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, 21 October 2012

Lara’s Home (Part III)

(Part IPart II)

We’re at the start of a new game, and that can only mean one thing; it’s time for another visit to Lara’s stately abode in Surrey to learn some new manoeuvres and bother the butler. 

It would appear that Lara’s cashed in all that spare gold she had lying about – evidently she watches a lot of daytime television between exploits – and has been busy spending the extra money on new treats such as an indoor gym, a modern kitchen and realistic fire.  The mansion also houses a few secret areas, for those with a keen eye and fast reactions.

Unfortunately, this is the last time we get to explore Lara’s Surrey home.  Still, as last visits go, it’s a damn good one.


The snapshot for Lara’s Home in the main menu, and this time it’s Lara that’s wandering into shot as Winston tries to take some regal-looking photographs of himself in front of the manor (possibly for some kind of spin-off game, something like Tea Maker III: The “Adventures” of Winston Smith).


We join Lara in the bedroom, where, disappointingly for Nude Raider fans, she’s already dressed.


Lara’s made a few changes to the furnishings since the last game.  She’s downsized her bed to one that was made to hold a human (as opposed to some of the larger species of sea life)…


…she’s tarted up the artwork and added a bust (of…?  Does anybody have any idea?  Searching ‘bust in tomb raider 3’ yields unsatisfactory results)…


…and she’s finally got rid of the….oh.  The leopard print fainting couch is still there.  Oh, well, I’m sure she’ll get round to chucking it out eventually.


Another outdated fixture is the afore-mentioned butler Winston, tea-tray still welded to hand, who follows Lara wherever she goes because apparently there’s nothing better for him to do, like dust or clean or retire.


Lara’s finally popular enough to splash out on a dining table, although I struggle to think of any friends she’s made since 1996.  Maybe Brother Chen Barkhang, but he’s dead (spoiler alert).


The dining room has a corner set aside for music and relaxation and…is that another leopard print couch?!


Never mind, I’m sure it was just an oversight.  Here, enjoy this shot of the beautifully-decorated main hall.  Even the carpet looks good!


The gym is re-introduced from the first game, updated to include the standard playground equipment; climbing frame, monkey bars, crash mat, etc..


The swimming pool room looks particular awesome in this incarnation, the glass domed roof offering a spectacular view of the early evening sky.



Lara’s filled a few of the alcoves with cat statues taken from Khamoon, hopefully after checking they weren’t the ones that change into real big cats (or worse)…


Let’s go play outside.  Here we have the front gardens.


Within the front gardens is this statue of a proud and graceful horse, a welcome change from last year’s giant fish, an unfortunate creature that looked as though it had flopped down to earth head-first and was waiting for somebody to come and clean it up.


Lara’s outdoor assault course is mostly the same as last time, with a couple of parts changed to show off her new abilities.  Here’s the new monkey swing skill, which is pretty cool, but nowhere near as awesome as…


…the duck and crawl!  FINALLY! It’s taken thirty years but, at last, Lara has learned how to stay crouched down for more than two seconds.


To round out the new skillset is the sprint, dive and roll, which is a great idea, but something I personally never seem to use.  Mind you, I’ve also never completed Tomb Raider III, so the two could be linked


At some point during the assault course, Winston manages to quickly change (if you can believe such a adverb could be applied to that slow-motion wrinkle) into khakis and a tin hat and wanders around the course, allowing Lara to use him for target practice.  Lara doesn’t need any convincing.


Armed with only a tea-tray, Winston is soon overcome with the volley of bullets and falls to the ground (miraculously not evaporating into a cloud of dust upon contact).  However, he quickly picks himself up and wipes himself clean, all ready for another go.  What with this and that suspicious bathroom imprisonment in Nightmare in Vegas, I’m beginning to suspect he’s a masochist.  Fifty Shades of Grey indeed… 


Leaving the butler alone to his BDSM fantasies, we head back indoors and find our way into the secret trophy room, a room where Lara displays various artefacts from her adventures.  Above the fireplace is the mounted head of a T-Rex, because if you’ve had to kill one of the rarest animals on the planet then you may as well put its corpse to good use.


There’s also some more conventional treasures, such as the Dagger of Xian (Tomb Raider II)…


…the Scion (Tomb Raider)…


…Generic Golden Artefact (Take Your Pick)…


….and the twirly tortoise shell thing, also known as the Iris.  But where did Lara pick up this Iris from? I hear you cry; well, you’ll just have to wait and see!

Bonus when-I-was-a-girl anecdote: I used to think this was Winston’s spare helmet, that Lara had stolen and displayed for reasons best know to herself.

Another secret room is the underground aquarium, a delightful and relaxing space where one can read a book, watch the shoals of pretty fish or simply lie dozing on your…oh, Lara.


Of course, if watching fish becomes too boring, you could always just jump in the tank and join them as they swim around.


Enough of the dull relaxation activities already, it’s time to do something really fun.  Lara’s cut down the boring old hedge and built herself a quad bike track.


Wheeeeeeeeee!  Even if Lara doesn’t say it, you could tell she’s thinking it (and I was squealing it loud enough for both of us).


After a few hours of trying and failing to get the quad bike out of the race track so we can run over the butler (don’t worry, he would probably loved it), it’s time to leave the mansion and begin our third adventure. India, ahoy!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Nightmare In Vegas

Nightmare In Vegas is the true last level in The Golden Mask, accessible only through collecting all the secrets in the previous four levels (or, you know, downloading a saved game, which still takes some effort…).  Whether the level title is metaphorical or this actually is a nightmare Lara is having, I’m not entirely sure.  The presence of mythical beasts, oversized furniture and bizarre solutions to straight-forward problems would usually suggest the latter, but hey, this is a Tomb Raider game we’re talking about.


We join Lara as she hangs about in her ginormous hotel bathroom.


The bathtub/hole in the ground filled with water, while smaller than the one at home, is apparently still large enough for Lara almost drown herself in.


Escaping the perilous bathroom, we find ourselves in a spacious living area, complete with this delightful carpet patterned with oversized, brightly-coloured ova. 

There are two televisions to choose from; this one, which is stuck on a never-ending loop of Elvis wiggling his pelvis…


…or this one, showing that cinematic classic, When King Kong Boxed a T-Rex.


Evidently Lara’s aunt had some kind of career in commercial interior design before she died, judging by the size of the furniture and the abundance of jungle prints.


Lara’s room also has a large balcony, offering her stunning views of the Vegas skyline.  Seriously, I love background images like this, I suppose for the same reason I love fake doors and washing lines and urban settings.  I just like the idea of there being people out there, going about their business while Lara runs around a skyscraper and disposes of goons.  Which I suppose is kind of the point.


Anyway, after we’ve spent several minutes standing on the balcony and gazing into the distance (possibly with tears in our eyes), Lara and I return to the room so she can press the magical vision-inducing button situated below the flat-screen TV.


The button delivers unto us the rather disappointing image of Winston, Lara’s butler, apparently about to take a bath.  Fully clothed.  With a tea-tray.


Willing to do anything to clear that last image out of her head, Lara decides to break into the next room, where it just so happens that two members of Marco Bartoli’s old Fiamma Nera cult are staying.  It’s a small world.


They don’t take too kindly to Lara bursting in on their romantic getaway and things get rather ugly.


Not as ugly as these bed covers, though.  Oh, snap!


Lara ducks into their bathroom (because that woman apparently loves hanging out in bathrooms) and finds the real Winston doddering around inside.  Let’s not dwell on the question of why two masked men have imprisoned an OAP in their hotel lavatory, and instead celebrate his discovery with a head spin, as Lara appears to be doing*.

* Don’t actually do this.


A cursory search of the room reveals a key lying on the floor of the shower.  Yes, I often leave valuable items next to drainage devices as well.


The key grants Lara access to the rest of the hotel, which is home to some rather bizarre attractions.  To start with, we have another one of those Guardian things (yay)…


…my personal favourite, some frozen snow leopards (the best kind of snow leopard)…


…and these sinister and nightmarish images of disfigured faces, set into a barren, mountainous landscape.


Seriously, what the hell?


Lets cheer ourselves up with a picture of Vegas Guardian’s brief flash of euphoria, an emotion that is rarely experienced in what must be a mostly angry existence.



The hotel is also home to this…thing.


Oh, it’s a sculpture.  A gigantic, golden, multi-storey, scalable sculpture.  Too little, too late, sign.


We also have the opportunity to take in the show Cell Block Rock, an opportunity that few of Lara’s fellow guests have seized upon.  I blame the carpet.  Seriously, texture artists, I know you’re extremely proud of the fact that you’ve mastered inadequately-tiling zebra print, but a little would go a long way.


Another exhibit in the hotel is a T-Rex enclosure.  I’m sure the enclosure is built to the highest standards of security, but it sure is nice of them to scatter boxes of shotgun shells around the viewing area.  You know, just in case.


Yeah, it’s probably not the best idea to have your dinosaur cage backing onto a busy city street.  Another bad idea: leaving the exit of the cage wide open and simply trusting the dinosaurs not to go on a murderous rampage.


After dispensing with two cheeky T-Rex, Lara spends a while wandering round the shops, and comes across a television store baring the name and visage of Bartoli Sr.  Evidently the family’s fall-back position in case that whole world domination thing failed to take off.


Back in the hotel, Lara manages to unleash the Guardian while riding in the lift.


Okay, this Guardian is my favourite.  He always looks so happy!  Although I’m not sure Lara appreciates being shaken around like a rag doll.  She looks faintly annoyed.


For the second time in as many levels, Lara has to end the life of an extremely rare beast before she can move on.  Let’s hope that’s the last of them, and that the Guardian of Light game isn’t some kind of horrific re-imagining.


And that’s The Golden Mask completed!  Now it’s time for our third adventure…