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Tomb Raider: Anniversary

Score: 92%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Puzzle/ Third Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

I remember it vividly. The year was 1996, I had just come home from school, and The Cranberries were playing on the radio as my keyboard went flying through the air. Tomb Raider may have been the most frustrating game I ever layed my hands on, but damn did I love to play it. The controls were terrible, the graphics (though revolutionary at the time) are now laughable, but oh, the memories. Now, ten years later, we get to relive our first moments with everybody's favorite curvacious CGI character, Lara Croft, in Tomb Raider: Anniversary

Remodeled using the still fresh Tomb Raider: Legend engine, it doesn't even look like the same game. Looking back ten years, Lara's gotten quite the overhaul. The game looks as smooth as Legend did, with the impressive lighting effects and shading. Landscapes are near breathtaking, so much so that its hard to believe that what we saw ten years ago was mindblowing to us (you may remember ice cream cone breasts).

The game features the same ambient music score, which typically goes ignored by most gamers. The only time it's really noticed is whenever the mood changes and alerts you to a nearby enemy. Keeley Hawes returns from Legend to reprise her role as the buxom brunette, but she's the only one to return from the last game. No other notable voice actors lend their talent, which is good, because that likely would have taken away from the homage feel of the game.


Gameplay:

Nothing has changed to the story in Tomb Raider: Anniversary. You still play as Lara chasing the Scion of Atlantis through the exotic locales of Peru, Greece, and Egypt, all while wolves, dinosaurs, and nasty evil men try to kill you. Luckily, and with the exception of graphics and controls, the game we all fell in love with has not changed much. Lara still pulls off her typical aesthetically pleasing acrobatic maneuvers and leaps with true English grace, and the big high dives into the water are still as much fun as they were ten years ago.

The game still appeals to all ranges of gamers, offering challenging puzzles, tense action/fight scenes, and quick-thinking cutscene mini-games. As with all other Tomb Raider games, you're presented with a wide arsenal of weaponry to dispense foes from tiny pesky bats to the monstrous T-Rex (which sadly doesn't have as much of a scary polygonal entrance as he did a decade ago)

The levels are vast, though very linear, which means the biggest time-taker in the game are the puzzles. You'll have to find pieces of mechanisms, avoid lethal traps, and find hidden switches to advance through each level. Also, carried over from Legend is Lara's grapple, so you'll be able to perform some neat rappels and swings; and the new and improved Croft manor (sans the "Out of the wet clothes" line, you pervs).


Difficulty:

Tomb Raider: Anniversary requires you to solve a vast number of puzzles, ranging in difficulty from moderate to extreme. Fans of the original game will appreciate the ability to save and walk away for a while. And while the puzzles are tough, the objectives are always clear, so you'll always know what you have to do, you just won't know the means. Other elements are thrown into the game to add new levels of difficulty now that the controls are much more improved. Lara will sometimes slip while hanging if she jumps to a ledge at an off angle. The same will occur while balancing on tops of columns.

There are a number of foes Lara will face before the game is over. Animals like bats only take one quick shot from the pistol to dispatch, while dinosaurs can withstand two hits from the shotgun. Some enemies require a bit more creativity to defeat, so always check your enviroment, especially in boss battles. The mini-games during cutscenes sometimes take some repeating because of a missed keypress, but they're generally easy to get through.

Anniversary, like Legend, is very well put together, so you'll rarely face frustrations as a result of poor angles or bugs. The lock-on system takes a second to get used to, because it will spin the camera completely around on you sometimes, but as soon as you get the hang of it, you'll realize its one of the better ones out there.


Game Mechanics:

Now that the original Tomb Raider has been improved, the horrible tank-like excuse for a control scheme has been eliminated. Lara's moves are less block-like and more fluid, making it easier to turn, jump, and dodge. And with the near-miss system, even poorly timed jumps can be salvaged by reinforcing Lara's grip and balance. This also means you won't hear her scream, plunging to her death eighteen billion times every time you play Tomb Raider: Anniversary.

With the inclusion of Lara's grapple from Legend, longer jumps are now possible with an Indiana Jones-like swing through the air. It will also get you to hard to reach places by letting you rappel down walls, and even pull useful objects to you. Also, just like in the last game, you'll be able to leap from ledge to ledge while hanging, making it easier to reach the bottom of some areas where a diving plunge from the top won't do.

Deciding to remake the original Tomb Raider using the Legend engine was a brilliant idea. Every gamer who drooled over Lara's pixellated polygonal posterior will want to pick this one up to relive the tough puzzles and lavish landscapes. Priced under thirty bucks, this one is a great game to hold you over while you wait for Legend 2 to hit the shelves.


-Crazy Kangaroo, GameVortex Communications
AKA Josh Meeks

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows Vista, 2000, or XP, 4x DVD-ROM, Pentium 3 1.4 Ghz or Athlon XP 1500+, 4GB Free Space, 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible 64MB 3D Accelerated card, 512 MB RAM (Vista) 256 MB RAM (XP/2000), Windows Vista/2000/XP compatible sound card
 

Test System:



Windows XP MCE, 32x DVD-R, Pentium Duo Core 2.8 (overclocked to 3.6), 1TB HD, Dual nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX GPU's, 4GB RAM, Sound Blaster X-Fi Sound Card

Windows Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Sony PlayStation Portable Smash Court Tennis 3

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated