Back in 1996, Eidos Interactive released the ground-breaking adventure game Tomb Raider from Core Design. Not only did Lara Croft quickly become the most famous female video game character ever, the quiet, exploratory nature of the adventure game was a refreshing change from the other major console titles of the day.
After some successful and not-so-successful sequels, the franchise bounced from one development house to another and finally landed with Crystal Dynamics, which was able to reinvigorate the series with last year's release, Tomb Raider Legend.
In honor of Tomb Raider's 10th anniversary, Crystal Dynamics is remaking the original adventure game with its new Tomb Raider Legend engine. A brand-new demo for Tomb Raider Anniversary gives us all an opportunity to see how far Lara Croft has come in a decade.
The demo works on Windows 2000, XP, and Vista, and it includes a portion of the Lost Valley level in Peru. (If you remember the original game, this level is where Lara encounters the dinosaurs.) At first glance, the graphics look better than ever, or more accurately, just like the graphics in Tomb Raider Legend. Lara's legs and gear now glisten when she gets wet, and minute details like eyelashes appear on higher graphical settings.
At first I thought that the biggest problem with the original Tomb Raider--the lack of control--had not been corrected, but I was wrong. If you go into the button configuration screen in the Tomb Raider Anniversary options, you can manually adjust the Y and Z axes on your gamepad, letting you see all around Lara, even if she's stuck in a corner.
Whether or not gamers will want to buy a game with a storyline that they've already completed remains to be seen, but the game looks great, and the puzzles and gameplay mostly stand the test of time. For those gamers who haven't seen Lara since the original release or were too young to catch the action the first time around, Tomb Raider Anniversary offers a nice glimpse of the past and future of the franchise.