Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
21 August 2007
Review: Tomb Raider: Anniversary (PS2)
Crystal Dynamics stuck close to the source material for this remake of the original Tomb Raider. As she did over 10 years ago, Lara Croft ventures through tombs and learns the dark secrets of the Scion of Atlantis. Along the way she runs, jumps, and climbs past devilish traps and hungry wild animals.

The original levels have almost all been reimagined in Tomb Raider: Anniversary, and they often look quite good. Regrettably, some vistas lack the grandeur that this dedicated fan would have liked. Lara herself is generally responsive, but the precise controls of the original have been replaced with the less predictable control system from Tomb Raider: Legend. In brief, the game doesn't allow you to do whatever you want whenever you want. (See the bit about magic at the end of this journal entry.) And while the manual grab is an option, some difficult movement puzzles betray a developer's bias for automatic grab. The Quick-Timer Events are almost uniformly poor, as they were in Legend.

While the remade levels are fitting updates to the originals, I think that Crystal Dynamics should have taken more liberties with their material. What was brilliant 10 years ago simply isn't strong enough by today's standards and some completely new ideas would have served the game well. (If a Tomb Raider II remake is considered, Crystal Dynamics will have to indulge itself in rethinking huge sections of it, in particular the Venice levels. Too bad it wasn't done here.)

The outline of the plot is essentially unchanged, but the changes within that framework are welcome. Specifically, how Lara kills is treated with care, an issue I've raised many times before and which I'll tackle once more in a future post. What struck me, however, is that this is merely an improved story told in precisely the same manner used 10 years ago. It is revealing that the cutscene-action-cutscene loop is practically unchanged after a decade of new products from an industry that likes to tout its innovation.

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--Matt Matthews at 20:36
Comment [ 1 ]

Comments on this post:

I concur with most of your remarks, but the "I DO NOT CONTROL LARA" comment in your gameplay blog pretty much hit the nail on the head for what's wrong with CD's games. Lara's abilities are not consistent. She can jump that high when they want her to go a certain direction, but don't try to get creative or deviate from the prescribed path.

The old games demanded that you know what Lara could do and what Lara could not do, and your knowledge of those two things made solving the levels fun. Even how to get from point A to point B was a puzzle---which of Lara's jumps would get you there? Now it doesn't matter if you know what Lara can do, she won't do it unless the developers have decided she can do it in that particular spot.

By Blogger LisaB, at 28 August, 2007 13:15  

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