We’re at the start of a new game, and that can only mean one thing; it’s time for another visit to Lara’s stately abode in Surrey to learn some new manoeuvres and bother the butler.
It would appear that Lara’s cashed in all that spare gold she had lying about – evidently she watches a lot of daytime television between exploits – and has been busy spending the extra money on new treats such as an indoor gym, a modern kitchen and realistic fire. The mansion also houses a few secret areas, for those with a keen eye and fast reactions.
Unfortunately, this is the last time we get to explore Lara’s Surrey home. Still, as last visits go, it’s a damn good one.
The snapshot for Lara’s Home in the main menu, and this time it’s Lara that’s wandering into shot as Winston tries to take some regal-looking photographs of himself in front of the manor (possibly for some kind of spin-off game, something like Tea Maker III: The “Adventures” of Winston Smith).
We join Lara in the bedroom, where, disappointingly for Nude Raider fans, she’s already dressed.
Lara’s made a few changes to the furnishings since the last game. She’s downsized her bed to one that was made to hold a human (as opposed to some of the larger species of sea life)…
…she’s tarted up the artwork and added a bust (of…? Does anybody have any idea? Searching ‘bust in tomb raider 3’ yields unsatisfactory results)…
…and she’s finally got rid of the….oh. The leopard print fainting couch is still there. Oh, well, I’m sure she’ll get round to chucking it out eventually.
Another outdated fixture is the afore-mentioned butler Winston, tea-tray still welded to hand, who follows Lara wherever she goes because apparently there’s nothing better for him to do, like dust or clean or retire.
Lara’s finally popular enough to splash out on a dining table, although I struggle to think of any friends she’s made since 1996. Maybe Brother Chen Barkhang, but he’s dead (spoiler alert).
The dining room has a corner set aside for music and relaxation and…is that another leopard print couch?!
Never mind, I’m sure it was just an oversight. Here, enjoy this shot of the beautifully-decorated main hall. Even the carpet looks good!
The gym is re-introduced from the first game, updated to include the standard playground equipment; climbing frame, monkey bars, crash mat, etc..
The swimming pool room looks particular awesome in this incarnation, the glass domed roof offering a spectacular view of the early evening sky.
Lara’s filled a few of the alcoves with cat statues taken from Khamoon, hopefully after checking they weren’t the ones that change into real big cats (or worse)…
Let’s go play outside. Here we have the front gardens.
Within the front gardens is this statue of a proud and graceful horse, a welcome change from last year’s giant fish, an unfortunate creature that looked as though it had flopped down to earth head-first and was waiting for somebody to come and clean it up.
Lara’s outdoor assault course is mostly the same as last time, with a couple of parts changed to show off her new abilities. Here’s the new monkey swing skill, which is pretty cool, but nowhere near as awesome as…
…the duck and crawl! FINALLY! It’s taken thirty years but, at last, Lara has learned how to stay crouched down for more than two seconds.
To round out the new skillset is the sprint, dive and roll, which is a great idea, but something I personally never seem to use. Mind you, I’ve also never completed Tomb Raider III, so the two could be linked…
At some point during the assault course, Winston manages to quickly change (if you can believe such a adverb could be applied to that slow-motion wrinkle) into khakis and a tin hat and wanders around the course, allowing Lara to use him for target practice. Lara doesn’t need any convincing.
Armed with only a tea-tray, Winston is soon overcome with the volley of bullets and falls to the ground (miraculously not evaporating into a cloud of dust upon contact). However, he quickly picks himself up and wipes himself clean, all ready for another go. What with this and that suspicious bathroom imprisonment in Nightmare in Vegas, I’m beginning to suspect he’s a masochist. Fifty Shades of Grey indeed…
Leaving the butler alone to his BDSM fantasies, we head back indoors and find our way into the secret trophy room, a room where Lara displays various artefacts from her adventures. Above the fireplace is the mounted head of a T-Rex, because if you’ve had to kill one of the rarest animals on the planet then you may as well put its corpse to good use.
There’s also some more conventional treasures, such as the Dagger of Xian (Tomb Raider II)…
…the Scion (Tomb Raider)…
…Generic Golden Artefact (Take Your Pick)…
….and the twirly tortoise shell thing, also known as the Iris. But where did Lara pick up this Iris from? I hear you cry; well, you’ll just have to wait and see!
Bonus when-I-was-a-girl anecdote: I used to think this was Winston’s spare helmet, that Lara had stolen and displayed for reasons best know to herself.
Another secret room is the underground aquarium, a delightful and relaxing space where one can read a book, watch the shoals of pretty fish or simply lie dozing on your…oh, Lara.
Of course, if watching fish becomes too boring, you could always just jump in the tank and join them as they swim around.
Enough of the dull relaxation activities already, it’s time to do something really fun. Lara’s cut down the boring old hedge and built herself a quad bike track.
Wheeeeeeeeee! Even if Lara doesn’t say it, you could tell she’s thinking it (and I was squealing it loud enough for both of us).
After a few hours of trying and failing to get the quad bike out of the race track so we can run over the butler (don’t worry, he would probably loved it), it’s time to leave the mansion and begin our third adventure. India, ahoy!