It sounds like the most half-baked attempt at a cash-in ever: remake the original Tomb Raider game using the Tomb Raider Legend engine (essentially just a case of putting the new level design into an already existing game) and then throw in a few Wii-specific additions for good measure. The terms 'money' and 'old rope' should be applicable here. Or, at least, they would be if it wasn't for the fact that the finished product - entitled Tomb Raider Anniversary to celebrate the tenth birthday of Lara Croft's adventures - wasn't so damn brilliant. In fact, we'd go so far as to say that it's the best Tomb Raider since, well, the first one. And yes, we fully realise that that's a paradox.
While we're sure we don't need to introduce you to Lara Croft, chances are that the number of you reading this who've actually played through the original Tomb Raider (released on the PlayStation and Saturn back in 1996) is quite low. That doesn't really matter though, so long as you understand that the first game is easily the best. After all, it's still one of the only games in the series that *gasp!* actually sees you raiding tombs, rather than fighting smugglers, exploring skyscrapers, riding motorcycles or doing any of the silly non-tomb related things Lara's got up to over the years.
Just as the original had the perfect mix of elements then - tombs, raiding and a barrage of angry wildlife and fiendish puzzles to unravel - so too does Tomb Raider Anniversary, if only because it's basically the same game. Well, almost. The changes that have been made range from the cosmetic (the newly-polished visuals are genuinely lovely and bring alive the original locations in a way we'd never had imagined all those years ago) to the gameplay-integral (darkened areas require use of the new flashlight, while Lara's grappling hook has changed some of the puzzle dynamics a bit).
Tomb With A View
However, the original gameplay is so strong and so involving that these act merely as polish rather than anything more substantial. Walking into a chamber and being daunted by where you need to go next - in a positive way, you understand - is still very much the thrill here. Making progress and finally solving the last piece of the puzzle is deeply satisfying.
How do the Wii controls hold up under the need for precision jumping and a quick trigger finger though? Surprisingly well. Between aiming the camera, flashlight and weapons with the Wii Remote and flicking the Nunchuk to throw the grapple, we were impressed with how little trouble we had getting Lara to perform acrobatic feats. And just like the Wii-specific elements (which we've discussed above), it never feels gimmicky. Shaking the Nunchuk slightly while climbing or shimmying up a rope to speed Lara up works really well, while actually aiming your guns lets you fight multiple enemies with ease.
If we're honest, we'll admit to being incredibly impressed with Crystal Dynamics' effort here because not only does it manage to recreate the source material so faithfully but it also goes beyond the call of duty and delivers a truly absorbing adventure, even for those familiar with the original.
As an example of a true gamer's game, it ticks all the boxes but, more importantly, it adds Wii functionality without resorting to gimmicks. A great job all round then; Lara may have found her second