Sunday, April 17, 2022

Tomb Raider II (PC) Review

I finished this game on Thursday, November 28, 2002, 6:57:00 PM. This review was first published on GameSpot on April 25, 2008.

Tomb Raider 2, released in 1997, is a sequel to the very successful Tomb Raider. It is arguably the most eagerly awaited game of the year.

The story concerns the Dagger of Xian, an ancient Chinese weapon used by the Emperor to command his army. By plunging the Dagger into its owner's heart, the weapon has the power to turn the person into a dragon.

In one such battle, the warrior monks of Tibet succeeded in removing the dagger from the emperor's heart and the battle was won the monks. The dagger was restored to its resting place in the Great Wall for centuries.

In the present day, Lara Croft is investigating the truth behind the legend of the dagger when she discovered the entrance to chamber at the Great Wall. However, the entrance is locked and the mechanism to open the entrance is located elsewhere. The search for the key to the chamber takes Lara to different parts of the world – Venice, Adriatic Sea, Tibet and back to the Great Wall.

The presentation of the story is somewhat unconnected, and it's hard to understand it at times. The game tends to meander along during the middle, but picks itself up for a very good finish. The locations for most part are very interesting, and beautiful.

The graphics are tweaked to deliver some great visuals, stunning landscapes, beautiful snow covered mountains, and the eerie catacombs of the Great Wall. This game looks a lot better than the original – of course, a full year has passed since the release of the first game, but the visuals draw a lot of attention because of their good looks.

Level design is somewhat different, with more difficult puzzles and urban settings. This game features vehicles for the first time in the series; cruising through the waterways of Venice is a lot of fun, so is driving through the snowy landscape of Tibet.

Overall, the levels are great, except during some where the level design tends to get a little monotonous. The Great Wall and Tibet levels are very well done, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. The scale of the levels is huge, which is particularly noticeable in some of the Offshore levels. Lara is often dwarfed by the environment.

The emphasis of gameplay has shifted a little. Tomb Raider 2 contains more combat with all kinds of new enemies – tigers, yetis, sharks, thugs, spiders, etc. The AI is not the greatest, but the enemies provide a lot of challenge, more so because they often tend to attack from behind, or jump out of dark corners without any warning and so the gameplay becomes very challenging.

Lara is equal to the task, with a variety of weapons at her disposal. The weapons are more powerful and do a lot more damage. The sounds of the weapons have been changed to provide the right effect, and the result is very satisfying.

Apart from inexperienced gamers, Tomb Raider 2 should not frustrate anyone who played the previous game, because this heavily relies on gameplay elements perfected by the original, so apart from a few nagging puzzles, everything flows at a steady pace.

The problem with Tomb Raider 2, if you can call it a problem, is the lack of innovation. Tomb Raider was revolutionary, it set an example for all the other aspiring 3D games, but one year afterwards, the sequel did not break any new boundaries, the gameplay essentially remained the same. So this is somewhat disappointing.

That is of course the bigger picture. However, all that won't matter while you are busy dodging booby traps and flying over bottomless chasms with the snowmobile, because the game is immersive and addictive enough to play it through to till the end, giving a huge sense of accomplishment once it's done.

+ Great level design
+ Improved graphics
+ Vehicles
+ Interesting choice of locations

- Urban settings at times
- Not enough innovation
- Persentation of story

Verdict – Must play.

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