Lara Croft returns in The Last Revelation
(IDG) -- With the fourth episode of Tomb Raider, UK developer Core Design is aiming to put the "tomb" back in Eidos Interactive's celebrated line of third-person action/adventures. After turns as a world traveler in the second and third episodes, Lara Croft returns to her roots in The Last Revelation.
Exploring a previously-undiscovered crypt, Lara releases the evil spirit of the god Set. Oops. To recapture him, she must resurrect his brother, Horus, at an appointed time.
Along the way, she'll encounter a range of enemies as well as an old friend, take control of a jeep and motorcycle and puzzle her way from Cairo to Karnak to the Pyramids. (We'll also get to control a 16-year-old Lara accompanying her then-mentor through new moves in the opening level, set amid the ruins of Ankor Wat in Cambodia.)
We had an opportunity to sample some of the new features in an alpha version of an Egyptian level. They work well, and, more to the point, have been seamlessly integrated into the familiar Tomb Raider milieu --Lara running, jumping, grabbing, climbing, shimmying and shooting her way through stony chambers lost to time.
But note that this limber cultural icon can now climb and shimmy down poles and ropes. (She'll also be swinging from the latter--at least, the ones that don't break.) She's equipped with binoculars that allow her to inspect distant terrain. She can shove doors open-and will also be able to kick them down.
The circular inventory is gone --replaced by a linear one that allows you to combine objects. For instance, the combination of revolver and the laser sight gives you access to a sniper mode that proves to be the only way to dispatch the skeletal warriors that erupted from the ground in the sample level.
You won't have to dash across huge sections of the game world to scoot under a slowly lowering gate. Those puzzles will still be present, but the trigger and the gate, as in the aforementioned example, will be in closer proximity. And the game's challenge is expected to be more in solving the puzzles themselves (which will be more plentiful) than in a treasure hunt for their components.
Based on the available evidence, The Last Revelation is also going to be the best-looking Tomb Raider to date. The use of light lends itself to atmosphere. (The fellow who wandered through the first room lighting the torches was a kick!) The colors have never been richer than they were on my TNT2 card. Some wall fixtures actually looked real, and not a polygon was in sight.
Now, some of the planned features weren't evident in the sample. For instance, Core promises a significant advance in artificial intelligence. Many enemies will follow Lara, counter her moves and perform Lara-style maneuvers themselves. She'll have to settle their hash in detail, or they'll return to haunt her later in the game.
In combat, Lara's aim won't always lock on to nearby enemies -- an irritating feature that robbed the earlier episodes of the fun of detection -- and you'll be able to toggle between multiple enemies. She'll be able to shimmy around corners.
And you'll have access to Lara's diary, with maps and info collected en route, along with hints and details about the young lady herself.
The 15 or so locations -- smaller and more densely populated with objects than levels in earlier games -- are expected to hook together more naturally. (You'll have the traverse some of them more than once.) Gameplay will move naturally into cut scenes and cut scenes back to gameplay and some areas will be linked by in-game travel sequences (one in a jeep and another on a train).
In short, this is shaping up to be Lara's longest jump yet. We'll find out for certain when The Last Revelation lands in mid-November.
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