It was some ten years ago when Lara was released upon the world. Some 25 billion dollars and 30 million games later, and we are back to the original Tomb Raider. A quick run down of the Lara Croft “Tomb Raider” history.
The first character to be in the Tomb Raider series was a male character that looked remarkably like Indiana Jones. And scraped because of this reason, so in came… Lara Croft based upon Laura Cruz, a South American woman. Her name was changed to a UK friendlier one, taken from a telephone book. She has a dress size of 8 and her vital measurements are 35-24-36, though I haven’t been able to find her bust size. Through out her life, Lara has portrayed by various models. (Nathalie Cook, Rhona Mitra, Nell McAndrew, Lara Weller, Lucy Clarkson, Jill De Jong and Karima Adebibe.)
The only other fictional character that has this much fame would probably be James Bond. Which poses the question, who is your favourite "Lara Croft?" (Yes, you can include Angelina Jolie in the line up as well.) And it is with a smile that the role model is indeed a female, as sometimes men can dominate all too often. So the real question, who is more famous James bond or Lara Croft? My money, dare I say it, would be on the latter! (Even though James Bond has been in the limelight for 40+ years)
In 1995, Toby Gard, created Lara Croft working for a small British company called Core Design. Two years later he resented the use of Lara in Maxim style poses, and resigned. While Work continued on the Tomb Raider series, by Tomb Raider 4: The Last Revelation, Core Design had become tired. The ending of TR4 was meant to kill off Lara Croft, that Lara was finally buried in her own tomb. But she came back to haunt them in TR5: Chronicles.
Losing some of their own momentum, Core Design listened to feedback from fans. And in 2003 Angel of Darkness was released, which did well in the beginning due to a heavy ad campaign, but did not sell well after. Core felt that it was time to stop.
This was when Crystal Dynamics, joined by Toby Gard, began work on Legend. Lara Croft and Tomb Raider went through a reinventing process, everything from the game, Lara’s body and the control system. In 2006 Legend was released and sold 3 million copies worldwide.
However I have to be careful as Lara Croft has risen out of her game and transcended so many levels and mediums. I have a feeling if I felt negatively towards her and expressed it, many people from all over the world would be knocking on my door the next morning “for a quiet chat.”See some of the links for fan sites!
This was one of the many reason I pondered when I played Tomb Raider: Anniversary. Do I like this game because it is fun, or is because of Lara? Well it a double edge sword as Lara and Tomb Raider would not do as well without the other. And both are greater than the sun of its parts.
Anniversary is an updated and improved version of the original game. Using the Legend model engine and keeping to the original puzzles, while improving parts, will do two things. First, allow new people to experience the wonder that is “Lara Croft”, as some of the younger generations may have missed out, and second, still allow older gamers to relive the nostalgia and be true to the original.
The first impression I get from playing Anniversary is the immensity of it all. If you have watched the Bonus DVD you can see the vast empire of “Lara Croft.” Plus when you complete the game, depending on how well you have done. You are privy to all the bonus material, including screenshots of both the original and Anniversary. This gives you a powerful insight into the changes of Lara Croft and the graphical capabilities of the PC or consoles (See screenshots).
However the game still has it bugs and problems. These tend to be minor things such as: *The screen jerks violently when Lara stands with her back to the wall, and you try to pan the camera around. *Sometimes Lara fails to grab a ledge, which ends with her falling to a painful death. Or Lara will grab for a ledge or pole you aren’t aiming for. *Camera Angles change the direction of the arrow keys. This can become awkward when using the grapple hook to run along the wall, and you have to jump away, not parallel to the wall. If your camera angle isn’t setup right this too can mean certain death. *Small glitches, such as the Iconic fight with the T-Rex, can make it difficult to actually get the T-Rex to do what he supposed to.
Now on to the new fighting style of Lara. She has this new move where she enrages an animal by shooting at it. Suddenly the screen gets blurry, while Lara and the enraged animal become focused (See screenshots). The animal charges at her, if you dodge the animal, while holding off your shot. You get a special attack, which deals a critical blow to the animal. While this is a great feature, the first time you will practise is when you’re up against the T-Rex. “Come on, enraging a T-Rex, in my book that’s never a good idea!”
This “special attack” is an added bonus and thrill. However it does have one major draw back. Most enemies you encounter are in packs, this means while you are concentrating on one, you are very vulnerable. The other will still attack you and knock you off your feet, disrupting the special attack process. It has gotten to the point that I no longer use this attack at all, only when required and only if against one animal. This is a shame!
All of this leads to some serious game playing! Yes all those puzzles are simple, all the ledges are just in Lara’s reach, and you can run circles around enemies. But the combination really makes it action packed, and it moves quickly--requiring razor sharp wits and balls of steel.
But the real acid test of a game is the parts that you fail on. The specific part I am talking about is the “Griffin-Head Protome” Relic on level 7: Greece- Midas’s Palace. This requires you to flick a switch, swim to one end of the room. Jump onto pillars, while flames spurt out. Traverse another pillar while more flames decorate it. Lastly one more pillar with a revolving flame, which you have to walk through to claim your prize. But the crunch is that this all has to be done in 50 seconds. (Easy!?) This took an hour of dying, reloading and starting again. From what I have read on the internet, this is a good time! (One bloke claiming 4 hours)
Yes I was frustrated and screamed my head off. And let me just warn you now, before the end of the game there will be many a time you will feel this way. But afterwards I realized that I would not have tolerated that from any other game. The ability to keep you coming back for more is a trait reserved for a very special woman. “Happy Anniversary, Lara Croft!”
Boy, do I wish I could roll over in bed each morning and say that. Of course followed quickly by; “Last night was fantastic!” Alas, like every other man in the world, we will have to make do with this spectacular game. Until Legend 2!