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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Eidos

 

Developer

Crystal Dynamics

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q3 2007

 

 

- Great visuals

- Excellent voice acting

- Plenty of action

- Engaging environmental puzzles

 

 

- Slight camera difficulties at times

- "Rushed" gameplay trumps exploration

 

 

Review: Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness (PS2)

Review: Tomb Raider Legend (PS2)

Review: Shinobi (PS2)

 

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Tomb Raider: Anniversary

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

Hard to believe, but it's been more than ten years since Lara Croft first leapt (and shot, and rolled, and even jiggled) on to our computers and into the consciousness of the mainstream.  With the original Tomb Raider, video game characters would no longer be defined either as guys in funny work clothes or anime-styled anthropomorphic critters with attitude.  The door had been opened for strong female lead characters and gaming would never be quite the same.

 

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Unfortunately, the Tomb Raider franchise would never really be the same, either.  As the graphics got prettier, the games got dumber, the camera controls grew more troublesome, and the stories less engaging.  Enter Crystal Dynamics, the folks who gave us the Legacy of Kain series.

 

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- Playstation 2 Game Reviews

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Rather than try to salvage the wreck that the franchise had become, Crystal Dynamics decided to go back to the beginning and take us through Lara Croft's first big adventure.

 

Visually speaking, Anniversary is solid and engaging.  Compared to images from the original game, it's clear that this new version has made

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full use of nearly a decade's worth of PS2 development experience.  There is very little in the way of texture cracking and the character model animations are very fluid.  There's still a touch of the cartoonish to Lara and her numerous adversaries in their visual style, but it fits well with the game.  Bright colors, flashy visual effects, and an appropriately massive sense of scale help grab your attention.

 

The sound and music for Anniversary are very well done.  Breaking glass, burning logs, weapons fire, even the peculiar distortion of sound when Lara swims underwater are employed perfectly.  The music score is consistently well done and appropriate to each setting, never so strong that you're being overwhelmed, never so quiet that you completely ignore it.  The score does it's job by setting the mood and fitting itself to the moment.  Voice acting is also well done, with Lara being voiced by British actress Keeley Hawes (BBC's Spooks & Tomb Raider: Legend) and Jacquline Natla voiced by multitalented voice actress Grey DeLisle. 

 

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Gameplay is intended to be action packed and highly cinematic.  Although you have control of the camera for the most part, you're likely to keep the camera more or less fixed behind Lara so as to better direct her movements and her aim.  The controls are responsive and inventory is easily checked.  Basically, you can't lose any items you need because the game won't let you place them until you're at the right spot.  Attempts to do otherwise result a polite but firm "No" coming from Lara to you.  In addition to finding various items, solving puzzles, and blasting the hell out of the local wildlife, there are also bonus pickups called "Relics" which allow you to unlock goodies such as different outfits for Lara and developer commentary.

 

Are there problems with the game?  A couple, but nothing absolutely showstopping.  The first involves the camera usage.  There are points where it seems to get stuck if you're perched on just the wrong spot and you can't quite pan correctly without it zooming in tight on Lara.  Another minor complaint is the time bonuses which don't seem to get any mention in the manual.  Getting through the levels fast is an unstated goal, and taking your time to explore your surroundings seems subtly discouraged. 

 

While this is actually the second Tomb Raider game that Crystal Dynamics has made (they were responsible for Tomb Raider: Legend from last year), Tomb Raider: Anniversary should be the first experience for gamers who haven't had the pleasure of Lara Croft's company previously.  For those who've delved the depths with her before, Anniversary serves as fond remembrance and renewed hope for the series.  Ten years later, the old girl still looks good.

 

- Axel Cushing

(October 26, 2007)

 

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