25 November 2014

Relive is a new feature on the site which revisits specific moments in the Tomb Raider series. In this post we're going back to one of Lara's earliest adventures, Tomb Raider II. The game promised to be bigger and better than the original, with more locations to explore and new gameplay variety. This time Lara was after an artifact, the Dagger of Xian, which granted whoever was impaled with it, the ability to turn into a dragon. An impressive power sure, but incredible impractical given that most doorways aren't dragon size... or in fact takeaway food. And being a dragon is great and all but, you know, burritos.

While there are so many fantastic moments in the title, there's one which stands out as the greatest for me, and it takes place pretty early on in the game.

The game starts off with a trip to the Great Wall of China. After wrestling with some of the wildlife including some kittens, a pack of angry spiders and some heat seeking eagles, Lara finds herself at the start of an adrenaline fuelled ancient assault course. The course only takes around one minute to complete but also consists of back to back traps, and yes, most of them are highly impractical and ridiculous.

Of course this series has no illusions that it frequently delves into the fantasy genre; it's what allows awesome situations like this to happen. Plus I have a fondness for level design which has "wait...what?" elements.

The assult course is as followed:

Lara first runs down a darkened tunnel and over collaspable tiles which breaks seconds after she touches them. Below the tiles are bloodied spikes so continuous movement is imperative. Once over the tiles, keep running to the steep incline and quickly slide down. Behind you are two huge boulders, in front are sharp spikes, so make sure you keep moving and you jump at the precise moment. Once on solid ground you haven't got a moment to lose as two walls, baring spikes, closes in on your position. Turn left, and sprint to the tunnel, and you can escape just in time. In the dark tunnel, you're allowed a moment to pause, and perhaps save before the insanity starts up again.

Once on the move you're faced with a more blades and loose ground, move fast and jump when needed, matching the pattern: tiles, blades, tiles, blades, tiles, blades. Once in the next room, run quickly to the exit as once again the walls close in on you. Run over the collapsible tiles, past three sets of spiked walls, and drop down into the next room. In this room, you will face more moving spiked walls. The loose ground in the corner proves to be your salvation. As the floor gives way, you are thrown into a cave. The final trap lays in front of you; two rolling wheels, armed with a spike in the centre.



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