Writer’s Raid: Tomb Raider III – The Adventures of Lara Croft

Tomb_Raider_IIIWikipedia entry

I remember quite well buying a copy of Tomb Raider IV & V in one bundle. When I came home and placed the install disc for Tomb Raider IV in my PC, I was surprised that Tomb Raider III started installing. I didn’t mind so much, I found the files for Tomb Raider IV on the disc labeled Tomb Raider V. I already owned Tomb Raider V, so I got extremely lucky there. Since I took a look to Tomb Raider IV in the past, I think it would be more interesting for this project to take a look at Tomb Raider III. Now, what do I mean with “this project”? Well, a group of writers and myself took a look at the whole Tomb Raider series and like the Zelda project last year, there is a hub article you can find here if you want to read the other amazing articles.

The Adventures of Lara Croft

TR3-1In this game, Lara is searching for the Infada Stone. When she finds the artifact, she gets approached by a researcher from RX Tech, who informs her about a meteorite that landed in Antarctica millions of years ago. This meteorite was used by the Polynesians to create various powerful stones, one of which is the Infada Stone. So, Lara starts a quest to find all the stones before they fall in the wrong hands.

The story is quite interesting. The main arc of the story, I explained above. But the story takes Lara on several different journeys with their own story. It’s a bit like Tomb Raider V, but the big difference is that they aren’t remembering Lara’s adventures after her death.

So, compared to Tomb Raider II, what is new in this game? Quite a lot actually. The game was primary made for the PlayStation and was meant as a sort of next-gen Tomb Raider. Core Design created a totally new engine for the game and a lot more. If you want to read up on the development, the Wikipedia page I linked above has a lot more to talk about.

The game did rather well. The game scored an average of 7/10 from different publications. If you look on GameRankings.com, the PS1 version even got a bigger score than the PC counterpart. It’s a 5% difference.

Now, the version I have in my collection is “Tomb Raider III – The Lost Artefact”. This is a version with some additional levels included. With these 5 additional levels, the game takes a nice 25 hours to beat the game, making this the longest Tomb Raider game in the series.

The story of the expansion pack takes place in between of the story of Tomb Raider III. So, it’s no epilogue or prologue. Also, this expansion pack was only released for people who owned the PC or MAC version. Sadly enough, this game was sold as a standalone game. The previous two games also had an expansion pack which was either part of a re-release or free to download from the official website.

The game also provided quite a lot of new things and moves to play around with. Lara got some new abilities like using the monkey bars. The new things in this game include new swimming and water mechanics, quicksand and various other things.

I’m glad that I played this game on the PC, since on the PS1, the save feature is restricted. The save feature works sort-of like the save feature in the early Resident Evil games. Where you have to find Ink Ribbons for the typewriters to save. In Tomb Raider III, you have to find save crystals to use the save feature in the main menu.  Since I love to save often in the older Tomb Raider games, I would have been so frustrated if that was also the case on the PC.

During the game, you go to India, UK, USA and Antarctica. You can also visit Lara’s home in this game. If you are a first time player, I highly recommend that you explore Lara’s home first. This way you can get used to the controls and the mechanics of Lara’s jump in the gym. Also, yes, I have fond memories of locking Winston up in the freezer.

How does it hold up?

TR3-2For me personally, this game was fun to play through. The game tested my retro gaming skills quite a lot and I enjoyed walking around the levels. While I had my share of frustrations when missing a jump or not directly knowing where to go, I still had a lot of fun exploring this game.

Now, this game hasn’t aged like fine wine. This game isn’t for everybody. While I don’t mind the dated visuals, I can understand that some people would hate the visuals. The visuals are early PS1 visuals. Yet, I feel they still have some charm and still look better than Tomb Raider I or II.

This game has decent controls. The big issue I have with them is that you can’t rebind the keys easily. There is some trickery you can do, but it shouldn’t be this annoying. Also, since I use an AZERTY keyboard lay-out, some keys were in different places. Thankfully, I got used to the controls after a few levels and I was able to pull of great moves.

Something that did age quite well in my opinion is the music and sound effects. While the soundtrack is extremely short, it’s still a joy to listen too. The soundtrack really fits the mood of the game. It’s relaxing when you are climbing and tense when you are fighting a boss. The sound effects pulled me into the atmosphere of this game.

TR3-3I really enjoyed the puzzles in this game. The only thing I had issues with were the vehicle sections. But, that was mostly because I didn’t know you could speed them up. After I learned how to do that, I had less issues with them. While it’s quite possible to play this game without a walkthrough, I used BadAssGamez’s walkthrough when I was stuck. He finished this game without using any medkits and got all the secrets as well.

In his video’s he also shows tricks on how to skip certain fights or how to easily defeat enemies. If you aren’t used to old-school Tomb Raider games, I highly recommend that you watch his walkthroughs if you need some help in beating this game. If you are used to old-school Tomb Raider games, this game will provide you with various challenges. My favorite level was the 8th level, the Temple of Puna. Mainly because it had various moments that reminded me of Indiana Jones.

I think that this game is still worth a playthrough. If you enjoy playing retro adventure games, I can’t recommend this game enough. I do understand that this game isn’t for everyone. There are moments where the game clearly shows its age. Don’t expect a game with a more modern polish, expect a game that challenges you in various area’s that takes you back to when you were young and played games after homework on your parent’s computer.

If you want to give this game a try, it’s still being sold on Steam for 7€ and on GOG, you find Tomb Raider 1+2+3 together for 9€. So seriously, what are you waiting for?

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game. If you are interested in a full review of this game, please tell me in the comments. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

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Review #017: Delver (PC – Steam) ~ Thou Shall Explore!

imagesOfficial website

Notice: While I do realize that this game is also on Android, I review the Steam PC version here. 

Notice about the screenshots: All these screenshots are taken early in the game, since it are screenshots of MY playthrough. It’s a rouge game, so it’s random each time. But feel free to use my screenshots if you need them. 

As a kid I always dreamed of running around in caves and dungeons to explore for loot. I even wrote some stories about it. And my favorite genre of gaming has a lot to do with it. I love myself some great adventure games. But does Delver deliver? How good is it actually? It’s really cheap on Steam and is it worth buying this game while it’s developing? That’s what I’m going to answer today while playing the new October 2013 update. This review might be shorter then my usual reviews since this game has no every element I usually use to review. We shall see how it turns out. Anyways, let me know in the comments your thoughts about this game and/or this review. 

Let’s “delve” into this!

249630_2013-11-01_00001The game starts off on a path right to the dungeon. The cool thing is, as you die, you don’t have to start completely from square one. You can buy things from the stores. Of course, that depends on how much gold you have obtained from your last run. But here is a flaw in the game that surely will be patched in a future update. I don’t see how much gold I have left. So yeah, that’s annoying. 

The game has a small story, if I can remember correctly. At the start, there are two diary entries you can collect. Yet, starting a new game, I noticed that it’s just some hints. So, according to what I know, this game has no real story. And that isn’t a loss since this game benefits from this. Since each floor and dungeon is randomized.

The game is all about exploring the dungeon. And not about that you should save a princess or something. The goal is to get to the bottom floor and get an orb. With this orb you can escape again. Honestly, I haven’t yet been able to return with the orb.

Great, greater and greatest!

249630_2013-11-01_00002While it adds to the atmosphere of this game, this can become annoying. Like you see in the screenshot, the game is pretty dark. If you are in a well lite room, you might not see many things because of the light. I truly advice to play this game in a somewhat darker room.

The controls are excellent. I never felt that it was the game’s fault of a death. Deaths are permanent! So if you die, you are dead. No respawing, no loot drops. Nothing, only your gold. And this makes for a great challenge. Once you have some great stuff, you don’t want to die. You fight on.

Something I also really like is how the loot works. You don’t get better loot from the stronger enemies. No, you can get a better sword by killing a simple bat. Speaking about bats and flying enemies, there is a problem with them. Their hitbox seems to bit a bit off. This causes some moments where I clearly hit the bat yet, it took no damage.

A great addition to this update is how the game now displays status effects and it’s timer. When you drink a random potion, you now know what it means when the game tells you “you feel warm”. Also, the leveling up system is a great thing. I feel that it’s more fine tuned then before the update. And I really like it. The stats aren’t overly difficult. They are straight forward. For example, a weapon will say that it can do from 5 to 10 damage. So, if you level up your attack stat, you will easily do the most damage possible with that given weapon.

Managing the inventory is a joy. You need to be on a safe spot since the inventory, like Minecraft, doesn’t pause they game. And dear developer, when you pause a game, the music should stop as well. Anyways, the dragging around of items is a blast. And the ability to pick up items while being in the inventory screen and drag it into it. Great!

Not that easy!

249630_2013-11-01_00003

Here is another complaint. The picking up of items from the ground with your action key is a bit frustrating. I had several moments where it didn’t pick up at all. Since there seems to be a set region to be able to pick it up.

The fact that you don’t regenerate health is great. It makes the game more tense. I had several moments where I needed to hide for enemies.

But let’s leave it at that for the gameplay. I haven’t covered it all, but hey, if you’re interested, go check out the game. Okay, let’s look at the length of this review… Wow, I have talked more about it then I expected and I have a few things left to say. Okay, less stalling more reviewing!

The artwork of this game is beautiful! I really like the art style they went with here. Retro graphics and great animations give this game a different look and sets it apart from all the others. This game really sucks me in to it’s great gameplay and the visuals actually convinced me to buy the game.

The length might not be that long, but the replay value is extremely high. Since it’s always randomized. In addition to that, the game is a challenge. A real challenge. You can be in luck and get pretty deep into the dungeon. (If needed, this is a moment to get your mind out of the gutter). Or you can have though luck and die really soon.

An advise that I would give the developer too is that there should be more music tracks. The sound and everything is amazing yet, I think there are a handful music tracks and it would be a lot better if there were more.

So, I’ll leave it at this note. Let’s go to the conclusion!

Conclusion

The good:

+ Unique gameplay.

+ Great artwork.

+ High replay value.

+ No annoying story to bother you.

+ Great challenge.

+ Randomized dungeons.

The bad:

– More music would be great.

– There are a few kinks to work out with the flying enemies.

– Picking up objects is a tad bit frustrating.

Conclusion:

In my reviews I don’t cover every single thing about the game. Like in this review I didn’t talk about the AI, map system, magic and so on and so forth. With the intention that if you are interested, that you try it out for yourself and that there are still things to learn about the game while you play it. Like the traps.

This game really benefits from playing it yourself. I really like it and often in study breaks for college I play a quick round of Delver. Like a floor or 5… I really need to pay attention with it since when it sucks you in, it won’t let you go easily.

With some more work, this game will become a gem that everyone should play. I truly had trouble finding bad things about this game. But the things I found are flaws that can be patched. And the music is great, yet more music would be lovely. Thanks for reading and until the next time!

Score: 90 / 100