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Old 13-10-05, 16:51   #1
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It's hot. It's the present day. A cloaked figure rides through the desert showing nothing but his/her eyes. (Can you guess who it is yet? ) After messing around with a switch and some scorpions, as you do, the figure meets with an unfortunate accident amidst increasingly swirling desert winds. (I've still no idea who is it yet, though. ). He/she plummets through a downwards spiralling brick tunnel before eventually landing in a heap at the bottom. Off comes the shawl. OMG! It's Lara Croft! Now there was a twist we never saw coming!

No bones have broken during the fall, but as this is the same woman who can miraculously drip-dry when getting out of the bath, we should hardly be surprised. Lara Croft is more brittle than an Action-man doll. Also surviving the fall down the hole, (off-camera this time) is Lara's un-named desert guide. And just so I don't have to refer to him as "Lara's un-named desert guide" all the time, let's call him Pedro. I think that's a reasonably Egyptian-sounding name.

Pedro is a budding amateur arsonist whose weapon of choice is a pathetic looking torch-at-the-end-of-a-stump. It works well when he's within arm's length of a slow-moving, non-poisonous scorpion, or perhaps even a snail. For quicker and more vicious enemies though (i.e. anything from a dog and upwards on the food chain) Pedro cowers behind the nearest rock whilst Lara does all the fighting. Quite frankly all the guy needs is a white Panama suit and you would find it hard to tell him apart from Von Croy!

In a later FMV we discover that Pedro has a gun. God knows why he didn't produce it during The Tomb of Seth. You can just imagine him discovering it on himself after re-emerging from underground – "Ah man! I forgot I had this in my pocket!" Anyway, his assistance during the level he appears in is generally restricted to setting alight a pool of oil. Later on he suddenly bolts back the way he came after getting scared by.....Well, I don't know what he gets scared by. One minute he's there and the next he wails, turns around, and legs it.

In fact, let's make this conundrum our analysis-quiz-of-the-week. Simply answer the question in the picture below in 40 words or less and send it to my private message box. Pedro himself even agreed to have a snapshot taken just for the sake of the quiz. He was meant to smile for me but at the last minute got scared by the flash of the camera, as you can see. Pedro gets scared a lot, but why did he get scared during the Tomb of Seth? That's the big quiz question.

The Tomb of Seth is a solid if not particularly inspiring piece of level-designing. You have to go back to Caves in TR1 to find an opening level as unspectacular as this one. Great pains have been gone to in ensuring Lara returns to her roots as was implied she would by the pre-release media circus. There are no gimmicks, no zip-wires, no Scottish scientist mysteriously blowing stuff up hundreds of miles away. This is just Lara in a dark cave with nothing but structural problems to solve.

Cleverest part of the level is the chess board with symbols on it. I read too much into this puzzle and started experimenting with all sorts of elaborate ways around the problem, when all I actually needed to do was the very obvious. I’m not the only long-time TRF member to fall into this trap. It's almost as if the makers were saying – "Haha! You thought this was going to be another deviously hard Temple Ruins didn’t you? Well, you were wrong!"

Not so clever is the practically pointless inclusion of the rope, that and not so far away from it, a rather strange machine thing with spikes that goes around and around with no explanation as to why. What is it meant to be? Neither am I impressed by the new "combine two key items to make one" possibility. This is a little bit insulting. What is the difference between doing this and simply placing two different items in a door with two locks, as we did several times in Tomb Raiders 1-3? It wouldn't be so bad if we could combine Von Croy with Pedro to create "The Key to Wallyville" item, but we can't.

Redemption largely comes from both the puzzle board (already covered that) and the giant sphinx. It is from the latter Lara will cleverly exit the level, and the room in which it is contained houses some impressive visuals and secrets. I particularly like the confusing aspect of the stone steps, that and the sand puzzle that runs in tandem with the overall room. I think it was also somewhere near here that Pedro got scared, but I'm not going to go into that again.

Finally, and you will be pleased to know this is another good point, I would like to praise the walls with the holes that Lara must stick her hand into. These moments can result in both good and bad, and provide anxious, nervous tension, as we wait to discover either a health pack or the introduction of a few more scorpions. Good stuff, but it's an average level overall. Lots of good/Lots of dull. 7/10

Best bit – The puzzle board

Worst bit – Using the rope can be a horrible experience if by this stage your skill with the damn thing is still a bit 'ropey'.

Secrets – Lots of them for a small level. Excellent sub-plot entertainment for the TR obsessive. The best ones have you abseiling up the side of the sphinx.

This level is most like – Every non-urban TR level you've ever played, depressingly.

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Feature – Why are people called "Seth" always geeky? Now presenting the Top 5 geeks called Seth

5 – Seth Armstrong, Emmerdale Farm (UK soap)
Henpecked old man who wasn't allowed to even put the kettle on without permission from his wife -Betty. Going to the bookies unannounced (Seth's favourite hobby) would often land him in hot bother. Big geek.

4 – Seth, Tomb Raider : The Last Revelation (Cpu game)
Talked the talk but hardly walked the walk. He was even immobile during the game's finale. Closet geek.

3 – Seth, The Bible
We know little about him, but I'm betting Cain and Abel were the hard men of the clan. Seth probably cowered away in the cave whenever the men went out to hunt for food. Call it writer's instinct.
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2 - Seth, The O.C (U.S.A drama)
American teen shows are always 99% gorgeous models and 1% geek. In the O.C, that 1% was allocated to a guy called Seth.

1 - Seth Brundle, The Fly (1986 film)
The biggest geek of all. Threw away the love of a gorgeous woman so he could turn into a fly and spew acid-vomit on people's hands.
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Old 13-10-05, 17:22   #2
Camera Obscura
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Yes, I always wondered why "Pedro" ran and how he magically exit the tomb.

Can't wait for Burial Chambers.
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Old 13-10-05, 17:43   #3
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Excellent work Scott! Better than the previous one!

"Ah man! I forgot I had this in my pocket!"
It wouldn't be so bad if we could combine Von Croy with Pedro to create "The Key to Wallyville" item, but we can't.
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