||Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
So THAT'S what 128-bit breasts look like! - Review By Subskin
The Tomb Raider series more or less ushered in 3D third-person adventure gameplay on consoles. It also marked the beginning of an ungodly amount of breast jokes in video game articles. Now that I've gotten one out of the way, let's get down to the nitty gritty.
Lara's come to the Dreamcast. Know what that means? It's time to call over some friends and break out the pizza and beer - cause Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation is going to be a long ride.
The interface in The Last Revelation is okay. It takes a long time to load up the main menu - because it actually loads a large Tomb Raider level. While you navigate the menu, the background flies through this sample level. This has a nice, unobtrusive effect. More importantly, it doesn't seem as dry as the standard main menu: a big picture of the game's logo with "Start," "Load," and "Options" underneath.
In case of an emergency, Lara's chest can be used as a floatation device. But seriously, folks...
The Last Revelation strongly mirrors Indiana Jones - The Last Crusade. The game begins with Lara as a 16-year-old apprentice to Werner Von Croy. Von Croy takes Lara with him to Cambodia on a quest for ancient artifacts. This first level serves as an introduction to both the game's controls and Lara's start as an adventurer. After the young-Lara stage, the game moves ahead to present day Egypt. I won't give much away about the plot, but you can expect ancient curses and booby-traps.
Pre-rendered computer generated cinemas are shown between each level. These cinemas boast great graphics. They are also pretty well directed; I've seen worse movies in the theater (coughphantommenacecough). The only complaint against them? Each one is pretty short -- The Last Revelation relies much more on in-game sequences for the story. After the majesty that opened Soul Reaver, I was really hoping to see Core show off those CG skills.
The sounds in The Last Revelation are wonderful. The voice actors speak with rare emotion, and pauses between dialogue occur at a decent rate to promote believability. Granted, it's not exactly Charlize Theron, but it'll do. (By the way, Charlize, I'm still waiting for you to return my calls.)
The ambient sounds are also delightful. Twigs break in the distance, torches crackle in stereo, and footsteps creep across concrete. In the darker sections of The Last Revelation, these eerie sounds reminded me of The Blair Witch Project.
For those dark areas, Lara carries flares that can be activated by pressing L and R simultaneously. Playing The Last Revelation requires every part of the Dreamcast controller - including both the Analog and Digital Pads. The controls are nicely mapped, though, making it easy to remember how to perform Lara's numerous moves. Very quickly you should know how to sprint, dive, draw your weapon, and climb...
But good luck actually pulling those moves off! Only Bill Clinton could control a woman like Lara Croft.
There are some cool looking scenes, but poor control, graphics, and gameplay really pull Tomb Raider down.
The Analog Pad walks and sidesteps, and the Digital Pad runs and rotates. Using the R-Button while running makes Lara sprint. Three speeds sounds like enough, right? Wrong! Lara walks slower than my Grandmother, so it's only useful for creeping up to ledges. When Lara runs, though, her stride is so long that she will invariably find a cliff to fall off. There's really nothing in between, so you're left either shuffling your feet for hours or running blindly into traps.
Trying to spin around is also frustrating. The only person I've seen rotate slower than Lara is that jackass from Fighting Force 2. Since Lara can't turn at an acceptable rate, sprinting is worthless. I cannot tell you how many times I ran that woman into a wall trying to make a simple turn at top speed.
Controlled jumping is a significant part of the challenge of The Last Revelation. Hey, I enjoyed Prince of Persia, so this shouldn't be that bad. Except that you can't control Lara's jumping. Split-second timing and pinpoint accuracy are required for the leaps in The Last Revelation -- but the horrific controls make that impossible. It can take a while just to walk up to a 2-foot ledge and get in the exact position to pull yourself over it. Trying to make a perfect jump at top speed, then, is painful. I spent the majority of the time falling to my death.
Sometimes I was unfortunate enough to make these difficult jumps -- and thus have to continue playing. The strained controls make simple environmental actions like pulling a lever difficult. Getting Lara right on the spot to press a button is a royal pain in the breasts.
This pile of polygons is supposed to be a tree. Maybe most players are too busy staring at Lara's thighs to notice.
The graphics make environmental interaction even tougher. Lara is supposed to climb vines to reach high areas. However, the level textures are so bad you cannot even tell when the vines are there! No kidding, these textures are Super Nintendo quality: poorly drawn without enough colors. This is supposed to be a Dreamcast game? Please...
Actually, using such cheap textures should allow The Last Revelation designers to use a ton of polygons for the map and character design. Unfortunately, they did not. In the introductory level, Lara finds the worst rendered tree I have ever seen. This thing is actually a cube with big, ugly, low resolution graphics on its sides. The "roots" of the tree are triangular prisms sticking out of each side. I cannot imagine the amount of time that did not go into designing these things.
With low resolution, low color, and low polygon counts, the frame rate should at least be high. For some sinister reason, it isn't. Suffering from every possible graphic weakness, Lara moves like a 300-pound girl dancing in a strobe light. And the result is about as attractive.
Yippie, another cool puzzle that ultimately involves pushing a lever. Oooh.
The level design suffers for two reasons. First, the graphics are so bad it's difficult to tell what you're looking at. Falling sand is so poorly detailed that it looks like lava, so you would expect different results from touching it. Second, the puzzles are boring and repetitive. Here's a hint: to beat the game, you need to climb some stuff, jump over a ledge, swim to the bottom, and push a button somewhere. Do that in countless rooms and you should be fine -- but maybe a little insane.
On a final note, The Last Revelation includes a slightly worthless Image Gallery. Four images are available from the start, and you can discover at least eight more throughout the game. Each features a computer generated Lara playing with or modeling the Dreamcast. Hey Eidos: if you wanted Lara to promote the DC, you could have made a better game!
The Final Word
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation represents a continuing effort by Eidos to confuse the hell out of me. Are they committed to producing quality Dreamcast titles like Soul Reaver and Sword of the Berserk? Or are they content to directly port 32-bit Playstation games to the Dreamcast with little or no improvements, like Fighting Force 2 and Tomb Raider? Either way, The Last Revelation is a lesson in mediocrity.
Developer: Core Design
Highs: Tomb Raider finally comes to the Dreamcast, nice voices and sounds.
Lows: Horrendous gameplay, some of the worst graphics on the Dreamcast.
Other: 1 Player, VMU Compatible (saving requires 35 Blocks), Jump Pack Compatible.
(out of a possible 10)
Visit this Game's Dreamcast Database Entry
Comments on this review? Mail Feedback.