E3 2003: Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness: Hands-on impressions
Lara Croft has been on hiatus for a while, so for fans of her series, Angel of Darkness is probably big news. However, I must say I was ultimately disappointed with this game, for a number of reasons.
Visually, Angel of Darkness looked great. Lara is looking better than ever, and the backgrounds were nicely done as well. The enemies found in the game were somewhat of a lesser visual quality, but still better than average. The frame rate was nice and smooth, never noticeably skipping, and the graphics just had a nice overall polish.
The gameplay was just a bust. After all the talk of enhanced gameplay and abilities, I was incredibly furious when I came upon the gameís first puzzle. Not 100 feet from where I started, I found myself pushing a big block around in circles. I spoke with one of the programmers who promised me that this type of puzzle will be relied on far less in the game, as other abilities acquired by Lara will be used in other ways.
To their credit, the developers have added a lot of new abilities for Lara to employ in the game. Most notable was the inclusion of stealth movements for Lara, as she can now duck-walk, flatten against a wall, and of course hang over rails and ledges. I was also promised that there were even more abilities to be found in the game, and that this was just the tip of the iceberg.
One of the biggest changes in Angel of Darkness is the control scheme. Tomb Raider is infamous for the controls found in the earlier games, as they were nothing short of horrendous. However, they have been revamped for this latest game, and even though they work much better than previous gameís controls have, they still are a bit twitchy. This is due, at least in part, to the camera problems I ran into. The camera just seemed content to roam on its own whenever I moved, with no rhyme or reason whatsoever. I eventually learned that I could push down on the left analog stick to auto center the camera whenever I wanted to, though. Even still, I found that controlling the camera was more of a chore than it should be.
Overall, Angel of Darkness did not play like the game that Eidos has been talking about. Of course, the game isnít even really close to being finished, according to an Eidos rep, and they have a full team of QA guys back at the home office working on all the bugs that pop up. Thereís still life for Lara yet.
5/15/2003 Ryan Hartmann