Alone In The Dark clone, the reality is markedly different. For starters, the camera moves along behind you from a floating perspective, switching position only when totally necessary. It's a Cproper' 3D game. The most accurate comparison is with Mario 64 on the new Nintendo system.
One of the first things that strikes you is the quality and speed of the animation. Despite having to hurl huge pieces of scenery and light-sourcing about in the background, Core's engine somehow finds room for over 3000 frames of animation in the main character. Lara walks, runs, leaps, somersaults, climbs, slides and dives in a manner so eerily realistic that you can't help becoming rather over-fond of her (indeed, I've already written her a love poem -reprinted elsewhere in this article). You know how sometimes you'll play a game that's so visually impressive and convincing that you find yourself performing the same action a couple of times just because it looks so cool each time you do it? You'll be doing that all the time in Tomb Raider. Those of you with upper-class Pentiums will be able to enjoy a stunning high-resolution mode, but even on the lowest of detail settings, it's still bloody incredible. Indeed, the majority of the screenshots on these pages were Ctaken' in low-res mode, so you can see for yourself that I ain't no bloody liar, right? Right. So, it looks good. But how does the gameplay measure up?
Put On Your 3D Glasses Now
Now, imagine you had to design a 3D platform game. Yes, you there. Put your thinking cap on for a moment and try to picture it in your mind's eye. Okay? Finished? Good. Now let's examine what you thought about. No doubt you pictured something along the lines of Sonic The Hedgehog, or - if you're cool, Chuckie Egg -that is, something with lots of Cfloating platforms' in it, but from a sort of 3D perspective. That's what the aforementioned Mario 64 is like. It's slick, it's frighteningly playable, but its landscape is very gamelike', very disjointed and surreal. Not so Tomb Raider. Tomb Raider's environment is utterly believable. You clamber over huge chunks of rubble. Climb huge clifffaces. Leap ravines. Dangle from ropebridges. Swim through underground tunnels. And it's all completely believable. Architecturally, it's often stunning. Better yet is Bt the design of Br the levels themselves. They really are designed as puzzles, with each requiring a combination of hard thought and gaming accuracy. Rather than lead the player by the nose through each challenge, the game also requires an instinct for exploration. Many's the time you'll find yourself seemingly at a dead-end, only to discover that there's a whole new section of the level tucked away behind an (almost) hidden entrance. There are keys to collect, switches to pull and secret bonus areas to be uncovered. Countless perilous surprises - in the form of vicious ancient booby traps - lurk around every other corner - from huge swinging axes, to the faithful 'pit of spikes'. It keeps you on your toes throughout, in other words.
And I haven't even mentioned how large the levels are yet. Here we have a textbook example of Cgetting your money's worth'. Tomb Raider is huge. They could've released it with half the number of levels and it would still be a great game. A single level will often require hours of play. Everything's finely tuned so that, just as you're getting frustrated, you manage to solve the problem that was vexing you and move on, with mounting enthusiasm. But it doesn't end there. Because there's guns in it too.
Old MacDonald had a gun
Now we British are Ca nation of animal lovers'. Not so Lara Croft. If you've got four legs, and you spot her coming toward you, run away. Quickly. In Tomb Raider most of your foes hail from the animal kingdom. Wolves, lions, crocodiles, gorillas - even dinosaurs. Now, you could deal with these opponents the Doctor Dolittle way and try to sing them into submission, but that would lead to some pretty dreadful operatics and more than a little claw-through-face action. Your best bet is to shoot them with guns. Lara appears to be something of a handgun fetishist, and is equally at home with a pair of Uzis as she is with a shotgun or magnum. She has no qualms at all about gunning down endangered species left, right and centre. I shudder to think what would happen if she were let loose in Whipsnade Zoo.
What's more, the animals are wonderfully animated themselves, and are so pretty that you don't really want to shoot them. Several people have watched me playing this over my shoulder, and the first thing out of their mouths (after they'd commented on the general Cwow!' factor of the visuals), was a disapproving CAwww, what did you do that for?' when they saw me shooting a beastie. Rest assured that later on in the game, it's humans and weird monsters that start getting it in the neck - and no-one ever goes Cawww' over them, eh?
Actually, combat is the one section of Tomb Raider that could do with just a little improvement. Lara automatically aims on your behalf, but things can get a little confusing whenever there's more than one enemy. Most of the time you'll find yourself jumping around in a very peculiar fashion in the middle of a firefight, as you frantically try to avoid the fangs of your attackers. Perhaps some kind of first-person view, or maybe a crosshair for the shoot-outs, would have done the trick, but maybe this would just confuse things. Either way, it's a minor niggle given the quality of the package as a whole and doesn't really impinge on the gameplay once you learn to compensate.
As I keep saying, Tomb Raider is superb. It really has got Csomething for everyone'. Arcade fans will love the exceptional platform-style gameplay (and the trigger-happy combat). Puzzle freaks will love the mazes and problems. Adventure addicts will love the exploration and slowly-unravelled storyline. All three will love the everpresent element of surprise. Cybertwats will love the standard-setting visuals. Female players will love Lara. Male players will love Lara more, for foul and dirty reasons. And last but not least, the accountants at Eidos will love it because it'll no doubt set tills nationwide ringing like a red alert in a bell factory. It deserves no less. It's an instant classic. Try it. You'll like it. I loved it.
Jo Guest? Pah - a common tuppeny strumpet. Kathy Lloyd? Mutton dressed as lamb. Cindy Crawford? Got a mole like a bulletwound. Kate Moss? Kate Carcass, more like. The Spice Girls? Don't get me started...
Lara Croft, that's where it's at, mate. Does your body contain testosterone? Then I guarantee you're going to fall head over heels for her. Not only does she have a figure to die for (I've heard a couple of women comment jealously on her slender waist and comely thighs), she's also extremely supple and sassy. And her voice... ahhhhh. It doesn't suit her really - it's a sort of faintly-upper-class Blue Peter presenter, jolly hockey sticks sort of a voice - but it doesn't half grow on you. Her boundless enthusiasm. Her wide-eyed wholesome English girly-ness, colliding with hardbitten John Woo-style gunplay. I reckon she swallows. She's the perfect woman. (Except for her tits, which are shaped like triangles.)
There are so many different animals appearing in Tomb dderthat you half expect Sir David Attenborough to pop up on the soundtrack. He'd no doubt have something to say about the way Lara guns 'em down if he did, mind. Your ears will be ringing with the sound of furry corpses biting the dust while you're playing this. I reckon that Lara Croft is secretly moonlighting for a firm of taxidermists - and that she gets a commission for every animal corpse she procures for them.
Speaking of animal-stuffing, I once thought up a really good title for a Carry On film set in a taxidermist's office. It was called Carry On Mounting Dead Animals. If only they'd made that instead of that shitty Columbus effort.
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This month we bring you the final instalment of what must be considered the best game of its type - ever. The Taskmasters had to be forcibly dragged out of the tombs, kicking and screaming, to write this walkthrough because they were enjoying it so much. If you haven't bought Tomb Raider yet - why not? Ttust us, they don't come any better than this.
Level 7B - Tomb of Tihocan
Swim down the tunnel and find a wall switch which will lower the water level. Leave the water and operate the wall switch to open the door. In the next room climb to the top and operate the switch to flood the room. Exit through the passageway beneath you, dive under the water and find another lever to reverse the strong water current. Use the current to take you to the end of the tunnel and operate the switch. Climb to the top of the room with the swinging scythe, and jump out the left-hand exit.
Use the switch to raise the water, then collect the gold key in the ape room. Use the gold key to cross the water and collect two rusty keys. In the final watery area you must leave the water and enter a small corridor to operate a wall switch. Swim to the Temple, then dive into the black pool nearby to find the passageway that leads to the switch which opens the Temple door. Enter the Temple, kill Pierre, collect the key which he drops, and use it to open the final door.
Level 8A - City of Khamoon
Jump down into the first room and rearrange the blocks so that there's one across the trench which you can use to exit the room. Climb up onto the Sphinx and go to the back of its head to find the emerald key. Use the key inside the Sphinx to get to a large room with a pool and a statue of a cat. Enter the pool and solve the puzzles in the rooms beyond to lower the floor around the cat statue above. In the area beneath the cat find the next emerald key on top of a block. Complete the puzzle to lower the sand in the room above, then use the key to exit the level.
Level 8B - Obelisk of Khamoon
Enter the room with the moving blocks and move them to find the pool. Find the sapphire key on one of the underwater ledges and use it at the level entrance to open two doors. Enter the door in the block room and use the wall switch beyond to lower the first bridge. You must now lower all four bridges to collect the four artefacts. Jump into the room below to find the passage to the second bridge.
Note: You can jump onto the top of the central pillar and across to the white gong. This section requires much leaping across rooms to find the route to the other bridges - it's confusing, but it can be done. Finally, enter the underwater tunnel. Climb out and find the Sphinx Room nearby. Use the four artefacts to open the final door.
Level 8C - Sanctuary of the Scion
In the main area containing the Sphinx you must find the two wall switches high on the cliffs which open two doors. The first door is on the ground level and contains a slide into a pool. Move backwards onto the slide and grab the edge as you fall (ctrl). Edge sideways onto the platform. At the next slide, enter the pool and get the gold key. Go down the slide again, and jump to the bridge above. Use the key to get into the Ankh Key Room.
Enter the second door, high up the cliff, get the second Ankh key then leave the door and go right, to land on the back of the Sphinx. Use the two keys on the Sphinx's head, then enter the door between its paws. Go into the water and find the wall lever on the right-hand statue to lower the water. Find the wall switch on the right-hand statue then enter the underwater tunnel. Find the scarab and use it to open the gate. Kill Larson, grab the Scion and leave.
Note: It's possible to find an Uzi which is hidden in a secret location of this level. From the Ankh symbol at the top of the Sphinx's head, turn left. Slowly walk forward and right across the side of the head until you can't walk any further. Look below you and find a gun clip that appears to float in mid-air. Jump to the invisible platform and grab the Uzi!
Level 9A - Natlas Mines
Swim under the waterfall and use the switch. Re-enter the water and exit to the left of the boat. Enter the tunnel to the right of the crates. Find the cabin with a dodgy roof which you can fall through. There are three fuses to be collected in the mines which you can use in a large glass-fronted building to lower the cabin on the cable. From the roof of this cabin you can jump into another tunnel. Find the cowboy in the drilling room and kill him.
In the room with the tnt crates find one which can be pulled into the next room and used as a step up to a side tunnel. Pull a switch to blow up the tnt crates. Kill the guy on the skateboard as he's got an Uzi you can take.
There is a hole in the ground with water in it which leads to a secret area. Dive in and follow the tunnel to a gate which will take you to a room with medi packs and Uzi ammo.
You will come to a series of rooms with sliding blocks and switches. Push the first block forward twice. Turn right and climb into the next room. Push the next block forward twice, then drop into the next room. Pull the block backwards, then go back through the upper room.
Drop into the lower room. Push the block forward and turn left. Pufl the revealed switch, and keeping it on your right go forward, left and up. Enter the tunnel to the left and push the block at the bottom of the stairs. Turn left, head for the door, then use the switch on the left. Move quickly back to the previous switch and find the new route through to a pyramid. Climb the pyramid to find a switch in the side alcove then return to the block maze and find the pyramid key.
Level 9B - Atlantis
Find the switches to open the middle door, and advance upstairs. Progress to the pyramid and make your way across it until you reach the closed red door. Jump across the water and up to an alcove with a switch. Dive into the pool and use the lever below. Here you must beat the clock to get back to the now open red door. Once inside, pull the far lever to open another door. Return to the switch in the high alcove, then race back to this room to find new steps leading to the exit door in the far wall. Eventually you'll come to slide down into a room in which there are two demons and a strange thin creature -don't kill the creature as he is your mirror image. The room is also a mirror image of itself and to leave here you must destroy the creature by making it follow your movements until you drop it into a pit.
Warning: You can't save your game at any point during the time you are getting the creature to follow your movements, or he will stop and you'll have to restart the whole sequence. If the alien does stop, or die, return to the entrance slope and re-enter the room to start again.
Begin the sequence by going right from the centre of the room, up the slope, climbing the column, jumping to the pillar, then jumping to the ledge with the switch. Check that the alien is now on the similar sandy ledge. Operate the switch to open the pit. Now, against the clock, you have to jump to the nearby sandy ledge, pillar and opposite ledge to get the alien onto the ledge with the open pit. Move into the middle of the ledge and the alien will fall into the pit. Not a lot of fun, is it? Enter the opened door next to the pit and kill the bad guys who are waiting for you. A bridge can now be raised across the pit by operating the two switches in the furthest corners of the room. This is a timed event, so get your running shoes on.
In the final room with the spinning machine, don't jump down into the furthest room as it's a dead end. Walk up the slope next to the rotating object and attempt to grab the Scion which sits in mid-air to end the level.
Level 9C - The Great Pyramid
Kill the ghastly monster in order to open the door. Push the block forward three times. Go past the slicer then turn right. Push the block forward, then go back to the intersection and go down. Pull the block, then go back up. Turn left and down, then push the block once. Return to the red door and stand on the block to operate the switch. Enter this new area and avoid the boulders. With health at maximum, run over the dodgy tile and grab the ledge before you fall. Drop to the floor below.
Shoot the Scion until it blows up. Drop down on the right side of the bridge and into a hole. You must now solve some puzzles which involve swinging blades and heavy boulders until you reach a room with a swinging blade and a small area of water. Jump onto the collapsing tile and run and jump across. Jump and dive into the pool. Use your Uzi to kill the final End of Game Boss. Lots of pillar jumping will take you to the final slope which you slide down to finish the game.
No surprise here - we've been anticipating it for ages - but confirmation has finally arrived that the ubiquitous Ms Croft is definitely going to be appearing at a cinema near you in the near future. Tomb Raider publishers Eidos have signed on the dotted line with Paramount Pictures and heavyweight production duo Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin - previously involved with bona fide blockbusters such as Die Hard, Die Hard 2 and Predator, not to mention the Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte vehicle 48 Hours and, more recently, superb 'weighty penis' epic Boogie Nights. At the time of writing, no announcement has been made concerning the cast - let's hope they don't have a funny turn and accidentally put Nigel from EastEnders in the lead role. Especially if the script calls for the main protagonist to stomp around in a pair of tight shorts and bend over a lot. Which it will.
What's it going to be like?
Probably a bit like Indiana Jones meets Modesty Blaise, although the wildcard Boogie Nights connection means the possibility of it turning into a hard core porn flick can't be completely ruled out (Yes it can - Paramount Pictures). Expect Lara to have a) large bosoms, b) large guns, and c) a wimpy male sidekick for the purposes of 'hilarious' comic relief and probable love interest.
Who's in it?
Like we said, there has been k no announcement so far, although the gossips favour yawnsome sloaney curvebag Liz Hurley as Lara.
Core Design is using every trick in the book to cram Ms. Croft into this 2D side-scrolling title. The game will supposedly pack parallax scrolling, speech and even some FMV. Lara's character will be twice the size of normal GBC sprites. Core also claims Lara will have 2,000 frames of animation. Otherwise, the game promises to deliver the huge levels and rigid control setup of the 3D incarnations. Lara will still slide down steep inclines. She'll still have to dodge spikes, swinging blades and other traps. She'll encounter the same types of push-block and lever-based puzzles (expect the game to play much like Prince of Persia or Flashback). The quest this time takes Lara to South America in search of an artifact called the Dream Stone, which supposedly grants god-like powers. Publisher Eidos will release the game in March.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
With outstanding controls and sweet animation, Tomb Raider's an engaging exploration puzzler setting new standards for action/adventure games. In this lengthy, nine-level Indiana Jones-style story, you play the acrobatic Dr. Lara Croft, seeking to solve the Earth-threatening mystery behind the Scion, an ancient artifact.
Controlling Lara's arsenal of moves is a snap, and an autotracking cam displays be-hind-Lara views with 180-degree terrain scanning. Her skills include somersaults in three directions, swimming, climbing, and making death-defying leaps to grab onto ledges.
Raider weaves multifaceted gameplay into an item-hunting, puzzle-solving, and searching-for-level-exits quest. It follows the strategy-oriented footsteps of Resident Evil, but with more spurts of barrel-burning gunplay against beasts and bad guys. Shooting purists will diss the cam, which sometimes positions itself so you can't see attacking enemies.
Overall, PlayStation thrill-seekers should sign on for this Raider adventure...and hope for another one next year!
- When you hear music or animal noises, get ready for a rumble!
- Lara can't store duplicate items, so picking up a large medikit when you already have one is a waste.
- Some power-ups are hidden by the scenery or shadows. Hold R1 and use the directional to examine all likely hiding places.
- The beginning of the Lost Valley has a ledge from which you can safely shoot the T. rex. You must make him chase you (several times) and get there before he does.
- Lara automatically aims her automatics at any threat. When she does, fire away, even if you don't see the attackers.
The polygon-rendered Doctor's looking pretty fine with clean close-ups, stunningly real animation, and sweet moves. On the downside, much of the scenery and backgrounds appear flat.
Lara's world is quiet, with sounds and effects that are few and far between. They usually kick in just before an adversary makes the scene.
Controls bust multifaceted moves with few hitches. The four-button PlayStation directionals can punish your thumbs as you try to guide the running Lara, but that's not her fault.
After a solid showing for the Saturn (see Pro-Review. January), Tomb Raider scores even higher. It requires time, patience, problem-solving and an occasional quick thumb.
If you liked the Indiana Jones movies, you'll like Tomb Raider. This archaeological action/adventure game puts a nimble "Indiana Jane" character into a jungle world of hurt.
Fun in the Jungle
There are puzzles to solve and walls to scale, but mainly Tomb Raider is bursting with life--dangerous jungle life, that is. Searching for ancient artifacts, archaeologist Lara Croft runs 'n' guns her way into exotic Egyptian pyramids and Incan jungles that are populated with crocodiles, giant rats, bats, wolves, tigers, bears, mercenaries, and even dragons. Lara fires an array of weapons, including magnums and Uzis, with both hands for some of the most exciting third-person action since Resident Evil.
The game's best feature is its sheer size. Tomb Raider offers four massive worlds, each divided into three zones, for a total of twelve lush locales to explore. Hidden rooms add to the intrigue. There's also a "gym" that serves as a practice area where you can master Lara's moves.
Dramatic lighting and fast motion put the oomph into Tomb Raider's visuals. Lara is particularly mobile--watch her as she executes sharp somersaults across the tops of platforms or leans into heavy blocks to shove them into position. Hers may be the best swimming ever seen in a polygon-based video game. Some of the enemies (the crocs especially) are still fairly blocky at this point, but the background tombs and dungeons show off evocative details.
It's May. By now, if you own a PlayStation, you've played Resident Evil and insisted it's the best game ever. I'll bet you're saying to yourself, "Wow, I wish there was a sequel, or something, to this really cool game!" I don't know about sequels, and Tomb Raiders certainly isn't made by Capcom, but this little number looks as though it'll be another astonishing 3-D adventure experience.
Tomb Raiders will be tapping into one of the most exciting and creative plotlines going: Indiana Jones. You play the infamous archeologist Lara Croft, searching the ancient kingdoms of the world for the priceless Scion (whatever that may be).Your search will take you to exotic and dangerous regions like Peru. Egypt and Cambodia.Visit such bygone civilizations as the Incas and ancient Egyptians. Find clues, solve puzzles and blast beasties as you trek onward to your ultimate goal. Tomb Raiders, playfully dubbed the "Indiana Jane" of video games by its developers, boasts gigantic 3-D worlds to explore, as well as an SGI-rendered Lara Croft, whose fluid character movement is the result of a body comprising over 2,000 frames of animation.
She runs, she jumps, she climbs, she rides. Hell, she does everything! From this gamer's seat. Tomb Raiders looks like a cross between Resident Evil and the classic Apple Computer game Aztec. Not too shabby.
With any luck, the people at Core and U.S. Gold will be ambitious enough to turn this into a series of treasure-hunting adventures--unless this game turns out to suck, of course, but I highly doubt that will be the case. Tomb Raiders is scheduled to be released sometime in late fall/early winter, but don't be surprised if it's released earlier in the year.
Now that I'm thinking about it, you know what would make this game totally awesome? A giant stone boulder rolling after Lara; or maybe a guy who pulls peoples' hearts out. How about some characters that look like cyber-ninjas; or maybe Sub-Zero? Yeah, that would be really cool. Maybe all you kids should write into Gabes Dream Game Gallery and show them your super-original ideas about what kinds of stuff should be in the game. I know that Gabe really likes it when you do that.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!