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Old 06-02-16, 21:24   #31
WolfRaider
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Originally Posted by sheepman23 View Post
The speedboat definitely had good mechanics, and I do wish we would have seen it more in Bartoli's Hideout. Tibetan Foothills gives us a lot of good opportunities to use the snowmobile to its full potential, but control-wise the speedboat is a lot more fun.
Yeah it was a shame when you drive it in near the front door that was it.
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Old 07-02-16, 20:04   #32
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Well look who's made a comeback! :3

I like the reviews so far. I do agree with your analysis on Venice about the overabundance of humans. For me, as amazing as the boat is, the first half it just seems to be a buildup to "Yeah yeah yeah, when do I get to drive da boat?! "

The Great Wall for me is a perfect way to do a challenging first level. It throws a lot at you to begin with, but it's still fairly straightforward in progression and eases you into it.(The straightforward part is what I think Jungle in TR3 got wrong in my experience, for a first level at least)

Can't wait to see more!
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Old 09-02-16, 00:19   #33
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I agree with the Venice review, I'd forgotten how novel it was to be in such a location, above ground in a sunny climate for once. It was also in hindsight where Lara first showed the ominous signs of becoming the psychopathic mass murderer she is today!

I keep meaning to make a mod of TR2 with all the human baddies removed (except for the essential ones who have keys etc), I never seem to get round to it though.
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Old 09-02-16, 17:07   #34
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The venice levels may have been sunny but the water levels were more sunny.
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Old 13-02-16, 22:33   #35
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VENICE
Level 3 - "Bartoli's Hideout"



She's breaking in! Let's send one stick-wielding thug to go take care of her while we all stand here and wait!

A Not-So-Hidden Hideout

We have arrived in what is presumably Marco Bartoli's humble Venetian abode, and the security team is not all that thrilled to see Lara. This unfortunately means that we are in for Round 2 of the human slaughter-fest, which will be followed by Round 3, 4, 5, and... well, you get the idea.

Combat problems aside, Bartoli's Hideout is a somewhat overlooked venture that is placed in between two of the game's more iconic levels. Venice tends to be memorable for the speedboat's sake alone, while The Opera House retains a lot of fans for its impressive exploration-oriented structure, which almost feels like a Cistern 2.0 (more on that next time). So what does Bartoli's Hideout bring to the table, then? Well, quite a lot. At first glance it does not seem to be all that special, but Bartoli's Hideout actually tackles quite a few miniature puzzles that keep a more interesting flow of gameplay going than its predecessor did, where the motives were basically about finding keys and driving a speedboat all over the canals.


Jumping on... chandeliers. Yes, we went there.

Bartoli's Hideout mixes a lot of different gameplay themes together to create an engaging adventure at the center of the Venetian level set. It has a few trap sequences, which are very much welcome without ever feeling annoying. It gives us the ballroom, which is peaceful and serene and gives us the opportunity to finally climb around a large chamber. We also get to listen to the beautiful harp rendition of the main theme here, which is a criminally underused music track in the scope of this game. The level's final segment sends us on a quest to find a key so that we can blow up an entire building.

Actually, when I think through everything this level has to offer and then write it out like that, why on earth is this one not more recognized when people think of Tomb Raider II? It's got a little bit of everything to keep us interested, so why is this the case?


We interrupt this 1997 action-adventure video game to bring you Ratatouille.

Two things:

1) Humans are still a problem. And in the case of Bartoli's Hideout, they are a bigger problem than Venice and also probably The Opera House, and this is largely because of how they are inserted into the level. In a solid 75% of this level's gunfights, a goon will appear immediately when you open a door or turn a random corner, forcing you into a blind battle that you're already kind of tired of. Hell, we even get shot in the head right after inserting the detonator key! Fighting bad guys is not a whole lot of fun as is, but Bartoli's Hideout is downright frustrating with the way it casually throws in thugs.

2) There's no big "Wow" moment. The closest thing this level gets to having a true standout moment is the destruction of an entire building at the end, but this is slightly marred by the fact that we do not actually see the building blow up, along with the subsequent goon that takes from the impressive moment. In a level that already stands in the shadow of two other seemingly more memorable ones, this experience needed something to really elevate it, and it doesn't have that. What Bartoli's Hideout does have is a lot of solid enjoyable areas and trials - such as the ballroom - but none that are extravagant enough.


Among Lara's hobbies is stealing shoes from bad guys and giving them to homeless shelters.

Little Things That This Level Does Do Very Well

Sure, it may suffer a bit from more-annoying-than-usual humans and a lack of a real killer moment, but Bartoli's Hideout is still fun the whole way through, and that's because it strings together a lot of good things to make one pretty solid experience.

First, let's talk about the ballroom, which contains one of my favorite puzzles of Tomb Raider II. The concept of using the chandeliers to get to the Library Key is very simple in design, and in fact it's so simple that it is possible to use a well-known ledge-dropping trick to get the key without manipulating the chandelier heights, but eh. We'll let it slide in this one time... As I already mentioned, the harp version of the classical theme is a beautiful moment, and I think it captures the feeling that this level can have when we are not overburdened with fighting goons.

This level also inserts a couple of trapped hallways in for good measure. Considering Venice was basically booby-trap free and The Opera House is practically the opposite, Bartoli's Hideout strikes a good balance of having a few dangerous bits that don't take away from the otherwise calm environment.


I am now starting an official Tomb Raider II Burner Hallway Tally. Because let's face it, this game loves its burner traps. Count = 1.

The structure here is pretty solid too. An observant player will notice several occasions in this level where we can see an area through a grate or behind a fence that will be accessible later, but not at the moment. There's plenty of good foreshadowing in that sense, and it also helps the entire level feel very cohesive and puzzle-esque as a result.

One last thing: for as much as Venice gets praise for how cheery and colorful it is, Bartoli's Hideout maintains that standard and does even more with the indoor library sequence and courtyards at the end.

Conclusion

Pros:
+ Consistently engaging gameplay
+ Contains a little bit of everything
+ Fantastic execution of the ballroom, including the harp theme
+ Generally very good-looking level

Cons:
- Human combat is more annoying than the previous level
- Needed a big standout moment to make it more iconic

Bartoli's Hideout is a very good level that succeeds in what it sets out to do. It does not really make any mistakes, but at the same time it does not do anything to really elevate itself to where it does not stand in the shadow of the other two Venetian adventures. While it may be better than its predecessor, it still isn't as memorable because of how much the environment is a Venice 2.0.

Rating - 8/10
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Old 14-02-16, 00:36   #36
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By some strange co-incidence I’ve just been doing some redecorating in Bartoli’s Hideout (see this post) so your review is very timely!

As for why the Hideout gets overlooked, my own feeling is that it’s because it doesn’t really feel like a single level but three levels! There are two points of no return which split it up into the opening area, the chandelier room/underwater area, and the Library. I think this confuses one’s recollection when trying to remember which the best levels are, entering the Library in particular feels exactly like entering a new level so I wonder if people forget it’s part of the Hideout when voting on levels.

One of my favourite bits of this level was diving for the gold dragon, the flooded basement makes a great maze! Also the chandelier puzzle, it took me a little while to realise they weren’t just sprite type objects but that you could actually climb onto them!
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Old 14-02-16, 10:46   #37
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Bartoli's Hideout, such an underrated level.
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Old 14-02-16, 16:46   #38
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I agree with everyone because i think bartoli's hideout is underrated.
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Old 15-02-16, 00:24   #39
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I've come to the strange realization that while I think Bartoli's Hideout is a much better level than Venice, I cannot remember it as well, except for the chandelier room. You're right, there is no one particularly memorable moment, so for me it's just a general memory of good solid, fun with a nicely balanced gameplay component. Your score reflects this pretty well, I think.
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Old 15-02-16, 02:55   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiroyuki View Post
By some strange co-incidence Iíve just been doing some redecorating in Bartoliís Hideout (see this post) so your review is very timely!
I'll have to check it out, thanks for the link!

Quote:
As for why the Hideout gets overlooked, my own feeling is that itís because it doesnít really feel like a single level but three levels! There are two points of no return which split it up into the opening area, the chandelier room/underwater area, and the Library. I think this confuses oneís recollection when trying to remember which the best levels are, entering the Library in particular feels exactly like entering a new level so I wonder if people forget itís part of the Hideout when voting on levels.
Those are good points, and you're right about it feeling like it's split into three distinct parts. At the same time, it's weird because the level actually feels really cohesive since you can see one of the final areas early on behind a fence. I like the way it is constructed, but I do think that it wears too many hats, and as a result it never has one defining moment or feature.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gracious Days View Post
I've come to the strange realization that while I think Bartoli's Hideout is a much better level than Venice, I cannot remember it as well, except for the chandelier room. You're right, there is no one particularly memorable moment, so for me it's just a general memory of good solid, fun with a nicely balanced gameplay component. Your score reflects this pretty well, I think.
Exactly. Like Bartoli's Hideout is one of the least memorable great levels this series has. Which is odd to say but totally makes sense when you think about it.
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