Tomb Raider III
|Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft|
Tom Scutt (AI)
Darren Wakerman (animation)
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows & PlayStation
JP 4 March 1999 (PS only)
INT 28 November 2012 (Steam)
Tomb Raider III - Adventures of Lara Croft is an action-adventure video game developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. It is the third instalment in the Tomb Raider series, and the sequel to Tomb Raider II. The game was originally released for PlayStation and Microsoft Windows in November 1998 and for the PlayStation Network in 2009 in America, with a release for the European PlayStation Network following in March 2011. The story follows Lara Croft as she embarks upon a quest to recover four pieces of a meteorite that are scattered across the world. The game has sold 6.5 million copies worldwide.
Millions of years ago, a meteoroid strikes Antarctica, decimating a large area full of life on the then-near-tropical continent. In the present day, a corporation called RX Tech, under the guidance of Dr. Mark Willard, excavates the site, finding strange Rapa Nui-like statues and the grave of one of the Darwin's sailors.
When the game begins, Lara Croft is searching for the artefact in the ruins of an ancient Indian temple once inhabited by the Infada tribe. She encounters a researcher working for RX Tech who appears to be insane. After parting ways, the researcher beats Lara to the Infada Stone, gaining supernatural powers. After killing him and taking the artefact, Lara is approached by Dr. Willard, the head of RX Tech, who explains the origins of the Infada Stone. Thousands of years ago, Polynesians came across the meteoroid crater and found that it had incredible power. Using rock from the meteoroid, they crafted four crystalline artefacts, one of which is the Infada Stone. They then fled Antarctica for unknown reasons, but, in the nineteenth century, a group of sailors travelling with Charles Darwin came to Antarctica and discovered the artefacts. The four stones were then distributed across the globe. Dr. Willard has been able to track the artefacts by using the diary of one of the sailors. Lara agrees to help find the other three stones.
- South Pacific
On an island in the South Pacific, Lara fights cannibal tribesman, Velociraptors, a T-Rex and encounters a wounded soldier who tells her of a deity who lives in the hills of the island. Lara pursues the deity and learns from one of the tribesman that one of Darwin's sailors brought one of the artefacts to the island from Antarctica. She also learns about why the inhabitants fled their city there; the son of the leader was born without a face, caused by prolonged exposure to the Meteorite. Lara then infiltrates the deity's temple and defeats the deity Puna, who has immense power granted by the meteor artefact called the Ora Dagger.
In London, Lara searches for the Eye of Isis, now in the possession of Sophia Leigh, the head of a cosmetics corporation. Lara learns that the corporation has performed sick experiments on humans in order to achieve immortality and eternal youth for Sophia's personal gain. The deformed subjects of Sophia's failed experiments, presumed dead by the corporation, were dumped in the sewers, and assist Lara in exchange for a bottle of embalming fluid from the Natural History Museum. Sophia sends a number of assassins, under her employment, to kill Lara. However, they are all unsuccessful and Lara climbs through a ventilation shaft to Sophia's office where she is sitting with the artefact on her desk. Sophia mockingly offers Lara a job, telling her that with her lifestyle she would be the perfect face for her products, then Lara tells Sophia that her human subjects she experimented on are still alive. Lara demands she hand over the artefact which she refuses to do. Sophia takes the artefact and runs out the balcony to the other building and Lara who works her way up Sophia's building and across to the one she is on. Sophia attempts to kill her using the powers of the artefact, but Lara defeats her by shooting a fuse box connected to an electrical bridge that Sophia was standing on after the battle causing her to get electrocuted.
Arriving in Nevada and making her way through a desert canyon, Lara tries to enter Area 51, where Element 115, one of the four artefacts, is located in an alien spacecraft guarded by the government. But she faces a severe setback when she is taken as a prisoner in the base after her attempted break-in ends disastrously. Freeing herself and the other inmates, she escapes the security compound and stows away in a truck to Area 51. Once she gets to Area 51, she eventually stows across a guarded spaceship that houses aliens, and eventually grabs the artefact from the main room.
Angered, she meets and confronts Dr. Willard, who reveals that he is planning to encourage rather than halt the mutations, only on a global scale, using the combined power of the Artefacts and the Meteorite they were carved from. As Lara voices her opposition to his operation, Willard betrays her, stealing the artefacts and disappearing into the excavation site. After fighting more mutants (including insectile and reptilian things within the city itself) and navigating the treacherous ruins of the ancient city built atop the meteor crater, Lara faces Willard, who has now used the power of the four artefacts to activate the even greater power of the meteor: to greatly speed up the evolutionary processes of the human body and thereby turning himself into a terrifying and all-powerful spider-like creature. Lara deactivates the meteor by taking the artefacts out of their positions that they were put in, kills the mutated Spider Willard and escapes by helicopter.
Lara's mansion in England
Tomb Raider III features the largest tutorial level yet seen in a Tomb Raider game. The assault course from Tomb Raider II is drastically expanded to include exercise of Lara's new moves, target practice and a racetrack to hone the player's handling of the quad bike. Inside the mansion, a secret room can be discovered filled with artefacts and memorabilia from Lara's past adventures. It was the last game of the series to feature Lara's mansion until Tomb Raider: Legend.
The gameplay of Tomb Raider III picks up where Tomb Raider II left off (for a detailed examination of gameplay see the main article on Tomb Raider). Once again, Lara's range of abilities has been expanded, now including such moves as the crouch stance, crawling, a sprinting move and the ability to "monkey swing" on overhead bars and vines. Sprinting allows Lara to gain a burst of greater speed while running. When activated by the player, a bar appears in the corner of the screen to indicate the amount of stamina Lara has left. Only sprinting depletes the bar (other activities such as climbing and jumping have no effect on it) and it quickly increases again by itself when Lara stops sprinting. When the bar is empty, she is forced back into her standard running speed. At any time during a sprint she can perform a forward roll, such as to dive under closing trapdoors.
A portion of the game still takes place underwater, but this time new perils have been added. In some levels, such as Madubu Gorge, the current of the stream will pull Lara in a fixed direction, preventing the player from being able to swim back or grab onto a ledge. She will eventually drown or be sucked into deadly rapids. These waters can only be navigated using a kayak. Additionally, some tropical pools are inhabited by a school of piranhas. Unlike alligators, these fish are invincible, and as soon as Lara enters their waters they will flock toward her, and kill her within seconds. Furthermore, the water in the Antarctic levels is too cold for Lara to swim through for more than a few seconds. She can only remain in the water for a short amount of time, and submerged under it for an even shorter amount of time. When she dives into it, a new status bar will appear in the corner of the screen to indicate her body temperature. If that bar reaches zero, Lara's life will rapidly decrease. Unlike the oxygen bar, this temperature bar will decrease if Lara is swimming on the surface as well as under it; so the only way she can cross these waters over a large distance without freezing to death is by using the motorboat. The temperature bar increases again by itself when Lara is out of the water, but it takes longer than the regular oxygen bar.
Quicksand is a new surface introduced in this game. Although similar in appearance to regular soil, is distinguishable from it by its slow undulating movement. Should the player fall into it, Lara may wade very slowly but will sink deeper and deeper until she is completely submerged. Like being under water when submerged, the oxygen bar will deplete, and if this reaches zero the health bar will decrease and Lara will eventually drown. The player may climb out of quicksand if next to solid ground. In the Crash Site level of the South Pacific Islands section of the game, the swamp contains hidden stepping stones that Lara can use to cross safely.
As always, the pistols are Lara's most basic form of defence. The shotgun, the harpoon gun, the Uzis and the grenade launcher have remained from Tomb Raider II (though the grenade launcher's grenades will now bounce around unless directly hitting a living target, unlike the instant explode-upon-impact style of Tomb Raider II). The small calibre semi-automatic pistols have been replaced by the powerful Desert Eagle. The M16 rifle has been changed to a similar MP5 sub-machine-gun. Also new to Lara's arsenal is the rocket launcher.
On the PlayStation version, saving the game is restricted to the amount of Save Crystals the player has stored in Lara's inventory, something of a combination of the two different save systems featured in the two previous Tomb Raider games. These floating blue crystals can be found throughout each level, but unlike the original Tomb Raider, they do not require the player to save the game at the pick-up spot. The PC version allows the player to save at any point. The developers planned on having the Save Crystal system for the PC version, but they simply weren't able to finish this feature before the end of the development cycle, so the crystals (which in the PC version are green instead of blue) act instead as instant use small medipacks in that version.
The objective of the game remains unchanged, although Tomb Raider III arguably has fewer tombs to explore than the previous games. Instead, most levels take place in a more modern environment, and Tomb Raider introduces an element of stealth into the gameplay. For example in the Nevada adventure, it is sometimes preferable to sneak past guards instead of fighting them. Being spotted may set off alarms and close doors that are otherwise needed to complete the stage and therefore the player will have no other option than to take a more difficult route. Unlike its predecessors, after completing the India levels, the player can then choose which of the next three areas of the world they want to explore in any order they wish.
Judith Gibbins reprises her role as Lara Croft from Tomb Raider II.
Tomb Raider III sees fictional archaeologist, Lara Croft, return as the game's main protagonist and only playable character. The game features several antagonists, notably Dr. Willard, who first hires Lara to retrieve four artefacts but reveals at the end of the game his more sinister motives. The South Pacific levels features Puna, an islander posing as a deity with the power of an artefact. In London, Lara is confronted by Sophia Leigh, a ruthless business woman who owns a cosmetic company which is experimenting on its employees in order to achieve the secret of immortality. She is in possession of one of the meteorite pieces. The game also marks the second appearance of Lara's butler, Winston, who appears in the Croft Manor training level as he did in Tomb Raider II.
Tomb Raider III: The Lost Artefact
Tomb Raider III: The Lost Artefact is a mini-sequel to Tomb Raider III, sometimes unofficially called Tomb Raider III Gold. It was released exclusively for PC in 2000 and later on Mac OS in the Tomb Raider Trilogy by Aspyr. Unlike the expansion packs for the first two games, this was initially sold as a standalone product rather than as part of a re-release, and was not available for free download for existing owners.
In The Lost Artefact, Lara learns of the existence of a fifth meteorite piece called the Hand of Rathmore. She begins her investigations at the castle of Dr. Willard in the Scottish Highlands, progresses to exploring the Channel Tunnel in Dover and then ultimately ends up in the catacombs of Paris, where she is again confronted by Sophia Leigh.
Tomb Raider III received generally positive reviews, with the PC version receiving an average score of 72.89% (indicating "mixed") and the PlayStation version received an average score of 78.01% (generally favourable) on Game Rankings. The game scored over 10 points lower than Tomb Raider II, and nearly 20 lower than the first game. Despite this, it received some excellent reviews, Absolute PlayStation was highly positive, saying "Unable to disappoint her fans, Lara returns for a third instalment that easily surpasses her prior adventures. The action adventure will once again send Lara spanning the globe from the deserts of Nevada to the islands of the South Pacific." They awarded the game a 98/100 rating and added "In gameplay terms Lara's latest adventures are by far the best... but don't expect an easy ride. Core have reached a fine balance between frustration and challenge that should suit most punters." Total Games (today renamed Now Gamer) also praised the game, commenting "Tomb Raider III may essentially be more of the same apart from a few new bells and whistles, but with gameplay as engrossing as this, perhaps that's no bad thing. It still walks all over young pretenders like ODT." and rated the game a 9.2/10.
Games Domain were more lukewarm however, offering the game a rating of 70/100. Whilst praising certain aspects of the gameplay, they felt "Although the gameplay is as involving as it ever was, the lack of innovation means that you feel you're playing an expansion pack for 'Tomb Raider 2' than a completely new version." IGN were mostly positive, awarding the game an 8/10, however, just like many critics, they felt the game had failed to change the same tried and tested formula. They said "The sad thing is that Tomb Raider III solves none of its original dilemmas, and as it stands now, the exploration-adventure genre -- one that was revolutionized by Tomb Raider -- is in the exact spot it was two years ago."
GameSpot echoed something similar, remarking "Tomb Raider III is much like the first two games in the line, which is to say that there's nothing new thematically, although there are a few improvements to this edition." After describing some of the improvements, GameSpot rounded off a mainly positive review by saying "At the end of the day though (and putting all the hype, creepy marketing campaigns, and strange celebrity worship surrounding the series aside), there's no denying that Tomb Raider III is a solid game, worth the time of anyone who enjoys a good puzzle/adventure title. Those who lost interest in the series with Tomb Raider II may want to give it another look with the third."
The game was a bestseller in the UK.
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