Eidos Interactive, a new company that combines the talents of tried-and-true game creators from Domark and Core Design, is preparing to release its "biggest game yet" - Tomb Raider. This 3-D action game puts a few new spins on the game genre defined by Doom, Duke Nukem, and Quake. The lead character, Lara, is a tough-as-nails woman whose agility and firepower get her into and out of plenty of dire situations. In place of the vertigo-inducing first-person point-of-view, Tomb Raider favors an over-the-shoulder third-person perspective with smooth, sweeping camera movements that are constantly adjusted to give you the best look at the action. These two major differences are what Eidos hopes will set Tomb Raider apart from the growing number of Doom clones.
Lara Croft, Tomb Raider's protagonist, is a globe-trotting adventurer a la Indiana Jones. Looking more like a Baywatch body-double than a jungle-trekking survivalist, Lara's cartoonish figure will no doubt create a loyal following of male gamers. But there's more to Lara Croft than just a pretty face. The game's extensive back-story, told through cinematic cut scenes, adds a dimension that is rare in games of this genre. While you watch, Lara meets up with shifty businesswoman Jacqueline Natla in a Tibetan bar, and accepts a challenge to find a piece of an ancient artifact from a tomb in Peru. As the game progresses, Lara discovers Natla's evil ways and must fight off her hired thugs while searching for the other two fragments of the powerful, ancient artifact.
The carefully-rendered game takes place in four distinctly different worlds - Incan, Egyptian, Greek, and Atlantean, and is comprised of 12 levels. As Lara you will try to solve puzzles, find switches and keys, move and climb large objects to reach higher ground. Lara's arsenal of weapons includes two thigh-holstered handguns, a shotgun, an Uzi, and grenades. Health packs and extra ammo are hidden along the way and secret areas can be found by adventurous players.
Enemies that you'll encounter as Lara Croft include ravenous wolves, big mean bears, blood-sucking bats, gators, and Natla's hired mercenaries. Tomb Raider will be a single-player game, so its creators have worked hard on creating enemies with challenging artificial intelligence.
Many of the levels in Tomb Raider will include underwater areas that you must explore in order to complete the level. Fortunately Lara's a great swimmer, and you can keep track of her breath with a meter that indicates how much air she has left. Controlling Lara is simple as well, using the standard keyboard arrow keys for most 3-D action games, along with only a few unique moves including a leaping backwards somersault and an impressive rolling lateral jump to the left or right that require more complex button pressing skills.
Without a doubt one of the Fall's hottest gaming prospects, Tomb Raider will expand the 3-D gaming genre by re-thinking a few of its essential building blocks and adding new technology to the mix.