Review by KFHEWUI
Not only is it one of the better portable Tomb Raider games, it is one of the best Tomb Raider games in recent years
Lara's latest adventure begins on the Wolf Fang's Peak which she read about in the Tome of Ezekiel which talks about a black stone that is hidden in the peak. This stone is said to house magic power, and Lara is trying to discover the truth behind it however this adventure will take Lara all around the world as she discovers the truth of the tome and also battle a cult along the way.
Tomb Raider: The Prophecy has a good story and this time around the game has a touch of Norse mythology, and Lara's quest is an interesting one that is filled with enough twists and turns to keep the player interested to the end.
The game starts off with Lara on the Wolf Fang's Peak which looks fantastic, and the game looks amazing for a GBA title. Lara is well designed, and the enemies look unique (that is what little variety of enemies there are). The characters are well animated. There are four different areas in the game, and each area has its own distinct look. Wolf Fang's Peak is full of snow covered ledges, Angkor Watt is full of foliage and waterfalls, Italy area is full of Roman architecture, and the final area is full of ruin that looks like a medieval castle.
Each level is silent with no music at all and with the only sound being ambience like running water or fire yet occasionally there is the growling of wolves when Lara approaches them. There are a few tracks in the game, and in combat an ominous tune plays that sound great. There is a track for the main menu and cut scene before each area that has a nice tune. The sound effects are not that bad and the guns sound right. Bullets deflecting off the skeletons shields have a nice ping sound. There are some voice overs for sighs or ah when Lara takes damage, and the problem is that the some of the sighs sound masculine than feminine.
Tomb Raider: The Prophecy plays similar to the PS1 titles with a few changes, and the grind jump system has been removed. Lara still can do a running jump, but Lara's jump is now affected by how long forward is held down. Controlling Lara is easy to do thanks to a good control layout and solid controls that are responsive, and thankfully this time jump has been mapped to "A" instead of "UP" from the GBC games at least that is one area that was improved upon from the predecessor.
Along the course of the game Lara will have to use all of her skills including jumping gaps, dodging traps, fighting enemies, and solve puzzles. There is a lack of variety when it comes to the traps which include fire erupting from the floor, fire balls, spikes, and arrow firers. Fire erupting trap has questionable hit detection and could cause damage even if the fire has dissipated.
Combat works well in this game when Lara has her guns drawn, she will lock onto the enemy allowing her to strafe around the enemy, but as the good as the combat is, there is a lack of variety in the enemies including wolves, cultists, skeletons, shadow creatures, and final boss. Like most games, Tomb Raider: The Prophecy recycles the enemies with different sprites and more health and attacks. The skeletons have a major issue which is that the projectiles they shoot blend right into the ground making it near impossible to spot it which can lead to a lot of cheap damage. To fight the enemies, Lara starts out with her trusted pistols yet will later gain Uzi, sun gun, and golden pistol. Best of all traps will work on enemies so it can be quite fun to trick the enemy into running into a trap.
Levels are large and maze like in nature, and they start off straight forward with a side path leading to a switch that has to be hit to open the path. Later levels include heavy backtracking to flip numerous switches which get tedious quickly, and some of the later levels suffer from bad level design. One notable level has the player jump over a huge gap, and only a perfect jump will net success. This would be okay if the player did not have to do it twice, and to top it all off, the player has to go through a five minute level just to reach the jump. Death means having to do the whole level over again, and it is not fun at all. A save at any time save system would have compensated for the annoying jump by letting the player save right before the jump.
Aside from platform jumping, Lara will have to shimmy across ledge, climb ladders, and vault up ledges, and if there is one problem with the levels is that it can sometimes be hard to determine where Lara can jump. This can cause a few cheap deaths in the early levels. There are a few puzzles scattered about in the game, and one of the more interest puzzles has Lara using two statues at to raise or lower platforms to continue forward and this has to be done numerous times through the level so Lara has to get the statues back after moving on with the platforming.
The final level of the game is nothing more than a boss fight, and while more direct, it has an issue with the boss summoning enemies. Sometimes the enemies will pop up right around Lara, leaving Lara with no room to move and forcing the player to take some cheap hits. One issue that I do have with it is that after the boss takes some damage, it will dissipate into a ball of energy, at first I thought it turned into a stone and I was supposed to pick up. So a leap of faith led to a cheap and quick death, and it would have been nice if there was some kind of sign that the enemies were spawned at near the entrance. Thankfully the final boss is a push over so redoing the fight over again was not too bad.
Tomb Raider: The Prophecy takes place over about thirty-six levels, and there is a password system with each password consisting of four characters. The password is accessible by hitting "start" during the game. This introduces a major problem. Using the password system wipes out the players inventory and while it helps the player, it hurts them even more by getting rid of their stock of health kits and ammo. This game should have a save system even the GBC games had a save system.
One area where the game comes up short is the replay value, and there is none at all. There is only one difficult so there is no reason to replay the game.
Tomb Raider: The Prophecy is a flawed game however the excellent game play out shines the flaws, and this is easily the best Tomb Raider game in recent years. Even if someone is not a Tomb Raider fan, this is still a solid platformer that anyone can get into.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Lara Croft - Tomb Raider: The Prophecy (US, 11/12/02)
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