Tomb Raider


Eidos Interactive

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When you take a look at all the action games available, you will remark that despite all the differences that exist between them, they all have the same common point, the hero's gender. Since the early stages of the video games industry, the main character of action games has always been a male. From the old titles of Pitfall and Prince of Persia to the more recent games such as Fade to Black and Time Commando, you untiringly take the role of a male adventurer, and with nine out of ten players being male, it is surely not easy to bend the balance in the other direction. There is one title though that could change all this, and this game is Tomb Raider.

Lara Croft
Lara Croft
In the newest game from the British company Core Design, you will incarnate the character of Lara Croft. Impassioned by adventure, Lara is a young woman who loves to travel and is always looking for exciting challenges where she can surpass herself and experience new sensations. In other words, she has nothing to envy from Indiana Jones, nor the other popular virile heroes from TV. In fact, when you see what Lara does in Tomb Raider, you will arrive at the conclusion that she probably has more guts than you and me. Now, you might wonder why a woman was chosen to play the role of this daredevil adventurer. The answer is simple, and actually so convincing, that we might be the witnesses of a new generation of action games with women as main characters. In essence, the answer is the following. Since we must watch the character during the whole game, it is much more pleasant to look at a woman.

Indeed, Lara is a beautiful girl, but if you want to stay out of trouble, don't mess with her. The mercenaries of the Natla Corporation took too long to learn, at their expense, that she is a tough adversary and a very resourceful person. In the beginning however, nothing predicted that Lara would have to deal with the hired man of Jacqueline Natla, the very same person that had hired her to retrieve an ancient artifact called The Scion. But what Lara simply believed to be another eccentricity of the rich captain of industry, turned out only to be a piece of a puzzle in which she was a single pawn. From the moment she understood this, she decided that whatever was remaining to be uncovered, she Lara, would do the job and keep it for herself.

When Lara accepted her mission from Mrs. Natla, she ignored that she would embark into a fantastic adventure, the kind you remember your whole life. All she knew was that The Scion was hidden somewhere into the undiscovered Tomb of Qalopec, located in the Peruvian mountains. However, she was far from suspecting the danger she would face, nor to imagine what was awaiting her in the thrilling adventure she just walked into. After the heavy doors of the tomb's entrance had closed behind her back, Lara was alone, confronted to her own destiny, but determined to find The Scion.

Ready for shooting
Ready for shooting
What makes Tomb Raider totally awesome is the combination of an excellent 3D engine with an innovative third-person perspective view and an intelligent system of cameras which deliver a quite unique game play. Just the 3D environment itself isn't like anything you have seen before. With Tomb Raider, say good-bye to the boring architecture of traditional 3D games where rooms, one after the other, always look the same. They might sometimes appear smaller or larger, with doors, corridors or tunnels, and eventually with lifts and teleporters, but if this sounds exciting for you to explore, it isn't for me. There is nothing more resembling to a square room than another square room. That's why Tomb Raider with its intricate design is so appealing. The caves are the best example of this complex architecture, featuring an irregular vault, jagged walls, and huge rocks of ever changing forms scattered all around. Throughout the game, you will explore various places, but unlike some games that simply change the textures to give you the impression of exploring another location, there are no two places alike in Tomb Raider. You will successively visit the lost Incan city of Vilcabamba, then explore a level heavily inspired by Greek and Roman civilizations, before entering the Egyptian city of Kheema, built on the remains of an Atlantean storage facility. If you are still alive after these three levels, you then head to an island where Natla Technologies own mines. This will then conduct you into the heart of the Atlantean Pyramid.

Anywhere you go in Tomb Raider, you will see 3D all around, which also applies to the game's characters, made of light-sourced textured polygons. The polygonal character of Lara alone have over 2,000 frames of animation that allow many possibilities of movement for a complete freedom within the 3D real-time environment. Among the other characters of the game, you will encounter Larsen, right-hand man of Mrs. Natla, other mercenaries and a variety of animals and creatures. Each one, while having a lower number of frames than Lara, is remarkably well animated, and is endowed with a very cunning intelligence. They will, for example, try to hide from you if you shoot at them and they can't attack you directly because you are somewhere above them. But watch out because they will come back whenever they can get you. To give another example, mercenaries will shoot at you when you are in their line of sight, even though you are way upstairs and can't see them. The artificial intelligence in Tomb Raider is definitely a plus to the game. Instead of having legions of dumb opponents that you just blast out like popping balloons in a fancy fair, you will encounter realistic combatants that look very lifelike, and also demonstrate intelligence, even though we can't really speak of intelligence for animals, but rather conservation instinct. Among the variety of animals you will encounter, there are wolves, lions, bears, monkeys, bats, crocodiles, rats, pumas, dinosaurs; the list is quite exhaustive.

Lara as seen in the game
Lara as seen
in the game
As Lara's movements can sometimes be complicated as we'll see later, the system of cameras had to adopt a strategy that would provide the player with the best possible views. This has been successfully achieved in Tomb Raider with a system that uses no less than four different camera views, changing from one to the other in a completely transparent manner for the user. For the essential of the game, the view will be through the eye of a camera placed behind and above Lara that can either slide to the left or right, or zoom in or out according Lara's steps. Sometimes to render dramatic effects during the game, the camera will move around Lara with a slow pan movement. When you perform special actions such as moving a lever that opens a door or enter a new area, an external view will show you the scene from a different point of view. The last possible view targets a particular object or important clue in the game. As Lara moves in the room, the camera places itself so that you could draw a straight line from the object to the camera with Lara placed between them. Wherever Lara is placed, you always see the object and Lara. Still there are a few times in the game where it is be hard to see, for example, what lies below, and where you should go next. To help you better evaluate your position, you can override the movement of the camera so that it is placed right over Lara's head to look up or down.

The range of movements that Lara can execute is quite impressive in Tomb Raider. Not only she can jump forward, backward, to the left and right side, and upwards, but also swim and dive. If you add that you can make standing and running jumps, you can just imagine all the combinations. And if you were wondering about having to jump several times in a row to advance in the game, yes you will be confronted to this genre of difficulty! It is wise to save often during the game, especially when you are ready to make a long jump over a deep gap. You might finish your course gruesomely impaled on stakes, or completely disjointed after your fall. Some moves will sometimes require precision and exact timing, such as those where you finish hanging over the edge with just the force of your fingers like a good climber would do. Other times, you will have to jump from one column to another within a certain time before flames are back again and burn you alive. In the water, your movements will be limited to swim forward, backward, and dive. As in reality, you won't be able to stay underwater forever and a gauge on the screen will indicate you how much time you have left before you drown.

If the game is action-oriented, it is also an adventure game where you must solve problems. Most of the time, you will need to locate levers that open doors, move or push blocks to make your way out, but also find items such as keys and mechanical cog wheels. In fact, locating the exit will be in itself a true puzzle, and staying alive a real challenge. Fortunately, you will find medical kits throughout the levels that partially or fully restore your health depending their size. Various ammunition can be collected as well as weapons, but don't expect to find too many of them in Tomb Raider scattered on the ground, as they will be more likely hidden in places that are not always easy to access!

Like a growing number of games, Tomb Raider features a CD audio track which effectively sets the mood of the game. Here, the soundtrack is more like a recording of the ambient sounds than real music, which is certain to intensify the dramatic atmosphere of the game. The other sound effects include animal squeals, underwater sounds, your footsteps on the ground, waterfall noises, and much more to discover.


Whatever the resolution (VGA or SVGA) you play Tomb Raider in on a PC, it will be an exceptional experience that you will never forget. If furthermore you own a card supporting the 3Dfx 3D graphic processor (typically from Orchid or Diamond), you simply won't believe what you have in front of your eyes.

With Tomb Raid, Core Design has entered the arena of the best developers, and we can only pray that they continue what they started, so that they will keep surprising us in the future.

Written by Frederick Claude

Click here for screen shots.

Click here for the demo.



System Requirements:

IBM-PC Pentium-60 or higher,
Min 8Mb memory,
Windows 95 or Dos 5.0 or higher,
Hard drive required with at least 20Mb free,
Double speed CD-ROM drive faster,
SVGA VESA local bus video graphic card.

All major soundcards supported.

Keyboard, most gamepads and joysticks supported.


Core Design Ltd.,
55 Ashbourne Road,
Derby, DE22 3FS,


In North America:

Eidos Interactive,
303 Sacramento St.,
San Francisco, CA 94111.

Technical Support:415-217-4111 Monday through Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm PST
Hint line:1-900-77-EIDOS $0.95 per min

Internet Support: Eidos Interactive Technical Support
Web site: Eidos Interactive

In Europe:

In UK:

Eidos Interactive UK,
The Boat House,
15 Thames Street,
Hampton, Middx, TW12 2EW.

Internet Support: Eidos Interactive UK Technical Support

In France:

Eidos Interactive France,
6, boulevard du General Leclerc,
92115 Clichy.

Technical support:+33-1-4106-9670

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