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Old 10-09-06, 10:58   #1
Scottlee
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Default "Pharos, Temple of Isis/Cleopatra's Palaces" analysis

To round off the middle section of the game we must complete two relatively short levels which, aesthetically at least, bring back memories of TR1. The awkwardly titled "Pharos, Temple of Isis" contains very simple scenary and textures reminiscent of an old school level like Tomb of Qualopec, or Tomb of Tihocan (In fact, just pick any level from back then). There is even a smaller version of the giant water chamber from Sanctuary of the Scion, only this one makes its chief danger a shark instead of the actual water itself. Cleopatra's Palaces meanwhile bears an uncanny resemblance to the Khamoon section of TR1. It even has an square pool of water in one of its main rooms containing a hidden underwater tunnel.

But let's go back to that shark, given that he (or she) is our first obstacle. When I talked about the beginning of the 40 Fathoms level I named the chief shark "Snacker", and I feel compelled to pretend this is actually the very same shark returning to get revenge, only this time disguised as a Hammerhead shark. Snacker had to watch from the sidelines during TR3, so he's back and hungrier than ever this time around. In fact he doesn't so much as want a snack this time but a four course meal, if he has his way. Lara gets very little respite as she paddles around working the various underwater triggers. Stop in the same square metre of water for more than about two seconds and Snacker will get a snack. Keep moving at all times and he won't. Eventually the exit comes in the form of some stone steps, and the danger is over. Better luck next time, Snacker!

The Beetles are also making an heroic return in this section. In continuing our search for the Gold Armour, we must stick our hands into several nests of the damn things, in doing so risking our arms becoming instantaneously skeletal. If nothing else though, this proves that Heather McCartney sure wasn't the first gold-digger to pester a beetle (ba-dum chusssh!). The software won't allow us to shoot the beetles one by one from a safe distance, but for the sake of tension this probably isn't such a bad thing. I would guess that the beetles are probably a popular enemy among TR fans. They only appear in this one adventure, so were never overused in the context of the series. The features contained within any one computer game always generate better nostalgia if they are unique to just that one game.

By this point in the series, Core were desperate to keep using the 4-key-door thing but in as many different ways not immediately obvious. Barely five minutes ago we had the planet scraping of The Lost Library, when a simple wooden door like the giant one in St Francis' Folly would have done. Here in Pharos we have a miniture pyramid that will open out from its four sides whenever we donate a plastic beetle. So, that would be Ringo then. (Ba dum chusssh!). To be perfectly frank, it would have been quite funny if all four of the usable plastic beetles had been named after each of the guys in the band. I say 'usable' because there is one beetle that is broken and doesn't work anymore. So that would be Lennon then (Ba dum chusssh!). Okay, I really promise I won't do any more tired Fab Four jokes. The broken beetle isn't the first irrelevent item we pick up in TRLR. It's almost a shame Rennes isn't around actually, as he usually pays top dollar for useless crap...

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Rennes - Hey, what have you brought me today, Lara?

Lara - A pair of glasses.

Rennes - Cool! I've give you 1000 Euros for them!

Lara - Err, the thing is though, they're broken.

Rennes - Even better! Make that 1500! Anymore useless crap?

Lara - Yes, a broken beetle.

Rennes - Ooooh! I'll give you 5000 Euros for that!

Lara - Thanks. It's a shame there's nowhere in Paris to spend my money though.

Rennes - I know. Sucks to be Core right now, doesn't it?

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Cleopatra's Palaces is actually just one palace, as far as I can see. One big room leads into small maze containing several smaller rooms and then we're at the exit. Progression sounds easy when I put it like that, but getting in the way are several corridors filled with spike traps. Cleopatra must have lost several lovers to this badly thought out security system - "I'm just going to the bathoom, darling. Arghhh!" Luckily for us, there is a clockwork mouse lying around we can get to do our dirty work for us. When the mouse crosses the holes, the spikes are slow to pop up and always miss the mouse. When Lara crosses the spikes, they pop up quickly and with deadly accuracy. Strange.

Egypt has an obsession with spikes. Nearly every section in the game contains spikes of some form or another. There must be a factory somewhere in Egypt that does all the manufacturing. I can just picture a warehouse with a huge conveyor belt chugging away inside it, workers in overalls taking spikes from it and boxing them up for distribution. Whoever designed the clockwork mouse though needs sacking. It inexplicably blows up after being used three or four times. "Egyptian builders!" Roger Moore said as he rolled his eyes in The Spy Who Loved Me. Quite.

This of course is the level we finally find the Gold Armour, with each piece being located in a rectangular box. Security relaxes itself here. There are only a couple of slow-moving skeletons and the odd pair of garden clippers to worry about. No biggie. The Brothers Grimm in the level's boss fight pose slightly more threat, but they don't have any special moves and can be easily overpowered provided you're packing some first aid. Doesn't Lara look well suited to sitting in that throne, by the way?

To backtrack just a wee bit (I've saved the level highlight for last), there is a large room near the end containing a statue of Lara. If it was a statue of Pedro the guide we could just stand back and watch feeding time with a big grin, but of course it was only ever going to be Lara. This sequence is a slight variation on the Bacon Lara puzzle, again a throwback to TR1. It seems to me the more I play this game that TRLR was the one true Lara adventure that 'goes back to Lara's roots'. So many vague similarities to TR1. Anyway, the statue. Eagles will nibble away at it whilst you try and reach the top of the room, posing the dilemma and of when and how many times you go back down there to sort the problem out. It's an original situation for Lara just like the clockwork mouse, but unlike the mouse it doesn't feel stupid. 7/10 and 7/10

In the FMV that follows, Lara discovers that Jean has been kidnapped and taken to Cairo. We don't get to see a flashback of the struggle but I doubt it was a particularly ferocious one. He probably tried to bash one intruder over the head with a book, missed by a mile, and then gave up. The motorcycle has remarkably become available since we were last in Alexandria. Forget the armour, I think it would have been hilarious if we had completed The Coastal Ruins, Catacombs, The Lost Library, Temple of Poseidon, Temple of Isis, and then at the end of the Cleopatra's Palaces.... "Yes, I've finally found the key to the motorcycle fence! Now I can move onto the next section!".

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Ncky's News Nuggets
(What interesting nugget of news has Nicky researched for this week's analysis?)
"As is known, Cleopatra was Julius Caesar's mistress. So at some point he returned to Rome bringing her along. Her attitude was very provocative there, but what Caesar's opponents found the most outrageous was when he had a golden statue of her placed in the temple of Venus".

Excellent stuff. That was very interesting.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------


(When even the garlic perfume failed to put Kurtis off, Lara purchased a force-field)
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Last edited by Scottlee; 10-09-06 at 11:00.
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Old 10-09-06, 11:16   #2
Atlantean-Squid
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Brilliant as usual.
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Old 10-09-06, 11:26   #3
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Your analysis always make me want to play TLR,Scottlee!

Even when you're mocking some poor enemy,you make the levels sound just like something utterly special !

Unfortunately,there are too much skeletons in there for my taste !
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Old 10-09-06, 11:47   #4
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Quote:
Rennes - Hey, what have you brought me today, Lara?

Lara - A pair of glasses.

Rennes - Cool! I've give you 1000 Euros for them!

Lara - Err, the thing is though, they're broken.

Rennes - Even better! Make that 1500! Anymore useless crap?

Lara - Yes, a broken beetle.

Rennes - Ooooh! I'll give you 5000 Euros for that!

Lara - Thanks. It's a shame there's nowhere in Paris to spend my money though.

Rennes - I know. Sucks to be Core right now, doesn't it?
True, true...

Quote:
Cleopatra must have lost several lovers to this badly thought out security system - "I'm just going to the bathoom, darling. Arghhh!"
LMFAO, indeed!

Quote:
I can just picture a warehouse with a huge conveyor belt chugging away inside it, workers in overalls taking spikes from it and boxing them up for distribution.
Crazy Egyptians...

Quote:
He probably tried to bash one intruder over the head with a book, missed by a mile, and then gave up.
Most likely, yes.

Quote:
The motorcycle has remarkably become available since we were last in Alexandria. Forget the armour, I think it would have been hilarious if we had completed The Coastal Ruins, Catacombs, The Lost Library, Temple of Poseidon, Temple of Isis, and then at the end of the Cleopatra's Palaces.... "Yes, I've finally found the key to the motorcycle fence! Now I can move onto the next section!".
No comment here.

Quote:
(When even the garlic perfume failed to put Kurtis off, Lara purchased a force-field)
ROTFL!

Ah, what can I say? Brilliant.
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Old 10-09-06, 13:41   #5
Mytly
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Hilarious as ever, Scottlee!

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Originally Posted by Scottlee
Cleopatra must have lost several lovers to this badly thought out security system - "I'm just going to the bathoom, darling. Arghhh!"
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Old 10-09-06, 16:39   #6
rr_carroll
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A golden statue of Lara also is reminiscent of another TR1 event - the golden Lara most of us see in Palace Midas. Until the reload, that is. Maybe it's "gilt without guilt" - we don't have to do Lara in to make her golden.
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