Final Zone – Tomb Raider

With the game being released twenty years ago last month, it was only fitting that to launch the second volume of Final Zone would be the very first Tomb Raider.
This was a boss that was an ongoing thread from start to finish, alongside her henchmen.
But once everything came collapsing down at the end, the final boss appeared.

At the end of the previous level, Lara has shot the Scion, the McGuffin of the game, to pieces. After facing the mutant, many, many traps of spikes, blocks of lava and enemies come in to stop you at every room.
The iconic music starts, and it’s a showdown. You’re dodging her projectiles as Natla is flying around the pillars dodging your bullets.
Unless you have the Magnums or the Uzi’s, the fight will be a long one, so do have the medipacks ready just in case.

Once you finally beat Natla, she falls from the great height she’s flown up to, crashing to the ground. Just when you’re wondering where to go on these pillars, you hear her voice. Natla is alive and still shooting you but now with darts instead of projectiles. Plus, no flight, so the fight is ever so slightly easier.
Eventually, Natla dies. Now it’s trying to find a way to escape the arena using the pillars, jumping to each one, then eventually, sliding down to the exit, finishing the level and the game, with a final cutscene to watch.

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Even before you face Natla, this and the previous level are full of bosses. From facing a skateboarder to the Mutant that hatches, you face up to five bosses, each with their own skill, and each more challenging than the one previous.

Released 20 years ago on November 22nd, it’s a time where facing a boss in 3D was very new to a game. Before you would only have a way of beating Robotnik from the left or right side of the screen, or facing Bowser in his air machine in Mario Bros. 3.
But here, it was an arena. You had to hide behind objects to avoid the projectiles, or run as far as you could to get a good aim on Natla to keep shooting away.
20 years on it seems dated admittedly, but for 1996 it was innovative and very new. You didn’t know what was going to happen in each room you went in to. That was a part of what made the first three games fun to me, alongside the music, the atmosphere, and even what Lara’s Home would be like in each installment.