TR5: Fighting

I’m partway into the third level of Tomb Raider: Chronicles now. The setting is still Rome, but this section of Rome is underground, and oddly volcanically active — finally, the sort of environment where Lara is most comfortable. The level is titled “Colosseum”. A secret underground colosseum? Makes more sense than the one in the middle of Dracula’s castle, I suppose.

I expect that being in a colosseum means there will be some fighting. I’ve already been through a few boss fights back in level 2, shooting up the weird guardians built into the city’s ancient statuary. They haven’t been that big a part of the experience, though, which is okay, because they’re not really very interesting. Mostly they’re just frustrating, with no real tactics beyond persistence: keep shooting at it long enough, and eventually it will fall down. I’ve seen one significant exception so far in this game, a floating statue head that shot lightning bolts out of its crystal eyes. Destroying it required shooting out the eyes specifically, using a weapon with a laser sight that let you aim precisely.

But for the bulk of the game, your only enemy is the architecture. I spent a long time trapped in a small courtyard looking for a way out until I noticed that one of the pillars had rungs on one side. That led to an area where I could trigger a mechanism that rolled aside a large gear that served as a door, but the door wasn’t an exit; it just led to another small, enclosed chamber, so I again spent a long time looking for a way out before I thought to check the space to the side that the gear had vacated.

I remember commercials for the early Tomb Raiders that completely misrepresented them, made it look like they were all about nonstop action and excitement, showing a montage of Lara machine-gunning monsters and outrunning fireballs and the like, set to crunchy electric guitar. I guess it’s an easier sell than the actual experience, of being lost and confused most of the time, with a score led by oboe. Some of us like that experience better, though, and I can only think that the continuing popularity of the franchise despite this almost fraudulent misrepresentation meant that our numbers were underestimated.

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