August 23, 2007

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Tomb Raider Anniversary, (PC/PS2)
Edios Interactive, June 5, 2007
By Glenn Given production@hippopress.com

No resting place left un-spelunked.

Gaming’s busty icon of gun-slinging acrobatics finds the winning formula for its latest iteration. That formula: remake the 1996 original. Sure you’ve played it before, and possibly you’ve suffered through the ever-worsening sequels and god-awful movies, but Lara Croft is good gaming. But this is not quite the game you remember. Puzzles and environs have been judiciously expanded as has her cave-skipping gymnastic repertoire. Players can now execute one-shot kills on many enemies via the “Adrenaline Dodge” mechanic that slows time briefly as an enemy passes you and whips a pistol shot to their head provided your timing is good. Lara is also now able to hop from pole to pole, perch from narrow ledges and run along walls (ala Prince of Persia) with her grappling hook.

Many of the impressive fights of the original have been perceptably altered (including the infamous T-Rex showdown) and include interactive cutscenes cueing players to tap button sequences to pull off timed maneuvers. Yes, yes, God of War did it first but it fits smoothly with Lara’s flipping and flanking gunplay.

Obviously a major graphic overhaul has occured, bringing Ms. Croft to a poly count and frame rate normative of her respective consoles. The experience has been rescored and its cutscenes recreated from the ground up. It’s hard to recommend a game that sells itself on its recreation of something you’ve already bought, played and beaten under the same name. That’s pretty ballsy. With some quality redesign and a solid presentation, Anniversary is a finely polsihed adventure. But Eidos knows that its pedigree is tarnished by association and humbly offers its best memories for consumption once more. I’d say it’s for the nostalgics only. BGlenn Given