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The main game moves forward in time to present day Egypt and the scene is set by a marvelous fully rendered intro. This provides a truly forceful opening as the cut-scenes used during young Lara's adventures were all animated using the in-game engine. The detail within these FMV's must be seen to be believed as they once again set a new console high with footage such as this having previously only been witnessed on top end PC systems. Just how they cram an entire Tomb Raider game onto a single CD is beyond me?
The Last Revelation starts where all other Tomb Raider's have begun, in a cave. Lara is once more only semi-tooled up, armed with a set of matching pistols, 3 flares and a shiny new pair of binoculars. When the binos are equipped the distance may be adjusted by using the shoulder buttons, while a press of the action button illuminates the view, helping to see in the dark. As she moves through the game crossbows, grenades and a few new tasty surprises become available.
Last Revelation's redesigned inventory system offers Tomb Raider brand-new gameplay. The traditional inventory rings are now obsolete and the interface is totally redesigned, allowing items to be combined, collected and stored. For example mid-way through the game the all-new Laser Sight may be combined with the Revolver to provide a laser sighted revolver. This allows distant enemies to be zoomed into and specifically targeted. Strength of ammo may also be selected with normal or wideshot shotgun bullets available.
First impressions... definitely the resolution. The scenery is now a complete rendered environment without glitches or visible jointing. From the gloomy surroundings a young Egyptian guide can be seen helpfully lighting torches to brighten the way ahead. It's this sort of detail that leaves your jaw firmly rooted to the basement.
Lara starts the game wearing the very same clothes that she wore for her first adventure in the tombs. With extra long pony tail bobbing around Lara herself has been remodeled appearing fully skinned and more detailed. Handling is much the same, so expect the usual tweaking and adjusting of the D-pad to line Lara up accurately. She can once again be guided by using the left analog stick, while the right allows the camera angle to be adjusted. A noticeable improvement is when Lara looks around. This action now seems so fluid compared to her last outing allowing all corners to be scanned meticulously.
Once again the sound department have come up tops. When unloading the contents of the pistol in the confined area of the cave there is a resounding echo as the bullet ricochet off the stone walls and onto the ground. Meanwhile the wind whistling through the caves, fire from the flaming torches crackle and spit, and Lara's footsteps are amplified by the hollow surroundings. The combination of these effects is amazing. When the tempo rises, so does the music. When the action eases, it helps soothe your wounds. To gain maximum effect I would recommend that your Playstation be connected to a suitable hi-fi system.
Friend or Foe?
Moving through the cave it's feels great to have Lara back in my hands again. There's a pick-up! Oh, there's another one! This seems too easy to be true, health packs, ammo and flares seem everywhere..... Arrrggghhh! A poisonous scorpion was guarding that particular item. Blam! Blam! Take a bite from these little creatures and your health gradually decreases until either a health pack is used up... or death!
A little further... Suddenly the camera switches from the normal third person perspective into first person mode... only it's not Lara's eye's that are being looked through... it's the eye of a wolf. The scavenger slowly sneaks close up behind our heroin... and there's nothing you can do... but wait... and watch. At the last possible moment control is placed back into your hands. With a roll, and a jump, and a Blam! Blam! Blam! She escapes unscathed. Phew! But it's this type of cinematic camera work that adds tremendously to the overall enjoyment of TR4.
The enemies are a comfortable mixture of human, animal and beast. I fondly recall a recent episode where Lara was trapped in an enclosed corridor with a rampaging bull. Several gouges, and many deaths later I realized that by standing near a door she could entice the creature to charge towards her. By side jumping out of the way at the last possible moment the bull smashed down the door opening a whole new area. So this would continue until the final escape route was revealed. Challenging... but different.
The enemy AI is certainly impressive this time around. Spiders and poisonous beetles will no longer lie tamely down below taking punishment as Lara stands safely on a rock she had just jumped upon. Now they will climb right up there after her. Some areas of the game must be revisited a number of times, just don't expect all to remain the same. In one particular set of ruins a few scorpions proved easy prey. The next time I went there flying bats attacked. A third time the place was alive with Ninja Warriors, who incidentally can do everything that Lara is capable of. Try shaking them off if you can.
Other beasties include indestructible mummies (you cannot kill what is already dead) and skeleton soldiers who rise from out of the earth. Flying fiery demons should not be tackled unless Lara is near a pool of water because the slightest contact sets her clothing instantly on fire. I've also come across crocodiles, dogs, and many armed humans, but I'm sure there are a lot more surprises in store further into the game.
The biggest plus must be that when an enemy is killed as they now disappear into the dust from whence they came. This means you no longer have to search every single body for keys or goodies, as anything of interest is all that remains visible.
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