Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness
|Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness|
Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness is the sixth video game in the Tomb Raider series, acting as a direct sequel to Tomb Raider Chronicles and The Last Revelation. It was developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. The game was originally released in 2003 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2 and Mac OS X and was the first Tomb Raider title to be released for the PlayStation 2 console. The storyline follows Lara Croft as she attempts to clear herself of murdering her former mentor Werner Von Croy while investigating the activities of a black magic cult.
The game's development began three years before release. The intention was to create a different game from previous entries in the franchise which could compete better with newer action games, and to fully exploit the potential of the next generation of gaming platforms. The production was fraught with difficulties, and the game ended up being delayed twice. When released, the game sold 2.5 million copies worldwide, but was widely criticized for its poor controls and multiple bugs. In the aftermath of the game's release, a potential trilogy was scrapped and development of the franchise was transferred to Crystal Dynamics for the next entry in the series, Tomb Raider: Legend.
Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, like previous Tomb Raider games, is a third-person action-adventure puzzle game. Players control the main series protagonist Lara Croft through the majority of the game. The majority of Lara's basic moves are carried over from the previous instalment, such as walking, jumping, climbing, swinging on ropes and standard gunplay. Her new moves include a back-flip, a small hop, army-crawling, hand-to-hand combat and a "super-jump" that can be performed whilst running. Lara can also sneak up on enemies and perform stealth attacks, flatten herself against walls and peer round corners. Lara's ability to sprint, present in the three previous entries in the series, was removed. Her weapons arsenal is also modified from previous games, featuring new weapons such as a K2 Impactor stun gun and upgraded versions of weapons like the shotgun.
Unlike previous games in the series, Lara has a stamina meter which depletes whilst she is performing bouts of climbing: if the bar empties before reaching her destination, she falls. The rate at which the meter decrease slows if the player performs special actions that increase Lara's strength. These actions are also necessary to progress in many of the levels. The game incorporates elements similar to a role-playing game, whereby Lara can talk with various NPCs found throughout the environments and chose what kinds of answers to give: early in the game, these answers will directly affect her progress through the story. The game also features a second playable character, Kurtis Trent. Initially appearing to be an antagonist, the player assumes control of him late in the game. He features mainly identical moves to Lara, and his sections of the game are more based around combat.
Angel of Darkness follows on from events in Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation and Tomb Raider Chronicles, where Lara Croft was presumed dead. An unspecified time later, Lara arrives in Paris at the request of her former mentor, Werner Von Croy. The city, and Von Croy, are gripped with fear over a serial killer the press have dubbed the "Monstrum". The Monstrum steals body parts and leaves distinctive signs made with the victim’s blood in its wake. During a confrontation with Von Croy at his apartment, a flurry of activity occurs and Lara is knocked unconscious. When she wakes, Von Croy has been murdered by the Monstrum, and Lara is the prime suspect. Fleeing the crime scene with police in pursuit, Lara tracks down Von Croy's friend Margot Carvier, who agrees to give Lara Von Croy's old notebook, which he had left with her for safekeeping. From Carvier, Lara discovers that Von Croy had been contracted by a client named Eckhardt to track down medieval icons called the Obscura Paintings. It is later revealed Carvier is also murdered by the Monstrum.
Shortly before his death, Von Croy had been in contact with a French businessman and underworld figure, Louis Bouchard. Lara must track down Bouchard through the almost-deserted backstreets of Paris, discovering that Bouchard is now in hiding after several of his associates were killed by the Monstrum. When she does locate him, Bouchard reveals Von Croy had contacted him for assistance in breaking into an archaeological dig beneath the Musée du Louvre. Lara gains access to the Louvre through its storm drains, and is able to uncover more information connecting the archaeological dig to the Obscura Paintings. The paintings concern the Nephilim, a hybrid creature descended from angels and humans, which once lived in Turkey. A single dormant Nephilim now remains, the Cubiculum Nephili or "Sleeper". The five Obscura Paintings, when connected, form a talisman called the Sanglyph that can be used to revive the Sleeper. To prevent this, an ancient society called the Lux Veritatis stole one of the paintings and hid it in a guarded vault beneath the Louvre. Lara must descend into the Lux Veritatis stronghold beneath the Louvre to retrieve it. Whilst attempting to escape with the painting, Lara is disarmed by Kurtis Trent, the last of the Lux Veritatis, who wields a magical Chirugai blade. Kurtis steals the painting, but both he and Lara are knocked unconscious before they can flee.
Upon regaining consciousness, Lara is met by Bouchard, who informs her there has been a Monstrum killing in Prague. Bouchard then betrays Lara, attempting to have her killed, but Lara survives and makes her way to the Czech Republic. Outside the Monstrum crime scene, Lara meets a Czech journalist named Luddick, who fills her in on Eckhardt, an immortal black alchemist who leads a mysterious local organization called the Cabal, and whom Luddick believes is the Monstrum. Lara also encounters a captive Bouchard near the crime scene, who reveals Eckhardt's full plan for reviving the Nephilim. Soon after, Lara rediscovers Bouchard dead.
With Luddick's assistance, Lara infiltrates the Cabal's headquarters, the Strahov, and in the process accidentally frees the Proto-Nephilim, the Cabal's unsuccessful attempt to breed a new Nephilim species. Meanwhile, Lara witnesses Eckhardt murder Luddick. She again encounters Kurtis, who locks her in a compartment while he kills the Proto-Nephilim using his two Periapt Shards, daggers capable of killing immortal beings. Lara and Kurtis team up to stop Eckhardt assembling the Sanglyph, with Lara retrieving the final Obscura Painting buried deep beneath the Strahov. However, Lara must surrender this painting to save Kurtis, after he is captured by Eckhardt. Kurtis gives Lara his Periapt shards, but she will need a third lost shard to defeat Eckhardt, which Eckhardt has hidden in his laboratory. While Lara flees to track this shard down, Kurtis attempts to hold off an attack from Boaz, the horribly mutated remains of a fallen Cabal member. Kurtis succeeds in killing her, but is severely wounded in the process.
After retrieving the final Periapt shard, Lara discovers Eckardt in the midst of attempting to revive the Sleeper, using the Sanglyph and body parts stolen from the Monstrum's victims. She is able to stab him with two shards, but before she can deliver the final blow, she is interrupted by Eckhardt's right-hand man, Karel. Karel kills Eckhardt with the final shard, revealing that he is a Nephilim himself, and had used Eckhardt to ensure the survival of his species. He had also manipulated Lara, in the guise of Bouchard, Luddick and Kurtis, to retrieve the Obscura Paintings. He offers Lara immortality if she will help him complete the task, but Lara experiences a flashback to Von Croy’s murder, and sees that Karel, in Eckhardt's form, was the Monstrum. She refuses, retrieves the Sanglyph from Eckhardt's body, and plants it on the Sleeper, overloading it with energy and causing it to explode, taking Karel with it. In the aftermath, Lara discovers Kurtis' Chirugai blade, which directs her towards Boaz's chamber. Smiling, she heads inside.
The Angel of Darkness started development three years prior to its release under the working title Tomb Raider next generation. As part of the preparation for the game, the company conducted market research, and decided to create a new setting and story for the main character. One of the main drives behind the game was fully utilizing the new platform's potential and reinventing the character of Lara Croft, including rebuilding her character model and allowing her to perform melee combat. It was the first game in the series to be made for the PlayStation 2 platform: the previous entry in the series, Tomb Raider: Chronicles, had pushed the PlayStation to its technical limits, contributing to lower review scores and sales than previous titles in the series. Core Design separated into two teams, with a new team working on Angel of Darkness and series regulars on Tomb Raider: Chronicles. After the completion of Tomb Raider: Chronicles, lead programmer Richard Morton came over and found that the new team had gone off the rails, scrapping the entire project once already and completing only the game's basic story. The developers later admitted to being overambitious. Among the concepts that needed to be cut from the game were two further locations and many gameplay elements involving Kurtis Trent. Jonell Elliott returned as the voice of Lara Croft. This would be the last time she provided the voice, with Keeley Hawes taking over for Tomb Raider: Legend.
Among the goals of the team for Angel of Darkness were to create more complicated puzzles and make the character of Lara Croft, together with the tone of the game, darker and more hard-edged. They also wished to compete with some of the newer action-adventure games on the market, which were providing heavy competition, and include gameplay ideas from Shenmue and the Metal Gear series. Many character movements were drawn from and based directly on movements made by real people, similar to later motion capture techniques, and the world design drew from various artists and elements of films from the likes of Luc Besson and David Fincher. Murti Schofield, who had previously worked with Core Design, was brought in to write the story and script. As part of writing the background for the organizations involved in the story, he researched historical secret societies and artefacts, and accurate translations of Latin text incorporated into the game. Schofield created the character of Kurtis upon a request for someone who could become the focus of a spin-off franchise. Core spent two years trying to reshape the franchise as well as writing a back story in the form of a book separated into multiple chapters, with Angel of Darkness being the first of those chapters.
The Angel of Darkness was unveiled under its official name in March 2002, with a fuller demonstration appearing at E3 that year. Problems with the game were sensed at an early stage, as Heath-Smith forgot himself and began swearing at the game while trying to demonstrate the opening level at a buyer's conference. A release date was announced for November 2002, but the game got delayed into spring 2003. Eidos believed The Angel of Darkness would benefit from additional marketing support from the long-anticipated movie sequel, The Cradle of Life, and despite another delay, the company pushed Core Design to release the game in time for the marketing support. In order to meet the deadline, areas of the game containing key narrative elements had to be cut; one of the losses was the explanation of how the character survived the events of The Last Revelation. Some of those elements were also deliberately left out by the team, who wished to bring them into future games. The team at Core Design later said that they felt Eidos forced them to get the game out before it was ready. The game was also reportedly submitted eight times to Sony before its release. The game went gold on 18 June 2003, two days before its original release date, although there was some confusion as the game had reportedly gone gold on 2 June. The game was finally released in the summer of 2003, alongside The Cradle of Life.
|Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness [Collector's Edition] Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Peter Connelly (composer)
Martin Iveson (composer)
Peter Wraight (orchestrator)
David Snell (conductor)
|Released||2002 (DVD Format)
|Genre||Video Game Soundtrack, Orchestral|
The music for Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness was composed by Peter Connelly and Martin Iveson. The soundtrack, compared to earlier entries in the franchise, was far more orchestral. It was also one of the few areas of the game's development that did not suffer setbacks or similar problems. The score was recorded live by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, London, in 2002. It was orchestrated by Peter Wraight and conducted by David Snell. The Europe-exclusive 'Collector's Edition' of the game included eight tracks from the game's soundtrack on the bonus documentary DVD. These tracks were later release as a stand-alone Audio CD.
|Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness [Collector's Edition] Soundtrack Track-listing:|
|1.||"Paris 1 - The Accused"||2:51|
|2.||"Prague - The Unseen Attacks"||2:26|
|3.||"Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness" (Main Theme)||3:08|
|4.||"Paris 2 - Shadow Of The Monstrum"||1:34|
|6.||"Dance Of The Lux Veratatis"||1:37|
|7.||"Paris 3 - The Duel"||1:48|
|8.||"Boaz - Cabal Attack"||2:21|
Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness received strong initial sales, mostly driven by an aggressive advertising campaign. The game reached 6th place in the UK Top 20 sales charts, but dropped to 13th by the following week. It eventually went on to sell 2.5 million copies. The game garnered mixed reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100, the game received an average score of 52 and 49 for the PlayStation 2 and Windows version, respectively. Reviewers praised the game's storyline, graphics, sound, and environments, while they criticized its large number of bugs and system requirements and its poor controls, combat system, and camera movement. Gaming magazines Game Informer and PlayStation Official Magazine gave it 5.5/10 and 8/10 respectively.
The game's story received positive reviews. IGN's Douglas C. Perry praised its "compelling storyline" and "set of intriguing bit characters", while Gamespot's Greg Kasavin praised the story as "interesting", expressing surprise that it did not earn a higher ESRB rating. Eurogamer's Kristan Reed called it "a cut above most gaming fodder, and an area Core has paid an enormous amount of attention to." Game Revolution's A. A. White was less positive, stating that while the game's darker story was an improvement compared to its predecessors, it never "[managed] to build to a captivating crescendo", while the reviewer for GamesRadar called it "bountiful but confusing and ultimately of GCSE-standard creative writing." The music and sound were also highly praised. Perry called it "beautifully scored game, plush with dramatic mood and feeling", with minimal sound effects adding "a sense of variety and even peculiarity", Reed called it "excellently atmospheric throughout, and easily the best yet in the series." while Kavasin praised the game for "excellent ambient effects, a perfectly suited musical score, and first-rate voice acting."
The reaction to the graphics were mixed to positive. Perry cited multiple examples of good level design, smooth character models, surface textures and lightning, while feeling more mixed about Lara's unrealistic figure and hardened appearance. White cited the graphics as an improvement, but was unimpressed by Lara's character model and noted multiple frame-rate dips that seemed "almost like playing the game in slow motion." The GamesRadar review called the graphics "a measured improvement on [Tomb Raider: Chronicles], but not a clean break from the [previous] Croft titles." Karavin called the detailing in textures and models "impressive", but cited several points where the game suffered from severe framerate dips. Reed praised the game's graphical polish, with "almost every multi-tiered location crammed with detail and careful incidentals", but critiqued the frequent loading screens and stylized or low detail for environments and characters.
The gameplay was heavily criticized. Perry said that those aspects of the game "pale in comparison to 90% of the PlayStation 2's adventure or action-adventure games, and they actually hurt the rest of the game's best qualities", but that the new moves worked smoothly apart from the stealth actions. White criticized the new layout's negative effect on gameplay and the poor enemy AI, and Kasavin called the experience "frustrating, difficult, and tedious", though stating that such moments stood out because many areas of the game were "thrilling". Reed found the controls dated and the stealth mechanics and strength upgrade system unnecessary, while the GamesRadar reviewer cited both the gameplay and control layout as dated, citing the difficulty of effectively controlling Lara at multiple points in the game because of these issues. The camera was also criticized, with White, Perry, Reed, Kasavin and the GamesRadar reviewer all citing it as awkward to control and sometimes wayward or confusing during its scripted movements.
The Angel of Darkness caused multiple problems for the Tomb Raider franchise. Paramount Pictures faulted The Cradle of Life's relatively inadequate box office performance on the poor critical reception, and backlash the video game received from its fans. The head of Core Design, Jeremy Heath-Smith, resigned after the release of the game, and plans for a sequel called The Lost Dominion, part of a proposed trilogy created using the game's engine, were scrapped. Following the poor performance of both the game and the second movie, Eidos Interactive took the production of Tomb Raider games away from Core Design and assigned them to Crystal Dynamics, noted as the developers of the Legacy of Kain series.
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