UK Price (as reviewed):£17.99 (inc. delivery) US Price (as reviewed):$27.99 (inc. tax)
Lara Croft is a girl who gets around, no matter which way you look at it. Geographically, technologically, chronologically; her adventures have her globe hopping throughout the ages and have been covered on pretty much every single platform over the course of her ten year run as Indiana Jones' buxom replacement.
There have been good games, bad games, some opinion-dividing movies and a selection of unofficial porn films released since the original Tomb Raider bounced on to our screens courtesy of Core Design and Toby Gard, Lara's original designer.
Over that time, a lot of nostalgia has built up and a lot of developers have tried and failed to recapture that original Lara Croft experience. Still, with the success of the recent Tomb Raider: Legend already under its belt, Crystal Dynamics has earned themselves another bash at it and have decided to revisit and remake Lara's first adventure in the new Tomb Raider: Anniversary.
The game is actually built off of the Tomb Raider: Legend engine, which we reviewed back at its release last year. Not much has changed graphically, so you can take a look at that review for an understanding of the graphics performance - the two are largely comparable.
The new Tomb Raider couldn't have been better timed either. Lara's first adventure was pivotal to the early success of the PlayStation over platforms like the Sega Saturn and so, with no PS3 version available and the PS2 on the way out, we decided that we'd take the PlayStation 2 version of the game out for a spin to see if it can prove to be a happy ending for Sony's mega-console of last generation.
Will the remake prove to be better than the original? Can it tread in the footsteps of Core Design and still retain its own fresh feel? Join us as we have a look at the latest Tomb Raider installment and see.
Ten years young
Anniversary is, as mentioned above, a remake of the original and first Tomb Raider game. It's not an exact clone by a long way though, and serves to reboot the previously messy Tomb Raider storyline and bring it back into line with the storyline of Tomb Raider Legend, which "rewrote" aspects of the Lara's history.
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This obviously makes it an odd game to review, as its premise means there should be no real surprises for us plot-wise. Still, for those of you who are new to the Tomb Raider universe, we'll lay a little groundwork for you.
The game begins with Lara, a little younger than when we last saw her, being offered the job of hunting down the fabled Scion of Atlantis by a very odd looking lady called Natla. Lara promptly accepts the task – because you don't get far as an explorer extraordinaire if you just sit around umming and erring all day – and then she's off to the hidden Incan city of Villacamba with nothing but an infinite amount of bullets and her trademark hotpants.
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Yes, we know; it's not the traditional attire for climbing up through snowy mountain ranges, but at least Lara has taken the time to don a pair of glasses to keep her warm. Or, at least until she gets inside the tombs, at which point she flings them aside like the reckless litterbug we know her to be.
As soon as the gameplay starts the memories come flooding back and from the moment Lara is sealed inside the ancient city of Villacamba it seems like we're back in 1995 playing the original game, only with better graphics and on a bigger TV.
The caverns and tunnels of the first few levels especially recapture the original, haunting Tomb Raider ambiance and give that dreadful isolating sensation of being alone with a city full of corpses and wolves.