Tomb Raider II is a video game in the Tomb Raider series and is the sequel to Tomb Raider. It was developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive and was originally released for PC and PlayStation in 1997.
The story of Tomb Raider II concerns the mythical Dagger of Xian, a weapon which in ancient times was used by the Emperor of China, Qin Shihuang, to command his army. By plunging the Dagger into its owner's heart, the weapon has the power to turn its wearer into a dragon. The dagger was eventually retrieved by Tibetan Monks and the Emperor was defeated. The dagger was returned to its resting place inside the Great Wall of China, and now, hundreds of years later, Lara Croft races against time to claim the dagger before it falls into the hands of the Fiamma Nera.
In ancient China, Emperor Qin Shihuang gained the ability to take the form of a dragon granted to him by the Dagger Of Xian plunged into his heart and lay waste to China with his powers. During one of his battles against an army of monks, victory was assured until one of the injured monks crept under the dragon emperor and pulled the dagger from his belly intrigued by the glowing light emanating from it. The emperor was reduced to bone as his flesh melted away and died a horrible death but not before immolating the one who slew him. There was peace again in China and to prevent another person from gaining the powers of the dragon and waging war again, the surviving monks took the dagger to rest in the Temple of Xian, at the Great Wall of China. There the dagger was locked up and remained in a slumber for many hundreds of years. Over time its existence was relegated only to myth only to those who truly sought its power or keep it banished forever.
In 1997 Lara Croft arrives at the Great Wall of China to see if the legends are true and navigates a series of caverns located inside one of the guardhouses and makes her way through a series of traps and puzzles even battling a pair of Tyrannosaurus Rexes. In a large cavern she uses a zipline to reach the entrance to the daggers tomb past a large but realizes the key mechanism is missing and is suddenly attacked by an Italian cultist named Claudio whom she effortlessly overpowered. He reveals that he works for cult leader Marco Bartoli before poisoning himself: "These doors are waiting for the right one. The right time to arrive. And then the daggers blade will honor the hearts of those who believe!". On a nearby laptop Lara learns the location of the cult leaders hideout: Via Carvelli, Venice.
Lara travels to the city of Venice where she uses a speedboat to traverse the canals to Bartoli's hideout and after navigating an opera house under renovation in control of the cult (whose insignia is that of the symbol on the door) she stows away into a seaplane and overhears a conversation between the pilots concerning an item called the seraph located underwater. Before one of them are able to discover her she is knocked out by one of the cult members and transported to an offshore oil rig in the Adriatic Sea.
Here she awakens to find all her weapons including her trusty pistols missing. After acquiring the pistols she gains access to the diving area where she encounters several Fiamma Nera members torturing a Barkhang Monk in order to find the location of the Seraph which opens the way to the location of the key to the tomb containing the dagger. After they are disposed of Lara learns from him that the cult members have been carrying out underwater expeditions using submarines to excavate the wreckage of the Maria Doria a luxury ocean liner owned by Gianni Bartoli, Marco’s father which was sunk by the monks in order to prevent him from using the Seraph. Like his father Marco is insistent on gaining access to the dagger as he is "infected with madness, he has a violent mind, but not yet the power to satiate it..." Believing Lara to be his guide to his reincarnation he explains everything to her before being killed by Marco in the distant shadows. Lara descends into waters in a divers suit and hijacks ontop of a submarine an inadvertently sinks it by attracting the attention of the shark. Swimming into the sunken capsized vessel she navigates the ship through puzzles, Bartoli's men and wildlife such as sharks and barracudas. She finally finds the Seraph in cavern that the deck of the ship has gotten lodged in. With this in her inventory she floats to the surface using a buoy and then back inside the oil rig changes back to her normal clothes and inside the seaplane puts on a woolly bomber jacket and. After a brief flight to the Tibetan mountains she realizes too late that the plane is low on fuel and begins to lose altitude. Before it crashes she finds and uses a parachute to escape just in time and lands on a steep slope.
During her time here she encounters more mercenaries and finds a snowmobile next to an abandoned hut which she uses to traverse the foothills, even crossing a canyon. After getting a key to the hut she is able to enter a route to the Barkhang Monastery via a switch inside. Here she is aided in her battle against the mercenaries by the remaining monks and using five prayer wheels and the Seraph itself she gains access to the Catacombs. Here she encounter numerous yetis and white tiger. When she bangs on the large gong in the Ice Palace, the Guardian of the Talion, a gigantic, muscular grey bipedal bird, is summoned. She annihilates it in order to finally secure the Talion, the key to the daggers tomb.
She escapes the palace through a crack in the mountainside to find herself at a mercenaries base and steals a guarded jeep leading her to be chased by Bartoli himself. After losing him by traversing a gorge she makes her way back to the Great Wall of China and into the caverns containing the locked doorway. Inserting the Talion key she makes her way to the elusive dagger only to fall down a trapdoor right in front of it allowing Bartoli to secure the prize. Inside the Temple of Xian Lara must face gigantic black widow spiders and a plethora of traps and puzzles before seeing Bartoli claim the dagger and then carry out the necessary ceremony involving plunging it into his heart to gain the powers of the dragon. She then heads to the Floating Islands where in she must procure two mystic plaques to enter the Dragon Temple, then a cage which leads her to the Dragons Lair using a third mystic plaque all the while battling Xian warriors an statues. Once inside the lair she confronts Bartoli in his now permanent dragon form and after a fierce battle incapacitates him and removes the dagger thus killing him. As the tomb begins collapse around her she manages to escape as an explosion seals the area forever. Victorious Lara returns to England for a well deserved rest after examining the dagger in bed. Her victory is cut short as she hears tyres screeches and a pack of Dobermans barking outside to realize that the last of Bartolis men have tracked her down. She opens her gun cupboard and takes her shotgun and disposes of them including Fiamma Nera leader. Once they are gone she heads to the bathroom and is about to disrobe for a shower before uttering a cheeky: “Don’t you think you’ve seen enough?” and shoots the screen.
The game begins with a prelude at the Great Wall of China. After the Tibet missions are completed, three more levels in this location follow, all taking place in and around the catacombs which hold the dagger.
- The Great Wall Of China
In Venice Lara infiltrates Marco Bartoli's hideout. The levels provide the player with the first opportunity to drive vehicles, in this case a motorboat.
Oil Rig and the Maria DoriaEdit
While hiding on board Bartoli's plane as a stowaway, Lara is knocked unconscious by one of Bartoli's henchmen. When she wakes up, she finds herself stripped of all her weapons and trapped on an oil rig surrounded by a huge ocean.
The game continues underwater into the remains of the wreck of the Maria Doria, a luxury ship that sank decades ago. On board is the mystical artifact called the Seraph.
In Tibet, the player moves through the ancient catacombs beneath the Barkhang monastery to acquire the Talion key, after which the game returns to China.
Once again, Lara's mansion in England is home to a training course designed to get the player acquainted with the controls of the game. This time training takes place outdoors on an expanded assault course and inside a thorn bush maze. The old but loyal family butler of the Crofts, Winston will follow the player around during training. The final level also takes place in Lara's mansion, when the remains of Bartoli's cult break into her home looking for revenge.
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, and many enemies.
In terms of movement, Lara can now climb walls 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, it is a speargun), a grenade launcher and an M16 rifle, which requires Lara to assume an aiming stance to fire. 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 snow scooter (in Tibet). Both are used to travel long distances across the map and can speed up on ramps or run over enemies.
For Tomb Raider II, Lara's appearance was given a make-over by the designer, Stuart Atkinson, giving her a free-flowing pony tail, a smoother appearance, and several new outfits. In China and Venice she wears her familiar Tomb Raider outfit of a tanktop and shorts, in the ocean levels a half-body wetsuit and in Tibet a flight jacket.
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 colored dragon ornament: silver (or stone), jade, and gold, according to the difficulty of their location. Only when Lara has collected each of these dragons in a level will she receive a bonus.
- Lara Croft - This time, Lara searches for the mythical Dagger of Xian.
- Marco Bartoli - Ruthless leader of the Fiamma Nera cult who are also searching for the dagger.
- Brother Chan Barkhang - A monk from the Barkhang Monastery who attempts to stop Marco and his cult from recovering the Seraph.
- Fabio - A member of the Fiamma Nera and pilot of a seaplane.
- Claudio - A member of the Fiamma Nera who ambushes Lara at the Great Wall of China.
- Eros - A member of the Fiamma Nera and rig worker of an offshore rig.
- Fiamma Nera Boss - A member of the Fiamma Nera who attempts to stop Lara at the Opera House.
- Guardian of the Talion - A half-man half-bird creature which protects the Talion beneath the Barkhang Monastery in Tibet.
- Gianni Bartoli - The previous leader of the Fiamma Nera who was killed when his ship was bombed by Chan Barkhang's father.
- Father Barkhang - Brother Chan's father and the person responsible for the sinking of Gianni's ship.
- Emperor Qin Shihuang - The first Emperor of China who used the Dagger to become a dragon, enhance his army's powers and lead a battle against the Tibetan monks.
- Winston - Lara Croft's butler.
Development of Tomb Raider II was already in its conceptual stages before the first game was released. By the time Core Design wrapped up Tomb Raider, more ideas and suggestions had been put forth, some of which could be incorporated in the first game, others which would shape up to become the next installment of the series.
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 twice of its original size. Subsequently, the game took a shorter amount of time to develop than its predecessor. A decision was made early to keep the engine from Tomb Raider, adopting a tweak-and-improve approach, rather than starting over from scratch. Minor camera issues and object 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.
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 it was set to be sent to Sony.
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 Saturn, with Adrian Smith citing technical limitations of the console to program an adequate conversion.
Tomb Raider II received favorable reviews and currently holds an aggregate score of 85/100 on Metacritic.
As one of the most hotly anticipated games of 1997, Tomb Raider II was an immediate commercial success, quickly surpassing the sales of Tomb Raider. As its predecessor, the game was critically acclaimed. Of particular praise were Tomb Raider II's improved graphics, the use of vehicles to add variety to gameplay and the more action oriented objectives.
At the time of Tomb Raider II's release, Lara was arguably at the height of her fame. A third installment in the series was inevitable and by the winter of 1998 Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft was released. Talks for a screen adaptation were in progress, Lara Croft featured prominently in several SEAT and Lucozade commercials and U2 famously used her image as a pop icon on their 1997 PopMart Tour.
Versions and ExpansionsEdit
Tomb Raider II was released for Windows 95, Macintosh and PlayStation. The only differences between the versions are improved speed and graphics for the desktop versions.
In 2014, Tomb Raider II was released for Apple iOS devices, also including Golden Mask and featuring updated high quality textures for some of the levels.
Tomb Raider II Gold Edit
Main Article: Tomb Raider II: Golden Mask.
In 1999, Tomb Raider II was re-released as Tomb Raider II Gold for PC. The game comprises the scenarios of the original Tomb Raider II and 5 new bonus levels in a separate mini-adventure entitled "Golden Mask."