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By Jessica Brister On 10 Jan, 2018 At 11:15 AM | Categorized As Best Game Ever, Editorials, Featured, PC Games, PlayStation | With 0 Comments

No GravatarSince I have a lot of hobbies and loves, it’s not uncommon for me to listen to music while playing a game (as I’m sure many gamers do).  One odd aspect of my gaming career is that I inadvertently made “soundtracks” to games that do not play more modern music (i.e. the GTA franchise is out because it already has a soundtrack).  I stuck to this so much that when I think of a game, I automatically think of the soundtrack I made.  Or, if a song is playing from that soundtrack, I immediately am transported back to that game and possibly even that level that I assigned the song to.  This might sound awesome to some people, or it might sound incredibly geeky to others.  I find that I love to flash back to the nostalgia of a game when hearing a particular song; I may not have thought of said game otherwise.  Add some years  to when I first started doing this, and I’m enthralled with what I had initially did: it’s helped me remember aspects of some games that I know that I will never return to.

Enter: Tomb Raider II

It’s one of my favorite all-time games, and it’s definitely the best puzzle-based adventure game I’ve ever played.  I just completely fell in love with it, even though I such at puzzle games and had to buy a walk-through (yes, I said buy; the walk-throughs on the Internet weren’t great).  It looks dated now with Lara Croft’s squarish appearance, so I’m glad I can think back to days when it looked so “real” in comparison to what games came before it.

Tomb Raider II came out in late 1997.  However, I compiled my soundtrack sometime in 2000 on my second play-through, so if there are any songs that are newer than the game, that’s why.  I felt the need to share this list with everyone, if not for the fact that I don’t want it to die in my memory, so enjoy…

Level 1: Great Wall

Song: Creed – Torn (from My Own Prison, 1997)

 

It was the album before Creed turned obnoxious: My Own Prison had some dark vibes, and the song Torn really delivered.  It’s also one of those songs that feels like it starts things off, so it was perfect for the first level, Great Wall.  Lara ran around the ruins of the Great Wall of China, and the level gave an intro for things to come.

Level 2: Venice

Song: Stone Temple Pilots – Sex Type Thing (Core, 1992)

 

I chose this STP song mostly based on the fact that I was listening through Core at the time and also because of the pacing of the song.  If you put Lara at her natural “run,” she runs to the beat of the song.  For whatever reason, this song “took on” the feel of the level.  The actual content of the song itself didn’t necessarily matter, so the song really isn’t some sexual objectification of Lara for me.

Level 3: Bartolli’s Hideout

Song: Stone Temple Pilots – Wicked Garden (Core, 1992)

Another STP song that actually is right after the above fore-mentioned song on the album, Core.  It ended up being a natural transition from one level to the other, even though I took me approximately forty minutes for each level (yes, I put the songs on repeat).  This is also one of the songs where if I hear it, I immediately go back to that level.  Every.  Single.  Time.

 

Level 4: Opera House

Song: Days of the New – The Down Town (Days of the New, 1997)

Days of the New made all acoustic cool again in the late ’90s.  The Down Town might still be one of my favorites from them.  In this case, it emphasized the cool location of Lara’s exploration of a run-down opera house, while highlighting how dilapidated and grungy the place ended up being.  The song also really feels cool listening to while Lara is running.

 

Level 5: Offshore Rig

Weezer – My Name is Jonas (Weezer, 1994)

This level in particular made me stick to the song, My Name is Jonas, even if I used the rest of the album for other levels.  I thought it was cute because of how the lyrics describe, “The workers are coming home,” and the level is on an offshore rig.  It might be a stretch, but this is another song where I can’t not think of this album when the song plays.

 

Level 6: Diving Area

Weezer – Pretty much the rest of the Blue Album (Weezer, 1994)

I ended up listening to the rest of what Weezer fans say is “The Blue Album,” noting the blue background of Weezer’s self-titled album from 1994.  I flash back to this level any time most of the album is on, and I love it!

 

Level 7: 40 Fathoms

Jars of Clay – Flood (Jars of Clay, 1995)

When you’re playing a level where you have to fight for every breath, I thought Jars of Clay’s Flood was perfect.  This is probably the band’s more famous song.

 

Level 8: Wreck of the Maria Doria

Pantera – Floods (The Great Southern Trendkill, 1995)

One of Pantera’s most haunting and beautifully written songs, Floods seems to just fit with a level where Lara is trapped in a upside-down shipwreck, using pockets of area to survive.

 

Level 9: Living Quarters

Machine Head – Message in a Bottle (The Burning Red, 1999)

Living Quarters explores the passenger side of the Maria Doria, and it’s a bit of a head trip, since this part of the ship settled upside down.  Machine Head’s cover of The Police’s Message in a Bottle continues with my nautical-themed, darker toned set of songs.

 

Level 10: The Deck

Alice in Chains – Grind (Alice in Chains, 1995)

The Deck is an expansive level that highlights part of the deck of the Maria Doria, which had crashed through a huge cavern.  I thought the song “Grind” was appropriate as this level is a bit of a grind.

 

Level 11: Tibetan Foothills

Static X – So Real (Wisconsin Death Trip, 1999)

Tibetan Foothills is probably my favorite level for TR II because of the fun puzzles and the snowmobile action.  The pulsing beat of Static X’s So Real fits perfectly with some cool snowmobiling across the icy mountains.

 

Level 12: Barkhang Monastery

Jars of Clay – Liquid (Jars of Clay, 1995)

Nothing echoes the feeling of exploring a huge monastery like the haunting notes of Jars of Clay’s Liquid.  This is also a favorite level, and you get some much-needed help from the monks as long as you don’t attack them.

 

Level 13: Catacombs of the Talion

Metallica – Call of Ktulu (Ride the Lightning, 1984)

Catacombs of Talion is an icy and particularly tricky level that is perfect with Metallica’s Call of Ktulu.  Because of this pairing, I love to drive in snow storms with this song on.  It brings me back to TR II.

 

Level 14: Ice Palace

Metallica – One (…And Justice For All, 1988)

Ice Palace is the last of the cold climate levels, and it definitely delivers.  It has some crazy puzzles and some tough baddies, which is why I selected Metallica’s One for this level.

Level 15: Temple of Xian

Metallica – Wherever I May Roam (Metallica, 1991)

Temple of Xian is probably the largest level for TR II, and if it’s not, it certainly feels that way.  The place is massive and has some crazy puzzles.  Metallica’s Wherever I May Roam felt perfect for the level.

 

Level 16: Floating Islands

Metallica – Orion (Instrumental) (Master of Puppets, 1986)

The Floating Islands level is a bit of a trip to play; the whole thing is quire surreal.  Because of this, I wanted a song that matched that quality, and I thought Metallica’s Orion (Instrumental), especially the beginning, really fit the level.

 

Level 17: The Dragon’s Lair

Alice in Chains – Again (Alice in Chains, 1995)

There’s nothing quite like a boss level with the completely rock-on song of Alice in Chain’s Again.

 

Level 18: Home Sweet Home

It’s such a short level that no song is necessary.

And for when you’re in post-Tomb Raider II blues after the game is completed, finish it off with:

Alice in Chains – Over Now (Alice in Chains, 1995)

By Jessica Brister On 20 Sep, 2015 At 06:52 PM | Categorized As Featured, Old School Otaku, PC Games, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarEvery once in awhile there are a few special games that come around and really push the boundaries of what games can be. For me, Tomb Raider II is one of those games. Being the sequel to the extremely popular original Tomb Raider, there were a lot of high expectations the second installment to be even better. Tomb Raider II passed with flying colors to be an entertaining adventure with one of gaming’s most iconic characters.

Tomb Raider II is an action-adventure, puzzle-based game that was the sequel to the original Tomb Raider, which came out in 1996. It was developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. It was released October of 1997 for PlayStation and PC (it eventually came out for Mac later) and had critical acclaim and sold very well.

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The game follows adventurer and tomb raider, Lara Croft. The story revolved around the Dagger of Xian, a weapon that was used by an ancient emperor of China to transform into a dragon and command armies. Monks were able to get a hold of the dagger and keep it hidden within the Great Wall of China. Lara goes to investigate the dagger and realizes that she’s not the only one after it. Marco Bartoli, a man who is obsessed with the dagger, is also digging up artifacts in order to wield the dagger’s power. Lara’s adventure goes to places like China and Italy, where she is pushed to find out more about Bartoli’s plan.

It’s quite a fun story with an Indiana Jones-like adventure to it. Whether it’s driving a boat through Venice or exploring an underwater shipwreck, the game has a delightful entertainment value to it that you only experience with adventure games. However, it’s actually Lara who really shines. Unlike the new direction Crystal Dynamics is going in with the Tomb Raider reboot games, this Lara Croft is strong, confident, and fearless. She pushes herself to the limits as she works against the forces of evil.

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The third-person perspective game play improved with Tomb Raider II from the original by adding new weapons and moves, as well as having vehicles, more human enemies, and larger levels. There’s even a level with a snowmobile that is an absolute blast to play. There was also a training level that allowed the player to roam around Lara’s mansion. The best change, however, was the fact that a player didn’t need a save crystal in order to save the game, making complicated jumping puzzles much easier to manage.

The original Tomb Raider franchise was all about exploration and puzzles with some enemies thrown in to keep things fresh. Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore with the reboot, but Tomb Raider II really shines in both instances. Puzzles typically are usually jumping or timing-related, and there is a lot of exploration involved. The levels might not be the huge open-world maps that gamers are used to now, but it’s a lot of fun trying to figure out how to get to certain places or find key items. Shooting is emphasized in Tomb Raider II more than the original, and it features Lara’s signature dual pistols, as well a grenade launcher, and M16 rifle, dual Uzis, and a harpoon gun for underwater fighting. The fighting sequences utilize a jump and dodge system, instead of the sit under cover and shoot. This type of game play is not considered ideal anymore because it’s not very realistic. However, it is super fun.

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The only real problem with going back and playing Tomb Raider II is dealing with the outdated graphics. They were really awesome at the time, but the sharp angles and grainy textures are hard to get used to. People who enjoy retro-gaming won’t mind, but it’s glaring for those who prefer modern games. The cut-scenes aren’t bad, but Lara is definitely very square and so are all of the other people. It’s amazing to see how far graphics have come since then.

So, if you want a fun, action-adventure game with an amazing heroine, you might want to play or replay Tomb Raider II. You do have to like puzzles, but that’s half the fun. It was a different game for a completely different time. Sadly, I just don’t think we’re going to get anything quite like it again.