To my knowledge, this is the first Tomb Raider presented in something
other than the classic third person, behind the back, action-adventure
mode Eidos pioneered way back when this 3D mode was actually original.
Nowadays, just about every action-adventure or platform title has it.
The puck now being passed to Ubi Soft, Tomb Raider: The Prophecy has
taken on a top down birds-eye view although the marketing literature
very much wants you to believe otherwise. Quasi-3D anyone?
This iteration, more than ever, is what you would call Tomb Raider
classic. You're put in an enclosed space, combing through musty
dungeons, climbing over obstacles, throwing switches and opening doors
to find treasure. There's a good mix between puzzles and action. This
title certainly pays homage to the earlier Tomb Raider titles with two
parts puzzle and one part action. The mechanics, even in a 2D format,
play out pretty well and it's helped by some good design decisions.
Often times, I give up on the maze-like corridors simply because
obstacles don't flow very well from one to another. I'd find one
obstacle and then find the solution halfway across the map. I'd find
the solution and the next obstacle would be back at the starting
location. This makes for a jarring gameplay experience with the level
design backtracking and meandering, which definitely is not what you
want when you're stuck in a claustrophobic (and often bland) setting.
Prophecy is able to solve this with an expert camera pan trick. When
you throw a switch, for example, the camera pans not directly to the
door or object you activated. It pans slowly across the route you
should be taking and that helps eliminate a lot of instances
where you're at a loss for what to do or where to go. Great use of the
camera certainly makes up for the smaller screen real estate.
Another facet that Prophecy is able to nail down is the audio. Sound
effects are crisp and there's a lot of ambient noise to convey a sense
of dread and foreboding. Unfortunately, the developers have junked the
Lara Croft voiceovers. Her accented narration is sorely missed here and
the game lacks the sassy character that Lara's personality tends to
As you jet from one locale to another, you'll find yourself mostly
spending time indoors. The Prophecy engine is basically a 2D one but
height elevations are artificially put in. You can tell the difference
between one ledge from another by the change of texture but this isn't
apparent at all times. Sometimes you might run by some ledge you could
jump on and not know it because the textures are not evidently
different. Stone, after all, can only appear in so many combinations
before it becomes muddled into the same identity in one's eye.
On the other hand, Lara herself is animated fairly well. Of course, the
expectations are low because she obviously isn't in her full 3D
splendor. There are many moves for her though. She is able to shimmy
along ropes and ledges and she's able to climb up and down, as well as
back pedal when her pistols are out. This is one clever thing the game
does. When you have an enemy within a close proximity to Lara, moving
away will cause her to back pedal or strafe around the enemy target.
That way, you don't have to point your guns elsewhere and you can
A lack of weapons (less than a handful) included really implies that
combat isn't the focus of the game. Unfortunately, the very end of the
game is punctuated with mindless boss fights that don't really challenge
you. Most of the time, I had to dodge incoming projectiles and try to
keep my guns firing in the general direction of the enemy; not exactly
what I would call challenging and the pace of the projectiles will be a
cinch for veterans of Space Invaders and up.
Tomb Raider has never had a multiplayer mode. Even on the PC, the most
advanced platform for multiplayer, there has never been an option to
play with different Laras. With developers finally waking up and
including co-operative mode (the recent No One Lives Forever 2 comes to
mind), I hope that will change but I don't think this particular title
should be penalized for lack of gameplay beyond finishing the initial
What should be questioned, however, is the reliance on a different
camera angle. This title is published by someone else; from Eidos to
Ubi Soft. But recently, Eidos managed to crank out a faithful 3D
recreation of Tomb Raider for handhelds; albeit for the Pocket PC.
While that type of hardware may be more powerful, it's a little
disconcerting for Tomb Raider purists to see Tomb Raider, which has
always been a 3D third person action adventure, shown in such a view.
However, for those who don't quite care about the Tomb Raider lineage or
about getting new glances at Lara Croft, Prophecy is an enjoyable by-the-book outing for the gaming industry's favorite heroine. Her voice and
3D model may be missing but the spirit of adventure is definitely
something not forgotten here.