17 April 2001 | Arctica
The series is getting tired
The first one was an awe-inspiring, ground-breaking triumph of a game, perfectly paced and plotted. I've played it all the way through 3 times now and I'm still not tired of it. The second, graphically far better, was not nearly so exciting or innovative, but it was eminently playable despite having way too many human adversaries. The third was beautiful to look at and in terms of playability was something of a return to form, though the shift from fantastic locations to more humdrum ones (London rooftops and subways??) made parts of the game (dare I say it?) rather dull. That said, it was still a great game with some very memorable moments. Number 4 was supposedly a return to TR's roots, though with the entire game based in pretty much the same place and all-too-similar environments, this was a duller-than-dull entry in the series. I was never hooked - it took me months to finish it.
TR Chronicles, while not quite so tedious as The Last Revelation, is a mere shadow of Lara's former glory. Graphically it's fine, though the block-based level design should long ago have been superseded by something more realistic. Playing Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine recently showed me what the later TR's *should* have been aiming for. Chronicles features several stories, none of them particularly involving, though the weaponless teen Lara on a remote Scottish island was quite cool and definitely the best adventure of the batch. And what's with the difficulty....? Tomb Raider had some pretty challenging moments (fire-topped pillars, anyone?), 2 and 3 were progressively harder (I don't think I could have got through 3 without a walkthrough). 4 was pretty tough in places as I recall (though it was such an unmemorable game that I can't really remember). But Tomb Raider Chronicles seems, by comparison, astonishingly easy. I didn't feel challenged. (Well, perhaps in terms of figuring out what to do next, but certainly not in terms of manoeuvring difficulty.)
Ratings for the series (out of 5):
Tomb Raider *****
Tomb Raider 2 ***
Tomb Raider 3 ****
The Last Revelation *1/2
Tomb Raider Chronicles **
The series needs to be either dropped or radically revitalised. Perhaps the forthcoming movie can do that. Let's hope so.