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Due November 2002 for PC and PS2.

05-01.jpg (4474 bytes)The game isn’t due to for release until November 2002, but the hype has already begun—Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness is coming. This title marks the arrival of Lara Croft to a next-gen console. It will also be the first of a series of new Tomb Raider games that promise to be much darker and edgier than past outings. On the official Tomb Raider website, Adrian Smith, Operations Director of Core Design states, "Our vision is to take the player somewhere dark, a place they might not necessarily wish to go, but a place they will have to venture if they are to bring Lara back. Lara will have some tough moral choices to make. It’s no longer a clear-cut case of good versus evil—this is a more complex tale, which will ask more complex questions of the player. It will be a new experience for people who have played Tomb Raider in the past."

04-01.jpg (4974 bytes)The story involves Lara after she resurfaces from her near death experience in Africa. The experience did not make her happy. A phone call from her mentor Von Croy takes her to Paris. She arrives to find Von Croy DOA and is framed for his murder. Now a fugitive, Lara is dragged into a "dark, parallel world of blood, betrayal and vengeance spanning across hundreds of years."

10-01.jpg (5715 bytes)Okay, so it’s dark. The question most fans will have is whether this title will be able to lift their beloved series out of the rut it has been in for some time now. In other words, what’s new?

06-01.jpg (5974 bytes)Well, first of all Angel of Darkness utilizes a new gaming engine designed specifically for the PS2 and latest PC graphics cards. Lara is now rendered with 5000 polygons as opposed to 500 in previous titles. And I must say she looks gorgeous. She is sleeker, smoother, and more articulate than before. She wears a variation of her traditional tank top, shorts, and dual pistol holsters. Now, as she walks toward the camera, you can see her eyes peering over her trademark round sunglasses with startling clarity. I dig the heavy eyeliner and sneer she’s sporting as well—such a bad-ass.

01-01.jpg (6100 bytes)In terms of gameplay, Lara will be able to interact with characters in the game, as well as choose what paths to take, providing for a more intricate and less linear story line than before. An added twist has players also taking control of Curtis, a playable character new the series.

07-01.jpg (6166 bytes)The most noticeable change to Lara’s repertoire of moves is the addition of stealth tactics much like those in Metal Gear Solid 2. Screenshots show her creeping along walls, peeking around corners, even sneaking up behind enemies and strangling them. With only limited information and visual cues to go by, it is hard to tell if these additions are a bit too much like MGS2. There are even long shots down corridors where investigating enemies’ flashlight beams cut ominously across the darkness. If Lara weren’t standing right there, I would swear it was a shot from MGS2. With so many games constantly being released that are nothing more than watered-down Tomb Raider wannabes, I hate to think of Lara Croft treading down that same path and starring in an MGS retread.

09-01.jpg (6292 bytes)Big promises have been made, and changes are obviously in store for the video game industry’s favorite buxom heroine. Whether or not you are a fan of the series, or looking forward to the latest installment, there is no arguing that Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness is going to be one of the most anticipated titles of this fall.

08-01.jpg (6386 bytes)Can Eidos and Core Design make a sixth venture worth our while? Only time will tell, but I for one choose to believe that Tomb Raider will rise to greatness once again. I liked the series enough, once upon a time, to have a little faith. Besides, they have to make up for that awful movie.

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Jeremy Kauffman (04/09/2002)