Lara Croft, the protagonist in Tomb Raider, has become a sort of unwitting spokesperson for Eidos' new computer adventure. As the cover girl for just about every hard copy gaming magazine this year, this globe-trotting, gun-happy lass had become the matron saint of a new revolution in 3D gaming before the title even hit the shelves. But does the game really live up to all the buildup? Well, seeing is believing when it comes to Tomb Raider, and playing the game with the Rendition or 3Dfx chip, which are sure to find a home soon in every serious gamer's computer tower (a supportive patch will be available online for these), should almost be a prerequisite. Featuring several stunningly rendered 3D worlds and many a cliff-hanging moment, Tomb Raider makes gamers pay for the whole seat, even though they only need the edge.
As mentioned above, in Tomb Raider you play Lara Croft, a female Doc Savage who, tired of her wealthy English upbringing, has decided that dangerous adventuring is more her cup of tea. So she abandons a life of crustless cucumber sandwiches and piano lessons, eventually meeting a wealthy tycoon who hires her to retrieve a single artifact from a ruined temple in South America. After getting the artifact, you find out that the tycoon has sicked a bunch of her henchmen on you, and that the original piece you were sent in to retrieve is one of three hidden in various unplundered tombs around the world.
Your adventures take place in several "seven wonders" scenarios, from Egyptian sphinxes, to Greek temples, to Atlantis (what game would be complete without it?), each with distinct puzzles and traps to negotiate.
In each level, you'll have to beware of the different predator animals, unidentifiable creatures, and henchmen lurking around. In many instances, you'll be pounced on unexpectedly by wolves, lions, gorillas, raptors, and gangling "lava-monsters." Lara has to execute daring rolls, jumps, and side-leaps to dodge these predators while attacking them. This is no time to join the wildlife preservation society; endangered species or not, you've got to slay these pests. Sometimes, at the end of a level, you'll have to go up against of the "boss" monsters, which range from a lumbering Tyranosaur to a huge "torso-man" who, if he snatches you with his giant mitts, will slam you around like a rag doll.
So, you're asking, what weapons can I use on these poor crypt-dwellers who are simply trying to sustain themselves in a sealed-up tomb? With a tap of the spacebar, Lara draws out her two revolvers which automatically target any man-eating creature in the vicinity. Other more effective weapons are picked up throughout the game, including a set of magnums, a shotgun, and an Uzi. Rounds for your default weapon are unlimited, but ammo for the other weapons has to be picked up.
But killing is only half the fun in Tomb Raider, as Lara can perform a variety of actions to explore each eerie environment. Often you'll have to make Lara swim through convoluted caves to secret rooms (incidentally, this is some of the most realistic swimming movement you'll encounter in any game). Each level has a series of switches that you need to activate, some of which require you to heave huge blocks around and - this is probably the most fun part of the game - execute daredevil leaps to grab onto some faraway platform.
Tomb Raider is the exploratory game you always wished you were playing when you were trying to solve Atari Raiders of the Lost Ark.The variety of jumping and grabbing actions, the huge, sometimes vertigo-inducing worlds, and the smooth 3D graphics found in Tomb Raider are reminiscent of Mario 64, though the game's violent overtones and spooky ambiance definitely set it apart from the older title. On the down side though, some of Tomb Raider's puzzles are tedious, requiring the player to wander around a little bit too long. Graphically, it's a breakthrough game, but to obtain the spellbinding graphics that really make the gameplay a complete experience, you'll need one of the cards mentioned above. The avid 3D game enthusiast will probably shell out the extra bucks for one, especially if Quake is a resident game on her machine.