Daryl Baxter looks back on one of the defining video game series of the 1990s: Tomb Raider. The second game in this world-conquering, British-designed game series was renowned for gymnastics, pistol posing and giving that nosey butler a right bruising. It was, and perhaps still is, Ms Croft’s best-loved adventure.
“It had only been around four months since I received my PlayStation in July 1997. It had come with the standard Formula 1 racing games, along with a stellar demo disc. But that Christmas I was given Tomb Raider II, and it only took the first level to help me realise that the games I had before, Sonic 3 and Streets of Rage, where a world away from this new experience. This was a moment of change in how I’d play and approach games.
“Instead of waiting for the next screen to appear with ‘Go!’ or the next signpost, I’d have to look beyond the hallway and see if there were spikes, or a trapdoor, which would take me, and headstrong protagonist, Lara Croft, on a new path.
“Even secrets were a different concept. Collecting hidden jade dragons would reveal areas you wouldn’t expect. And then, on the final secret of The Great Wall, two T rexes would come out of nowhere, with only your pistols and your quick reflexes in pressing Square and a direction to move away as fast as you could to stop Lara being eaten.
“But then another thought would occur, which still remains today: did I save before this encounter?
“Then, at the end, you had a cutscene with sublime music and actual voices to set the scene that you weren’t alone in finding the McGuffin. And, suddenly, it ended with a hint that Lara would be on her way to Venice next.
“That’s when I knew that games could become more than ‘run to the right to win’. That you could be totally immersed in a different way with story, music and left-field surprises to keep you on your toes.”
Daryl Baxter is a freelance writer, who also shares his opinions on technology and games each week on his personal site.
For personal accounts of gaming moments that have changed players, game makers and more, see the Moments We Remember archive.
Image: Core Design/Eidos/Square Enix