playstation homepage   Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review
PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews

Absolute PlayStation: REVIEW
At Last..!
A.P.I FeatureYep, it's finally arrived... the final code for Tomb Raider 3. Lara Croft is back in her most daring adventure to date.

Unable to disappoint her fans, Lara returns for a third instalment that easily surpasses her prior adventures. The action adventure will once again send Lara spanning the globe from the deserts of Nevada to the islands of the South Pacific.

In a search to find four mysterious artifacts from the heart of an ancient meteorite, Lara journeys through five challenging zones packed with new puzzles, hidden traps and ruthless enemies.

Here is our in-depth review of Tomb Raider 3: Adventures of Lara Croft.


The Story Unfolds...
      Millions of years ago a meteor burns through the earths atmosphere and smashes into the then warm climate of Antarctica. Flames engulf the area as all wild-life is barbecued, insects torched and plant life severely scorched. A very warm welcome to the Adventures of Lara Croft - Tomb Raider 3. As gripping an FMV opening as we could have hoped and prayed for.

The first people to discover this land were a tribe of Polynesians. Despite the now freezing conditions there was an abnormal abundance of life and the tribe settled, worshipping the meteorite crater for the powers it seemed to hold. generations later though catastrophic events forced them to flee in terror.

After the initial gripping impact the scenery quickly moves on to present day Antarctica where geologists are mining for segments of the ancient meteor. A small explosion semi-reveals buried ancient statues looking strangely like those found on Easter Island.

The excavation research company; RX Tech begin picking up unusual readings from the impact zone. It is here where they discover the body of a sailor from Charles Darwin's voyage of the Beagle. It seems that a few of the sailors had briefly explored the crater's interior.... The plot thickens.

The research company eventually discover the sailors journal and it reveals the parts of the globe where other sailors travelled to... and died... One of these places is India where Lara Croft is currently carrying out a search for the Infada artifact. She knows it holds great powers but she will soon discover much more...

The Mansion...
      After the opening movie I decided to take the short trip back to Lara's house. Beginning in her bedroom (the precise location where we left her in TR2) my vision was immediately transfixed towards her assets... breast reduction! That's right! All you girlies who followed Lara's trend and packed your boobs with silicon implants had better book a return appointment with the surgeon. The sporty look is in! Lara appeared to be slimmer and trimmer after her well earned break wearing a tight black boob tube and a pair of camouflage leg-ins that must surely have been sprayed onto her lower body.

{short description of image} It feels good to have Lara back in my hands again. Tomb Raider is now analog compatible although the control sticks take a little getting used to. Lara can now be guided by using the left analog stick while the right allows the camera angle to be adjusted. This feels strange at first but I'm sure with practice and perseverance this feature should be an overall improvement. Tomb Raider III manages to combine many of the favorite elements from the last two games with the all new features. Lara can still climb, swim, hang, drop, push and pull crates. She can also grapple hand over hand. Oh... and yes she can still perform the sexy handstand. A jump, a roll, a side-step, a slow walk, a look around and the all new crawl on hands and knees - yep, everything seems to be in working order.

The red and orange glow of the burning log fire create a relaxing atmosphere to her newly decorated bedroom - even the bed has been recovered and refurbished. The bathroom now has a large sunken bath (twice the size of before) with a wicked black marble floor covering.

Ah,ha.. I'll just pick up a few of those weapons that I left in the cupboard the last time I was here. A click of the wall switch near the bed opens the door and... nothing. Don't be fooled as virtually everything has been moved around, tweaked and improved for Lara's latest adventure.

Wandering out into the large hallway the echo effect of her footsteps are broken by the groaning, clinking and farting of... you guessed it... the butlers back in tow! One year older but still willing to follow Ms Croft to the end of the earth, and who could blame him.

Inside Lara's mansion we see the return of the gym where she can practice her many new moves on a brand new set of equipment (essential for beginners). Outside, the maze is now mysteriously locked. Perhaps we will discover a key towards the end of the game? There is also a new assault course and if you have a good look around you may just find some bonus ammo (Ah,ha!) to help you at the start of the real game. Oh, and take look at those MGS style footprints when Lara walks in the sand... cool!

Unfortunately the aging butler cannot venture outside but thankfully he is replaced by an elderly gardener who also insists on tracking Lara's every move. Best of all is when get him to follow you to the all new shooting range. It wasn't until I wandered onto the range for a little target practice that I noticed something was strapped to the gardener chest. Get this... a large target. Go on, shoot him! I dare you!

New Moves...
      Enough of this shenanigan! Let's get into the real game, proper.

Options remain in the tried and trusted format. The shoulder buttons have been slightly altered to cater for two brand new actions... crawl and sprint. The top two buttons still allow Lara to walk and look around, but stealth has now been added to Lara's repertoire of movements as she can now drop to her knees, crawl along the floor and into narrow shafts.

When jogging along at her usual pace a press of the sprint button see's Lara drop her head and move up a couple of gears. This may only be used for short periods of time before she slows back down again as this ability is recharged (which is fair enough as she's only human...!!!!).

The passport book allows you to save and load the game. There are five variations of button settings for the standard, analog and dual shock joypads. Your in-game inventory records all weapons, ammo and health collected while displaying time taken, secrets found, shooting statistics and distance travelled.

Brave New Adventures...
      Lara Croft's new adventure begins in the jungles of India. You first gain control of her on a very narrow platform high, high above the swampy terrain. Look all around and you see various types of moss covered rocks, luscious green leaves, creepers loosely hanging from trees, sunbeams straining to peep through the dense overhead foliage, birds chirpings their favorite tune, the noise of crickets all around, wild animals shuffling through the undergrowth in hunt for prey, it's raining - that tropical constant drizzle which is pretty to look at but but soaks right through. Both sound and vision create an atmosphere that is electric.

{short description of image} One step forward - the camera moves into action.
Two steps forward - the camera falls behind Lara.
Three steps forward - Aaaarrrggghhh!

Sliding down a steep slippery rocky slope is not a good idea when you cannot see your final destination through the pitch darkness below. An overhanging tree limb! Respite! A press of the jump button and Lara leaps forward and clings onto the branch, hauls herself up and takes time out for thought and careful planning.

A small monkey falls from the tree and strolls back and forth in front of her. It occasionally stops and nibbles on a twig. Shoot it! Why? It seems harmless enough. I tried two courses of action. First I pulled out my pistols and pumped half a dozen bullets into the cute little fluffy animal. Blood spurted out of it's veins like a fountain... must have hit the jugular. Yes, creatures and humans now spurt blood for the very first time with each bullet that enters the body. The monkey eventually died but not before it had scratched and clawed at Lara's legs. I then restarted the game only this time I left the creature well alone. Hmm, bit like the monks from the last game... shoot one, shoot the lot. Leave well alone and they seem to helpfully guide you towards concealed openings. Maybe it's just my imagination?

Back to business. A backward jump and it's on the slippery slope again. Up ahead I notice a layer of nasty looking spikes so it's a sideways jump with Lara landing on a narrow ledge. Run forward, avoid the rolling boulder and leap into the dense foliage where a camouflaged platform saves your fall - first secret revealed. Back on the slope again. A few nifty moves later and Lara eventually reaches the bottom. Two directions - which is best? Tomb Raider 3 now has multiple choice routes and with skillful maneuvering you can now actually cut corners. Unfortunately the shortest route may not always be the best as I soon found out by carelessly wandering into a river of quicksand. Glug! Glug! Dead!

Saving Progress...
      It's now major decision time. Do you dare use one of your precious save beacons? I found the save system in the first Tomb Raider fine but during the second I was constantly stop - starting the game by saving after every tricky jump.

Tomb Raider 3 hits the nail straight on the head. Find a secret or come across a glowing icon and you are rewarded with a save beacon which drops into your inventory. It's now up to you whether you waste one of these precious icons or try to get that little bit further. This system increases the gameplays and tension ten-fold to a point where it now actually hurts when Lara dies.

Tiger! Tiger!
      Tomb Raider III definitely moves the difficulty up yet another notch but for those who made it to the end of Lara's first two adventures it should prove a fair fight. A word of warning about the many switches that must be activated... some are very well camouflaged. I wandered around for quite some time seeking an exit from a certain area only to find the switch was glaring me in the face. Keys are another sore point. So many times I walked over a key without realizing it and had to back track several rooms. If completely lost... check all walls and floors carefully and USE YOUR FLARES! There are plenty of them lying around.
{short description of image}
Many of you complained that there were too many humans and not enough creatures in the last game. The balance seems to have been put right because in the opening section I must have faced at least six tigers, dozens of monkeys and a few rather large vultures that all now strike at a frightening speed.

Don't worry that there are only five levels because each is divided into several massive sections. It took me about two hours to work my way through the opening section in India and I must have missed out on half of the pick-ups and secrets. If you really want to take your time and investigate every nook and cranny then the first zone could take days to complete.

The second Indian level, Temple Ruins, takes you down and around the dingy sewers where giant Cobras rest among the shaded shrubbery. In this level the water effects and use of lighting are staggering. I can think of nothing more pleasing than strolling along the pleasant surroundings of the river bank, climbing over rather large roots of and ancient oak tree and gazing over the calm, crystal clear waters where schools of pink piranha fish swim around in perfect formation as your mind begins to wander. Suddenly an enormous snake pounces. Once bite and the poison slowly drains Lara's health so take care and look before you leap. Furthermore that peaceful river must be breached to reach a switch on the far side - yep, piranhas and all. Should you fail then the razor sharp fish tear Lara to shreds leaving her in a cloud of blood red water.

Moving further into the India level Lara is soon getting her leg over... a rather cool buggy. The handling is excellent - a grumble I had with the second TR game. At the beginning of the buggy level you reach a section of cave that branches in two directions. Now both may arrive at the same location but once you decide which way to go there is no going back. This gives Tomb Raider 3 a massive replay value as there is another complete level to discover by taking the alternative route.

After negotiating a rather confusing maze level Lara faces the end of world Boss, who was fairly easy to dispose of. You have now reached the section of the game where three new worlds open and the decision is entirely yours as to which order they must be played. The final world is not available until all others have been completed.

Tricks and Traps...
      Another of the levels is set in a missile factory which is packed with tricks and traps. I hardly had time to practice a few of the new moves when a guard came running towards her with guns ablazing. A couple of direct hits in the torso soon slowed him down.

{short description of image}Moving slowly along the darkened corridor she accidently wanders through a line of very fine trip beams which set the alarm bells ringing and wall mounted security light flashing. Perhaps if she had crawled beneath the lowest beam this would not have triggered the alarm... too late now... sprint for it.

Glancing out of the window to the left a dimly lit courtyard is only just made visible by the red sky at night and the occasional flash from the revolving security light. Further down the corridor are more trip beams... only this time connected to a wall mounted machine gun. Hmmm... there must be a safer route through. Backtracking down the corridor a small duct is only just visible in which Lara can drop onto her hands and knees and squeeze her way through. Unfortunately this is the alternative route... but equally as dangerous.

Moving on a little Lara eventually ends up in the aforementioned courtyard where an enemy agent armed with a infra-red targeting gun begins stalking her. Combining the crawl motion while shooting allows her to take cover and fire from behind an object. Once again lining up the enemy with her trusty pistols is automatic and not only do they produce a blinding flare when fired... but smoke rises from the barrels after each series of shots. Likewise, when a rocket or grenade explodes a thick black cloud of smoke gradually dissolves into the atmosphere.

Major improvements..!
      There have been many technical improvements to the latest Tomb Raider adventure. First of all there is the use of a faster game engine. Expect to witness multi-colored lighting and improved Dynamic lighting. Each of the enemies AI and combat techniques have been improved, while new landscape system allow for complex architectural structures and organic surfaces / objects. There is also a vast improvement over effects such as rippling, transparent water, reflections and semi-transparencies. Apparently the PlayStation version runs in Hi-Res from 384 x 240 to 512 x 240.

{short description of image}Apart from a whole new wardrobe of costumes for Lara she will have the use of a selection of high powered weapons such as a grenade launcher, desert eagle and rocket launcher. These will be essential as she must face more enemies then both Tomb Raider I and II combined.

Of course the inclusion of vehicles was a massive plus on her second adventure therefore the inclusion of canoes, quad bikes, mine carts, underwater propulsion units and snow vehicles are warmly welcomed.

There has also been many cosmetic enhancements added to Tomb Raider III. Now leaves can be seen blowing around the floor areas while footprints will remain visible in the snow and sand.

Expect weather effects such as snow, wind, rain, fog, mist and darkness. Other addition include birds flying around certain environments.

Tomb Raider III sees Lara heading off to several locations. Beginning from the Indian jungle she will then move on to the rooftops and sewers of London, the high security compound of Area 51 in Nevada, a little island hopping in the South Pacific before reaching the climax of her adventure on an Antarctic Island.

Once the first stage has been passed the gamer may decide which order each world should be played. Get stuck? Move onto another world. Leaping across the rooftops of London at night is mighty impressive with St Pauls Cathedral captured in all of it's glory. In the Antarctic level the large falling snowflakes look ultra realistic, while the underwater scenes cannot fail to impress as bubbles have been added to the many stunning lighting effects.

Value for Money...
      What can I say... Of course it is. Go get it now!

GRAPHICS: 20/20 The only reason Tomb Raider 3 failed to get a maximum 100% is because there could be another one next year... and the year after... so I decided to leave a few marks for any possible improvement (which I doubt on this system).

I have given maximum marks for graphics because, I am sure you will agree, they surely exceed far beyond the wildest dreams of what Sony originally thought the Playstation 32-bit console was capable of. They are that good.

In gameplay terms Lara's latest adventures are by far the best... but don't expect an easy ride. Core have reached a fine balance between frustration and challenge that should suit most punters. There is also the new save system which will frustrate the Hell out of you, but leave no-one to blame but yourself. Clever!

Upgrades of weapons hardly appear in the first world - I could only find a shotgun, but Lara's standard issue pistol is suffice. Once again the lighting effects when a weapon is fired are top of the range and check that smoke coming out from the end of the barrels.

I would definitely recommend playing with 2 memory cards... just so you can quickly skip back and take a look at the massive sections of a level you missed.

Only complaint would be the highly camouflaged switches and collectibles, especially the keys. A slight glint or twinkle would have been helpful. Still...!

Some will tell you that Tomb Raider 3 is too hard. I say if you can't stand the heat.... then get out of the jungle.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 20/20


GRAPHICS: 19/20 Another fine effort from Core. I found the third TR to be the charm for me, you see I have always had this love/hate relationship going with this series. Yeah, I have always liked the character design (hehehe) and fascinating plot lines, but have never really liked the control or over experience. I usually end up playing a level or two and then putting it down for a while.

Well, this one was different...besides the damn annoying levers that you still have to find the game plays out great! The levels are just the right size, the hi-res graphics look gorgeous and the analog control totally works for me. Overall, a nice tight package...
SOUND: 8/10
VALUE: 18/20


What You Can Expect...
      In a nutshell, here are some of the more notable features that will appear in the game when it's launched during November '98.

* Re-vamped game engine includes a new landscaping system for richer terrain detail.

* New reflection system for realistic transparencies and shadows

* Vastly improved AI for Lara's numerous enemies

* Amazing new weather effects including rain, snow and mist.

* Moving water surfaces and particle systems for added realism

* Improved dynamic lighting and multi-colored lighting for more atmospheric environments

* A host of new moves for Lara, including a speed dash to get out of sticky situations

* New game structure enables the player to choose the order in which to play levels

* Hi-resolution screen graphics for the first time on the PlayStation

* Dual Shock Analog support for the PlayStation

please note that this article should not be reproduced in any form without the permission of Absolute Playstation