"Some girls just don't know when to quit"
, as pc.ign.com so eloquently put it and I personally cannot agree with them more. Not only is this game using the same tired game engine as did the 3rd and 4th editions but little has changed in anything else! They are milking this game for all it's worth right now and the only reason I can see it surviving is because of the upcoming Tomb Raider Movie (Starring Angelina).
So, why did I pick up the fifth in the series (and hopefully the last)? Well, the 1st one was the best game I had ever played (at the time) - was one of my first and I played it in all things ... DOS. So, after beating that game I was thoroughly looking forward to the 2nd one - picked it up and I wasn't disappointed. Beat it and loved it. Naturally, I was looking forward to the 3rd one ... thinking it would continue the trend. Improved graphics, new moves, special effects, character models *grins*
, however I was disgusted with it once I got it.
Sure, the engine had been rewritten and Lara looked incredible (as did her surroundings) but the one thing that kept me from playing that game was that you had a limited amount of saves. You see, you could only save as many times as the amount of crystals you had ... thus, you'd have to play the level over and over again to find the best part to save - or you couldn't. Needless to say I didn't play past the 1st level.
After this disgusting display I was hoping that the 4th one will get rid of the limited saves, while offering a new engine, new moves, etc. - basically heading in the trend that 1 - 2 did. Once again, I was hurt. Not only was the engine the same but the game's controls were messed up. They got rid of the limited amount of saves, and added a few special effects to the engine but the story went nowhere. I didn't play past the 2nd level.
The story opens with a nicely rendered FMV depicting Lara's disappearance after her last adventure. Her loved ones are all at her mansion and morn their loss. They proceed to the study in the mansion and talk about Lara's past exploits - "exploits that have until now remained a secret ..." Ohhh... how's that for a story? We then see Lara at an Opera in Rome making a deal for a stolen gem. She get's double-crossed, then kicks butt, blah blah ... normal Tomb Raider scenario.
The graphics engine as I mentioned above has been reused since the 3rd game and remains dull, crappy and way behind the times. Sure a few new special effects have been added and the engine has been "cleaned up" a bit but that does really warrant a new game? Pathetic looking models and flat 2D ladders plastered on the walls is something that we've all come to expect from the series.
What's more, if the camera angles were screwed up enough in the previous games (anyone who's played any of the TR series knows exactly what I'm talking about) now the camera bobs up and down as Lara walks. Great. In addition to getting pissed off with everything else in the game I have to get sea sick as well.
To turn the tables a little bit, sound EFFECTS in the game have improved a wee-bit. While swimming under water you do get that ambient, space-effect that you hear under water. Then however, you can't help but be annoyed at the over-exaggerated "Uugh!" grunt that Lara lets out every time she pulls herself up a ledge. Sound in the game is well ... neither here nor there only popping up to add suspense to the moment (like the previous games).
Oh boy, the interface of the game. Menus more closely resembling the jagged, blurry, hard-to-read PSX text than anything else, TRC has hit another low. Navigating through them is another pain, as nothing is laid out in an accessible manner. There aren't a lot of options in the game to tweak so you're left with more of a general looking game rather than one that is customized for your system. Again, more like the PSX version than anything else.The same moves have been incorporated into the game, along with four new ones: tightrope walking, a hand to hand stealth attack and parallel bar swinging. Again, are these moves enough to warrant a new game? I don't think so...To top it all off, the game takes up it's usual 1.5MB space on your HDD (basically it's just the startup icon) and everything
is read from the CDROM. So, you're left with jerky gameplay, freezes midgame while your CDROM winds up and sluggish movies.One nice addition to the game is the included Level Editor on the 2nd CD. It, along with the game are incredibly stable (haven't crashed once). Though the level editor is kind of fun to mess around with at first, personally I can't see a ton of people using it. It could've been released as a download for previous TR games rather than spending $50 CDN on it and some new moves.
Just kill Lara now, and let whatever dignity is left live on.