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Old 11-10-18, 01:40   #201
HarleyCroft
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The mysterious teleporting boulder!
I played the original TR after TR2-Chronicles and it was the weirdest, most confusing physics quirk to come across because it only happens in this game The puzzle where Lara pulls out a block of wall to stop the boulder from getting in the way of a door would only work in this crazy, mixed up videogame world!

Thanks for more beautiful screens and a nice read, Sheep
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Old 11-10-18, 14:21   #202
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Some surprising reviews of levels. I find Tomb of Qualopec a fun level - the colour scheme being one of its more memorable aspects!

Tomb of Tihocan I always found quite bland/dull, until the very end; I'd sooner replay the Caves or ToQ.
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Old 11-10-18, 21:25   #203
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quetzalcoatl View Post
Some surprising reviews of levels. I find Tomb of Qualopec a fun level - the colour scheme being one of its more memorable aspects!

Tomb of Tihocan I always found quite bland/dull, until the very end; I'd sooner replay the Caves or ToQ.
I may have been a bit too harsh on ToQ - looking back, I'm not really sure if it's worthy of the 5/10 that I just dropped it to. I still think it's the worst level of the game, however. The color palette is somewhat quirky, I suppose, but it's mostly just an eyesore...
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Old 12-10-18, 10:13   #204
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Certain combinations of colours/contrasts can give me migraines - but I always liked the ToC colours! lol Maybe a 6.5/10 =)
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Old 14-10-18, 21:50   #205
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I am one of those fans that enjoy Qualopec's color scheme also. It makes the tomb feel like an "grand" resting place for Qualopec. I do agree with some points that sheepman mentioned in his review though. The double secret behind the statue is one of the most cleverly placed secrets in the series. It rewards the player for exploring every nook and cranny of the level. The traps and puzzles in this level were pretty simple, but the main objective of completing three trial rooms to reach the Scion was pretty effective for this part of the game. The temple collapsing scene and the mummy falling is one of the most iconic scene in the series for me.

As for Natla's Mines, it's probably one of weaker levels from the first game. I probably would give this level an 6/10. I love the challenge of exploring the level without Lara's weapons. There were plenty of Classic elements in this level despite not being an actual tomb - lever pulling and key collecting, traps, tricky jumps, and an couple of bizarre moments like the skateboard park. On the downside though, the color scheme is an eyesore. Especially when you're in that golden building before entering Atlantis. And the excessive block pushing also drags this level down too.
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Old 26-10-18, 22:54   #206
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ATLANTIS
Level 14 - Atlantis




A Disturbing Design Recipe

Atlantis is a weird level. I don't think this is a secret to anyone who has played this game before. The walls pulsate, which is even more disturbing given 1996 graphic capabilities. The giant eggs burst open to reveal freaky-looking mutations. You can literally hear the heartbeat of whatever monstrosity you're standing inside of. There's more traps in this one level than there have been for most of the game. As if that weren't enough, there's another TELEPORTING BOULDER WHAT THE HELL CORE DESIGN.

All of these bits and pieces combine to make a pretty damned unnerving experience. At its core, Atlantis is probably the most straightforward level the designers have given us thus far. I think a lot of the reason for this is to highlight how utterly gruesome and menacing Natla's domain is; rather than the intricate and thoughtful puzzles that Tihocan might have put in place of his tomb, or what we might have seen back in Khamoon, Atlantis is a full-force monster waiting to rip Lara to shreds. And it tries pretty hard to do just that.

One other bit about the atmosphere before I move on to the level's actual gameplay: there's hardly any music this time around. Now, normally that's a major sin from a presentation perspective, but the reason why this truly works for a level like Atlantis is because the player already knows of and feels the sense of dread that surrounds this experience. Constantly highlighting this with music tracks would not have enriched the set all that much; hence, we can hear the heartbeat from the walls and are left with an even more unnerving feeling as a result.


Flying demons, lava, and literal pulsating walls... where in the actual Hell is the River Styx?!


Core missed a prime opportunity to have Natla's mutants surfing down these little lava rivers to greet Lara.

Blood Sacs, Lava Baths, and Crippling Heights

This is a dangerous level, and I'm not just talking about the shivers that get sent down your spine from the atmosphere. Atlantis takes every opportunity possible to stop Lara from reaching the top. It's like some over-the-top gauntlet where brute force was the only consideration in keeping out intruders. As previously mentioned, most of Tomb Raider has placed a great emphasis on exploration and puzzles to impede Lara from reaching her goals. In the case of Atlantis, it's just pure combat and traps to stop her.

The kill count for this level is in mid-30's, which doesn't seem like a whole lot, but is actually quite a bit when you consider that all of those enemies are giant mutants instead of little rats and bats. Of course, the TR1 Gold levels would challenge this number even more, but this is still quite an alarming venture. The designers also encourage the players to use the Uzis in this level. How can I tell? Well, let's put it this way: I ended the level with about 500 more Uzi bullets than I started with, and I was using the weapons THE ENTIRE TIME. There's so many clips scattered around that it actually slightly diminishes the difficulty that the final levels of the game could have presented (had the game not been so lenient with its ammo supply).

That's not really a huge criticism on this level's part, though, but rather one on the game as a whole. Drastically reducing the ammo that's usually gift-wrapped to Lara would have been an improvement difficulty-wise.


mmkay excuse me I do not appreciate all of the blood and gore flying at me plz take your self-destruction somewhere else? k thx


Pictured: several college-age students launching Pokeballs at an unsuspecting Dragonite (2016)

These Atlanteans are absolutely brutal. They jump around, scream, launch darts, and sometimes those red sacs of fiery blood (yes, that's really what they're supposed to be...). Add in their absolutely menacing appearance, and it's easy to understand why 8-year-old Tyler got a little scared every time he reached the end of Natla's Mines and knew that this level was coming up...

The other half of this level's unrelenting pressure comes from the traps scattered the whole way across it. These traps can be as simple as spiky teeth just popping up out of nowhere after you clear a jump in the main chamber, as complicated as a triple-threat ramp of fun (darts, boulder, teeth), or as absolutely random as a TRICK HALLWAY that makes you think you're going to obtain a medipack, only to flood the passage with MOLTEN LAVA. CORE DESIGN, THAT WAS SNEAKY AND RUDE AND I LOVE YOU FOR IT.

Honestly, the most defining features of Atlantis are the mutants, traps, and disgusting-looking hallways. That's immediately what I think of when I think of this level. The first 80% of the journey up to the top of the pyramid actually has several very forgettable chambers; you go in, maybe flip some switches, kill some mutants, jump over some lava pools, and that's it. There are a couple of scenarios where the game creates tension by not informing you which switches are actually necessary to pull, resulting in you flipping levers solely to awaken some of the Atlanteans in the giant eggs. It's great, really unnerving stuff, and the tip-off sound of the churning egg after you "active" it is fantastic suspense.


Honestly the idea of teleporting boulders is so hilarious that I have no problem accepting it as canon in the TR series. If Shadow of the Tomb Raider doesn't have a damn teleporting boulder imma be pissed.


Let's be real here, this type of stuff should happen to Lara waaaaaaay more often than it actually does. Hasn't she ever seen Indiana Jones?

Talk About Being Your Own Worst Enemy

I'm going to go ahead and slap myself for using that quote from Anniversary as the header for this next section, but that slap should also partially go towards Crystal Dynamics for making Lara utter the cheesiest line she could have in the remaster. So yeah, there you go.

Let's talk about Bacon Lara. Now, TR1 has already done a pretty exceptional job of subverting expectations for what appeared to be a game about overly-involved archaeology. We've already gotten dinosaurs, death-by-gold, centaur statues bursting to life, and teleporting boulders. Have I mentioned that this game has teleporting boulders? Anyway, Bacon Lara is not so much of a subversion of expectations as it is simply a brilliant gameplay maneuver. Okay... "brilliant" might be stretching it, but it certainly shakes up the gameplay as we know it. Stuck inside of a chamber with no discernible escape, the game requires the player to throw a switch on one end of the room to drop a trapdoor at the other end... and because our new ARCH NEMESIS mimics Lara's moves, we can utilize that to kill her! It's the closest thing Atlantis gets to a puzzle, and frankly, it's actually one of the best ones in the entire game.

There's not really much to this encounter beyond that blurb. It's kind of alarming to come down here your first time, take care of the other mutants jumping around like banshees, and then to start attacking this new creature... only to realize that YOU'RE the one getting peppered by bullets! It's enough of a quirky moment to cement itself as a highlight of this game, but ultimately is a little overshadowed by other great parts of this title.


Did Natla steal E.T. and morph him into Bacon Lara? Those eyes are... a little unnerving to stay the least.

The vision Lara receives upon touching the Scion is a good bit of exposition that ties together some of the loose ends of the plot. The game has delved into why the Scion is so powerful, but has not yet shown us the relationship between Natla and her brothers. The powerful words of Qualopec and Tihocan are particularly biting here, and Natla's sarcastic responses feel very natural and in-character. She even shows a bit of humanity when she pleads to Tihocan for her release. Even down to the last second, she's screaming about how the two of them won't rest peacefully. It's a great scene, and I only wish we could see a high-quality FMV replace it. The graphical capabilities of the main engine have received touch-ups and improvements over the years, but as far as I know there's been little to help with the FMVs.

Finally, we have the confrontation with Natla in the Scion's resting chamber. It's actually one of my favorite dialogue exchanges in the original trilogy, as there's a very high feeling of mutual respect among these two women. Lara recognizes that Natla has been very smart and cunning to get to where she's at; likewise, Natla has not only seen Lara recover three pieces of Scion, but knows that she's overcome a huge gauntlet to reach the top of the pyramid. For a while there, it actually seems as though the two might speak civilly about ending this whole thing... but then Natla utters the famous line "Too late for abortions now", and Lara... well, she does what Lara does best: foils plans. A potential bullet in the Scion infuriates Natla enough to throw Lara and herself over the ledge, and while our heroine is lucky enough to catch on to the platform just below, Miss Jacqueline is not so fortunate.



Before heading to the summary, I want to take a moment to point out how TR1 has very rarely used cutscenes and FMVs to interrupt the plot. And yet, whenever it does insert these expository bits, they always feel necessary, well-written, and ultimately memorable. This is a trait that future classic-era games would have a hard time with, atleast up until the events of The Last Revelation.


Conclusion

Atlantis is really one of the most challenging and satisfying adventures to ever grace the Tomb Raider franchise. In many ways, its style of gameplay is sort of the anti-thesis of what Tomb Raider is known for. Intricate puzzles, calm chambers, and beautiful background music is replaced with somewhat disturbing scenery, intense combat encounters, and hallway upon hallway leading you up to the top of the pyramid rather than a more expansive, exploration-oriented format.

Love or hate this level, it certainly knew what it wanted to accomplish and did a damn good job of nailing its own atmosphere. I don't think Atlantis is really one of the first levels people think of in this trilogy - or even this game, to be honest - but it still is highly deserving of one of the best ratings I can offer, largely due to its bold gameplay gestures, constant excitement, and 11 o'clock-hour-feeling as the game pulls no punches going into its final segments.

Rating - 9/10


Level Rankings so Far:
1. Palace Midas (10)
2. Sanctuary of the Scion (10)
3. The Lost Valley (10)
4. Obelisk of Khamoon (9)
5. Atlantis (9)
6. City of Vilcabamba (9)
7. City of Khamoon (9)
8. St. Francis Folly (8)
9. Cistern (8)
10. Natla's Mines (8)
11. Colosseum (7)
12. Tomb of Tihocan (7)
13. Caves (6)
14. Tomb of Qualopec (6)

Last edited by sheepman23; 28-10-18 at 17:59.
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