There were, in total, no less than four demos for Tomb Raider II. Even within the Tomb Raider series, where two demos for one game are not uncommon, this is unique. I have them all up for download now.
The Great Wall was the first one (and so far the only one I had up). It was still pre-release, but probably not by much. From the time stamps on the files, it can be dated to November 16, 1997. At that time, the Playstation version was already for sale in the USA, and the PC programmers were probably just solving some technical problems. This is what the readme warns us about: There might be glitches when running on acceleration hardware. From gameplay, this is the gentlest one, because Lara starts at a safe spot where the player can experiment with the controls.
The second one was Venice, released in April 1998, when the game must have been about four months old. Maybe there were really glitches with acceleration hardware, and Core/Eidos wanted to get a state-of-the-art demo out. This one has a far more dramatic beginning, with Lara in mid-air when the demo starts. She will, of course, land safely on her own, but will soon be attacked by a Doberman, so there’s not much time for experimenting.
In 1999, Tomb Raider II was re-released with five new levels as “Tomb Raider II Gold: The Golden Mask”. In the USA it was just known as “Tomb Raider II Gold”, in Germany as “Tomb Raider II: Director’s Cut”, and maybe there were a few more names in other countries. These new levels could and can be downloaded for free, for those who already owned TR2. Besides, the first two were released in advance as standalone demos. Both were set around the Bering Strait, so Lara was once again adventuring in the snow.
The first one, The Cold War, upped the drama at the beginning once more. Not only does Lara start in mid-air, but she immediately plunges into a pool with ice-cold water and a shark. This is rather cruel, for the readme file does not explain underwater movement at all. Isn’t a demo usually designed for people who do not know the game yeat, and are not familiar with its controls?
The second one, Fool’s Gold, has Lara start at a safe spot again, but she can only move in one direction, and after a few steps she will, you guessed it, plunge into a pool of ice-cold water.
All four demos seem to run well on XP, without any compatibility settings or anything. I don’t know about the newer Windows versions of course.