N-Gage Review: Tomb Raider

Fondly remembered for reasons we have all forgotten, this N-Gage translation of Lara Croft's first adventure fails for all the reasons it did back in 1996. Most notably, the controls are simply terrible. It's enough to render this translation unplayable, mostly due to time.

Back in 1996, this was a new experience, and the clunky, slow control scheme was easy to dismiss as a minor problem. Now as better games have eclipsed it, there's no excuse. Jumping onto a three-foot high ledge should never be a problem, but since there's a separate jump and grab button, no camera control, unresponsive automatic running (which cannot be turned off), and aggravatingly boring walking, traversing this tough obstacle becomes more challenging than escaping the clutches of a bear.

It should be obvious already that this Core-developed title can't hold up. The N-Gage brings a few new problems along with it. Without shoulder buttons, strafing is an impossible thumb exercise. Every face button is used, making this overly convoluted and entirely unnecessary. N-Gage Arena fans can challenge a ghost racer and nothing more.

If you're experiencing Tomb Raider for the first time and somehow manage to find the controls adequate in anyway, you're in for a fair adventure. Targeting is automatic, so even when the vertically aligned screen blocks over half your viewpoint, shooting a threat doesn't pose a problem. Seeing where you're going is a severe problem now because of the screen, even though the graphics look a little cleaner than they did on the home consoles.

Levels are laid out to provide plenty of replay value. There are a lot of small crevices to explore containing numerous treasures, and standard human curiosity may be enough to carry the game for a few hours. A steady frame rate helps, though it's hardly a replacement for controls that make turning around one of the hardest aspects of the game.

There's a reason each edition of this franchise sold fewer copies than the one previous. It's an awful game that managed to work as a new experience. With each Tomb Raider, the controls and slowly declining quality sank it. This first edition shows how bad it really was, and there's no room for leniency because it's running on an over powered cell phone.

(* out of *****)

Comments (1)

oliver:

I think you'll eventually get use to all the face buttons being used or continue to hate it and throw it down in a fit of rage (probably while playing SSX since its the worst offender) Its the main reason why the turn based strategy games work best on the N-Gage.

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