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I cannot believe that anyone out there has never heard of computer game icon (and soon to be movie star) Lara Croft, so we\\'ll cut the quick and get straight down to basics. Tomb Raider Chronicles is the fifth title to appear on Playstation and once again sticks rigidly to the action/adventure style of play that has proved popular for almost half a decade. Players can once more take full control of the versatile Miss Croft as she can run, jump, swim, roll, crawl, vault, climb, duck, grab, monkey swing and shoot her way through vast 3D levels against a multitude of enemies.
Tomb Raider: Chronicles begins where Revelation left off with a cool CG movie showing the funeral of Lara Croft. But has she really left us? Did she actually snuff it? Will she really be pushing up the daisies forever more? Apparently so… as far as Playstation 1 is concerned (a demo of Lara on PS2 can be uncovered and she doesn\\'t look much like a rotting corpse to me). In \\'good old fashioned\\' movie tradition when the main star had died you can always rely on \\'the good old fashioned\\' flashback mode. Revealing four newly discovered, and previously untold adventures, Chronicles takes you on a journey from the ruins of Rome, to the bowels of a German U boat, to the rooftops of a hi-tech city in a search of four ancient artifacts. You even get a second chance to control young Lara on the Black Isle.
Since Miss Croft has supposedly died it would be inappropriate to begin with a training session at her stately mansion, therefore it has been incorporated into the first flashback level. So what can we learn that hasn\\'t been well practiced before? Apart from a little tightrope walking and the ability to move across parallel bars… not a lot… but then Lara was such a versatile athlete before her sad demise. Core Design have also tried to add a little stealth to her repertoire (sneaking up, hand-to-hand) but it falls way short of the mark, especially after experiencing the MGS and Syphon Filter games.
After brushing up on maneuvers I began to wonder if I really want to trail through another lengthy TR game. I found myself asking if it was worth being such an unsociable bastard over the entire Christmas holidays, spending every spare moment attempting to climb over a damn pyramid, or solving a frustrating block puzzle, or escaping from a huge prehistoric monster…. …suddenly the music erupts! You just know something unexpected is about to happen! What\\'s that shuffling about in the distance? It\\'s gone! WHHAAAA! A dog pounces out (Resident Evil style)… BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! Dead meat! Within a split second all your questions are answered… of course you want some more. I suppose you could always dust off Tomb Raider 2 again, but it\\'s not quite the same when you know what lurks up ahead in the dark…
The puzzle element moves away from pushing huge blocks and concentrates on complex jumps, scaling great heights and more than a spot of target shooting using the appropriate add-on gadget. This keeps the pace of the game moving along nicely, until you get hopelessly stuck (and you will).
I think the real beauty about Chronicles is in its concept. Rather than trailing through a seemingly never-ending tale you get four miniature stories that have a beginning, middle and end offering a welcome change of pace. Furthermore each has an affinity to all four past adventures, so there\\'s something in this for everybody… gladiators to lions, tunnels to mazes, monks to monsters, snowy landscapes to enclosed tombs, youth to beauty, city rooftops to watery chasms.
Graphically you would hardly think that the engine used in Revelations has been touched… and why should it? Most of the rough edges from past TR games were ironed out long ago resulting in a scenery that is a complete rendered environment without glitches or visible jointing. Lara again starts the game wearing the very same clothes that she wore for her first adventure in the tombs, but expect a neat black leather number in the latter stages. Handling is much the same, so expect the usual tweaking and adjusting of the D-pad to line Lara up accurately.
Sound effects are up to the usual Tomb Raider standards. When unloading the contents of the pistol in the confined area there is a resounding echo as the bullet ricochet off the walls and onto the ground. Bells ring in the background, birds chirping and chattering, wind whistling through the trees, dogs howling in the distance and the pitter-pat of Lara\\'s tiny feet. The combination of these effects is amazing. When the tempo rises, so does the music. When the action eases, it helps soothe your wounds. On the downside the awesome music once again only appears in fits and starts. Please, Core, can we have back our continuous, flowing soundtrack for the next TR game? Finally some superb character voice acting that puts the final gloss on another wonderful product elevates the cut-scenes.
In summary Tomb Raider Chronicles is more of the same, so why change a winning formula?
· Utilize new moves to overcome obstacles: tightrope walking, parallel bar swinging, and a hand-to-hand stealth attack.
· Enhanced inventory system for greater combinations of a variety of weapons and items.
· Search through cabinets, shelves and drawers for inventory items.
· Discover the back story: four unique scenarios from the past that give more details about Lara\\'s young and adult life as well as characters from previous adventures.
1 Block required on Memory card per save (min)
Up to 1 Players (without Multi-tap)
Uses Dual Shock Pad Buttons
Uses Dual Shock Pad Analog Sticks
Uses Dual Shock Pad Vibration facility
REVIEW SCORE GUIDE:
We promise that we have fully played 'Tomb Raider 5 (Chronicles)' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
SUMMARY OF FINAL RATING (%)
00 - 59 This makes your console seem like an older machine. It utilises little or none of the PSone power.
60 - 69 This game is little more than average and we advise renting or play-testing before considering a purchase.
70 - 79 This is a good solid title that should still appeal to those who like this type of game.
80 - 89 This is a fantastic game that we think you will enjoy playing for quite some time.
90 - 100 This game either pushes the boundaries of it's genre further than ever before on this system, or creates a completely new gaming experience. Either way, it should not be missed and is an essential purchase in our opinion.
IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ:
It is very important that you are aware that the criteria we use to obtain review scores on the PS2 is very different to that used for games on the original Playstation (PSone). The Processing and Graphical power of the two consoles are vastly different and as our reviews are graded against what we estimate is the achievable potential of each system, it does not mean in any way that a game scoring 80 percent on PS2 is worse than a Playstation (PSone) equivalent which scores 95.
A more detailed breakdown of this guide can be read here.
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