Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness Soundtrack

Today I was linked to the Soundcloud of Peter Connelly, composer for various games including multiple Tomb Raiders. I have always loved the Angel of Darkness theme. Although Tomb Raider 3’s theme will probably always be my favourite, the Angel of Darkness’s theme is unrivaled in its quality as an orchestral piece. I think the effort that went into the soundtrack and the research by Murti Schofield was incredible; it was just such a shame that Eidos didn’t allow enough time for Core Design to put the same attention to detail into the game itself.

Below is my favourite piece, the title theme, but the entire soundtrack is available here.

Tomb Raider “Big Box” + The Mystery of SLES-00024/CP!

I knew that some of the early PS1 games came out in “big boxes”, but I wasn’t aware that Tomb Raider had until today. It was only 99p which was an excellent price, especially for a “big box” version. Also as a nice surprise, Tomb Raider 2 was in the back of the case. Asides from being in a double case, the front cover is missing the “Playstation” banner, the magazine logos and scores, and also the black plastic along the hinge. All of these make for a cleaner and fuller version of the boxart!

I know it looks atrocious, but I rarely take price stickers off my old games so I can look back and see how much I paid for them.

Spine difference between “big box” double case and regular sized game case

I bought my version when I was about 10 from a retail store brand new. The back says it was published in 2000, so it’s most definitely a later reprint as the big box has 1996 as its publishing date, matching its release date. The manual also lacks the Playstation banner like the front cover, and is a lot thicker as it has many different languages, whereas my previous manual was quite flimsy as it only contained English.

On the original print’s CD, the logo is coloured and textured like the box logo, whereas the reprint is transparent showing the silver of the disc underneath. The other text on the CD is also transparent, whilst the original CD’s text has been printed in white text.

TOP: 1996 “big box” original print
BOTTOM: 2000 reprint with SLES-00024/CP on disc

The differences between the transparency is actually significant upon some research. On further examination, the original CD has the SLES-00024 code on, matching the one on the spine. However, the reprint has SLES-00024 on the spine, but SLES-00024/CP on the disc. I’ve tried to find out why this is but I can only find one thread on a forum about it. It’s really interesting as it seems to be quite uncommon! There are claims of better graphics and 3 new music tracks. It’s really fascinating trying to work out what exactly this disc was produced for, even Toby Gard (Lara’s creator) doesn’t know!

He suggests it’s a resubmission to Sony of a newer version as resubmission is necessary to get a new SLES/SCES code. Yet the Platinum copies which were printed AFTER this reprint are using the original print’s data. Which raises the question “why did they resubmit the game to Sony when they knew they were going to use the original print for the Platinum print?”. Some forum members think the game was won in a competition or given out at E3, but definitely I bought it at a shop brand new (hence the sticker), not from eBay or as a used game, so I have no idea why this version seems to be so rare.

The back of the cases are very different, the original printing making my existing copy incredibly boring! I had always thought that there was something missing from the back, so I’m pleased to see that the original printing was a lot more interesting, filling the space more effectively.

What has me slightly confused though is that the case has another 2 CD teeth, which I presumed were for a long lost demo. When I originally got Crash Bandicoot for Christmas it had a demo with the 1996 Winter releases on it so I’m guessing it might have been the same demo (SCED-00273) or at least have some of the same games on as both Tomb Raider and Crash Bandicoot were released in the back end of 1996. However I can’t find anything about the big box version of Tomb Raider ever coming with demos; people are instead claiming they don’t even have any teeth in second half of the case.

This sort of thing really intrigues me, so I’m definitely going to try and find out what originally came in the double CD case and what the SLES-00024/CP version of the disc was published for.

Metal Gear Solid 2 Novelization

mgs2bookI was looking at reviews and a lot of people said the author (Raymond Benson) wrote Snake like Bond, which they suggested was because he has previously wrote Bond books. The name then rang a bell, because he wrote the Bond books I picked up months ago. Haven’t read them yet so I can’t comment on the Snake/Bond comparison.

I feel like Benson wrote very little himself, the speech is basically a word for word rip from the game’s script. For a simple novelisation it was longer than I expected, coming in at 309 pages, but it took me less than a day to read. I don’t think it’s something you could read without prior knowledge of the game, nor does it have enough original content to stand as it’s own piece, but as a tie-in alongside the game it’s quite fun.

Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear Solid is very ambitious and visually impressive for its 1998 release date. The voice acting is brilliant and it has definitely helped to stop the game from aging. The game has a lot of depth to it with its storyline and the amount of work that has gone into world building details, such as the character backstories and the codec calls. The sequels only add to this, and the series has so much additional content to be searched out. This rewards players who explore and make use of the support team in many different circumstances.

Touches like this are just not present anymore in modern games. The game is very cinematic, drawing from Hideo Kojima’s love of movies, but there is solid gameplay behind it. Despite only playing MGS for the first time in 2012, it has definitely held up over the years and has became one of my favourite games.

FPS Games

Yesterday I bought a tonne of FPS games from the late 90’s. I’d read online before that when a Half-Life CD code is entered into Steam, it unlocks all of the early Valve games. So I gave it a try and sure enough it worked, adding 8 games were added to my Steam account. I then gave a friend my Counter Strike serial, which also unlocked the 8 games. So 16 games for 33p was not bad at all.

I got Theme Park World elsewhere for 50p. I am more of a RollerCoaster Tycoon fan and I’ve only played Theme Park World very very briefly at my best friend’s house when we were younger. But I love Theme Hospital (which is also developed by Bullfrog) so I decided to get Theme Park World, hopefully it is as good.

The Naughty Dog Story + Crash Bandicoot Soundtracks

I previously linked to an interesting series of blog posts by Andy Gavin on the development of Crash Bandicoot. I recently just found this video which looks further into the background of Naughty Dog, the developers of the original games!

I found this too, posted on a forum I visit; a link to the Soundcloud of Josh Mancell, composer of the original Crash Bandicoot soundtracks. As a huge Crash Bandicoot fan it is interesting to listen to the original high quality tracks and to see how they’ve changed as they were put into the games!

Crash Bandicoot Development

If you are a fan of Crash Bandicoot or game development then you have to read this excellent and very interesting series of posts about the development of the original Crash Bandicoot from one of his creators, Andy Gavin.


Alpha Protocol

Alpha Protocol was a bit shorter than I expected it would be (10 hours), but for the price I paid – £1.50 in a Steam Sale – you can’t really complain about that. I understand some of the reasons people have said this is a bad game such as the bad AI. At times, an enemy walked right up in front of me, yet hadn’t “saw” me, so I was able to assassinate him quickly (which I shouldn’t have been able to). But I didn’t encounter this a lot, nor any other bugs, so in general this is a quite a good game.

alpha protocol

Despite this guy standing behind and looking RIGHT at me, he hadn’t “saw” me.

There are some options to customise your character (Mike), but they are quite limited and purely for visual effect. You can change things such as his hair, facial hair, and sunglasses. However the clothing customisations add body armour points and other stats, so it’s worth finding and picking up the piles of cash.

The hacking, alarm circuits and lock picking reminded me a bit of the honeycomb puzzles in Death by Degrees, however the puzzles in Alpha Protocol were a lot easier. There were a few problems with the mouse sensitivity which complicated the puzzles. It needed to be set very high as I could barely move the camera whilst playing, however on all sniper parts of the game the sensitivity of the mouse was far too oversensitive.

Some of the email dialogues were hilarious, and I found myself regularly checking the computer to see if I had any new emails. Also some of the in-game dialogue choices and how the NPC’s reacted were also funny, it’s definitely worth playing through the game again to see how my choices affect will the NPC’s opinion of me.

There were jumps in the timeline which made the storyline hard to understand and at the end of the game it didn’t feel like it had been explained why I had been fighting my enemies. But overall, I really enjoyed this game, I’m already planning my second playthrough in which I will choose to be really nasty to everybody to see how it influences the game.

Click to enlarge the below screenshots:

Dirt 3 Screenshots

Though I did have the original Colin McRae Rally on PS1, Dirt 3 is not a game I would have picked out myself. It came free with my new computer. The graphics are really impressive so here’s a few screenshots.

Click to enlarge:

‘Allo ‘Allo

Last night I went to see ‘Allo ‘Allo at the Playhouse in Whitley Bay. ‘Allo ‘Allo is one of the few “classic” TV programmes which I like, and I was very happy to see that this performance gave an excellent tribute to the show! Great casting and all the jokes you would expect from the show itself.

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