Our girl Lara has certainly come a long way since her debut in 1996, when the release of the very first Tomb Raider action adventure title saw archaeology enjoy its biggest popularity boost since Indiana Jones. To celebrate ten years of Lara’s action packed, artefact-hunting adventures, Eidos have released a revamped remake of the original Tomb Raider title.
The storyline for Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary will be a real déjà vu experience for fans of the series. In the sepia-toned prologue shows an ominous looking creature is released from its earthly prison, following a nuclear explosion at the testing facility in Los Alamos, circa 1945. Switching to full colour and the present day, British archaeologist, Lady Croft, is hired to recover an Atlantean artefact from a lost city in Peru.
Also familiar to Tomb Raider veterans are the various environments – remodelled, of course - and our heroine with the gravity defying double D cups. It’s worth spending some quality time at the official website; you’ll be able to see a ‘then and now’ comparison between the two games, and gain a true appreciation of just how far gaming technology has advanced in ten years. The Lara model certainly looks and moves with a lot more fluidity and realism, although you have to question the practicality of wearing those trademark short shorts and tank top in the snow-capped mountains of Peru.
At the heart of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary lies an enhanced Tomb Raider: Legend engine. As well as the guns-a-blazing, trap dodging action there are all manner of puzzles involving the environment, e.g. finding a set of keys to unlock a door, and some of them will really challenge you. Lara has plenty of crowd pleasing moves – sometimes combos that can appear quite complex, however the user-friendly controls make for simple execution. Once you’ve reached the learning curve’s summit (15-20 minutes), it’s a simple downhill coast; everything else is a matter of perfecting your judgment and timing.
Combat features a simple (albeit not infallible) lock-on system, which enables Lara to pump endless rounds of hot lead into hostiles - mostly animals such as rabid wolves, grumpy bears and unfriendly gorillas, whilst executing her most stylish somersaults. A new feature, Adrenaline Dodge, switches combat into slow-mo and can reward you with an instant kill if you time your shot just right.
Having found so many positives, I did take issue with the sometimes uncooperative camera providing an inaccurate or non-optimal angle, often during the heat of battle. This put a damper on what was otherwise a near perfect experience.
Work is currently in progress for a Wii version of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary, due for release later this year. The Wii-mote and nunchuck controllers should be perfect partners for Lara’s showy acrobatics, and may ultimately prove more popular than the PS2 version. Time will tell, but in the meantime why not enjoy the chic, sleek action adventure classic in all its new-found glory?