Review by Millers C

"Core saves their reputation with this Intriguing and lenghty installment"

The first Tomb raider hit our Playstations back in 1996. What we had was a charming young lady with a fondness for tight leather, but above all an engrossing, tense affair that reeked of class. A year later and the sequel came out. Set amongst the canals of Venice, and The Great Wall of China, TR2 gave you more weapons, more outfits and a cool new feature – Vehicles. But was this enough to save the game? Of course, just look at the reviews. But the decision to have an army of Soldiers and human Enemies made the game less tensional and eliminated the scare factor. Can you honestly tell me your heartbeat wasn’t raised just a little when you first saw the Alien in the original?
Also, Core didn’t have many countries to visit, and Tibetan foothills were not quite as charming as Peruvian temples. So it was back to the drawing board. Out Came Tomb Raider 3. It was a debacle, a monstrosity of a game. The graphics were pushed the Playstation to it’s limits and set a new high for the system. But a Ridiculous plot, and the disastrous set out for the levels put the series at an all time low. I though that Core would just abandon this game series, but no, Sales defied the critics once more and the fourth chapter in the Croft Autobiography was written, Tomb raider the last revelation.

When you start the game you will notice there is no FMV intro, as in the previous games. What Core did was make you PLAY the game to find out the story. An intriguing and inspired move by Core, who begin the game tracing Lara’s Archaeological roots back to her tender teenage years. It all starts of in Cambodia 1984, Lara Is traveling with her mentor, an ageing professor by the name of Werner Von Croy. The Introduction goes terribly wrong when Von Croy is trapped in the Iris on the top of a huge Chasm. So why introduce a character that is killed off in the second level HINT. This leads us onto the third level, The Tomb of Seth, in present day Egypt. Lara and her Guide go in to find the mysterious Ankh and take it back to humble Derbyshire. But something is wrong. In true the mummy style horror Seth (Pronounced Set), is released and vows to wreak a terrible vengeance on the world. And who has to save the day? Lara. But she doesn’t come alone. Her friends get in on the act, too, and this introduces us to a new character, Frenchman Jean. Wow, this plot intrigued me from the beginning. Core went back to the old Tomb raider style and created a superb plot, and genuinely scary as well. The wealth of extra characters adds depth rarely seen in previous games, and an absence of many Human enemies is a welcome change. The plot has everything you need: The heroine, the Friend, the baddie and the Sinister Big boss. The only real plot since the original that really intrigued me. Well done.

When you begin play, you will notice the decent FMV sequences, and there is not an absence of this in this game. Character movement is fluid and the Voice acting easily ranks up there with metal Gear Solid as the best on the PSX. We have interesting Austrian accents and Amusing Egyptians, who all have there moments. There is a wealth of characters from elusive baddies to likeable allies. The levels are all beautifully done. The characters are drawn in beautifully, but still move a tad constricted and The AI Acts stupidly at times. Your Egyptian friend will activate a switch and then try to walk through a closed door, just standing on the spot. It is amusing to watch but it outlines some of the problems and limitations that should be cleared up when the series hits PS2. The levels are designed excellently. It is simply fantastic. There are about 6 episodes in total, and exploration on say level 12 that reveals a switch on level 8 that opens a door on level 9, shows how much effort the designers put in. Going from one level to the next means progress. There is no more backtracking In lengthy levels. Levels are short and can be explored easily, which is never a bad thing. The levels all look superb even if you can still see the pixels. All in all very good.

Movement is simple, and the control system again works to your advantage. Full use of the Pad means new Functions for Lara (Such as the rope swing), and lovely animations (Just watch her on the rope). The levels as I mentioned are easy to negotiate and fun to play. Core made the Brilliant decision to bring the series back to it’s roots, Egypt. The game takes you from a Romancing the Stone style Train ride, to the Egyptian Shanty towns and finally to the pyramids of Giza. Any budding Egyptologist will find a lot from this game. Concentrating on one location was a good idea. The spooky plot allows for much more Spooky and tense gameplay. The absence of light soon becomes an irritating factor. Core should have made lighting devices more readily available. An example of this tension is walking down an ill lit alley in the City of the dead, with Green sky above you (Quake anyone), and a shape moving towards you. Umm-scary stuff then. One final point, is weapons and the inventory system. There are again much less weapons, and with the lengthy game, this allows for much more use of those trusty 9mm’s and more exploration is required to find the grenade launcher required to kill that spider boss. The inventory system has been revamped. No longer do we have those irritating save beacons. Save can be done anytime anywhere, which is a great inclusion. There is one flaw in the Inventory system, it is not a ring. Countless times have I scrolled past that important item when I went the wrong way. Core should clear this up.

But how long does it last? The episodes count up to about 6 levels each, that all need careful exploration in order to progress. It is not a beat level 1 progress to level 2 system. Oh no, lateral thinking is required here, you must find things on one level in order to progress on a level later on. Movement between levels is available anytime (Provided you find one of the multiple exits, with some secret ones), and is essential. Completing this game (35 levels) is a very hard task, so ask yourself are you really willing to give up a lot of your time for this game? It Is engrossing tough and frustrating. But persevere and you can’t help but want to play it more. I will end by fully recommending this game to anyone who likes the Tomb raider series, and Resident Evil/Silent Hill style games. Core went back to were they started it all off and it payed off in bucket loads. Fully recommended. But what’s with the name? The LAST revelation? Surely not………

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/22/01, Updated 03/05/02

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