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Last Updated: Friday, 4 July, 2003, 00:04 GMT 01:04 UK
No salvation for Angel of Darkness
Alfred Hermida
By Alfred Hermida
BBC News Online

Cyber heroine Lara Croft is back on the scene with Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, where she has to run, jump and shoot her way through her latest adventure.

Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness
Lara has to scale her way across the Paris rooftops
After three years of development, Angel of Darkness is intended to breathe new life into one of the most successful video game series of all time.

The title comes to the PlayStation 2 and the PC with an engaging storyline, impressive locations and a sweeping score.

But an awkward control system and a bewildering third-person perspective quickly undermine any enjoyment of this game.

Murder mystery

Lara Croft has undergone a bit of a transformation for Angel of Darkness. Developers Core have given her a darker, edgier attitude.

This is evident from the very start of the game, which begins with our heroine implicated in the murder of a rival.

Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness
Lara gets a sidekick called Kurtis Trent
The search to unravel the mystery takes Lara to Paris, Prague and into ancient subterranean catacombs.

The adventure unfolds much like the previous Tomb Raider titles. There are dark alleyways to explore and puzzles to solve, but in addition you can now talk to characters in the game.

And in a departure for the series, our heroine has a playable sidekick for part of the mission - a veteran adventurer called Kurtis Trent.

There is also a new but largely pointless system of power-ups, with Lara improving her abilities and getting stronger during the game.

The look of the game has had a major overhaul and the streets of Paris and Prague are full of visual detail.

Throw in a sumptuous music score performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and an engaging tale and you end up with a sinister and atmospheric setting for Angel of Darkness.

Cumbersome controls

Unfortunately all this effort is undermined by the way the game plays. The controls on the PlayStation 2 are unwieldy, unresponsive and downright frustrating.

Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness
Lara can go into stealth mood to sneak by enemies
Lara Croft may be a world-class athlete, but she handles like a truck. Just getting her to turn in the right direction can involve fiddly tweaking of the control stick.

It takes hours to get used to the feel of the controls and even then you have to deal with a hopeless third-person perspective.

The camera swings from scene to scene, occasionally causing the controls to flip, so forward becomes backwards and so forth.

This means that lining Lara up for a tricky jump can be a major hassle. Be prepared to fall to your death repeatedly and spend time looking at reloading screens.

Luckily rather than using fixed checkpoints, the game lets you save as you go along, which is just as well.

The other major snag with the game is the AI of Lara's enemies. At times, they seem determined to ignore Lara, regardless of what you do. This hardly makes for a challenging experience.

Hardcore Lara Croft fans may stick with the tricky controls and forgive glitches as they immerse themselves in the world of Tomb Raider.

But fans of adventure games may find the playing the game too much of a frustrating and ultimately disheartening experience.

Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness is out for the PlayStation 2 and the PC


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