Tomb Raider II for me was so much better than the first one and I owned them all on Playstation as loved them. This sequel came out a year after the original and while some sequels are not as good this most definately was better. The graphics are more advanced and the locations are far better too. This is probably one if not the best of the whole series in my opinion.
Instead of like in the first game where you explore temples and more temples, with this second game you wander under the Great Wall of China and visit Venice in your travels and explore such things as an oil rig, plane crash in snowy Tibet and finally back to China again amongst other locations. This makes the game far more enjoyable as the locations are more interesting and varied. There are so many areas available to explore you'll wonder how you explored all those temples in the first game without getting insanely bored.
Some might say that Lara Croft moving out of the caves she explored in the original and heading out into the fresh air means the games loses some of it's atmosphere but I don't agree. The tombs and caves were too much the same really and this adds some life to proceedings.
There are occassions when you have to be inventive and come up with new ideas and that is what they have done here so the franchise doesn't become dull and they did very well with that. There are amazing contrasts in landscapes in the locations you visit from the lovely surroundings of Venice to the harsh reality of snow in Tibet.
The actual moves that Lara possesses and the stroryline haven't changed too much but then there was no real need to as this all worked quite well. This particular game is focused on Lara finding a mystical dagger that will bring an ancient dragon back to life.
In regards to skill and difficulty I found this second game much harder and a bigger challenge than the first. It only has about 2 or 3 more levels so not that much bigger, but they feel bigger and more vast as you are outside rather than underground. The puzzles are harder too and will keep you motivated and frustrated at the same time. The enemies that confront you are harder to kill and get by this time around as well. These come in the human and animal form this time around.
Overall this is much better than the original in my opinion and well worth getting a copy to play.
An unwritten rule about gaming is that sequels never quite live up to the expectations of their predecessors. People like to judge them on what happened in a different story and so often sequels are criticised harshly or don't get the reception they so rightfully deserve.
This is not one of those games.
Released in 1997 and following on from the success of Tomb Raider I, Tomb Raider II contained all of the features that marked it as such an innovative game but then expanded on them. The levels are even more expansive and impressive, there are even more enemies and Lara herself has been upgraded for this new game.
The plot is that Ms Croft is on the trail of the Dagger of Xian, which is meant to give the possessor the power of the dragon if they have the bravery to plunge it into their hearts. Of course, there is an evil cult out to get the dagger as well and cause trouble for her on her way.
In this game, Lara has had a makeover. If you can recall then in the previous game, her hair tied back and the graphics of her are quite square- she doesn't look smooth. However, now she has a long plait and there are even costume changes as the levels change. Don't be alarmed though fans- her oh-so familiar tanktop and shorts are still there. The new costumes are:
-a half-body wetsuit (the ocean level)
-a flight jacket (Tibet).
These are neat little touches to make to the game, and makes the sometimes unbelievable scenarios a little more realistic as we see Lara adapting to her environment. With the new graphics, she is smoother, more sleek looking and I cannot commend the graphics of this game enough. As well as updating her look, she also has new moves- instead of jumping, she can now twist midair and turn to fact the enemy (a movement that saved my skin more than once!) and can climb walls.
There is more globetrotting in this game than with Tomb Raider I and each place has new enemies, new challenges and new types of entertainment previously not encountered. You start at the Great Wall of China, move to Venice (which, might I add, is completely accurate and features places you can visit in Venice. Props to the development team for this.) From Venice, you move to an off-shore rig before heading to the difficult Ocean levels (if you panic easily then get someone else to do these levels- they test your nerves). Finally, you head to the foothills in Tibet and then end up back in China at the Great Wall.
Each level is unique and spectacular. You can find yourself just stopping to look at the world that has been created. They are so accurate, so beautiful and should not be overlooked when playing this game.
Although her pistols are still present from the beginning of the game, you get more of a selection of weapons in this game. These are:
-a harpoon (spear) gun
-a grenade launcher
-an M16 rifle
Use your weapons carefully as ammo can sometimes be scarce and some enemies can only be taken down with certain weapons.
You also get the feature of vehicles in this game, unlike Tomb Raider I. In Venice, you can use a motorboat (speedboat is more accurate though) and in Tibet you can use a Skidoo. These vehicles are sometimes needed to complete areas of the level but can also be used to destroy your enemies.
One special feature of this game is the adaptation of the secrets feature in Tomb Raider I. You have to collect three dragon statues from around the level (silver, jade and gold), and are rewarded with medicine or ammo although if you choose not to collect them then the story is no different. Outside of the game is an updated version of Lara's Manor. You can now go outside and go on her assault her (hours of fun and I would recommend learning the course off by heart if you want to make one level more fun for yourself!)
The music of this game is just as spectacular as Tomb Raider I. Again there is the same theme from the original but has been changed for the new game and new challenges which threaten Lara. There are also more sound-effects and a lot more speech (I personally dislike her voice a lot in this game) and these help to draw in the player.
Finally the graphics have been made sharper, clearer and smoother than with the original. She looks more human, the environments have more clarity and realism, and as I've previously mentioned, you will find yourself stopping to just admire the view. However, they are (unfortunately) still quite blocky.
Every owner of a Playstation should play this game. You don't need to have played the original game to appreciate this one but also has appeal to those who are Lara fans. While I don't think that this is as good as the original, it is a fantastic game if not due to the aesthetic quality. Everything is more sleek, more realistic and you can replay this game numerous times without getting bored.