|Tomb Raider Chronicles||
|Does the fifth installment of the long running Tomb Raider series offer anything new or original? Read on for a full review.|
|December 5th, 2000|
My ears start to hurt everytime I hear about a new Tomb Raider game starring that nice looking girl that everyone has seen at least once, Lara Croft. You know the feeling you get when someone claws their nails across a chalkboard? Well that about sums it up. It's not that the games are all bad it's just that it's the same thing done over and over again. Change a few textures here, place in more enemies there, create some new levels, add a colorful new box and you have a whole new Tomb Raider adventure. How much longer can this series continue? With each new release, more and more gamers get turned away from the series all together and who can blame them. When the original hit, back in 1996, it redefined the action/adventure genre, but since then the game really hasn't improved at all. Sure the graphics got a little better and the levels got a little longer but other then that it was the same tired old game. With a new Lara adventure already in the works one can only pray that the new game will truly be "new" and not just the same game with different levels.
In light of Lara's recent disappearance, those closest to her gather together at the Croft Estate on a gray, rainy day for a memorial service in her honor. Afterwards, the friends sit quietly together in the study of the Croft Mansion and provide new insights about Lara's past exploits; exploits that have until now remained a secret. They reveal four newly discovered, and previously untold adventures, taking you on a journey from the ruins of Rome, to the bowels of a German U boat, to the rooftops of a hi-tech city in a search of four ancient artifacts. The story, as you can probably tell, isn't very exciting and doesn't offer any real originality to the game.
The graphics in Tomb Raider Chronicles are just plain ugly. It uses the same old game engine technology that has been used ages ago in the earlier Tomb Raider adventures. It looks extremely dated and in no way can compare to anything currently available for the PC. Textures look bland and uninspired and I can't say anything better about the enemies or in-game cutscenes. These kind of blocky and grainy visuals may pass on the Playstation but certainly not on the PC. A few years ago these kind of graphics were cutting edge but with the year 2000 nearly at an end, graphics of this caliber are only hurting the games chances of success.
The gameplay is no different than any other Tomb Raider game that has been released. Levels are comprised of lots of puzzles which involve finding jewels, artifacts, keys, button pressing.. the typical adventure game puzzles. Some are challenging while others are not, and there's a wide variety of different puzzles throughout the game. Some parts of the game rely on quick timing to escape certain death which will annoy most gamers as most jumps have to be timed perfectly. The gameplay is great if you've never played a Tomb Raider game before but gamers who are familiar with the series will find that the puzzle element consists of the same old thing that has been beaten to death in the past. Enemies consist of the typical blend of animals and people such as lions, dogs, and gaurds which gets boring pretty fast. There are a few bosses throughout the game, which add a little more excitement, but still nothing that will make this game stand out above the others. I'm trying not to be too harsh in the gameplay area, the system does work well, that's why the game has been a big hit in the beginning. Most gamers want something fresh and original though, not the same concepts re-invented again and again with new levels.
The sounds in the game are decent, but again there's nothing original or outstanding here. While they're not bad they certainly won't be remembered. The music doesn't really sound much different than any other Tomb Raider game either, in fact some of it was the same as in the previous games which just goes to show how original this title really is. Controls take a little bit of time to get used to, you really need a gamepad for this one to get any enjoyment out of it at all. At times the controls do get frustrating, and a lot of that can be blamed on the bad camera system which is not always behind you. This can make some jumps very hard to land and to make matters worse, timing is crucial to land them period.
Well, this turned out to be a fairly short review. There's not a whole lot that can be said about this game because there's nothing new or exciting to be found. Overall the game is not entirely bad, in fact if you've never played a Tomb Raider adventure then there's a really good chance you'll enjoy it if you can get past the bad visuals. But the big problem here is that there are much better and more original action/adventure titles already out. Fans of the genre may prefer to check out either Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.2 or last year's Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, which in my opinion are much better games. Gamers looking for a different and unique Lara quest will have to wait a little longer because you won't find it here.
The good points: not a lot if you own a previous Tomb Raider game, overall the game is fairly long, looks and feels like the previous games
The bad points: poor visuals, puzzles that get tiring, awkward camera at times, controls aren't always the best, no originality... it's like playing the last game but with different levels
Review by Mark Dillon
Video Gamer Guy