Tomb Raider: Anniversary
Lara Croft is back-tracking through some areas we've seen before, but this time she's gracefully adventuring about, not lumbering as if she were a bulldozer.
Many gamers have differing memories of the Tomb Raider franchise. For some who lived through the era of the Sega Saturn, there are fond memories of seeing epic landscapes and exploring ancient ruins in a way that was totally unprecedented. For others, who are perhaps younger, their memories of Ms. Lara Croft are tainted by some of her later releases. Well, Crystal Dynamics has decided to try and bring the pleasant memories of Ms. Croft's first adventure to us all by re-releasing the ten year old original game, now titled Tomb Raider: Anniversary.
Just because the game is ten years old doesn't mean that it is a total port. The graphics have been redone, and some of the level design has changed. And of course, since this game is for the PSP, the control scheme has been redesigned.
The game takes place over the same four chapters of the original. Players will raid their way through Peru, Greece, Atlantis, and Egypt. And, although four chapters may not seem like that much, one must remember that these are chapters, not levels. There will be several levels per chapter; the chapter simply unifies the theme of the area.
Anniversary has all the same puzzles and battles that veteran players know and love, but will present them in new ways. For instance, while there will be puzzles that will at first glance appear to be straight out of the original game, they have now been made with increased complexity. The game makes use of the new physics system that Legend introduced, adding more to puzzles then simply moving a block about.
Puzzles are not the only place where players will notice Anniversary borrowing from Legend. When the player is presented with a particularly epic battle or action sequence, the new Tomb Raider might take care of this through pre-scripted cinemas where the player simply hits buttons as the prompts appear on the screen (aka "quick time events"). This will undoubtedly be greeted by some and abhorred by others who will probably be peeved to learn that they will not actually be "playing" some of their favorite moments out of the original game.
Fans of Tomb Raider: Legend will also be happy to know that not only will they be playing as the new, more agile Lara, but they will also have access to her grappling hook. Since neither of these features were in the original game (Lara controlled like a clunky car), the designers have taken the time to make sure the levels are redesigned just enough that you can't simply run through the levels without a hitch. Players should expect adequate challenges but hopefully without all the frustration of trying to pull off the simplest of jumps.
The controls of Anniversary could be quite a point of contention for the PSP. A source very close to this Modojo staffer, and who was close to the development of the title, has brought to light what they feel are some issues with this release. Essentially, it has been said that the controls are still being wrestled with. There are some difficulties surrounding targeting and using the camera (both of which rely on the shoulder buttons). The problems revolved around trying to place all the controls of the PS2 version onto a controller with considerably less buttons.
While Tomb Raider: Anniversary is a welcome sight to see on the PSP, its controls may inevitably get in the way of making it a purchase-worthy experience, that is, if they haven't been solved since the game was last examined. The game will have lots of playable areas and definitely will be filled with adventure. It's worked well on consoles, but PSP buyers might wish to wait for the reviews to start flowing in, lest Lara raids your wallet, too.