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Old 01-02-24, 20:26   #1
Sat42
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Arrow Lud's Gate is in a stream!

Awright, now that I have your undivided attention

Sometimes an aspect of a game (be it the general gameplay, graphics, or a specific character, map, plot point, etc.) leads to an unanimous response for how good or poor it is on release (e.g.: Deus Ex's gameplay, Rise of the Robots' gameplay, DOOM 3's graphics, Bubsy 3D's graphics, Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite, the Adoring Fan in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Facing Worlds in Unreal Tournament, Acme Station + Post Naval Trauma in Marathon Infinity, the plot twist in Gemini Rue, the plot twist in Fahrenheit, etc.).

Some things are more ambiguous. Then there's perceptions within fandom.

It's funny how fandom can eventually assign specific "reputations" to various aspects of a game even if, when removed from the fandom, one may simply experience such aspects very differently.

When I started reading the forums here, one of the first things I remember being "news" to me is how controversial Lud's Gate appears to be.

From my first playthrough of Tomb Raider III, I remember it being a very good level, so pretty much on a par with your average TR3 map. I remember how long and challenging it is (nothing new for the game), the fact that you have to choose between two distinct paths (again nothing new for the game but still notable as only one path will allow you to complete the "side quest"), the unique presence of the underwater propulsion vehicle (UPV), a fully grown Sphinx monument inside a museum, and generally a diverse mix of environments to the point of abstraction (somewhat confusing). Oh, and an instance of bad use of the "Beauty Unfurled" track (inside an elevator shaft!).

I LOL'd when I read someone's signature stating "Persecution to all non Lud's Gate believers may God's wrath fall upon you sinners". Besides the banter, the impression one gets is there's little middle ground, when to me it was pretty much par for the course in TR3. It's more interesting than average TR3 in gameplay terms if only because of the addition of a new vehicle, but it's less memorable than average TR3 in aesthetic terms because of the disjointed mashup of different themes (even if some areas still manage to convey a strong sense of place).

It's because of the UPV section, isn't it? The somewhat perfectible vehicular gameplay combined with an underwater maze?
That's actually the more unique element of the level and why it still is memorable in spite of the nonsensical layout.

Its divisive reputation could also be the result of unfortunately following up Aldwych with yet another long and gruelling enterprise of a level...
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Old 02-02-24, 12:25   #2
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I have always thought Lud's gate is set inside an aqueduct or a sewer.

And yes Lud's gate is one of my top favorite Tomb Raider levels!

Last edited by JsotoTRSaga; 02-02-24 at 12:28.
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Old 02-02-24, 13:16   #3
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Originally Posted by JsotoTRSaga View Post
I have always thought Lud's gate is set inside an aqueduct or a sewer.

And yes Lud's gate is one of my top favorite Tomb Raider levels!
Interesting seems I wasn't too far off with that thread title eh? :P

Also I feel that side quest I barely mentioned in the OP needs to be highlighted: that was the first time there was an "official" side quest in a Tomb Raider game, it's not just "find the optional secrets" or some self imposed challenge but actually a plot point (however minor it is). Retrieving the embalming fluid doesn't lead to anything beyond the satisfaction of having helped the Damned in a "role play" sense (though I suppose going straight for the alternative path will make you miss some secrets, which means bye-bye for the bonus level), which feels like a missed opportunity for extra storytelling, but it was the first baby step towards having optional objectives (clearly experimental since you do not encounter this sort of thing again in the original pentalogy; the closest we get would be the optional conversations with Jean-Yves in Alexandria - but they don't lead to new objectives).
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Old 02-02-24, 20:10   #4
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I thought it was in an underground sewer system as well, where all the mutant baddies love to stay

From a modders point of view, you can use the UPV as a flying vehicle.

You just move the UPV onto the ground and Lara can climb on and fly (using TR fexinspect to move UPV Location).

One downside is if she flies over water, she is then sucked down into the water. (no idea why that happens). Another downside is that if you dismount from the UPV, you must lay the vehicle flat on the ground, otherwise Lara cannot get back on.

Here she is flying in Lud's gate...(the UPV can also be used in other levels and even in other classic TR games, as long as you also transfer the Lara UPV animations).


Last edited by perryloo; 02-02-24 at 20:19.
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Old 02-02-24, 21:27   #5
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*Casually demonstrates how to fly using the UPV*
That's just... you're making a case for Lud's Gate being in a dream!

It goes to show how they'd basically hack in these things (can you get the snowmobile to work underwater if you place it there to begin with, and it blows up if you try to move into another medium?).

How can the vehicle work in say the original Tomb Raider, which didn't even have vehicular gameplay? Surely it's not just animation files? I've never gone into modding for the TR games but I'd have thought you'd have a class for vehicles, or a special game type - unless they just dumped all the gameplay code into the animation files, lolwut?

Thanks for the new perspective
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Old 03-02-24, 05:30   #6
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That's just... you're making a case for Lud's Gate being in a dream!
I cannot claim to be the first to know about the UPV being used as a flying craft. There has been many old threads on the subject on here mentioned by other modders, and there are videos around showing it in action.

As for using other vehicles in strange locations using TR fexmerger to move them into different levels and TR fexinspect to get location, the results can turn out funny and crazy

You have to remember that Lara has to be in a certain position to get in or on the vehicle, so an underwater snowmobile would not work as Lara would be swimming so could not get on it.

I have tried some other crazy ideas, like a TR2 speedboat on dry land, so when Lara climbs into the speedboat it goes backwards in one direction till it hits an obstacle like a wall

Hence experimenting with vehicles can be fun, and give some unexpected results.
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Old 03-02-24, 17:46   #7
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Originally Posted by perryloo View Post
I cannot claim to be the first to know about the UPV being used as a flying craft. There has been many old threads on the subject on here mentioned by other modders, and there are videos around showing it in action.

As for using other vehicles in strange locations using TR fexmerger to move them into different levels and TR fexinspect to get location, the results can turn out funny and crazy

You have to remember that Lara has to be in a certain position to get in or on the vehicle, so an underwater snowmobile would not work as Lara would be swimming so could not get on it.

I have tried some other crazy ideas, like a TR2 speedboat on dry land, so when Lara climbs into the speedboat it goes backwards in one direction till it hits an obstacle like a wall

Hence experimenting with vehicles can be fun, and give some unexpected results.
Cool Just a thought: at the start of Bartoli's Hideout Lara is already ON the speedboat. Could this not be done with other vehicles? Then you could have her start on the underwater snowmobile LOL
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Old 05-02-24, 11:20   #8
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I think one of the main issues people have with Lud's Gate is that it drags tremendously. Just when you think you're over the worst hump of it, a whole new area unlocks. And then when you think you don't have to do anymore damn swimming, you do in fact need to do even more. And then when you think you don't need to backtrack down that long water shaft again with the UPV, you do. It just goes on for too long.

However, when I replayed TR3 the last time (probably about 2 years ago), I had the thought that it would've been great as the unlockable bonus level.

There is a popular theory (although I don't know if it has ever been 100% substantiated) that All Hallows was meant to be part of the main London line-up, making London one of the longest sections. It would've slotted in between Thames Warf and Aldwych, which makes sense since at the end of the former she jumps down a bell tower, and at the start of the latter she starts off in sewers.

I've thought that, maybe, if All Hallows had remained as part of the main game, Lud's Gate could've been removed. With some minor tweaks, this might've made London feel less like a drag, and less intimidating. So, after Thames Warf she ends up in the All Hallows church, where she finds floating corpses of Sophia's experiments in the sewers. Perhaps she meets the Damned here or in Aldwych, and then Aldwych leads her to Sophia's offices. It's not perfect, but with some tweaks to the story and level structure it could work.

Regardless, Lud's Gate could've then been repurposed as an unlockable bonus level at the end of the game, and I think if this had been the case, it wouldn't receive so much hatred and instead actually be a fan favorite.

Let's face it, All Hallows is kind of pathetic. It isn't terrible, but it is a really disappointing payoff for finding ALL SECRETS in one of the hardest classic TR games, especially on PS1. Lud's Gate on the other hand would've felt like a proper reward - it's a very long and solid level, and its difficulty curve gives the impression of an "Expert's challenge".

Last edited by .snake.; 05-02-24 at 11:22.
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Old 05-02-24, 12:39   #9
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...There is a popular theory (although I don't know if it has ever been 100% substantiated) that All Hallows was meant to be part of the main London line-up.....
You can actually tell from the data files that the original designers were in a dilemma on the London levels, ie, how long to make them and in what order. This lead to an unused level in the data files called VICT. TR2 where we assume Vict stands for Victoria, like the Victoria and Albert museum, so it definitely was going to be something to do with London.

Many people thought for a long time that VICT.TR2 was the data to control the world globe option, where you can choose which of three levels you want to play first, but this is not the case, as if you remove VICT.TR2 from the game, the globe still works. So the globe is hardwired into the game.

So what is in VICT.TR2 ?....
When you try to analyse this unused data file VICT.TR2, and many of the best modders for years have tried to do so using all the TR modding tools available, they do not work, so you cannot get into the file to see what's going on.

One exception is a texture program which shows 12 textures in the VICT.TR2 file that are based on textures from the STPAUL.TR2 level (a London level). And by Hex Code analysis by a member on here, discovered that there is no room data at all, so there is no rooms. hence the data file VICT.TR2 was an unused unfinished file, but was going to based on London due to the textures.

My opinion is that there was enough London levels during the design stage, and long levels at that, so the file was not used, but for some unknown reason remained on the game disc, just to confuse us all for years

.

Last edited by perryloo; 05-02-24 at 12:55.
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Old 05-02-24, 16:22   #10
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Originally Posted by .snake. View Post
[...]

I've thought that, maybe, if All Hallows had remained as part of the main game, Lud's Gate could've been removed. With some minor tweaks, this might've made London feel less like a drag, and less intimidating. So, after Thames Wharf she ends up in the All Hallows church, where she finds floating corpses of Sophia's experiments in the sewers. Perhaps she meets the Damned here or in Aldwych, and then Aldwych leads her to Sophia's offices. [...]
Lud's Gate could've then been repurposed as an unlockable bonus level at the end of the game, and I think if this had been the case, it wouldn't receive so much hatred and instead actually be a fan favorite.

Let's face it, All Hallows is kind of pathetic. It isn't terrible, but it is a really disappointing payoff for finding ALL SECRETS in one of the hardest classic TR games, especially on PS1. Lud's Gate on the other hand would've felt like a proper reward - it's a very long and solid level, and its difficulty curve gives the impression of an "Expert's challenge".
Interesting angle - I agree TR3's bonus level is just not up to snuff given the amount of work one needs to put into the game in order to unlock it. Lud's Gate would definitely be a better choice and yes, pacing-wise it would help too, but I guess the devs really wanted everyone to see and play with the new vehicle no matter what!

@perryloo: given this insight from the game's files and the above, I have to imagine there was quite a bit of back and forth regarding the plans for the London episode, like they were winging it, unsurprising given how this was a new team under pressure to output a new game within a year while the other "senior" team labored on The Last Revelation. Courtesy of Wikipedia: according to producer Mike Schmitt, the team opted to "just take a globe, spin it, and see where it lands, and whether it's an interesting location or not".

I'm impressed it turned out as well as it did.
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