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Old 20-04-16, 16:28   #51
trfan16
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Opera House is a fantastic level and one of my favorites from Tomb Raider II. Its one of the many levels where TRII takes a location that is not a tomb but still remains to be a classic Tomb Raider experience. The level design is unique and very intriguing as if it can almost tell you a story. I am sure the Opera House was grand when it was in operation. I loved all the details that Core included from the main theater scene to the changing rooms. We also get to see the dilapidated front lobby, antique elevators, the back stage, and a lot of other architectural details. If there is anything I want to take from the Reboot games and include them into TR2, it is the documents and relics. They could be used to tell a story about the great actors and performers who at one time graced the theater.

The gameplay is pure Classic Tomb Raider also. Overcoming gauntlets of traps, classic platforming jumps and exploration, and fighting your way through hordes of baddies. I loved all the unique traps that we are introduced to in this level Ė swinging crates/sandbags, falling sandbags, boulders, fans, glass shards, etc. I loved when levels made their own unique traps instead of relying on the same ones every time. The level is rather long too, but it is only fitting for the final level of the area.

Overall, I would give Opera House an 8/10. I love the unique design, different kinds of traps and challenges, and how non-linear the level design is. On the downside though, I think the number of baddies in this level ruins it. I know this might sound like a broken record since TRII is famous for this, but I donít think they were heavily needed in this level. It ruins the feeling of isolation that was present in the first game and I think this level was challenging enough already without them. And the beginning of the level is pretty annoying too. I donít mind if there is some ambiguity in figuring out what to do, but I hate having to mess up and falling down to the bottom of the level where the water is and climbing all the way back up. Especially since ladder climbing is so tedious and sluggish. Great review, and I canít wait to see what you have to say about Diving Area next even though I have a soft spot for it.
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Old 20-04-16, 18:37   #52
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I would give opera house a 9/10.
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Old 20-04-16, 19:35   #53
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@ trfan16: Fair analysis, and I think that your point about the humans is certainly acceptable. In this one particular instance, however, I'm willing to give the human enemies a pass since I think their interference does not actually hurt the level's atmosphere at all - if anything, I think it actually improves it. Exploring a desolate Opera House would still be cool, but ominous buddies appearing out of nowhere does seem to amp the tension quite a bit, and I appreciate that.

Thank you all for the comments! I'm going to try and keep this review thread chugging along and avoid any more two-month breaks.
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Old 20-04-16, 23:59   #54
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I agree with tomekkobialka that the most notable thing about the level is the creepy atmosphere, it's not just that it's dark, it's that this is exactly the sort of place you can imagine being haunted. In fact decaying places like this whose former splendour is still discernible and yet irretrievably lost are akin to ghosts I think.

The traps are also fitting for the setting, falling sandbags are a classic murder weapon in lots of stories set in theatres.

Overall I agree with the 8.5 rating, it is an original and well executed level but at the same time not flawless.
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Old 21-04-16, 00:14   #55
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Yay you're back.

Opera House bugs me a little, cause it kind of felt like a drag for some reason, even compare to later levels. Maybe the backtracking felt particularly annoying in some spots of this level or it didn't suck me in as much as I had hoped. Wasn't a fan of the super thug at the end either.

Still through it was a very beautiful place, especially the main room. Beside that room, I think I enjoyed going through the vents around the dressing room.

And looking forward to your reviews of the offshore rig levels. They were definitely the low point of this game.

Last edited by WolfRaider; 21-04-16 at 00:17.
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Old 21-04-16, 00:39   #56
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Oh yeah, I forgot about the dressing room/vents area, that's easily one of my favorite parts of the level.

I started playing Offshore Rig tonight. Good Lord, what a mess of a level... I think it's worse than I remember it being, actually. *sigh* The good news is that Diving Area is better (I think...?), and after that we get to the juicy Maria Doria levels, which are not perfect but were also all ranked within the Top 100 of my rankings list, so there won't be any strictly negative reviews.
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Old 21-04-16, 00:45   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sheepman23 View Post
Oh yeah, I forgot about the dressing room/vents area, that's easily one of my favorite parts of the level.

I started playing Offshore Rig tonight. Good Lord, what a mess of a level... I think it's worse than I remember it being, actually. *sigh* The good news is that Diving Area is better (I think...?), and after that we get to the juicy Maria Doria levels, which are not perfect but were also all ranked within the Top 100 of my rankings list, so there won't be any strictly negative reviews.
Just brace yourself for that loooooooooong ladder again.
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Old 21-04-16, 00:58   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WolfRaider View Post
Just brace yourself for that loooooooooong ladder again.
Oh no... not the... ladder...
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Old 21-04-16, 05:08   #59
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THE RIG
Level 5 - "Offshore Rig"



Lara is doing the perfect impression of me on Saturday morning with a hangover.

Okay, I'm Not Even Going to Hold Back Here

Let's get this out of the way...

Offshore Rig is a bad level.

It's a bad level, folks, and it never should have been made. Diving Area should have been the lone rig level, and even still I might have just preferred it if we had hitched a ride on a submarine in the Venetian harbor and went straight into the depths of the Mediterranean Sea from there. Later on we'll establish that Lara has superhuman lungs anyway, so why not accentuate that point and let her hitch a ride across an even further stretch of sea?

It really does not matter, I just want this level gone, because it is a wrench in an otherwise A+ game.


Same.

But Sheep, There's Got to Be Something Good About It... Right?

No. There isn't.

First of all, let's talk about this level's color palette. Good Lord it is ugly. You know what's worse than just having solid gray for everything? Having solid gray intermixed with lots of ugly tans, and Offshore Rig somehow manages to pull that feat off with flying colors. (Or a lack of flying colors in this case.) Really though, who designed these walls? Who actually thought that anyone would enjoy staring at the most putrid color scheme in the history of this series? Because with the exception of a few areas of Underworld, Offshore Rig and Diving Area are hands-down the ugliest parts of any TR game.

Now, the obvious retort to this criticism is the fact that this is an industrial setting and it is not designed to look pretty. You're right about that, but at the same time, take a look at the High Security Compound or VCI Tech level sets. Those are industrial-type levels, and they are way more diverse in color schemes than the Offshore Rig is. With a heavier emphasis on yellow or blue, the rig levels could also have been much more pleasant on the eyes.



Ugh. That is just so ugly.

But obviously there's more to a level than just the way it looks, right? Surely Offshore Rig doesn't screw up core Tomb Raider gameplay... right?

Well, let's talk about this level's opening sequence, where Lara retrieves her guns. You first have to escape your prison cell in one of the cheesiest prison breaks I have ever seen in a video game; there is literally a switch inside of your cell that is blocked off by a box. That's it. Remove the box and clear yourself a pathway to the door, and you're golden. They couldn't have even put in a ventilation shaft... or that laser from TR3... or, anything else that would have added a little credibility to this scenario. Nope, these Mafia goons locked Lara up in a cell that actually has its very own door-opening switch. Genius.

As if that weren't enough, the process of retrieving Lara's pistols takes a grand total of two minutes. Remember in Natla's Mines, where we ran around for a long time feeling vulnerable and trying to work our way into that cabin? Or Tomb Raider III's High Security Compound, which rewarded players for being stealthy until you finally secured your pistols at the end? It was so satisfying in both of those stages to finally reach your goal after over half a level's worth of running around unprotected. Here, the collection of the pistols is so quick that it just feels cheap and tacked on.


Lara finds some alcohol in the crew's quarters and takes a much-needed break from this atrocious level.

We're Not Done

That's right. Sit down, innocent forum-goer, we're not finished with this rant yet.

Whoever designed the Offshore Rig absolutely loved finding ways to irritate the average gamer, because this level is chock full of annoyances. Do you enjoy never-ending, obnoxiously loud alarm bells? Do you enjoy an overabundance of ladders and block-pushing "puzzles"? Do you enjoy goons at every step? Do you enjoy a forced health loss from a gunman that does not animate until you grab onto a ledge? Do you enjoy having to wait five extra seconds to open a wheel-locked door? (Yes, that's a nitpick, but I feel like that's warranted at this point.) If you said yes to all of these things, then you probably love Offshore Rig. Although if you love Offshore Rig then you have probably already stopped reading this review by now since I have done nothing but explain why this is such a bad level.

Alright, let's take a breather and enjoy a screenshot:



... a screenshot that illustrates my final problem with this level, that is. Two out of the three secrets here are insultingly easy to find and obtain. That's not terribly uncommon for TR levels, of course, but when a level is already as severely lacking as Offshore Rig is, having a nice secret or two helps - and this level does not have any that are imaginative.

Okay, I Need to Apologize

And no, I'm not apologizing for any of the negative stuff I said about Offshore Rig, because that's still all true.

However, I am apologizing for telling a lie earlier, because there is one minor thing that I do like about this level... and this is ultimately what saves this level from falling to a 0 or 1 rating.

I like the huge underwater area in the final catwalk room. It's an ugly room, don't get me wrong, but it's large and expansive - and perfect for fighting frogmen with the harpoon gun. I have a soft spot for this weapon, and I will savor every opportunity that I have to use it in either TR2 or TR3 since those opportunities are few and far between. Most of the time it is impractical to use the harpoon gun since it doesn't excel in tight, cramped underwater passages, but in this big underwater expanse, it's actually a lot of fun to pick off the two scuba divers that are in the pool. So, um, good job Offshore Rig, that's one minor thing I don't hate about you!

And... yeah, that's all I got folks.


Lara sobers up in the dunk tank, and just in time for the end of the level!

I'm not even going to bother posting a set of pros and cons, because I think it was pretty well spelled out in the review why I think Offshore Rig is terrible.


3/10


...

*releases breath*

Phew, we made it through that one gang! Don't worry, I promise things will be more upbeat during the Diving Area review. Well... kinda. Ironically, this level has two things that are actually 10 times worse than anything from Offshore Rig, yet it is still a better level, as we will see.


1. The Great Wall (9/10)
2. The Opera House (8.5/10)
3. Bartoli's Hideout (8/10)
4. Venice (7/10)
5. Offshore Rig (3/10)

Last edited by sheepman23; 21-04-16 at 05:11.
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Old 21-04-16, 05:54   #60
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There it is!!! D:

Yeeeeeah this level lol. I especially agree with the colors. I said Opera House felt bit of a drag, but then Offshore Rig cames in and turns that up even more cause the section just looks so dull alone. That big room with all the catwalks did had its moments through.

I am not sure if Diving Area was that much better (includes that... ladder), but maybe part of it was just already being sick of the section and wanting to get to the Maria Doria already, so it being alone probably wouldn't have been as bad.

Last edited by WolfRaider; 21-04-16 at 05:55.
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