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It all starts when the head of Natla Enterprises hires upper-class adventuress Lara Croft to recover a lost artifact from an Incan temple. Discovering that Natla might have less-than-moral intentions towards the artifact's powers, Lara sets out to discover the truth about Natla, the artifact and the strange regions she finds herself following Natla to.
Admittedly the game has a weak plot, but that isn't why you play it. Instead it is strong in puzzle-solving, levels, action and atmosphere. In the PC version you can save at any point, making it easier to do puzzles one at a time and save after each stage. This makes the game much easier than the PSX version. Lara has a lower range of movement than in the later games, but she still swims, swandives and jumps.
The is the first and oldest of the Tomb Raider series and unfortunately it shows. The graphics are dated and polygon edges are visible, particularly on the sprites. Lara is decidedly conical in areas, and her face is poorly mapped. There are sawtooth edges on diagonals and some areas of the sprite. Levels, especially rock falls, often have obvious polygons and edges. This is particularly disappointing as the game can be loaded and run from the hard-drive, so a little extra time and spreading the game across more discs could have resolved the graphics issues. In particular the cgi quality is badly dated. Styles and silhouettes are used to cover the technical shortcomings, but in general although the cut scenes get the point across, they are little more than average. The sound is adequate for the game, but not outstanding, and sometimes comes across as crackly and poorly compressed.
Tomb Raider's excellent level design has been mapped identically to the playstation version. This game's best point is its complex and surprisingly large levels, and it has excellent level design, including the awesome (and annoying) St. Francis Folly. The puzzles are complex and take time to solve, but you can save at any point from the menu, making it easy to solve them in stages. Secrets are well placed and increase in difficulty and concealment as the game progresses.
Menus and inventories are handled by the famous rotating system. There is a limited variety of weapons and ammo to find, although her pistols have infinite ammunition so you always have a fallback. The keyboard controls take a while to get used to, and the tutorial is slightly limited and does not cover all her moves. The poor graphics can make judging jumps and acrobatics difficult, and the exact positioning to use switches is awkward using the keyboard. There are also no vehicles or costume changes but this works for the game, as it puts the focus purely on the gameplay and puzzlesolving.
This was the first Tomb Raider game I played, before I got the console version, and although the expansion pack Unfinished Business is included, the integration is virtually seemless. I didn't actually realise this was bonus content until I played the original game on the PS1.
This version on PC is one-player only with no multiplayer, though multiplayer versions have come out for some of the handheld platforms. For fans of action and puzzlesolving games, this is the original and one of the best games out there. The playstation version has better graphics and sound, but for PC fans this is a worthy port.
One thing to be way of is that this is a very old game and doesn't always run well on newer machines or updated graphics cards. It was written for Win95, and even compatibility mode on more advanced versions may not run it well - e.g. my current PC can't play it at all.
For fans of action and puzzlesolving games, this is the original, one of the best and definitely worth a look in this format.
(This is an update of my CIAO review)