Tomb Raider

a game by Core

Platforms: PlaystationGameBoy ColorPC

Genre: Action

See also: Tomb Raider Games

People say:

8.5

Games come along every now and again that really stand out from the rest of the Pack-Tomb Raider is one of those games. The graphics are very sharp and are in true 3-D. It has come a long way from early betas--the polygon break-up and rough graphic edges have been turned into near-perfect polygons. Tomb Raider is a huge game and will give you hours upon hours of play. Cool effects that are worked into the natural environment of the game really make you feel like you're in the game. On top of all of this, there are hidden areas that make for even longer playing times. This game will keep you lost for weeks.

9.5

Tomb Raider is 3-D at its best. This is one of the few games that came out this year that really "wowed" and impressed me. The levels are huge, almost intimidating. The graphics are slightly pixelated, but the raw beauty of them more than makes up for this minor flaw. I wish the designers would have put in a few more challenges, like more enemies. After a while, I felt like I was spending too much time exploring; I longed for some action. But this was a very minor flaw too. The game is just fantastic. Make sure you pick up a copy of Tomb Raider-quality titles like this come once in a blue moon.

9.5

TR is the best PlayStation game to date. It's an addicting, sprawling, breathtaking mega-adventure that'll keep you awake and red-eyed till the wee hours. The game's visuals are among the best pumped out by the PlayStation; its subterranean caverns and temples look like the real deal, with cracked columns, rushing rivers and waterfalls. These areas are enormous and filled with traps, secrets, puzzles and creatures. You don't just play this game-you explore it. With its enormous 3-D environment, TR is the PlayStation's answer to Super Mario 64. it's not quite as good as Nintendo's masterpiece, but it's pretty dam close.

9.0

Tomb Raider came as a surprise to me; I never expected such great control and graphic from a game NOT made by Miyamoto and his team! Playing Tomb Raider is a pure joy; true 3-D environment, responsive controls and a knock-out story line complete with cinemas. What more could you ask for? If anything at all could be improved in Tomb Raider, it's the anti-aliasing. With that small enhancement, the game would be a total dream. The scope of the levels makes up for this, and you will be hard-pressed to complete it in one sitting. That is, of course, unless you don't eat, sleep, work or go to school! (Don't do this. Really.)

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It's probably not a good idea to get on Lara Croft's bad side. After all, the buff and beautiful hero of Eidos Interactive's 3-D action game Tomb Raider has a four-foot vertical leap, can shove around gigantic stone blocks like they were paper weights and is a dead-aim with her shotgun-even when in mid-backflip.

And the game in which she stars is even more impressive. Tomb Raider, which is coming in November for both the PlayStation and the Saturn, is one of the few recent titles forging their own genre-the exploration game. Just as in Super Mario 64 (and, to some extent. Perfect Weapon) Tomb Raider's fun doesn't come from blowing away bad guys. Instead, players will want to investigate every nook and cranny of the game's 12 cavernous environments-a task that could easily take weeks.

Playing Tomb Raider is like visiting the Egyptian pyramids or a Mayan temple, then crossing the red, felt-covered ropes that keep tourists from becoming true explorers. The game's levels are dispersed throughout the world, allowing Lara to explore Incan temples, an ancient Greco-Roman coliseum, Egyptian ruins and even the lost city of Atlantis.

Each of these locations looks like the real deal-as if they were ripped straight from the pages of a history-class textbook. Cracked columns tower over the coliseum (which is infested with ravenous lions, by the way], broken sculptures of ancient gods line the hallways of the Incan Temple and faded hieroglyphics decorate the walls of the Egyptian ruins. (Note: Although the screenshots on these pages were taken from the PlayStation version of Tomb Raider, the scenery and structures in the Saturn version look the same.) Since these levels are all found underground, they're surrounded by rock formations that Lara can climb and rivers she can swim in; the game's just one big subterranean playground.

But Tomb Raider's world isn't without its dangers. As Lara goes about her quest to find three pieces of an ancient Atlantean artifact, she'll face a zooful of not-so-friendly animals. Everything from gorillas to crocodiles to vampire bats roam the darkened corridors of the game's ruins, and they love to devour all human trespassers.

The animations for these polygon animals look very true-to-life, too. When Lara walks into a room full of sleeping wolves, for instance, they perk up from their sleep, stare at the heroine then leap straight for her jugular. And the animation for the chestpounding apes is downright frightening.

Besides the beasts, Lara will have to contend with Indiana Jones-inspired traps and dozens of puzzles. Most of the puzzles require Lara to time her leaps and flips so she lands on ledges leading to new areas, while others have her pushing around blocks or pulling switches in the right order.

Of course, it takes more than a few sharp-toothed critters and traps to scare Lara Croft. Besides her acrobatic abilities (see sidebar], she wields two handguns to deal with the game's wildlife. And as she progresses through each underground region, Lara comes across uzis, a shotgun, grenades and other high-powered armament.

Considering Lara's tough-as-nails persona, maybe Sega and Sony shouldn't bank too heavily on animal mascots in their war against the Nintendo 64. Perhaps Lara Croft is the real Mario killer.

reggie posted a review

Overview

I entered the valley cautiously, amazed to find a lost world at the end of the massive cavern. What I had seen until now was to be expected. But this, this was something altogether amazing. Suddenly, I was startled from my awestruck stupor by some movement in the bushes. Could it be? A raptor? I pulled out my shotgun, ready for action, when he came tearing out of the bushes beside me in a lunge for my head. I dove forward, rolled, and came up with shotgun blasting. I was lucky -- he was alone, and went down fairly easily. However, right after I killed the raptor, the earth started to shake. Just when I began to wonder "What might that be?" a head peeked its way around the corner. A big head. A head twenty feet off the ground.

The next thing I knew, a MASSIVE T-Rex was thundering its way around the corner and straight towards me. I turned and started to run for a niche I had seen in the cliff wall, but I could feel him gaining with every step. The ground literally shook with every step he took, and the pounding got louder every second. As I approached the hole in the cliff wall, I jumped with all my might in a final effort to escape -- and made it, soaring through the air towards safety. Suddenly, the massive jaws thrust forward with a savage motion, literally plucking me from the air just inches from safety. The whole world thrashed about and then faded as he slung me from side to side with his powerful neck, finally smashing me against the cliff wall. Such is the stuff of Tomb Raider. You play Lara Croft, a female Indiana Jones with enough chutzpah to take on Godzilla with a baseball bat, and enough firepower to make the old Doom space marine think twice. You take your adventure through 15 massive levels on 4 different worlds, finally ending with the mystery of the lost city of Atlantis. This is a 3D action title, but there is as much emphasis on adventure as fighting. There are many puzzles to solve, and you will find yourself spending more time solving riddles and leaping across giant crevasses than wiping out bad guys. Tomb Raider has been touted as somewhat of a thinking person's action game. The viewpoint is (for the most part) third person, seen as if from a rotating camera over your shoulder. The perspective is fresh and offers a new aspect to the highly competitive (and repetitive) 3D action market.

Gameplay/Controls/Interface

The controls of this game are easy to learn, hard to master -- play around in Lara's house to get the hang of them. The game itself is very absorbing, and you will find yourself seeing the world from Lara's eyes. In fact, in the T-Rex incident outlined above, both I and the other gamer watching let out a small scream and jumped backwards when the T-Rex chomped me from behind. The next time we fought him, I made sure I had enough room to retreat into a narrow cave, and when he could not fit his massive jaws in the entrance, he turned around, thrust his tail into the crevice, and whipped me around like a scrambled egg. This game is spooky and thrilling, and it has an excellent feel to it. Do yourself a favor and download the demo. When you're hooked, go out and buy the game. You'll thank both me and Eidos for it.

Graphics

The graphics in this game are some of the best you'll find on the PC today. The game features a 3D engine that could rival Quake's. All the areas of the game are remarkably well-detailed, and the atmospheric quality of the graphics is stunning. When in a cave, everything around you looks natural and fits with what you would expect, including pools, stalactites, stalagmites, cave-ins, bears and bats. Many of the creatures are startlingly realistic. The levels were both huge and beautiful, and there was enough variety in the scenery to keep me going on that alone.

In addition, other individuals in the game are 3D-modeled objects, much as those found in Quake or Chasm. However, the monsters and people in this game are remarkably detailed and well-rendered. The only problem I had with the game's graphics is that the texture resolution is rather low, and if you get very close to a wall or other such object, a great deal of pixelation can be seen. In addition, a few minor glitches in the engine do occur, where clipping problems are apparent or polygons intersect, and there are a few objects (vases, plants, etc.) that are flat polygons and not 3D. These really stick out and look cheap within an otherwise beautiful game. However, this game looks even better on a computer with a 3D graphics card, such as the Orchid Righteous 3D or any of the Verite cards, since texture filtering is included for these and it fixes any problems with pixelation. Overall, the graphics in this game are stunning, and any problems that it has are problems merely because of wishful thinking on my part. The same problems exist in any other game on the market as well.

Audio

I found the sounds to be pervasive and definitely mood-setting. Particularly effective is the music in some of the cavernous areas of the game where the only soundtrack you get is the whistling of the wind, along with a few other effects. While it may not seem like much at first, I found myself shivering as the wind blew, even though the computer was in a warm room. Such is the immersion you will experience, and it really helps you get into the game. The sounds in this game are almost as good as the graphics, and that says a lot.

System Requirements and Comments

Pentium computer with MS-DOS or Win 95, 2X CD-ROM drive, sound card, minimal hard drive space, plenty of free time. Gamepad/joystick optional, but helpful.

I found that the game runs fine under Windows 95, but if you want to see it in hi-resolution and still see more than a slide show, you might find yourself running it under DOS. In addition, the faster the CPU you have, the more you will get out of this game. I found that on a Pentium 133 with 32 MB of RAM and a 2 MB VRAM video card, I still had a hard time playing at high resolution.

Documentation

Documentation is scant but sufficient, a semi-trend among computer games these days. Since the controls are not that difficult, and the in-game movies tell the story, I don't think there really was much of a need for documentation in this case. In addition, you can go to "Lara's House," where there are a number of simple obstacles and environments allowing you to practice her moves. She even gives you a vocal guided tour of the place, and as you complete each instruction, she gives you the next. This was a creative feature that taught me some of the tricks necessary to squeeze the maximum in control or distance from a jump, and I think it was a great idea. Kudos to Eidos for an excellent and appropriate active tutorial.

Patches/Updates

If you have a 3Dfx card, look at the Tomb Raider website to get the 3D card-enhanced executable. It will allow you to run the same game with an even better look. This game looks great without enhancing, and spectacular with it.

Bottom Line

This game rocks. Not only does it redefine gender roles, it is a game you will truly remember. I found it refreshing and stunning, and it brings fresh blood to a game style that has been flooded with duplicates and look-alike sequels. This is a game that will appeal to most any gamer, especially those that are interested in 3D games, but have found them too brainless or violent. Tomb Raider is a game with an attitude, and I like it. I give it a 93 out of 100, and hope to see more quality groundbreakers from Eidos in the future.

reggie posted a review

Overview

By now, I'm sure you have heard the story of Lara Croft. If you have been living on a deserted island and GameFabrique is the first place you have gone for information (which it should always be), let me set the stage.

Tomb Raider stars you as Lara Croft. You have been born into a life of wealth. On the way home from a weekend skiing trip, your chartered plane crashes deep in the heart of the Himalayas. You (Lara) are the only survivor of the wreck. You had to learn how to depend on yourself and your intelligence to stay alive in this hostile environment. Now you have gone from being fed with a silver spoon to depending on nobody but yourself to survive. After twp weeks of surviving in the mountain range, you find the village of Tokakeriby and are, in effect, rescued. After returning to your father and his rich, upper-class, British ways, you decide that this is not the life you desire. You spend the next eight years of your life training, studying and traveling to ancient civilizations across the globe. After numerous attempts to persuade you from your infatuation with this ancient history, your family finally disowns you.

With your money supply dried up, you start writing to fund your expeditions. Since you're somewhat famous for discovering several ancient sights of huge archaeological interest, you do quite well publishing travel books and journals of your travels.

You will guide Lara through her latest exploits in the jungle in search of lost civilizations. You are completely responsible for the success and failure of your journey. You have eight years of research and training standing in front of you, awaiting your every action or command. Do you think you have what it takes to make Ms. Croft's latest adventure a success?

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

Tomb Raider is a third-person action/adventure/puzzle game from Eidos Interactive. This is perhaps one of the most hyped titles of 1996. Your job is to step behind the controls of Lara and guide her safely through this expedition. Unfortunately, there are plenty of unfriendly creatures that don't want this game to have a happy ending.

The game starts out at an option selection screen. This is where you can choose to either start the game or visit Lara's home. Her home is an interactive training session on the controls of the game. I seriously suggest that first-timers go through this training course. Lara's comments will guide you through a number of moves and routines that will help you get the hang of the difficult controls of the game. Spend a lot of time getting the feel of the jumping. This will become a critical skill for survival throughout the game.

After you feel comfortable enough with the controls and movements of the game, it is time to start your adventure. When you start, Lara is armed with only a pistol for protection. Lara can run, walk, take side steps, do a forward roll, jump, grab ledges and pick up objects. Each and every one of these actions is a incredible display of detail. Take, for example, picking up an item. Most games would just have our hero walk over the object and it would magically appear in your inventory. Well, the designers at Eidos must have decided that this wasn't good enough for their heroine. Lara actually bends down and picks up the item. To some, this may be a little detail, but to me, it shows the dedication to make this game experience as real as possible.

During the game, you will control Lara's every action. Tomb Raider requires a great deal of skill and event more patience. Your job is to put both of these attributes together and reach the end of the journey. Each level of the game requires using a different area of your mind. Some levels are straightforward and only require you to blast your way through. Most levels, however, require extensive use of that thing that sits on your shoulders. The puzzles are intense, difficult and somewhat frustrating. Most of your advancement depends on your ability to trip a certain switch. Without this switch, you are stuck.

In what really seems to be a secondary aspect of the game, Lara will encounter a number of enemies in her journey. The enemies vary from a lowly bat to an enormous T-Rex. The fighting aspect of the game is not nearly as engrossing or as dominant as the puzzle-solving. Lara will collect different weapons and ammunition along the way, but most of the creatures are easily disposed of with a quick round or two from the shotgun. The one thing this does provide is the element of surprise. You will almost never walk around a blind corner without a weapon drawn and ready to shoot. Most of the time it is for naught, but you can't be too careful.

Tomb Raider has been touted as the game of the year by a number of publications. I think that this statement is a bit too much. The controls of Tomb Raider alone keep it from being the top game on the market. The precise movements and alignment required to complete some of Lara's maneuvers are so difficult that it is almost maddening. In my opinion, there is nothing worse in a game than knowing exactly what you need to do and how to do it, but not being able to because the damn controls are difficult or touchy. I found this happening many times in Tomb Raider. I would need to get a running jump to cross a river, but every time I would fall short because I couldn't tell where the riverbed ended. Now don't get me wrong. The controls are vast and you are virtually unlimited in your movement. The problem is only with the precision and the tedious maneuvers required to position yourself in the exact location to grab a ledge or jump across a river. This could be attributed to the inherent difficulty in judging depth in a 3D environment.

Graphics & Audio

The graphics in Tomb Raider are incredible. Everything from Lara's movements to the enemies are beautifully animated. The T-Rex rivals the one from the movie Jurassic Park in believability. The coolest part of the game are the graphics when Lara is swimming. You actually feel like you have jumped in the water with her and are swimming inside her polygon body. From pulling yourself up a wall to jumping across a broken bridge, just snagging the ledge on the other side and hoisting yourself to safety, Tomb Raider goes the extra mile (or two) to make all animations look as a real person would. There were times when I was so caught up in the game that it was almost like watching a movie. It takes some real kick-ass graphics to pull me that far into a game. There is, however, a problem with break-up when you get too close to a wall. There were a number of times that the camera angle was not pointing in a helpful direction, allowing enemies to attack unopposed. Overall, the graphics are well above average.

The audio in Tomb Raider is fairly limited. Usually, the only time you will hear any background music is when an enemy is approaching. You will also hear an audible sound as switches are triggered. The sound is not bad, but I think it is lacking a little. This is a perfect atmosphere for some great background music that just wasn't developed. This doesn't really take away from the game, but with all the attention that was given to Lara and the gameplay, I figured the music would have been spectacular as well.

Bottom Line

Tomb Raider is a challenging game that takes a lot of mental ability. It can be frustrating at times, but is always engrossing. I found that I could not wait to see what secret was lurking behind the door I'd just opened. If there was ever a video game that was destined to be a movie, this is it. The varying degrees of action are a nice touch. This keeps the game ever-changing. If you ever want to unlock all the secrets of this game, I suggest you go out and get yourself a good strategy guide. Don't look at it unless you are really stuck. After playing Tomb Raider, you will quickly realize what felt like ten minutes was actually an hour and a half. The tedious maneuvers required in some areas are quite frustrating. It really makes me mad when it takes me 10 minutes to climb up a wall, just to step off the edge at the top while trying to line Lara up to make a jump, or to jump and have her fall a fingernail short. Oh well, I guess it is worth another 10 minutes to climb the wall again, because I am dying to know what is on the other side!

reggie posted a review
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