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 and was released for the PlayStation 2, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X in June 2003. It was the first Tomb Raider game for the PlayStation 2. Despite selling 2.5 million copies worldwide and earning Greatest Hits status, the game received mixed to negative reviews due to the things mentioned in the following list.
It is also the final major game that Core Design worked on, and it was their final Tomb Raider title.
Why It Sucks
- Terrible and outdated controls. The game came out in June 2003, so why does a walk button still exist here?
- Horrible camera that either won't give the player a proper view, or will just do as it pleases.
- Nigh impossible jumping and platforming because of said terrible controls and camera.
- Tedious and repetitive combat. Melee combat is new to the series, but its execution is just terrible.
- Flat voice acting; after hearing Lara in the previous two games, Jonell Elliott can do better than this!
- Poor optimization, as it suffers from numerous frame drops at various points. Sometimes, the game will just run in slow motion.
- Multiple bugs and glitches that can make the game virtually unplayable at times.
- A particularly irritable glitch will cause the start of Lara's falling-from-a-high-place scream to play in an endless loop, if you pause the game during Lara's fall.
- There are no checkpoints at all. The game even lacks an autosave feature. Having to manually save the game every five minutes is a giant pace breaker. Again, this came out in 2003. To add insult to injury, the game never prompts you to save your game, something that even Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) does.
- Poor enemy AI. In stealth, you can walk right up to an enemy to the point where you are touching them, and they won't even react.
- A strength upgrade system that feels rather mundane. Lara is an acrobatic and physically strong character, so why does she need to gain strength to shimmy along the rooftops? Also, since when does kicking a door open make you stronger? That's not how exercise works!
- Multiple stealth segments which feel like an unnecessary addition to the game, since Tomb Raider was never about stealth. Poor implementation also doesn't help matters.
- A poorly handled tutorial was is somehow even worse than the tutorial in The Last Revelation. Lara stops in her tracks every other step to explain the controls for that particular action. However, because of the drawn out layout and poor controls, it can take much longer to complete than it has any right to.
- There is a point where you take control of a different character, Kurtis Trent, a first for the series. Unfortunately, he somehow plays even worse than Lara does! Plus he just appears out of nowhere.
- False advertising: The cover shows Lara holding her Dual Pistols, but in the actual game the only way to get them is either by Gameshark for the PS2 version, or a patch if you're using the PC/Mac versions.
- Also, despite the name of the game being Tomb Raider, you aren't raiding tombs in this game; mainly public facilities like nightclubs, warehouses, sewers, and a museum. Not exactly what one would call "tombs" now, is it?
- Features a dialogue choice system, but the choices have minimal impact on the story.
- The story feels more like a crime thriller rather than an action/adventure game, and the feeling of discovery that previous entries had is completely absent.
- The overall game design is extremely outdated; because of the aforementioned bad controls and dated save system, it literally feels and plays like a PS1 Tomb Raider game, except somehow worse.
- The game feels a lot more like a Resident Evil game than a Tomb Raider game, for the following reasons:
- The grounded control scheme.
- The darker tone.
- More urban environments.
- The fixed camera angles.
- Zombie-like enemies.
- And the segments of the game where you switch to Kurtis.
- Paramount Pictures, in their infinite wisdom, blamed the game's poor performance for the box office of the Tomb Raider film that was out at the time (The Cradle of Life), which sounds like scapegoating, especially considering that Cradle of Life came out over a month after the game. There are some reports that Eidos pressured Core Design into releasing the game without proper bug testing so that it would tie in with the film's release, but even so, much of the game is so badly designed that no amount of extra bug testing would have saved it.
- The Paris level is filled to the brim with loading screens, almost on the same level as Sonic '06.
- Very interesting and engaging plot. The game's tone is a lot darker and grittier compared to previous entries in the series, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
- Amazing, smooth and detailed graphics. As always, Lara herself looks great.
- Good soundtrack, courtesy of Peter Connelly, who composed the score for the previous three Tomb Raider titles, and later Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs and The Crew.
- The mechanics that were experimented with in this game, however poorly they were done here, would be implemented better in later entries.
The game received mixed to negative reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100, the game received an average score of 52 and 49 for the PlayStation 2 and Windows version, respectively. In the aftermath of the game's release and poor reception, a potential trilogy was scrapped. Eidos Interactive took the development rights away from Core Design and assigned them to Crystal Dynamics, who is known for creating the Gex series. The Angel of Darkness was so poorly received, the Tomb Raider series was rebooted in 2006 with the first entry developed by Crystal Dynamics, titled Tomb Raider: Legend, which launched to strong critical and commercial success and put the series back on track.
In 2010, GameTrailers placed Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness 5th in their "Top 10 Worst Sequels" list, and Watchmojo.com ranked the game 2nd in their list of "Top 10 Games that Ruined Their Franchises" video. James Rolfe (AVGN) was critical of the title, taking issue with the bad camera and controls, pointing out a few glitches, and poor level layouts. He even mentioned elements of the game that were eventually cut during development.
TheRetroReplay called Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness a perfect example of a franchise killer, criticising the game's camera, controls, story, save system, gameplay mechanics, and overall severely outdated design. He gave the title his "Bubsy 3D" rating; being a game that killed the original Tomb Raider continuity, he felt it deserved the lowest rating on his scale. He concluded his review of the game by saying that "any area that resembles a tomb or ancient city is nothing more of a reminder that the games before this one are better".
James Rolfe reviewed this game in 2018, when it became old enough for him to review as the Nerd. Angel of Darkness was the main focus of the video, and he was extremely critical of the game's technical performance, poor controls, bad camera, and overall lack of fun. He briefly talked about Core Design's eventual shut down after the game's disastrous critical and commercial performance.