Review by ShadowGeenhx

"It's just so dull compared to the others."

I happened to buy this game, as well as games two, three, and four, off a hunch. I usually like adventure games and I figured this would be the case here. It was pretty addictive for a while, but there are some things that prevent it from being really good.

The story in this game is actually pretty interesting. While a lot of things in the instruction manual get left out, what's in the game ends up being fun to follow. Lara Croft, the famous sexy archaeologist, has received word of a legendary artifact buried in pieces across the globe. She soon comes to learn that it is the Scion that was once owned by the rulers of Atlantis and that it grants the power of the gods.

The gameplay here is somewhat similar to Super Mario 64. You are in a 3D level, but instead of having to do one task at a time and reenter, you must collect all sorts of keys and trinkets that open doors to later parts of the levels. Think 3D Zelda.

During the adventure, Lara will visit such places as the hidden fortress of Vilcabamba and the Egyptian city of Khamoon. The problem with these environments is that there are several levels in a row with that one environment, leading it to get repetitive fast. However, the same puzzles are rarely used twice, so that takes some of the edge off.

In addition to opening doors and solving puzzles, Lara will also find various forms of weapons. You start off with basic pistols that have unlimited ammunition, but you can later find a shotgun, uzis, and magnums. All of the upgrades need to be refilled periodically, but they are more powerful than the standard pistols. Sometimes, it can be tough to find a refill, but it's not too bad.

One thing you will notice is that the game is tough, and not the good kind of tough. Some puzzles require almost all luck to solve, and many necessary items are well hidden. It can also be a problem if the particular area is dark, which makes finding things nearly impossible. The camera doesn't help too much either.

Play control for this game has a very steep learning curve. When you are in the training level, Lara refers to buttons as Jump and Action instead of ''square'' and ''X'' respectively. This means you'll be flipping through the instruction manual to find out what the heck she's talking about.

When you do execute moves, they come off as a little weird. To jump long distances, you need to walk to the edge and get a running start. Shimmying sideways on the edge is very slow and requires patience. When swimming, it can sometimes take forever for Lara to turn and face the necessary direction.

But, when you finally do learn the play control, it can be rather smooth. The triangle is used to draw the weapon, and then you use X to fire it. Circle is used to roll and face the other way. Square is to jump, and X is the ''do everything'' button that works differently at different times. R1 is used to walk, L1 is used to view your surroundings, and L2/R2 is used to sidestep left or right. The additions of walk and sidestep are what really save the controls.

To judge this game graphically, you have to remember that this was made in 1996. Back then, nobody really knew what the Playstation was capable of. The environments are very pixelated and the characters look rather deformed. But, they look very realistic. I always get a kick out of the review that said ''The environments look just like someone threw dirt and sand on them!'' That's how they are supposed to look. They're ANCIENT CAVES. Did you really think Lara was going to carry some Windex and clean the place up a bit? No, the levels are supposed to look old and lived in. You can see random mold and decay on the walls and pixelation to represent sand. When you think about it, the environments look real. I still have a problem with the characters, though. They look like characters from Superman 64. They have blocks for heads and their mouths don't move when they talk, not even in FMVs!

There is very little music, which is actually good as it sets the tone. Sound, on the other hand, is awful. There's a sound for every step Lara takes, which can be annoying. Even worse, Lara grunts when shimmying, pulling herself up, or jumping. You'd think she'd be as physically fit as she looks. But worst of all, there is one moment in the Tomb of Qualopec where you get a boulder to roll down a hill. You can actually hear static in the rolling sound! But at least the music is all right.

There is no incentive to play the game a second time. You earn double-fire and a sort of ''hard mode'' for beating the game, but it doesn't really affect the game at all. But if you enjoyed the game, you might play through it again.

This is a merely average game. It will appeal to the hard-core adventure fan, but it will turn off those looking for easy play control and good graphics. Some of the later games, particularly games two and three, are much better and are worth checking out first. You can actually play the games in pretty much any order you want (except for four and five).

Graphics: 7 (realistic backgrounds, deformed characters)
Sound: 1 (what did you do, Eidos?)
Gameplay: 6 (has some good and bad)
Control: 5 (you have to get used to it)

The Kelly Clarkson:
-realistic environments
-controls are good once you get used to them
-it has some of Zelda's good features
-music sets the mood quite nicely

The Kelly Osbourne:
-awful character designs
-awful sound effects
-control takes some getting used to
-no incentive to play it again

Final Verdict: Try to find it for a low price, say between $10-15. Or, you can try borrowing it from a friend to find out if you like it. But if you hate the adventure genre, you can pass this one up safely.

Final Thought: Don't play it for Lara, you sick pervert.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 04/17/03, Updated 04/17/03

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