Tomb Raider Review
Review by Al Giovetti Price:
Release: November 15, 1996
Designer and Lead Artist: Toby Guard
Lead Programmer: Paul Douglas
Music score: Nathan McCree
Sound effects: Martin Iveson
Developer: Core Design Incorporated
Publisher: Eidos Interactive, 303 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94111
Phone: 415-616-2022, 415-693-0297
Website: www.eidosinteractive.com, www.tombraider.com
Requirements: PC Minimum Requirements: Pentium 60 (Pentium 90 Recommended), 8MB RAM, 20Mb free hard drive space, SVGA VESA local bus graphics card, Dual Speed CD-ROM drive; most major sound cards supported. Most major Game Pads and Joysticks supported.
History: Eidos is a combination of Domark, and US Gold. Core Design developed Tomb Raider. The last game by this design house (Core Design), called Shellshock, also tended toward atypical protagonists. Based in the UK, Core Design is one of the hottest and most talented development teams in the industry.
Founded in 1988 by Jeremy Smith, Core's success has depended on the development of high-quality, award winning games . Early hits include Rick Dangerous and Corporation.
Most recently Core has built its reputation on award winning console titles like Thunderstrike 2 and Shellshock. Thunderstrike 2 was awarded Sega of America's Best Graphics of the Year for 1995. Shellshock, a tank shooter, was just released this summer. In the game, you are a member of a covert group of M-13 Predator tank commandos fighting for justice in a world overtaken by crime. Check out the interactive demo on Eidos Interactive's web site! (www.eidosinteractive.com). Do yourself a favor and do not judge Tomb Raider by Core's prior efforts. This is one tight game.
Company line: Their latest effort, Tomb Raider, may be their biggest hit yet. Developed for PlayStation, Saturn and PC simultaneously, Tomb Raider incorporates both action and adventure elements for superior and addictive gameplay. The incredible graphics and fully rendered 3D environments insure this game provides a complete gaming experience unlike anything seen before.
Core's Team of nine artists and programmers have been working on Tomb Raider for the past year and a half. Their efforts are evident even in the early stages of the game. Tomb Raider is comprised of complex 3D levels requiring hours of exploration, puzzle solving and lots of action as the main character, Lara Croft, searches for pieces of the ancient Scion. Lara's moves are incredibly smooth and agile as she flips, jumps, swims and shoots her way through Roman, Incan, Egyptian and Atlantian worlds.
Lara Croft has just returned from a hunting trip in the Himalayas where, having bagged a 12-foot tall yeti, she's itching for a new challenge. While enjoying a little R & R, she's contacted by Jacqueline Natla, a conniving business woman, who convinces Lara to recover a mysterious artifact from the tomb of Qualopec in Peru.
Wasting no time, Lara sets out on her quest to find one of the three pieces of the ancient Atlantean Scion, a talisman of incredible power. After disovering the fragment, things get ugly, Lara finds herself face to face with one of Natla's hired goons. Using her cunning wits and athletic strenghth, Lara escapes! As she delves into the reasons why Natla would double cross her, she uncovers a mystery that reaches back before the dawn of recorded time to the treachery that destroyed the Atlantean civilization and the disasters that struck the world when it fell.
Enter the Tomb Raider world in 15 massive 3D environments within four lost civilizations: Vilcabamba... A civilization that flourished for hundreds of years in the Peruvian rainforests of South America. Guide Lara through the lost Incan city while battling wolves, bats, bears, raptors, and more. Labryinth...The Golden Age of Greece, and later Rome. Here Lara battles lions, alligators, crazed monkeys and more as she explores ruins of this ancient civilization. Egyptian...Where the vast power of Egypt rose with the pyramids. Explore buried pyramids and a hidden sphinx while fighting pumas, crocodiles, and some surprising mystical monsters. Atlantean...The pyramid of Atlantis where the mystery unfolds. Play and see!!!
Plot: Lora Croft, a rather well-endowed short-short-clad female game player with two gigantic 9mm automatic pistols on her hips is the protagonist. In spite of her brief costume, Lara never gets goosebumps. "LARA Croft's quest entail traveling the earth from the lost Incan ruins to the Egyptian tombs in search of the pieces of an ancient artifact called the Scion," according to Eidos spokesperson Gary Keith . Her job is to explore the tomb and kill the evil denizens there. Core Design was "bored with the typical male characters." Gary explained, "The choice of a female protagonist was to create a widespread appeal title that will appeal to all gamers." Besides this is a third person perspective game, and if I have to look at someone while I am playing I would rather have a good looking lady. (Al has three daughters who Lara remind him of. - Ed.)
Graphics: Remarkably realistic characters and backgrounds. The pictures of the buxom heroine, Lara, are simply breathtaking in level of reality in surface texture and light effects. Texture mapping. Graphics resolutions will support 256-colors and resolutions of 320x200 and 640x480 pixels.
Animation: Motion capture of over 2,000 frames of animation just for Lara makes the animation smooth and lifelike. Lara has a number of smooth moves including leaps, rolls, swimming, running, jumping, and many others. When fighting or damage is sustained from jumps, a brown bar appears, which shows the amount of Lara’s health. When swimming a red bar appears to show how much air is left (Lara can drown so be careful). Rendered cinematic sequences between levels provide the essential clues for level completion.
Game play: A combination of moves is necessary to navigate physical obstacles, like pits and rivers. There are classic power ups, like in Quake and Doom, including ammunition, magnums, grenades, 9mm pistols, shot guns, Uzis, and medical kits. Deep in the caverns are wolves, rats, bats, bears, alligators, and other male human adventurers. Lara would not hesitate to put a bullet into Dr. Jones or any other endangered species. Without detailed knowledge of Lara’s moves, timing, and ability to jump over and out of chasms, you will be spending a lot of time at the bottom of pits. Thank god you do not have to worry about reloading the pistols, this game is dangerous enough.
View: The third person, cinematic perspective is compared to the Nintendo Ultra 64 Super Mario and Fade to Black. Pushing the Insert key will give you a look at things in either behind the head third person perspective or first person perspective, while Laura turns her head with the look movements.
Levels: There are 15 monsterous three dimensional levels within 4 lost civilizations which include the Incan, Classic Roman, Egyptian and Atlantean worlds.
Voice actors: Shall remain anonymous but Laura’s voice is quite good and you can hear her comment throughout the game in addition to grunting in pain. Be resigned to hear her breath her last a lot. The game reminds me of Lemmings where you die then try to figure out the latest either physical puzzle or find the right artifact.
Music score: The music is very good as are all aspects of this game.
Sound effects: Sound effects on this game vary from the scream of a Tyranasaurus Rex to the pound of Lara's hand weapons. The most gut wrenching sound was when Laura dropped from too high and you could hear the crunch of her bones.
Utilities: Regretfully, there are no Auto-maps, auto-note-taking or Auto-travel features in the game. I have used 20 save games but there does not seem to be a limit.
Multi-player: Nope, unfortunately you will have to play with Laura all by yourself.
Future plans: Core Design produced Thunderstrike 2, Shellshock, and Blam! Look for other great games from these guys. Mike McGarvey, president and CEO or Eidos Interactive put it this way, "We are very excited about the simultaneous launch of Tomb Raider. Our goal is to appeal to all gamers of all three systems by combining the best of gaming elements in one package.,"
Reviewers: Daniel Morris, a rather new writer, feels the game has the look and feel of an updated version of Pitfall and says it does not losely resemble Doom or Quake. Steve makes a particularly astute point when he compares Lara to a combination of Indiana Jones and Aeon Flux. Glenn has to complain about something so he complains on how bad the low resolution graphics are. Glenn, when you play the game, do you play in low res?
Summary: This appears to be the breakthrough game of 1996, with the most unique game play and plot development combined with precision control and slick animation of the first quality. A must buy unless arcade games that involve precision jumping and running frustrate you.
Full Weapons and Ammo:
Take 1 step forward (using the walk key). Then take one step backward (using the walk key). Turn around 3 times (in any direction). Do a backflip.
Take 1 step forward (using the walk key). Then take one step backward (using the walk key). Turn around 3 times (in any direction). Do a normal jump forward.
Tomb Raider Trainer: A trainer download patch is available to help you in the game. http://www.pulse.de/lara/index.html
Christine Grech Wendin, The E3 Top 25, PC Games, volume 3, number 9, August, 1996, pg. 32
Jeff James, Computer Player, volume 3, number 3, August, 1996, pg. 33-35. Extensive preview with tremendous information. The Computer Player staff believes this to be the best game at E3.
Tomb Raider: A girl with gargantuan guns gets it going, Steve Bauman, Computer Games Strategy Plus, number 70, pg. 14.
Jeffrey Adam Young, http://www.gamespot.com/previews/tombraid/index.html
Daniel Morris, Tomb Raider, PC Games, volume 3, number 11, November, 1996, pg. 78-80.
Glenn Broderick, Computer and Net Player, volume 3, number 9, February, 1997, pg. 74, 90%, C&NP Recommended