Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tomb Raider: Anniversary (360) Review

There are times when you are looking through your movies and wonder why the hell you would want a remake of The Poseidon Adventure. Then there are times when your glad that they did (Halloween). Now that gaming is getting older, some of the games from the past are coming back, updated. One of them is Tomb Raider Anniversary. It is available for the PS2, the 360, and the Wii. TR:A is a remake from 1996. The story is simple. A nuclear bomb is set off in New Mexico in the 1940's and a winged monster is unleashed. Fifty years later, Lara Croft is told about the Atlantean Scion, an artifact that has been underwater for hundred of years. She was informed of this by Jacqueline Natla, a CEO of a large company. Thus, the beginning of a long-standing series begins. Here is what I thought of the game:

Graphics – Now, knowing this is the first time that I completed an X box 360 game, this grade may be a little higher than it should be. This game is gorgeous. The first time that I watched Lara move, it was beautiful. Lara is beautiful, but the real draw was the locations. The deep jungles of the Lost Valley seemed almost to be alive. Egypt looked just Egypt looks (even though I have never been to Egypt). When you splash and swim through the water just is breath taking. The design that the developers put into this game is just great. All of the human characters looked nice...except for Natla. Natla is the character that hires you in the beginning and this woman looks like Karen Carpenter after fasting (what...too soon). The enemies weren't really that mind-blowing good either. They just looked completely average. There really was not that many varieties as well. I only remember the wolves being available everywhere. Just a little bit of problem, but overall great.

Grade: A-

Controls – This is where I had a problem with the game. You have your basic jump, shoot, and what not. The slow motion controls was a great help. Just get the animals in a rage and they charge. By pressing the B button at a specific time and jumping around, you engage in slow motion. When the crosshairs turn red, push the RT button and you killed the animal with a head shot. Very good when you want to conserve ammo. I had some problems with jumps, targeting multiple enemies, and especially with wall jumps. There were times when I would jump over to a pole and I would not grab it. There were times when I saw my hands go through the pole. I was not happy at all with that. Targeting multiple enemies was not fun. On the great shaft, I had to shoot 2 bat demons and shoot a target on the wall. The crosshairs wanted to stay on the target while the bat demons were shooting balls of energy on me. You needed to move the right stick left or right to move between targets and it took too much time. And when you moved the right stick to the new target, you could actually lose your place on the floor and could fall off the side of a cliff. That was very irritating. The wall jumps were about as irritating as I have gotten with a game in several months. There were several puzzles that needed Lara to jump off the wall at the top of a wall swing and I could not do it. I was trying to get to what I thought was a artifact in Egypt and I tried to wall jump for about 3 hours and I did not even get it once. The only way that I was able to go up the Great Shaft was through a glitch that jammed me into a wall in the corner and I was able to jump to the next grapple ring. I was trying to get all the artifacts and I finally gave up on it. In general, the controls made this beautiful game a pain in the ass.

Grade: D+

Sound – This was another good part of the game, but not memorable. All of the animals sounded good. You could actually hear them in another room and it sounded like an echo. All of the background noises were good. The waterfall sounded like a waterfall, and the Egyptian winds sounded good. The voice acting was good, as well. The problem with it was that it was not memorable. I completed the game yesterday, and I can't remember anything from it. After spending a lot of time on it, you hope to remember SOMETHING. In general, a typically average game sounds.

Grade: C

Challenge – Now this is the part where, if the controls would have been good, it would have been great. The puzzles in this game were great. From the large gear room in Peru to the Trial of Damocles (the swords falling from the ceiling was scary the first time I played). There are so many puzzles in this game that took time to figure out, it was well worth it. A couple of memorable puzzles was Locating King Midas' Artifact and the Anubis and Horus puzzles. King Midas' Artifact room consisted of towers that would rise up with a switch but would all start to lower when you would touch them. This kind of challenge was really good. The Anubis and Horus puzzle involved water levels and shooting scarabs. The only thing that ruined the fun had to be the control. Having to climb up a statue and to fall all the way to your death because the controller was not responsive was very frustrating. Another thing that you will be used to is Lara's dead body. Because YOU WILL DIE CONSTANTLY IN THIS GAME. Anytime that you miss a step, Lara will die. Anytime you meet a dart wall, Lara will die. I believed that I died at least 60 times. Some of the deaths is based on when I landed, and some are because of the damn controls. The boss battles were pretty good as well. You had to figure out the weakness of each boss and extort the weakness. The T-Rex was real easy if you got the T-Rex to ram the barriers. The Thiocan's Centaurs were easy when you figured out that the shields were the answer. In general, the challenge was good, except with the controller issues.

Grade: B+

Extras – The Rewards section of TR:A is a great collection of extras. The Special section contains a letter to the fans of Tomb Raider while the Style Units (available after completing the game) allows you to run through a demo of the different environments. The typical cinematics are there. The art gallery gives you a side-by-side look of the remake and the original. There are character bios of the main characters. The outfits section allows you to view different outfits for Lara. You can spin the character, but you cannot zoom and that kind of sucks. There are short stories about all the relics that you find throughout your journey. There are tracks of the music throughout the game. The obligatory credits are there. There is also something really cool called Commentaries. You can play through the game and when you come up to a floating crystal, you touch it and members of the development team will talk to you about the thoughts and design of the level. A really cool thing. The last one is the cheats. You can unlock the good ones AFTER you complete the game and complete the time trials. Didn't like that, but that was nothing really bad. Overall, the rewards are some of the best you can get and I really enjoyed it.

Grade: A

Achievements – When I complete a 360 game, I will give you a review of the achievements. Some of the achievements are pretty easy. Getting good shows in the 4 area are nothing more than pressing the correct buttons during the cut-scenes. Getting all the relics in the 4 areas, are just that. Getting the 3 guns are achievements. Defeating the bosses without dying is mostly easy. Now, those are easy. The time trials are brutally difficult to achieve. You need to know where everything is and hope and pray that you don't have to jump off of walls. The ones that made me laugh was completing the 4 areas without dying. Like I said before, YOU WILL DIE CONSTANTLY. These are pretty difficult and don't really need much attention (hardcore gamers only). The secret achievements are:

-Complete all the tasks in the Croft Manor. (Easy)
-Complete the Peru gear puzzle without dying. (Difficult)
-Complete the Hephaestus room in Greece without being struck by lightning. (Pretty Easy)
-Collect the seals of Anubis, Horus, Isis, and Osiris without dying. (Not going to happen)
-Complete the central shaft in the Lost Island without dying. (Ha ha ha)
Expect to get a little under half of the 1000 points total.

Overall, Tomb Raider: Anniversary is a great game to play if you want to relive some of the good ol' days. The graphics are top notch (except for some characters), the control is not that great, the sound is typical, not memorable, and the challenge is good (except when jumping off of walls is involved). The extras are what really shine for the game. Maybe if they allowed the original to be on there it would have been perfect (wink, wink). Expect to get about half of the achievement points allowed. That is about it.

Overall grade: B

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1 comment:

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