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Throwback Thursday – Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness

Throwback Thursday – Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness


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Note: Review was originally posted July 22, 2003

Lara Croft is back. Many people wonder if that is a good thing, and reading opinions on the net, the answer seems to be no. Never being one to care what others think, yet constantly voicing my own opinion, I picked up the latest installment of Tomb Raider. I have played all the Tomb Raiders, but have really only enjoyed the original and The Last Revelation. That being said, Angel of Darkness is a good addition to the series, which despite its flaws, will satisfy the core fans of the game.

What the game designers did right is they did not make this game the next Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell. With the popularity of Tomb Raider, they could have easily commercialized the game and turned it into a 3D action adventure game. Instead, the game’s action elements are incredibly simple, forcing you to think about solving the games levels through good old fashion brainpower. Remember the first time you were in a Tomb Raider game, and you looked up at a slew of suspend platforms and thought – there is no way I am going there.. Those moments are back in Angel of Darkness. It is the sense of accomplishment when you finished what you thought would be impossible that makes the game satisfying.

The game is not without its flaws. First of all, the graphics are excellent. Lara Croft looks better than ever, and she bounces. She is without a doubt, a polygon babe. If I were ever a bunch of polygons, I would want her. The environments are excellent too. Places are fully furnished, and some of the later levels are just plain amazing. Who would of figured if you put that much graphic intensity on the PS2, it would result in slowdown, I actually didn’t mind the slowdown, it didn’t happen all that often, but there are times you will notice it.

Oh, and the control system, it can be finicky. When I first started the game, I would fall to my death a lot, and that was the tutorial level. That being said, after playing it for a couple hours, the controls did become second nature, and the number of stupid deaths became less and less. I would still forget to switch to walk mode now and then and wonder off a cliff to my death, but this is no surprise, I never really did fully understand how to control a woman.

You can save anywhere, and it’s a fairly painless process, but load times are a pain. There are some moving platform puzzles, my least favorite puzzles in gaming history, and they will require repeatedly reloading. Luckily, my PC is right by my PS2 and I can read mail while loading, but there are times I wanted to take my controller and fling it though my window. A “retry last jump” option would have been a Godsend.

The story is good this time around. It focuses on Lara being framed for a murder, a lot of ritual killing and very bad artifacts that can hurt people. It is told in a non-dummied down fashion, with graphic violence and big words at times. The cut scenes with the dialogue are pretty, and the voice acting is good. At points, you can select what Lara says, and actually effect the path the game takes.

There are a lot of signs the developers do listen to what gamers want. New additions to this game include low crawling, shimmying around corners, a strength build up system, a second playable character and the ability to actually get on a ladder from the top. Sure, other games pretend like you can climb down ladders, but I have always repeatedly fallen off ledges trying to mount them. Lara, bless her pixelated heart, does it when you walk over to the ladder. It almost makes me cry.

The bottom line is this, Tomb Raider has always been a puzzle game, and if you want puzzles, with nice graphics and a decent story, this is a top-notch game. Angel of Darkness does not branch out into new areas, but rather delivers a solid new Tomb Raiding experience. I like what they have done this time around, and with a little refinement to the controls and load times, I would easily recommend this game to any adventure game fan. Yes, there were times I wanted to scream and she made me mad as heck, but Lara Croft kept me coming back, and left me satisfied in the end. What more can you ask from the woman you love?

Final Grade: B

System Requirements (PC version):

Windows 98se or Higher (Win95 and NT NOT SUPPORTED)
500 Mhz Pentium III (or equivalent)
128 MB RAM
100% DirectX 9
16 MB 3D Accelerated Video Card w/ Hardware TnL
100% DirectX 9 compliant Sound Card
200 MB Hard Disk Space free (additional space may be need for saves)
Direct X 9 (included)
Mouse and Keyboard

Scott Jelinek

Scott Jelinek

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