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Tomb Raider 2 Review


GENRE Action 
T Contains Animated Blood, Animated Violence

What do these ratings mean?

No, there aren't any nude codes.

Everybody's favorite pistol-packin' mama has returned! Tomb Raider II: the Dagger of Xian is the game that we've all been waiting to play. Frankly, I'm excited. The game is good, but does it live up to its mighty predecessor? Well, just keep reading...

Nobody wants to follow Elvis on stage. You just can't top some acts, and Tomb Raider is a very tough act to follow. It was new, fun, exciting, beautiful and revolutionary: a game unlike any we had seen before. So how do you make a sequel? If we think of Lara as Indiana Jones (plus breasts), then Tomb Raider II is MUCH better than The Temple of Doom. It's more like The Last Crusade: pretty good, plenty of action and stunts, but it fails to completely capture the charm and magic of the original.

But let's talk about the good stuff first. Lara is back! She's got the moves of an Olympic gymnast and the soul of Annie Oakley. Her look hasn't changed very much, with the same tight blue top and brown short-shorts. She has been... well lets just say 'rounded' a bit more so she looks less angular and pointy.

Lara also has a couple of new tricks. She can now flip and change directions in mid-air, and climb certain walls, both of which she does with her usual grace and style. A couple of new weapons flesh out her arsenal with the classic M-16, and the obligatory grenade launcher.

The graphics are nearly identical to the original game. The engine has been tweaked a little, but there are no major changes. Like the original, I highly recommend a compatible 3Dfx card. The graphic improvement with hardware acceleration is immesuarble.

There are a couple of new lighting effects, but frankly, the biggest advancement of TR2 over TR1 is... (drumroll please...) Lara's pony-tail. Yes ladies and gentlemen, giant advancements have been made in the field of Pony-tail Physics. While this has countless, obvious, real-world applications that will improve your life immeasurably, it also makes Lara's hair the most realistically rendered object in the game. It whips around, blows in the wind and floats in the water. A nice bit of attention to detail.

And Lara will need all her tricks, hair included, to find the Dagger of Xian. This ancient Chinese relic gives the power of the dragon to whoever plunges it into their heart. Ouch. Better hope it works the first time. Lara begins her quest in the Great Wall, but an Italian mobster, Bartoli, has beaten her to it. So it's off to beautiful Venice. Begin your mornings with fresh coffee and a plunge into the unbelievably clear and unpolluted canals. Luxury accommodations, provided by Eidos, include the romantic and dangerous 'Bartoli's Hideout', and three nights in the confusing, but beautiful, 'Opera House'. From there, the adventure continues, but I won't tell you where.

This is where Tomb Raider II just doesn't quite live up to the first one. The level design just isn't as interesting. This has a lot to do with the settings. Having already journeyed through the ancient ruins of South America, Egypt, England, and even mythical Atlantis in the first Tomb Raider , the new places to explore such as 'Oil Derrick' and other modern venues just don't have the same magic. They're just not as interesting.

Perhaps realizing this, the designers have made Tomb Raider 2 a more arcade-style game. Depending on who you are, you may or may not like this. Personally, I was a little disappointed, but others will not be. There are more fast-paced things to jump and dodge, tons of swinging objects, rolling boulders, flame jets and the like. You can race a speedboat and a snowmobile. There are also lots of people to shoot, unlike the original. Combat is frequent, human enemies abound and must be eliminated. The new action Lara with the Kung-Fu grip has less of an emphasis on exploration and puzzles.

Speaking of 'action Lara' (yes there is an action figure now), this game should have been called "Tomb Raider II: The Marketing: Starring Lara Croft". When you open the box, the instruction manual is dwarfed by the catalogs, advertisements, and order forms. This smarmy parade of overpriced merchandise includes the Tomb Raider Backpack ($199!), the Tomb Raider watch ($499!), the Tomb Raider travel mug ($40!), and the usual assortment of baseball hats and T-shirts. The ads are for video game magazines (not Game Revolution), other Eidos games, the Tomb Raider comic book ($2.95), and worst of all: Eidos' own 1-900 line ($0.95 per minute please, and no heavy breathing). This is, in a word, pathetic.

But in the end, after you throw out the marketing crap, you're still left with a really good game. Lara is still beautiful, the gameplay is still great, the action will still make your heart skip a beat. It's just not quite as good as the first one, and it's no longer a new and amazing type of game. A fairly worthy sequel to be sure, but still just a sequel. Elvis has left the building.

B+ Revolution report card
  • Good game
  • Nothing really new
  • Cool pony-tail
  • Uber-babe!
  • Not as good as the 1st
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