Happy Anniversary, Lara Croft
A lot has changed in the past 11 years in the video game landscape, but in 1996, the original Tomb Raider ushered in the 3-D revolution and helped Sony's PlayStation knock competitors Nintendo and Sega from their dominant positions. Anyone who enjoyed last year's Tomb Raider: Legend will be in for another great Lara Croft adventure with Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary, a value-priced reimagining of the original.
Using the same game engine as Legend, the new Lara Croft is on the same tomb-raiding adventure as the first game (even the names of the levels are the same), but everything else, such as Croft's repertoire of movement, the beautifully detailed environments and the cinematic cut scenes, is new.
Whether you've played the original or are exploring caves and ancient tombs with Lara for the first time, Anniversary packs a lot of punch for the price. Far more than just an eye-candy makeover, Crystal Dynamics (the same company that resuscitated the franchise with Legend) has created an old-school adventure game with advanced analog controls that allow Lara to easily manipulate environments with new moves. New gadgets, as well as the grappling hook from Legend, also open up gameplay. Gone are the pre-rendered sequences that PlayStation owners were forced to watch; in their place are interactive, slow-motion moments in which Lara can escape near-death experiences such as attacks by wild animals.
For the intrepid hunter, the game has many artifacts and relics to uncover, and replay is rewarded with cool unlockable content, including a fully interactive Croft Mansion and new costumes. In addition, every level, once beaten, offers a time mode and a developer commentary. Beyond the extras, there's something just fun about exploring this world again in a new way.
Anniversary is the rare game that's a steal at this price because it's fun to play again and again.
-- John Gaudiosi
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary Teen; PlayStation 2, PSP, PC ($30) Eidos/Crystal Dynamics