Here we go again...
Tomb Raider: AoD features an all new graphical engine capable of many many polygons and beautiful environments, richly detailed with fluid animation and crisp texturing.
Along with its new look, TR: AoD sports a snazzy storyline that pits Lara in the middle of a murder mystery. It's 'whodunnit' and the star is everybody's favorite busty heroine.
From the CGI to the settings, it's all very well done with a consistent style through the whole game, clearly influenced by a particular film debut.
The rest of the game has stayed pretty familiar throughout, from running, jumping and shooting, to exploring with intense music, clear sound effects and some of the highest heights imaginable.
TR: AoD delivers the traditional experience that most TR fans want(ed) with a new sort of flair and gusto that shows, Core Design and Eidos are trying to give a damn.
Finally, the best point about the newest installment has to be--no, not her curves, though they look fantastic--the save feature. I like being able to save anywhere. I'm primarily a gamer upon computer, thus this speaks to me. To all game developers the world over, save anywhere!
TR: AoD brings to life frustration unbound. With fluid animation, Core lost control. Not that Lara was ever the most controllable character on the console, but TR: AoD shows that with a little love, any character can be turned into an Analog nightmare.
Countless times you will find yourself flying to your doom at the bottom of a pit due to a last minute twitch of the thumb which sent Lara careening towards a wall, rather than the ledge.
Though Core has tried to deal with this possibility by making the 'grabbable area' very forgiving so you could be at a fifteen degree angle and still manage to latch on. Sometimes it's no help though.
Core also tried to bring a new gameplay element to life in TR in the form of Role Playing. This almost worked because Lara is a 'detective' of sorts, thus it fits the role. Unfortunatly, since the game is set in Paris that meant they needed voice actors to mimick a french accent, and we all know that the TR series has never had the best voice actors at the best of times. Lines are choppy, hurried and sometimes down right annoying. Lara was played expertly, however, with a convincing british tounge, but no british lingo. Too bad.
In addition to the Role Playing game play, Core implemented a sort of attribute upgrade system, wherein Lara could improve her abilities. Having been out of the Tomb Raiding game for some time, Lara evidently needs to brush up on her skills. Thus at certain points you will increase your strength in certain ways. I decided this was something I didn't like because of the way it was implemented. Instead of having it increased through pickups or experience points, or some such, Lara is in fact limited until she reaches a point in the game and the attribute upgrade is used as a way to prevent the player from reaching a point without fullfilling an objective.
Examples include doors that can't be opened until you pull a lever in a room that activates something else entirely. In other words, all the running and jumping is great but only after you pull the lever does Lara 'feel stronger'. I can understand the reasoning behind this from a game design standpoint, but overall, it is simply ridiculous.
The Aritificial Intelligence in TR: AoD is shit.
For lack of a better description, it is absolute garbage. There is in fact, no AI. There is PacMan intelligence. Am I being too harsh?
I'll cite an example: I climbed down a ladder to get away from a guard. The guard, as I was climbing away, withdrew his sidearm and began firing at where I was upon the ladder. He emptied his clip into the thin air that I left in my wake. He then reloaded, and began firing again. After that clip, he reloaded and fired... and reloaded, and fired. This continued. Finally, after me and my girlfriend had had a good laugh about this, I climbed the ladder, at my girlfriend's behest, and killed the guard.
Oh, the stealth, I'll note is a nifty addition. Though we caught some of this gameplay in Chronicles, it is much improved. Be warned, however, it is a far cry from Metal Gear. Hell, it isn't even Tenchu.
The Bottom Line
Do you like Tomb Raider? Yeah, me too, got time to kill? Rent it.