Old school platforming for the next generation
Every major software house tends to have a mascot, a game character that is unique to them. Nintendo has Mario, Sega has sonic. Eidos has the pneumatically impressive Lara Croft.
When Lara first hit the humble Sega Saturn back in 1996, with the classic Tomb Raider, it was a revelation to hormonal teenage boys all over the world. A generation used to blue hedgehogs and short fat plumbers suddenly had a busty, flexible brunet to control! Mmm Mario or Lara…let me think! To top it all off she was in 3D, oh and the game was pretty good as well!
Since then she has seen numerous incarnations which has taken her from games to comics into films and back again.
Very few games have managed to capture that feeling of isolation so well
Tomb Raider Anniversary is something of a return to the beginning for the series. Essentially it is a remake of the 1996 original. However, to call it a remake is something of an injustice, more a re-imagining. The basic game is the same, the same set and plot, but the game as a whole has been updated to make it more ‘next gen’. The graphics engine from Legends has been used, giving Lara new abilities that the original Tomb Raider was really missing. To that end the levels have been made bigger and more interesting to accommodate the new more agile Lara.
Tomb Raider was really a game that I could never get on with. I hated the fact that nothing really happened in it. The game was a slow trudging walk through boring caves with pixel perfect jumps that made the old 8 bit platformers look easy.
Now we have an all new feel to the game. The new graphics give the game a much nicer scale. It looks a little rough when compared to the likes of God of War, but the graphics work for it. Lara moves the way I would want her to, with grappling hooks and flips and somersaults that are incredibly easy to pull off. Now don’t get me wrong. The jumps in places are incredibly difficult to hit accurately, but generally things have been improved. The ability to do wall runs, 45 degree jumps and the like help to make life a little easier also.
Combat is similarly smoother, although essentially the same. Lock on, shoot and hope for the best. You do get a matrix like slow down in some battles as well, which is nice. Sadly, with this being a remake of the original all the original baddies are back. Bears, wolves, mummies and the like. Not really the most interesting to shoot at and not all that prolific in the game!
But like the original, this is not about the fights. It is all about the puzzles and there are plenty of them. Some are pretty straight forward, other will have you chewing the controller, especially when you are being attacked at the same time as trying to work out the puzzle!
Tomb Raider Anniversary is a nice idea that has been well executed. The new graphics engine makes it far more playable than the original. The trouble is game play has moved on a lot in the last 10 years and it really does feel a bit dated now. I loved the new abilities and this plays really, really well, but it is not with out flaws. At times the camera is just plain rubbish. The enemy AI is about as clever as a lemming and some of the jumps will just make you want to set fire to your TV. The feeling of claustrophobia is still one of the most impressive things here. You are essentially on your own in a world devoid of life except for the occasional beasty that wants to kill you! Very few games have managed to capture that feeling of isolation so well.
If you never played a Tomb Raider game or you just want to feel a little nostalgic, then I would recommend this to you. There are better platform games out there, but none have the same feel as Tomb Raider or the same satisfaction derived from achieving a goal in Tomb Raider.
The Bad: Feels a bit dated. Looks a bit rough around the edges.
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