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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Sunday, 22 April 2012

Home Sweet Home

Right, now we really are at the end.  Or, too be more specific, the epilogue.  Core Design, in a stroke of characteristic genius, decided to return to the awesomeness that is Lara’s humble abode, toss in some weaponry and a few moving targets, switch on “night mode” and let the fun commence.  It’s the perfect way to wind down after climax of the game; it’s like the video game equivalent of tea and an after-eight mint.

Having spent the past few weeks plundering ships, defacing temples and ensuring her place on Venice’s Most Wanted list, Lara finally has the Dagger of Xian and has returned home to relax by a roaring fire and study her prize.

However, the late Marco Bartoli’s remaining henchmen are pretty upset by how things have turned out and have driven to Lara’s home to seek their revenge and reclaim the dagger.  Aided only by a shotgun and a few thousand shells, Lara must protect herself and her home from the onslaught.


The afore-mentioned roaring fire.  Or, alternatively, Lara has so much excess gold that she’s decided to set some of it alight.  No wonder people hate the decadent upper classes.


Just look at the size of that bed compared to Lara.  I’m surprised she could get up onto it without a step ladder.


While Lara admires her pretty new toy, the Fiamma Nera have managed to bypass Lara’s front gates and have parked their vans haphazardly over the driveway.


Lara moves swiftly to the massive cupboard by her bed, wherein lies a solitary shotgun and a boatload of ammo.


The one time Lara could probably use a cup of tea and that doddering dust-cloud of a butler is nowhere to be seen.


Halfway through the level, I realised that I was wasting the opportunity to listen to one of the greatest pieces of music ever recorded whilst simultaneously shooting bad guys (“to hell!”).


There’s something about this van that screams “cute”.  I think it’s the comical little wheels.  It’s like that obese internet seal with the blue bucket.


After a suitable about of time and people have passed, the man I like to call “Mr Twin Shotguns” enters the scene – a name that I realised half-way through battle was something of a misnomer, seeing as he’s actually just a slightly less-ugly version of Giant Revolver Guy.


Her home goon-free once again, Lara opts for a quick shower.  Somewhere in 1997, millions of porn-starved adolescent pulses begin to race.


“Don’t you think you’ve seen enough?” Lara scolds, disappointing many pixel-based erotica fans and providing me with a default signature line for the next fifteen years.  Then she takes up her shotgun shell and blows the camera away.


And that’s the end of Tomb Raider II.  And look, the game gives us our final statistics!  Using a calculator and a vague memory of GCSE Mathematics, I figured out that my shooting was roughly 80% accurate and and my average level time was 56 minutes and 28 seconds.  How’s that for some fun facts?

I will be posting my Tomb Raider II recap sometime in the near future and then we’ll be moving on to Tomb Raider II: The Golden Mask.  See you soon! :D

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Dragon’s Lair

So it all comes down to this; The Dragon’s Lair.  The final stage in Lara’s pursuit of the Dagger of Xian, a quest that has led her to China, Venice, Tibet and even the darkest corners of the ocean floor.

And now she just has to murder a dragon and wrench the dagger out of its still-beating heart.  Should be simple enough.

The finale itself is pretty short.  It’s basically a chain of three rooms, in varying sizes, each containing a different type of enemy to ward off.  There’s not much room for the fancy acrobatics Lara’s relied on in recent levels, but there’s plenty of opportunity to get ammo’d up and kill some bad guys.


The start of the level and it’s a relief to see that, unlike last time, we’re not immediately thrust into battle with the big bad boss.


I have nothing to say about this image other than I thought it was pretty awesome.


After battling her way through the first room (spearmen), Lara finds herself in a dimly-lit area, facing the possibility of a painful death via…uh…being frowned at?  Seriously, that is the stance of a man that has pretty much given up with trying to stop her.


The first thing I thought when I saw this pick-up was that one of the cultists had laid an egg.  I need to stop playing Minecraft.


I wouldn’t get too complacent, the dragon behind this door certainly ain’t as friendly as the one on it.


Lara finds Marco Bartoli lying on a slab and celebrates with a head spin.


Angered by being shown up on the dance floor (and because he’s got a enchanted blade rammed into the ol’ ticker), Marco turns into a dragon and starts trying to cook and/or eat Lara.


It took a few thousands rounds from the Uzis before I finally gave up and used the easy-sneaky method from Stella’s walkthrough.  Hey, it isn’t cheating if Lara didn’t have to draw a flare and do a little dance for it.


At last!  The Dagger of the Xian of ours.  And hey, look, there’s a spare one still stuck in him in case we lose this one.



Plucking the dagger from out of the dragon’s underbelly causes the whole thing to melt, leaving a skeleton that is no doubt going to bamboozle some palaeontologists at a later stage.


The dagger successfully recovered, Lara makes a break for freedom.

The Dagger of Xian stowed safely away in her backpack, Lara makes a hasty exit from the temple, which is starting to fall down around her.

You really wouldn’t want to look down an alleyway and see this coming towards you.

Lara reaches the surface just as a massive explosion rocks the temple and throws her hurtling into the air.

Wheeeeeeeeee!  This is even better than spring-boards.

Lara falls to the ground and passes out, while the continuing explosion devastates the surrounding area.

After an involuntary nap, Lara wakes up and finds that she’s inadvertently blown up part of the Great Wall of China.  Hey-ho, there’s tons of it left.

Her work done, Lara heads for home.

Aaaand that’s the end of Tomb Raider II.  Nearly.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Floating Islands

Well done to Core Design for not opting for a more whimsical level name; Floating Islands is what it’s called and floating islands is what it is.  Well, that and floating enemies, floating temples and floating random pieces of neon-green jade - in fact, pretty much the only thing that isn’t acting like it’s been injected with industrial-strength helium is Lara herself.

Marco Bartoli has beaten Lara to the Dagger of Xian, and has attempted to utilize its dragon-transforming abilities by stabbing himself in the heart.  Refusing to give up just yet, Lara follows his body as Marco’s goons carry it away.

After all the thrills of the last level, starting out in Floating Islands seems strangely serene, probably because this is the first time in a while Lara has been able to stand still without incurring the wrath of various spike-laden implements.


Of course, all this serenity and peacefulness can’t last for long.  Floating Islands is the level that introduces the flying warriors, massive tanks of men that each wield a sword the size of small boat.  As if this wasn’t enough, they all seems to be sporting some kind of rocket-powered footwear (very ancient Chinese-y, I’m sure) and can take to the sky at will.  It’s fairly easy to kill them in the air, because they move rather slowly, but a couple of times I didn’t notice them flying about and got a rather unpleasant surprise when they decided to use Lara as a runway strip.


Believe me, you don’t want one of these bad boys on the ground with you.  Seriously, look at the size of that sword.


Once defeated, the warriors turn into statues and explode, which is a shame, because I wouldn’t have minded a pair of those flying boots.


Still, the flying warriors are like irritating little bats compared to their more numerous cousin, the spearmen.  What they lack in flying skills they make up for – and then some – in almost every other aspect.  They’re fast, strong and have a fondness for impaling Lara on their spears like she’s a marshmallow.


This is a pretty awesome site, when you come to it; a pretty little bridge in a picturesque setting that leads to a big temple that seems to be on fire.


Oh, hey, it’s a zip slide!  Haven’t seen one of those for a while.


One pleasant moment inside the temple is when this curtain lifts to reveal three spearmen.  Like they’re a prize or something.


I love this picture.  M16 versus Spears!


Fire: a perfectly viable building material.


Eventually, the level gets bored of acting like there’s any chance it wants you to escape alive and plunges you into a room filled to bursting point with spearmen and a new breed of Bartoli’s henchmen, who can throw cursors knives with deadly accuracy.


This happened far more frequently than I would want to admit.  Note how Knife-Throwing Guy looks kind of upset about it.


Lara takes a moment to salute one of the knife-throwers as he’s blown to smithereens by one of her grenades.


She indulges another guard in a spirited game of peek-a-boo between rounds.  Stop fraternizing with the enemy, Lara!


Pictured: overkill.


And that’s the end of Floating Island.  We’re nearing the journey’s end now – just two teeny little levels to go.