Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft

It feels as though we’ve seen this before.


The visuals have received a minor overhaul.
Just look at those particle effects!

As was the case with Tomb Raider II, developer Core Design presents us with a host of satisfactory levels in less than inspiring locales, plus a generally darker tone. Even so, does your idea of an exotic adventure involve exploring the London Underground? What about a trip through Nevada, into Area 51? Does bumping into a dissected alien sit right with you? If you don’t care about where the adventure is taking place, you can take solace in the fact the levels feature good puzzles, though they require a lot of backtracking. However, the game goes out with a bang, as the final Antarctica levels are excellent, with a nifty mine car ride right out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

The game is clearly not aimed at novice raiders, as the level of difficulty has been notched up considerably, to almost frustrating levels. As complex as they are, the level designer’s greatest achievement is never trapping the player in an area; however, a lack of clear goals often leave you fumbling around randomly pressing buttons and flipping switches. But the levels are full of things to do and feature fewer dumb enemies than Tomb Raider II, although as a consequence you’ll face considerably more traps.

The best new feature of Tomb Raider II is the addition of vehicles, although their implementation within the levels seem ocasionally dodgy. A few times you’re given insufficient space to meneuver them, and with every turn liable to send you off the edge of the universe, you too often find yourself carefully inching forward than pulling Mad Max stunts. The first traversing through the jungle feels like a chore. Parts of levels include ATVs, mine cars, kayaks, and speedboats, and while the levels don’t always do them justice, the controls are actually feel quite natural.

While there is fun playing the game, there’s also a feeling of sloppiness throughout. The 3D technology, which has received a minor tune-up in the form of colored lighting and smoke effects, is still rough. While they’ve added “triangles” to the room geometry, the basic building block remains the square. While this works fine for indoor environments and the “tombs” of the game’s name, it really falls apart outside. Along the same line we have an assortment of bugs, from minor (faulty texture tiling) to severe (Lara dropping dead for no reason whatsoever).

It’s also worth pointing out that Tomb Raider III is essentially the same game the third time in a row, except with an added difficulty (some might welcome the challenge) only offset by a few potentially game-killing bugs which still linger within the code. Those eager to try classic Tomb Raider might want to give the first two games a look instead.

System Requirements: 166 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Windows 95

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