www.tombraiderforums.com

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

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 25-03-19, 20:24   #21
sheepman23
Relic Hunter
 
sheepman23's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Iowa
Posts: 8,651
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gracious Days View Post
Well well, it's been a while but always happy to read another of your review series, and of perhaps my favorite TR game to boot It's been years since I've played it, so I'm looking forward to seeing what jogs my memory as I read along.

Great start with Jungle, keep it up
Good to see you around the forums Gracious! Hope you enjoy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GRaider View Post
I know what you mean here and you can see it from both views. The mudslide is the first hint and right at the start, that this game will be no stroll through the park, but a very challenging and hard task. What is especially mean about the spikes is, that they changed the spikes from Tomb Raider 1 and 2. In these levels they were normally white with bloodied tips (only in Floating Islands they were green). Now they are the same color of the textures in India and doesn't stick out (pun intended) very much. So even a veteran player will see them almost at the last moment, when he is playing the game for the first time.
But you are also right, punishing a gamer seconds after he start can frustrate him too much and he might lose the passion to play this game. Luckily for Jungle after this mudslide the level is challenging, but not unfair.
Pretty much agree with all of this. And great point about the spike colors - I hadn't even considered that this was probably a surprise for vets of TR1 and 2. I don't think the mudslide in itself is a deterrent of the game, but it sets the tone of TR3 a little too heavily, perhaps. If we're being honest, the entirety of Temple Ruins is the far more challenging and (sometimes) frustrating level...

Quote:
The first secret is in my opinion one of the most unfair one in all Tomb Raider history. The player doesn't expect a very good hidden secret at the start and I would bet, that the only player who found this first secret without any hint, were by happenstance. But it is a good reminder, that the secrets in this game will be very well hidden and need some extra-thinking to get them. The mudslide is again a good example. If you just slide it down and continue through the temple, you already have missed half of the secrets of the level.
Yeah that shotgun secret definitely belongs in the Top 5 of "most ridiculously well-hidden secrets. It would be one thing if the canopy leaves weren't covering the patch of stable land, but with that hindrance in place, it's nearly impossible to find. I suppose that's actually the only BAD secret of the level; the rest are all pretty fun and diverse.

Quote:
I have one: After opening the door behind the boulder and be attacked by the tigers there starts the "Mighty-Jungle"-theme. This is the one moment of this level which is sticked in my brain.
Thanks for reminding of me this - I would also probably pick this moment if I had to choose something from the level. I think that's the section of the level that truly sells the "heart of the Indian jungle" vibe, as musical cues so often do in the Tomb Raider series. Good memory.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trenton View Post
Excellent! Always a pleasure to read your tomb raider reviews sheepman! Looking very much forward to follow your revisit of TR3.
Hey Trenton! It's been a while - also glad to see you still around the forums. Not quite the scope of the "rank-every-level-in-the-series" thread, but arguably more upbeat and positive since TR3 is my favorite game of the series.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrustyBow View Post
Great review! As far as opening levels go, this one is solid. I'm excited to see what you think about Temple Ruins.
Thanks TrustyBow for the comments! Glad you're interested.
sheepman23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-03-19, 16:49   #22
Johnnay
Tomb Raider
 
Johnnay's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Cupertino
Posts: 18,757
Default

Oiii, you made a mistake. In the OP, for the Antarctic levels you put Nevada instead of Antarctica for the location.😁
__________________
I believe, I called you a bitch, bitch: Quinn to Sheila
Johnnay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-03-19, 00:27   #23
sheepman23
Relic Hunter
 
sheepman23's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Iowa
Posts: 8,651
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnnay View Post
Oiii, you made a mistake. In the OP, for the Antarctic levels you put Nevada instead of Antarctica for the location.😁
Fixed. Thanks for the heads up.
sheepman23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-03-19, 01:22   #24
HarleyCroft
Explorer
 
HarleyCroft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Canada
Posts: 976
Default

My heart jumped when I saw you posted, Sheepman

The sense of discovery in Temple Ruins is fantastic! It goes from lush and green to dank and spooky perfectly and I'm so looking forward to your write-up TR3 is so great haha
__________________
Laugh, clown, and they'll all applaud! Laugh at the pain that poisons your heart
HarleyCroft is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-03-19, 09:30   #25
bekim
Relic Hunter
 
bekim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Madubu Gorge
Posts: 5,266
Default

I loved reading that.


I wish I could play this game for the first time again </3
bekim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-03-19, 00:03   #26
sheepman23
Relic Hunter
 
sheepman23's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Iowa
Posts: 8,651
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by HarleyCroft View Post
My heart jumped when I saw you posted, Sheepman

The sense of discovery in Temple Ruins is fantastic! It goes from lush and green to dank and spooky perfectly and I'm so looking forward to your write-up TR3 is so great haha
Oops, sorry to keep doing this I want to complete Temple Ruins but I'm in the midst of Season 4 of Dexter (haven't ever seen the show before) and once I finish tonight I'll be free all weekend to do review.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bekim View Post
I loved reading that.

I wish I could play this game for the first time again </3
Same here. Luckily it's been years since I've played so I've forgot minor things, but oh, what I would give to play the classic TR games with zero knowledge of them...
sheepman23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-03-19, 16:20   #27
sheepman23
Relic Hunter
 
sheepman23's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Iowa
Posts: 8,651
Default

INDIA
Level 2 - Temple Ruins




Man. Where do I begin with today's installment to the retro review? Temple Ruins is a loaded package. I think I struggled to find things to talk about during my analysis of Jungle, because, to be honest? While it was a perfectly solid opener and didn't do anything wrong, it also didn't take any risks. Playing it safe is just fine for the opening level; Temple Ruins, on the other hand, shows what the designers are going to be capable of over the next 18 levels... *gulp*

Temple Ruins actually starts off calmly enough - well, almost a little too calmly. Anyone who has a fear of snakes gets their nightmare as we see cobras popping their heads out of the bushes. The decision to make these entities inanimate works well, I think. There's still a huge surprise factor if you stumble onto the wrong patch of grass and don't notice them, but it prevents the snakes from feeling a little OP by being able to sneak up on our heroine at any point. The addition of the poisonous bite is also a crucial gameplay changer; take one bit of damage from these guys, and you're sucking up one small medipack...

But after the shock has worn off and we realize that we've got these slithering beasts to contend with throughout the stage, the first quarter of this experience is basically an extension of Jungle. It's complete with a nice little platform-heavy tree tops section where Lara can make some tricky jumps for a few nice prizes.



We get a gorgeous waterfall view, crawl through an opening, and all of a sudden the droning ambiance hits us... we're not in the outdoors anymore. We've made it.

Let's all be honest with ourselves for a moment. The interior portion of Temple Ruins is, to put it lightly, a bastard. If you didn't feel this way on your first playthrough, then you're either in the top 1% of our population reflex-wise, or you enjoy getting your ass kicked over and over again by traps.

The reason that Temple Ruin is ultimately a bastard is because so many of its traps are very, very unfair. Sorry guys - even though I still love this level's ruthless and unforgiving difficulty, many of these encounters are not really what I would call quality design. Too many of the traps in Temple Ruins are nearly impossible to see coming or to possibly have a chance of avoiding successfully on your first try. There are some boulders or spiked walls which you can plan for, but Temple Ruins relies on a high amount of trial-and-error gameplay segments. It's great if you're a hardened vet like me who remembers and expects these bits of unfairness, but for a newer player? Have fun ripping your hair out here.



Bits like the area in the above screenshot say it all, really. What starts out as an expected trap - in this case, the sound of a slashing horizontal blade - turns into either a fatal death or a massive amount of damage as the player isn't able to account for the spiked walls that come out of nowhere. Although it may seem harsh, I do think the level has to be docked some points for the absolute randomness of its traps, but even more so because Temple Ruins is only the second level of the game! This type of unpredictability works in grand finales like the Temple of Xian or Atlantis, but to throw in this mayhem on the title's second stage is just a bit too unforgiving if you ask me.

The good news is that there's still plenty of other gameplay dispersed amidst the numerous gauntlets and trials of the ruins. Invisible platforms make a return here, and this time they're ever-so-slightly revealed by the presence of fire light. That's a nice touch which showcases TR3's vastly improved lighting dynamics compared to its predecessors. Speaking of great touches: the moments where a chamber's ceiling falls in or a previous water pool turns into a gross mud bath makes this treacherous temple feel... well, alive. There's quite a bit of animation going on here, mind you, but architectural changes are also important in selling the deadliness to us, and Temple Ruins certainly gives us that.





On that note, I appreciate how Temple Ruins is broken up into a series of "trials" as opposed to one long romp with no end goal in sight. From the moment we discover the large gateway with two keyholes in it, we can tell that we're on the hunt for two keys to progress further. While the randomness of the traps is not great design, the stage's flow still works surprisingly well since our objectives are always clear. This occurs again near the journey's end when we're tasked with uncovering three more keys. Of course, this final bit of the level also features one of the absolute most unforgiving rooms: the player is forced into a dark room, must throw two switches, and then has to escape through a trapdoor... all in the nick of time to avoid a descending spike ceiling. This one is particularly brutal because the time limit is extremely tight. Is it possible to survive this chamber on first attempt? Probably not, and I think that kind of sucks since even quick problem-solving isn't enough to get you out alive.

Still, these individual trials at least help segment the level into recognizable and manageable bits, and this also extends to the enemy encounters. Temple Ruins is mostly devoid of normal combat, unless you count the occasional inanimate cobra or the weak monkeys roaming around. (That being said, there is an absolute troll of a cobra - see the below screenshot - who sits up on a high ledge and cannot be shot until you're literally standing right next to him. Well played, designers, well played. )

Instead, Temple Ruins opts for encounters with gargantuan, reanimated Shiva statues. The reveal of the Shiva baddies is effective because the first statue we run into doesn't animate; the second one does, however, and takes the player by surprise. When I was little, I used to hate the Shivas because I wasn't confident enough in getting right up in their faces. Thus, my battles with them would be long and boring, especially when accounting for my normal use of pistols. This time around, however, I went toe-to-toe with these foes and had a great time. It's absolutely refreshing to see a Tomb Raider enemy that has a means of defense, and, subsequently, encourages a riskier play style to defeat them. I wish this type of encounter occurred more frequently in TR3!





On that note, Temple Ruins practices combat better than most levels in this series manage to. Instead of overloading us with enemies or one-off surprise encounters, the designers instead give us three separate battles which almost feel like mini-bosses. And unlike the absolutely random hordes of traps which cover the rest of the experience, the Shivas are refreshingly predictable; tough to defeat, yes, but they follow a pattern and do what you expect. They are the perfect intermediaries between much of the other chaos (good or bad) going on in the level.

Moving on from the excellent enemies, Temple Ruins also earns high marks with its use of secrets. The secret themselves work as great intermediaries between traps, just like the Shivas. All but one of them requires keen observation to discover, but they're not ridiculously well-hidden (like the first shotgun in Jungle... ). A few of them even diverge into their own side challenges which feature more traps or cobra encounters.



At its core, Temple Ruins uses its two most prominent features - the relentless traps and the symbolic Shiva guardian statues - to craft an awesome atmosphere. This is a very lonely and haunting experience for our heroine, and it's made all the more unnerving by the general darkness and droning ambiance in the background. I don't think there's a single level of Tomb Raider II that managed to pull off this loneliness, actually, so the fact that TR3 does it in its second entry is pretty damned impressive. Temple Ruins is indicative of what this series is supposed to be about, and that should always be commended.

One more thing before ending this review. I've always appreciated TR3's use of cutscenes in between individual levels because it helps remind the player about the journey they're on. TR3's individual locations are all pretty isolated in nature and have their own little subplots going on - which we will see later with the South Pacific and London levelsets - but in India, there's just a clear case of a deranged bad guy stealing an artifact that Lara believes should be hers. It's a classic and solid TR story formula, and it's perfectly fine for the opening section of the title. The final cutscene here nicely sets up the finale of India: we've gotta chase Tony down the river, and once we find him, we're taking that damned Infada Stone whether he likes it or not. See, it's as simple as that!



Summary

Pros:
+ Great progression from the jungle to the temple
+ Excellent atmosphere
+ Shiva encounters are memorable and unconventional
+ Heavy use of traps plays well into the level theme
+ Satisfying secret areas
+ Pretty good level design

Cons:
- Numerous random traps can make the player feel like they're not in control
- Overall experience is ultimately too frustrating for the game's second level

I'm in an interesting position with my review of Temple Ruins. As a TR3 veteran who hasn't touched the game in years but still knows most of its nooks and crannies, I appreciate this level's challenge and relentlessness... but that is only because I know what to expect. On the other hand, I've watched Let's Plays of people who have never seen the level, and their frustrated reactions support the point I've been making over the course of this analysis: Temple Ruins isn't just too hard, it's too unpredictable. A difficult experience is fine, but difficulty only works if the player still feels like Lara's deaths are their own fault. Often times, it's just nearly impossible to have time to react to the things thrown in our way here, and when that happens, the responsibility of reloads shift from the player to the designer. That's not a good thing.

Still, even the unfair bits don't manage to take away from the truly atmospheric and well-designed level that's placed in front of us. Temple Ruins attempts to chew Lara up and spit her out, but it reinforces the idea that the Infada artifact is not supposed to be a lolly-gagging easy grab of a treasure. What's more is that Temple Ruins sets the tone of TR3 quite well. The designers are not going to hold our hands, the level design is going to be very tight and cohesive, and the enemies are (usually) going to feel more meaningful and unique for the scenario that we're in. I'd like to think that most of these points apply to the remainder of the game.

Rating - 8/10

Last edited by sheepman23; 06-04-19 at 02:47.
sheepman23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-03-19, 16:37   #28
NoahCrofRaider
Relic Hunter
 
NoahCrofRaider's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Mle Island
Posts: 7,809
Default

I agree with a lot of your points. Temple Ruins was a lovely precursor and showcase of what TR3 has to offer. That said, I like Temple Ruins, but it never hit off to me as one of the best levels of the game. Later levels were always much better, personally.
__________________
-high-pitched- AAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh! *bone crack*
NoahCrofRaider is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 31-03-19, 07:28   #29
tlr online
Administrator
 
tlr online's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 57,159
Default

Thank you.
tlr online is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-03-19, 08:04   #30
GRaider
Historian
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Germany
Posts: 382
Default

Ah, yes the famous second TR 3-Level Temple Ruins:
Quote:
Anyone who has a fear of snakes gets their nightmare as we see cobras popping their heads out of the bushes. The decision to make these entities inanimate works well, I think. There's still a huge surprise factor if you stumble onto the wrong patch of grass and don't notice them, but it prevents the snakes from feeling a little OP by being able to sneak up on our heroine at any point.
I know what you mean, the snakes are often a nasty surprise and adding poison at this point without explaning it before, is a typical TR-3 move. The snakes are only the next page in a long, long series of "watch your next stop carefully, even it seems to be relatively calm". And that poison will cost you minimum one medipack also makes the player more careful with the use of them.
And I also found it odd, that snakes can't move. Maybe it was too difficult to program the sinuous move of a snake. I think it is okay with the cobras, but it is weird with the rattlesnakes in Nevada.

Quote:
Let's all be honest with ourselves for a moment. The interior portion of Temple Ruins is, to put it lightly, a bastard. If you didn't feel this way on your first playthrough, then you're either in the top 1% of our population reflex-wise, or you enjoy getting your ass kicked over and over again by traps.
You are absolutely right, the traps are of the kind, that they will to 99% kill the player at the first playthrough. There are so many examples: the boulder in the first secret room, the collapsing ceiling in this pool room, the boulder at the top of this room, the spike walls behind the two blades,...
Perhaps the most unfair trap is, when after picking up the Ganesha key the room with the invisible platforms is full of mud. And the player have absolutely no clue where he should go through this without dying and on top, there is debris that can kill Lara instantly. GameStatistic criticises this heavily in his review of Tomb Raider 3.

Quote:
This type of unpredictability works in grand finales like the Temple of Xian or Atlantis, but to throw in this mayhem on the title's second stage is just a bit too unforgiving if you ask me.
Maybe it would be a little better, when Temple Ruins were the third or last India level. The next two levels are much easier (or you can argue, that River Ganges is more difficult, because of the quad-controls), so it feels a little off, to give us the grand level as second installment. Such a "grand level" has every section (London has even two). I can only imagine the designers wanted to show the player at a very early stage, that this is hard, sometimes unfair and unforgiving game, always to expect the unexpecting, be careful with every step and finding solutions for apparently impossible tasks. This could be a cool experience for a Tomb Raider veteran, who enjoyed Atlantis and Temple of Xian and is searching for a more difficult experience; but for a normal player or a newbie this level could easily made him too frustrated to continue this experience.

Quote:
Instead, Temple Ruins opts for encounters with gargantuan, reanimated Shiva statues. The reveal of the Shiva baddies is effective because the first statue we run into doesn't animate; the second one does, however, and takes the player by surprise.
The shivas (or maybe they should portray Kali, because she has often more arms) are one of the best enemies in Tomb Raider. They are scary (I think I didn't play further in Tomb Raider 3 after I saw the one of stone in the first room) and hard to kill, because you cannot use the typical tactic get to a higher point and shoot from there. You have to confront them in close combat and this needs some overcoming of the player.

Quote:
At its core, Temple Ruins uses its two most prominent features - the relentless traps and the symbolic Shiva guardian statues - to craft an awesome atmosphere.
I can totally agree here. If you expect to play a typical Tomb Raider level in India, you would expect exactly this: This level feels like something that was put together from many movies you watch with this indian adventure setting like The Jungle Book (not the Disney version, the scary one with real actors), some Sindbad movies (there also very often statues that come to life) and of course the second Indiana Jones movie. This is the reason I like this level very much. After you get over the frustration of the first or more gameplays, you have a grand level with a really good atmosphere, many challenges and an India experience.
GRaider 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 13:59.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions Inc.