Tomb A Day #33 - Tomb Raider II, Level 7: 40 Fathoms
I’ve said before that I find swimming in Tomb Raider relaxing, but this level might be the exception. It starts you off in an inky abyss with no air pockets in sight. When your only refuge, a half-buried ocean liner, finally emerges from the darkness, a hungry shark appears to prevent you from feeling anything resembling relief!
I admire the developers’ choice to capsize half of the Maria Doria. It allowed them to create some interesting environments, but I bet it also made their work more difficult. Suddenly, everything that’s normally next to the floor (doorways, switches, etc.) had to be aligned with the ceiling. They even made the keyhole textures upside down! It’s the little details like that texture flip that made me fall in love with Tomb Raider’s design.
The beginning of this level was extremely difficult when I played it first. Darkness, no oxygen (you can only guess how Lara kept her breath while clinging to the submarine), no clear direction to a helpful air pocket and two very unwelcoming sharks. It’s nice that there’s a track of debris that leads you to the sunken “Maria Doria”, but when you’re eight or ten finding it is quite a challenge. And when you reach air in the ship, the sharks follow you.
After that it felt like a quite short level which is nice because you have to swim and dive a lot. You also have to open a trapdoor that makes loads of red dirt fall into the room below, thus creating a hill to climb on - a similar trick with sand was part of the "City of Khamoon" level in the first game.
At one point you get a forced view of the outside of the ship while you run past some portholes. Unfortunately it always distracts me while I try to pull a lever in time before a burner in front of it goes off and sets Lara on fire. But you get a nice view of the surrounding landscape.