Reviewed: December 11, 2002
Released: November 12, 2002
Tomb Raider, or should I say, Lara Croft has become a cult phenomenon of legendary status. While I doubt she will be replacing Elvis anytime soon, she has managed to sell more combined PC and console titles than any other female adventure game star and you have to admit that the movie was pretty cool.
Being a dedicated GBA gamer I have had to sit back and watch everyone else have all the fun controlling our amply endowed heroine in her six previous adventures, but now it’s my turn to experience the wonder, the legend, and those awe-inspiring…pixels.
Lara Croft makes her debut appearance on the GBA in Tomb Raider: The Prophecy. This new game features a new quasi-3D view, exploiting the unique characteristics of our sexy heroine, an impressive set of spectacular 3D animations, an improved combat system specific for the Gameboy Advance, and environments which develop in height rather than in width.
Tomb Raider: The Prophecy features:
The first thing you need to know going into this game is that it is not your traditional adventure game simply ported to the GBA. This is more of an action-arcade game, almost like a side-scrolling combat shooter. You run and jump and hang from ledges. Climb ladders and do plenty of those platform jumps then collect some ammo or power-ups and flip a switch or two. And don’t forget to shoot anything that moves.
The designers have tried to break away from the 2D nature of this title by offering some creative movement and level designs. Lara can climb up ladders so the levels can often be very vertical. Some of the levels are quite complicated, almost becoming mazes with plenty of traps and you need to avoid along the way.
Control is simple and quite responsive. The D-pad moves Lara around in the desired direction and the A button jumps. Using the L button will allow her to make a super leap across huge crevices. The B button is your action button while the R-trigger draws or holsters your weapon. Weapons are a bit limited. You start off with your standard pair of pistols then move on to Uzi’s and eventually the powerful Golden Guns.
Level design is very nice and you get to travel to all sorts of exotic locations that are presented fairly well considering the capabilities of the GBA. After you leave Sweden you move on to Greece, and Romania for even more diverse levels and challenging gameplay. There are 28 levels in all spread across three massive locations. There are plenty of riddles and puzzles you must solve to earn the three stones and fulfill the prophecy.
The graphics are very well done, and despite their 2D design, you never feel closed in or constrained. Even though the game is linear in nature, there are plenty of opportunities to explore in almost any direction from any screen.
Lara is animated very nicely using 3D character models to recreate lifelike motions. It’s all smooth and seamless and surprisingly good considering the 2D nature of the game. The other characters and enemies in this game are also quite nice. There is a good selection of creatures such as skeletons and hungry wolves as well as ghosts and wizards who teleport around, making them hard targets to hit.
The levels are colorful and detailed as much as possible while maintaining a solid framerate. Surprisingly, the characters are more detailed than the levels but not enough to make them stand out. There are plenty of special visual effects that also enhance the action very nicely.
There is an obvious lack of music in this game, but you won’t be missing it thanks to the wonderful library of sound effects and ambient background noise that is present at all times. The tap-tap-tap of Lara’s footsteps, trickling water, blowing wind, and random noises from enemies and even Lara herself, all combine to create an impressive audio experience.
Even with 28 levels waiting for you, the seasoned adventure can get through this game in 8-12 hours. The great thing is this game is so much fun that you won’t mind playing it over and over again. While the puzzles remain unchanged, there is always the random element of combat.
Tomb Raider fans were disappointed when her console adventure was postponed from November to next February. Those of you with GBA’s can now get your Lara-fix with a fun and challenging game that captures the essence of the Tomb Raider legacy.
Tomb Raider: The Prophecy may shrink our sexy heroine down to a few dozen pixels, but the action and adventure is still larger than life. This is a definite must for Tomb Raider fans or anyone who enjoys a good old-fashioned action game.