In this article I’ll summarise all my past investigations of
the London levels and also quash a rumour that we all believed for 18 years.
Let’s start with the loading
screen where Lara is walking down Charlesworth Street. We’ve
confirmed that it is a tiny Easter egg left there by one of the artists –
The first level is set in the streets of London. Lara has to
climb onto the roof of St Paul’s Cathedral. I projected Lara with an LED stick
and used slow shutter speed photography.
Aldwych is 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.
And here comes the big one.
It was long speculated that the Lud’s Gate level in Tomb
Raider III is set in the Natural History Museum. I recently visited the place
and found very few similarities to the level.
In fact, it was rumoured that the
level is a mix of inspirations from the British Museum and the Natural History
Museum. Today the legendary Andy Sandham, the creator of the London levels,
confirmed that it is indeed “…set in the
British Museum, down at Bloomsbury. We used it as it has a prominent Egyptology
section (and I wanted to re-use some of Toby’s original textures to save meself
some bother) – the team spent 2 days
down there taking photos of floors and walls (instead of the actual exhibits)
with our antiquated digital cameras.”
We will never know why
it was believed that Lud’s Gate is set in the Natural History Museum,
especially because Andy “…built it so it was geographically correct –
the abandoned tubes align underneath the British Museum as opposed to the Natural
history museum” (Sandham, 2016). Most likely the reason is this cutscene; perhaps the script writer didn’t consult with the level building department at the time? Additionally, the TR3 launch
party was held in the Natural History Museum could further suggest that it was
the location of the level. .Andy “…spent many hours (like a loon) working
out the actual geography of the level – it should all actually, physically,
make sense in the reality of the real world positioning of the locations in
London” (Sandham, 2016).
All Hallows is a bonus
level which only unlocks if you collect all the secrets. Andy
“…originally made this as part of the inside of St. Paul’s” (Sandham,
2014). The real All Hallows Church is situated near the Tower of London and this is
how it looks inside:
Stefan Klim (for pointing out the cutscene)