports version of the sliding entrance.

A conveniently-placed pool of water means that Lara survives the fall and now finds herself at a makeshift entrance to Aldwych station.

Up in the ticket office, Lara is soon greeted by a member of a staff. My, what pleasant and attentive people TfL are employing-

- oh, never mind, he’s set Lara on fire. You just can’t get the staff these days.

(Note: I’ve travelled on the London Underground many times and have found the majority of staff to be friendly and helpful. Not one of them has ever attempted to ignite me.) 
 

Lara escapes the surly employee (by killing him) and heads over to the ticket office, but alas, it’s a) unmanned and b) apparently only accepting a currency that was decommissioned in 1971. Never mind, maybe there’ll be a ticket machine on the platform.

Everyone loves riding up and down the huge underground escalators, and Lara is no exception; unfortunately for her, they’ve been rendered permanently static.
 

Another employee appears and immediately begins trying to beat Lara with his flaming spike-club (man, the penalty for fare evasion has really got *harsh!).
 

Upon closer inspection, Lara realises that these men aren’t even wearing a TfL uniform. Either it’s some kind of non-uniform day or they’re not supposed to be there at all…
 

At least the train is quick!…oh, no, wait, that’s just a couple of rats the size of frickin’ triceratops. Hell, Lara can just ride them to the next station.

(She doesn’t, of course. She murders them in cold blood, like the big ol’ one-woman extinction machine that she is.)
 

    

Lara decides to run to the next station. Have you never seen a Public Information Film, Lara? Never run on train tracks! Or go to a farm. Or put a rug on a freshly polished laminate floor.

(I’ve seen too many scary PIFs. It’s scarred me a little.)

Lara manages to avoid getting hit by any more trains and finds her way into some kind of maze. “Yay, a maze!” said nobody ever.

Several months pass before pressing some random combination of buttons finally gains her access to a secret corridor.

The corridor leads to a ornate room, which contains a giant spinning crescent moon, a sword-barred door…

 

…and, of course, random concealed spike pits, because what doesn’t scream opulence more than the chance of a grisly death at each misstep?

 

There’s not much to do in the fancy room or the maze of annoyance, so Lara heads back to the station. On a different platform, she finds another club-wielding thug and his faithful hound. Is it Bring Your Pet To Work day?

 

TR3_10_Aldwych_UnwellDog

I’m no vet, but that dog doesn’t look well. Apart from being dead, I mean.

 

I love this little Easter egg. When up on a passenger bridge, Lara hears a train going by below. At first I thought it was just an ambient sound effect but no, it actually happens!

Aw, it’s Bring Your Child To Work day too!

Too bad.

 

Lara ducks into another Employee Only area and finds a large pit to climb down. It wouldn’t be a London level without a random deadly machine whose original function is unclear, so here we have the spinny spikey thing of doom.

 

Easily escaping the spinny thing, which moves at a rate of one centimetre per century, Lara finds herself facing the easiest fire-trap she’s ever encountered. Seriously, the moment you move towards the second platform, the flames stop. Can’t even have a decent chance of dying a horrible death in Tomb Raider these days; It’s Health and Safety gone mad, I tell you.

 

Lara eventually stumbles out onto the Chancery Lane Safe Deposit, which is so safe it’s buried miles underground where barely anyone can get to.

 

Lara takes the opportunity to do a spot of light raiding, but the safes yield no treasures.

 

She does find a fancy-looking key, though, so it’s not a completely wasted trip.

 

TR3_10_Aldwych_Waves

Hi, Lara! *waves back*

 

In her quest to board a train, Lara comes across yet another platform, this time with more appropriate measures to stop fare dodgers – the ticket barrier.

 

Back on one of the other platforms, Lara comes across a giant penny lying on the ground next to a vending machine.

(I’m not sure if the vending machine artwork is based on a real machine – I’ve had a look on Google but nothing has come up).

 

Hooray! It’s an old penny! It’s 1d! Which means…

 

Lara can buy a ticket from one of the anti-decimalisation machines! At least, I assume it’s a machine. I’d feel pretty sorry for the person  assigned to that booth otherwise.

“Yes, Geraldine, I know Aldwych has been shut down for years, and yes, I know it’s overrun with violent gang members who set things on fire as a way of greeting, but on the off-chance that someone manages to break in, and is carrying coinage that was withdrawn from circulation almost three decades ago, and then decides she wants to legitimately buy a ticket despite being the type of person to break into abandoned train stations then, well, we really need you to be standing by and ready to provide excellent customer service.”


The machine (or Geraldine) chucks the ticket at Lara without much fanfare.

 

Lara doesn’t let it bother her – with renewed spirit she passes the ticket barrier and makes her way down another static escalator, pausing now and again to read the adverts.

I’m assuming these are all reproductions of real Tube posters, but unfortunately the only one I could find is the ‘He’s Watching You’ poster:

HesWatchingYou

According to the information on this website, this is a an WW2 propaganda poster from the USA, so quite what it’s doing on the London Underground, I’m not sure. I seriously thought it was some kind of Star Wars promotion before I researched it.

I’d like to know what the other two posters are based on, so if you have an information, please let me know.

Lara passes a door that is apparently impenetrable with the arsenal she has, despite the fact that it’s locked with a chain so decrepit-looking that it could be disintegrated with nothing more than a hard stare.

Lara finds a new platform and – hallelujah! – Toby from Thomas the Tank Engine waiting to take her where she wants to go; but alas, he’s half-stuck in a tunnel and impossible to board.

Lara’s hopes for making friends with the Damned are reignited when she manages to approach one of them without getting immediately set on-

-whoop, never mind.

Lara explores another tunnel and a cloud of bats emerges – thankfully not the irritating bats of Tomb Raider I but peaceful ones that thoughtfully disappear after completing their atmospheric obligations.

TR3_10_Aldwych_OneSword

The platform is a bit of a dead end so, after finding a matching key near the spinny-thing-that-turns-out-is-a-drill (thanks Stella (on both counts)!), Lara manages to open the sword-door in the big fancy room.

Lara finds a hammer! It’s time to smash patriarchy!

…oh, wait, it’s a mallet. Time to smash…uh…a rusty chain, I guess.

Back at the door, Lara realises the power was in her all along and simply pushes it open. The chain instantly crumbles into dust.

I can’t quite recall the chain of events here (blame baby-brain; okay, so my “baby” is a preschooler now, but I’m still using the trauma of childbirth to get out of housework so you’ll just have to roll with it) but Lara manages to find her way onto the Toby train she saw earlier. A conveniently-placed button propels the train along the track (apparently this train is like a prototype DLR).

Finally having reached her destination, Lara still has no clue where she’s going, so decides to follow a random gang member.

He leads her to a cutscene, which starts with another long fall. I’d feel worse for Lara if she wasn’t constantly throwing herself down slopes into darkness.

Lara takes a moment to recover from her fall and presumably reflect on her poor life choices re: slopes to unknown places.

She is approached by a gang member who seizes her and drags her across the room.


Although this part looks little more like a romantic stroll.

Eventually the gang member throws her down in front of a makeshift throne, while Lara rubs her injured arm (the wrong arm, I might add) and glares at him.

The man seated on the throne (The Leader of the Damned – or, to give him his official title, No Face Guy) begins to interrogate her, assuming she’s searching for Sophia Leigh. Lara confirms she is, and No Face Guy tells her how he and his minions had their skin corroded by one of Sophia’s failed experiments to create Everlasting Beauty.

They were all dumped down a waste disposal chute, presumed dead, but in fact, the opposite was true: despite suicide attempts, the poor Damned are actually immortal.

(So how come Lara can kill them, then? Did they not actually die? Or did No Face Guy just never think to try a frickin’ gun?!)

Still, despite being doomed to live an eternity as a skeleton, No Face Guy is surprisingly reasonable. He offers Lara a trade; he’ll help her find Sophia in exchange for a bottle of embalming fluid from the Natural History Museum.

“Why don’t you go yourself?” Lara wonders as No Face Guy begins to leave, assuming their deal is confirmed. He tells her that there’s an ancient Egyptian there who has fared worse than they have in the immortality stakes, and that he doesn’t quite fancy whatever awful curse she may put on he and his gang. “You’ll be fine, though, pet,” he adds. “You die easy.”

Lara’s voice is dripping with sarcasm. “Thanks.”

And we’re done! And in just over two hours! (+3.5 years). Next up: the Natural History Museum.