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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Friday, 28 October 2011

The Great Wall

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.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Lara’s Home (Part II)

(Part IPart III)

Lara’s Home makes a welcome return in Tomb Raider II, only this time, Lara has kindly left a few more doors open and has upgraded her estate to include the outside world.  She’s also brought her butler, Winston (or Jeeves, as his fan-name was before Tomb Raider V) back from wherever she was hiding him last year (maybe after accidently crating him up and sending him into storage).

I don’t know if I made it clear in my first post on the subject, but I love Lara’s Home.  The idea of building an entire estate for your lead character to run around in (and creating a fairly believable premise for a tutorial in the process) is, in my mind, a stroke of genius that serves both gameplay and character development.  It was a great disappoint when the house failed to appear in Tomb Raider VI and V, and was then horribly mutilated in Anniversary.


The snapshot illustrating Lara’s Home at the main menu.  Now, did Lara intend for Winston to be in the shot, or would he just not stop following her for the two seconds it took to take this photo?  She does look slightly irritated.


The first time I ever saw Winston, I thought he was a skeleton, or the grim reaper, albeit a fairly slow grim reaper who brought his own refreshments.


One of the new skills Lara claims to have picked up since last time is the ability to use a zip swing.  Truthfully, I don’t remember the lack of this skill being a particular impairment in Tomb Raider I, although it would have been nice to have had a couple of lines to speed up Colosseum.


“Feel free to explore the rest of the house and gardens,” Lara says after she’s praised / ridiculed your finishing time on her assault course.  If the rest of the outside looks like this garden, I think I’ll pass.


Thankfully, it doesn’t.  Here is the front of Lara’s gorgeous abode.


Here is Lara’s not-so-gorgeous fish statue.


The inside of Lara’s home, as seen from the front door; and oh, look, she’s finally updated that hideous carpet!


There are a few repeated pictures in Lara’s home, but this instance really takes the biscuit.  The same image, five times, in varying scales and rotations.  That’s what you get for having a three-hundred-year-old butler whose eyesight probably gave up when Queen Victoria was still on the throne.


Why is Lara storing gold in the fire grate?  We’ll find out later.


A lot of Lara’s furniture dwarfs her; my hypothesis is that her aunt (who left the house to Lara in her will) was a very large woman.


Sometimes you see something distinctly un-Lara, like a leopard-print fainting couch, and you must force yourself to remember this was her aunt’s house.


Any edgy game can include a toilet, but what other game developers would have added a bidet?  I’m impressed.


Hey, Lara has a yellow toothbrush.  Now I need never again face the agonizing choice of which colour to choose when selecting my own brush (unless there’s not a yellow one, of course).


Another gigantic hand-me-down from Lara’s aunt.  What was she, part-whale?!


I tried to entice Winston in to watch while Lara was “bathing”, but he chose instead to circle the room in confusion before exiting again.


Winston somehow manages to find his way onto the inaccessible outside balcony.


Of course, there’s a simple explanation; he can walk through glass.  Is in any wonder people find this man so creepy?


Back downstairs to look around the kitchen.


No wonder Winston is constantly trying to force tea onto Lara; look at the size of the kettle!  He’s must make about three barrels full every time he brews up.


The only thing in Lara’s fridge are massive joints of meat.  I know Tomb Raiders need protein, but Jesus, Lara, a carrot wouldn’t hurt.


Of course, it’s impossible to play Lara’s Home without locking Jeeves in the freezer.  In fact, I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to exit the level until you do so.


I let him out again, though, so he could accompany her through the maze.  While Lara ran around, Winston chose to practice his physics-bending abilities on a hedge.


Hey, it’s the Vilcabamba twins!  I don’t remember stashing these in the inventory in Tomb Raider I, meaning that Lara travelled back afterwards and damaged an extremely rare, historical site just so she had some unique garden ornaments.


A switch in the maze opens a timed door to the basement, where Lara keeps the treasures she’s picked up on her travels, as well as her ugly old carpet.


It turns out Lara did take one of those cat statues from the Shadow of the Cat levels.  And she had the sense to put it in a sealed room in case it turns into a panther.


I love the random piles of gold Lara has apparently accrued from her adventures.  This explains the fire grates (see above).


And that concludes our tour of Lara’s home.  Time to head off to China for the first chapter of the awesomeness that is Tomb Raider II.  See you there.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Hive

Finally!  FINALLY! 

I’m not saying Tomb Raider Gold was a waste of time.  It wasn’t.  But nevertheless, I’m glad it’s over.

Right, on to The Hive, which had the decency to be slightly more entertaining than the last level.  It’s also crammed to bursting point with Atlanteans and left me few chances to take pictures, so I’ve padded this post out with images of Lara doing awesome stuff.


Here we have – yes, you’ve guessed it – the start of the level.


A chess board and a plethora of boulders that really don’t understand the rules of the game.


No caption, I just thought it was a cool picture.


Lara attempts to duck and fails.  Keep trying, girl.


Again, no caption, just a cool picture.


A rare close-up of Lara’s angry shooting face.


Hahaha, stupid centaur.


Apparently killing Lara isn’t as important as laughing at whatever the hell is over there.


This Atlantean attempts to chew Lara’s angry shooting expression straight off her face.  Thank God for graphical limitations.


Although I was thankful it was static, it’s really not pleasant to round a corner and collide head-first with an Atlantean’s arse.


There were about sixteen Atlanteans in this room; luckily, not one of them had the ability to jump short heights and get to Lara’s slightly raised position.  Yeah, nice master race, Natla.


As eggs explode into golden confetti around her, Lara slides down to the exit.


:D :D :D :D :D

Tomb Raider II, here I come!