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Old 26-05-19, 21:47   #181
The Great Chi
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Lost city of Tinnos was very visual and atmospheric, especially the large bridge section, and the enemies of the never ending wasps and the fast moving beasts once you were over the bridge were excellent. it was a real fight.

You had to run the gauntlet with these beast blasting weapons while running after Lara, and trying to judge the swinging flame lamps and getting through alive was a heart thumping ride. Hiding was not really an option, as there were no safe areas, and Lara had to get though to the end, one way or another

Yes, its one of my favorite levels in TR3.
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Old 27-05-19, 17:44   #182
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ANTARCTICA
Level 19 - Meteorite Cavern




The Tomb Raider series has always struggled with giving any sort of complexity to their villains. These characters usually have a one-dimensional goal that involves advancing the human race, turning into real-life Drogon, or freeing an evil spirit to bring chaos on the world. The reboot trilogy has take some steps towards getting better villains, but even Pedro Dominguez - the primary antagonist of Shadow - is quite muddled in execution. His love for Paititi is admirable, but at no point are we given any reason to believe that his transformation into Kukulkan is going to do anything but cause harm for his city's people. There's a difference between writing a character as morally gray and having them actually do... well, only evil things.

Willard, for all intents and purposes, really is just an evil guy in both his writing and execution. And while that makes it easier to understand his intentions - unlike Dominguez - it really eliminates any sort of morally gray area in killing him. He even gets transformed into this nightmarish spider-like creature to make him completely detached from his former self. I think this detachment is what makes it kind of difficult to feel the weight of the battle in Meteorite Cavern. Willard's going to do bad things (what are those bad things? I'm not sure he ever really explained them in detail...), he's a freak of a character, and he's not right in the head. That's enough reason to put him down, but it rings a little hollow in the end.



I'm not sure what to make of the cutscene before the battle begins; on the one hand, I like the "previously on" segment where all of the voices from Lara's past encounters are brought back from the meteorite rock, but I also would like to know what Willard is planning to do now that he's a disfigured creature that probably can't just go start throwing everyone into that blue liquid. Is he supposed to be dispersing this substance on the world? (I understand that I may have always been missing something big in this plot, so please enlighten me if you know what he's up to here. )

The boss battle itself is fine, I suppose. It doesn't frustrate me as much as Puna's battle did, and the process for killing Willard is pretty well telegraphed once you realize that his blue attack = death. The battle arena is quite good as well; I love the Tinnos statues watching over the arena and the symmetrical nature of the entire chamber. The molten rock around the edges enhances the thrill and adds environmental hazards to a precarious situation. Finally, getting our hands back on the artifacts that were stolen from us - all while taking out the great beast - feels satisfying to do.

There are a few things that deter me from this battle, however. The first is that, as long as you keep the meteorite crater between Lara and Willard, you're pretty much safe to shoot at him however you would like. This feels a little weird to me; why is this crater stopping him from shooting his one-hit-kill attack? I'm not asking for the battle to have been more tedious, mind you, but Willard starts feeling pretty weak once we see how slow and close-range he is. Secondly, the lack of any sort of soundtrack on top of the battle, or even a musical cue upon picking up any of the artifacts, reduces the tension of what's going on here. Even Willard's big bang after the fighting invokes no sort of response from the environment - he's just... dead.





I do really appreciate how simple and clean this final fight is; my problem, then, becomes how weightless the whole thing feels. It's not just the ending or the music or any of that, but also Willard's muddied intentions for the post-battle. Again, I fail to see how this guy - a mutated shell of his former self - was planning on carrying out any of his evil plans.

The remaining portion of the Meteorite Cavern sees our heroine ascending out of the crater room (with artifacts in hand) and then mowing through a bunch of Willard's remaining goons to reach our escape helicopter. Once again, there's a big lack of weight here. Maybe I'm spoiled by how dramatic the escapes in TR1, 2, and 4's boss battles all are - you actually feel like you need to get a move on in order to escape with your life. But in TR3, we could take a break for tea down by the meteorite crater and it wouldn't make any difference. It's just not a very climactic final boss at all.

The question for me then becomes this: what was I expecting from TR3's finale? Well, after RX Tech Mines and Tinnos were set up as a race against the clock to stop Willard, it really felt like we needed to stop him from doing something terrible. But the only irreversible thing that happens down in this room is Willard turning himself into Coraline's Other Mother. We can literally just remove all four artifacts and send the giant rock back into the crater, and all is well. I think that's what makes this ending so hollow. I'm honestly wondering if this would've been one time where having spawned enemies (maybe the flamethrower guys?) could've actually helped, because I don't think Willard had much of a plan for how he was going to keep these artifacts safe down in the arena. Lara can just waltz on in, keep the crater between him and her, remove them, and then go about her day like normal.



Of course, none of that matters when we get one of the absolute most hilarious ending FMVs: Lara pulling a gun on some smiling lad in the getaway helicopter. Nevermind the fact that this guy probably had a wife and kids and maybe wasn't even trying to kill her - nope, he's cannon fodder just like all of the rest.

Conclusion:

Pros:
+ Awesome-looking battle arena
+ The boss battle's rules and goals are well-defined

Cons:
- Willard's motivations are clear enough, but his post-battle goals are anything but
- It was pretty easy to stop his evil plans, wasn't it?
- No tension due to the lack of musical cues or other dangers outside of Willard himself

It's a little painful to drill Meteorite Cavern this much in the review since there's nothing that bad about the actual experience. In the case of Temple of Puna, for instance, I was able to point to several gameplay deficiencies that stopped the stage from being good. But in the case of TR3's final level, I actually have little to no issues with how the thing plays out. What's more troubling is how unsatisfying the last encounter is. Willard becomes such a pushover that it just feels wasteful to me.

That wastefulness from a story perspective, however, can't really make me dislike the final level, so I'll offer up as fair of a rating as I can. It's just certainly not a great ending by any stretch of the imagination.

Rating - 6/10




With that, the main TR3 game is done! However, I still have plans to review the game's bonus level, so come back in a few days or so for that. In the meantime, here are the (almost) final rankings...

Current Rankings:
  1. Madubu Gorge (10/10)
  2. Area 51 (10/10)
  3. Crash Site (9/10)
  4. Aldwych (9/10)
  5. Nevada Desert (9/10)
  6. Temple Ruins (8/10)
  7. RX Tech Mines (8/10)
  8. High Security Compound (8/10)
  9. Jungle (8/10)
  10. City (8/10)
  11. Coastal Village (7/10)
  12. Lud's Gate (6/10)
  13. The River Ganges (6/10)
  14. Antarctica (6/10)
  15. Lost City of Tinnos (6/10)
  16. Meteorite Cavern (6/10)
  17. Thames Wharf (6/10)
  18. Temple of Puna (5/10)
  19. Caves of Kaliya (4/10)
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Old 27-05-19, 18:26   #183
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That was a lovely read.

Willard does feel a bit slow and it's not explained why he chose to transform in a clunky spider creature instead of something that could fly really fast or just a superior version of the mutant creatures we fought in Tinnos.

I liked your thoughts on the level! The ending is one of the most iconic ever in Tomb Raider! Lara was plain evil killing the pilot like that
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Old 28-05-19, 00:18   #184
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Originally Posted by Maverin View Post
That was a lovely read.

Willard does feel a bit slow and it's not explained why he choose to transform in a clunky spider creature instead of something that could fly really fast or just a superior version of the mutant creatures we fought in Tinnos.

I liked your thoughts on the level! The ending is one of the most iconic ever in Tomb Raider! Lara was plain evil killing the pilot like that
Thanks for the comments Maverin, glad you liked it!
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Old 28-05-19, 07:24   #185
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Your reviews are done! Unless you do All Hallows as well? Please do! It has been a great time following your reviews, and looking at my favorite video game of all-time through the eyes of another fan.

My take on Willard's nasty transformation always was, that he never really knew what he got himself into, and that he isn't the true danger in this situation - rather something Lara quickly needs to get rid of, so she can focus on the meteorite. He probably THOUGHT he would become some badass demon, but instead he was badly disfigured, and met a rather tragic, or pathetic, demise. I always imagined that the true danger was the meteorite, which I guess would explode above the surface and maybe end life on Earth or something.


But yeah, the more I think about stuff like this, the more obvious it is, that Tomb Raider III is lacking hard in some areas. Like you point out, why did Lara murder that helicopter guy, who I assume SHE hired to pick her up? I HATED that FMV as a kid. I was so disappointed, it wasn't even funny. I spent months completing the game, and seriously anticipating what I imagined would be an epic FMV.


Antarctica, in my opinion, is not a great chapter, and it's a bit of a shame for me, that this superb game ends on a bit of a disappointment. Good thing then, that India, South Pacific, Nevada and London all were fantastic. Tomb Raider III easily is a 10/10 game for me, even if the story is lacking in certain areas, and Antarctica is a bit disappointing. Throughout most of the game, the lacking story doesn't really matter.


The whole thing feels a lot like: Lara is hiking in India. Does she know about the Infada Stone? Maybe, maybe not. We don't know. All we know is, that she meets a mad man, who she later sees has supernatural powers, and an artifact in his chest -> Lara wants. Then she meets Willard, who tells her that the artifact is just one out of four, and he hires her to find the others. That's actually pretty cool, I like this rather simple story, and that it's so straightforward.

What's lacking heavily, is the backstory of the meteorite. What can it do? What will happen if it is raised to the surface? I mean, the FMV that showed us Darwin's Sailors finding the artifacts is great, and it's a good FMV to explain why the artifacts are in four such random places. But perhaps there should have been an FMV somewhere, that explained more about the mythos of the meteorite itself. Perhaps an FMV that showed why the Polynesians fled from Antarctica.
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Old 28-05-19, 07:26   #186
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Have to agree with Maverin that killing the pilot was very nasty indeed.

Usually Lara Croft will give a baddie a chance to live if he/she/or it is not directly out to kill her, but in this case it was pure cold killing like an assassin and rather unexpected.

As for your review Sheepman23 it was very good, and brought back some real memories of playing the game. Your ranking seemed fair for each level. Well done

You will have to review another classic Tomb raider game next
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Old 02-06-19, 00:54   #187
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Final Count View Post
Your reviews are done! Unless you do All Hallows as well? Please do! It has been a great time following your reviews, and looking at my favorite video game of all-time through the eyes of another fan.
You can expect All Hallows! Probably tomorrow if I get some time.

Quote:
I HATED that FMV as a kid. I was so disappointed, it wasn't even funny. I spent months completing the game, and seriously anticipating what I imagined would be an epic FMV.
Lol I actually laughed at it when I saw it as a kid. I guess I was pretty messed up. Now I totally realize that it's kind of evil of her.

Quote:
Antarctica, in my opinion, is not a great chapter, and it's a bit of a shame for me, that this superb game ends on a bit of a disappointment. Good thing then, that India, South Pacific, Nevada and London all were fantastic. Tomb Raider III easily is a 10/10 game for me, even if the story is lacking in certain areas, and Antarctica is a bit disappointing. Throughout most of the game, the lacking story doesn't really matter.
I'm not sure where I rank Antarctica, but it's probably lumped next to London for me. Nevada = South Pacific >>> India >> Antarctica/London.

The chapter has great moments, but too many of those great moments are offset by strange design choices, highly frustrating gameplay segments, or levels like Meteorite Cavern which just feel empty even though they're not annoying to play. London is similar for me, although I would argue that London suffers a LOT more from frustrating gameplay and goalless exploration.

Quote:
The whole thing feels a lot like: Lara is hiking in India. Does she know about the Infada Stone? Maybe, maybe not. We don't know. All we know is, that she meets a mad man, who she later sees has supernatural powers, and an artifact in his chest -> Lara wants. Then she meets Willard, who tells her that the artifact is just one out of four, and he hires her to find the others. That's actually pretty cool, I like this rather simple story, and that it's so straightforward.
That's a good point - TR3 really does take a solid jab at telling a basic story, and I think it works for the most part. I do wish that some of the chapters (like South Pacific and Nevada) had gotten more mythos and fleshing out, but that's a minor gripe. The overall plot is decent enough, although The Lost Artifact arguably does a better job in telling a story and it doesn't even have cutscenes.

As always, thanks for the comments Final Count!

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As for your review Sheepman23 it was very good, and brought back some real memories of playing the game. Your ranking seemed fair for each level. Well done

You will have to review another classic Tomb raider game next
Thanks Chi. Appreciate you checking it out - I'm not sure what I'll do next or how soon it will be, but I'm open to suggestions.
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Old 02-06-19, 08:35   #188
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Whoa I didn't even realise this was here. I got some catching up to do. But in regards

- I see what you mean about Willard. But then again, maybe he thought he would've ended up like a bigger, more advanced version of the creatures you see in Antartica. Probably didn't know he was going to turn into a spider.

I mean, you can probably say the same thing about Bartoli in TR2. He probably wouldn't be able to do much even as a dragon. He looked too big to even get out of the temple let alone do any damage. I think they probably both just read it would grant them power without knowing what would that would actually entail. I see what you mean though about the motivation being rather thin.

- I also see what you mean about the lack of tension. Sure, Willard can one shot you if you go for the artefacts, but then again I suppose if he could do that whenever it'd probably be unfair.

Great to see you back man.
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Old 02-06-19, 15:08   #189
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Loved reading your review. Your vivid analyses and descriptions, coupled with screenshots of key moments in the level, make me want to play TR3 and relive the experience all over again.

Some comments I have on your comments:

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In case I can't make it more obvious, Jungle commits the latter flaw with the use of the mudslide at the very beginning....I think the addition of spike pits on the way down is pretty damn unforgiving for someone who may not even know HOW to jump - let alone decipher that on the slide down.
I think the developers were sending a clear message here: this may be the first level in the game, and in some sense it is designed to ease the player into the gameplay, but it is not designed as a tutorial level, and if you can't clear the spike slope at the beginning then you have no business being here and should probably go back to Lara's Home.

Whether or not this is good game design is another matter, though. It's certainly harsh on the player, and probably wouldn't find its way into a modern game the way it is now. However, I think it's clear that in TR3, having frustrated players rage-quitting the game was of little to no concern for the developers (in fact, it seems like they intended it sometimes ). I'm not going to go into the potential reasons for this, but ultimately I think in the end it was due to a degree of carelessness from both the developers and publishers.

For me personally, TR3 has enough things going for about it (location, atmosphere etc...) that, when you mix in the difficulty, it is not so much a deterrent as a kind of endearing quality that I've grown to love over the years. In fact, I believe the game's attitude to the player is almost a reflection of Lara's "take it or leave it"/"if you can't deal with me then you're the problem" personality - and this isn't by accident! But for many people, particularly newcomers, it's perfectly understandable how they would be put off by this.

(Btw, although I say I like the "difficulty" of TR3, that doesn't mean I'm OK with "gotcha moments" like boulders falling on my face out of nowhere - something that clearly breaks the rules of good design and, as you point out in your review, happens in a lot of places throughout the game!)

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For this playthrough, I did actually complete the above path since I'm a stickler for getting everything the level has to offer. But I don't care for the choice in the first place because all of the level's gameplay should be accessible without having to resort to a drastic hairpin-turn jump.
I think I agree with this. I'm OK with a shortcut which perhaps bypasses a secret, but having two parallel paths with no (intentional) way of exploring them both seems a bit pointless to me (unless it's really short, like in Temple Ruins where you have two hallways and one of them is trapped).

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Originally Posted by sheepman23 View Post
Why in God's name did we not descend by helicopter onto... oh, I don't know, the cathedral?
Because if the helicopter were to crash on landing, it would damage the historic cathedral structure. Lara is very concerned about these sorts of things you know!

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Originally Posted by sheepman23 View Post
On the other hand, the guards in this water-filtration plant...do not appear to work for Sophia
Of course that's what she wants you to believe...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sheepman23 View Post
After a bit of back-and-forth switch-pulling, we're able to make a running jump over the gate of the compound. At that exact moment, the first beat of the music track hits, and we're instantly thrust into a new mode: Badass Lara.
That jump definitely takes top prize from me in the "Best Running Jump in the TR Series" awards.

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Originally Posted by sheepman23 View Post
With this being the fourth t-rex to appear in the classic trilogy (five if you include TR2 Gold), there's nothing that groundbreaking or shocking about encountering yet another one.
True, but I always liked that cute little piece of music which plays when you trigger the T. Rex. Has a humorous effect, as if to say "Oh hi there, you've just woken up the biggest enemy in the game".

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Originally Posted by sheepman23 View Post
Level 14 - Madubu Gorge

Rating - 10/10
I'm glad to see you still rate Madubu Gorge so highly! The kayak controls can be sluggish, but it's not impossible to master them. My favourite location is actually where you took your second screenshot. The view of the waterfall combined with the sound of the rushing water is one of those moments where, for a second, you truly forget that the environment is just made up of textured blocks covered by a skybox. It feels real.

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Originally Posted by sheepman23 View Post
Cons:
- The. Wasps. Are. AWFUL.
- The wasps get a second con because of how terrible they are


I think they would be OK if they took less time to kill (maybe two pistol shots each). And if they didn't spawn endlessly.

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Originally Posted by sheepman23 View Post
Secondly, the lack of any sort of soundtrack on top of the battle, or even a musical cue upon picking up any of the artifacts, reduces the tension of what's going on here.
You might be interested in listening to this.

(Actually, I think it's really creepy the way Willard starts moving towards you from the other side in dead silence. )

Again, really enjoyed reading this review and hope to see even more coming in the future! (And All Hallows too - you're reviewing that one, right? )
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Old 12-06-19, 05:03   #190
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Just popping in to thank you again for including us on your journey, Sheepman

Alas, the nature of the playthrough thread means there is an inevitable ending.. but at the conclusion- 188 posts and over 13,000 views is proof your talent has a fanbase!

Here's hoping you'll continue to use this forum as a creative outlet and have more projects on the horizon This place is all the more exciting when there's a new write-up to look forward to
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