|System: PS2, PC, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Crystal Dynamics||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Eidos Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 5, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jwan Jordan
Anyone who's owned a Sony Playstation, read a video game magazine, or had any connection to the media whatsoever has heard of Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider series. After Lara's initial release into the gaming world, her popularity as a character became more known than the actual gameplay. Though Lara Croft became a household name, her gameplay didn't evolve with the progression of the console, unfortunately.
Our love for the actual series was rekindled last year when Crystal Dynamics brought the series back to light with a serious overhaul. Now, Crystal Dynamics is confident lightning will strike twice with a remake of the original Tomb Raider from the PlayStation console.
You'll be happy to know the aforementioned remake, which is dubbed Tomb Raider: Anniversary, will not merely be just an exact duplicate for the PS2. Tomb Raider: Anniversary will be a combination of original levels with revamped puzzles. The locations won't be unfamiliar to gamers who've played the original, but Crystal Dynamics will be redoing the puzzles with the use of concepts that were introduced in the recent Tomb Raider: Legend. Most notably, Lara's grappling hook will be introduced again, but this will be new to the world of the original game. Another addition is the physics based puzzles from Legend; many can recall needing to kick boulders or push crates to activate weighted mechanisms in the Legends game. The use of rag doll physics will also be included in the anniversary edition.
The story will follow the original game also in which Lara has been. Lara commissioned to search for an ancient relic known as Scion. Many gamers may recall the Peruvian waterfall level which functioned by a couple of cogs in Legend. Your objective was to merely search for the cogs and insert them accordingly to halt the cascading water. Well, now that same waterfall is looking as impressive as ever as it stands towering over Lara to the point of intimidation. The cogs and waterfall were also intricately entangled in a new and improved Tomb Raider-like puzzle style.
Puzzles like the recreated waterfall level opened the door for Crystal Dynamics to create a larger, more non-linear game. Crystal Dynamics wants to take Tomb Raider back to what made it so appealing, and that's the exploration. The environments are far larger than we have ever seen in any iteration in the series thus far. As the vivacious vixen, you'll have more options for traversing the terrain this time around, via grappling hook, (no comma) and an assortment of acrobatic moves. Crystal Dynamics has even honored the original series by bringing back Lara's inventory option wheel, which hasn't been seen for some time.
Since Crystal Dynamics is taking Lara Croft back to pure exploration, there will be less combat than in Tomb Raider: Legend. Though popular in the comic series, Lara's constant onslaught of animals and even human enemies in-game were frowned upon, so it's probably a good idea on Crystal Dynamic's part to reduce the unnecessary violence.
One of the more memorable experiences of the past games was the audio which, ironically, didn't exist in a major way. The foreboding silence of the abandoned temples and seemingly lifeless forest gave an eerie feeling of loneliness. Crystal Dynamics, though honoring that notion, will add music at certain intervals in the game for cinematic reasons. It's not certain exactly how much music will play throughout the game, but it's safe to say the entire experience will not be void of music.
Crystal Dynamics has borrowed heavily from the Tomb Raider: Legend engine to enhance the graphics. You'll get to see the revamped Lara Croft in a beautifully rendered nostalgic world. It's very exciting to see the original levels as they were intended to look and not the blocky, jagged look of the Playstation version. The lighting and shadow effects are superb even this early in development. I can't wait to experience the swan dive off the waterfall again (for the first time).
It was a decade ago when the very first Tomb Raider won my heart and I'm looking forward to seeing the Anniversary addition. With Tomb Raider's enhanced graphics, audio, and a non-linear experience, I know I'll be excited all over again. Though it's released only on the Playstation 2, PSP, and PC, I'm sure there's a method to Crystal Dynamic's madness. They've clearly and confidently stated that they have material to make Lara last for years to come and I'm holding them to that comment. Look for more information when this game ships in 2007.
By Jwan Jordan
CCC Freelance Writer