TOMB RAIDER Angel of Darkness

(Eidos/Core, 2003)

Lara Croft and her double D’s are finally back in action after taking a few years off from the console market. The Tomb Raider series has going strong for many years with hit movies (two starring Oscar winner Angelina Jolie), comics, toys, and games across popular systems like the Gameboy, Dreamcast, Playstation. Sadly, the series had been getting a bad rap for becoming stale after a few lame sequels and if it was going to make the next step to a advance system it would have to be something special. Sony and their Playstation2 had the exclusive rights to bring out the highly anticipated Tomb Raider Angel of Darkness to a whole new generation. That just goes to show you there was a lot of pressure for Angel of Darkness to bring back the series to its original glory but after playing this PS2 edition I can say that is wasn’t worth the wait.

After the events in Tomb Raider 4 and 5 (called Tomb Raider Chronicles) it finally looked like Lara Croft had finally kicked the bucket. Let me explain; the big angle going around in those titles was that Lara Croft was in mortal danger and that she was going to die. Unfortunately, this hook in the story line didn't help these game's gather more sells and most people criticized the games for having awkward controls and tired game play. It also didn't help matters when she didn't really die afterall and the whole story was just a big lie! ”You promised me that the women would perish!” Lara is still alive but she isn't out of trouble just yet. One night her former mentor was brutally killed and since Lara was at the same place that night she is accused his murder. Lara is now on the run from the law and she needs to find out who set her up.

Forget the fact that Lara was suppose to 'kick the bucket' in Tomb Raider IV, let’s focus more on the game play that Angel of Darkness has here a bit. Lara starts out the game in the narrow back alleys of Paris and unlike the first TR she doesn't have those cool double guns anymore (she can find a gun early on but it isn't even loaded!). This means that the game play involves a lot tedious jumping and grabbing now and it is much less action oriented. You can even get in trouble if you talk to someone the wrong way. The developers also tried to add some more Role Playing elements to the game play so Lara would need to build up her strength to complete certain tasks. Unfortunately, these upgrade features are more annoying then anything else since you have to do some backtracking once a new power is granted. Fans really wanted a major overhaul if there was going to another Tomb Raider game and that's what they got but when it all comes together AOD just too slow now.

This semi-realistic/Out of this World-like game play wouldn't have been so bad if wasn't for the horrible control system. The Analog control is so bad that even doing something simple like turning around is a chore! I also don't like how the always important jump button is configured to the Circle button and no; the game doesn't let you edit your controls either. The game has a useful save anywhere feature and believe me you're going to need it with these awkward controls.

AOD graphics are either very detailed or very bland. Toby Gard's Lara Croft character is still a fairly decent pin model but her and the other characters also appear to be more blocky and there other token hot girls found in other games like Dead or Alive or Bloodrayne look way better. The game even has loads of unforgivable graphical glitches too. In the first stage alone you can spot poor use of shadows and it appears Lara can float in midair sometimes because of poorly edited platforms but the worse part would have to be the Matrix-like showdown when there is too much on screen. Don't people test games anymore? Going by looks alone there is very little here to separate this from the hundreds of other PS2 games already available. The game's sound fairs better then it looks but some interesting but low-key background tracks can't save this mess. I also noticed that Lara will scream at wrong times if she falls to her death which is another sign of the game's poor programming.

The bottomline is that even with all of Tomb Raider's big movie deals, massive toy endorsements, and all that heavy hype, it sure didn't help make Angel of Darkness become any good. The game looks average, the role playing features are more annoying then anything else, and most importantly the game isn't fun to play. The game's sometimes interesting story and intense action (later into the game at least) but who wants to continue playing this after being bored to tears with first few levels. I just want to say thank you to the programmers of this game! Thank you for helping to ruin those important Playstation2 sale figures for 2003, thank you for driving a multi-million dollar franchise into the ground, thank you for creating one of the most disappointing video games of all time! She’s back and she really sucks but not in a good way.



TOMB RAIDER Angel of Darkness
overall rating: 45/100

Find this game on eBay here!

For 1 player only
Rated (M) for Mature

graphics: 6/10
sound: 7/10
gameplay: 5/10
replay: 3/10

(Ryan Genno) 2004

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