Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tomb Raider 2



Tomb Raider II
Developer - Core Design
Publisher - Eidos Interactive
Release date – 31 October 1997

Tomb Raider II is an action-adventure video game, part of the Tomb Raider series and the sequel to the 1996 video game Tomb Raider. Developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive, the game was originally released for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation in 1997 and then ported to Mac OS in 1998.


Story

The story of Tomb Raider II surrounds the mythical 'Dagger of Xian', a weapon which was used by an Emperor of China to command his army. By plunging the weapon into its owner's heart, the weapon has the power to turn its bearer into a dragon. A flashback reveals that the last battle which was fought with the Dagger ended in defeat when the warrior monks of Tibet succeeded in removing the knife from the Emperor's heart, whereupon the Emperor died. The Dagger was then returned to its resting place within the Great Wall.

The game begins in the present day near the remains of the Great Wall, where Lara Croft investigates the legend of the Dagger. Upon reaching the door which leads to the dagger, she is attacked by a thug who claims to work for Marco Bartoli, a Venetian Mafia leader who has an obsession with the ancient lore of the Dagger. After travelling to Venice, Lara makes her way through Bartoli's hideout and an opera house where Bartoli's men are plotting a heist. Lara manages to follow Bartoli aboard his aeroplane, but she is knocked unconscious before she can confront him.


Gameplay

The gameplay of Tomb Raider II builds upon the basic set up of the original game. For a detailed discussion of its features, see the gameplay section of Tomb Raider. Innovations in Tomb Raider II include, new weapons, extra moves, a small set of vehicles, larger levels, many more enemies, mostly human enemies and dynamic lighting (in the original gun fire did not briefly light up the immediate area and flares did not exist). As well as these new features, the player may now save wherever and whenever they choose, save for a few special locations, as opposed to its predecessor's crystal saving feature.

In terms of movement, Lara can now climb ladders and perform a mid-air roll used to land in the opposite direction of which the player was facing. The range of weapons has been expanded to include a harpoon gun (though more correctly termed a speargun), a grenade launcher, an M16 rifle, which requires Lara to assume an aiming stance to fire, and automatic pistols, which replace the magnums from Tomb Raider. The item inventory now includes pyrotechnic flares, which are used to light up dark corners and take advantage of the improved lighting system implemented by the developers. The two vehicles in the game are a motorboat (in Venice) and a Snowmobile (in Tibet). Both are used to travel long distances across the map and can speed up on ramps or run over enemies.

The object of the game remains unchanged from the previous game: each level must be finished by solving various puzzles, collecting key items, and performing difficult jumps. However, this time there is an emphasis on gun fights and the killing of human opponents as well. Secrets no longer immediately reward the player with weapons or medipacks. Instead, each secret is marked by a coloured dragon ornament: silver (or stone), jade, and gold, according to the difficulty of their location. Only when Lara collects the last of all three dragons in a level will she receive a bonus, which usually consists of medipacks and ammunition, and infrequently a new weapon.

Tomb Raider II also offered the player an expanded version of "Croft Manor", Lara's mansion. Designed as a gameplay tutorial, players can wander through the massive building, most notably her personal gymnasium with a variety of platforms, objects, and traps set up for Lara to manoeuvre through. This let players acclimate themselves to the game's controls and Lara's large arsenal of moves at their own pace in a relaxed, controlled environment. As a bit of comic relief, Lara's old butler slowly follows Lara around the house, with the sound of rattling tea cups on his tray accompanying him (and by proxy, the player) along the way. If Lara bumps him, he grunts or groans and will even occasionally break wind. Versions of Lara's mansion would return in Tomb Raider III and then later in Tomb Raider: Legend.

Development

Development of Tomb Raider II was already in its conceptual stages before the first game was released. As Core Design came to the home stretch of Tomb Raider's development, additional ideas and suggestions for the game had piled up, some of which were still able to be incorporated in the first game, and others which would form foundation for the sequel.

While two key members of the original team had left – most notably Lara's creator Toby Gard, who was replaced by Stuart Atkinson – the design team for Tomb Raider II was expanded to more than double its original size. A decision was made early on to keep the engine from the first Tomb Raider, adopting a tweak-and-improve approach, rather than starting over from scratch. This, combined with the larger development team, led to a shorter development time than that of the original game. Minor camera issues and polygon glitches were fixed, while new features were added, such as dynamic lighting and a more flexible control system. With the improvements to the graphics engine, a larger number of polygons could be rendered on screen, allowing large outdoors areas and more atmospheric effects.

Lara's appearance in Tomb Raider II was given a make-over by the new designer, Stuart Atkinson, giving her a free-flowing ponytail, smoother features, and several new outfits which changed over the course of the game. While in China and Venice she sported her signature "Tomb Raider outfit" (a tanktop and shorts), in the ocean-based levels she donned a half-body wetsuit and in Tibet she wore a flight jacket. Lara's revolving wardrobe would become a trademark of the series going forward.

Core Design used a custom built level editor that made it possible to explore each stage as it was being created, allowing levels to be play tested on the fly and eliminating glitches. A team of six playtesters continually tested the game up until the final hours before it was sent to Sony for final approval.

While the original Tomb Raider was released on both the PlayStation and Sega Saturn game consoles, Tomb Raider II was no longer designed for the Sega Saturn despite having been confirmed as a target platform for the game in the first place. Following the cancellation announcement, Adrian Smith cited technical limitations of the console to program an adequate conversion. In September 1997, Sony Computer Entertainment signed a deal with Eidos to make console releases for the Tomb Raider franchise exclusive to the PlayStation, preventing the Sega Saturn or the Nintendo 64 from having any Tomb Raider game released for it until 2000, a deal that would prove very beneficial to Sony both in terms of revenue and also in further cementing the PlayStation's growing reputation as the go-to system for must-have exclusive titles.

Shelley Blond did not reprise her role as Lara Croft from the previous game. Instead, Judith Gibbins voiced Lara in Tomb Raider II.


Soundtrack

The score for Tomb Raider II was composed by Nathan McCree, who previously had composed the score for the original Tomb Raider. He spent three months working for Tomb Raider II.

All music composed by Nathan McCree.

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