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TOMB RAIDER II: STARRING LARA CROFT (1997)_ SONY PLAYSTATION

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Title Screen

After the success of Tomb Raider, a sequel was inevitable and If Eidos Interactive lore is to be believed, Tomb Raider had saved Eidos from bankruptcy. Because gems like Olympic Soccer: Atlanta 1996 had not shifted as many copies as they hoped (fifteen). The sequel was ordered for the 1997 Christmas season but due to his distaste of marketing for the first game, Lara Croft creator Toby Gard left Core Design during pre-production to work on his magnum opus ‘Galleon’. A game that didn’t come out until 2004 and was a Microsoft Xbox exclusive, so we won’t be disappointed in you if you have never heard of it. After eight months of constant crunch, Tomb Raider II: Starring Lara Croft was released in late 1997 on Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Windows. No SEGA Saturn port this time as a few more pixels had been added to the sequel and the Saturn could no longer handle it.

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Venice

Upon starting Tomb Raider II the player will first notice that there has been a large graphical upgrade since the first game. The game has a more robust lighting system that allows for dark secluded areas, therefore flares have been added to Lara’s inventory so she can illuminate these for a limited time (around thirty seconds). Which for the environmentally conscious, will lead to massive littering as Lara f***s them on the ground when she is done with one. Lara’s character model is also more detailed, Not in the way you thinking of deviant! (Though costume changes were introduced for people like you). New moves have been added, Lara can now climb certain wall textures and backflip in midair to change direction and the control feels ‘tighter’ in comparison to the first game, she now handles as a spritely ‘Leichttraktor’ tank.

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Inventory Screen

Another new addition is vehicles, which can charitably be described as “implemented with less success”. Like Lara herself, the turning controls on them are awful and easily lead to drifting and clipping walls, killing all momentum you have built for a jump, leading to a gloriously fiery grave. If you want to see snowmobiles execute maneuvers that physicists have not invented terms for, this is the game for you!

…which can charitably be described as “implemented with less success”.

The game’s story begins with Lara on a quest for ‘The Dagger of Xian’, which grants the user untold powers if they drive it into their heart. By untold they mean change you into a large dragon and your colleagues into lizard men. A classic Faustian bargain. During her quest for the artifact, she comes up against the Fiamma Nera (Black Flame) cult, which leader Marco Bartoli wishes to possess for its power, while Lara just wants it for her trophy cabinet. But if she can also stop a death cult who’s leader wants to turn himself into a dragon that can easily be shot to death by the inhabitants of a mildly armed village, power to her.

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The Dragon’s Lair

Tomb Raider II’s levels are still where the series shines and there is a larger variety than just the tombs of the title. Including an abandoned opera house, a sunken shipwreck, and mystic floating islands. The excellently crafted atmospheres taken from the first game are still here and greatly improved upon by the new lighting system. The designers have used the darkness to make sure you can no longer see how guff certain PlayStation-era graphics were and to also add jump scares. Enemies and traps can now suddenly appear out of the darkness and cause you to wet yourself, but you need no explanation for mysterious puddles to appear near/from your person. While playing a Tomb Raider game, it was more or less expected in 1997. On a duller note, the mansion tutorial level returns and is also greatly expanded, allowing the player to explore all the mansion’s grounds without limit. hoo-ray…

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Lara’s Mansion

The sequel uses a ‘Quick Save’ system, so the player can save anywhere during a level. At the time, this was criticized as making the game too easy but actually allow the sequel to be more accessible and you no longer feel the need to throw your controller at a loved one when Lara missteps, and throws herself off a cliff, again. The music, Nathan McCree’s second outing, is still excellent. Although it does start to feel repetitive over the course of the game as the main theme leitmotif (we know long words) is included in every track.

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Ice Palace

Facing the Fiamma Nera, Lara has more human opponents to contend with this time around. All of them look like a Rob Liefeld wet dream. Oversized muscles, pulsing veins, and odd body proportions look out of place with the rest of the game world. To assist Lara with these new threats, a little more thought has been put into the gunplay and the arsenal available to her. On top of her trademark dual pistols, she can also wield a harpoon gun for underwater battles, an M16 assault rifle, and a grenade launcher. Savvy readers will notice this is not your standard Archeological field kit, as she is missing a Tec-9 and Howitzer. The aiming and windup time on these new larger weapons will often leave Lara vulnerable to attack before she gets a chance to fire, so were reported to the British Archaeological Association in 1997 and struck off the kit list for future expeditions.

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Home Sweet Home

RELEASE INFORMATION

PLATFORMSSony PlayStation / Microsoft Windows /
Apple Macintosh / Apple iOS / Google Android
DEVELOPERCore Design
PUBLISHEREidos Interactive
RELEASED1997 (PlayStation / Microsoft Windows)
1998 (Apple Macintosh)
2014 (Apple iOS)
2015 (Google Android)

TOMB RAIDER II: GOLDEN MASK (1999)_ MICROSOFT WINDOWS

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PAL Microsoft Windows Box Art

Like the first game, a PC-only expansion of Tomb Raider II was released two years after the game titled Tomb Raider II: Golden Mask. As there already existed Windows and Macintosh versions of Tomb Raider II, this release does not bring anything new to the main game but does include a five-level Mini-Adventure set in Alaska.

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The Cold War

The first two levels start out feeling very similar to the snowy Tibet levels of the main game but soon Lara finds an underground cave with rivers of molten gold that adds variation, so it is not completely pointless. The last level, in particular, is one of the oddest levels in the series with Lara off her tits on angel dust in Las Vegas (citation needed).

RELEASE INFORMATION

PLATFORMSMicrosoft Windows / Apple Macintosh /
Apple iOS / Google Android
DEVELOPERCore Design
PUBLISHEREidos Interactive
RELEASED1999 (Microsoft Windows / Apple Macintosh)
2014 (Apple iOS)
2015 (Google Android)

FINAL VERDICT

Blast Processing highly recommends this game and it is available on Steam this Good Old Games for PC and Mac.

Like the first game, there is also a patch by Carlmundo to make the experience a definitive one and also adds the Golden Mask levels. You’re Welcome.

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