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Tomb Raider II

By Bobfish04-04-2015

The Defence

Core Design
Eidos Interactive
Action, Adventure, Platformer
Release Date:
US 31-10-1997
EU 01-11-1997

The Prosecution

Intel Pentium 4 1.8 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 8600
AMD equivalent
512 MB
2 GB

So you think yearly sequels are a bad thing? A sign of the current, degrading quality in the video game industry, spurred on by an irresistible urge to fleece as much money out of players as quickly, cheaply, and easily as possible. That is the common consensus isn't it? And you know something? It might even be true. But the yearly sequel model, yeah, that ain't a new thing. Not even close. Welcome to the 90s chaps. Where a game could be released, make sales, have its success analysed, commission a sequel and then release the sequel fully formed. All in the space of twelve months. Even, in many cases, with the sequel being far, far better than the original. As was the case here.

Because that's the simple fact of the matter. Tomb Raider II improved on its predecessor in every conceivable way. It looked better, played (a tiny bit) better despite having the exact same tank controls. It was longer, had some environmentally (almost) appropriate changes of clothing for Lara...'cause a Parka over your boob tube and hotpants will totally keep you warm in the Himalayas! And it even had...a story! As in, a story that did more than just sit there as a lazy justification for Lara to jet around the world. It was a half-assesd story, sure, but that's still a step up. Though the loss of Rohna Mitra as the voice of Lara left Lara herself sounding like...a mature member of the adult services profession.

What I'm saying is, there's a lot to like about Lady Croft's second adventure. The levels are significantly larger, both in length and simple geography. Though most of them still average in at around the 45 minute mark, like the first game. But they have more in them, they feel a lot busier and more interesting. Clearly they were designed more with gameplay in mind, so going into a level with a modern perspective on level design will leave you somewhat underwhelmed. But it behoves us to remember that these were formative years in the industry, and it was experiments such as this that allowed us to refine our approach to game making.

Guns. Lots of 'guns'.

Guns. Lots of 'guns'.

In fact, there are more than a few developers that would benefit from looking back at the Tomb Raider games for a guide on how to do it right. See, as well as refining what was already there, each new chapter also added something new of its own. New skills and animations, vehicles, new weapons and equipment (flares were a fantastic idea!) and most importantly, larger and longer levels. Let me say that again, because this is something people don't seem to be able to grasp. Tomb Raider II is a larger game than the one before it. That doesn't mean it had a whole bunch of crap thrown into multiplayer. The game itself was larger. It didn't, and doesn't, have any multiplayer.

Basically, where the first game was a clunky, but ambitious new approach to games. This is a...actually, it's pretty much just as clunky, but equally ambitious and, more importantly, much larger in scale. Yes, that does need to be stressed to death. It's a larger game, a much larger game, and it's still really good.

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