As a ten-year-old, whenever I grew weary of bouncing around the mountain caves of Peru, attempting to find the superbly-camouflaged (!) lever, I would fire up my demo of Tomb Raider II and have a go running around Venice instead. I fared no better here, mainly because I didn’t know how to smash windows and was unaware that Lara could do a running jump.
It didn’t really bother me. I loved Venice. I was convinced that, on the other side of every door and window, there was an Italian family getting on with their daily lives. I’d spend my time running into house-textured walls, hoping it would somehow trigger these people to come out and talk to me, maybe to offer me a nice meal or shout at me for stealing their speedboat. Obviously, that never happened, but it amused me for a great deal longer than it should have. As with most things in life, my childish wonder was eventually replaced by dreary, illusion-crushing knowledge, but, for its brief enigma, Venice will always hold a place in my heart.
So, having found a picture of Venice on a goon’s laptop and deciding that that’s a good a reason as any to give it a visit, Lara lands in Via Caravelli and has herself a little sight-seeing tour.
Lara begins in a small alleyway between buildings. I once had a dream she managed to get over that wire fence behind here, and found herself on a beach surrounded by coconut-shooting elephants. I don’t think that’s what’s really there, though.
The human enemies in Tomb Raider II are far more numerous than they are in the first game and and are less likely to a) greet you with a one-liner or b) threaten to shove something up your arse.
Compare this to a screenshot from Caves and ask yourself why I spent more time here.
After all these years, I can still remember the the trapdoor trick*. That’s right, I couldn’t do a running jump or figure out that glass+bullets=broken window, but I managed complicated jumping tricks with ease.
*If I’m the first person to document this particular trick, I’d like it to be named ‘The Perusing Pixels Trapdoor Trick’ and receive a hefty sum of any profits made from its use.
Leopard-print walls. Hmm. I thought the Italians were supposed to have natural style, or is that just an unhelpful stereotype? I like how they look like they’d be fuzzy if you could touch them. That’s some clever texturing.
The human enemies are far too difficult! And they dress stupidly too.
Finally, Lara unlocks the speedboat, which goes very fast and makes a “harrumph" noise every time you try and turn it around.
The speedboat has no time for lesser boats, such as gondolas.
The speedboat doesn’t limit itself to such banalities as “only being able to travel on water”.
Gravity is for gondolas. Surprise airborne speedboat death!
A group of sea mines managed to knock the wind out of the speedboat’s sails. Talk about a health and safety hazard. Why not throw a few sharks in while they’re there?
A washing line! There must be people living here! Good, simple folk with colourful clothing and a dangerous taste in pond ornaments.
Laugh all you want, this still looks better than ragdoll physics.
And that’s the end of the level. I remember being dismayed in City of Vilcabamba that I had to use a medipack. This time, I was surprised that I managed to use so little.