Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness
Lara Croft is the biggest star of video gaming since Mario, and her movies are much better than his. It’s been a while since Lara was swashing buckles, robbing tombs and killing endangered species (such as dinosaurs!). But the pneumatic heroine is back, out of retirement and ready to save the world again.
The Angel of Darkness story goes like this: Lara is accused of murdering her former mentor. She goes on the run, and is in a race to find five 14th century paintings before a time-travelling alchemist gets them and unleashes their terrible powers on the world. But nobody plays Tomb Raider for the story line – it just slows down the action. All I want to do is race around shooting, and look at Lara’s bum. That’s exactly what you get with this game.
The developers are keen to prove that Lara isn’t just a mindless shoot ’em up. Although you can pretty much cruise around this game shooting people, in an attempt to make it more cerebral you must develop Lara’s skills and strength. You are rewarded for puzzle solving and exploring by way of improvements to your brain power, upper body strength and jumping ability. There is also much more interaction with other characters. Instead of the preset cut-scenes, Lara actually gets to choose what to say to the other characters. Depending on what she says to whom, the storyline changes.
The new moves include stealth attacks, which add a new dimension to the game. However, oftentimes you can go in with all guns blazing and achieve the same effect – just quicker. Lara can now get physical with hand-to-hand combat, with no weapons at all.
This is the best Tomb Raider yet, but the format looks dated. The controls are clunky and Lara’s movements can be unpredictable. She has always been like this, but it seems like it should work better now. She looks like she’s nimble and athletic, but sometimes she moves like an arthritic dinner lady. I like this game, but I can’t tell how much of my fondness of it is due to the retro feel to it all.