What did Core Design have against endangered species when they were making the Tomb Raider games? I mean, I know if I were exploring ancient temples & such, wild animals would be my primary threat, but I’m reasonably certain condors (or vultures, I can’t tell) don’t go around attacking people. But I guess I can get behind any game that lets me shoot tarantulas with a shotgun.
I played through the first level of Tomb Raider II, & after having just finished the first Tomb Raider, I have to say I’m impressed with how much improvement there was over just a year when the games were originally released. Sure, a lot of the core mechanics are the same, but there are already some distinct additions. The first thing I noticed was the slightly more detailed graphics. In particular was the fact that Lara now actually has her signature braid. I know it’s a superficial thing, but it bothered me in the first game that she had it in the cutscenes but not in the game. But the graphics overall look much smoother. You can tell developers were getting better at making smooth lines & circles as opposed to jagged triangles everywhere.
Some of the other new additions so far are the new flares, which are useful for lighting up the darker areas (I think the shadows are a new feature from the previous game as well) & Lara’s ability to climb ladders. The animation for climbing is pretty good as well, even if in one instance the camera seemed to be rather fixated on Lara’s posterior. But I’ll blame that on the small space rather than perverted developers.
So far I’ve enjoyed the way the game flows. It was on the first level, but I felt it went much more fluidly than some of the levels in Tomb Raider. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have to backtrack. I also really liked the emphasis on avoiding traps. There was one part in particular that I had to replay several times to get through with minimal damage. I was running over falling floors, jumping traps, & avoiding spike walls. Just when I thought I was safe, the game would send a bunch of boulders rolling down on me. It was exciting! And that’s what a good adventure game is supposed to be.
Of course, some of the same issues I had with the previous game are still present. You can’t easily move the camera, which is a pain in blind corners, & the game is still ridiculously picky about when you’re in the right place to pick up items. There was one point during the previously mentioned gauntlet where there’s a dragon statue you can pick up as a secret, but it’s in the middle of moving spike walls. It took me a couple of tries because the game insisted I place Lara perfectly before it would let me pick up the statue, & even then she took her sweet time bending down. I was like, “Do you not see the spikes, Lara? Move it, sister!”
And the game also through some more random dinosaurs at me. I know we’re dealing with things like ancient races & dragons, but how are the dinosaurs still alive at the bottom of a chasm that probably doesn’t get a lot of visitors?
Anyway… I’m looking forward to seeing if the rest of the game continues to improve on the first.