Review: Tomb Raider II (PS1) ~ French Lara

tomb_raider_2_boxWikipedia entry

Before you ask, what the title means… Let me explain that to you. So, I live in Belgium and we have three national languages here. These are Dutch, French and German. So, when I bought this game in a garage sale, I didn’t notice that I bought the French version of the game. Yeah. That’s why I played this game in French. Thankfully, after I had beaten this game I got my hands on the English version and the expansion pack for the PC, so I was able to enjoy the original voice acting. But, enough stalling. It’s time to talk about my experience with this game on the PlayStation 1. What is my opinion on this game? Let’s find out! As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article.

A dagger with power

289451-tomb-raider-ii-starring-lara-croft-windows-screenshot-first

In this game, you play as Lara Croft on an adventure for the Dagger of Xian. The legend goes that with this dagger you can turn into a dragon. On the condition that the dagger is in your heart.

In present day, Lara is looking for the dagger. But she has the mafia on her heels.

Personally, I love this story. But that has to do with a few reasons. I enjoy stories about powerful artificats that can transform people or give them supernatural powers. Also, my favorite mythical creature are dragons. So, I’m a little bit bias to the story.

The writing is well done and the voice acting still sort of holds up. What I mean with “sort of” is that the voices are in rather low quality for today’s standards but this game is 10 years old, so I can forgive it for that.

Something I think that could be learned from this game is the fact that this game doesn’t have a real tutorial. I think it’s a great game design philisophy to first learn the player the mechanics in a safe of semi-safe enviroment and after that, you throw in the traps and puzzles. I don’t mean a full on tutorial, but a room where every mechanic can be learned without the fear of dying. Thankfully, you can save the game at any moment in time so you can quickly recover when you made a mistake. On the condition that you have saved often of course.

That is what I thought at first, but when I started messing around in Lara Croft’s manner, guess what… There is in fact a tutorial. So, when you play this game for the first time, I recommend doing the Croft Manner before you go into the main game. Thank me later.

As a side note, the save system is something you have to get used too. My French wasn’t good enough to understand everything of the UI. But, after some trail and error, I was able to figure it out. My advise when you play this game is to save often or you will regret it. There are a lot of traps in this game and when you haven’t saved, you will have to do those all over again.

Speaking about the UI itself, I think it’s amazing. The only complaint I have is that you can’t show Lara’s health at all time on the screen.

Showing it’s age

trII

I think it isn’t a surprise that this game is showing it’s age. Comparing to later titles in the series, this game hasn’t aged all that well.

But, the PS1 version has some disavantages compared to the PC version. In the PC version, you can have more than one save in a level and in my opinion, it controls better.

The reason that is controls better is, at least according to me, I usually play Tomb Raider games on my PC and rarely on consoles. So, my brain is somewhat hard wired for these old Tomb Raider games, making it trickier for me to play it on a console.

Something that was also present in the PC version is the texture clipping. In some cases or viewing angles, you can see white lines on the screen where the textures start and end.

Visually, this game looks dated. But I personally don’t mind. I think the visuals has still some charm to them. Just the early 3D adventure games that try to go full 3D have so much charm. I wish that more games are created that way, since it’s so nostalgic in my opinion.

The controls of this game are a mixed bag. At most moments, they work fine. But, if don’t play a lot of PlayStation, you might forget which button does what and in stressful trap situations, this will lead to some frustation. But, I had a hard time adjusting to how Lara walks. But, I think that issue has also to do with the annoying camera.

I had several times that the camera didn’t always follow the action. I died so many times because of that, it got frustrating.

Atmosphere

tr2_1The lack of music sometimes creates a great atmosphere. You visit various locations in your journey and in key moments, you get music.

The music in this game is extremely well done in my opinion. Surprisingly enough, according to various sources, the composer of this game worked on the soundtrack for only 3 to 4 months.

The sound effects of this game are still great. These have aged well. Just like the atmosphere of this game. I loved my journey through this game. The gameplay is really enjoyable. There are puzzles that got me stumped and jumping puzzles that I had to attempt more then once, but I didn’t mind. The fact that I can save and reload my game at any place I wanted made the game more forgiving. This game can be difficult in some places, but after playing a level or a section over and over again, you get more skilled and pass more difficult things easier.

You have 18 levels in this game. This game can be finished in give or take 20 hours, if you know what you are doing. Otherwise, it’s a lot of trail and error. Also, if you like exploring, there are three secrets hidden in each stage so you can explore to your hearts content. I wasn’t able to find each secret, so they are pretty well hidden. Each level has it’s own fair share of enemies to kill, puzzles to solve, gaps to jump over and traps to avoid. This adventure is a fun one, but some timed puzzles can be a bit strict. Also, it isn’t always 100% clear where you need to go. But, after some exploring and trying, I was always able to find the path to continue.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. This means it’s time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-The controls on the PC version are better.

-The save feature is better in the PC version.

-This game is showing it’s age.

The good:

+ Enjoyable story with great voice acting.

+ Addicitive gameplay.

+ Great music.

+ …

Final thoughts:

While I enjoyed this game a whole lot, I enjoyed it more on the PC. But, would I recommend this game to someone? Well, it all depends. If they are a hardcore Tomb Raider fan, I would say… You haven’t played this game? Shame on you! If they enjoy older games, I would say to give this game a shot. It’s a classic game after all.

This game hasn’t aged well, so you will have to get used to the controls and visual style of the game. But, when you get used to it, you are in for a great adventure that takes you around the globe full of surprises.

Personally, I think that the first 5 Tomb Raider games should have a remake. These games would be a lot of fun for modern gamers if the visuals get polished up.

But even when this game is better on the PC, the PS1 version is still great and fun to play, yet a bit flawed here and there. Too bad that you don’t have the expansion packs in this version.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game, so I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 70/100

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About NekoJonez

I'm a Dutch video game blogger. I play old and new games. On my blog I give my opinion and views on them. These are my personal views. I say what I think. I also talk about more then just games. I talk and discuss the gaming industry or elements of games. To get to know me better, you should come on my blog. :) Keep the most up to date with me on my twitter: http://twitter.com/nekojonez Reviews, first impressions and more. Visit my blog: https://arpegi.wordpress.com/ http://www.arpegi.be/ Besides blogging, I also act on stage, have a job in education, play games and study to become a better IT guy.
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