infada

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20 years of Tomb Raider ► [21/11/1998] Millions of years ago, a meteorite collided with the once warm Antarctic climate. There was an abnormal abundance of life around the crater of the meteorite, so the Polynesians, discoverers of the place, settled on the lands. Generations later, terrified after a series of strange catastrophic events, they leave the place. Nowadays, the same area is being excavated by research company RX Tech. They discover the frozen body of a sailor of the HMS Beagle, along with his diary. In it it’s said that they visited other places in the world, such as India, where Lara Croft is looking for the legendary artifact Infada, unconscious of its true history. Soon she will discover that this is just the beginning.

Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft; A Geographical and Historical Overview

I. EASTERN INDIAN JUNGLE

Lara Croft’s adventure starts when she arrives in the depths of a rainforest in East India near the river Ganga, looking for an ancient temple that supposedly holds a beautiful crystalline relic named after the local tribe that resides there: the Infada Stone.
After making her way through the dense jungle she stumbles upon the temple ruins along with a crew of scientists that are looking for the same object. The treasure hunter tracks down one of the explorers who took the stone with him and after disposing of him and getting back out of the forest she runs into the leader of the expedition, Dr. Willard, who quickly understands how capable Mrs. Croft is and decides to let her in on the true history of the artifact she just obtained in exchange for her skills.
The Scottish businessman reveals that the Infada Stone was in fact much older than Lara believed; it dates back to millions of years ago when a meteor crashed onto the surface of the earth. Much later, a tribe of Polynesians carved four artifacts out of the rock and proceeded to worship it for its extraterrestrial powers. In the early 19th century, a group of British sailors embarked on a circumnavigation of the globe on behalf of Charles Darwin to compile information about the species of the earth. They got off course and landed in the deserted Antarctica where they stumbled upon the remains of the ancient Polynesian settlement and their meteorite artifacts that they took home with them. In the course of the later lives of each of the remaining sailors the four relics were scattered across the earth and ended up in various places.
Dr. Willard managed to get his hands on one of the sailors’ journal and was able to locate all four artifacts including the Infada Stone that Lara just found. He offers her the chance to track down the other three and after she learns of the locations the adventurer begins her journey across the globe. 

II. LONDON, ENGLAND

The first job takes Lara back to her home country where she is supposed to track down entrepreneur Sophia Leigh who runs a powerful cosmetic company from her headquarters in London. According to Willard’s information the ruthless businesswoman somehow got her hands on what he believes to be one of the meteorite artifacts that is also known as The Eye of Isis which was presumably stolen or bought by Miss Leigh herself from the local National History Museum and has since been in her posession.
Lara manages to find a way into the skyscraper via the abandoned Aldwych subway station after running into an underground gang of thugs that call themselves The Damned. She learns that they are in fact victims of Sophia Leigh’s pharmaceutical and cosmetical products and have been abused for testing purposes, resulting in complete deformation of their faces which forced them to shut themselves away from society. 
The treasure hunter gains entrance to Leigh’s offices and faces her in a showdown on the rooftops and after a failed escape while trying to fight Lara off with her artifact, the adventurer manages to defeat her and take the meteorite stone.

III. AREA 51, NEVADA, USA

On this highly dangerous and risky mission Lara takes a trip to the desert of Nevada where she is trying to locate the infamous Area 51 military base that supposedly houses another one of the meteorite artifacts that government scientists are experimenting with. 
The adventurer finds a military outpost with patrolling guards and tries to steal a quad bike to cover more ground and reach the laboratories. However, she is caught and taken to the local prison. 
Being Lara Croft, she doesn’t stay put and manages to break out of her cell and make her way to a loading bay for military trucks and convoys where she swiftly sneaks into the back of a truck that is about to take off and head to the main structure where after avoiding deadly lasers and automatic machine gun turrets she finally reaches the highly guarded meteorite fragment that the US government titled “Element 115″ according to the eponymous chemical substance it contains.

IV. SOUTH PACIFIC ISLAND

Her last trip takes Lara to an uncharted island in the South Pacific Ocean where a native tribe guards the secret to the last artifact and possibly more of its origins and history. When the treasure hunter arrives at the coast of the isle she soon realizes that there are more explorers here as she stumbles upon a heavily wounded Australian mercenary that tries to warn her from something dangerous that is lurking in the jungles. 
The Brit sets out to track down the temple inhabited by the locals and encounters more of the soldiers as well as tribesmen trying to protect their land. After crossing a white water gorge and making her way through an underground cavern she finds a hidden passageway that leads her right into the Temple of Puna. On her way, she meets another one of the natives next to a big mural who warns her of the dangers of the meteorite and reveals his tribe’s history to her. Lara learns that after realizing how the possibly radioactive substances from the meteorite affected and disfigured the Polynesian people that inhabited Antarctica millennia ago they fled the continent in fear and abandoned their settlements completely. 
The treasure hunter proceeds to the sanctuary of the temple and defeats the powerful leader of the tribe to take his meteorite fragment, which the natives refer to as The Ora Dagger, with her. 

V. ANTARCTICA

After Lara successfully gathered all the meteorite fragments she meets up with Dr. Willard in Antarctica near a digsite lead by his mining company RX-Tech to hand over the artifacts. However, the ruthless scientist reveals that if the still physico-chemically active substances within the relics are combined he is able to create evolutionarily superior mutations however he pleases and accelerate the natural human evolution.
When Lara refuses to give him the stones he manages to overwhelm her and take them with him into the depths of his digsite where his men have been working hard to unearth the remains of the ancient Polynesian city and the original meteorite crater that has long been frozen over.
The treasure hunter follows Willard through the mines and eventually faces him for a showdown right next to the gigantic sinkhole where he throws himself into a pool of the green acid-like liquid that has been boiling in the crater ever since, only to emerge again as a grotesque looking monstrosity with several more limbs and a spideresque body. Lara puts an end to the mad scientist’s plans and defeats him before escaping the forgotten city and taking off with one of his helicopters.

Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft Overview
Due to Rise of the Tomb Raider releasing in mid November (later on PS4), I thought it would be a good idea to replay all of the Tomb Raider games before it, but in order of which games in the series I played my first time through. I’m going to write an overview of each game in the main series. I was going to include the ‘Lara Croft’ series, but I currently do not have my copy of The Guardian of Light, so I figured that writing about the main series main be easier. Enjoy! :-)

 History:

I was first introduced to Tomb Raider III when I was just five years old. My Dad had bought a PlayStationOne for us all to play, and one of the game he bought for it was indeed Tomb Raider III. When I first picked up the controller to play as Lara and explore her home, I fell in love. There weren’t many female protagonists around that were the main star of a game, and Lara was in full charge. She did not have men assisting her or rescuing her, like in other 90s titles at the time. If anyone was to do the rescuing it was Lara. Even though there was a lot of sexualised marketing at the time of Tomb Raider III’s release, being a five year old, it felt weird seeing this intelligent, intellectual character being portrayed in the media by posing in bikinis and barley wearing any clothing whatsoever in the promotional images. As a five year old, I could barley understand it and was totally oblivious to the marketing, but now being older, I realise how cringe worthy some of the marketing for Tomb Raider III was. If I had of been older at the time, I wouldn’t have played Tomb Raider III at all. But, I’m glad I was young as dodgy marketing aside, Tomb Raider III is my favourite of the series. It was my first love and step into gaming, and that’s probably why is without a doubt one of my favourite video games of all time. Okay, let’s talk about the game shall we?

One of the many cringe worthy marketing advertisements for Tomb Raider III.

 India (Jungle, Temple Ruins, River Ganges & Caves of Kailya)

The game starts off in India, with Lara searching the Indian Jungle for the Infada stone. Jungle is quite a straight forward level, but it can be a long level if you’re new to the game. There are traps about the level (boulder traps galore!).Plus the monkeys in the Jungle are little shits and love to take all of Lara’s small medi-packs and numerous keys for themselves. Overall it’s a good introduction to the game, as it nicely introduce all of the new mechanics of the game.  Temple Ruins is a beast of a level, filled with traversal, a tonne of traps and nasty monkeys that like to chew at Lara. Take that for stealing my medi packs you little shits! River Ganges introduces one of the few vehicles in the game, the Quad Bike, which is a ton of fun to control Lara in! This is one of the fun levels in Tomb Raider III, and I had a blast driving the quad bike around the jungle. (And blowing Lara and the Quad Bike up when missing numerous jumps). The last India level is made up of a maze puzzle, which still confuses me to this day when replaying the game. The last boss battle with Crazy Tony is fun, with you having to make Lara dodge his constant fireball attacks and the firey water. Lara pretty much finds out that the Infada Stone has power (like what sort of stone allows a man to set water on fire??) and meets Doctor Willard outside the jungle temple in his travelling boat. Lara learns that there are three more of the stones around the world (Nevada, South Pacific & London), and Doctor Willard asks her to find them. Lara of course accepts. My main reaction to this scene is always: “Lara, don’t accept contracts from people ya don’t know! *ahem* Natla). But she does it anyway.

This is to be Lara’s reaction when she find out Dr Willard is a fraud. (Source: Katie’s Tomb Raider Site).

 Nevada: Desert, High Security Compound.

In my latest playthrough, I sent Lara straight to Nevada. As I had played the game numerous times before I knew that Lara would have all of her weapons taken from her in High Security Compound, and since the next locations in the game are quite tricky, I figured I get the Nevada no weapon section of the way. The first Nevada level "Desert” is quite straight forward, and I always find myself passing it without any difficulty. For me, it’s one of those levels that have quite a straight forward and non-cryptic approach. The enemies in the level are quite easy to beat, but the jumps in this level are very, very tricky! The jumps are my favourite thing about this level, even though they can be so infuriating at times! And the Quad Bike makes another short but fun appearance, where Lara jumps the fence with it to gain access to Area 51 in order to get the artefact. But, knowing Lara and her misfortune with vehicles, things take a very unfortunate turn, with her getting knocked out on her quad bike, and getting caught and carried away by some Military Police. High Security Compound starts with Lara waking up in a prison cell, with absolutely no weapons, except for a single small medi-pack. The most fun part about this level is releasing and setting all of the other prisoners against the Military Police. I think this is fantastic level design, and I applaud Core Design for putting it in this level. It makes it so much more challenging, and is quite rewarding with Lara gets a bunch of prisoners to take out a guard. The rest of the level is pretty straight forward, with Lara having to find her weapons. Once you find Lara’s weapons, you can blow all of the enemies away, and Lara sneaks her way into Area 51, through yes, a food truck. I bet the guards felt stupid after discovering that she got through Area 51 that way. Now, onto Area 51, which is no doubt my absolute favourite level in this game! I love the whole sci-fi element to it, and the constant nods to the X-Files and no doubt the challenges that face Lara with the technology in the base. Plus, you get to launch a freaking rocket, just to gain entrance to a door!! What other video game has ever had that put in it? When Lara gets the artifact inside the UFO, it makes me wonder, did she fly that UFO to another location? Because if she did that would be pretty damn cool, even though she probably would have crashed it in true Lara Croft style :P.

Stealth +1. Food Truck! (Source: Katie’s Tomb Raider site).

 South Pacific Islands: Costal Village, Crash Site, Madubu Gorge & Temple of Puna.

I must admit, the South Pacific Island levels are very pretty, but under that beautiful tropic surface they are deadly, filled with a native cult, dinosaurs, dart traps and crazy canoe rides through the rapids. The first level, Coastal Village, is great, as it gives you a chance to pick multiple paths in the level, which I think is a really cool level design addition. The first route is deadly and full of traps and enemies and the second route takes you on a more linear path. I, of course, always go for the first route through the hut. I think it’s cool that both paths used in this level are catered to different styles of play. The second level, Crash Site, is freaking awesome. There’s velociraptors, soldiers that assist you (unless you accidentally shoot at the like I do all the time) and a T-Rex, a freaking T-Rex! Near the end of the level, you’re able to blow up a crap load of dinosaurs and blow up a path in order to finish the stage! It’s probably one of the most epic things I’ve done in a videogame! The next level, Madubu Gorge, is one of the most frustrating but fun levels in the whole game. You’re able to control the canoe to progress through the level, and let me say, it looks light, but it sort of controls like a tank. There are also two routes used in this level, one linear one, and one non-linear route, which as I mentioned before is one of my favourite level design features in Tomb Raider III. After making your way through the rapids, you progress through to the next level, Temple of Puna. Temple of Puna is a short level, but is filed with blade traps, spike traps and a couple of freaking massive boulder traps. The boss fight with the Tribal Leader is easy (if you have to Dessert Eagle like I did) and after defeating him after he blows himself up, Lara is able to retrieve the next Meteorite Stone.

Run Lara, Run!!! (Source: Katie’s Tomb Raider Site)

 London: Thames Warf, Aldywch, Lud’s Gate & City.

After retrieving the second stone, Lara travels to London. The London levels are tricky beasts to get through, and are not linear at all. I found myself getting lost on numerous occasions. Lara starts off in Thames Warf, where in order to get to the next level, she has to make tricky rooftop jumps, kill some well payed guards and drain some water drains. After doing all of this and completing the level, one of my favourite cutsecenes plays, where Lara completely sasses a guard out by letting the bell behind him shove him off the rooftops and fall to his timely demise. The line “Happy Retirement” that Lara mutters to the guard after he’s knocked off the roof kills me with laughter every single time. The next level, Aldywch, is set in the abandoned train station, that is actually in real London. Lara has to find her way through the train tracks whilst dodging numerous trains and make her way through to Sophia Leigh. Sophia is a beautician 'genius’; until Lara discovers that the henchmen hanging out in Aldwych are failed experiments. They’re mutated and immortal. Lara discovers that Sophia is attempting to make an immortality elixir and her experiments are obviously failing in the beauty department. Lud’s Gate is one of those levels that I love to hate. It does get easier every time I replay TR: III but boy that Underwater Vehicle drives me up the wall! It’s probably one of the most difficult level in the games for me, but I must say, I did love exploring the Natural History Museum. After Lud’s Gate, we move onto the next level to fight Sophia Leigh. Lara confronts her about her “experiments” and her selfish intention for the use of the meteorite artefact. This boss battle is not a simple shoot and jump like usual TR bosses. You have to get Lara to shoot an electronic fuse box to electrocute Sophia. It took me ages to figure this boss battle out when first playing the game and I just shot Sophia and died over and over again. Needless to say, I did need a walkthrough for this level ;). After the level ends, the final section starts, and we find Lara in Antarctica!

My favourite moment in the game: “Happy retirement”. (Source: Katie’s Tomb Raider Site).

 Antarctica: (Antarctica, RX-Tech Mines, Lost City of Tinnos & Metorite Cavern).

The Antarctica levels are by no doubt the most difficult levels in Tomb Raider III. I still get stuck on them from this day, and that’s probably why I love these level so darn much. There’s an eerie creepiness, as Lara discovers what Dr Willard really wants the artefacts for, especially in the latter levels. The first level, Antarctica, is quite straightforward for me. It is, however, really difficult if you are collecting secrets. One secret require you to swim through water to obtain a key, and as Lara has a water temperature level on her in these levels, it is very, very difficult. Needless to say, it took me numerous tries to collect that key. The level overall is quite fun. Lara can drive a boat through the level, which I thought was pretty cool. If you do some exploring through the level, you will find out what Willard wants the artefacts for. It’s pretty damn creepy when you discover one of his experiments, and it scared the absolute crap out of me! At the end level cutscene, Lara confronts Willard, and he surprise her by knocking her out and taking the artifacts out of her possession. Lara follows him but ends up missing him, as he jumps into a lift down into a mine. In the classic Lara spirit, she jumps on top of the lift to follow him. This leads up to the next level, RX Tech Mines. RX Tech Mines is a very difficult level if you do not know what you’re doing. I found the level straightforward when you figure out where to go, but the swim at the end of the level is very difficult with Lara’s temperature bar. I do love this aspect of the level, but it can be a little frustrating at times. There are many of Willard’s experiments throughout the levels, with some of the being more bigger and deadly. There is a part in this level when you’re guiding Lara through a dark mine shaft, and two of them jump out of nowhere around the corner. It scares me everytime. This level is so atmospheric, and I just love it. After completing RX Tech mines, we go onto Lost City of Tinnos, which is, in my opinion, the hardest level in the whole game. There are bug enemies which annoy the absolute crap out of me, and more of Willard’s creepy experiments. On top of that there’s deadly trap rooms and puzzles galore. Like Lud’s Gate, everytime I replay the game, I warm up to this level more. The level design for the traps and puzzles are well thought out, and I applaud Core for their work in this level. Everything is so complex, and it left me scratching my head on more than one occasion! After Lost City of Tinnos, we arrive in the Meteorite Cavern, were Lara fights Dr Willard. He turns himself into some sort of spider, all in the name of evolution (???) and the fight begins. This fight is difficult. If Lara treads outside of certain tiles, she is instantly killed by one of Willard’s powers. I always save ammo for the Dessert Eagle in this level. It makes defeating him a bit more easier. After defeating Willard and collecting all of the artifacts, we escape the cavern, and have to fight Willard’s goons. This part of the level is good fun, and I feel Core balanced it well after the difficulty of the boss fight. Lara soon escapes (by killing a helicopter piolet. Nice one Lara). After being chased by more of Willard’s goons in helicopters, she escapes, and the game ends! Next up, Tomb Raider (1996)!

Who knew that driving mine carts could be so much fun? (Source: Katie’s Tomb Raider Site).

 

Note: I was going to discuss Lud’s Gate, but I feel that it is a short level, so there wouldn’t be much to talk about. If you want to be to discuss it, I can edit this post and add it in.