Posted: May 19
Lara gets framed for murder, so her solution to 'clearing her name' is to strut about Europe aggressively threatening people and going on a killing spree in one of Paris' most popular tourist attractions...
...Okay it's fun to rip this game to shreds, but if you're a Tomb Raider fan, particularly of the Core Design era, it's unmissable, being Core's last addition to the series.
First, it should be noted that this game is actually UNFINISHED due to problems between Core and Eidos during development. Because of this there are bugs, incomplete sections and large gaps in the story. However, there is still much to be enjoyed about the story, atmosphere, audio and visuals, and this still remains as one of my favourite games of the series.
Here' a more detailed insight:
I've found the replay value of this game to be immense. Because of all the incomplete content, hidden areas, alternate routes and detailed environments you find something new upon every playthough. It's like exploring a beta product, which it basically is.
The graphics are amazing for their time (2003) and have aged well, however they need to be set up correctly before you start the game which can be confusing at first.
The soundtrack is excellent, with Peter Connelly and the London Symphony Orchestra working their magic. The main theme particularly stands out.
The story is more ambitious and engaging than any previous entry in the series. However there are patches that are completely missing due to cut chapters during the rushed release. This is especially clear at one point when Lara expresses familiarity with a character she has never met during the game.
The controls are different from previous games and can take some getting used to but in my opinion they actually make sense, and you may find yourself struggling to return to the old system after a lengthy play-through. Remapping may be required for keyboards lacking the number-pad. I also suggest you don't use the mouse.
The gameplay is slightly crippled by Core's last-minute decision to switch control methods, making the movement seem a little sluggish and dis-jointed at times. This can be frustrating at first but can be forgotten about over time. However the animations are realistic and smooth.
Dialogue options are available but for the most part are pointless or for comedy value.
The strength upgrade system is quite amusing; how Lara has to beat down doors etc. in order to “Feeel stronger” and be able to jump further. You may dislike this aspect of the game but some may see it as a more fun method of obtaining secrets. The stamina bar makes climbing a more stressful experience, having to make sure the bar doesn’t run out before you’ve reached your destination. Again, whether you like this or not comes down to personal preference.
There is also a very basic stealth system that doesn't seem fully incorporated. There are little to no opportunities to actually use it throughout the entire game. There are also hidden moves that Lara can perform including backflipping off ledges and pushing blocks using the Classic animation, but you'll have to find those out for yourself...
In addition to Lara you also get to play as Kurtis, who was supposed to have supernatural abilities for the player to control, and a spinning blade as a primary weapon. Unfortunately the only evidence of this now is in cutscenes, some of which are placeholders, making his gameplay significantly duller than it should have been.
I recommend this game despite its many flaws. If you can keep an open mind and a sense of humour, give it a chance and you may be surprised/intruiged.