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July 23, 2007
Tomb Raider: Anniversary - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
7/6/2007AtariCrystal Dynamics1MMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
295KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneYes

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This game looks pretty nice.
If you like Tomb Raider then you're probably well aware of this title being released. What you may not realise is that Tomb Raider Anniversary isn't an entirely new game, but rather a remake of the original PSOne titles. While the series burst onto the scene a decade ago to much critical praise each subsequent title seems to be taking a backwards step culminating in the diabolicle release that was Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness.

So disappointed in the title was publishers Eidos that they took the franchise away from creators Core Design, and handed it to American codeship Crystal Dynamics. Could the British heroine be as successful with an American developer? You better believe it as Tomb Raider: Legend was the best game in the series, well, ever. Now Crystal Dynamics have released this title which isn't a direct port of the originals, but rather takes heavy inspiration and updates it for a whole new generation of gamers, and hardware.

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Expect plenty of puzzles.
So for the half dozen of you around the world that haven't heard of this series it follows the fortunes of explorer and archaeologist Lara Croft as she explores ruins around the world in search of all manner of treasures - in the case of this game it's the Scion of Atlantis. Along the way she'll encounter wild animals to contend with, some humans also after the same treasures, plenty of acrobatic jumps and climbs and even some puzzles to solve.

The first thing that really hits you about this remake is the imrpovements made to the control system. Gone are the stop-start controls which plagued, and some would say hindered, the original PSOne titles, and in its place is a control scheme, and fluidity, which Crystal Dynamics used in their last tile Tomb Raider: Legend.

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Hang on, is this Jurassic Park?
Levels have also been dramatically changed to suit the more powerful hardware in this game. With levels taking place in Egypt, Greece, and Peru to name a couple of locations the actual levels are now a lot larger then in the original game. What gamers will realise is that this game focuses more on exploration and discovery then later titles which have focused more on the action. With that in mind Crystal Dynamics have put in plenty of hidden areas as well as artifacts to discover. Enemies all now move with much more fluidity and realism then in the original title - something which you would expect in a remake with technology and tools a decade newer then the original release had. Also bumped up are the number of puzzles located throughout the levels. Most though are simply find the switch, toggle the switch and move on.

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Lara hangs onto the ledge!
There aren't too many disappointments with this title at all. Sure, for gamers that played the original games some of the levels may seem familiar - is that really a surprise though as it's a remake? We have to admit that we were a bit disappointed that while returning to the games exploration and 'Tomb Raiding' roots, there wasn't more action in the game. It really is quite a bit slower paced then we expected - it probably wouldn't have hurt to increase the enemy count in the earlier parts of the game - a couple of humans to shoot rather then all manner of wildlife wouldn't have gone astray. Despite claims of improved AI the game still struggles in parts - we suspect the developers have used some of the original code - certainly some of the enemies don't appear to be much more intelligent then we remember them from the PSOne days, and they certainly up to the standards set by more recent PS2 titles.

We have to admit that this game looks pretty special - well at the very least it's well in advance of the original titles. The game engine which Crystial Dynamics has developed allows for not only Widescreen support but also Progressive Scan. Lara Croft looks pretty special as well and is now modeled on the more recent PS2 games. The animation, as you would expect, has also been suitably improved with much more fluidity and quite a few new moves over the original PSOne titles. Backgrounds have been given a similar boost in quality while the areas have been reworked for much more open spaces rather then the confined areas of the original. All this is backed with a fairly solid frame rate which keeps the action moving at all times. Now the only problem is that the game looks quite jaggie on a HD LCD TV - perhaps I'm just getting too used to HD gaming on the PS3, but it certainly looks worse the most other PS2 games to me.

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Ohhh, nice waterfall...
Audio in the game has also been reworked extensively. There are now quite a few more sound effects, the music is a lot more atmospheric and dynamic (at least I think it is as I don't have the original to compare to) while the overal ambience is now assisted with the inclusion of Dolby Pro Logic II support.

Overall we've thorougly enjoyed playing through Tomb Raider: Anniversary. Sure it may not quite be as complete, or coherant as a dedicated title, but it's pretty damn close. Those who never played the earlier Tomb Raider titles would do well to grab this game while even seasoned veterans will love both the familiarity, and the changes made to classic levels for this title. In stores now at the bargain price of only $69.95.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version).
GRAPHICSWhile not as good as recent games, this is still very impressive.
SOUNDSome solid effects and music make this an aural treat.
GAMEPLAYThe original games have been totally reworked, and improved!
VALUEOnly $AU69.95 for a wonderful addition to the Tomb Raider library.
OVERALLTomb Raider: Anniversary meets all the expectations we had for the game, and then some. Sure it's not quite up there with a totally new game in the series, but it's not far off at all. Very enjoyable, and another surprise hit on the PS2.

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