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, 25 February 2012

Catacombs of the Talion

I don’t know whether this level is incredibly short or if it just seems that way because of the previous level, Barkhang Monastery, which may have well been its own game for the time it took me to complete it.  People have speedrun the entire of Tomb Raider Legend in less time (although admittedly that’s not saying much).

Whatever the actual length of this level was, I was grateful for its perceived shortness.  This was partly because I didn’t want another seven weeks to pass without updating this blog and partly because I BLOODY HATE YETIS, and Catacombs of the Talion seems to delight in cramming them in every dark corner it has (that is, when these dark corners aren’t harbouring a giant pack of snow leopards).

Using the Seraph, Lara unlocks some catacombs deep within Barkhang Monastery and begins her search for the Talion (which apparently she’s looking for now (yeah, no-one told me either)).

A suffocating side-angle view of Lara greets us as we begin Catacombs of the Talion.


One of the many dark pits Catacombs invites you to venture into (a invitation I politely decline whenever possible).


Actually, I don’t think there’s that many yetis in this level – maybe five? – but I took about 200 pictures of this one which explains my confusion.  On the plus side, this level was largely boring photographically-speaking (to be honest, it was no trip to the carnival gameplay-wise either), so the following images serve as good padding for what could end up as one of my shorter level entries.

Anyway, I love the way this yeti looks in this photo.  Kind of like he’s doing some kind of marching dance. "Is this the way to Amarillo?…”


That’s the worst attempt at a piggy-back I’ve ever seen.


Oh, the horrifying terror.  On a side note, why on earth would a yeti have dreadlocks?

…actually, I suppose out of all the hairstyles a yeti would sport, dreadlocks make the most sense.  Your logic has bested me again, Core Design.


Another deadly dance in the yeti’s repertoire is the human baton-twirl.


Yeah, alright, you killed me.  No need to burst into song.


This may look like a thrilling action shot of Lara narrowly avoiding the pounce of a cultist, but actually he just died in that position.  Like a corpse canopy.  That kind of decoration would work well in Vilcabamba.


Betwixt escaping rolling snowmen and shooting yetis, Lara finds time to do a little shopping.  “This’ll do for Winston’s Hallowe’en costume…”.


Hey look!  It’s a sheer wall of ice, like the one Natla promised you’d get in Peru, but you never did, which was most likely due to budget constraints, knowing Natla Tech.  Natla probably blended up the ‘wall of ice’ fund with some yoghurt and used it as a face-mask.


This was an awful room.  It was pitch-black and all you could hear were screaming yetis.


At least this level ends in a slightly more cheery corridor than the last one.


Well, 59:09 isn’t a particularly swift level time, so I suppose this level wasn’t as short as I thought…

…still longer than a speedrun of Legend though!  Hahahahaha!

Oh, how I love bashing Legend.  See you in Ice Palace.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Barkhang Monastery

Ah, the enigma that is the Barkhang Monastery; so beautiful, and yet so bloody long.  I apologise for my month-long absence but can assure you that I’ve spent most of it (give or take twenty-eight days) trying to find the exit to this level.  Finally, I’ve escaped the monk-infested, trap-laden glorious nightmare to bring you a series of screenshots accompanied by vaguely insulting comments. Which is no less than this level deserves.

After making her way over the Tibetan foothills, Lara finds what she was looking for; the secluded monastery as described to her by the late Brother Barkhang.

That joyous corridor that ended the last level has been plunged into darkness, which certainly killed my mood.



Throughout the level, Lara is obliged to assist the friendly monks in defending the monastery against Bartoli’s men; the slight snag being that the monks themselves are still viable targets for the auto-aim and tend to get pretty pissed off if Lara accidently murders a few of them.


Oh, come on Lara, that’s not even a door.  It’s a few planks of chipboard held together with staples and Pritt Stick.  That gap at the top is big enough for even your whale-sized aunt to squeeze through.  A gentle breeze would be enough to open that thing, so why on earth do you need a key?


Speaking of keyholes, this one was fairly creepy.


Hey, so here are the prayer wheels that Alex West stole from fake-movie-Lara.  Considering how many there are of the damn things, I’m surprised she got so bent out of shape.


Another fine example of the atmospheric draw distance limit:

Pfft, who needs good graphics and high-end capabilities?


A strange angle shot of Lara flipping in mid-air.  This reminds me too much of the-thing-that-must-not-be-named, that I’m not naming here because I don’t want to be responsible for ruining people’s lives by notifying them of its existence.  So it was probably a waste of time me mentioning it.  Disregard those last two sentences and just enjoy the strange picture, if you can.

I can’t.  I never will.


I guess this is one step up from that walking-across-hot-coals thing people can do when they’ve meditated hard enough.  ‘Not being horribly maimed while walking through slicing blades’ is apparently a simple case of mind over matter.


Behold, the reason I put off playing this level for about three weeks.  As far as I remember, Temple of Xian is filled pretty much wall-to-spike-wall with traps like this, so I really wouldn’t get your hopes up for me getting to Tomb Raider III.


I think this was the only time the cultists showed up without several monks biting at their heels, but any convenience that lent the situation was immediately quashed by the sheer number of them.  Well, there were four, but in a tiny corridor with only a few Uzi clips and the M16 (if that counts) for protection, it was four too many.


Another Seraph-induced psychedelic graphic trip.  I’ll be glad when I’m rid of the bloody thing.


Up on the rooftops of the monastery, it started to get pretty again.  Look at these lovely gold statues of…goats?  Llamas?  Alpacas? (Stella plays it safe and goes for “animals”).


Whatever-this-is is also nice to look at.


Oh, look, the save-game diamond from console-Tomb Raider I is back for a cameo as “gemstone”.  This was before he reinvented himself (i.e. became green) and burst back onto the scene as the health crystal in Tomb Raider III.  Then of course, he was picked up by Maxis to be the PlumbBob and, well, you know the rest…


Are we supposed to believe this is the same gemstone as the one in the last picture?!


No-one, absolutely no-one spends ten minutes pushing blocks around just to get their hands on a few harpoons.  This type of thing should be illegal.


Finally, we can say goodbye to that cursed Seraph and continue along our journey with the textures the way Core Design intended.


We end as we began, staring at pure, undiluted terror (expressed through the medium of corridors).


See, I told you that took me a long time.  The first digit is “days”, by the way.