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Old 28-11-05, 15:54   #1
Scottlee
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Lara reaches Karnak, a deserted set of ghost-ruins set in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully King Karnak made it impossible for jeeps to get inside, so Lara has to continue on without it. Good. That's the end of that then. The Karnak section is three levels gelled together to form one giant inter-connected labyrinth. Great for raiders. Bad for level by level analysis writers, hence the way I am approaching this. Ok, onwards and upwards.

This section of the game is a marked improvement over everything that has gone before. For the first time in ages a Tomb Raider level actually feels exploration-orientated. Entire rooms contain nothing at all. Segments of gameplay can be approached in different orders. The optional goodies are no longer guaranteed to be secrets. And dead ends confront you persistantly. This is Tomb Raider as it was meant to be played - Lara Corft searching majestic and often gold-plated rooms, climbing onto rocks and peering around, and shooting the occasional nasty. Note the word 'occasional' there. It sometimes gets tiring shooting two thugs in one room, three dogs in the next room, and so on. We don't get that here.

The aforementioned nasties first come in the form of tiny poisonous scorpions, an inspired choice for the surroundings we find ourselves in. They may be small and they may scuttle around at a slower speed than Larson works out a joke. But boy do they send a shiver up your spine when they suddenly pop out from behind a pillar, or from out of a shadow in the corner. Killing one at close range before it can sting you is a satisfying thing. Killing one at long range because you had the eyesight to spot it early, is equally gratifying.

This would get boring for three levels in a row though, so the makers have Von Croy and his crazy 88's turn up about halfway through. Certain mysteries make themselves apparant when this happens. For instance, how did Von Croy's merc manage to drive halfway across the desert without breaking down? (Von Croy - "Hold on ninja's! We're going over another dune!....Oh bugger! Pedro, get the spare wheel out!")

(Von Croy's ballet school was the best in the country for teaching the deflecting bullet discipline)


Also on the subject of Herr Croy, I seem to remember eventually fighting about 10-15 ninja's in the Karnak section, so how come only about 3 ninja's visibly step out of Von Croy's car at the time he arrives? Did he hide some in the trunk because he wanted the back seat all to himself? If so, I wouldn't want to be in his clan. Being forced to ride across the baking hot desert in the back of a trunk filled with 10 other men is not a pleasant thought. What a meanie that man is.

At least he stays in his car when all the fighting happens, mind. The last thing a great section like this needed was for the player to start riddling Von Croy with ammo yet then be forced to watch him slip around a pillar and disappear. He would have inevitably popped back up two levels further down the line without a scratch on his body and it would have been rubbish.

For this reason alone, I do not at all mind turning a blind eye to the unlikelihood of Von Croy being able to teleport himself from the section beginning to the section end. I do not at all mind the lack of evidence suggesting he did any of the running, crawling, dropping, and monkey-swinging necessary to reach that point. Hey, let's just assume he drove the merc around to the back somewhere and found a different way in.

On the subject of the ending, Von Croy proves he can be as much a meanie to Lara as he can to his own men. Not only does he lock her inside the entrance to the Semerkhet cave, but he also steals her magical horseshoe thing which can't have been easy to find so far from Royal Ascot. Lara's reaction to being imprisoned is puzzling. Why does she look so bothered? It's not like she was going to lug it all that way only to decide at the last minute - "Hmmm, it's a bit dark in there. I think I'm going to back to the hotel and think it over some more". Even at the sight of some demon-like red eyes Lara just carries on walking forwards like an ocean captive walking the plank.

There are two lasting imprints that survive long in the memory when you leave the Karnak section. The first is the Great Hypostyle Hall (Pat Sharp probably filmed the Egyptian version of Fun House in here). It's almost undescribable other than to call it a bloody impressive piece of video game eye candy. One of the ninja's proves he was completely undeserving of the red robe by swinging on the ceiling like a complete idiot. It was it was a proper museum the guy would have been chucked out without getting his money back. As it is, Lara just shoots him and that's fine too.

The Sacred Lake contains a beautiful castle-surrounded-by-moat effect. It also contains Egypt's next 50 years worth of handbags were anyone to bother sending the crocodile-catching van along. I love these animals when they appear in Tomb Raider because of their land to sea versatility. They provide a nice contrast to the scorpions and the ninja's. Oh, and it's around about this point giant bamboo sticks start appearing ten a penny. So climb up and down those and have fun.

I'll round it off today by mentioning Jeans( ), Lara's old buddy from some old mission we previously never knew about. Jean, to give his non-Greek name, is a French archeologist presumably now semi-retired because of his flab. Predictably he gets caught later on in the game, continuing a long tradition in the TR film and game franchise of Lara's mates either getting kidnapped or killed. Think about it...

Also previously up s*** creek when in the company of Lara (and later on in the series) have been, in no particular order - Lara's Peru guide, Lara's Antartic helicopter pilot, Lara's priest, Lara's Russian submarine ally, Lara's so-called love interest Kurtis Trent, and Lara's other so-called love interest Alex West. "Hi Lara. I'm your new mission buddy!...ARGGHHH!"
9/10

Best Part - Circling the Sacred Lake moat

Worst Part - Those three giant lightning rods.

Secrets - Tricky and stylish. I can't remember how many there are here, but one near the beginning has its own private flame-lit chamber and it feels great when you discover it.

This level is most like - Having a dream where you're lost in the Garden of Eve.

Handbags - Tricky to make by yourself.

.
.
.
.
(Lara could relax. Her search for the giant microphone was over)


Thanks to Picnic for the TRLR screenie.

[ 28. November 2005, 17:45: Message edited by: Scottlee ]
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Old 28-11-05, 16:18   #2
tlr online
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Von Croy - "Hold on ninja's! We're going over another dune!....Oh bugger! Pedro, get the spare wheel out!"

Awesome as usual Scott
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Old 28-11-05, 17:10   #3
Anubis_AF
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Quote:
Scottlee:
Not only does he lock her inside the entrance to the Semerkhet cave, but he also steals her magical horseshoe thing which can't have been easy to find so far from Royal Ascot.
Quote:
Scottlee:
(Lara could relax. Her search for the giant microphone was over)
LOL!!

Very fun to read, as always
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Old 28-11-05, 17:12   #4
Joseph
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It also contains Egypt's next 50 years worth of handbags ...
and the 'giant microphone'.

Thanks fot posting Scott!
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Old 28-11-05, 19:15   #5
Gabi
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Great Scott.

Thanks for that.
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Old 28-11-05, 20:03   #6
Laras Backpack
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Quote:
Jean, to give his non-Greek name, is a French archeologist presumably now semi-retired because of his flab.
LOL!
Nice analysis Scottlee.
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Old 28-11-05, 22:33   #7
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Fantastic read.
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Old 28-11-05, 23:30   #8
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Great , but "Once Upon a Time in Egypt" is a much more accurate description
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Old 29-11-05, 05:45   #9
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Crazy 88 this is great!
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Old 29-11-05, 11:23   #10
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It also contains Egypt's next 50 years worth of handbags were anyone to bother sending the crocodile-catching van along.
LMFAO!!!! I expected this for some reason (Elen )

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...one near the beginning has its own private flame-lit chamber and it feels great when you discover it.


Quote:
Lara could relax. Her search for the giant microphone was over
OK, this is awesome

Just brilliant, Scott
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