The Great Wall certainly ain’t your daddy’s first level. There’s no hand-holding here; Lara’s barely five minutes in before she’s being tossed into tiger pits, chases by boulders and crushed between spiked walls. And if you dare to wander off the beaten path, you can expect to be confronted by something usually reserved for at least the third level in a Tomb Raider game.
So, Lara has decided to check out the mythical Dagger of Xian, a Chinese artefact that turns anybody foolhardy enough to plunge it into their chest into a dragon. She begins her journey in (where else) China, around a section of the great wall.
The start of the level. Yes, I know it’s dark, but don’t worry, it gets better.
Look! The sky! Also, Lara’s ride to China, which evidently cannot be bothered to hang around.
See? This is the first area of the game and already a tiger is catapulting itself at her head.
The secrets in Tomb Raider II consist of small dragon statuettes in varying colours. Collecting all of the dragons on a level rewards you will weaponry and other equipment. I’m going to try my hardest to collect all the secrets in this game, but I’m not going to be pedantic about it; no secret levels to unearth yet!
All the fancy updated graphics, and still no key present for the lock opening animation. Basically, Lara picks up key, Lara waves hand at keyhole, door opens, key disappears from Lara’s backpack. It makes more sense if you believe that Lara has magical knuckles that are powered by eating metal.
This is the best image I could get of the massive, bloodthirsty spiders that explode when killed. At first I thought that exploding was a stupid reaction to being shot, but actually, I imagine that’s what would happen if you were to do the same to a real spider. *checks youtube*…yep.
Ah, the spike-pits are back. To quote Karen of The Otakusphere’s post on Tomb of Qualopec (and if you haven’t already, check out her playthrough of Tomb Raider 1; it’s very entertaining and probably a lot more insightful that mine): “Umm, why are they bloody? Do they actually get much use? If other people were impaled on these things, why are there no bodies?”
Not one, but two boulders chase Lara down a corridor. Need I remind you that we’re on the first level?! I remember a boulder from the first level of Legend; Zip notifies you about ten minutes before, and there’s a convenient passing point where you can watch it roll on its merry way. No such luck in 1997.
Mobilized, vertical spike-pits! Or spiked walls, which is probably a more catchy term.
I could zip-slide over this huge, dark pit, but what kind of Tomb Raider would I be if I did that? Although, technically, we’re not in a tomb…
I really regretted not drawing a flare before descending down this ladder.
Skeletons litter the floor of the pit, which is rarely a good sign.
That’s right; we’ve managed to disturb T-Rex, who was recuperating with his wife in China after the events of Tomb Raider 1.
Dinosaurs re-extincted, Lara makes her way to this fancy looking door that featured in the opening FMV.
Before she can figure out how to open the door, Lara is attacked by an Italian alcoholic, who then proceeds to offer her a drink (she declines (wisely)). He confirms that she’s not a monk, tells her the doors can only be opened by one person (Marco Bartoli) and then cheerfully kills himself.
Looks like Bartoli sinks as much capital into his villainous enterprise as Natla does. No GUI-fronted operating systems for his henchmen, it’s command-line all the way.
Now, I checked with my computer-science-degree-holding husband, and he said that you can’t load an image in command-line DOS, so it must be Lara’s magical knuckles at work again. Also, I have only just discovered what she says at this point: it’s “Aha! Gianni Bartoli [Marco’s father]. Via Caravelli, Venice [a road in Venice].” Originally, I thought she was just saying “Venice” in a really elaborate way.
And that’s the end of that level. It’s kind of annoying that they don’t tell you how many secrets there were in total, but oh well.
Next up is Venice, AKA the best level in the universe. Excited? Damn right.