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Old 27-07-16, 03:54   #221
airrr13
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I'll always remember the Floating Islands level creeping me out as a kid, especially with falling into the darkness below and dying into abyss basically. Also the way those soldiers float toward you still terrifies me haha. 10/10 for me as well!
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Old 28-07-16, 04:43   #222
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I had that same terrified feeling of falling into the darkness below with the old PS1 Spiderman games too. It's kind of ironic a game about web-slinging can have a dark abyss below and you had to stay on the rooftops but I had just as much fun with those games as with this one too. It's a plus.
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Old 28-07-16, 18:45   #223
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My reviews for "The Dragon's Lair" and "Home Sweet Home" were short enough that I just combined them into one post... enjoy!

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Level 17 - "The Dragon's Lair"



Uh... "Dracarys"?

In Tomb Raider, there is a spectrum of boss battles that range from "pretty good" to "awful". I will be honest: I do not think there is any one TR boss battle in the entire series that I would consider to be entirely excellent. I am not sure if that is a fault of the games themselves, or rather the difficulty that video games have in coming up with solid bosses. Boss battles often feel overly tacked-on or too formulated in nature; for examples of this, see basically all three of the Crystal Dynamics games. With the exception of a couple of those bosses, including the legless mutant and a few select ones from Legend, these bosses have convoluted methods for killing them, and as a result do not feel natural at all. On the other hand, a lot of the boss battles in the classic era suffer from the exact opposite problem: they are killed in the same manner as any other enemy in the game would be, and hold no real value outside of having a fancy name and appearance. The Guardian of the Talion is one such example.

As a result, I just do not usually care all that much for bosses in the TR series. That being said, Tomb Raider II's final battle against the dragon is one rare example of a boss battle done pretty well. The room that we fight the dragon in is massive and feels like the type of lair you might expect for a final boss. The dragon itself is also massive - much larger than any of the enemies we encounter in the first three games. It makes a grand entrance with an aura of blue light as Lara approaches, and it breathes fire! While Lara kills it in the same manner she does any other enemy - by pumping it full of Uzi lead, or grenades, or whatever - you are still required to pull out the dagger after it falls before getting the actual death.





Is he difficult to defeat? No, not particularly, especially when you discover that there is actually a place where Lara can stand and effectively immobilize the dragon. Or if you just simply know how to run, jump, and shoot, you will be good to go. However, I value boss battles for their memorability instead of their difficulty. The dragon is a gargantuan beast and is self-contained within its own level - as a result, it is highly memorable.

So the dragon is the main highlight of "The Dragon's Lair". However, let's talk a little bit about the stuff that precedes the actual boss fight. There are two big combat moments before we even get to the fire-breathing beast; one involving more Xian warriors, and another with a troupe of ninja guys. If I'm being honest, I could have done without the first encounter against the statues. This is simply because of the heavy focus they already received in "The Floating Islands". If this had been another non-boss battle level, I would have criticized the inclusion of more warriors right off the bat; despite their awesomeness, it is not ideal to start the level with an in-your-face encounter against one of the game's toughest enemies.



And while the Xian warrior fight was a little unnecessary, the encounter against Bartoli's cult members was excellent. For starters, it makes sense from a plot continuity standpoint since there were about six Fiamma Nera members who carried his body out of the Temple of Xian. For them to be guarding the door into the lair was a nice touch. Additionally, this fight excels from a gameplay perspective due to the room it is set in. Not only is this room heavily pillared, which allows for lots of dodging and shielding against flying knives, but it is also dark and shadowy, which adds to the mysterious element of these ninja dudes. Finally, the plethora of pickups available after they have all died is really welcome before the final battle.

Do you know what could have rocketed The Dragon's Lair to the highest tier? A solid puzzle for Lara to gain access to the antechamber with the ninja guys. Instead of battling it out with Xian warriors, there could have instead been some sort of logic pressure plate sequence used to gain entry. Tomb Raider II is admittedly really lacking in the puzzles department, so this would have been a good addition to the penultimate level of the game.



Some odds and ends:
  • While I'm not a big fan of the first warrior encounter, I do love that trick switch that does nothing but animate the remaining Xian warrior in the room.
  • The escape from the lair is a pretty neat moment and visual, and it actually feels as though this entire dimension is completely falling apart now that the dagger has been removed from Bartoli's heart. This is what leads me to believe that the dimension of the floating islands was created via Bartoli's dagger-in-heart moment; the removal of that dagger is what causes everything to go to crap.
  • Lol at that underwater trove of goods. I don't think I've ever actually taken the time to go down there and pick up any of that stuff, mostly because Tomb Raider II is so heavy on Uzi ammo and medipacks that it is almost impossible for me to be out of stuff at this point.


So yeah, that's all I've got for "The Dragon's Lair". A pretty solid boss battle level, actually; you will not see me being this generous to most self-contained boss battle levels in the series, so I think the rating I am giving is pretty good for a level of this type. While it does not necessarily stack up to the all-time greats of TR2 or the series, as far as a boss battle goes it is high up on that spectrum...

Rating - 7.5/10



LARA'S HOME
Level 18 - "Home Sweet Home"




Throughout this review, I have pretty prominently criticized the TR2 designers for making 80% of this game's combat encounters contain humans, with maybe the occasional doberman sprinkled in. So as an epilogue, the designers have basically given us a scenario that fits the above criteria...

And yet... in a weird way, I really, really like "Home Sweet Home". Out of context, it's Lara mowing through a bunch of bad guys at night inside of her home. What is not to love about that?! It makes sense plot-wise, as the Fiamma Nera were probably pretty desperate to carry on Bartoli's legacy, and such a raid on the manor is appropriate. Lara having a shotgun and a million shells inside of her closet is fun, especially when you first get in there and realize that you have only moments before a bad guy is going to be closing in.





Shooting bad guys in the dead of night at Croft Manor is a blast. While the level does not really contain any substance outside of doing that, it's still a cool little scenario, and it would be elevated even more if the game had not already spent a good amount of its time giving Lara humans to shoot at. Like, imagine if this was the epilogue to TR1 or something. That would be hella cool.

I do not really have much to say about this level outside of that. It is good for its novelty value and novelty value alone (especially when you factor in Lara's fourth-wall-breaking moment at the end ), and that is enough to earn it the rating I am going to give.


Rating - 7/10


TR2: Final Level Rankings
1. The Floating Islands (10/10)
2. Temple of Xian (10/10)
3. Barkhang Monastery (10/10)
4. 40 Fathoms (9.5/10)
5. Catacombs of the Talion (9.5/10)

6. The Great Wall (9/10)
7. The Deck (9/10)
8. Tibetan Foothills (9/10)
9. Wreck of the Maria Doria (8.5/10)
10. The Opera House (8.5/10)

11. Bartoli's Hideout (8/10)
12. The Ice Palace (8/10)
13. The Dragon's Lair (8/10)

14. Venice (7/10)
15. Home Sweet Home (7/10)
16. Living Quarters (6.5/10)
17. Diving Area (5/10)
18. Offshore Rig (3/10)

Well guys, that is the end of the main review! I will wrap things up either later tonight or sometime this weekend.
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Old 28-07-16, 23:15   #224
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Wow, have we reached the end of the rankings now? Solid job and I enjoyed reading every single review of every level. Here are my final remarks:

The Dragon's Lair is a pretty good conclusion to the epic Great Wall section of the game. The level is VERY short and it did start the "boss level" trend, but there are various reasons I enjoy this level and it's not because of the boss. One thing I love about the level is the size of the rooms you enter. The rooms make you feel like you are in an ancient palace of some sorts where the original Dagger of Xian owner lived. The room with the large green pillars and the giant arena where you fight the Bartoli Dragon are very intriguing IMO. It would be awesome to explore something that "grand" in real life.

The onslaught of enemies was a pretty nice challenge too. Even though you know that the statues are going to come to life when you pull a lever, it's still pretty terrifying and will keep you at the edge of your seat. The fight against the six Fiama Nera Priests was pretty epic too. You know what would've been interesting if the Xian Warriors and Fiama Nera Cultists would actually battle each other like the TRII strategy guide states. We know it's possible because the monks and henchmen in Barkhang Monastery do. These were the highlights of this otherwise short level.

Now let's talk about the bad stuff about this level. The Dragon boss fight was pretty lame even though the design and battle arena was awesome. I think this is a problem with many of the Classic TR bosses where the strategy behind most of them is to jump + shoot at them. I wish the bosses were more like Sophia Leigh in TRIII where there is some strategy behind the fight. Another downside to this level is that it feels like filler. The level could've easily been included in Floating Islands since it is short and contains similar architecture. This problem is more glaring in TRIII though with the boss levels at the end of every section. It sort of feels like an excuse by the producers just to pad the level count. At least this level wasn't lazy like Caves of Kaliya or Meteorite Cavern. I enjoy this level, so I give it an 8/10 too!

Home Sweet Home was an alright level. I do have to say that it has a very creative concept, but the execution is a let down though. After an entire game with nothing but mainly gun battles, we get another shoot em' up fest with the same enemies that we had to put up with 90% of the game. Although in Core's defense, there is not much I could think of to make this level better. I do like the idea of giving the player the idea that it is all over only to have to fight the main villainous team on your own turf.

As I said many times before, I enjoyed your reviews very much. Are you going to do anymore of the TR games in the future?
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Old 29-07-16, 04:19   #225
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I loved the dragon boss fight. TR fans always love talking about the T-Rex boss fight in TRI but the Dragon is just a good a boss fight =D And it's up there on the list of favourite boss fights in the series.

Initially when I first played this game when I was younger I didn't think too much of the bad guys in Lara's home. My thinking was "Oh ok, bad guys. Time to shoot. *pew pew pew*" and thats that. I didn't give it much thought. But now after reading your interpretation it makes more sense. Good review.
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Old 29-07-16, 05:52   #226
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Typically, I don't enjoy boss fights, but the one with the dragon is probably my favorite boss fight from the entire series. A lot of it is because of what you mentioned--the dragon itself is gargantuan, and you get to fight him in a massive room (if I'm not mistaken, it's probably the largest room in the game, next to the main hall in Barkhang Monastery). Yes, the boss fight (like almost all the others in the classics) entails just shooting while taking advantage of Lara's various directional jumps, but I'm okay with that.

I do agree that The Dragon's Lair (and TR2 as a whole) could do with more puzzles, but I disagree about the Xian warrior battle at the beginning of the level. I think the point of that battle, so early in the level, is to drive home the point that this is meant to be an extremely difficult level, combat-wise. And for people playing through TR2 for the first time, it likely was very difficult (I think I died fighting that dragon a good dozen or so times before I even got him to drop, and it took me forever to realize I was supposed to remove the dagger from his belly). But yes, the battles in the Xian warrior and ninja rooms could have been broken up nicely by a puzzle, and maybe even a bit of quiet exploration before the big showdown.

I think your assessment of Home Sweet Home is pretty spot-on. Not the worst level in the game, but not one of its best, either. I think the level could have been enhanced by adding some puzzles that would require Lara to revisit rooms all over the manor (and possibly even the hedge maze), all while fighting enemies. It would have helped give the idea that her entire estate is crawling with baddies at every turn. I like that the final boss only appears once all the other enemies are dead, and that he appears wherever Lara happens to be when she drops the final bad guy, but I would have made him tougher to beat (he's no more difficult in HSH than he is at the end of Opera House). All in all, a solid, fun level, but nothing truly spectacular.

Quick question: Are you planning on reviewing the levels of TR2 Gold, too? That expansion pack contains one of my favorite levels in the entire series, Furnace of the Gods, and I'd love to read your opinion of it!

Last edited by indigo15; 29-07-16 at 05:57.
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Old 05-08-16, 11:20   #227
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Fantastic review, I really enjoyed reading each levels review in such great detail. I pretty much agree with all of your ratings, the top rated are my favourites, also. Have you done a review for TR3?
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Old 05-08-16, 17:14   #228
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Yeah, don't stop now, we want the Gold levels reviewed as well!
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Old 08-08-16, 17:55   #229
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Regarding future reviews:

- The Golden Mask: It has been about five years since I did a full review of TR2 Gold, so yeah, I'd like to maybe go back to that if I get time in the upcoming months. However, no guarantees.

- Other games: I could see myself doing TR3 later this year or possibly next year. However, I have also never done AoD or TR2013, so those are both on the agenda as well. I also never finished TR1, so that might be something I could return to.

I'm looking into the possibility of doing something slightly different than a regular game review too... more on that later. Thanks for the interest everyone!
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Old 09-08-16, 18:18   #230
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sheepman23 View Post
Regarding future reviews:

- The Golden Mask: It has been about five years since I did a full review of TR2 Gold, so yeah, I'd like to maybe go back to that if I get time in the upcoming months. However, no guarantees.

- Other games: I could see myself doing TR3 later this year or possibly next year. However, I have also never done AoD or TR2013, so those are both on the agenda as well. I also never finished TR1, so that might be something I could return to.

I'm looking into the possibility of doing something slightly different than a regular game review too... more on that later. Thanks for the interest everyone!
I would really love to see your reviews of TR3 and AOD
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