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, 6 October 2013

Area 51

Searching for Element 115, an artefact crafted from an ancient meteorite, Lara has infiltrated a US military base in the middle of the Nevada desert and, after a spot of bother with the police, manages to sneak onto a lorry heading out to the elusive Area 51.

So I discovered while playing this level that Element 115 is actually a real thing and is also known as Ununpentium.  I figured it was just a code name the US Army gave some blue rock they found in a spaceship, but no, it turns out Tomb Raider III is actually trying to stealthily teach me about Chemistry, which is a bit of a cheek seeing as I’ve already learned my mandatory fact for this game.

Area 51 was a lot more fun than the previous level, mainly because it was brighter, Lara was armed and at one point she got to run away from an explosion.


A hungover Lara starts out at the back of the lorry we snuck on to at the end of the last level, having now been transported to Area 51.  I don’t know if Lara actually meant to come here or just got lucky.


She comes across another convict and sets him free, because I’m sure that a man who appears to have been placed in a padded cell is completely harmless and is just the type of person you want running unsupervised around a military base.


Lara goes to the rather extreme length of cutting off her own nose to assure she’ll have the best Lord Voldemort costume this Hallowe’en.  Obviously she’s not as sober as we thought she was.


Yep, Lara’s definitely still drunk, and starts trying to defeat enemies by stomping on them.  Hey, if it works for Mario, right?


I include this image because when I saw it, I considered it to be the best Twisted Lara pose I’d seen so far.


Two seconds later, I came across this one – where, in case you can’t make it out, Lara has somehow managed to insert her entire arm through her head – and decided we had a new champion.


Then I saw this one and concluded that I should just stop taking pictures mid-combat.


George appears, a new boyfriend in tow, and Lara opens fire on them, although I’m not quite sure whether this is because she’s become friendly with George’s previous boyfriend and is heartbroken on his behalf (or is at least a die-hard fangirl of the George/Other George ship) or because she becomes extremely homophobic when drunk.  Either way, Lara, not cool.


George’s new boyfriend and his brethren having guns with lasers on them, which would be pretty cool / deadly if they actually did anything.

Also, Lara’s ponytail has gained sentience and departed from her head, possibly thanks to the effects of Element 115.  As a power, that’s kind of niche.


Lara came across this dead guard who I have absolutely no recollection of killing.  I guess out of all the enemies Lara encounters over the series, odds are that one of them is going to die of natural causes, right?  Saved Lara a bullet, anyway.


Lara faces off against a hopelessly under-armed guard.


Seeming to realise his chances aren’t good, the guard runs away, which is refreshingly realistic but also surprising considering the fairly basic AI these guards have displayed up until now (which seems to consist of HIT WITH STICK, REPEAT).


Oh, well, that short burst of common sense couldn’t last forever, and before long the poor guard succumbs to his programming.


Inevitably (considering the location), Lara comes across a UFO.


Beyond the UFO is a dark and inaccessible room, where Lara can just see the feet of an unknown figure laying on an examination table.  She needs to light a flare just to be able to see into the room, which I thought was a pretty cool (and creepy) effect.


Quickly growing bored of all the extra-terrestrial paraphernalia on display, Lara wanders off and decides to launch a missile.


She gets to outrun a fireball, which I’m sure makes bombing some random country totally worthwhile.


“Hey, our lives our ruined, but at least Lara got a cool profile picture out of it, right guys?”


I know this is Lara Croft we’re talking about, but punching a guard straight through the stomach seems excessively violent.


Lara gains access to that darkened room and discovers the mystery figure to be an alien (surprising no-one).


Another alien is on display in a nearby room.  Really, who can blame aliens for wanting to blow up our planet if we insist on killing the ones that land here and turning them into some kind of bizarre art installation?


Opposite the alien display is, for no discernable reason, a tank containing a pair of Orcas.  I’m not a fan of Orcas in real life, mainly because I think they’re some kind of dolphin (and we all know what I think about dolphins), but these ones are super cute.


After spending a relaxing time at the world’s smallest aquarium, Lara finds her way into the UFO.


I know it doesn’t look that disgusting, but the floor of the UFO made a horrible squidgy sound when being stepped on.  The whole place gave me Atlantis flashbacks.


I was convinced that there was going to be some kind of showdown with a big creepy alien in the centre of the UFO, so I was a bit disappointed when, in the end, the only enemies to turn up were a couple more of George’s boyfriends (at least, I was disappointed until I remembered that I’m ultimately lazy and don’t like boss fights).


Finally, Lara gets what she came for, Element 115.  I just hope it was worth getting a criminal conviction and becoming an international terrorist to acquire it.


Uh, no, level, we’re not done.


Can you believe that swimming with the Orcas is a secret, rather than a necessary part of the level?!




:D :D


Okay, now we’re done.  And we’re done in Nevada, too!  Next up, London…or, will it be the South Pacific?  Head along to my Facebook page and have your say!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

High Security Compound

Searching the deserts of Nevada for the meteorite-moulded artefact, Element 115, Lara manages to infiltrate a US military outpost where she suspects the relic may be.  Unfortunately, an poorly-executed quad bike manoeuvre renders Lara unconscious and, upon awakening, she finds herself disarmed and locked up in a holding cell at a military prison.

After the glorious sunshine and delightful cacti of the last level, High Security Compound is very gloomy by comparison.  I suppose it would be a bit strange to have a prison bedecked in pastel colours and decorative art prints, but after a little while the grey and steel and brown of the place tend to get a little depressing.  Trying to pick out interesting-looking screenshots wasn’t easy, either.


Lara awakes to find herself in a fairly spacious cell – seriously, my first flat was smaller than that place – with no guns and only one medi-pack.  I don’t know why they would take all her medi-packs save for one; maybe it’s a health and safety requirement?


Lara is soon joined in her cell by a prison guard, who immediately proceeds to start hitting her with his big baton thing, because apparently things like “having a trial” or “being found guilty of a crime before punishment is carried out” are outmoded ideas in this part of the world.


The guard gets distracted by a sudden urge to play trampoline on Lara’s bed, and she makes a bolt for it.


Most maximum-security prisons would employ a system of locks, bolts and technology to keep their inmates from escaping, but this one has apparently opted for the far less fussy “just put a button next to the door and hope nobody bad presses it” approach.


Obviously, this approach is flawed.  Lara releases a prisoner who then strangles the guard for her (at least that’s what I’m assuming happened from the sound the guard made).


Lara frees a few more prisoners, and together they roam the prison looking for more guards to beat up.


All is going well until a couple of the prisoners start give each other some fairly amorous glances, and Lara decides to (literally) back away before things start to get physical.


I hate the way you make me feel, George!…


Feeling peckish, Lara makes her way to the kitchen.  The only food on offer, though, is some distinctly unappetising-looking red stuff.


I know they would need industrial-sized cookware to cater for a prison but seriously, Lara could take a bath in this.


Having ruined (or possibly improved) dinner by stomping through it with her muddy boots, Lara decides to make a break for it.  Unarmed, she’s forced to creep through the prison, avoided any patrolling guards she comes across.


I don’t have enough patience for stealth in video games (by the end of Hitman: Absolution, I was just shooting my way through the levels), but I think it’s actually pulled off quite well in this level, especially considering that the game engine doesn’t really support the concept.  It certainly livened up what would have otherwise been a fairly boring level.


Some more stealth is required to sneak past an armed guard and get to a door switch.


Lara flips the switch and the guard dies a horrific, blood-raining death as some lasers shoot out and dissect him.  That’ll teach him for trying to protect the public from dangerous criminals!


Lara inadvertently swims into an underwater fan and starts frantically trying to…uh…remove the necklace she’s apparently wearing?  Priorities, Lara.

Also, how hard would it have been to have swapped her face texture for something a bit more fitting when she’s in the throes of death?  They did it for when she’s shooting her pistols, so why not for when her health bar reaches zero?  Even a slight look of dismay would be better than this complete nonchalance.


Escaping the fan, Lara soon finds herself crawling through what appears to be a giant computer.  Actually, that’s kind of a creepy thought.  Maybe she’s in your computer.  Maybe one night she’ll crawl out the screen, a la The Ring

(I’m really glad my PC is in a different room from my bedroom now.)


More sneaking about ensues, with varying levels of success.


Finally, finally, Lara opens a storage room and finds her beloved pistols, Shooty and Bangy (as I can only imagine she’s called them).


She proceeds run riot with her newly-recovered pistols, pumping bullets into every guard she comes across.


She also opens fire on some cute-looking dogs, because it’s been a while since a member animal kingdom has suffered by Lara’s hand, and that just won’t do.


Hell, Lara’s so overwhelmed with bloodlust that she even tries to pick a fight with her own breasts.


Finally, Lara comes across the open trailer of a lorry and decides that it’s probably a good a place as any to find a priceless artefact kicking around.


Lara has barely stepped into the trailer when she hears the sound of people close by.


Startled, Lara dives behind a nearby crate and peers out from behind it.


Two men appear – a warehouse employee and his Star Trek-style evil twin – and, oblivious to Lara’s presence, slam the doors of the trailer closed, trapping her inside.  With a rumble, the lorry begins to pull away.

Lara’s not too concerned though, having spotted something interesting on the floor…


Oh, look!  An unknown substance in an unbranded can, lying on the dirty floor of a lorry!  Surely this will be a safe and delicious refreshment.


Lara quickly gets drunk on the unknown substance and starts picking fights with imaginary people.  “Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough!”


She hoists herself on to a crate and proceeds to gulp down her drink and occasionally scratch her arse, like the dignified member of the aristocracy that she is.


Stay classy, Lara.


Bam, another level complete.  Stay tuned for…well, actually I can’t remember where we’re going next.  But I’m sure it’ll be awesome.