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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Saturday, 19 November 2011

Diving Area

Happily, I could only recall about 0.17% of this level, and therefore nearly everything was a delightful surprise.  Well, everything besides the flamethrowers, that is.  My overall memory of the sea-based levels in Tomb Raider II was seventeen punishing hours of…wait, hold on, wasn’t that my memory of The Cistern?  Did I just have an aversion to water-based levels when I was fourteen that reaching adulthood has allowed me to overcome?  I think there’s a scientific experiment here, somewhere.

While I’m here, I’ll mention that this level (and the last) have a particularly disconcerting ambience soundtrack that includes a noise which sounds like Lara breaking her neck.  Every time I heard it, I had to check Lara was still alive (and that her neck was intact).

Reunited with her pistols, Lara continues to explore the offshore rig.

The start of the level.  This is the afore-mentioned 0.17% that I could recall.  Beyond these steps could have been a carnival of rainbow-coloured unicorns singing their way through The Cure’s greatest hits for all I knew.


No unicorns, but ample opportunity for Lara to unleash her special brand of deadly yoga.


Even the best raiders can slip and fall sometimes, right?  Also, what on earth is all that green stuff and why does Lara die the minute she touches it?  A warning sign would have been nice.


A vast majority of this level involves climbing this ladder.


Fifteen days later…


Finally.  That guy doesn’t look too pleased to see us, but, to be fair, he’s probably a little bitter that’s he’s had to spend most of his adult life in this room waiting for Lara to show up.


Well, really, what a stupid place to put a key-card.


For your enjoyment, here’s a really creepy picture of a dog that I managed to take.  You’re welcome.


Diving Area heralds the reign of the series’ latest “most irritating enemy” award-winner, flamethrower man.  He often shows up in places where there’s no water, and watches with a sociopathic passiveness as Lara burns to death.  Also, you can’t steal his weapon after you kill him.  What’s the deal with that?


Thankfully, not all enemies in this level are as dangerous.  Marco’s tendency to hire the dumbest guys that manage to turn up for the interview means that these two men are rendered powerless by a few sheets of glass and a closed door, and can only watch in enraged impotence as Lara rushes around, killing divers and moving blocks.


No!  Get out the way!  I want to get on that anthropomorphic helicopter!



I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be the only one tonight who has nightmares about red-eyed dogs and helicopters that seem to be staring directly into the darkest corners of your soul.


It’s too late, Lara, the helicopter’s gone.  This is one problem that can’t be solved with yoga.


One of the best moments in the level is when this thing appears, Das Boot-like, while Lara is descending into a deep pool of water.  It turns out to be a tiny submarine thing, but at this point you could be forgiven for thinking it was an atomic bomb poorly disguised as a shark.


“What a stupid place to put a key-card”: Redux.


Lara’s on fire, and she’s not too happy about it.


At first glance, this looks like another yoga pose, but actually, I suspect Lara may have just fallen down that ladder in an attempt to sneak up on that guy.  But hey, she can’t be graceful all of the time, can she?


Prepare to fall off your seat in shock as you witness Lara showing compassion towards another human being.  Lara comes across Brother Chen Barkhang, who was being tortured by Marco’s cultists, and takes a moment to check over his wounds.  Although maybe she’s just thinking about lining up a replacement for her butler, Winston, for when he finally shuffles (‘shuffles’ being the operative word) off of this mortal coil.


“Hmm, strong hands, but are they up to holding a tea tray for eighteen hours a day?”


I’m going to give Core Design the benefit of the doubt and assume this was just an unfortunate camera positioning.


Yes, Lara have definitely gotten over that little “caring about other people” wobble; she’s now back to not giving a damn and throwing shoes at seriously injured monks.


While Brother Barkhang is telling Lara about how he and some other monks are trying to stop Marco’s pursuit of the Dagger of Xian, the devil himself turns up and kills the poor old man.


Lara (who changed into a wetsuit while we weren’t looking) makes a run for it, taking pot-shots at Marco before diving for cover.  “That was my replacement butler, you bastard!”  Now it’s personal.


Okay, Lara, that’s the third time in one level you’ve fallen over.  Maybe ditching your shoes in a place with lots of water and non-grip flooring was a bad idea.


And we’re done.  I’ve decided that getting all the secrets is uncool.  I mean, I do have a life, you know.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Offshore Rig

Ooo, I liked this level.  Sure, it only seemed to take fourteen seconds to complete and you spend far too much time without any weaponry (in my book, any time is far too much time to survive with at least the pistols). But after the dreary drudgery of the decrepit Opera House, it was pleasant to spend time somewhere brightly-lit and sandbag-less.

Having been knocked out Eros’ enormous spanner (no, that’s not a euphemism) after sneaking about Marco Bartoli’s seaplane, Lara wakes up on a rig. She has been disarmed – although, strangely enough, still has ammo – and locked in a small room with a multitude of crates.

Lara wakes up to find herself unarmed and imprisoned, although apart from that she’s fighting fit, according to the health bar. Did Eros feel guilty after beating her in unconsciousness and decide to nurse her back to health? Who knows.


The cultists probably thought themselves rather clever, blocking the way to the door switch with crates, but they made the stupid mistake of using damaged crates. Damaging the exterior of a crate, as any fool knows, will subtract several tons from its weight and make it lighter than a baby octopus.


Once we inevitably escape that pathetic attempt at a trap, the alarms go off and one of Eros’ many identical brothers appears. Seeing as he’s armed with only a large stick (evidently he had last pick at the armoury), and a seeming reluctance to throw said stick, it’s not too much trouble to avoid him. Hahahahahaha! Idiot.




Offshore Rig brings with it the advent of giant underwater fans, which suck Lara into their rotating blades if she ventures too near. Bizarrely, they don’t actually cause her any bodily harm but instead make her spontaneously drown.


Oh, I though the opening-doors-with-that-wheel-thing wasn’t a feature until Chronicles! Once again, Tomb Raider teaches me something new (although I can’t imagine this particular titbit being useful outside a video game-themed pub quiz with obscure questions).


Here we have the cultists’ social room. What the hell card game is that supposed to be? (Ignore the dead body.)


Did you know that key-cards make exactly the same sound as normal keys do when you use them? You also have to twist them to make them work. Some would say lazy animators; I’d say creative security solutions!


Proof that Bartoli’s gang thought of propulsion gel way before Aperture Science did. Although what use it would be down there, I don’t know. Everyone knows you put repulsion gel in a pit. As I’ve said before, the cultists aren’t exactly Mensa material.


Alas, water has become dangerous again, thanks to harpoon-wielding divers. However, these guys are nothing compared with what’s to come…(sharks).


And rather abruptly, that’s the end of the level. Yes, three secrets. I’m back, baby.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

An Aside...

Before I set about ripping up Offshore Rig, I just wanted to make a short post thanking everybody for the lovely comments they’ve made about this blog, on here as well as on Twitter and Facebook. It gives me great pleasure to know that you’re enjoying it, and this fact alone is giving me the incentive to play (and mock) even the most tedious levels (*cough*Atlantean Stronghold*cough*).

I would also like to mention that I’ve set up a Facebook page for Perusing Pixels (click here). For now, I’m going to use it in much the same way as my Twitter account (@PerusingPixels), i.e. to keep everyone updated when I post a new level, but it the future, who knows? It may become a hotbed of affectionate jibes and pictures of Lara doing funny things.

Okay, it’s time to get back to the “tombs” of Tomb Raider II. See you on the next level!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Opera House

I entered the Opera House with a vague sense of foreboding, not because I thought something bad was going to happen but because I was pretty sure I was going to spend the next hour of gameplay bored out of my skull.

I really don’t know where I got such a negative impression of Opera House from.  I mean, it’s no Venice but it’s still a fairly decent level, and very pretty too.  And, as we all should have established by now, I’m greatly appeased by pretty things.

I have been trying to keep everybody up-to-date with the plot (or, at least, my interpretation of the plot) and from this post forward I shall be using italics for my recaps, mainly to jazz things up a bit and so that I don’t keep having to starting paragraphs with “So, …”

Lara has stormed through Bartoli’s hideout, killing thugs and upsetting chandeliers, and now finds herself at the entrance of an old opera house.  Could Marco be inside?


The start of the level, which involves coming out of a dark tunnel (for once).


Most of the environmental traps in the opera house are thanks to the building be in a state of disrepair (rubble, sandbags, etc.).  However, I cannot work out the justification for large boxes that can magically swing themselves from side-to-side.  And it’s not like there are just a couple of rogue ones, these things are everywhere.

Also, I notice that night has fallen while we were sliding down that tunnel at the start  How long was that tunnel?! It was only about 4pm when we went in.


Marco Bartoli’s father, Gianni Bartoli, who bears a striking resemblance to Harry Houdini, if Houdini decided to adopt a fairly lazy Satan disguise.


I was going to mock this carpet, but then I realised that actually, I quite like it.  And Lara has apparently decided it’s the perfect place to do a bit of yoga.


I just love this picture because it looks like she’s trying to give that crate a really awkward cuddle.


Hey, all that yoga practice really paid off!


The eponymous opera house.  I see the architects made the bold decision to replace the orchestra pit with a swimming pool.  That’s dedication to experimental theatre right there.


Lara and this fellow spent a long time watching each other from afar, because apparently bullets can’t travel more than ten feet.

It was actually quite romantic, until I got close enough to shoot him.


All these mirrors are smashed in exactly the same way.  I suspect a conspiracy.  That, or a lazy texturer.


Screw the Rocky Horror Picture Show, this is the best kind of audience participation.


Once again, Lara must rely on her magic knuckles to open some doors.  Here she is giving them a quick pep talk. “Time to make it worth my while contracting metal poisoning from eating that key!”


One of the puzzles on this level works on the assumption I have even a single clue as to what the hell a “relay box” is.  Bad move.


Standing between Lara and the exit of the opera house is the mini-boss, Giant Revolver Guy (to give him his official name).


Heading out to Marco’s seaplane, one can catch a glimpse of fair Venezia at night.  Then, one can wonder who the hell that woman is on the side of Marco’s seaplane, who looks as though she escaped from Duke Nukem 3D.


On the seaplane, we’re treated to a cut-scene (yay for cut-scenes!).  This is about the only exciting moment in it.

Having snuck onto the seaplane, Lara eavesdrops on a conversation between Marco Bartoli and his pilot, Fabio. Fabio has some (fairly reasonable) doubts concerning Marco’s plan to go raiding the sea for an artefact his father, Gianni, may or may not have been carrying when he died.  Marco responds by punching Fabio in the stomach (while Fabio is still driving the plane, I might add), and then gives a little speech about how awesome he (Marco) is and how he’s destined for greatness.

Lara is spotted by Marco as he leaves the cockpit and is quickly knocked out by a cultist (Eros).

Yeah, I’ve given up on my plan to get all the secrets.