Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary - first look

The landmark adventure series goes back to its lonely, exploration-focused roots

Hey Tomb Raider fans, we need you to think back to 1996 for a second. Remember what it was like to make your huge-breasted way through ancient, moss-covered ruins, with only a few vicious-yet-boxy animals for company? When the only things standing between you and treasure were the elements and an endless series of horrible deathtraps? Developer Crystal Dynamics wants to bring all those feelings rushing back with Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary, a slick remake of the ruin-delving original.

Due out in spring for the PS2, PSP and PC (but not Xbox 360 or PS3, strangely), Anniversary isn't just Tomb Raider with a coat of current-gen gloss. The entire game is being redesigned, with bigger, more interactive levels and more forgiving gameplay that borrows heavily from this year's Tomb Raider: Legend. Even Lara herself - who sports a younger, pre-breast-reduction look along with her iconic blue-and-khaki outfit - has a few new tricks, not the least of which is the grappling hook from Legend. She also moves about four times faster than her first incarnation, and the levels were restructured accordingly - to see some of what we're talking about, hit the Movies tab above and check out the game's first trailer.

In the one-level PS2 demo we saw recently, Lara plunged into an overhauled version of the Lost Valley stage, now a gigantic cavern filled with giant gears and decaying rope bridges. Instead of just looking for the best way through each level, Lara will now be able to cut her own paths through it by collapsing bridges and shooting down hanging debris, which can create grapple points or handholds. It's all part of an effort, Crystal Dynamics says, to give players "a real presence" in the game world by making them feel as though they can reshape the environment.

Hey Tomb Raider fans, we need you to think back to 1996 for a second. Remember what it was like to make your huge-breasted way through ancient, moss-covered ruins, with only a few vicious-yet-boxy animals for company? When the only things standing between you and treasure were the elements and an endless series of horrible deathtraps? Developer Crystal Dynamics wants to bring all those feelings rushing back with Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary, a slick remake of the ruin-delving original.

Due out in spring for the PS2, PSP and PC (but not Xbox 360 or PS3, strangely), Anniversary isn't just Tomb Raider with a coat of current-gen gloss. The entire game is being redesigned, with bigger, more interactive levels and more forgiving gameplay that borrows heavily from this year's Tomb Raider: Legend. Even Lara herself - who sports a younger, pre-breast-reduction look along with her iconic blue-and-khaki outfit - has a few new tricks, not the least of which is the grappling hook from Legend. She also moves about four times faster than her first incarnation, and the levels were restructured accordingly - to see some of what we're talking about, hit the Movies tab above and check out the game's first trailer.

In the one-level PS2 demo we saw recently, Lara plunged into an overhauled version of the Lost Valley stage, now a gigantic cavern filled with giant gears and decaying rope bridges. Instead of just looking for the best way through each level, Lara will now be able to cut her own paths through it by collapsing bridges and shooting down hanging debris, which can create grapple points or handholds. It's all part of an effort, Crystal Dynamics says, to give players "a real presence" in the game world by making them feel as though they can reshape the environment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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