Tomb Raider 2 the myth, the legend, the legs. Tomb Raider 2 the boom, the bombast, the breasts. Tomb Raider 2 the guns, the female empowerment, the poor fashion choices (shorts in the Tibetan foothills, really?). It was a far more confident outing than the original, increased graphical fidelity, tighter storyline, new abilities, less rigid controls, vehicle sections and of course the ability to lock your butler in a freezer at Lara’s mansion – with his groans sounding like a whoopie cushion with a slow puncture – it was legendary! My all-time favourite level in all the entire Tomb Raider franchise features in Tomb Raider 2, Venice, tearing around the canals in a speed boat, whilst solving water puzzles and leading to the crescendo of smashing though the windows of a building and leaping from your boat as it detonates a load of water bombs, it’s absolute perfection.
Tomb Raider 2 often ranks as a favourite among fans and critics and I personally prefer it over the original. I think this is down to variety – where the original game had an incredible sense of awe and isolation, Tomb Raider 2 felt far more like the Indiana Jones experience it was obviously emulating. There were more varied enemies, the platforming was trickier but more finessed, it challenged the players in new and exciting ways especially with the underwater levels. The puzzling was also the best it has ever been, Tomb Raider 3 and The Last Revelation’s puzzles were incredibly tough to the point of barely being puzzles as some of the solutions were so obtuse, but in 2 they made sense and relied on the players reading the environment rather than a walkthrough. Then there’s the soundtrack, one word – sublime. From the iconic theme song (why this was removed in later games is anyone’s guess), the classical piece that plays in Lara mansion, the dark foreboding string sections in a darkened cavern or the 90’s thudding electro when you discover the snow mobile. Judith Gibbons provided the voice of Lara, her perfect delivery of Croft’s snarky no nonsense attitude has yet to be beat, plus who could forget the toe curling screams as Lara plunges to her death because you were 1mm off course (I know some of you killed Lara on purpose, you animals!). This is the Lara we loved, she’d shoot a tiger in the face and make a witty remark, she’d destroy an ancient building and do nothing but pout, she’s just like Judy Dench but instead of Shakespeare there’s mass murder. (Petition for Judy Dench to play/voice an elderly Lara Croft… anyone?)
By today’s standards Tomb raider 2 is rather dated, though it’s level design is still genius, it’s also a victim of its time. The grid based “tank controls” were perfect for what the game was setting out to do, but in the modern era the game just feels clunky and unforgiving. Plus those graphics have not aged well, Lara my have lost her cone-like bosoms from the first game and gained a moving ponytail but she still looked like sexy version of a sleep paralysis demon. And this is why Tomb Raider 2 deserves a remake, not remaster, not a reboot, a remake.
Tomb Raider can learn from it’s past while embracing it’s future. Combat was never Tomb Raider’s strong suit, but finally the developers mostly nailed it with the 2013 reboot onwards – add in the incredible graphical fidelity of these newer games, the smooth platforming but with the level design and pacing mostly intact from the original and we could be onto a winner. Plus there’s the vehicle sections which in the original game handled like a lorry with square wheels, give them a modern control scheme similar to the jeep sections of Uncharted 4 and the varied levels of Tomb Raider 2 could be transformed into a thrilling rick-rollicking action adventure game of the next generation.
The recent Resident Evil 2 remake has shown that a game from the 90’s can be updated for the modern era, not only was that game one of the best remakes of all time, it was one of best games of 2019 – this is a game that was created in 1998 competing and succeeding against games created with a modern audience in mind and yet it remained very faithful to source material. The first Tomb Raider game had a remake in similar vein to Resident Evil in the form of 2007’s Tomb Raider Anniversary. Utilising the control scheme and revamped platforming of Tomb Raider Legend – it was great game marred by the eras reliance on QTE’s and the aforementioned auto-aim combat. Still fun and certainly more accessible than the the 24 year old original, but when you defeat a T-Rex by making it run into a wall like Wile E Coyote you start to realise 2007 game design had some issues.
Square Enix’s unwillingness to make a proper remake of the game has prompted fans to take it into their own hands, with fan Nicobass remaking the game in Unreal Engine 4 using the controls from the Tomb Raider Legend era of games. It’s fantastic that a fan has created such excellent work, but it’s difficult not to imagine what a big budget remake could look like. The rebooted Tomb Raiders while great in their own right have faced a lot of criticism mostly their drab and melodramatic tone, a humourless Lara Croft and samey structure. Sometimes publishers and developers need to look at what made the games special in the first place and the best place to start is with fan-favourite Tomb Raider 2.
Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics, Edios Montreal if you’re reading this, you probably need to find better things to do with your time…. but anyway I beg of you please remake Tomb Raider 2, the fans want it, Angelina Jolie wants it, Karen from finance wants it, even Jesus wants it! Now don’t you think you’ve seen enough. If you want to see my Top 10 Tomb Raider games go to https://draggedgaming.com/2020/07/10/top-10-tomb-raider-games/
By Jay Johnson
Originally posted on metro game central