Tomb Raider 3

a game by Core
Genre: Action
Platform: Playstation
Editor Rating: 6.9/10, based on 7 reviews
User Rating: 8.7/10 - 3 votes
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See also: Tomb Raider Games
Tomb Raider 3
Tomb Raider 3
Tomb Raider 3
Tomb Raider 3

People say:

7

I wouldn't go so far as to call Tomb Raider III a misstep for the franchise; it just doesn't make a broad enough leap in graphics or gameplay to get me overly excited about Lara's third outing. Yes, the hi-res visuals are an improvement, but not by much, and some areas are just too dark (I hate having to rely on flares). Avoid the analog control at all costs, too. It feels like an awkward analog-digital hybrid, and the calibration even glitches at times. In fact, the entire game suffers from little bugs, making me think it was rushed for the holidays (the ultra-lame ending is even more proof). So, what TRIM really falls back on is its level design, which is mostly excellent--at least once you get past the horrible India levels. The London and Area 51 stages are extremely atmospheric and just seem more real than the environments of the previous games (you'll see what I mean when you reach the subway, although that train is pretty annoying). The South Pacific packs some cool Lost World-style surprises, as well, and Antarctica's mine cart is a romping Temple of Doom rip-off. Puzzles haven't changed much from the throw switch-es/pull blocks variety (although Area 51's MGS-style stealth antics fall flat). Above all, the 19 levels hold another marathon adventure that'll keep you busy forever.

7

I was prepared to love TRIM, but it wouldn't let me. The story is great, but the gameplay (with its silly "cheap" tricks that kill you too often) isn't quite as accommodating as TR or TR II. Also, the camera does some ridiculous things to confuse you, and there's a nasty bug that causes invisible walls. The new analog control system is weak, and sometimes the calibration gets so screwed that it affects the view. Good-just not a classic.

5

Tomb Raider III gets my vote for most obviously rushed PlayStation game of the year. The gameplay is totally unbalanced (cheap is probably a better word), the control still sucks (analog doesn't help one bit), and the frustration factor is at an all-time high. And why'd they take out the ability to save anywhere? Hello? The vehicles are pretty cool and some of the stage layouts are nice, but overall TRII was much better.

7

In addition to some questionable glitches, Tomb Raider III just isn't that memorable. I think it's about time Lara retired...or at least went and got herself a makeover. Besides, this third installment has one too many examples of cheap deaths. If you're a fan of Tomb Raider you'll appreciate the size and variety of the levels, and the new additions (both to the gameplay and graphics). Overall, check it out but be on your guard.

Download Tomb Raider 3

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System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

With the barely contained excitement inspired by the likes of Zelda and Metal Gear Solid this holiday season, it's easy to forget that there are a number of other big games ready for release too. Most promising in the Christmas rush is young Lara Croft and her third adventure. A notable chart topper every year since the PlayStation was launched, it would be safe to assume that Tomb Raider 3 stands a pretty good chance of being up there at the top for just as tong as Solid Snake and his cigarettesmoking, box-hiding antics.

As we've mentioned before, you'd be forgiven for initially feeling that things were getting out of hand with this particular franchise. After all, all the Tomb Raiders are starting to look the same, right? Well, in this case--no. While the format is the same...the camera tagging along behind Lara's butt--the execution of both the graphics and the level structure is completely new.

First the graphics. As we reported in our exclusive feature back in issue #109, the engine in Tomb 3 has been completely overhauled. Now making use of particle effects for smoke, flames and wispy bits of mist along with some fancy-schmancy colored lighting, the game looks better than ever. It doesn't end there however, the thing also runs in a higher resolution than before, lending it a sharper, more defined look. Most importantly though, the new team at Core revised the polygon engine to construct everything out of triangles. Now this may not sound like much, but what it means is that much more organic and natural-looking shapes can be made in the environments. Take a look at the screenshots and ysDu'II notice a curvier, somewhat more believable look to the environments.

On the structure front, the new Tomb isn't the linear affair it was before. While the action begins in a single location (India), once this is completed you can choose your path through the game. There are 15 levels in all, broken down into five distinct areas. Having completed India, and learned the clues revealed there, you can choose the order you wish to take London, Area 51 in Nevada and the South Pacific Islands, before finishing up in Antarctica for the final showdown. The order in which you take the central meat of the game will affect the challenge you face in later levels, as each area provides different items and weapons that can be taken on to later stages.

The guts of the gameplay is still your classic Tomb Raider stuff. But, as you'd expect, things have been tweaked and gently fondled to provide a more rewarding experience. The levels are bigger and more "explorer-friendly" than Tomb 2, and while there are more weapons available (and a cool Dual Shock aiming system that utilizes both sticks) the game is much less of a combat-fest than Tomb 2.

The vehicles are back too...this time you'll see Lara straddling quad-bikes, underwater James Bond-type propulsion thingies, snowcat bikes and in the South Pacific she'll even go whitewater rafting (and the graphics are sweet here.Jots of particle engine-driven water effects).

Whether Lara will remain the PlayStation's "number one for Christmas" game girl remains to be seen, but believe us when we say Tomb 3 really is a dramatic improvement over its predecessors.

  • MANUFACTURER - Core Design
  • THEME - Adventure
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1

We've had some help from Sony and we're making more efficient use of the PlayStation itself." "We've improved the speed of the engine dramatically," elaborates development director Adrian Smith. "This has freed up a lot of processor time to be able to make things more realistic, less boring. We wanted to really ramp up all of the ambient stuff so that the levels are more interesting. We've also gone back and looked at Tomb a again to look at level structure. We've gone more, er...mazeified--if that's a word. We've wanted to try and make the thing less linear. You don't just walk into a room and see one exit; there are going to be multiple routes through levels where each way offers different kinds of challenges. We've basically changed a lot with the game to accommodate the new ideas."

Late last year, when EGM interviewed the Tomb 2 team for our official Ultimate Guide to Tomb Raider book, they told us that "making Tomb 3 really different is what's most important. We probably won't have the thing ready until maybe Christmas 1999." Things seem to be moving a bit quicker than that. Did you want to do Tomb 3 this soon?

"(laughs) Should I answer that? Er...no. To be honest we didn't." Jeremy shifts in his seat before continuing. "I wanted to wait a while. But, to be honest, the reason that we did do it is because there is consumer demand for it. We can take you and show you thousands of letters asking for another game. We originally wanted to wait and do something completely new...but that's now what the original team is working on--Tomb Raider "next generation" if you like. They're all off doing research and working on new ways of doing things. By bringing in a new team to work on this project, though, we managed to bring in a lot of fresh ideas.

"The Tomb 3 team came together through a mish-mash of other projects. Martin Gibbins, the lead programmer, had been working on Blam! Machinehead. Then he went on to do some research before coming to this. Chris, the second programmer, is new and he's only been with us for a few months. Everyone came together simply by us sitting down and deciding to do the new game, and then deciding where we were going to take people from. Actually Martin was working on a game for about four months that used a new character, but using the Tomb Raider engine."

What game was that? Is it still something we may see? "It was going to be a game with more action, more shooting," enthuses Smith. "We were tweaking the engine to be smoother, faster and more fluid to allow for an action kind of game--and the new character was male this time. But we decided to hold off on that. We may still produce it, but not for a while. We'll maybe wait and do it on a new system in the future. Martin had already built a lot of the ideas that are being used in Tomb 3 for this other game, so when we started putting this project together, a lot of the work was already done."

The Further Adventures?

From what was on show at this very early stage of development this additional work to the engine seems more than worthwhile. For starters the game looks far slicker than the previous incarnations. To help explain how different Tomb 3 really is, lead programmer Martin Gibbins and level designer Richard Morton pick up the story.

"Basically we were approached to produce a game that would fill the gap between Tomb 2 and Tomb 3," explains Morton. "Tomb 3 was originally going to have the new engine and the new animation system, but that's now part of the Tomb Raider 'next generation' project. This was originally going to be called 'The Further Adventures of Lara Croft,' but as we progressed through we realized that we'd actually done one hell of a lot to the game with the lighting, and more importantly we developed the triangular floor blocks so we can make more complex polygonal objects. By the time this all came together the question had to be asked: Why not make it Tomb Raider 3? Now we've got new vehicles, different costumes and lots of cosmetic stuff, but at a fundamental level there's also a completely different level structure."

Gibbins elaborates, "To be honest we weren't happy with the way Tomb 2 looked. It was a bit limited, especially with some of the effects that you could do. The lighting was limited to individual floor blocks, so we made the whole thing more dynamic and added colored filters to the lighting at the same time.

"The original Tomb Raider was developed with the PC in mind, and you can see this because of the simple nature of the blocks and the way that things were textured. The same with Tomb Raider 2. The palette there was restricted by the need to make use of an 8-Bit palette--even when thinking about the lighting--but Tomb 3 is being developed specifically for the PlayStation. Everything is being built around the capabilities of the machine; 16-Bit palettes, transparencies and stuff like that. By doing this we've been able to push the machine much harder."

"The triangle-polygon engine that we've added allows you to build more complex shapes much more efficiently," explains a proud Gibbins. "For example, using this system you can actually build a proper dome shape--something you just couldn't do before. The terrain can look much smoother and more organic, something that's perfect for Tomb Raider. We can also ripple water surfaces much more realistically and we can produce dynamic effects with the textures.

In one area we're going to have quicksand that behaves like the water dynamically, but uses a solid texture.

"Basically, the most important thing that [we] have been aiming for is to make this a completely different game from Tomb 1 and 2. Very little of the game is leftovers from previous projects. We wanted to do lots of new stuff that people would notice...like new moves. The main new thing that this has is a monkey bar swing which was supposed to make it in before, but the previous team didn't have time to do it. Also, we've put in 3D ropes which Lara can swing on. They were thought about for Tomb 2, but no one ever really worked on them."

"We've also had some reatly radical ideas," beams Morton, "like how about this? Lara can open a door using a door handle rather than using a dirty great lever. Also, we've made it so that she can pick something up off a table without having to jump on it and then stoop to pick it up. There's also a new crawl move that means Lara can now get through really low, halfblock sized gaps and this has opened up all kinds of things as far as the level design is concerned. It's been great for putting in secrets."

"We had a big discussion at the beginning of this project as to how the enemies were going to look, too," Gibbins says, opening a topic about which he clearly feels strongly. "Some people liked the way they looked in the first game, and some liked those from the second. In the end we decided to scrap the Tomb 2-style big rippling muscles and go for something more realistic . This also helps us with the memory. The enemies still look good, but because we're running the game in hi-res now we needed to claw back memory from wherever we could--stripping them down really helped the speed."

"The dinosaurs from Tomb 1 are going to be back this time," Morton beams, "and as well as the big guys, we're going to have the little ones from Jurassic Park. What are they called? Compys? We've got the Al guys working on them, and they've come up with a kind of swarm routine that enables them to work as a pack--if you shoot at them, they'll break off their attack and scatter all over the place."

"There'll also be piranha fish and stuff like that," Gibbins tells us. "Partly to make the water stuff more dangerous, but also to make them more interesting."

Adrian Smith elaborates on the importance of the Al at this point. "The Al guy, Tom, is a doctor in artificial intelligence, and he sits upstairs playing with these routines that affect these little balls on the screen," he explains, waving his arms around. "It's not much to look at but it's very impressive when you think about what it's doing. The Al is something that we never really highlighted in Tomb 2, but if you look back at the Tibetan level the monks all employ an effective Al system. When Lara arrived at the scene the monks and the mercenaries are fighting. If Lara chooses not to get involved, the monks will actually leave her alone for the rest of the game. If she did wade in there though, the monks would behave completely differently. We really liked that, so you'll see a lot more of that kind of thing. Dr. Tom is a good example of how we've changed the way we do things. We've taken someone who's very academically minded, but also a gamer--and set him loose. He can put together the Al and then hand it over to the coders who can make use of it and refine it as they integrate it into the code."

"We're using sound a lot as far as the Al is going to work too," Morton elaborates, "and this is going to be tied in with the rumble pack on the Dual Shock. The enemies will basically be able to listen out for you, and if they hear anything they'll come looking for you. We can help build the tension by making the controller give you feedback as well, and in stereo. The controller has two separate jolters in it, so you can have the sound and the tactile stuff coming from the same side."

A Brand-New Game

From seeing the demo of the game, it's not just the graphics and the technology that are the most obvious differences this time around. Morton explains what has been done to make the game structure itself a bit different. "You've got one adventure that you have to play at the start which is going to be set in India, and then once you've played through and found the artifact, you are contacted by someone who tells you that you've stumbled upon a much bigger adventure. There are then three further adventures which you are 'hired' to do, and these can be played in whatever order you want. These all have their own plots and their own characters. Once you've finished these you then move on to a final level. The different adventures take you to India, to a snow level, London, the south Pacific and then there's a section in Area 51."

"Once you've decided on one of the adventures, you have to play through it until you get the artifact. There's not going to be a way of saving your game, jumping back out to the central hub and then choosing another adventure; you just pick what order you do the game in." And speaking of saving..."Save points have been a big point of discussion," interjects Adrian Smith at this point. "Some people loved the 'save anywhere' system from Tomb 2, but lots of people thought that the system from the first game, where you had to find the save points and then use them sparingly, was far better. Because of this we're toying with offering both, either combining the two or offering different systems in different difficulty modes. We've also thought of looking into something like the end of FFVII, where you give the player a certain number of saves and let them use them anywhere. To be honest, we won't decide until the levels are finished."

Morton continues, "We're toying with the idea of having different weapons in different sections, so that tackling the game in a certain order will prove advantageous.

We probably will do it like that, but we have six months of development time left and things will change!"

"We're revisiting all of the weapons actually," explains Adrian Smith with some enthusiasm. "We've got a huge long list that we're looking at and there'll be loads this time. She already has a Desert Eagle, which just HAS to make it in. Also we've looked at flame-throwers and machine guns, lots of things that will show off the new lighting and particle effects systems that Martin has built. We're also looking into some kind of hand-to-hand combat as well."

She's Got the Look

"One thing we have decided on already," says Morton, moving things along, "is varying the game-play style along with Lara's look. The London level is one of the most different because we've dressed her up in a tight black lycra thing with gadgets and stuff like a cat burglar. What she'll have to do is work her way across the rooftops of the city, work her way down through the underground system, through some tunnels and stuff and then up into a building to steal something from a safe before she escapes. It's going to involve a lot more stealth and cunning, more of a GoldenEye kind of thing where she'll have to deactivate security systems and sneak around in the dark. We really liked the fact that in Tomb 2 there were some modern environments, but we wanted to do more of that kind of thing."

The London level really is stunning and a completely new direction for the Tomb Raider franchise in terms of the style of gameplay. Lara still runs around, jumping, collecting objects and exploring every nook and cranny, but there's now a sense of urgency and tension that previously has only been hinted at. Coupled with the new lighting system, this section of the game is by far the most impressive both in terms of the style of play and the way it looks. Surely there are some new gameplay influences at play here? Has the team been looking at other games? Or are films more of an influence for the game?

"We want to look at Metal Gear Solid, but we've not seen anything apart from a few minutes of video [when this interview was done, the team has since seen the game at E3], says Morton. "It looks like it's going to be really fantastic. It's a very unique-looking game. We've also looked at GoldenEye for the clever gameplay and the big explosions. We've actually looked more at films for inspiration rather than other games. Indiana Jones has obviously helped in a big way. Desperado was good to look at for the gun play and for inspiration for new moves within the combat. The thing is, any new moves that we include can't really be added to the basic move list. They'll have to be set-piece moves that only activate in certain situations. We've not really changed the controls that much; there's the dash, which will be a new basic move, and then there'll be analog controller support which will make use of both sticks so you can run and look at the same time."

Are there going to be more "set pieces" this time around? The previous games had their moments and really helped move the story along. How will Tomb 3 handle this? "Much of the set pieces are going to be specifically environment-based, so we can do some really nice stuff," explains Morton. "We're currently playing around with a landslide effect. Every room in each map can move between two different states so we can have stuff collapsing and moving around. We could even do the whole first section of the first Indiana Jones movie if we wanted to."

Where it came from nobody knows.

From out of the cold darkness of space it landed by chance on Earth, where eons ago an ancient people sought to harness its "magic" by making from it four artifacts. Over the years, British sailors looted these treasures, little realizing that their greed brought to the civilized world the clues to a mystery that had the power to change mankind forever. Now, ruthless men will stop at nothing to obtain these stolen artifacts in the source of their power. Until then, it waits...Enter Lara Croft.

The Third Time's the Charm

Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft could be the best Tomb Raider game yet! In the preview version, the pistol-packin' Dr. Lara didn't appear to stray too far from the 3D action/adventure formula that made the Tomb Raider series one of the most popular for any system and Lara Croft one of the most recognizable videogame faces in the world. Nevertheless, Core Design (Tomb Raider's developer) and Eidos (its publisher) have added plenty of refinements and tweaks to keep Lara fresh.

Raider Moves

This time, Dr. Croft's quest leads essentially to five areas, including India, London, Area 51, and a South Seas island. You start the game in India, but from there you can choose your next destination and your pathway from the multiple paths available in each area. By offering a new adventure each time you play, TRIII is going for a seriously sweet replay factor--certainly the best of the series so far.

But don't think all the replay time translates into you whupping this game at will...you should know that Core has souped up the game engine and smartened the enemy A.I., so Lara's adversaries are quicker and meaner. For example, if Lara wounds an enemy during a shootout, he (or it) won't always hang around like a moving target; he might retreat and attack from another direction or location. Moreover, animals exhibit pack behavior. The first time you encounter a gang of monkeys, for instance, they'll run away at the mere sound of your guns. But when they return, the monkeys are a little braver and toss stuff at you until you zap one. The third time they might...well, go ape and unleash a simian banzai-charge on you. Tomb Raider vets, however, know that TR is more about puzzlesolving and trap-tripping To overcome the game's devious obstacles, Lara retains all the moves she had in Tomb Raider II and acquires a few new ones: To avoid low-slung traps, she can crouch and then crawl forward; to traverse handholds, she uses a hand-over-hand monkey swing. Lara also busts some super jumps by using her new super dash. The dash works off a strength meter, so it lasts only for a limited time. Finally, Lara can trip booby traps and throw switches from afar by shooting at them.

And for really long distances, Lara can travel in all sorts of contraptions, both low- and high-tech. For example, you'll have to help Lara shoot the rapids in a kayak. Lara will also take the controls of a variety of vehicles from a quadbike to a Stealth speedboat. with the 'stick sounds awesome as it allows pinpoint control of all her outstanding moves. Jumpy stick movement in the preview version, however, means this feature still needs fine-tuning--though it did feel promising,

Speaking of controls, Tomb Raider III's moved up a rung on the evolutionary ladder, adding analog joystick support. In theory, maneuvering Lara

Looking Like Lara

Lara Croft fans have been admiring the way Core Design turns polygons into curves for years. Now Core's doing it with triangles. To spice up Tomb Raider III's visuals, it built a new tool: a graphics editor that enables designers to use triangles rather than the usual polygon blocks to build backgrounds and character pics. The overall result is a smoother, more rounded look to TRIII than the cubed (if now classic) 3D polygonal style of both Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II.

These refinements not only rev up Lara's already formidable appearance, but they also produce nicely detailed backgrounds and environments, particularly the interiors of buildings. Gorgeous dramatic views of high-domed ceilings, raised archways, and spacious caverns are revealed as Lara navigates through the game.

With TRIII'S visuals, it's also the fine details that count. Core's designers have added a number of subtle touches that contribute to the game's overall cool look, even if individually they don't jump out. Bullets spark as machine pistols rake a cave wall, spent shell casings fly through the air and splash in water puddles, Lara leaves tracks as she walks in the snow, and shafts of light pierce gloomy interiors. Even in the preview CD, the look, at times, was truly stunning.

Tomb Raider Triumphs

Gamers will cast their votes on Tomb Raider III in the coming months, but so far Lara looks like she's just getting better and better. Even as PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast prepare to set new rules for games in 1999 and beyond, Lara lives on.

Lara's charging hard with more excellent adventurous puzzle-solving in Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft. If you're ready to sacrifice a few-montlis of your life for intense brain-twisting action, step .inside....

It Game From Outer Space

Lara's newest quest starts in present-day Antarctica as. a research group comes across a peculiar find. Embedded deep within the ice lie the remnants of a rock with gene-altering poweroon after locating it, die team discovers the body of a European sailor, perfectly preserved, and a log that describes a journey involving the excavation of four artifacts. Now, die team must locate these lost artifacts.

As fate would have it, Lara is in India searching for one of the artifacts, unaware of its true history. That's where you start--but it's certainly far from where you'll end. Lara's hunt will take her into five international locales, including Area 51, London, and the South Pacific.Ahd you'd better believe that TRIII contains more moves, weapons, enemies, and challenges than ever before.

Brains, Beauty-and Smoking Guns

Tomb Raider has always been more about deliberately paced brain-teasing adventure than run-n-gun action, and TRIII is definitely no exception--you'll have quite a fine time solving the gamers many intricate puzzIes.TRIH's gameplay is also non-linear: After escaping India, you'll be able to tackle the other three main levels in any order you want.

And you needn't worry about a lack of action.TRIII ischock-full of vicious enemies. including tigers, monkeys. and even six-ai med sword-swingin' statues. To tackle these dastardly dudes. Lara, has at her disposal ap arsenal that includes her trusty .45s, an Uzi,an MP5,and a shotgun, just to name a few. There are even new vehicles to commandeer, like a kayak, a quad bike, and a mine car.

Lush and Dangerous

As for the graphics. Core (the game's developers) has fine-tuned TRIII's overall appearance. Lara looks even mope impressive than before because of cleaner, smoother hhres graphics. Lara's surroundings have also been spruced up with atmospheric lighting and greatly improved water effects: Now you'll actually notice rings of water circling around objects rather than pixelated octagons and you'll dearly see ambient creatures such as fierce piranha. Plus, the interiors of the many ruins and buildings are cleaner and sport much better fine details.

Unfortunately, there are still some graphical miscues, including flat 2D foliage and pixelated terrain. And like the other Tomb Raiders, the camera angle is not always opti-mal:You'll often View Lara. from the side when she needs to make a difficult jump straight ahead.

Dashing Heroine

On the control side, Core has added more moves to Cara s' repertoire and made the game compatible with the analog joystick. Aside from her usual running, jumping, climbing, and swimming. Lara will now be able to duck arid crawl into hard-to-reach areas, swing from ropes, and sprint past time-released traps using a cool and totally new dash technique.

Configuring Tomb Raider to use the analog stick was only logical, and for the most part, its effective. However, because all of.Lara's movements are assigned to the stick without having to use the triggers, there's a very fine line between, say. hopping forward ahd turning in a full circle. Until you spend a significant amount of time practicing with the stick, you're going to be frustrated. If you're able to master the stick's precise movements' playing through the adventure-will be that:much more satisfying. And if you prefer, you can just use the directional pad. which works just as solidly as in the prevjous games.

Locked in the Tomb

When it comes down to it, if you're a diehard Lara fen, you're going todigthis intense game. But if you haven't experienced Tomb Raider before'be warned that its mind-bending puzzles and tense action will challenge even the most seasoned gamers. Be prepared to spend many hours in IsolationrTomb Raider III will keep you playing for days--maybe even until next year's holiday season.

Graphics

Hi-res-Lara, dynamic lighting effects, and much cleaner environments help Tomb Raider 111 outshine its predecessors. Also, the computer-generated cinemas are knockouts as always. However, there are still instances. of extremely pixelated textures. camera hiccups and flat 2D foliage.

Control

Analog control was the logical way to go, but there are so many commands assigned to the stick, you'll be quite frustrated 'when you first pick it up. Practice, practice, practice--or go with the familiar feel of the directional pad.

Sound

TRIII takes me minimal approach to sound, just like the first two games. To their credit, the audio effeos in place--the sharp gun.shots, the tension-creating' soundtrack, and atmospheric delights like chiiping. birds and growling- tigers--help create the perfect mood.

Fun Factor

Laras latest riveting adventure plays like her others, and if you're a fan, you'll be instantly hooked. The control and severity of the puzzles will drive you insane at times--but no one said it would be easy.

Tomb Raider bombshell Lara Croft is back--and this time she's bringing outstanding hi-res graphics with her!

Agile Adventurer

Lara's always moved with style and grace, but Tomb Raider III shows you what she can really do. Along with her usual repertoire of sidesteps and flips, Lara can now get ropes, and break down certain into high gear to escape time-based traps. Other enhancements include improved enemy A.I., new vehicles to commandeer, and Dual Shock support.

Lookin Good, Lara

Ms. Croft is back in a whole new adventure that combines the tried-and-true elements of the first two games and blasts gamers with a whole lot more. Core and Eidos have gone all-out to beef up an already solid series with outstanding enhancements, starting on the graphical end. This year's Raider hits the PlayStation in hi-res fashion: The characters don't look as pixelated or angular as before, the backgrounds are a lot more detailed, and there's great improvement in the game's lighting and water effects. Plus, you'll now notice such subtle nuances as footprints in the snow and blast marks on floors, as well as birds and fish in the environments.

The preview copy we fired up featured familiar TR play, while the faster game engine made for a smoother gaming experience. Controlling Lara with the analog stick, however, proved to be cumbersome, and those annoying camera angles from the last two adventures are still present. If Core and Eidos can correct these problems, though, Tomb Raider III looks like it will live up to the hype.

Tomb Raider III already looks like the best Tomb Raider yet. For Lara fans, this game is shaping up to be the no-brainer purchase for this holiday season.

The Adventures Continue

Gaming's most famous adventurer returns! Lara Croft is on the trail of another ancient mystical artifact and is equipped with new moves, more vehicles, fresh visuals, and a revamped hard body by Core Design. Lara's search will cover five levels, but, after the first, you'll be able to traverse the others in any order.

Raider's Makeover

Tomb Raider III will try to blow out the TR visuals. Core has souped up the graphics engine to create taster animation and smoother surfaces for characters and backgrounds. You'll be able to play Lara in hi-res mode, too. Fine touches such as mood lighting and particle effects that produce bullet holes and flying shell-casings will juice up the suspense as well as the action.

A Tomb-ful of Moves

Lara will be more lively than ever: For instance, you'll be able to build,up energy to dasli at high speed and duck and roll forward to best low-level obstacles. You'll also be able to spring traps--it you detect them in time--and throw switches by shooting them. Underwater, you'll finally get that strafe move. Eidos also promises to smarten up the enemy A.I. (at last). It looks like Tomb Raider will not stand pat--Lara could be hotter than ever before.

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