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Old 17-04-19, 13:18   #91
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Thank you sheepman23.
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Old 18-04-19, 01:56   #92
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick star View Post
What irked me a bit was the laziness in not bothering to create a new model and hire a voice actress specifically for Sophia (if Natla had that , why not Sophia) , but that's not a big deal because TR3 hardly gave a damn about its story or characters anyway .


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Nice! I agree with your thoughts too. Itís not much of a level, but it is a very unique boss fight in comparison to the other ones the classics offer.
Yeah, there's not a whole lot of substance in City, but it's at least divergent from what we're used to in this series - so I'm fine with it.
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Old 18-04-19, 11:48   #93
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Keep these reviews coming.
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Old 18-04-19, 15:22   #94
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Nice reviews so far, makes me want to play this amazing game again

Lud's Gate deserves a 10/10 btw
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Old 18-04-19, 16:07   #95
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Lud's Gate deserves a 10/10 btw
AGREED

Once again, great review! I completely agree about your City review, Sheepman. When I was a kid, I thought Sophia's office was the coolest thing ever
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Old 18-04-19, 16:16   #96
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Great review. I really enjoyed this boss battle. Sophia, as underdeveloped as she is, was an interesting villain. The London section is my least favorite section of the game, but I do enjoy the story line in it. It kind of reminds me of how Legend's had a story line and boss fight for each of it's locations.
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Old 19-04-19, 01:35   #97
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Rolling out Nevada Desert tonight before taking a hiatus for the Easter weekend. Thanks for all of the comments everyone!

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Originally Posted by TR1249 View Post
Nice reviews so far, makes me want to play this amazing game again

Lud's Gate deserves a 10/10 btw
I say go for it.

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AGREED

Once again, great review! I completely agree about your City review, Sheepman. When I was a kid, I thought Sophia's office was the coolest thing ever
Omg same. I especially loved the fish in the water tanks.

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Great review. I really enjoyed this boss battle. Sophia, as underdeveloped as she is, was an interesting villain. The London section is my least favorite section of the game, but I do enjoy the story line in it. It kind of reminds me of how Legend's had a story line and boss fight for each of it's locations.
She's certainly undeveloped, but arguably more developed than any of the other side bosses, or even someone like Bartoli from TR2. And I can see the parallels with Legend bosses too, good thought.
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Old 19-04-19, 03:16   #98
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NEVADA
Level 9 - Nevada Desert




If I had been in the room when the idea for Nevada Desert was placed on the drawing board, I likely would have scoffed and dismissed it, largely because of my distaste for desert environments. Simply put, I don't feel that deserts offer the visual and aesthetic creativity that other locations and themes can give. Sandy oranges, dull brown rocks, and occasional smatterings of haze and sparse plant life isn't exciting to me. Take most of the games from my childhood and ask me my least favorite stages or experiences from them, and I will almost always give you the one that's in a desert. As far as aesthetics go, Nevada Desert isn't really an exception to the rule. It's mostly a journey through craggy and weathered rock caves. The addition of a prominent canyon and water puzzle spices up the appearance a wee bit, but it still doesn't compete with the game's lusher or more unique settings.

And, to be honest, it doesn't really need to try. I'll put it this way: I would have been 100% wrong if I had shot down the idea of Nevada Desert on the aforementioned drawing board, because this is one of Tomb Raider III's finest experiences.



Yes, my distaste for deserts certainly remains present. This level isn't as much fun as it would have been in an icy, snowy canyon: that's just my personal opinion. But I'll be damned if what the designers did here shouldn't earn some accolades gameplay-wise. For one thing, Nevada Desert is one of the few stages (so far) which is almost completely rid of the "gotcha!" moments that designers like to pull on the player at an alarming rate in TR3. While I love some trickery every now and then, the game has made it a point to test my patience at times, so it's nice to finally encounter a level that contains zero unrecognizable instant-death traps.

Instead, the designers opt for a triumphant return to solid platforming in Nevada Desert. This was somewhat missing throughout much of London, which chose to focus on puzzles and exploration-oriented structures, rather than a solid test of Lara's traversal skills from Point A to Point B. While there's certainly nothing wrong with what London did, I think that the style of the desert is substantially welcome and a good indicator of how Tomb Raider III constantly varies up the themes of its areas.

At the center of Nevada Desert is a water-filled canyon, and this quickly becomes a great playground for Lara to wind her way over to the waterfall openings. This entire canyon is a case of: "I think I can get there, so I'm going to try", as opposed to "Where the hell am I going?" The stakes of falling are also extremely low here since the water acts as a safety net for untimely jumps. The only other threats are occasional vultures to knock us off ledges, which is a nice touch. (The designers seem to enjoy placing these birds in annoying locations, as the tricky placement also occurs in The River Ganges. )





Nevada Desert's overarching "puzzle" involves rerouting a water channel to activate a waterwheel, which consequently raises an elevator nearby that contains a detonator key. How do we know we need the key? The designers telegraph a very obvious TNT box on our way across the canyon, and the wire texturing on the ground leads us straight back to a detonator switch. Since the player doesn't have the item necessary to operate this, it quickly becomes obvious that we're in search of a puzzle item. Thus, the hunt for the key begins.

There's not a ton to talk about with the upstream caverns of Nevada Desert's canyon area. They're fun, straightforward, and contain hidden pickups and goodies all over the place. It's a wholly engaging and rarely-annoying adventure, and it's truly a style of progression that TR3 could use a little more often. Again, it may seem like I'm railing on exploration-heavy gameplay here, but in reality? I'm just tired after some of London's antics, and this stage is the quickest way for me to realize how much more Tomb Raider III has to offer.

Additionally, veteran players have the advantage of going into Nevada and knowing that they're about to have all of their weapons sapped at the stage's end, so this becomes a pretty excellent opportunity for me to waste pretty much all of the ammunition that I've built up from the levels beforehand. In this case, I made it a point to zap the level's rattlesnakes with a different weapon each time, which led to a few pretty hilarious screen captures :






After playing with the explosive TNT box, we're led into the level's final area, which also contains one of the best moments in the game.

I already spent a decent amount of time in the Lud's Gate review explaining how much of an impact a well-placed music track can have on my perception of an area. When "The Puzzle Element" chimes in during a head-scratching or truly majestic moment of the game, it accentuates the experience at hand greatly. The same is no different for Nevada's signature music theme: "No Waiting Around".

In the final area of Nevada Desert, we're tasked with finding some way to infiltrate the fenced-off set of buildings nearby. We don't necessarily know why we need to go in there, or what we can find, but it seems like a good place to go since all of the desert cronies are running around in there. 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.

For me, it has become almost a bit of a tradition to hit the ground at that moment, run around the corner, and kill every single bad guy in this area before the very last note of "No Waiting Around". On top of that, there hasn't been a playthrough in memory where I didn't blaze through the bad guys with Uzis in hand. The Uzis are, unfortunately, criminally weakened guns in Tomb Raider III and are far outclassed by the Desert Eagle and MP5. In this moment, however? I don't care. Hell, I feel like an invincible player against these bad guys. And that's because the music makes me feel that way. "No Waiting Around" is truly a beautiful and climactic piece, and lucky for us, this isn't the last time we'll be hearing it in Nevada... <3



With that badass moment set aside, does anyone find Lara's... err... "plan" to infiltrate the military compound a little terrible? Speaking of which, I'm all for a puzzle use of the quad bike as opposed to literally anything that The River Ganges had us do with it , but it's still odd to see our heroine make such a dumb judgement in trying to hopping the fence with it. Did she think that would end well?

I don't have much to say about the follow-up cutscene. Whereas London contained a lot of expository cutscenes and fun conversations (the hitman, the Damned, and Sophia), there's no real characters over the course of the Nevada levelset to tie us to what Lara's trying to do. All we know is that she found out the artifact resided in Area 51 and seriously thinks she's going to get away with infiltrating a damn military compound. I'm sure that will go over... well.



Conclusion:

Pros:
+ Pleasant atmosphere
+ Great sense of progression towards our goals
+ No jump-scares, blind traps, or other annoying stuff
+ The canyon area makes excellent use of traversal mechanics
+ Detonator Key puzzle is quite good
+ Battle within the electrified gates is a highly memorable moment
+ Quad bike is used well as a puzzle item

Cons:
- Desert environment is pretty bland and standard
- No particularly memorable secrets or enemy encounters

At the start of this review, I criticized Nevada Desert's bland theme. And yes, I still think it's a bland theme. Deserts just really don't do it for me.

Nevada Desert is a rare case of a level that, on paper, would look awful to me, but in reality is one of the best showcases of design that this game has to offer. It's not flashy in appearance or clever traps; even its secrets and enemy types aren't all that memorable. But what the stage lacks in flashiness it gains back through its cohesive structuring and pleasant atmosphere. The stage design isn't actively trying to spit you out or confuse you to no end; it's just giving you its puzzles, telling you to solve them, and then moving on to the next area.

And I love Nevada Desert for that. In a game that so often feels incredibly intense, the designers finally give us a level that has no big jump-scares or life-threatening scenarios to put us on the edge of our seat, and it's a welcome change of pace.

Rating - 9/10


Current Level Rankings:
  1. Aldwych (9/10)
  2. Nevada Desert (9/10)
  3. Temple Ruins (8/10)
  4. Jungle (8/10)
  5. City (8/10)
  6. Lud's Gate (6/10)
  7. The River Ganges (6/10)
  8. Thames Wharf (6/10)
  9. Caves of Kaliya (4/10)

Last edited by sheepman23; 11-05-19 at 13:39.
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Old 19-04-19, 15:52   #99
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Completely agree, Nevada Desert is wonderful. I actually DO like the desert setting. I'm pretty sure this was my favorite level as a kid. I just loved the concept of moving through the mountains in the desert, while hiding from the occasional Area 51 hi-tech aircraft, to infiltrate the surrounding military compounds - or whatever they are... the enemies look like a biker gang - to get as close as possible to Area 51.

I also LOVE High Security Compound, which I don't get the impression is a very popular level.

I think my top 5 levels of Tomb Raider III goes a little something like Madubu Gorge, Temple Ruins, Nevada Desert, High Security Compound and then maybe Lud's Gate or Jungle.

Again, I look forward to your reviews all the time! They are a great read.
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Old 20-04-19, 01:33   #100
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Late to this but thought I'd come in and comment

I'm really enjoying your review, and seriously I'm finding myself agreeing with probably 95% of what you're saying. We clearly have very similar taste.

Some thoughts I have;

For me, the problem with TR3 isn't so much the "dick-ishness" in the random death traps, it's the limited opportunities to save on Playstation in particular. It would be far more forgiving if you could save as much as you like, or even had autosave checkpoints, so that a cheap death trap doesn't have to set you back 20 minutes. This is the biggest reason I find the game far more tolerable on PC, which I started playing TR3 on recently.

London could really do with more context, especially in Thames Wharf and Aldwych. I've noticed before and seen other people point out how random those levels are - why exactly is Lara jumping about random rooftops? Why is her first thought to go explore some abandoned Underground station after finding out about Sophia? Little is explained and it does come off very "for the sake of it", which I say as someone who generally loves the London segment.

I hate Lara's brutal killing of innocent people in TR3, I find it out of character even by her standards, but I've spoke on that at length so I won't elaborate here.

As for your Nevada review, I'm mostly in agreement. I love the platforming and pace of the level. I love the "No Waiting Around" theme as well, I think it's used to such beautiful narrative effect, especially in the next level, High Security Compound, it's so powerful there at that moment when Lara gets her guns back. There's also a shorter version of it that plays at some points in Nevada, and the drums that play in that version are so perfect for these levels, it suits a patriotic American military setting beautifully. Where I disagree, and this is purely a matter of personal taste, is that I actually find that desert landscape quite beautiful. I love the reddish colour scheme and textures and how serene it all looks. It's very reminiscent of like the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley to me (the latter of which they actually used for the backdrop, even though we're in the wrong state, oops).
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