Review by Millers C

"Core lost the plot here"

This is the third installment of the Successful Tomb raider series. The first one was excellent. Not because of a Woman In tight lycra (Lets face It fellas, she's a Simulation), but beacause the game had tension, a spooky atmosphere and decent graphics (Superb Circa 1996). In Tomb Raider 2, Core threw this right out the window In favour of more levels, locations and more guns. And you can't blame them, response from many people heralded this step, and blasters enjoyed this. But this took the tension away, as running around with an M-16 didn't make you feel as exposed (So to speak).
When I got this game I was excited - It promised more of everything - and basically they did exactly that. But they took out the essence of a superb game and that Is one of the major Nitpicks I had with this game. Now I'll get down to the nitty gritty.

The story Is Introduced to us as soon as we play the game. Apparently, a comet hit the earth, making huge fragmentations throughout the earth - well, 4 locations, India, Easter Island, London and the Nevada desert (The host to a bit of X files Hocus pocus and Foo Fighting). And Lara goes to find them after being instructed by a Dr Willard, who was leading an expedition into Antarctica, where he learnt of the Fabled Fragments. Of course baddies turn up who want it for themselves, Sapphire Lee Is the Villainess (A good choice having a female villain, a rarity that worked so well in The first game), who is the CEO of Lee cosmetics that wants it for eternal youth. The problems with the story Is the fact that you have the choice as to wher to go next. But this Is a big problem. you never know who you are fighting and who your allies are, which Is a big disappointment considering Tomb Raider's baddies. The characters are alright and there sure are some oddballs out their that I can't go into detail about. A wealth In characters is always good and adds that little bit of depth to the game that I always like to see. all In all the Story Isn't that bad, It's just a little muddled.

Your first missions will always be in India, and from there on you choose. This makes it less linear than the others, but my feelings on this were indicated above. Granted, some people will definately like this and it's always good to be able to see where you going next. The levels are brilliantly detailed, with superb backgrounds and an excellent variety; Rocks, waterfalls, trees, buildings, In the few levels almost every possible terrain Is used, all with different dangers, Artifacts and secrets. These are all done In a superb graphics engine that Is easily superior to the previous games and captures the atmosphere's of all the locations well. People are well drawn and look quite real. Their hands still seem a little blocky though, but generally this is the best part of the game. It Is a visual masterpiece.

But how does it play? Well if you've played the others the controls will be of no surprise to you, which is good. Plus their are some new features that you will be just dying to use. Plenty of firepower means you will never run out, but with a variety of guns at your disposal it is less fun to go about collecting ammo for say the Uzi on Level 2 and acquire it on level 16. TR3 hands this to you on a plate and takes out the sense of achieving something. Remember the feeling when you finally got those magnums on the Tomb of Tihocan level in TR1? You wont get that again with this game. the game Isn't that hard to play though but It is a hard game. Puzzels are taken from the Mensa handbook of impossoble solutions and consulting an extensive FAQ will be the only way to continue. Levels are Veeery long and will take a very long time. But the real problem with this game (And the inspiration behind the tagline) Is What i called infuriating Sudden death syndrome and Frustrating backtrackers. In many levels, you will come accross confusing instant death scenarios, where, if you didn't save the game, you will go back to the start and wonder what you did wrong. Okay, you can just start back at where you last saved, right? Wrong. Core have made an Ill Concieved decision to bring back the save crystals making it even harder! I mean we do want hard games but not Impossoble games. The second Problem is Backtracking. All the levels consist of are Find key. Find door. Find key run bakc to start ETC and it just gets boring. Straightforward design is a plus side and core lost the plot here.

finally, I would like to say that this game Is very hard and will take an age to complete. But should you buy It? No. Not even for Lara? No. This game Is a shocking waste of talent and is extremely frustrating and I think you will be lucky to even complete a few levels. Core should get a slap in the face for this.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 09/21/01, Updated 03/05/02

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