Tomb Raider Anniversary is a love letter to the fans of the original game who for many years saw a decline is the quality of titles being released for the franchise being developed by it's creators CORE. This is the second title developed by Crystal Dynamics, who were given the task to return the series to it's once respected and celebrated roots atop the action adventure genre and they not only accepted this great challenge but, as we all now know have continued to exceed gamers expectations as to what's to come from our most eye pleasing raider of tombs. If you truly wish to see exactly how the series progressed to what is now considered by many as the only franchise able to challenge and possibly best the Unchartered series as reigning action adventure royalty, Tomb Raider Anniversay although the second title released by Crystal Dynamics is where the evolution of their titles truly began.Overview:
Tomb Raider Anniversary is a remake of the original classic game released on the Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation and PC. Now many years after the originals release, it not only began to show it's age but, seem more like the grandmother of gaming instead of it's symbol of female stregnth, resolve and sexuality. Crystal Dynamics has returned our once royalty of the action adventure gaming scene to her original glory by completely overhauling the graphics and gameplay for the modern age. They have successfully retained the gameplay elements of the original all while enabling the player with a more fluid and responsive control scheme for combat and navigation.Gameplay:
The gameplay of Tomb Raider Anniversay is a blend of the previous entries with a more modernized execution. Gone are the tank like controls of the original which are now replaced with a scheme more suitable for a three dimensional space. The player will now be able to comfortably navigate our protagonost Lara through her adventures with a fair amount of ease and grace. Traversing areas overall feels much more natural than before as you perform platform jumps and general movements (combat etc.) throughout each level. With that being said, there are some areas which you will encounter less fluidity such as the under water sections which, in comparison to her ground level areas seem much less intuitive and a less than perfect camera that can at times make the journey a bit frustrating yet, even with it's flaws won't ruin the experience.
The puzzle aspect of the gameplay is kept fully intact retaning the original elements that many considered the series stregnth and are executed on a much more professional scale than the 1996 release. With the change to a more intuitive control scheme comes less headaches when trying to place objects in their necessary positions along with a free camera which will assist you in getting a better look at the challenge at hand. The puzzles are of increasing difficulty and can at times seem like a daunting affair which only heightens the experience. As you solve the puzzles, you will marvel at the the genius displayed by the develpers and see why this game is considered such a figurehead in the industry. It's this very element that Tomb Raider Anniversary displays time and time again throughout your adventure that makes it easily understandable once again why Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider Series are considered one of the most influential games created. Graphics:
Crystal Dynamics has done a fantastic job at bringing the original Tomb Raider into the modern gaming age. The entire world that you may or may not remember from 1996 has been painstakingly recreated with surprisingly beautiful results. Although anniversary saw it's initial pc release in 2006 the graphics are still something to behold. The indoor environments specifically can at times leave you in awe and shock that this was now released nearly ten years ago. Developed on a modified Legend engine which was first seen in the 2005 release Tomb Raider Legend, Crystal Dynamics have displayed their knowledge gained and applied it masterfully within their newly crafted world.
There are a variety of features found in the graphics options to suit the pc gamers taste and configurations. From resolutions of up to 1080p, multiple aspects ratios and an assortment of graphics features such as anisotrpic filtering, multiple AA, shadows etc., Tomb Raider fans can rejoice that their title will remain relevant and playable for years to come. The only feature lacking which, oddly enough was found in Crystal Dynamics initial title Tomb Raider: Legend released in 2005 is an option to turn on high end graphics effects. Why they chose to limit the options available are beyond me but, regardless even without these, it still remains a beautifully constructed world.Sound:
Within the first few seconds of launching anniversary, you will be welcomed back by the easily recognized soundtrack of the original remastered. For gamers who had the privilage of playing the original 1996 title, this will immediately send a chill down your spine and emit feelings of generations past. I immediately felt like a child again upon hearing the woodwind instrument solo echoing during the intro and it set the stage for an incredible adventure to come. The sountrack found within anniversary is perfectly suited to eash sequence at any gven time during your adventure and a stregnth at every turn. The sound effects serve their intended purpose and are general standard fair. The only sounds a bit lacking are during gun fire which, show their age in comarison to more current titles. They simply lack an ability to give the player a sense of power while weilding the many firearms found in game.Story:
In Tomb Raider Anniversary you play as the protagonist Lara Croft, an archeologist and adventurer whos beauty and athletic grace is matched by her intellectual abilities which, serve her well whilst traversing the many dangerous ruins found across the world. The story takes a back seat to the gameplay aspects but, serves the game well. It establishes a sense of purpose and creates a nice sense of pacing to ensure you continue further into your adventure without feeling forced. Simply put, the gameplay is just as much of the story as any dialogue found within it as any true action adventure game should be. Balanced and not overbearing, it exists and knows it's role at all times. Replay Value:
The replay value of anniversay is all dependant of the player. There are many hidden artifacts to discover if you wish to let your inner completionist enjoy a bit of obsessive compulsiveness during your adventure. There's quite a bit to discover along the way and overall it's a fairly legnthly adventure. That being said, like any action adventure title, there are some that will get more out of it than others and that all depends on what you're looking to achieve within the game. Although there is a seperate standalone mini-adventure that extends the content, what it adds isn't really geared towards the standard player and the gameplay found within it is mostly puzzle based. So overall the replay value found here is moderate but, most definitely worth the asking price.Final Review Score: 8.1/10
After being passed the torch, Crystal Dynamics successfully resurrected a franchise that was quickly being destroyed by it's creators CORE. In Tomb Raider Anniversary, Crystal Dynamics re-established the series as a viable contender for the action adventure crown and have done so since this 2006 release time and time again. Although Tomb Raider Anniversay isn't the incredibly polished title the most recently released Tomb Raider (2013) reboot was, it is very much so a classic example of how a remake can be achieved successfully without alienating it's fan base. If you're a fan of the action adventure genre, Tomb Raider Anniversary absolutely deserves a place in your library.