Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Leeds, England
Oil rig part deux is an unsupervised factory full of first degree danger and enough ignorance of standard safety procedures to make the word ‘lunacy’ applicable. There’s an ode to the 1974 health and Safety Act in here somewhere. I just can’t find the inspiration to write it. Still, no harm in continuing to trundle along in written form. So without further adieu, and to quote a rather barmy sounding (and looking) middle class toff called Lloyd Grossman, let’s look at the evidence…
Merely seconds after we enter the area, we come across a pool of water containing one of those huge underwater fans. There isn’t a fence protecting people from falling into the pool, so already we have black mark number one were we to take on the role of Safety inspector during our little analysis tour. Luckily for us though, the less safety in a TR level, usually the more exciting it is to play. And you can certainly cite that as being the case here. There’s a great sense of psychological terror to be had from the fan incident at the beginning of the diving area. Hell, even when you push the button that stops the fan, you still don’t know if the damn thing is on a timer or not. Having to swim in the opposite direction of it to get out of the place just makes it worse. On a concluding note, I much prefer this more realistic portrait of an underwater fan when comparing it to those clock hand type things you had to dodge in the Lost City of Tinnos. When I think of the former, I shudder to myself and think of that janitor who got spliced to death in Alien 3. When I think of the latter, the only external image that comes into my head is that of Back to the Future’s Doc Brown hanging down from the top of the Hill Valley clock tower as if his life depends on it.
The first half of the level is entirely made up of one-off situations like the aforementioned one, where the main threat to Lara is danger from the environment itself. In the room after the underwater fan there’s some swinging machinery that tries to get you. And in the room after that there’s a huge slope with a tub full of green slime at the bottom. I say ‘slime’, but it could easily be poisonous water. Who knows? It doesn’t look too much different from the stuff that took absolutely NO health from us in the Venice levels, anyway. Where do you think it came from? Do you think Venice got it from the Oil Rig, or do you think the Oil Rig got it from Venice? And what’s with that dodgy jump you have to do to get past the stuff? As you all know, pressing and holding the action button in mid-air makes Lara reach out as if to prepare herself for grabbing hold of an edge. Pressing and holding the forward button, on the other hand, prepares her to start running the moment she lands. For some reason, you occasionally get jump distances in TR where only the use of the forward button option actually works, when in theory either both, or just the “action button cling” on its own, should work. The leap from the steel slope over the green slime in TR2’s Diving area is one of these instances. Further examples include a jump to one of the rocks in the canyon area of the Nevada Desert, and also a jump to a similar colored rock in the Queen Kafu’s Pyramid section of TRLR.
After two rather ludicrous climbing expeditions up the same 500Ft ladder, the level ditches its assault course format and goes into “Fetch key A to do Task B mode”, admittedly my favorite of the two. It’s a well thought out section, but one that I never seem to be able to distinguish from a similar looking segment of the previous level. It’s the Offshore Rig’s oblong shaped room with the two pools of water that causes the confusion. I always get it mixed up with the ONE-pool oblong shaped room in the Diving area where there’s a small razor blade guarding a pass-key. If it is to believed that all levels should have their own sense of identity, this is where the level falls down.
As with the Offshore Rig, this level gives us a new enemy to watch out for. He’s big, burly, and carries a flame-thrower. Just to be controversial, let’s call him the ‘flame-thrower man’. The flame-thrower man is a fun adversary to have, even if his appearances in the series have been solely confined to a small section of TR2. I’ve always had a great desire after killing him to pick up his weapon and go around doing a little ‘roasting’ myself. You can’t take on the role of the flame-thrower man though, a fact I consider to be more than just an unfortunate oversight when Adrian Smith was initially listing the game’s weapons on the back of a cigarette packet. No, I believe the flame-throwing option was left out because it was considered something too violent for Lara to be seen doing. I’d just about agree with this in areas where humans are our enemies. However, no-one held it against Sigourney Weaver when she was frying ailens on the Mega Drive, so maybe we could have at least been allowed our guilty pleasure in a place like the Temple of Xian? There aren’t any human enemies in that level. What makes the thought worse is the fact that flame-thrower man NEVER has any little goodies on him like the other bad guys too. Come to think of it, neither do the divers. The oil rig levels set an annoying precedent in that regard.
There is at least one new weapon to pick up. It’s called the “M16”, and not only is it super-powerful to the point where Lara can’t even run and fire it at the same time, it also makes the Diving Area’s timed flame run seem a little bit less annoying than it otherwise would have been. (*Tries not to remember the time I saved myself on fire and had to begin the level again*). We see a helicopter take off just before the timed flame run. Anyone got a suggestion of who is it and where it might be going? I figure it can’t be Bartoli because of his presence at the end. He isn’t a very good shot is he, by the way? To conclude, I’ll just briefly give mention to the belief of mine that the Diving Area is the superior level of the whole Oil Rig double act. Everything just feels so much more proficient and sturdy. Dive, dive, dive! Snell! 8/10
Best part – The room with the swinging machinery. I didn’t really have a competent grasp of the blockiness feel to the TR environment when I first played it, and this made those jumps from one side of the pool to the other, a very nervous and long drawn out process indeed. I’ll even admit I fell into the water a good few times before I managed to progress.
Worst part – The leap across the slime can be quite frustrating. It’s less a case of skill than knowing what buttons to press.
Secrets – 2/3. The one in the slime room is too obvious. I like the underwater one though. It makes you use your head a little bit. The one at the end just about scores, even though people will mostly stumble upon it by accident.
The 100th link I came across when I typed “Diving area” into the Google search engine
A pretty s.hit link this. I’m expecting much better from the next two levels. Their level titles are less ambigous. Having said that, I noticed from the list that the 3rd link was a TR one.
This level is most like……
I’m not telling you because the answer is absurdly easy. Think about it.
Worms - Gross
Join Date: Jun 2002
Excellent as ever.
Join Date: Feb 2003
Hey, Scottlee-great review!
I just finished Diving Area and your comments are on the money- that big fan in the beginning was terror inspiring and i had a compulsion to jump in and see what happens. Rest assured that yes, lara can pull the lever, but very quickly gets pulled into and chomped by the fan when she tries to climb the ladder.
As for the green slime- she also missed that jump and fell in once- yuck, glug glug..... Why do the controls have to be so finicky right at the crucial jumps? Sometimes the running jump dosn't work"alt" just drops her into the water, or wherever
The flame thrower guys-hope I've seen the last of them.
Join Date: May 2003
Location: New York
Great again Scottlee! The Diving area was a hard one for me on the first play. Second time around,ofcourse I did better,but still fun as ever! I hated that slime room,never could quite get that jump right.The flame-thrower scared me half to death,even in recent play!! wow!!... The helicopter taking off I thought was Bartoli,but by this time he was already in to China,I guess.
Anyway, Superb writing again Scottlee!!
[ 14 May 2003, 06:17: Message edited by: D-PAD ]