Review by SuperUltra64
"Fails to deliver on almost every promise made"
I remember reading about this game while it was still in production. Eidos was promising the moon: no more tedious switch pulling; no more going to the end of the level to find an item and having to backtrack to the beginning to use it; an innovative item combining system, such as being able to use duct tape to combine your weapon with a flashlight; and the list continued. So it was supposed to breathe new life into the dwindling franchise. Instead, it was more of the same, just slightly disguised. I know this came out like twelve years ago, but I just bought it at a garage sale and it brought back memories of why I hate this game... so I am venting a bit for retroactive therapy. My numbers are at the bottom.
The level divisions are still there, just very underplayed. You advance to a certain point, the game loads and restores your health, and you begin the next area. You can save whenever and wherever you want, but it doesn't allow you to restart the level like Tomb Raider 2. So if you aren't paying attention and make a bad save, you are totally screwed and have to either find a way to finish the level while you are on fire (or whatever), or start the game all over, from the beginning. Speaking of the beginning, this game does not have an optional tutorial level, like the previous games. No, it has a soul-crushingly dull MANDATORY tutorial level, which teaches you less than half of the moves and gameplay elements you will be needing. For example, it never tells you that you can open some doors just by walking up to them and pressing the action button, that you can crawl backwards out of a hole and cling to the edge, that you can shimmy around corners, that you can climb poles, that you can hang off a ledge and drop and grab a lower ledge, etc, etc. Many, many core gameplay elements need to be figured out on your own... so why have a mandatory tutorial level to begin with? It is a pain the first time, but it is near unbearable the second time (like if you screwed yourself with a bad save and need to start again).
The standard Tomb Raider wall switches are, indeed, pretty much gone, but only to be replaced with new, different looking switches. The whole traversing the whole level (and in some cases, part of the next level, as well) to find an item that you need to use at the beginning is still very much there. Now, that is not a bad thing in my opinion. I like the exploration side of Tomb Raider games. I am just mad that I was promised something different. So, the gameplay is still pretty fun, but it is very hampered by some severe flaws. There are huge problems with collision detection and clipping, which is usually just a graphical issue, but it is unforgivable when it hampers gameplay, such as badguys shooting you trough walls that you cannot shoot through; bad guys running away through solid walls, thus making pursuit impossible; the player actually falling through solid objects; some solid objects have a massive hit box and will cause collision issues when you are not even touching them, especially underwater. Swimming in this game is a nightmare. The character gets stuck on damn near everything that isn't perfectly flat, making maneuvering around very tedious and will result in many drownings. Swimming is a death trap in any area that is not perfectly flat, as I mentioned, and it will take a lot of trial and error to overcome the absolutely terrible underwater collisions/getting stuck because part of your leg is *inside* of the incline. But it is possible to learn how to overcome those glitches, so generally they aren't game-breaking, but sometimes they are pretty close.
The "new inventory system" is not anywhere near what was promised. You cannot do anything close to what was promised. Instead, what you can do is select different ammo for your guns (having the different types of ammo is kinda neat), and take "artifact A" and combine it with "artifact B", again something that the mandatory tutorial level fails to inform you of. You can also attach a laser sight + scope to one of two weapons, which isn't as cool as it sounds because the weapon will do the same amount of damage no matter where you hit the target.
Overall, the design team had some cool ideas, but the game feels like it was very much rushed out the door before they could be implemented in their intended way. When a game is rushed like this, it ends up with lots of glitches. It's nothing new, and it still happens frequently (like that glitch in Prince of Persia 2, where the final portal won't activate, leaving you trapped in a room with no way out. And if you save the game, thinking a reset will fix the problem, think again: it would save the glitch. Now you have to start the game all over again) and they are very annoying. For this game, I just can't look past the glaring flaws, they ruin the game for me. Maybe I just get real unlucky, or maybe it is the way I play the game, but those flaws keep popping up over and over, and I just don't have the patience to deal with them, nor do I have blind eyes of a fanboy who can't see them. Thankfully, Crystal Dynamics has resurrected Tomb Raider with the quite good Tomb Raider Legends and, my personal favorite, Tomb Raider Anniversary. I would recommend every other Tomb Raider game, with the possible esception of TR3, over this one. If you have played all of the others and are wanting more Tomb Raider-esque adventure, I think I would probably suggest the Croc games over this one. He is a cute little imitation, and he even has a brown backpack. Well... maybe I wouldn't go quite that far as to suggest Croc over this...maybe... I would really only recommend this to dedicated TR fans, and maybe if you can find it real cheap. And I mean really cheap.
In conclusion, here are my numbers for this game.
Gameplay: 6/10 (points taken off for the game interfering glitches, mostly the swimming)
Graphics: 7/10 (really pulls some power out of the PS1. again, points taken off for glitches)
Sound: 8/10 (pretty damn good for the most part, but yet again, points taken off for minor audio glitches)
Longevity: 2/10 (there is no way that I'm going to even think about beating this game again)
Overall: 4/10 (not an average. encountering the gameplay flaws as often and consistently as I did really ruin what could have been near-great. I feel like Eidos promised the moon, and instead gave me a picture of their ass)
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 05/24/11
Game Release: Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (US, 11/22/99)
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