Tomb Raider: Anniversary Impressions - Lara on the Wii Remote

Lara Croft's commemorative adventure is on its way to Nintendo's Wii console. We take a look.

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The adventurer known as Lara Croft has been raiding tombs on video game consoles for years, and she celebrated her anniversary earlier this year with Tomb Raider: Anniversary, a reimagined version of the first cliff-jumping, puzzle-solving, pistol-firing game that started it all. Ms. Croft's commemorative adventure is now headed for the Nintendo Wii with some new features that are intended to take advantage of the console's unique control scheme. However, from what we've seen, the game will not give up any of the action from the original Tomb Raider: Anniversary, so don't worry--the game isn't being picked apart to shoehorn in a bunch of gimmicky controller stuff. You'll still do plenty of jumping, climbing, sleuthing, and shooting.

Have guns, will travel [world].
Have guns, will travel [world].

For the uninitiated, Tomb Raider: Anniversary is an enhanced version of the original Tomb Raider game from 1996, complete with Lara's updated abilities and considerably better graphics than those from the original PlayStation era. As in that game, she'll explore three different areas in Greece, Peru, and Egypt, performing death-defying feats of acrobatics by climbing craggy cliffs and leaping across chasms, and defending herself from hostile enemies, including ferocious jungle beasts, by dodging their attacks and, in some cases, filling them full of lead from the handguns she wields in each hand. She'll also be required to solve various logic puzzles to unlock the gates to the next area as well as discover hidden treasures and secrets along the way.

As mentioned, Tomb Raider: Anniversary for the Wii will offer the same content as in the previous versions of the game, plus an additional three hours of content in the form of enhanced puzzles and, possibly, a few new secret areas that are designed around the Wii Remote's capabilities. For instance, rather than simply picking up and collecting ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs to solve later puzzles, Lara will actually carry a kit with archeological tools that will help her put together clues. By wagging the controller back and forth, for example, you can help her uncover hidden secrets from dust-covered pillars with an archeologist's brush, as well as use charcoal pencils and paper to make rubbings of various carvings.

The Wii Remote will also help Lara explore her environments in ways that the developer hopes will seem intuitive. She'll carry a flashlight to explore dark areas, for instance, which can be focused by the controller to give off a higher-intensity beam to uncover hidden secrets. In addition, Lara's trademark gymnastic leaps will be executed by flicking the remote to make her jump, shimmy across ledges, and swing. Her grappling hook, which she can use to swing herself up onto high ledges, will also be controlled with a flick of the wrist (assuming your wrist is attached to a hand holding a Wii Remote).

When the going gets tough, Lara can go ballistic with her two handguns, which can put down most enemies with a few good shots. Once the bullets start flying, you'll use the controller to actively aim at her targets while the camera locks on to the direction she's facing. This seems to put much more emphasis on the shooting action, but still leaves her free to dodge while firing in case things get too hairy.

Lara will dabble in archeology with her trusty Wii Remote.
Lara will dabble in archeology with her trusty Wii Remote.

Otherwise, Tomb Raider: Anniversary for the Wii looks as though it will offer all the action and content from the previous games, and considering that those turned out quite well, this version shows a lot of promise. It doesn't hurt that the game looks good, either. Lara has a stylized look that stays true to the original artwork that depicted her 10 years ago, the environments all seem colorful, and the parts of the game we saw ran at a brisk and consistent frame rate. This version should pack in all the action you've come to expect from a Tomb Raider game, plus an innovative control scheme built around the Wii Remote. The game is scheduled for release later this year.

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