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Old 16-05-16, 22:11   #121
Hiroyuki
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Yes it's hard to get excited about Living Quarters after you've already spent two levels exploring the wreck. It's perfectly logical that it has the same look as the preceding levels as it's all one ship; I think the fact that it now feels boring simply underlines the fact that we have spent too many levels in the interior of the wreck. Fortunately with the Deck we get to go outside the ship so we get a change of scenery.
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Old 16-05-16, 22:19   #122
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Originally Posted by peeves View Post
Well technically living quarters is a fifth level from a set.
Well, if you're going by the load screens then Living Quarters is indeed the third level in the Maria Doria section. Most fans seem to categorize the levels by the load screens, so sheepman23 is correct. This is how I categorize them too.

As for Living Quarters, I feel that this is one of the most forgettable levels in the Classic series. As I mentioned earlier, I totally forgot that this level came after Wreck of the Maria Doria when I replayed TRII a few years back after not playing it for 10+ years. I think most of this is because this level's textures and setting is pretty identical to Wreck of the Maria Doria. The only difference is that you are playing in the "upright" portion of the ship. But despite the repeat setting, I still enjoy the gameplay for this level because it plays exactly like Wreck of the Maria Doria where the level is split between underwater and land exploration.

I agree that the first half of the level was definitely the best. The piston puzzle in the engine room was pretty clever and it tested your jumping abilities. The timed shimmy run with the burners below was also a nice little puzzle. You would think this part of the level would be more dull because of the ugly rusty colors, but it was definitely the highlight of the level. Another pretty cool part is the Jade Dragon secret that is hidden under the breakable tiles. The level takes a turn for the worst though when you start entering the Living Quarters of the ship. The one giant room with the sloped tiles is very frustrating and hideous. The Living Quarters part of the level is okay, but the number of baddies you fight definitely ruins it. I do think the large theater and chairs that look like beds is a memorable part of this level. Despite the criticism you gave this level, I still think you gave it a better score than I expected. I would give it a 6/10 because for being a short and forgettable level. I honestly don't have any love or hate for it.
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Old 17-05-16, 14:44   #123
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Yeah beside the piston puzzle area and giant eel, it did felt quite unmemorable later on in the level. And your talk of shortcuts instantly reminded me of the one that you can simply forward jump onto the vent leading to the exit of the room it was in. I guess there were other ones?

That eel through, oh man. I jumped a freaking mile when that eel came out.

Last edited by WolfRaider; 17-05-16 at 14:48.
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Old 17-05-16, 18:48   #124
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Originally Posted by trfan16 View Post
Well, if you're going by the load screens then Living Quarters is indeed the third level in the Maria Doria section. Most fans seem to categorize the levels by the load screens, so sheepman23 is correct. This is how I categorize them too.
I don't go by the load screens i go by the area. For example opera house is the 3rd level in venice but living quarters is the fifth level in the adriatic sea.
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Old 17-05-16, 22:44   #125
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I have just been reading that the Andrea Doria actually sank in the Atlantic, off New York, and not off Italy! Apparently the wreck is at a depth of 50 metres and really is reachable by divers if they have the right gear. It has been plundered for its treasures but I don't see any reports of the Seraph being found!
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Old 18-05-16, 01:28   #126
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Thanks for the replies everyone, we seem to all agree on the Living Quarters.

@ Hiroyuki: Cool stuff! Would that information happen to be online? I'm interested in taking a look at it if it is.
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Old 18-05-16, 01:52   #127
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It's on wikipedia, so it must be true!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Andrea_Doria
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Old 18-05-16, 03:47   #128
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THE MARIA DORIA
Level 10 - "The Deck"




Confession time: I used to think that this level was highly overrated. I used to believe that, after three levels of drudging through a sunken ocean liner, that The Deck was a boring cherry on top of a section that starts out strong, but then gets old about halfway through. The Deck made it to about #73 on my TR Level Rankings list, which really is not that spectacular in the grand scheme of things - it's not even in the top third.

Oh, how wrong was I...

Sanctuary of the Scion? Pssh.

Yeah yeah yeah, TR1 gets all of the praise for having levels with gargantuan chambers. And to be fair, it deserves a lot of that praise since there are several iconic set pieces in that game. However, it amazes me how much The Deck falls on the wayside when TR fans recall their favorite rooms and locations of the series, because this level's central cavern is honestly a Top 5 chamber. The sight of the massive ship sticking out of the side of this dry cave is so impressive, and so rewarding after three levels of stumbling around the ship's interior.

Which brings me to another point. The Deck is really its own stand-alone level in comparison to the rest of the Maria Doria set. Yes, it maintains the same enemy types and the same location, but the fact that you're on the exterior of the ship gives it a completely different atmosphere than any of the others.


A raft... on a lake... in a cavern... under the sea...



The One Time I Will Praise Humans

That's right dear readers: this is the one and only time that I will actually praise the inclusion of human enemies in this review.

You see, the thing is that the human enemies encountered in the previous three Maria Doria levels - as well as the rig, and most of Venice - were inside of cramped, congested hallways. Fighting gunman after gunman in such close quarters is not fun, especially the umpteenth time. However, The Deck puts a fresh spin on human enemies in two different ways. For starters, this is a very open level, and there is always tons of room to run around and engage in combat. I think I broke out every single weapon type during this playthrough, except for the Grenade Launcher - combat was just a lot of fun here, and that made me want to try different weapons.

Secondly, flamethrowers are back! And this time they've been cleverly inserted into the level to surprise players when they least expect them. While The Deck could have really benefited from even more flamethrowers, I was still happy to see them again, as they represent a more unique type of enemy that is actually fun - and dangerous - to take on, because man do the shotgun-wielding thugs get annoying.


Uzi vs. Flamethrower, Part II


And the winner is!... umm, no one.

The Little Odds and Ends

Alright, time for a bullet point list of other odds and ends I need to talk about with this excursion:
  • This is one level that I would really, really love to see in a remastering of the original trilogy, mainly due to the limitations of draw distance here. It is impossible to see every part of the ship's various decks when facing it any point, but with a current-gen engine, you could do a lot to improve it. That being said, the current inky blackness that you get from a distance does add to the slightly unsettling atmosphere, which is always nice.
  • Forced health losses are bad, and unfortunately, The Deck has two of them. The first one is probably the bigger no-no, as it forces you to lose around 90% of your health to fall onto the raft. Even the drops in Wreck of the Maria Doria weren't that bad.
  • In general, the gameplay here is not too groundbreaking; however, The Deck does not need a whole lot of fancy bells and whistles as far as puzzles go since it gains a lot of its complexity from simply being so huge and open. It is also not particularly straightforward, and it is very possible to miss certain puzzle items that you need to proceed to the next area.


"Why yes, there is a woman on the raft lodging bullets into my rubbery skin, I will keep casually swimming!"


This frogman will be Sleeping With the Fishes... if ya know what I mean.
  • I'm not a huge fan of the connector caves that show up twice in this level. While it makes sense to have hallways connecting two parts of the level together, jumping sequences that are set in bland, blue-washed caverns are not all that fun, and The Deck overuses this concept a little too much.
  • Music tracks and wide camera angles are perfectly placed in this level, and they accentuate big moments very well.

The Conclusion

I'll be perfectly honest: I am very surprised by how much I liked The Deck on this playthrough. I do not remember enjoying it as much on previous runs, but I found this experience to be very pleasant and enjoyable. The Deck gains a lot of points in terms of sheer memorability alone with the massive deck cavern, and that's a huge deal when evaluating Tomb Raider levels in general.

However, this level still shines outside of its enormous cavern. The Deck hits most of the important points that we could ask for in the average level, and it does something really cool by actually alleviating my hatred for human enemies! Yep, this is the one instance where I will not criticize them at all. In fact, I would love them even more if the first three Maria Doria levels had been completely ridden of human enemies, and then this level turned out to be a huge shoot-em-up. It would also make sense plot-wise, as the Maria Doria thugs could be scouring this cavern for the Storage Key instead of hanging out in random places on board the ship...

Still, The Deck is not entirely faultless, and this is mostly due to two nitpicky (yet important) things: the forced health losses and the elongated connecting caves. Without these two, The Deck would probably be a half point higher, but with those two glaring flaws, I simply cannot place it on the highest possible tier. That being said, this is a fantastic experience that should be way more recognized than I believe it currently is by the TR fanbase.

Rating - 9/10




Maria Doria Summary

Well, this is the end of the Maria Doria levelset, and I think this is also the first section of the game that I really want to have an ending discussion on. To be honest, I feel as though my opinions have shifted quite a bit since I last evaluated this set, and I'd like to talk about that before moving on to Tibet.

To the surprise of probably almost all of my readers, 40 Fathoms is actually my favorite level from this set. That probably seems like a strange choice - and to be fair, it certainly is not the first level that people often think of when recalling this section of the game, but I believe that makes me love it even more. 40 Fathoms is quick, consistent, and takes one theme and sticks to it for the entirety of its experience. The flickering lights, the lack of humans for nearly an entire half of the level, and the undersea frogman and shark chases all come together to create a truly memorable and fantastic opener for this set.

I actually did think that the Wreck of the Maria Doria was going to emerge as my second-favorite... but alas, The Deck won me over. You see, the huge difference between The Deck and the Wreck of the Maria Doria is that the former never feels tedious; although there are those annoying connecting caverns, they don't drag on long enough for me to really hate them. On the other hand, WoTMD's human problem persists for the entire level. I also feel that The Deck manages to be a better stand-alone experience than WoTMD does; WoTMD is too similar to both 40 Fathoms and Living Quarters, whereas The Deck really is pretty much its own separate experience in comparison to the rest of the Maria Doria set.

Living Quarters is at the bottom, and I never had any doubts about it being there. It's just an awkwardly placed level in a set that really probably did not even need a fourth level; to be honest, if you took the end of Wreck of the Maria Doria and had Lara emerge out of the water into the final pool of Living Quarters, you would shave off a lot of unnecessary side rooms and chambers and still get the best experiences that the levelset has to offer.

I am actually very happy with how much I enjoyed the Maria Doria levels on this playthrough. I feel like they are slightly shunned in the grand scheme of TR2; Tibet and China are certainly flashier and ultimately higher quality (as we are about to find out ), but the Maria Doria is actually more unique in terms of its overarching idea of being a sunken cruise liner. Snow levels in video games are a dime a dozen, and while Tibet is easily my favorite section of any TR game (oops... spoilers ), the Maria Doria was one of the most ambitious levelsets, and I applaud the designers for trying their hand at this. I believe that it was a success, and I think that three out of four ratings of 8.5/10 or higher exemplify my sentiments on it.


Current Rankings:
1. 40 Fathoms (9.5/10)
2. The Great Wall (9/10)
3. The Deck (9/10)
4. Wreck of the Maria Doria (8.5/10)
5. The Opera House (8.5/10)
6. Bartoli's Hideout (8/10)
7. Venice (7/10)
8. Living Quarters (6.5/10)
9. Diving Area (5/10)
10. Offshore Rig (3/10)

Last edited by sheepman23; 18-05-16 at 03:57.
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Old 18-05-16, 07:52   #129
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It's interesting - my experience with The Deck seems remarkably similar to yours! The first time I played through the level, back in 1997/98, I was 10 or 11 years old, and found the level to be frustrating and not very memorable or fun at all. Then, I played through the entire game again about two years ago, only to find The Deck to be something of a revelation.

I agree, it has a completely different feel from the other Maria Doria levels: there's an eerie feeling of isolation because you're in these gigantic, wide-open caverns with no clear sense of what to do or where to go next, and you get to explore the outside of the ship instead of more of the same cramped corridors and ballrooms that made up much of the earlier Maria Doria levels. That, plus the use of the ghostly, bluish-gray deck textures, adds to the creepiness factor.

I honestly don't mind the forced damage moments (in my opinion, they add to the danger factor, especially if you're running low on medi-packs) and the caves connecting the larger caverns. I agree with you about the human enemies; as much as I despised the flamethrowers in my first playthrough of the level, I now feel like I wouldn't have minded more of them (any excuse to whip out that M-16!). My only real gripe with the level is the fact that there was no boss fight. I remember thinking, the first time around, that there would surely be someone or something guarding the Seraph, but when there wasn't, I was slightly disappointed. That being said, The Deck is not only one of my favorite levels of Tomb Raider II, but it's also one of my all-time favorite levels in the entire series.

Last edited by indigo15; 18-05-16 at 08:01.
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Old 18-05-16, 11:26   #130
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I just remember them being awesome because of the whole upside down thing - especially the ballroom and dining area.

I used to lie upside down so I could see the rooms the 'right side up' and it still looked amazing even then - you could tell what the rooms were meant to represent.
I specifically loved the ending rooms with the glass skylight that is all smashed and falls into the ocean pool (leading to the eel)

I also thought the fact some levels are upside down, and the latter two aren't was cool - the fact the ship had broken into several pieces and fallen at different angles (hence why 40 Fathoms and Maria Doria are upside down, but the Deck remains intact mostly)
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