If there has been a game that has been in development with as much hype as it has had, I would be amazed to hear about it. Because Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness has had delay upon delay to try and set this game right to become another great addition to the Tomb Raider series. Well the wait is now finally over, and lets just say Core Design may want to go back to the drawing boards on this one because it fails to get anything right.
I will just start off this review by saying that the Tomb Raider series on the PS1 was never one of my favorites. I found that the games had some elements of interest but mostly they just didn’t do much for me. Now that the series came to the PS2 I thought the new console might be able to bring the game the little edge it needed in my mind to be a great one. Well instead of improving things, they went the opposite way and made things tougher and more frustrating then before.
With all that being said this is still Tomb Raider and it is still going to gain a lot of attention just because of the title. But the series had been faltering and struggling to keep its fans happy. And then Eidos ran a huge campaign advertising that this game would turn around the series and would make everyone happy again. Well the game does look a lot better but it just can’t compete with other games on the market today.
Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness is driven by a plot that sounds very interesting on paper but isn’t put to great use during the game. Lara gets in an argument with her mentor who then ended up dead. So during the first part of the game you will be running from the cops and then the plot takes off from there.
So once you get past the first few cut scenes it’s off to the game, where a lot of major problems stop this game from being anything it was thought out to be. When you first take control of Lara you are given a few quick basic lessons to try and get used to the controls of the game. But let’s face it, it is going to take a lot longer then the few tutorials that they give you to really get the controls down.
The one thing I felt right away was that the controls of the game felt pretty awkward to the point where I just was getting extremely frustrated. In a game like this I would much rather have simple laid back controls so I could go in guns blazing and have a good time. But instead Eidos decided to make the controls difficult and much less effective then the normal third person shooter. This is one of those games that you can blame the controls for a lot of your faults. It seems like one out of three jumps will end up coming up short because of the terrible controls. It is something that you really have to get used to with the game and can really become a big annoyance throughout the game.
If the controls weren’t bad enough the camera doesn’t make matters much better. Instead of having full control of the camera with the right analog stick like in most games Core decided they wanted to make things worse and gave you limited control. Well isn’t that just great, now you get to see the wall or inside Lara’s head because the camera doesn’t work right. This is probably the biggest problem with the game because it happens so frequently throughout the game. The Tomb Raider series has never been known to have good camera angles but this game just made the other games look like gems.
These two major faults combined with minor flaws throughout the game just seem to add up in the end to make one frustrating game. With the title already bringing in a lot of attention it is a shame that Core couldn’t manage to even come up with a semi-decent playable game. Instead you will find yourself cursing at the TV in frustration.
The PlayStation version of Tomb Raider was never a graphical gem, but always did a nice job of having very elaborate environments followed by some decent character models. Now that the game has made its way onto the PS2 there has been much change to the games look from the ones on the PS1. Lara has now evolved from the blurry mess on the PS1 to the crispy detailed Lara on the PS2.
If I had to pick one thing Core did right with the game it would have to be the graphics of the game (not including the camera). The game starts off very strong with some very nice looking cut scenes that will really start of the game very nicely. Once you get into the game you will notice the level of detail is toned down a few notches from the cut scenes but things do look pretty sharp.
The environments are pretty impressive with a nice emphasis on detail with some very interesting touches. As you get through the game though, things start to gradually take a turn for the worse as things start looking the same over and over again and it starts to look pretty bland. The character models (besides Lara) were not given enough attention and therefore don’t look overly impressive. Overall the graphics do look pretty good it’s just a shame that the gameplay couldn’t hold up its side of the deal.
Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness is one of the most frustrating games I have ever played. It’s not the good frustrating like you would find in Splinter Cell but the frustrating that you see a game with so much potential end up being a total disappointment. The controls and the camera add up to make one of the least fun games to the play on the PS2. There is nothing new, nor interesting nor about the gameplay, but just a lot of problems. The combat also is pretty bland and doesn’t give you any gratification for killing people. Overall there is a very limited amount of fun to be had in the game, and that is never good.
Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness is a game that has all the potential but Core failed to do anything with it to make it worth anyone’s while. The camera and the controls will mostly turn off people right from the get go, but if that doesn’t do the trick then the repetitive nature of the game will end up boring you in the end. I can only recommend this one to the true hardcore Tomb Raider fans, but for the rest of us there are much better games out there!
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.