Tomb Raider III sees a number of locations that are set in
London. One such level is Aldwych; an abandoned tube station populated with
thugs and rodents with whom Lara must fight in order to reach a small Masonic
Temple and advance onto the next level. Survivor Reborn and I recently visited
the real Aldwych Tube Station, located in the City of Westminster where Surrey
Street meets Strand. Once known as Strand station upon its opening in 1907, it
closed in 1994 due to lack of use.
Piccadilly, o RLY?
Parts of the station and the running tunnels
were used during both world wars to shelter artworks from London’s public
galleries and museums from bombing.
Since it had a low passenger flow, the
station had long been popular as a filming location even when it was open, and
has appeared as itself and as other London Underground stations in a number of
films (28 Weeks Later (2007), V for Vendetta (2006), Sherlock (2014) and many
others). In recognition of its historical significance, the station is a Grade
II listed building.
Andy Sandham, the creator of London levels in Tomb Raider
III was very interested in abandoned tube stations at the time and even though
Andy’s vision of Aldwych does differ from the actual station, the real Aldwych
doesn’t have escalators and its staircase is actually a spiral for example.
Staircase in Aldwych
There are places where the level completely copies the actual station. Such places will make any hard-core Tomb Raider fan visiting the station grin with the thought OH WOW I’VE BEEN HERE.
Another significant difference is the Masonic Temple in the
game (or maybe there is one somewhere in the real Aldwych? Hidden from public
eyes). Andy “wanted to try and get in as much ‘London lore’ as possible in
that area” by adding such a temple to the station.
Both the level and the actual Aldwych have this earie
atmosphere. It featured in an episode of Most Haunted Episode 19:
The track and infrastructure are maintained in operational
condition and a train of ex-Northern line 1972 tube stock is permanently
stabled on the branch. This train can be
driven up and down the branch for filming.
The ancient elevator is not in working order though. There
are in fact three lift shafts, able to accommodate two elevators each, but only
one shaft was actually finished and supplied with two elevators. The other two
The physical connection with the Piccadilly line northbound
tracks remains, but requires manual operation.
The level features a secret platform that you can only
access with a flight mode mod, as the train will kill you as you approach to it
otherwise. The platform is empty and there’s nothing there really, it looks
like an unfinished bit of the level. Andy assumes “that must have been a test
area?” He did “spend a lot of time making little extra bits… although I presume
this was just a texture test I was doing?”
Notably one of the real Aldwych’s walls has been used as a
test area for tiles.
“The secret [of the unused platform in the level] is
unfortunately lost in the mists of my addled brain!” (Sandham, 2015). See our short video from the station:
Andy Sandham, Jonathon Cooper.