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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Monday, 26 September 2011

Natla’s Mines

After the abundance of unworldly enemies from the last three levels, Natla’s Mines are refreshingly sparse in population.  There’s only three enemies in this round, all human, although there’s also a hell of a lot of boulders trying to make up for that fact.

Although fun, Natla’s Mines aren’t very photogenic, so we’ll start with some random shots from the FMV that precedes the level:

Best.  Lara.  Facial.  Expression.  EVER.

I’d explain what’s happening here, but that would detract from the awesomeness of the picture.  Every time I’ve ridden a bike, a small part of me has always wanted to emulate this stunt.

Lara sneaks onto a boat crammed full of armed gunmen who have been paid to kill her, not to mention an Atlantean queen in possession of a powerful artefact, and she decides it’s the perfect place to take a nap.  I’m beginning to think Lara’s stupid.  Incredibly lucky, yes, but ultimately, stupid.  It would explain a lot of things, actually.

Lara wakes up alive and gets off the boat, triggering the start of the level.

Apparently, Natla Technologies didn’t have enough spare dosh to kit out their speedboats with luxury extras (such as sides).  Maybe they had to cut funding to the vehicle department so Natla could continue showering in bank notes.

Thanks to her inability to master the art of crawling, this fuse will have to be retrieved another way.

In the world of Tomb Raider, a couple of cracks on the outside of a crate makes it three times lighter and therefore moveable.

Such damage means the crate no longer has to obey the laws of physics, either.

This bad Larson tribute act is one of the three humans in the level, and has taken your magnums hostage.


The people that stole Lara’s weapons decided to hide her pistols in an elevated portakabin, remove the fuses that allow her to winch the cabin down and scatter them about the level in various hazardous places.  Bear in mind they travelled over miles of open sea between mugging Lara and getting here.  They couldn’t have just, I don’t know, tossed the things in the sea?  No?

Ah, the obnoxious skateboard kid, Travis Bickle and Marty McFly’s least-favourite lovechild.

Hold on, is the skateboard kid not a twelve-year-old child?!  All the hoo-hah about killing endangered animals, and this nobody minded.

The shotgun guy goes from “black” to “deeply tanned” in the space of a level.

That has to be one of the most foreboding corridors in this game yet.  I almost considered shutting the game down and giving up, especially as I know what lies in that cursed place.

The end!  I thought I was really quick on this level, but the stats don’t lie.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Sanctuary of the Scion

Remember the multitude of cat mummies in Obelisk of Khamoon?  Sanctuary of the Scion sees that number and raises it fifteen thousand; only, instead of cat mummies, we now have three deadlier and more terrifying varieties of Atlantean.

The beginning of the level gives you the opportunity to bid a fond farewell to all the greenery that appeared in previous levels.  We won’t be seeing any of that again.

You’ve barely even finished waving at the palm trees before two Atlantean…things…jump out at you.  I took many a picture of Wingus and Dingus here, but this one is by far the most nightmare-inducing.

I sure hope you like climbing, because that’s what a good 60% of this level involves.

The Sanctuary is also home to the daddy of all Sphinxes.

Remember how I used to complain about bats a lot back in Peru?  Yeah.  I miss them now.

After the giant Atlantean bat had taken a few shots from my magnums, he swooped over to the Sphinx and did something perverse-looking to the back of his head.

Easter Egg: eating the remains of an Atlantean causes Lara to grow fifty-feet tall.

Oh, I crack myself up.  That was actual a forced-perspective shot from Sanctuary’s invisible ledge (which holds a pair of Uzis, the best weapon in this game).  Still, I bet I could start an urban legend with that screenshot.  Did anybody else fall for the “turn Lara into a dragon” easter egg in Tomb Raider II?

The centaur is back, and he looks as pleased to see Lara as she as to see him, if that exaggerated shoulder slump is anything to go by.

Lara pretends to be an aeroplane.

The ‘Saphire’ key gets a reboot for this level.  Cue debates on whether the name change is a fresh new direction for the key or disrespecting the splendour of the original.

Underwater statue room!  UNDERWATER STATUE ROOM!!! :D
It never fails to brighten my day.

I accidently drowned Lara, and she spent the last few seconds of her life doing some kind of underwater kick-boxing routine.  She may be about to die, but damned if she’s going to leave an unfit-looking corpse.

I’m ashamed to say I had to look at a walkthrough (Stella’s, of course!) for the first time in this playthrough to find this lever.  To be fair, it’s pretty much the same colour as the wall.

Something strange happens when the camera goes underwater to show you something happening; when it cuts back, the screen stays underwater-coloured for a few more seconds, until it goes back to the right shade.  It’s like the visual equivalent of waiting for your ears to pop after swimming.  I choose to believe this was a style choice, not a bug.

Remember how I said that 60% of the level was climbing?  The other 40% was running down this damn corridor.

A trio of Atlanteans are there to greet you at the end of the three-mile corridor, causing Lara to go weak at the knees.

Larson’s back!  He tells you he’s got a  “pain in his brain” from you (it’s called a headache, Larson) and had decided to “shoot you to hell”.

Now, this is how you kill Larson.  No need for dramatically staring at your hands in dismay and acting like you’ve never shot a man before.  Just pump a few dozen rounds into his body and be on your merry way.

This is what Larson was guarding; the final piece of the Scion.  From the title of the level, you probably should have seen that coming.

The end!  I should probably admit that I did in fact reload a save game and spare Larson’s life, but that was merely to appease the thirteen-year-old Larson fangirl within.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Obelisk of Khamoon

Obelisk of Khamoon is the last in the series of amazingly good-looking levels and juxtapositions pleasant textures with the bone-chilling terror that is the common Egyptian cat mummy.

Here’s the start of the level, as always.  I suppose that, technically, we could call this a room and not a corridor.

There’s four paths here.  Four paths that involve a lot of block shoving to get to, and three of which that offer the combined reward of a medipack.  Thanks, Tomb Raider.

Am I the only one that always opts to push, rather than pull blocks because I feel bad for Lara during the pull animation?  I think it’s the noises she makes.  She sounds like she’s in the last stages of labour.

While playing this level, I discovered something rather useful; if you select a weapon from the menu whilst underwater, Lara takes them out as soon as you’re back on dry land, saving precious seconds that are otherwise used to donate half your health span to an angry animal.

This is the Obelisk, the title character of the level.  The aim is to get to the four artefacts upon its ledges and insert them into some other obelisk.

Lara  spends a lot of her time in this level being chased around by mummies (as one expects in a tomb, I suppose).  I was so blown away by the fantasticness of this screenshot that I immediately took up my pencils and dashed out this sketch based on it.

Apparently that mummy was only pissed off because I ruined his game of Senet.

This is neither the time nor the place to break-dance, Lara.

What surprised me most in this level was that this sarcophagus didn’t burst open and unleashed a painful, mummy-related death when I ventured too close.  I was both relieved and disappointed.

The mummies usually tend to leap around screeching when you wake them up, although sometimes they opt for standing upright and slowly looking around the room in an incredibly horrific manner.  Y’know, like cats do.

This is one of two areas that houses two mummies and and absolutely no rewards for killing them.  I really think such things should be against the law.

With all four artefacts gathered, I was given the opportunity to visit the previous level and insert them into the obelisk there.  Doing so opened the door to the end of the level.

And that concludes another level.  Next we have the majestic Sanctuary of the Scion, which includes more monuments than you can shake a shotgun at.