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SummaryA 3D adventure unlike anything before it
The GoodTomb Raider was a masterpiece when it first came out, and it is my first foray in the series. I believe that it was the first action-adventure game that delivered a third-person perspective. It is fully documented on MobyGames and received positive reviews. I thought that I'd play this game to see what all the fuss was about.
We are introduced to Lara Croft, a young archaeologist whose job is to collect artifacts from various sites around the world. No matter how hot or cold the place is, Lara can adjust to any temperature just fine. She is approached by an American, Larson Conway, who works for the wealthy businesswoman Jacqueline Natla. At Natla's request, Lara travels to Peru to obtain an ancient artifact, which happens to be one of three parts of the Atlantean Scion. Soon betrayed, she travels to three locations to search for the remaining pieces before it falls into the wrong hands.
The first thing that drew me in was the tutorial that takes place in Lara's mansion, mainly her gym where she is seen working out. It is where you need to practice a few moves which you need to accomplish in each of the game's fifteen levels. Some of the moves featured include jumping (both short and long), walking, swimming, and ledge-hanging. The skills are not quite as difficult to master, and as a player new to the Tomb Raider series, I managed to master them in under two minutes.
There are some stunning locations Lara has to visit, with my favorite being the ones surrounded by sand. To get through each location, not only do you have to perform the moves you studied in the tutorial, but you also have to deal with a lots of creatures in the game, ranging from wolves to demons. Lara can use up to four weapons at her disposal. What I found neat was the way Lara automatically turns her head and aims at a creature, meaning that you don't have to do it yourself.
There are a few bosses in the game, including the T-Rex that you meet halfway through the third level. Each boss is animated nicely, and look threatening enough that you want to put a bullet in them. They are also difficult to kill if you don't use the right weapon against them, and they can take away all your health in one go if you aren't careful enough. There are some people that you have to fight, with the most memorable one being Pierre DuPont, who wants to recover the pieces before Lara does.
I enjoyed exploring every nook and cranny, to see how far I can go without bumping into a locked door, and how many secrets I could find. When I reached the Atlantis level, I cannot believe how revolting it looked. The walls are basically pulsating hearts with a few body parts surrounding it, and to complement its appearance, you hear heartbeats as you make your way through the level.
There are a lot of puzzles in the game, mostly pushing/pulling blocks to specific areas. The puzzle that I remember most fondly is where Lara confronts her doppelgänger who mimics her every moves and she must lure it to its death. Most of the puzzles can take some time to finish depending on how well you get through them.
All the action occupies the entire screen. There is a health meter and ammo counter as well, but they are only displayed at the appropriate moments. The health meter is only shown if Lara has taken hits, while the ammo counter is only shown if you get one of your weapons out. I also like the way how the user interface looks. The options and your inventory is displayed in a ring, rather than horizontally one by one. Finally, I like how you can switch between high and low resolution. It is ideal for people who have problems using the high resolution side.
The sound effects are nice. You can hear creatures growling in the room next to you, allowing you to prepare for them early. Also, as expected, Lara can fall to her death from long heights, and when she hits the ground, she makes a nice "crunch" sound. Ambient sound effects are stored as CD Audio tracks, and this gives the game atmosphere as you wander around each location.
The replayability is high because the game can be completed again, to revisit areas and discover any secrets you missed the first time.
Highlight: Fighting the huge boss at the beginning of the last level, which was a major challenge for me two-fold. It takes a lot of damage to bring down, and I remember wasting a lot of my Uzi clips on him. Also, there is a gap in the platform, and you have to be careful not to fall down into the lava below.
The BadThe only thing I have against the game would be that the game is too easy. There is more than five health packs (small and large ones) and ammo clips in the level. I ended up having 25 of them in total. Also, the cinematics in the game have scanlines, which means that they are not as detailed as the PlayStation version.
The Bottom LineI like Tomb Raider a lot since it contains the one thing that I love - exploration. To help you get through the various locations in the game, you are taught a number of moves, and some of these are a matter of life or death as you spend some time jumping over hazards, such as lava or spikes. Two moves that I hadn't mentioned are the headstand and backward-swim. Since all of these make Lara so hot, it's no wonder that the "Nude Raider" patch was released.
There are creatures in the game, and these creatures, as well as bosses and humans, attack you if you are in the same room as them. Lara has an arsenal of weapons which she can use against them, and she can auto-aim herself so you don't have to. Overall, Tomb Raider has a slick user interface, great sound that provide atmosphere, stunning graphics, and high replayability. If you are looking for an excellent 3D action-adventure, then this title is for you.