|System: PSP, PS2, PC||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: Aug. 8, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Lara Croft is hard at work again. Over a decade has passed since she first graced our screen. She may be getting on in age, but in this case it's not to her detriment. Everything you loved about the original game is presented in Tomb Raider: Anniversary for the PSP - and more. It combines all the greatest gameplay elements with new features such as a radically improved engine which results in better graphics, more responsive moves, and bigger and better levels. Things that were merely hinted at in the original are now fully realized. It may seem like the same old story, but it's never been told like this.
As far as action adventure games go, Tomb Raider ranks among the finest. In some respects, it completely overshadows the competition. Some claim that it's the best action game ever, and few would have disagreed with that statement when Tomb Raider debuted. But that was more than 10 years ago, and Tomb Raider has spawned many imitators. Some good, some bad, and some that are excellent such as Prince of Persia which ironically inspired the last Tomb Raider game, Legend. Before the release of that game, it was apparent the glory days of the Tomb Raider franchise were well behind it. Anyone recall Angel of Darkness? As good as Anniversary is, one should still be wary of the fact that this is a remake, albeit a very, very good one. It plays great on the handheld and is certain to put a smile on the face of fans that have left the series for dead.
Hired by a powerful organization, Ms. Croft is commissioned to locate and retrieve a mysterious artifact call the Scion. This adventure takes her to exotic, yet very dangerous, locations where she will encounter various enemies, pitfalls, and puzzles. Fortunately, she's intelligent, acrobatic, and armed. All facets of the gameplay have been improved in this updated and upgraded version. There are more moves than ever, and they are extremely responsive. You'll also have more fun using the weapons as they are more useful thanks to an improvement in accuracy and the new engine. This allows them greater interplay with puzzle solving as well as combat. When Lara takes out her gun, the gameplay rivals any shooter on the market. And that's just one element of the gameplay. Expect a lot of variety.
Your first stop will be the Croft Mansion. Here you'll learn the finer points of how to control Lara. She's not difficult to control, but because there are more moves and weapons, you will have a bit of a learning curve to navigate. If you're familiar with the control system in Legend, you should be able to jump right in. Lara is able to leap, spin, pull off a handstand, climb, grapple, swing, wall run, strafe, and even dive into the water. All of the moves are gracefully animated and fit seamlessly into the game. Using props such as poles and grappling hooks, she's able to launch herself to new heights. It's worth the effort to spend time honing your skills in the tutorial mansion.
Enemies are plentiful, and you can expect many of them to come in the form of animals. Bats, mountain lions, snakes, alligators, and even dinosaurs will conspire to keep you from progressing through the ancient corridors. Some of the animals will rush at you quickly causing you to dodge them with lightning fast reflexes. This was a staple of the original game, but now you've got the added advantage of the dual auto-aim pistol at your disposal. Other weapons such as shotguns can be found in your travels, but you'll have to search for the ammo. The dual pistols are by far your best bet as they have unlimited ammo. Still, it's a lot of fun to mix things up by using different weapons. Ammo and med kits aren't all that difficult to find.
A rather disappointing element to the gameplay is the inclusion of automatic action sequences in which you just simply click on an icon. You don't have direct control over Lara during these sequences, as it's more of an interactive movie in the vein of the laser disk game, Dragons Lair. The only saving grace is that the animation is great, making it enjoyable to watch. Thankfully these sequences don't make up the majority of the gameplay, but further things along.