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Old 23-04-16, 16:49   #81
peeves
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Diving Area is my 2nd favorite level of this game. I really enjoyed the whole level.
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Old 23-04-16, 17:08   #82
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Diving Area is my 2nd favorite level of this game. I really enjoyed the whole level.
COMPLETELY Disagree

The level is just ...
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Old 23-04-16, 22:26   #83
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I think it's interesting though that every level in the game is someone's favourite, as can be seen from the favourite levels poll, so Core really did manage to provide something for all tastes.

If there were levels that no-one ever chose as their favourite then that really would be a genuine fail for that level, but no matter how much most of us hate some levels such as Diving Area, the fact is that Core managed to make a level that someone somewhere really loved and repeated that feat 18 times.
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Old 24-04-16, 04:59   #84
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^^^
You might have a point because IMHO the Maria Doria ( especially the deck ) are the best part
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Old 24-04-16, 15:18   #85
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This will probably be the last review for a week or so. Things are getting busy again...



THE MARIA DORIA
Level 7 - "40 Fathoms"



*cue Jaws theme*

Look at that. So scary. So mysterious. So utterly fantastic.

Guys, I can't contain myself. After what could be considered two of the worst levels in the entire classic TR series, Tomb Raider II regains its footing on one of the most atmospheric, internally intense, and simplistic experiences to ever grace the TR landscape. Folks, to sum it up: 40 Fathoms is an absolute masterpiece, and placing at #55 on my TR Level Rankings list was a horrible injustice. This level deserves Top 30 atleast, if not Top 20 of all time.

Surprised to hear me say this? Yes, it is true. But don't worry, I'll change the hearts and minds of all by the end of this review, and you too will understand why this experience is one of the most grossly underrated ones in the series history.


This shark's ability to squeeze through tight spaces is a little disconcerting...

Deep Sea Claustrophobia

First of all, let's talk about that opening sequence. The first moments of 40 Fathoms have to rank as one of the most panicking, memorable experiences in the all of the TR series. Dropped in the middle of the ocean blue, Lara is faced with inky blackness all around her after the yellow submarine goes out of commission, and the player is forced to swim or die with absolutely no clues as to which way Lara should go. Well, not quite; the boxes and barrels on the ocean floor make a trail to the air pocket, but that's not very obvious your first time, and I can guarantee that most of us probably struggled initially to figure out where the **** you were supposed to go.

Technicalities aside, this opening sequence was a phenomenal way to set the tone for the thematic elements of the Maria Doria level set. 40 Fathoms, along with its three successors, stand alone as one of the most claustrophobia-inducing levelsets in all of Tomb Raider. This section is iconic in a lot of ways, and yet at the same time it can be polarizing due to how much this tight-spaced atmosphere can take its toll on you. If you're claustrophobic, then the Maria Doria is probably not a very pleasant experience for you.

In all honesty, I applaud the designers for doing what they did with these four levels, and even more so what they did with 40 Fathoms. With a grand total of six human enemies (all of which are inserted into the right places) and only a few more underwater fauna to accompany her, Lara is truly alone down here during 40 Fathoms. The ambient track for this level accentuates the pitter-pattering of leaky pipes, as well as Lara's very own heartbeat. It's almost unsettling in a way, and yet it completely fits with the atmosphere that this stage sets forth. Isolation is a huge selling point of 40 Fathoms, and it's something that the other three Maria Doria levels completely miss unfortunately... but more on that later.


Either I'm imagining his head exploding, or this should probably not be a T-rated game.


It's like shooting fish in a... um... wade pool.

The Return of Classic Puzzles

Up til this point, Tomb Raider II has shown a pretty large weakness in its use of puzzles. The rig levels were bad at it, and even the majority of Venice was not all that imaginative. Granted, 40 Fathoms does not do anything all that groundbreaking, but it is chock full of little trials and tests that bring me back to the sort of things we did in the original game.

Halfway through the level we're treated to the game's third burner hallway (yep, I'm keeping count ), except this one is not so easily solved. Yes, there is a foolish brute-force method that allows you to run through the hall while set alight, open the door at the end, and then cool yourself off in the pool, but that's dumb and you should feel dumb for doing it unless you're speedrunning. No, the real puzzle of this area involves a couple of different timed runs with switches at various points in this network of hallways. What makes these timed runs more challenging than usual is the placement of metal barriers on the floor that are purposefully inserted to try and impede Lara's progress. Turn the corner wrong and jump too late, and you can potentially ruin your chances at successfully making it across the hallway.

This part is so much fun. The lighting is appropriately ominous and shadowy; there is a camera shot of hungry sharks and barracudas when you walk by the circular portals; there is even a Jade Dragon secret tucked in here for good measure, and this one is particularly cool since you can view the secret from the portals, yet access to it is slightly difficult to figure out due to the easy-to-miss switch. While we're on the subject of secrets, 40 Fathoms has brilliant placement of its dragons. While two of them are in plain sight, the silver dragon is booby-trapped with the double trapdoors and the gold dragon prompts the release of a few surprise barracudas. I love stuff like that.


Nevermind the fact that these burners have somehow been running for decades...
Lara's feet should totally disintegrate into ashes right now.


The burner hallway is the most iconic puzzle of 40 Fathoms, but that doesn't mean there aren't other good parts too. The movement of the huge coal piles near the level's end is particularly good; very simple in design, of course, but that's not all bad. 40 Fathoms is already a level that is relatively linear in structure, so it would feel odd to have this area become too dispersed. The little touch of the rumbling and shaking when Lara releases one pile of rubble is great, and I'm also a big fan of the ensuing frogman encounter here. (What can I say, I love me some good harpoon gun action. )

If there is one gripe that I do have with 40 Fathoms, it's the very final room of this level. I hate forced health losses, and pulling up out of a small water hole to be greeted by a shotgun-toting Mafia thug is not very fun. Yes, it is possible to time it correctly and completely avoid any damage, but it is also pretty much impossible to get any sort of hint on that timing. As a result, it feels like a bit of a cheat.


When water polo gets dirty.

Still, that minor grievance is not near enough to detract from the love that I have for this level. 40 Fathoms is tragically underrated; even I have overlooked it in the past in favor of Wreck of the Maria Doria, which is probably the most popular level of this section. We'll explore that in the next review, of course...

Summary time:

Pros:
+ Phenomenal atmosphere
+ Simplistic and polished structure
+ Opening sequence is one of the best in the series
+ Minimal human enemies
+ Great secrets
+ Awesome puzzles and gameplay in general
+ Not repetitive or boring in the slightest

Cons:
- The last two enemies are very frustrating and unnecessary

I love 40 Fathoms so much, and I'm honestly surprised by that. While my heart really wants me to give this level a 10/10, however, I'm not sure if it truly competes with the series' best of the best. It comes pretty damned close, though.

9.5/10


Current Rankings:
1. 40 Fathoms (9.5/10)
2. The Great Wall (9/10)
3. The Opera House (8.5/10)
4. Bartoli's Hideout (8/10)
5. Venice (7/10)
6. Diving Area (5/10)
7. Offshore Rig (3/10)
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Old 24-04-16, 16:53   #86
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I think 40 fathoms is the worst of the Maria Doria
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Old 24-04-16, 17:53   #87
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^Eh think that goes to Living Quarters. Still a good level, but didn't really stand out compare to the other three (through it had that giant eel!)

Anyway aaaaah Maria Doria, what a remarkable section, and basically a huge underwater tomb. 40 Fathoms is definitely a strong opening to the section, and man is the atmosphere so great. The ambient track with the heartbeat and all really helps make it that great as you start to explore the remains of this ship. I might still like Wreck of the Maria Doria a little better, but you do bring up a good point, 40 Fathoms did have the least amount of human enemies out of the four and it kind of too bad that they didn't push the isolation some more in spots of this section.

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Old 24-04-16, 18:44   #88
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40 Fathoms is an interesting level because it's a hard level to enjoy at first. This is the first real level in the series that focuses heavily on the swimming mechanic. You did have Cistern in TR1, but there weren't many areas where you had to worry about running out of breath. In 40 Fathoms, the whole level revolves around underwater exploration. I loved how Core through the players to the sharks at the very beginning of the level. Here you are alone in the shark infested dark waters ad need to find air as quickly as possible. It feels like you are helpless at first, but once you figure out what to do it makes total sense.

The majority of the level revolves around Lara finding her around the ship wreck, where her main threat is the water. I never noticed that there were such few human enemies in this level. And here I am about to make another comment about how another level is ruined with so many human enemies. What we get instead though are more marine life enemies like sharks and barracudas. I know the whole Maria Doria section tries to focus on combat with the Harpoon Gun, but the gun just flat out sucks and has no usability at all. Although the gun is nowhere as bad as the TR3 version of the Harpoon Gun. I could never for the life of me use that version of the gun in TR3 or Lost Artifact. Thankfully, the Harpoon is really not necessary in any games in order to complete them.

Two things stick out for me from this level aside from the main focus being underwater exploration. The first one being the timed burner hallway puzzle. I know timer puzzles aren't popular in the TR series, but I think this is one of the few enjoyable ones. Mainly because it requires you to complete it in a certain sequence to perfect it. And the puzzle gives you enough time where you don't have to spend all day trying to master. Definitely no where as frustrating as... the timed doors in Aldwych. The second part that sticks out is the room was all the rubble. I thought it was another nice little puzzle room where you had to figure out where to find all the switches to release the rubble. I like the noise it makes when you open the trapdoor and let all the debris out.

Overall, I think that 40 Fathoms is a beautiful introduction to one of my most favorite locations in the series. It was a nice change of pace after all the industrial setting in the Offshore Rig levels. Furthermore, I loved how the level focused mainly on underwater exploration as the main gameplay mechanic. I admit that Wreck of the Maria Doria and the Deck are the stronger levels in this area. This level is fantastic too. Which is why I give it a 9/10 for me.
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Old 24-04-16, 18:59   #89
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Originally Posted by trfan16 View Post
40 Fathoms is an interesting level because it's a hard level to enjoy at first. This is the first real level in the series that focuses heavily on the swimming mechanic. You did have Cistern in TR1, but there weren't many areas where you had to worry about running out of breath. In 40 Fathoms, the whole level revolves around underwater exploration. I loved how Core through the players to the sharks at the very beginning of the level. Here you are alone in the shark infested dark waters ad need to find air as quickly as possible. It feels like you are helpless at first, but once you figure out what to do it makes total sense.

The majority of the level revolves around Lara finding her around the ship wreck, where her main threat is the water. I never noticed that there were such few human enemies in this level. And here I am about to make another comment about how another level is ruined with so many human enemies. What we get instead though are more marine life enemies like sharks and barracudas. I know the whole Maria Doria section tries to focus on combat with the Harpoon Gun, but the gun just flat out sucks and has no usability at all. Although the gun is nowhere as bad as the TR3 version of the Harpoon Gun. I could never for the life of me use that version of the gun in TR3 or Lost Artifact. Thankfully, the Harpoon is really not necessary in any games in order to complete them.

Two things stick out for me from this level aside from the main focus being underwater exploration. The first one being the timed burner hallway puzzle. I know timer puzzles aren't popular in the TR series, but I think this is one of the few enjoyable ones. Mainly because it requires you to complete it in a certain sequence to perfect it. And the puzzle gives you enough time where you don't have to spend all day trying to master. Definitely no where as frustrating as... the timed doors in Aldwych. The second part that sticks out is the room was all the rubble. I thought it was another nice little puzzle room where you had to figure out where to find all the switches to release the rubble. I like the noise it makes when you open the trapdoor and let all the debris out.

Overall, I think that 40 Fathoms is a beautiful introduction to one of my most favorite locations in the series. It was a nice change of pace after all the industrial setting in the Offshore Rig levels. Furthermore, I loved how the level focused mainly on underwater exploration as the main gameplay mechanic. I admit that Wreck of the Maria Doria and the Deck are the stronger levels in this area. This level is fantastic too. Which is why I give it a 9/10 for me.

Do you always talk that much ???

Im not being Sarcastic .... but if i wanna think and write of something "that" big... i would atleast take an hour....
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Old 24-04-16, 19:40   #90
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tombraiderplay View Post
Do you always talk that much ???

Im not being Sarcastic .... but if i wanna think and write of something "that" big... i would atleast take an hour....
Do you like being brutally honest about everything? Although I do agree tht I should probably cut back though since this is sheepman's threads and I don't want to come off as if I am writing my own reviews. I am sorry if it looks like I am hijacking his topic because that is not my intention at all. It's just that I really enjoy talking about the Classic games which is why I tend to write so much. I promise that my future feedback will only be a paragraph long. Anyways, it definitely does not take me an hour to write those reviews. I would say it takes 15-20 minutes tops.

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