copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

Tomb Raider 2 (PS1)  



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Impact: Memorable

When I came to school and told my friends that I finished this game within several days without using any cheats, the kids stared at me as if I was made out of pot.


Already after the first game I had become possibly the most fanatic Tomb Raider player in the world, with only a friend of mine challenging my status. It was not a surprise that I had my jaw dropped when starting up Tomb Raider 2.


Why did I decide to review this part of the game series out of all others? Because it left most memories and I had most fun playing it out of all others.


THE GAME


Lara Croft is an archaeologist with a little spice, a tomb raider would be an appropriate name. As the story goes, a war was waged somewhere in Asia with a use of a dragon. A soldier had managed to get underneath the dragon and remove a strange dagger from its chest. The dragon died and the dagger of Xian (as it’s called) was hidden away...until recently. Power-hungry folks are after the power that this artefact holds and so is our sexy archaeologist. The second game will drag Lara around the world, from China to Venice to some remote bases in the middle of nowhere. The story always sat right in the middle in all of the Tomb Raider games and is, generally, really fascinating. Moreover, the main character has become somewhat of a celebrity, mainly because of Lara's unforgettable cocky character and very...oval build.


Up and down and left and right and miss and faaaaaaall….Tomb Raider will have you jumping a lot. Gymnastics are well integrated by providing plenty of ledges and you will rarely get from one place to another without having to conduct climbing or back-flips or other cat-related moves. Puzzles in Tomb Raider 2, although present, have been morphed with more action, usually consisting out of finding a key or getting to an open door on time. Enemies are numerous this time around, but shootouts in Tomb Raider 2 are somewhat simplistic. The shooting is managed by auto-aiming, when the weapon is drawn, so there’s not much to it except for keeping the fire button jammed. When the enemy’s life decreases to zero, he drops back as if hit in the chest with a jackhammer. Several firearms are available, among which are Lara’s infamous dual colts with infinite ammo. The more powerful guns like the dual Uzis can be picked at certain places in the game, but not from the dead enemies.


A new feature allows you get to run around in Lara's house when not on a mission. This possibility serves to no advantage (that I found), however it is just plain fun to run around her huge manor. There are a few secrets placed around the house and once you uncover one, you really want to find another one.


Besides walking, you will also get to drive a snowmobile and a boat. This part can get a little annoying when you bump into things and your vehicle just stops, but it’s an interesting feature anyway.


Levels in Tomb Raider 2 are very varied and there’s a lot to look at. The downside is that a lot of it is very…pixelized. There’s another downside: because the levels were designed for puzzling and jumping the levels feel unrealistic and unrealistic in extreme forms sometimes. For example, there was a pool in a theatre, all to soften Lara’s fall!


AI are generally just running around and shooting at you. They often can’t get to spots where you are at, and in that case, if they do not carry a firearm, they become completely defenceless. Besides the bad guys, there are also the good guys: the monks. They help at some point, but It’s easy to shoot one and that stays in their memory forever. Hmmm…Monks that kick armed people’s ass with just sticks and never forgive accidental friendly fire..? That’s a violent bunch of monks if you ask me.


The acting in-game varies from version to version. My particular version was French and the acting there was quality. French language suits Lara Croft. I can’t provide any info on the English version.


Some things can be critisized for their reality value. Lara's body is surreally built to inflate or deflate some of its parts to ridiculous proportions. It's probably been done purely for the fun of it, but stil. I also always wanted to complain about Lara’s backpack. It seems like she carries: a compass, a shotgun, both of her colts (when she uses the Uzis instead), the map, the mission items and a sh*tload of med kits, all in her miniature backpack. There’s actually a confirming animation that shows her reaching with her hand for the backpack when you change your pistols for your shotgun.


A side note: Several people complained about the lack of checkpoints. My Tomb Raider 2 version had save-at-will so I had no problems with this.


CONTROLS


Controls in Tomb Raider have never been one of its good features. I would not wish a PC version of Tomb Raider on my worst enemy. Even on PS you will kill a couple of controllers before you pass Tomb Raider 2. First, the jumping system features a delay of about half a second. That means you need to push the button somewhat before the moment when you actually need to jump. You get accustomed to that eventually, but then there are always these weird moves to the side that Lara decides to make, hitting her head against the wall and screaming her way down into forgetfulness. And the camera view doesn’t make it any better as I’ll explain later.


SOUND


The music in TR2 when present is amazing. I can never forget the moment when I would overcome a lot of obstacles and finally get to some new open space and the chant music would start and totally complete the adventurous feeling. The music is also well placed during cut scenes. Unfortunately, I did say “when it’s present” and most of the time it’s not present. But honestly, just like in most games, if you’re busy solving puzzles and shooting around you won’t really be listening to music.


VISUALS


Tomb Raider has several down-letting issues in the graphics area. It hasn’t come far from its predecessor. Some things look very choppy and corny. Moreover, the camera view is messed up. It often changes and doesn’t allow you too see what’s in front of you while running. Nevertheless, the graphics are colourful, and as I said before, there’s plenty to look at. Cut-scenes are abundant. They consist of both in-game footage and videos. If combined, they can even stand on their own as a movie


RELATED GAMES


With this review I introduce a new section that I long wanted to add: related games. It might be important for a player to know resemblance with other games in order to attain more feel whether he likes it or not. TR2 of course most resembles its predecessor and the follow ups in TR series. Other similarity is shown in Prince OF Persia series and in particular, Sands of Time and its two follow ups. PoP features similar mixture of puzzles, acrobatics and fighting.


CONCLUSION


Tomb Raider 2 main problem resides in the graphic department. There, also, are its main advantages. The use of music is limited but well placed. I admit Tomb Raider 2 does loose some of its previous mysticism. It’s much more action-oriented now and the action is not that fantastic, however, it still manages to deliver what the first one managed to deliver: an awesome adventurous experience.