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Old 18-09-13, 00:37   #61
sheepman23
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Many good points have been brought up here.

Before I move on with The Lost Valley, I just want to say that we shouldn't mistake experiences for nostalgia. When I explained the essence of isolation that I get from City of Vilcabamba, that's not just something that happened the first time I played the game, it's a recurring theme in every playthrough. That's not a nostalgia-based opinion, it's just an emotional experience that directly correlates with my opinion of the level.

Anyway, the review. I re-installed TR1 with a version that contains the music tracks, so now my experience is a little more adjusted to how I'm used to it. I can't change gamma settings though, so the screenshots might appear a little darker than usual.

PERU
Level 3 - The Lost Valley




I don't think that it would really be unrealistic to say that The Lost Valley is one of the most iconic experiences in video gaming. I did not play TR1 when it was at the height of its fame, but I have read so many reviews, playthroughs, Top ___ lists, etc. that give this level a mention.

Or, more specifically, the enormous t-rex that appears out of nowhere.

There are specific moments from my first TR1 playthrough that stick out to me. One of them involves running through the middle of a valley in the dead of night, and hearing a music track out of nowhere that might as well translate into "HEY! SOMETHING EXCITING IS GOING TO HAPPEN!!!!" And then watching as a 20-foot... no, that's too short... 30-foot t-rex rounded the corner, stomped right in front of me, and let out an earth-shaking roar.


GOOD LORD GET A TIC TAC.

My little 10-year-old self saw it necessary to beat feet into the nearest safe alcove along the side of the valley, and take cheap shots at the t-rex every time he came close. Yes, I was a woosy. And I did the same thing in subsequent playthroughs, until recently when I decided that it was much more manly to just face the t-rex on foot.

And it's actually not that hard to kill him without taking damage. It'd be even easier if I had went to get the shotgun first, but alas, I am far too lazy for such ventures.


I could not resist posting this screenshot. The raptor's face just cracks me up.

Going back to my earlier assessment of The Lost Valley being one of gaming's most iconic stages... why exactly is that? Well, the t-rex, obviously. That's the first thing everyone thinks of when they hear the name of this level. However, I feel it necessary to also point out that it excels on a variety of levels, not just the OMG HUGE T-REX phenomenon.

Let's take the main valley as an example. It's massive. I think it's one of the biggest "rooms" in TR1, actually. And as you look around initially, you see a broken bridge up above, some holes in the sides of the mountain, and an opening above a waterfall across the way. All of these areas are accessible, and it's just a lot of fun taking the time to explore every nook and cranny that we possibly can.


Peek-a-boo!


In real life, this would be very painful. Just sayin'.

What about the puzzles? While putting three cogs into an old machine might not be very elaborate, it's kind of cool and probably the closest thing to an actual puzzle that we've gotten so far in this game. If one takes the time to find the machine down the river at the beginning of the level, they can spot the empty pegs and maybe make the conclusion that something is missing. And when they then find a machine cog hidden away somewhere, a light bulb goes off.

I like the secrets that are tucked away in different parts of the valley, especially that one on top of the temple roof. One might ask, "Can I get up there?" when playing for the first time, and once they discover the trail of cleverly placed ledges leading up to the top, there's a great satisfaction of being up there, hearing the secret chime, and collecting four (!) pickups.


Jumbo Tootsie Roll AND some Snickers bars? Get OUT!!!!



After our cog-collecting shenanigans are done with, it's time to make the long trek back up the waterfall to put all of these gears to use. But the level isn't done with its surprises yet. It turns out that there are two more secrets and a shotgun to grab, should the player decide to explore a bit. That's another thing I like about this level. The are set objectives in place, but the overachiever who takes the time to meander about will find some rewards in store.


I remember how happy I was when I first found the shotgun. Then I discovered the Magnums. And then I discovered the Uzis...

Conclusion

"The Dinosaur Level." Even though The Lost Valley is often branded with this label, it's actually a lot more than shooting raptors and getting chased by a hungry t-rex. Granted, those are pretty impressive moments, but this level offers so much more.

It presents the player a massive 3-D environment where they have the opportunity to go wherever they want and do whatever they want. You want to get up on that temple? Find a way to do it. You want to get up in that waterfall? It's possible. See that broken bridge? You'll be up there in a little bit. Additionally, the cog puzzle is one of my favorites of TR1, and one that I think often gets overshadowed due to this level's focus on prehistoric life.

I had briefly considered giving this level a 9, but then I kept asking myself I wanted to do that, and I couldn't come up with any legitimate answer. Not one. It's a timeless experience from top to bottom.

Rating - 10/10





Stupid Lara Tricks

Paying homage to David Letterman's "Stupid Human Tricks," this segment after most reviews will detail some fun and/or interesting glitches that can be exploited. You've probably done some of these, but I thought I might as well throw them in if people haven't.

The Repeating Waterfall Glitch: At the beginning of the level, jump into the river and attempt to swim against the current. When you reach the end, keep swimming backward, and as you go over the edge you'll teleport up to the ceiling of the cavern and knock against it, falling back into the river. This can be repeated infinitely.





The Impossible Slope: Along the right side of the valley (past the broken bridge tiles), there is a slope that points downward into a section of the rock. If you jump onto this, Lara will get wedged in between the rocks and will be unable to get out. You can try jumping, but Lara will just make a really spastic movement.



Phantom Ceiling: In the secret waterfall area near the cog machine, there's a piece of the ceiling in the back that Lara can stand inside.

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Old 18-09-13, 06:42   #62
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How I wish I could get back the feeling of seeing the t-rex for the first time... it was so exciting and amazing. Now it's just a lil' dinosaur that's way too easy to defeat...but back then it was something really special, definitely one of my favorite moments in TR It's just that, well, you can never experience it the same way again.
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Old 18-09-13, 07:00   #63
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It used to be how the impressive part of this level is the T-rex. Now it's more like the idea of the open valley for the cog. The sense of exploration is really great here.
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Old 18-09-13, 08:08   #64
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I may have been spoiled when I first played the game, because I knew the T.rex (NOT "T-Rex" or "t-rex") was coming already. I had seen several screenshots of the first few levels of TR before the game was even released, and in a preview in a video game magazine. The article specifically mentioned that there was a level with dinosaurs in it, and one was a Tyrannosaurus (though I would say that it looks like a Mapusaurus to me, given the anatomy and geographical location). I had read no walkthrough, but by the time I encountered my first raptor, I knew what I was in for.

I found the T.rex to be intimidating, but not particularly difficult. I think I ran and hid in a cave somewhere during my first play through, and sniped at him from a ledge. I once even went as far as to leave him alive, though outrunning him and escaping was difficult. I love the fact that you could do things like this in TR1. I absolutely hated TRA's interpretation of this battle, and the mechanics by which it had to be fought.

Overall, while I liked the Lost Valley, I didn't orgasm over it the way that other members of the TR community seem to. I sometimes even think it's overrated. I think there were much nastier shocks in later parts of the game.
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Old 18-09-13, 12:07   #65
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Originally Posted by Tyrannosaurus View Post
I once even went as far as to leave him alive, though outrunning him and escaping was difficult. I love the fact that you could do things like this in TR1. I absolutely hated TRA's interpretation of this battle, and the mechanics by which it had to be fought.
True. There was so much more freedom in the earlier TRs.
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Old 18-09-13, 13:11   #66
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Good review. I disagree with the rating completely though. I'm not going to go into a huge rant about Lost Valley but I think it is grossly overrated. Take out nostalgia of the t-rex, and it's just a generally poorly designed level consisting of dull fetch tasks. And the lack of a horizon is just...

Quote:
What about the puzzles? While putting three cogs into an old machine might not be very elaborate, it's kind of cool and probably the closest thing to an actual puzzle that we've gotten so far in this game.
I think we've had this discussion before but calling this a puzzle is like calling climbing the huge ladder of diving area a puzzle. A puzzle involves some sort of logic to work it out. There is no logic required here, you're just simply putting the cogs that you've collected onto the pegs.

Quote:
It presents the player a massive 3-D environment where they have the opportunity to go wherever they want and do whatever they want. You want to get up on that temple? Find a way to do it. You want to get up in that waterfall? It's possible. See that broken bridge? You'll be up there in a little bit.
But this sort of thing happens in every level. There's nothing special about it in Lost Valley. All you have to do is climb a few rocks to get to them. If you play for half an hour and then reach these locations that you've seen before, that to me is much more of a 'wow' moment. But you can literally reach these places after about 30 seconds of game time.

So much more could've been done with the level. But all we get is run here, pick this up, run there, pick that up, and it becomes pretty tedious.

Anyway, all just my opinion. I think I'd be more inclined to give at a 6 or 7 at best.
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Old 18-09-13, 16:46   #67
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Originally Posted by Seth94 View Post
Good review. I disagree with the rating completely though. I'm not going to go into a huge rant about Lost Valley but I think it is grossly overrated. Take out nostalgia of the t-rex, and it's just a generally poorly designed level consisting of dull fetch tasks. And the lack of a horizon is just...
I'm not going to spend time arguing your other points since its very clear that we have different interpretations on what makes a TR level great, but I do not understand this comment at all. It is not a poorly designed level. Poorly designed is when everything is square, linear, and the textures are all exactly the same. The Lost Valley is anything but.

I'm also perplexed as to why there needs to be a horizon when we're stuck inside of a valley (in the dead of night). That just seems like unnecessary nitpicking to me.
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Old 18-09-13, 17:03   #68
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Great review sheepman
I think Lost Valley is probably the most important level in the series in terms of its fame, and influence. I remember reading an interview once with Shigeru Miyamoto (I think) who said they looked towards this level's use of 3D-space for influence designing the Mario Galaxy games; the way it uses space and its "go anywhere" feel, especially in the Valley itself and in the Waterfall area, as well as St. Francis' Folly. I guess the fact Tomb Raider is one of the first full 3D games means the designers took the new dimension for granted a little less than today's developers; it's superbly designed and though out.

Anyways. I'd have given it about an 8 myself? I don't think the gameplay is as impressive relatively as the design of the level. Still it'll probably always be the level I remember best in the series... the T-Rex is pretty intimidating the first time you see it.
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Old 18-09-13, 17:10   #69
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I thought The Lost Valley was a very interesting level. It's definitely a unique level.

Unfortunately I'm much more familiar with the TR Anniversary version than the TR1 version, but what I loved about the TR1 version was how Lara weaved through the valley. As you said, when you first entered the valley you could see a hole there, a bridge there, and it's great when you can take Lara to all of these places. There is masses of stuff to discover in this level.

I don't think the T.rex is overrated. Everyone's raving on about it, because IMO it deserves to be raved about. I had very high expectations on my first playthrough after hearing so many stories about the T.rex, and I really wasn't disappointed. It was impressive how 'flexible' the fight was, by that I mean that there were countless ways you could defeat the T.rex. It was great; I loved it!

But the main thing is that this level is just very well designed, and very very memorable. It seems like each area in this level has something unique about it, from the waterfall to the valley to the temple... And another thing, it's a very logical level. Despite the obvious "supernaturalism" of a tropical valley in the Andes, it sucks you in because each area in the level is designed in such a way that it makes it believable, as if you've visited this kind of place before, or you know that a place like this exists somewhere in this world. It's difficult to explain, but if you compare it to other TR levels, hopefully you'll see what I mean.

EDIT: Maybe all I'm trying to say is that when you play the level, you feel like you're really there, because the design is so realistic.

Looking forward to your next review, Sheepster!
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Old 18-09-13, 17:14   #70
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There's no need to get so defensive about it, they're just my opinions.

Quote:
It is not a poorly designed level. Poorly designed is when everything is square, linear, and the textures are all exactly the same. The Lost Valley is anything but.
That's not just what poorly designed means. Poorly designed can also mean dull gameplay, (which for the majority there is), and bad geometry. (The 3rd screen of your 'stupid Lara tricks' is the prime example) - they didn't even correct the illegal slopes. I would say the level is fairly linear, as the aim of the level is to simply collect the cogs and then get out. Sure, there are different parts of the valley to explore, but all they require is for you to run through the caves and climb a few rocks.

Quote:
I'm also perplexed as to why there needs to be a horizon when we're stuck inside of a valley (in the dead of night). That just seems like unnecessary nitpicking to me.
It just doesn't look right to me. The same goes for Colosseum and Sanctuary of the Scion. It might just be me nitpicking but I'd prefer if there was some sort of horizon there.

I also have to say that the TRA Lost Valley makes so much better use of the valley area than the TR1 version does. They could just have done a lot more in terms of gameplay.

But ah well, onto Tomb of Qualopec now.
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