Review: Tomb Raider: Anniversary (Mobile Edition)Can the powers of a 2-d Java platformer take on the might of the Tomb Raider Franchise? Ewan digs in...
Two words that get the pulse racing in games, and in teenage boys (and girls… this is the 21st century). While we’ve already seen her on Symbian OS (with the original Tomb Raider being one of the early posts to the first generation N-Gage platform) in her 3d glory, the latest Eidos Mobile release, Tomb Raider Anniversary, presents a new side to the heroine and a distinctly retro gameplay style.
While all the traditional Tomb Raider elements are here (death defying jumps, fingertip holds on cliffs, guns ablaze taking out distant switches, perilous balancing over fire and spikes, and so on), there’s one major difference in this smartphone version when compared to the consoles. It’s in two-d.
Yes, think traditional platformer with a side on view. The clue of course is in the distribution file. This is a seriously overpowered java midlet, optimised for S60 (other versions are available), and before you let that stop you, this version of Tomb Raider Anniversary is pretty spiffy. The learning curve and level design is just inventive enough for gaming on the move – this is the typical casual game format and challenge level – i.e. above average but still within range of mortals.
Graphics are of the sprite-based, cartoon style variety, but our Lara here (with bouncing pony tail) has her full range of movements, and no matter what she’s up to, it remains clear and obvious, even when running in the original 176x208 screens on older phones. The only catch is that when Lara pops up to offer ‘advice’ during the game it’s a beautiful CGI representation from the console versions, which detracts from the Saturday morning Kids TV feel the sprite graphics have. Don’t mix your graphics, Eidos! Controls are sharp and accurate – and they need to be – with walking, jumping and ducking, all driven from the cursor pad. ‘Zero’ sees you activating any carried items in your inventory under the fire button.
It’s always hard to judge just how long a game will last – with 9 levels to explore, I would think maybe 20 minutes on each level is a fair guess, but that’s ignoring the replay of the time trial option. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things but Tomb Raider: Anniversary is actually strangely addictive, rushing through it at the pace of a modern Hollywood movie.
As with all the Eidos Mobile games, I like the fact that it asks if you want the sound and music when you start the game, although after a week or so I was starting to tire of it and went 'silent'. While there’s nothing especially new or innovative here, it’s a well put together game, it’s easy to get into, and I’m happy to report I had a fun time studying my… archaeology. In the days between Christmas and New Year, with all the trips around family, I could see Tomb Raider Anniversary on Mobile being a good distraction.
-- Ewan Spence, 18 Dec 2007
Published by Ewan Spence at 12:31 UTC, December 17th