Tomb Raider: Anniversary
After a couple of horrible titles that didn’t do the image of Lara Croft any good (Angel of Darkness, ugh) there suddenly was Tomb Raider: Legend. Things suddenly looked a lot better for our busty Indiana Jones and now we get Tomb Raider: Anniversary to celebrate her comeback. A cleaned up version of the very first Tomb Raider game with better graphics and new moves. Did Crystal Design take the easy way or is this latest title worth the party atmosphere?
Just like all other titles on the PSP, TR: Anniversary suffers from long loading times but what you get in return is really worth the waiting. The graphics are simply astonishing. The worlds are crafted beautiful and with lots of color, the textures hair sharp and the animations fluid. Whether you’re dragged by the stream towards a waterfall or have to make a dinosaur’s life miserable or are exploring tombs for hidden treasures, it all looks and sounds beautiful. The PSP moans under all the graphical violence which results in some drops in the framerate but these don’t really disturb all too much.
What will cause a lot of moaning and swearing on the other hand, is the camera. Tomb Raider has always suffered from uneasy camera angles that make you take that one step too far and this is no different here. Also in fire fights the camera manages to immediately take an angle that’s all but ideal so that you end up suddenly running towards your enemy instead of avoiding him. Your new bullet-time move to dodge hostiles in a true Matrix-style is more a burdon than a gift.
Once at peace with the camera a large world of puzzles and riddles will open up for you. The levels aren’t just taken over from the original game but have gotten bigger and even received some new locations here and there with some more extensive puzzles alongside them. To reach all places, Lara also has a few new tricks up her sleeve. For instance there’s a grappling hook with which she can jump from edge to edge to find the Atlantic Scion.
Indeed, the Scion is again the goal of the game and Lara will get to finish her father’s work. Along the way she’ll encounter a couple of rivals as well as a bunch of things that shouldn’t exist. Whether she’ll be able to conquer all obstacles is up to you. The story got changed a bit and the cut-scenes play like an interactive movie where you are asked whether Lara is capable of travelling around the world or whether her opponents will beat her and force her into a one way ticket into heaven.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary is simply Tomb Raider I with the Legend engine. For many it will be a joyfull reunion with a legendary title, not only in its genre but also in the gaming industry. For the younger generation it’s proof that games really were more fun back in the days. The devs have changed just enough in the game to make sure you’re not feeling ripped off and despite the limitations of the PSP and the UMD-medium they succeed to recreate a large vivid and mysterious world. An occasional drop of the frame rate and a camera with its own will shouldn’t stop you from giving this game a chance. Meanwhile the replay value of the title is also high thanks to a lot of things and secret locations that can be explored, as well as a ton of unlockables that are present. Have fun exploring!