My Link to the Past: Tomb Raider 2

Firstly, i’ve been able to write an article every few weeks for the student magazine about certain games that defined part of my childhood in the 90’s.

Tomb Raider 2 was one of these, and the maagazine was finally published yesterday:

Published!

Pretty excited to finally see it published after a few weeks waiting 🙂

Due to the limited word count in the magazine, it’s missing a few sections, especially the conclusion. So I thought i’d post the unedited version here, with some videos as well.

Click ‘Read More’, and enjoy!

First, i want you to play this, and then start reading:

Tomb Raider 2 was a game that I couldn’t wait to play at the end of 1997.  The protagonist, Lara Croft and I were briefly introduced at a friend’s house as she was facing off against a T-Rex in her previous adventure. Even though I had the pleasure of trying out Crash Bandicoot 2 or Pandemonium 2 for the first time on Christmas day, Lara couldn’t wait, and so it began.

Just like every Tomb Raider game of its era, it was non-linear, and involved you going back and forth to see where this key goes in which slot after hearing Lara give her trademark ‘No.’ to you many times.

The main improvement in this game was to Lara herself. Added features now included the ability to climb walls, and you could also now drive vehicles. Improvements to her appearance were a fluid ponytail with random physics, which meant you were never quite sure as to which direction it would swing.

But no retrospective would be complete without talking about Lara’s butler. In the training level, Lara’s home, her ever-faithful butler followed Lara around her home, including a walk-in freezer, where you could lock him in. Due to a flaw in the graphics, his head would show through the locked door, desperately trying to escape. This was a great distraction from learning Lara’s new moves, simple yet amusing.

The plot involved Lara Croft searching for the Dagger of Xian, which was said to give unlimited power to those who sacrificed themselves to the artefact. But Lara wasn’t alone in finding this dagger. A boss called Marco Bartoli and his gang were also on the hunt for it, who you encountered throughout the game.  The final two levels resulted in a showdown between Lara and Bartoli, which made for an action-packed conclusion.

In order to obtain the dagger to place on her shelf, you followed Lara across 18 levels.

These were split into 5 sections:

China, Venice, an oil rig, the ocean depths, and Tibet.

During these levels you faced against Bartoli’s henchmen, tigers, spiders, floating guards, an Ice King, and many more.

A few levels to note here, starting with Venice, simply for the speedboat, while the Opera House, which if you managed to complete it in under a month you have my respect.

Finally Tibet, which was, and still is a favourite of mine, mainly for the snowmobiles.

Soon after this you encountered a floating island, before facing the game’s final showdown split into two levels.

And if you heard ‘that’ music, you simply just ran. Or blindly shot at air. Or both. It was another fantastic highlight, which was done by Nathan McCree for the first 3 games, and it gave you the sense of exploration and wonder,  but also kept you on your toes. The game’s high calibre voice acting also showed how you were taken in by Lara’s voice.

  

This was one of the games that defined my gaming childhood, and it was the first game for my PlayStation 1 that I was fully immersed by.

The first one was nearly as good, and the third was so difficult in places that I had enough by the time I reached London.

After that, the series began to lose what made it so good. Tomb Raider Legend was a great action game, and Anniversary was a great tribute to the first game.

But with the new reboot appearing in March, it looks too familiar to LOST, and the sense of having realism as the forefront of this new Lara, takes away in a sense what made the original trilogy so immersive.

Tomb Raider 2 is a game I still play to this day, on PC or other platforms. And with it being 15 years this month since its original release, I urge you to dust off any copies you have of this. If you have a PlayStation 3/Vita, buy it as a classic, and enjoy it for what it is: the original Lara Croft in her best adventure.

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