|System: PS2, PC, PSP, X360, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Crystal Dynamics||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Eidos Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 5, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
June 15, 2007 - It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since the debut of everyone's favorite female archeologist. Of course Laura has had her ups and downs, but even then, she has had her loyalists going to bat for her time and time again. Whenever there was a new title, fans raced to pick it up and enjoy the latest adventures of one of the strongest female characters in gaming. Last year, gamers got a shot of Laura-goodness in the arm with Laura Croft Tomb Raider: Legend.
Crystal Dynamics treated Laura the way she should have been, in both gameplay and graphics, thus putting her back on top in a lot of gamers' hearts. With the tenth anniversary looming, Eidos knew something special should be done, and they have provided, along with Crystal Dynamics, a reimagining of the original Tomb Raider classic. However, did we really need a rehash of a game that we played ten years ago?
The great thing about redoing a game must be that most of story details are done for you. This is not to say that there are a few tweaks here and there concerning the original story, but for the most part it is the story that we initially fell in love with. Laura will still be searching for the pieces of the Atlantean Scion, a talisman of incredible power and Jacqueline Natla will still be the reason your quest begins, and I'll leave out the rest for the new gamers that have yet to experience the original story. For veteran gamers, the original story is still as you remember. Therefore, no real worries there.
What makes Tomb Raider Anniversary stand out is not how close to the original they made the game. Instead, it is the advancements that have been achieved in gaming in only ten years. Anniversary takes all of the problems with the original - the blocky design of the characters, the dull tombs, and sticky controls - and throws them out the window (for the most part anyway). The controls still have a few problems here and there, but are solved with a little trial and error gaming experience. For example, I could chalk up the fact that I repeatedly missed a ledge I was leaping at because Laura just would not jump, but I would also have to admit that maybe I did not press the correct button at the right time. Just like the Prince of Persia games, the acrobatic attributes of the Prince are vital but the timing of the player is also important to the overall character capabilities.
The things that were not removed from the game are what made it such a vital factor in the takeover by Sony in the gaming world. By the time Tomb Raider first appeared, gamers had grown a little and needed something that would challenge their minds a little more than just running, jumping, and collecting items. Tomb Raider provided thought provoking gaming that required us to figure out complex puzzles and tough situations. In Anniversary, we will not have the luxury of smaller environments to explore. In fact, the levels are almost five times bigger than the originals. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good in the sense that we now have more area to explore to hone our tomb raiding skills. The bad, however, are the checkpoints. While the first game had few saving points that only came after long stretches in the tombs, Anniversary gives plenty of checkpoints. This problem arises especially when you have spent the last ten minutes making it to a spot, fall, survive, and then pass through another checkpoint, all of your progress before the fall is gone. It is a bit frustrating at times, but of course this is one of the things that made the original a classic.
The true beauty of this reimagining comes through in the graphics. Having the Legend engine running it, you kind of know beforehand what to expect from the game graphically. The environments are lush and filled with detail. Individual cracks splinter along the rock walls. The bright contrasts between caverns are truly amazing. While the graphic improvements to the environment are worth mentioning in great detail, it is something that must be experienced. In fact, Laura herself is something that will blow away players once they see her. She does look very similar to her Legend self, but if you find an image or two of the original game compare those images with Anniversary and you will see how drastic the change really is.
Tomb Raider Anniversary does two things that are amazing: One - it takes a classic game and remakes it well to provide a whole new generation with the joys and frustrations the generation before had with the title. It proves that remaking a game is something that a lot of gamers could enjoy. Not to say that gamers just want repeats of games they love, but rather an occasional update to those games that made us gamers to begin with. Two - Anniversary boldly says that the PS2 still has some life left. It is unknown how much life is really left in the PS2, but with games like Tomb Raider Anniversary arriving you can bet that it will be quite a while before Laura will be searching for the long lost artifact - PlayStation 2.