Review by KFHEWUI
"Failing to capture the magic of the original, Anniversary serves as an example of how not to do a remake"
In 2006 Eidos decided to remake the original Tomb Raider for the 10th anniversary of the series, and Crystal Dynamic would handle the project. With more advance hardware that allowed for more complex gameplay, I could not wait to see what Crystal Dynamics would deliver for one my favorite game series.
The story mainly follows the plot from the first game however there are some new parts that were written. Lara Croft is hired by a woman named Natla to find and recover three pieces of an artifact named Scion of Atlantis, and she starts her quest for the first piece of Scion located in Peru. The story does stay close to the original game, but the one area where they made changes was in Lara Croft's character. For some reason Crystal Dynamics decided to make Lara into a pacifist, and she has no trouble killing lions, wolves, crocodiles, and mummies however killing people is wrong? Thanks to this change all of the human boss fights were completely remove except for Natla this also removes the fights with Pierre where he would magically appear and disappear like a ninja.
Tomb Raider Anniversary starts off with Lara outside of the cave, and she has to climb up above the gate and hit a switch to open the door. Moving Lara around is easily, and the control layout is decent. The controls feel solid for the most part however there are numerous parts where the controls are shown to be sluggish, and the most notable part is St. Francis Folly where Lara has to quickly climb up and across several platforms. Lara moves way to slow, and it feels like there is a delay after hitting the buttons. Safe to say this part leads to a lot of cheap deaths, and the other problem I have with the controls involve the swan dive. Performing the swan dive is done by hitting jump then press forward and hitting another button, and it never seems to work. Why could they not have performed the same way as the original? Instead of holding down walk like in the original, in Anniversary holding jump then press forward and roll would have been much better choice.
To reach the top of the gate, Lara must climb up on rocks, jumps across gaps, and shimmy across ledges, and she can shimmy across ledges faster by tapping "Y". Also Lara must use a grappling hook to jump across a gap, and the grappling hook has several other uses throughout the course of the game. Not only can Lara use it to cross larger gaps, but she can also use it to pull switches, grab items, and to wall run. After hitting the switch several wolves will run out, and players will get their first taste of combat which has seen some upgrades. Once Lara has shot enemies a certain amount of times, the enemies will charge Lara and jumping out of the way will cause Lara to do a slow motion dive. During this dive, a cursor will appear and once it turns red, Lara can perform a kill shot. The only advantage this brings is that it kills enemies quickly however since Lara has unlimited pistol ammo, killing enemies is still not that difficult of a task.
Tomb Raider Anniversary does not look that bad and the textures look great. Foliage and stone houses look real, and some of the Egypt levels have nice decaying of the stonework. The enemies and Lara are nicely animated especially when enemies are charging Lara, and the bears can look terrifying. From time to time the graphics do have some oddities most notable is when Lara gets out of water, and she has an unnatural glow.
The levels have not only seen a cosmetic change, but the levels are now linear than the large and complex maze like levels from the original which makes the game much easier. I do like how the levels in the Peru are all connected with no load screen in between them. The strangest change to the levels comes with the decision to combine Cistern and Tomb of Tihocan together so instead of having 15 levels there are only 14 levels, and why they decided to make this change, I would love to know since it was completely pointless to change them. Also the secrets from the original were change, but a few of the secrets from the original game can still be found in the same places however they do not count as a secret. A nice touch is the classic chime that plays when the original secrets are found.
The soundtrack is mainly remixes of the original tracks with a few new tracks, and while the remixes are decent, they do not have the same magic that the original tracks have. Voice acting is great for this game, and the voices fit the characters. Most of the voice actors for the game, I had never heard before, and the only person I knew was Steve Blum.
Vital part of Tomb Raider was the puzzles, and most of the puzzles from the original have returned and some with major changes like St. Francis Folly. The changes are not for the better, and in Atlas room is most notable since now dodging the boulder is much more complex. There are some new puzzles added, and they are awful. One puzzle has Lara climbing up a chain causing it to lower and raise a ledge.
Another unwelcomed addition is QTE events which return from Legend, and these events are painfully slow and boring. They also ruin part of the charm from the original game. In The Lost Valley, I remember the first time I reached the valley, and that daunting music starts playing and ground starts shaking, the player knew something bad was about to happen. In Anniversary the T-Rex's appearance is now a cut scene that leads up to a lame and drawn out battle against the T-Rex. Instead of shooting until it dies, the T-Rex has a health bar, and the best way to lower his health is by angering him and causing him to ram into one of two spike pillars on each side of the arena. After causing enough damage, the T-Rex is finished with a QTE sequence which is lame. In the original, this fight was exhilarating and unforgettable, but in Anniversary the whole fight is dumbed down to the point that it is forgettable. This is not the only fight that was change, and every boss fight received some change. In the centaur battle, Lara has to use her grappling hook to pull down the shields of the centaur before she can hurt them.
The save system in Anniversary is strange, and the game auto saves at the end of the level, but it does not save at checkpoints in the level. The player can save at any time during the level, and by saving this way, the game will start back at the last checkpoint once it is loaded.
Replay value is extended by time trials, achievements, and unlockable outfits. There are also unlockable commentary from the director, and a bonus level that was mainly used for designing the mechanics. The achievements are generic including beat the levels without dying, find all secrets, beat each level, and difficulty related.
Tomb Raider Anniversary has some several technical issues, and this game uses the same engine from the 360 version of Legend (which was barely playable). There are numerous severe and game breaking glitches, and the most common and prominent is the jumping glitch. The jumping glitch will sometimes have Lara miss a jump even if the player performs a perfect jump, and even worse is the grab glitch where Lara will sometimes flat out refuse to grab a ledge no matter what. This can lead to a lot of cheap deaths, and this really is a huge problem but add in the time trials, it is a nightmare because the time trials pretty require a flawless run since there is not that much time. So it feels like the time trials come down to blind luck instead of skill. Another major glitch includes the Centaur's shields being unable to grapple making the fight unbeatable. The camera can also be a nightmare in tight spaces making some jumps much harder than needed.
Tomb Raider Anniversary is terrible remake that not only fails to capture the magic of the original game but is also barely playable due to severe glitches that render the game unenjoyable.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 07/17/12
Game Release: Tomb Raider: Anniversary (US, 10/23/07)
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