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COMPUTING

Lara Croft returns to the Playstation for one Last Revelation

December 7, 1999
Web posted at: 2:13 p.m. EST (1913 GMT)

by The Freshman

From...
Games.net
screenshot

(IDG) -- It's Indiana Jones meets Barbie again, as Lara Croft dusts off her shotgun and short-shorts in Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. This game improves upon the ancient treasure-hunting series, but still has a long way to go to reach the gold.

Game, set, and match

Lara Croft has really done it this time. In her never-ending pursuit of ancient, glittery objects, she unwittingly unleashes Set, an evil Egyptian god of death. Lara must depend on her skill, wit, and good looks to find out the secret that will put Set to rest for good.

Meanwhile, a figure from Lara's sketchy past has resurfaced, and he'll not rest until Ms. Croft gets offed. The story contains more twists and turns than the fiendish puzzles you'll have to solve to win.

The Last Revelation differs from previous Tomb Raider games in many ways, including the all-new inventory system (in which you can combine different objects to solve puzzles, improve your weapons, etc.) and a new graphics engine which shows off Lara's spooky destinations with aplomb.

The whole game takes place in shadowy tombs in Egypt, rather than in various places all over the globe, and you have new enemies to kill, like skeletons and mummies. These changes are nice, but unfortunately it's the things that didn't change that threaten to bring this game down.

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Driving Miss Lara

Tomb Raider has managed to survive four games without much-needed improvements in control. Moving Lara about is like driving a riding lawnmower; you have to stop running to turn corners with precision, you must press a "walk" button to sidestep or approach ledges, and controlling precision jumps and rope-swings is an exercise in luck and frustration.

Lara has a LOT of moves, but you'll never have exactly the precision you'll need to flow smoothly through the game. New moves are very nice, but if it's annoying to use them, then nothing is gained.

Core Design's level designers get better with each new game. The puzzles are often devilishly difficult but somehow very simple, and the levels themselves are works of art, with tunnels, hidden rooms and the like. It's obvious that they wanted to emphasize puzzles over gunfighting in this one, as enemies are generally scarce as you run about in search of levers, keys or special items.

The Last Revelation looks and sounds better than the previous three games, too. Dynamic lighting illuminates gorgeous hallways and huge chambers, and ambient noises (with the periodic sprinkles of "mood music") bring these ancient tombs to life. At times you may be tempted to stop and look around, just from the beauty of your surroundings.

The graphics aren't perfect, with texture warping and funky-looking character models, but the design of the levels and the lighting sometimes make you forget that your PlayStation could use a little Oil of Olay.

The end?

With a title like "The Last Revelation," fans have to wonder if this is the last time we'll see Ms. Croft in her world-famous li'l treasure-hunting outfit. Core made a lot of improvements to the series in their fourth try, but there's still a bit to be done. Hey, maybe one more try will be enough to make it perfect....

Graphics:
It's the level design that does it, but the game looks rather nice. Dynamic lighting and brilliant design help The Last Revelation look better than your average PSX fare.

Sound:
You're left with soft, atmospheric sound that really brings these tombs to life. Small patches of music nail home the dramatic parts of the game, but otherwise you're raiding tombs in relative silence.

Control:
The Tomb Raider control scheme was designed sadists who like making players attempt the same jumps over and over and over again. The sheer variety of moves (and therefore options for getting through a tough area) keeps the game from being unbearable to play.

Fun Factor:
There's a lot of good in this game, but fighting the control scheme on such a constant basis really wears down the Fun Factor. When you know exactly how to get through an area, but it still takes an hour to get by because the control is so iffy, you rapidly lose the will to win.

Pro tips

  • Keep your eyes peeled for the golden skull artifacts in the training level. If you get all eight, your "Race to the Iris" level will be different than if you didn't get them all.

  • When you're hanging on a rope and need a little push, press R2 to swing the rope. You can't jump off of a rope, so this is the only way you can reach certain places.

  • Keep your guns out when you're walking through dark areas. When enemies pop out that you can't see, Lara will aim her guns at them.

  • If you have a guide, he's there for a reason. Let him go in front of you, and stand back as he illuminates clues, opens doors and removes traps.

  • Remember to save your game frequently. If you see a valuable object just lying out in the middle of the floor, always expect a trap... or you'll wish you'd saved sooner.


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