Tomb Raider II (PS1)

Tell us about games you are currently playing. "Quick hit" reviews.
User avatar
VideoGameCritic
Site Admin
Posts: 14117
Joined: April 1st, 2015, 7:23 pm

Tomb Raider II (PS1)

Postby VideoGameCritic » August 8th, 2020, 6:21 pm

I guess the designers were going for realism, creating a game with a lot of dark areas requiring you to use flares to see your way. As a result, Tomb Raider II might be the ugliest game I've ever played. Even Venice looks like garbage. And apparently the ability to save any time was an excuse to ratchet up the difficult and include a lot of annoying, timed switches.

Not having a good time....

TheEagleXIII
Posts: 158
Joined: December 22nd, 2019, 9:33 am

Re: Tomb Raider II (PS1)

Postby TheEagleXIII » August 9th, 2020, 4:15 am

This is why I’ve always said I felt like the first game ‘held your hand’ ;)

Interesting observations, though. The only thing I remember finding jarring about the 2nd game - especially playing immediately after the first - wasn’t the graphics, it was the sound. It sounds a bit muffled, like it had been recorded through a pillow. But that’s the only issue I ever really had with it.

VicViper
Posts: 82
Joined: October 22nd, 2015, 2:36 pm

Re: Tomb Raider II (PS1)

Postby VicViper » August 9th, 2020, 4:55 am

TheEagleXIII wrote:This is why I’ve always said I felt like the first game ‘held your hand’ ;)

Interesting observations, though. The only thing I remember finding jarring about the 2nd game - especially playing immediately after the first - wasn’t the graphics, it was the sound. It sounds a bit muffled, like it had been recorded through a pillow. But that’s the only issue I ever really had with it.

To be fair, Tomb Raider II is a tough game right out the gate, Tomb Raider III is brutally hard and terribly punishing in a lot of places, and Tomb Raider IV is about as difficult as II but instead of having tough platforming and unfair combat against very accurate hitscan enemies, IV has tough platforming, good and mostly fair combat, and a huge variety of puzzles but with some of them being very obscure with rather limited signposting.

No wonder Tomb Raider I feels the most "hand-holdy". It's the easiest and most consistent out of those, but I feel each of the sequels have better highs than Tomb Raider I, they just have lower lows. I still think Tomb Raider I doesn't have anything as good as II's Temple of Xian.

Tomb Raider V I don't count, because it's a half-hearted effort and the devs recognised themselves they rushed the title because they were contractually forced to make it, they blew their load on IV and didn't want to make another one, but Eidos couldn't be dissuaded. V was pretty much designed to be bad, short, very compact, no ambition, so it has the side effect of being very easy even compared to Tomb Raider I.

User avatar
VideoGameCritic
Site Admin
Posts: 14117
Joined: April 1st, 2015, 7:23 pm

Re: Tomb Raider II (PS1)

Postby VideoGameCritic » August 9th, 2020, 9:25 am

That is some great analysis VipViper.

I'm kind of amazed that Tomb Raider 1, 2, and 3 where released over three consecutive years. Imagine today telling a development team they had to get out a AAA title in less than a year.

It was pretty obvious by TR3 however that the franchise had become a cash cow. The manual for TR3 is mainly dedicated to Eidos games and merchandise. Heck there's even a Tomb Raider 3 tip line! I guess not everybody had internet by 1998.

VicViper
Posts: 82
Joined: October 22nd, 2015, 2:36 pm

Re: Tomb Raider II (PS1)

Postby VicViper » August 9th, 2020, 1:10 pm

VideoGameCritic wrote:I'm kind of amazed that Tomb Raider 1, 2, and 3 where released over three consecutive years. Imagine today telling a development team they had to get out a AAA title in less than a year.

That can be sort of explained.

Tomb Raider I & II have the same team of developers, minus a few people who quitted in 1997.

Tomb Raider III was made by a B team within Core Design, because the main team wanted to get more time to create a new Tomb Raider game with a new engine, which ended up being Tomb Raider IV: The Last Revelation (which does show due to the multilevel/mini-open world progression, it being the longest Tomb Raider game period, and it looking a lot better than II & III, especially the lighting).

It's a similar situation to Call of Duty alternating developers for each annual entry. Which did extend to Tomb Raider V being lethargically developed by the main team while another less experienced team was on Angel of Darkness, which ended up as a development disaster due to new hardware complications and tossing almost everything they had done after the main team took over the project.

But back to Tomb Raider III, it surprised me when I learned about it being developed by a B team, because Tomb Raider III might as well be called "Tomb Raider: The Lost Levels" or "For Super Players".
The level design felt way too complex and too vast to be made by a team who either didn't give a s--t or didn't have any experience, but it does feel a lot more convoluted and trial & error than in I & II.

I love Nevada and like the Pacific quite a bit (except that damn canoe sequence), but India is incredibly unforgiving, long, and confusing for a first zone, and London makes me wanna shove my foot down the throat of whoever the heck designed the whole zone. Especially Aldwych and Lud's Gate. Couldn't even get through Antartica, I was burnt out (and my PC glitched out my default keyboard settings).
I'd also shoot whoever decided to create that "save crystal consumable" idea for the PS1 version, but I have the PC version, so... spams quicksaves.
And protip: always pick Nevada first as your first destination, because you lose your weapons there, and you don't want to lose them in the lategame. Give it to Tomb Raider to make the level select a trap to avoid as well.

It does sort of explain also why Tomb Raider III's plot feels so... basic and kind of lacking stakes throughout most of it. Seriously though, if you compare the plot progression with getting four stones, losing them to the main villain, and his motivation to create a new race of human mutants for the sake of our evolution as a species (hello Natla), Tomb Raider III feels like diet Tomb Raider I. Admittedly Tomb Raider II's plot isn't much better, but III's feels more like a spin-off than a sequel/big standalone story.
Meanwhile, Tomb Raider IV's plot though is easily the most developed and arguably the best of the classic series.

But yeah, the main team actually started developing Tomb Raider IV after Tomb Raider II was released. Eidos really wanted them money printing cow though, hence why Tomb Raider III exists.

TheEagleXIII
Posts: 158
Joined: December 22nd, 2019, 9:33 am

Re: Tomb Raider II (PS1)

Postby TheEagleXIII » August 9th, 2020, 4:40 pm

To add to Viper’s great summary, the developer’s original plan was to work on II for a couple years, then shift attention to Tomb Raider III as a PS2 title. Which would have been a completely different game to the Tomb Raider III we actually got. Not to mention it wouldn’t have been Angel of Darkness either.

When you hear the stress the team went through getting II completed in under a year, I’m actually amazed the game turned out so good.

They were sick of her by the third one, and there was even a guy assigned to creating Lara’s deaths. Maybe that partially explains why III is so hard, because the game clearly wants her dead at all costs. There’s so many traps that are instant death without any reaction time. Paired with the limited save crystals on the PS1 version, some sections feel like Super Meat Boy for true masochists.

Killing her off at the end of The Last Revelation was their way of saying they were done, but even that didn’t stop Eidos squeezing one more game out of them.

User avatar
Retro STrife
Posts: 1755
Joined: August 3rd, 2015, 7:40 pm

Re: Tomb Raider II (PS1)

Postby Retro STrife » August 10th, 2020, 9:07 am

Seems like everybody is in a Tomb Raider mood lately. I've been playing the old series a bit too, in advance of trying out Tomb Raider 2013 soon. I decided I wanted to play 30 minutes or so of TR1, 2, and 3 on the PS1, just to reorient myself with it. (But my PS1 disc of TR1 didn't work, so I had to play my Saturn version of that.)

I played each of the 3 back in the 90s, to varying degrees. TR1, I just played the demo on the PC, which is only the first level or so. TR2, I also just played the demo version. And TR3 was actually my first game I got with my PS1 and I beat that one.

I actually kinda despise the series and thought it was overrated, although you guys are now making me realize that my experience with TR3 might be the root cause, since it was by far my biggest time investment in the series. I feel good about beating it now that you guys mention the difficulty.. but admittedly, I had the strategy guide and literally played it step-by-step. It was not a fun experience, but I didn't have other games so I stuck with it. I remember thinking "there's no way anyone could beat this without the guide" and "I wouldn't even know where to go or what to do if I wasn't following these steps".

Still, I can't say I feel much better about TR1 and TR2 from my limited time with them. They're really ambitious for their time, but I just always found them too frustrating and difficult. I can only accidentally fall off ledges or mess up my jumps so many times before I start blaming the game instead of myself.

VicViper
Posts: 82
Joined: October 22nd, 2015, 2:36 pm

Re: Tomb Raider II (PS1)

Postby VicViper » August 13th, 2020, 7:43 am

Yeeeah, TR III is a really terrible entry to start with for the classic series. It's still a good game at its core, but its got way too hardcore... Design. (HAH) I did use a guide on occasions for that one too.

TR I is most ideal, and I would say TR V too in a way, because... there's nowhere to go but up in this case and it's rather easy too (except the last zone).

As opposed to the Legend reboot series where all Legend/Anniversary/Underworld are pretty good games and all have pretty spot on challenge all while not going overboard nor being confusing. Although I'd go in chronological order just for plot reasons, Underworld in particular should not be played first or second.

These are my go-to TR games, and while individually they might seem lesser than the 2013 game or the rest of its trilogy, together as a trilogy I believe they've yet to be beaten. They're good fun, they're respectful towards the source all while rebooting the character, the tone is appropriate throughout (although Legend is a tad silly), and they don't have to shove gritty realism with ultra violent deaths down your throat to tell a decent narrative.

Not to knock TR 2013 and its siblings, they're really good games, but had you removed the "Tomb Raider" title off of them, you'd have to tell me I was playing a Tomb Raider game with them, because aside from how the basics of the platforming gameplay works compared to the Legend trilogy, it's night and day.

On another note, since it's a TR II thread, I just finished the game yesterday. You could potentially add an hour for all the deaths (and maybe another 30 minutes for the Opera House if I had completed it without taking the shortcut):
Image

I was surprised at how much better the sunken ship zone was compared to how I remembered it being (since I always tended to skip it as a kid), but it's an absolute pacebreaker. Four levels? And adding the two levels on the offshore rig, that's a third of the game right there!


Return to “Now Playing”