by Marko Susimetsä
reviewed on PC
Puzzles, puzzles and more puzzles
Puzzles are the meat of Tomb Raider Anniversary. Every level is littered with smaller and bigger puzzles that will have you running around trying to find the items that you need. If it is not items you're looking for, it is for the right handles to pull, the right wells to dive into and the hidden ledges to jump towards. Most puzzles seem to be relatively easy to solve, or at least they are on the lower levels. Even though the levels are extensive, they are not too big or confusing to make you lose your way or run in circles – all locations are very recognisable and once you have visited every corner in a set, you will surely have found the answers to your puzzles as well. If not, just keep an eye on those walls and make sure there isn't something there that you could jump towards or climb over.
Although the puzzles are what Tomb Raider is most about, Lara does carry some weaponry to defeat her more mortal enemies. Lara will be shooting blood-thirsty bats, wolves (sigh), lions, gorillas, raptors and even a T-Rex. The action takes place both in real-time and in the form of interactive cut-scenes. In these you have to press the directional buttons when movement slows in a Matrix style effect and a directional arrow appears on the screen. A similar effect, called adrenaline dodge, is used during combat and takes place when some creature is charging towards Lara while she keeps her targeting steady. At the last moment before the creature reaches our heroine, the time slows down and Lara can dodge to the side and simultaneously perform a precise eye-shoot to take the animal out. It takes a while to get the hang of this action, and it is difficult to master, but it really gives Lara an edge when performed successfully.
On a less positive note; Another thing that gives Lara an edge is the fact that the enemy AI is not the smartest possible. Sometimes wolves and other creatures get stuck behind a pillar or cannot get around a small pond of water in order to reach and attack Lara. I have put this down as a minor annoyance because Tomb Raider isn't really about the action as much as the puzzles.
Overall, Tomb Raider Anniversary is an excellent platformer adventure and likely to provide entertainment for dozens of hours. For fans of the genre it is a must-get and even for those who haven't tried Tomb Raider games before -or call themselves casual gamers- this is an excellent time to get to know Lara Croft first hand. Tomb Raider Anniversary offers casual entertainment in the sense that even if you aren't ready to play the game all the way through in one go, you can easily let it wait for a couple of weeks and then continue where you left off and solve a few more of those pesky puzzles.
With showing like this and the previous installment in the series, I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing what the next Tomb Raider game will bring. After all, Tomb Raider: Legends left its story unfinished and perhaps Tomb Raider II also deserves a remake? After several years of less than mediocre showing, Lara Croft is truly back and better than ever!
No Pros and Cons at this time