Level 2: Coastal Thailand
Posted May 26th 2010
When you start the level the game gives you three sharks. Or at least, it's meant to; you might actually get fewer if you're reloading after playing part of the level, but I'm counting that as a glitch (it may help if you use a manual save rather than an autosave). There are two near the boat, and one swimming on its own near where Lara hits land. Facing out from the boat, I'll reference them as sharks 1, 2 and 3 from left to right. They're usually rather tetchy about having a tomb raider sharing their territory and are liable to take a nibble if Lara goes below the surface. However, you can potentially make sharks 1 and 2 nice and relaxed, and get an extra shark there too which will definitely be relaxed. All of which opens the door to some novel fun.
A relaxed extra shark
When Lara triggers some spiders just after a checkpoint which you get part way up some stairs, she also triggers a new shark down below - shark 4 - swimming around near the boat (looks like it materializes under the boat). It's an easy thing to miss, and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of folk have never noticed it. I suspect Crystal Dynamics threw this extra shark into the mix because it potentially adds to the picturesque view, which may otherwise have been sharkless - i.e. if you killed the originals.
If you return to the water - nice opportunity for a swan dive - you'll find that the newcomer is completely relaxed, swimming around slowly. It takes no notice of Lara and she can swim along with it, barely needing to make arm strokes to keep up. This in itself can be fun, and a test of Lara's manoeuvring skills to shadow it, but invisible current-like barriers stop Lara being able to follow it everywhere. If you shoot this shark it seems to react to the first volley, speeding up for a while. During this time it can attack, but it soon settles down again and won't attack thereafter. Subsequent shots will only make it flinch. A very peaceful and forgiving fellow!
Plus two relaxed originals - maybe
As for sharks 1 and 2 (assuming they weren't killed earlier), one or both of them may be relaxed when Lara makes her return. But when you repeatedly suicide Lara to play around with the sharks again and again, shark 2 always seems to be relaxed, and shark 1 will often be relaxed too (seems unpredictable). So you can soon get three relaxed sharks swimming around the boat, letting Lara swim around close to them (though shark 2 seems to veer away from her a little sometimes). Unlike the newcomer however, the two originals are liable to get riled if shot, and you can expect attacks in that case. Or at least, you certainly can with shark 1. Shark 2 sometimes seems to be as forgiving as the newcomer.
Maybe try a higher checkpoint
Instead of using that first 'spider checkpoint' however, it may be better to continue to the next, just after a bit of pole-swinging. At this location the ground forms a downward sloping promontory, again a nice place for a swan dive (and it's possible to dive off to the right, threading Lara through the narrow gap she leapt across earlier, just before reaching the first spiders). When I tried this checkpoint, things were similar to when using the lower checkpoint except that when suiciding Lara, shark 1 seemed to have a higher frequency of being relaxed. So if you want a relaxed threesome, this place may give better odds. Regardless of which checkpoint you use, shark 3 (swimming on its own) never seems to get relaxed, incidentally.
As for the benefit of having relaxed sharks, for one thing you can enjoy just swimming around lazily with them, just for the fun of it or maybe to get a closer look at the modelling. Well, it makes a change to shooting the wildlife eh? It was this way I noticed that sharks can pass through one another. But also you can do some very leisurely shark tagging, even though it feels a bit mean when they're this peaceful!
High dive spots
Posted May 26th 2010
Near the start of the level there are lots of good high spots from which to do a swan dive (press the A button then quickly B), and it doesn't take too long to get Lara back up again for repeated goes. Alternatively you could suicide her with a grenade or two in the water to get reverted back to a handy checkpoint. In fact, you might like to combine your diving with a bit of shark tagging. Having got a checkpoint somewhere, you can swan dive, have a bit of shark fun, then suicide to do it all again. Bear in mind that as Lara dives, you could have the camera in front of her or to the side, giving a novel angle; you don't have to have the camera in the default position behind her. I'll list the most obvious diving spots.
Waterfall cave entrance
When Lara reaches dry land and starts to climb, take her around to the right. There's a thin waterfall cascading past the entrance to a shallow cave containing spiders and a treasure. The edge also features a small extension which can make a good run-off for a dive.
Spider step area
If you instead take Lara around to the left, past the pretty birds then making two jumps, she gets to a spider area. There's a checkpoint just before triggering them (specifically it's triggered on the fourth step). After a bit of stomping or whatever, she can dive off the edge towards her boat.
Health potion corner
Just on from the spiders there's some health potion in a corner. You can get a nice diagonal run-off into the sea from here.
After swinging on a horizontal pole to cross a gap, Lara comes to another spider area, and there's a checkpoint just before triggering them. The ground here forms a downward sloping promontory, good for jumping off in various directions.
A short climb further up still, you're at the highest spot of all. There's a very short bridge and a bird to scare off. Thankfully no darned spiders this time - maybe they don't like the altitude. But there's quite a bit of land down below, so watch where you jump! Explore the possible angles. There's a checkpoint available just inland a bit, ideal for suiciding to for repeated dives.
From the high point you can jump down onto the top of a big pillar rising out of the sea, with a treasure on top. Another nice spot for diving from.
Ring release shortcut
Posted May 26th 2010
After the Bhogavati cutscene near a switch on a wooden platform, Lara has to pull out two metal rings to free things up. One on the left, one on the right. The standard route to either side is - I presume - to run around to that side, then get down after crouching through a gap. There's a shortcut however. Walk or run off the wooden platform and fire the grapple. As long as it's not fired too soon (wait for Lara's head to fall past the platform), it catches the ring on the underside of the platform, which is normally used to swing from one side to another. Lara can now swing to either side.
This shortcut isn't terribly realistic of course, because at this stage of the adventure Lara doesn't actually know there's a life-saving ring underneath. But maybe you don't care about that. She doesn't have to drop off the platform in a particular place; the grapple will catch regardless of where she steps off. Actually she can even jump off and still catch the ring, but I'd say that's living dangerously!
Lizard grenading anomaly
Posted May 26th 2010
Have you tried grenading lizards in the Bhogavati section, just after the adrenaline moment in which Lara needs to fire her grapple to get down to the statue courtyard? Something very weird and comical can happen. When the bang goes off, the lizard sort of flies up in the air, spins around a bit and comes down headfirst, ending up frozen in a vertical position, usually with head buried firmly the ground but sometimes not even touching the ground (e.g. a few feet off). You can quickly end up with a whole bunch of lizards like that; maybe killed one at a time, or some together. It doesn't exactly make for realistic combat, but it looks pretty funny and you really need to see it if you haven't already. The lizards close in quite fast, so you might want to detonate grenades manually with gunfire (or just run clear of course).
Trying to repeat the anomaly
Thing is, you don't always get this behaviour. Sometimes they'll all die 'normally', other times they'll all be subject to the death anomaly - and just occasionally I've had a mix. In particular, if you've just experienced the anomaly and then you reload a recent save hoping to see it again, it probably won't happen this time in my experience. Ditto if you suicide Lara - and in that case you may not get the lizards at all! So, what's going on here, and is there anything you can do to ensure that it happens?
On the internet I found a page listing some of Underworld's many glitches. One of the oddities is described as follows: "when a grenade kills naga, the latter has no ragdoll-animated death - its carcass simply floats in the air". I assume this refers to the anomaly I've described here. But the game does have ragdoll deaths for lizards, so it sounds like the problem here is just that for this particular segment of play, the relevant coding can be missing, so the game does something a bit screwy - or something like that. When you've already had the lizards and you then load a recent save, perhaps the relevant coding finally becomes available. That could explain why you don't get the anomaly after simply reloading.
So here's an idea. First briefly load a save for a different level (to try to wipe any memory of lizard coding), and then load a Bhogavati save (made somewhere prior to Lara's grapple descent to the courtyard). I tried that and it seemed to be a big help. Usually when I did that sequence of loads, I got the anomaly. So that's what I suggest you try if you want to see weird lizard deaths again and again. My Bhogavati save was made just after pulling out the ring on the left side, having already done the right side. From there you can get to the switch safely in about 20 seconds.