Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness
Despite an outstanding plot, fantastic graphics and the always-stunning Lara Croft,is plagued by a bevy of small but annoying glitches and faults.
The Angle of Darkness starts with Lara Croft meeting with a former mentor. Moments later the man is dead and Croft becomes the only suspect. As Croft tries to unravel the mystery of her mentor's death she must avoid the police and the mysterious and deadly Monstrum while trying to locate the five Obscura paintings.
Although all of the Tomb Raider games have relied on plot to a point, is certainly the first to successfully make the leap from a plot driven game to an almost interactive movie. This latest Tomb Raider also sports a number of new features; unfortunately many of them are mere window dressing. The most exciting change is the in-game evolution of Croft. They way it's supposed to work is that Croft becomes better at what she does as you use her talents to complete the game. At first blush this sounds like a great idea, unfortunately it isn't carried out very well. For instance there are numerous times in the game when Croft won't be able to force open a door or make a leap because she isn't strong enough. So you have to wander around until you come to some feat that she is able to accomplish and that also happens to pump up her muscles. It all seems a little too pre-planned to come off as any sort of true character development. The game also features more interactive dialogue, where Croft has a choice of ways to try and talk people out of information. Reactions depend on the choice of words.
Finally, the game boasts new 'advanced controls'? apparently what this means is that although Croft has all of the looks of a sleek nubile athlete, she is in fact an over-laden garbage truck with all of the grace and finesse of a fullback. Moving Croft around the many precarious drops featured in the game often break down into minutes of frustration as she spins willy-nilly and balks like a frightened mule. Most frustrating is her jump delay that has her running over cliff edge after cliff edge. Certainly I exaggerate a bit'her moves aren't all too horrible and adept players will get used to them, but why should they have to? After all this is supposed to be a game at the top of its form.
Croft does come with a whole slew of new moves, like hand-to-hand combat, stealth and crawling on hands and knees. These new moves give Croft more cerebral options, something beyond the running away or shooting that she has relied on in previous games.
The graphics inare so good and so lifelike that they are often distracting, with the latest game engine featuring ten times the amount of polygons of previous versions of the game. The new Croft is also toned down a bit to make her less Barbie like and more proportionately appropriate, but don't worry she's still a babe, just not a vapid one. The game still features a well-orchestrated soundtrack that lends the right level of suspense to the game without being distracting. And of course there's still Croft's lovely British accent to help you through the difficult parts of the game.
What brings this otherwise masterful game down most are the handful of surprising glitches found throughout the levels. From unactionable actions, to floating shadows, Angel sometimes looks a bit like a beta, which is both saddening and surprising when coming from a company like Eidos. Despite my ill-tempered review, Angel is a fun game to play with a handful of new features and the best plot yet in the always enchanting and creative Tomb Raider franchise. You may be a bit disappointed at times, but you'll still want to play The Angel of Darkness all the way through if only to see how it ends.