Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness
Developer: Core Design
I will admit upfront, I am one of the few gamers who have never played a Tomb Raider game. I’ve seen it played. I understand the franchise. So I thought I’d take a peek at what all the fuss is about.
Apparently, this isn’t the best game for an introduction.
This was hurried off the production line in an attempt to alleviate some budget problems at Eidos, so we essentially have a beta game, complete with glitches, crashes and a feel of un-completeness. The graphics are tight enough (although nothing mind blowing and littered with glitches – like you can’t see the gun you are shooting, but you see it get put on your back when not in use), but the storyline and game play are so linear and stiff it makes the game slow and generally boring.
The bulk of the game revolves around hard jumps and “unlocking” puzzles (which usually revolve around hard jumps). The enemy AI is dull at best and not a challenge. Just button mash and shoot whomever. The environments are incredibly sterile and the only things interactable are the obvious switches and levers. Can’t even shoot through glass. The only “challenge” if there is one, is trying to figure out the puzzles to progress to the next level. Frustratingly enough, many of them revolve around just making difficult jumps to get to a switch. Hasn’t this all been done into the ground before? And new features like the auto-grab function have become an annoyance too; Lara automatically grabs onto ladders as you try to run her past them, or auto-vaults over railings to her death many hundreds of feet below if you run her into them.
The “die repeatedly” to get past certain areas becomes monotonous. Many of the “deaths” are pretty unavoidable so it becomes a “save and repeat” process to get through the game. Controls are stiff. Rather than incorporating smooth movement, Tomb Raider uses a system in which a keystroke executes a small maneuver (a step taken, a jump made, a ladder climbed), but they are such follow-through actions that if you start doing too many in a row, they get skipped or make your character twitch around and not execute the move you are attempting. So it’s a very “stroke the key – wait for action” play, over and over.
The story line seemed rushed and although I got some idea about some “Obscura paintings” I was after, the game just jumped right in with a death of a colleague, some minimal dialog and then I was off doing the “die and save” through various missions. It got old quick and I doubt I made it halfway through this before running into areas so frustrating it just wasn’t worth the payoff of the next area (since it was generally the same thing, different lights).
I quit after about 5-6 hours of game play tops. Very unsatisfied. This game just moves too slow. Enemies aren’t challenging and neither is the game play. “Frustrating” is a better adjective to describe Angel of Darkness than “fun.”