www.tombraiderforums.com  

Go Back   www.tombraiderforums.com > Tomb Raider Series > Tomb Raider II

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 13-06-16, 15:13   #181
WolfRaider
Archaeologist
 
WolfRaider's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Somewhere I guess
Posts: 1,179
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by sheepman23 View Post
I'm pretty sure that was a joke...

@ trfan16: Thank you, I was happy with the screens I got for this level; of course, it really helps that Ice Palace is so beautiful in general. If there is one thing that TR2 tends to excel at, it's creating appealing environments that are very screenshot-able. I also like your comparisons to Egypt for CotT and The Ice Palace, I think that they are quite similar in several aspects.
Sshhhhhhhh.

Anyway Ice Palace. The bell puzzle is honestly one of my favorite puzzles in the game, and maybe the series overall too. It was sooooooo fun being launched from the springboards and had to do some flips and such to shoot the bells. Springboards were a interesting addition, through quite deadly if not careful lol, but I glad they didn't over did it with them either. The opening area was pretty darn good overall.

But yeah sadly the level suffers a bit for being what felt like the last third of a originally single level with both this and the catacombs. Still it a great level with great combat encounters, even through the last fight did feel kind of underwhelming.

Last edited by WolfRaider; 13-06-16 at 15:16.
WolfRaider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-06-16, 15:16   #182
kacpy
Explorer
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 505
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenapple968 View Post
I don't consider Temple Of Xian to be the absolute worst level in the entire TR Series but I'd definitely have it down as one of the worst five, and certainly I think it's the worst level in TR2.

But at the end of the day, all I am is a human being with an opinion.
Amen. I mean, I'm replaying TR3 right now and so far so boring and uninspired (compared to replaying TR/TR2 just before)... Hope I don't have to hide from the mob. ;p

Edit: I quite enjoyed most of the Antarctica set. It didn't really feel like a climax though (maybe because the 4 sections before didn't really build up to anything, either).

Last edited by kacpy; 15-06-16 at 10:50.
kacpy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-06-16, 18:25   #183
Greenapple968
Relic Hunter
 
Greenapple968's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Barkhang Monastery
Posts: 8,543
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by sheepman23 View Post
I'm pretty sure that was a joke...
Oh. Then I'm still trying to find a fellow Temple Of Xian hater.

In all seriousness, I do have a condition where I do struggle to identify jokes/sarcasm. Especially written jokes/sarcasm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kacpy View Post
Amen. I mean, I'm replaying TR3 right now and so far so boring and uninspired (compared to replaying TR/TR2 just before)... Hope I don't have to hide from the mob. ;p
I like TR3 but I'm not going to attack you for having an opinion.

If the mob do try to attack then you can hide behind me, providing you find me a Martial Arts Expert who I can hide behind.
__________________
It only takes one person to be right.
Greenapple968 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-06-16, 01:50   #184
sheepman23
Relic Hunter
 
sheepman23's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Iowa
Posts: 8,668
Default

CHINA
Level 15 - "Temple of Xian"




Atmosphere: half of the experience

It would be fairly easy for me to write a few paragraphs explaining my absolute admiration for Temple of Xian and all that it represents in the grand scheme of this series, and then to move on briskly to the next review. I could do a big list of ToX's numerous pros, and probably would not even need to bother with a list of cons since there are little to none here. I could even simply post all of the screenshots that I took of this level for the hour and 15 minutes that I spent on it, an average time that I believe is one of the longest in the first three games.

Indeed, a lot of you already know why this level is amazing; my intense underlining of that fact is not going to change anything.

However, I want to use Temple of Xian to talk about something that I have not really delved into yet in Tomb Raider II, and that is atmosphere. Folks, if there was ever a level of the original trilogy that absolutely killed it in terms of an atmosphere, it's Temple of Xian, and I actually do not think it's even close. The only contender might be this level's successor, actually, since it employs the same ambient track. Speaking of that track, is there really anything more unnerving over the course of this series? It was such a good ambient sound that designers even reused it in the Lost City of Tinnos of TR3, another gem of a level. But it's my opinion that the atmosphere of this level and the two that follow it is absolutely untouched by anything else in this series. Indeed, you'll find me singing praises about the hauntingly beautiful City of Vilcabamba or the dark, ominous droning sounds inside of the Aldwych train station, but Temple of Xian is the king of atmosphere, and a lot of it is due to that wondrous track.


Lara of the House Croft, Protector of the Realm, Mother of Dragons, etc...

Of course, ambiance is just part of the reason why the atmosphere impresses so much here. Temple of Xian oozes with an essence of discomfort and dread in a way that few other Tomb Raider levels have ever managed to do. This level's color scheme heavily features red in a lot of different shades - everything from bright red and magenta to the color of blood is on display. Prop and object placement is perfect here as well, with the bones of dead travelers invoking a sense of helplessness along every step of the way. Occasional torches give some sense of hope, but that is always almost immediately overturned by a surprise trap or enemy. This level also has a lot of larger objects, such as the three dragon's heads that you witness at various points, or that wonderfully evil giant spider egg sac that still gives me chills to this day...

In addition to its brilliant ambiance and appearance, Temple of Xian is also the best level in the game in terms of music track placement. I did not count how many music triggers there are in this level, but it was a very high number; the designers did not shy away from putting in musical interjections whenever they felt like it, and the result is a level that feels like it is responding to Lara's every heartbeat, startling, and sense of wonder. Take the aforementioned spider cave, for example. Upon entrance to the first cave, a mysterious tune plays to amp up the importance of the cave, and then when the first gargantuan arachnid falls from the ceiling, a jump-scare track pops up. Although it may not be obvious to the player, such interjections are really important for crafting an experience like the one inside of Temple of Xian, and it is more evident here than I think it ever has been.





Temple of Xian: The Most Pointless Yet Necessary Adventure Ever

You know what the best part of this level is? It's not the spine-tingling atmosphere, the sheer difficulty and fun of the trap abundance, or the absolutely jaw-dropping moments like the spider cavern. All of those things are amazing, of course, but ToX is so much more concerned with the whole. No, the best part of this level is the idea of it being a massive purgatory for travelers who try and touch the Dagger of Xian. Not only is it a purgatory, but it's a hellish one in every sense of the word. Lara first falls upon three different slopes, a water pool, and then is carried over a waterfall into yet another pool until she comes to a complete stop; at this point, the raider looks back up to where they came from and realizes that it's going to be a long, long journey back to the top.

However, Temple of Xian is made even more harrowing by its insistence on tricking the player into thinking that they're getting so close to escape, only to find out that there is another massive gauntlet or room to pass by. Indeed, the gates by the level's big water pool look like they are supposed to start leading Lara back up to the top... instead, we wind up in a cave alongside eight-legged monstrosities. Then we get a silver key, and travel across a few bridges; at this point, we're finally making progress, but not before having to endure yet another massive chamber. It truly is amazing how hard this temple seems to be trying to chew up and spit out its victims... yet Lara remains standing and finds passage into the penultimate stage of the journey.



This idea of trying to be chewed up and spit out by the temple drives this level's absolutely maddening style of gameplay, one where juicy traps are the fuel of the experience instead of puzzles (like Barkhang Monastery). With the exception of the spider cavern (more on that later), ToX is undeniably a level that is obsessed with traps, and every type of trap imaginable. There's everything here: bloodied spikes, inertia-defying swinging bags, boulders, toxic blood pits, slashing blades, spiked walls, and a host of other rigorous traps that I cannot recall at the moment. This is the first level in the game since The Great Wall to put enemies on a back seat and instead focus on a style of gameplay that will make future levels like Temple Ruins (TR3) and Tomb of Semerkhet (TR4) the huge successes that they were.

Of course, such an absolutely one-dimensional style of gameplay is often where Temple of Xian gets the brunt of its criticism. At some point, this level's harrowing gauntlets can almost seem to be a little too much... and while I can understand such a mindset, I do think that such exhaustion is necessary in crafting the utter hopelessness that Temple of Xian instills in its trespasser. While it is true that this level could probably have benefited from a real puzzle about halfway through - something that would have propelled this level into a stardom that even my other favorites of the series could not have matched - I still believe that Temple of Xian gains its own "brand" by being the cold-blooded, unforgiving gauntlet that it is.


Kill it with ****ing fire.

Temple of Xian: An Arachnophobe's Worst Nightmare

I could write a book about why Temple of Xian is so stellar, but instead I'm going to wrap up the main body of this review by talking about one of the most renowned parts of this level - the spider cavern.

I'm arachnophobic, for starters, and this section of the level actually made me quit the game when I first played it back in... I don't know, 2004 or whatever. I tensed up when the first giant spider appeared and never tried to complete the rest of the level; instead, I discovered the massive ToX shortcut and just restarted the level and did that instead. (Thank God that thing exists, by the way. ) The second time I tried it I had to do it with a friend, but I made it, and one more time and I could do it by myself. It still freaks me out to this day, and I still struggle to get past those first few spiders that are so hard to avoid, but my genuine fear towards this section has helped me appreciate the utter brilliance of it.

As mentioned earlier, Temple of Xian is a level that never ceases its uses of traps... except for this moment. The spider cavern is surprisingly trap-free in a level that basks in them. This allows the atmosphere and phenomenal creepiness factor of the giant spiders to shine here. While there is no threat of a surprise booby trap, there is the threat of a surprise killer arachnid right in front of you, and that is an entirely different feeling altogether. Congrats ToX, you officially came up with the only game-breaking moment I've ever witnessed in all the games I have played... and that includes the giant spiders from Underworld, which are significantly less frightening.


Marco is devastated to realized that he aimed poorly and missed the heart...

After all of the madness before it, Temple of Xian chooses to end on one of the few cutscenes that this game has. I've always said it, but if Tomb Raider II had simply had a few more cutscenes and not felt so rushed story-wise, it would have been one of the best stories in the series. Here, we see Marco Bartoli plunging the Dagger into his heart, a decidedly reckless moment where he reveals his massive power hunger. Unfortunately, there is little prelude to this moment other than "he's a villain that wants to unlock the Dagger's full powers" - Natla was a lot more complex of a character than this.

Still, it's a horrifying scene to top of a pretty damned creepy level...

Conclusion

Yeah, there's really not much to say here that hasn't been said. Even if Temple of Xian did have minor problems - which it doesn't - that would not spoil the insurmountable atmosphere that the level portrays. Temple of Xian righteously earns its spot within my Top 3 Tomb Raider levels of all time, and it does so by crafting an experience that no other level of the series can really do.

Rating - 10/10


Current Level Rankings
1. Temple of Xian (10/10)
2. Barkhang Monastery (10/10)
3. 40 Fathoms (9.5/10)
4. Catacombs of the Talion (9.5/10)
5. The Great Wall (9/10)
6. The Deck (9/10)
7. Tibetan Foothills (9/10)
8. Wreck of the Maria Doria (8.5/10)
9. The Opera House (8.5/10)
10. Bartoli's Hideout (8/10)
11. The Ice Palace (8/10)
12. Venice (7/10)
13. Living Quarters (6.5/10)
14. Diving Area (5/10)
15. Offshore Rig (3/10)

Last edited by sheepman23; 16-06-16 at 01:52.
sheepman23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-06-16, 04:04   #185
trfan16
Archaeologist
 
trfan16's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Maryland
Posts: 1,519
Default

You don't know how long I've been waiting to read your review for Temple of Xian! I could write a novel on why I love this level so much, but I will keep it short for this post. For the record, Temple of Xian is my favorite level in the entire series and I don't think anything will change!

I first want to start off with the level design and atmosphere. This is by far the most intriguing level design in the whole series. I love how we encounter a wide variety of scenery. None of the rooms of this level look identical at all. I enjoy the decorations the most about this level. They really add to the ambiance of this level. We have the ancient Chinese artwork in the Dagger chamber, patterns of a fierce dragon on the walls, scary dragon faces, etc. Once again, I think your screenshots perfectly capture my point about how the scenery is different in the different rooms of the level. I can't even pick a favorite location because they're all so awesome! And the music is a masterpiece in this level for sure. It adds to the eerie and mysterious atmosphere of this level.

My most favorite part of this level is the gauntlet of traps. I can't believe people find this to be a problem? I love the traps from the Classic games, and this level has some of the best in the series! I am glad that they didn't focus on gun fighting either because we really had enough of that in the previous areas. I love the focus on platforming and exploring in this level. It really makes you use your head a lot to get past a lot of the rooms and traps.

Another thing I want to mention about this level is how complex it is. There are a lot of keys you need to collect, and they usually you don't expect to open. In your review, you mention how one key can open two big doors near the water and makes you feel that you are heading back to the top. Instead, it leads to more corridors filled with traps and puzzles. I love this feeling because it keeps you at the edge of your seat since you don't know what to expect from said doors. They did the same thing in Barkhang Monastery and it was enjoyable then too.

Overall, Temple of Xian is an epic level and one of the best in the series. It's one of those levels that takes everything you experienced earlier in the game and puts it to the test. It can be ruthless at times, but its damn worth it though. It reminds me of Atlantis in TRI and Lost City of Tinnos in TRIII where they're the penultimate levels that put your skills to test. I give this level a 10/10 easily and I really enjoyed this review.
trfan16 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-06-16, 10:18   #186
Tyrannosaurus
Relic Hunter
 
Tyrannosaurus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Hell Creek, Montana, Late Cretaceous
Posts: 6,850
Default

Quote:
After all of the madness before it, Temple of Xian chooses to end on one of the few cutscenes that this game has. I've always said it, but if Tomb Raider II had simply had a few more cutscenes and not felt so rushed story-wise, it would have been one of the best stories in the series. Here, we see Marco Bartoli plunging the Dagger into his heart, a decidedly reckless moment where he reveals his massive power hunger. Unfortunately, there is little prelude to this moment other than "he's a villain that wants to unlock the Dagger's full powers" - Natla was a lot more complex of a character than this.
Bartoli does have some development, but it's mostly in the background, and by the time you reach this part of the game, the player would most likely forget about it. Firstly, we learn about the fanatical devotion he inspires in his followers from the end of the first level, we see the posters for his father Gianni in the abandoned Opera House, we listen to a conversation between him and Fabio, the pilot, which is brief, but revealing in terms of what we learn about Bartoli's father and his reasons for believing himself destined to seize the dagger. We also overhear his interrogation of the monk in the diving area and learn from this monk that the feud between the Fiamma Nera cult and the Barkhang monks has gone on for decades, perhaps even centuries. So from the little we see of Bartoli and the little we learn about him, we get the strong sense of an utterly ruthless, and charismatic cult leader who absolutely believes he is fulfilling the footsteps fate has left for him to follow. That's not much, admittedly, but it's there. The newer games would have had you find twenty audio journals laying around in illogical places, and otherwise taken four hours to say what TR2 said in its cumulative fifteen minutes of cutscenes.

What's interesting to me about the plot of TR2 is how Lara is completely peripheral to the central conflict of the story. The game gives one the impression that she is the true interloper here--no one has recruited her to find the artifact and double-cross her later. She is stepping into the hectic fray of an age-old conflict, and so quickly that neither side has plans that even take her into account. At most, Bartoli's playing Xanatos Speed Chess when she shows up, but he'd be perfectly content if she stayed out of the way completely. I doubt he even took her seriously until the incident in the Diving Area.
__________________
By these jaws I rule!

Last edited by Tyrannosaurus; 16-06-16 at 10:28.
Tyrannosaurus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-06-16, 12:21   #187
Greenapple968
Relic Hunter
 
Greenapple968's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Barkhang Monastery
Posts: 8,543
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by sheepman23 View Post
(Temple Of Xian Review)
Your review for Temple Of Xian would be more accurate if you edited your review and replaced it with an image of rotting dog ****; that image would describe Temple Of Xian rather accurately.

In the interest of not getting my head bitten off, I'd like to point out that I am only messing about. I do honestly think very lowly of the level but it would be dumb and arrogant of me to act as if my opinion is any better than anyone else's, which for the record, it most certainly is not.
__________________
It only takes one person to be right.
Greenapple968 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-06-16, 13:22   #188
ESCachuli
Professor
 
ESCachuli's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 2,980
Default

I love how you described ToX but for my taste, I think you focus too much on the spider nest (maybe because of your arachnophobia, which I don't have fortunately), and to me, there are better parts in ToX like the first screen temple, that is stunning, or the part where you have to avoid boulders while jumping on springs...

Still, wonderful analysis. Next level is still my favourite level in the entire series (followed closely by ToX of course), I hope you like Floating Islands as much as I do.
ESCachuli is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-06-16, 19:15   #189
WolfRaider
Archaeologist
 
WolfRaider's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Somewhere I guess
Posts: 1,179
Default

This freaking level. Definitely was oozing with dread and eeriness, and it still holds up to this day. This basically felt like the ultimate tomb raider level, the peak of Tomb Raider 2. It a brutal but wonderful experience.
WolfRaider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-06-16, 20:26   #190
Lara_Fan_33
Relic Hunter
 
Lara_Fan_33's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Canada baby Gender: male
Posts: 5,747
Default

Wow reading your reviews made me super nostalgic Very well written, apart from a couple levels i actually really agree with alot of the points youve made.
nice pictures and captions too You should do a review for TR3 I would definitly read it.

TR2 is my third favourite TR game, after
TR3 and TR1, it just hits the nail on the head in so many aspects, the whole Tibet/China section was incredible. Imagine it all in next gen
__________________
The true detox of evil :*
Lara_Fan_33 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT. The time now is 20:27.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions Inc.