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Tomb Raider Chronicles

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Tomb Raider Chronicles
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The start of Tomb Raider's downfall.
Genre(s): Action
Adventure
Platformer
Third-Person Shooter
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows
Mac OS
PlayStation
Dreamcast
Release: PlayStation
EU: November 17, 2000
NA: November 24, 2000

Microsoft Windows
NA: November 21, 2000
EU: November 24, 2000

Sega Dreamcast
NA: November 28, 2000
EU: December 15, 2000

macOS
NA: November 1, 2001
Developer(s): Core Design
Publisher(s): Eidos Interactive
Country: United Kingdom
Series: Tomb Raider
Predecessor: Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
Successor: Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness


Tomb Raider Chronicles is an action-adventure game developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. This is the fifth entry in the famous Tomb Raider series of games.

It is the final Tomb Raider entry to be released on the PlayStation and Sega Dreamcast.

Plot

The game opens with the funeral of famed archaeologist, Lara Croft, who was declared dead by the end of The Last Revelation. After the ceremony, some of her closest friends gather at her mansion to reminisce on her past adventures, all the while hoping that Croft's mentor, Werner Von Croy would find her alive. The group reflect on Lara's adventures in Rome, Russia, Ireland, and Von Croy Industries.

Bad Qualities

  1. Because of the executive meddling caused by Eidos Interactive to release Tomb Raider games yearly, the game was rushed out for a Christmas Deadline which caused all the following issues down below.
  2. The game is just a rehash of the previous game with very few changes made. The game even goes as far as reusing the exact same menu layout as its predecessor.
  3. This is the fifth game in the series, and Lara Croft still uses tank controls. By this point, the control scheme is antiquated by 2000 standards.
  4. In addition to reusing the same graphics, sounds are also reused, with guns packing the same sound effects as before.
  5. Speaking of the guns, while some of the more powerful guns from previous games make a return, like the Revolver from The Last Revelation, and the Desert Eagle from Tomb Raider III, those two weapons were unfortunately nerfed in this game. Plus, you don't get to keep them for the remainder of the game, being confined to the adventure they are found in.
  6. The game's narrative structure doesn't leave a lot of room for fleshed out story telling, opting for something less linear. However, the Rome level also introduces a continuity error:
    • The Rome levels take place some time before the events of the first game, hence the reappearance of Larson and Pierre. In the final section of the Rome story, Pierre appears to die from a long and nasty fall (with audible bone crunches to boot), but there is no way he could die here from a chronological standpoint since, once again, this story happens before his appearance in the first game, making his appearance in the first game a glaring plothole (oops...). And even if he did survive the fall, how did he survive without crippling injuries?
  7. In the Ireland levels, you have no weapons at all; you are completely defenseless throughout that sub-story and have to rely more on instincts to counter enemies, the methods the game doesn't make clear.
  8. The Tomb Raider series is not known for stealth elements, yet for some reason, the team decided to incorporate them into this game. The stealth sections are basic at best and don't require anything more than "hide around the corner, and the baddies won't see you." Oh, and there are two chapters in the game that revolve around using stealth. Even then, stealth is underutilized with no indication of which enemies can be stealth killed, and which ones can't.
    • By the way, you can walk up to a submarine chef and take him out from behind, but you can't crawl over to him. Doesn't crawling make less noise than walking?
  9. Blatant product placement. As James Rolfe pointed out in his Tomb Raider video, the game opens with a credit for Timex, a watch company founded in 1854. The product advertised is a grip clip watch that Lara uses in-game to track her progress. The kicker is that the aforementioned Timex credit is on one of the first screens in the screen...before the main menu appears. The game's manual even advertises the same watch as the one in the game. As Rolfe himself put it: "this game just sells out with the product placement!"
  10. The new tightrope mechanic is a complete nuisance since Lara can't even go two steps without overbalancing, which makes the walk across extremely slow and tedious. Rope swinging, considered a Scrappy Mechanic in the previous game (to where walkthrough maker, badassgamez, boycotted them for most of the game), makes a return here, though they are mostly mandatory this time around.
  11. The VCI story is a nightmare; aside from the aforementioned focus on stealth, there are sections were Lara has to deposit her weapons into a tray to get past tight security, leaving her defenseless for a good chunk of these levels. New to the game is also a grapple gun, which fires a short ranged grappling hook that Lara can swing on. Also, Lara does not have her pistols in this chapter, meaning that for the first time in series, Lara can actually run out of ammunition. The grapple gun however, is not very reliable due to its short range and limited use, since it can only be fired at fixed points in the environment.
  12. "Red Alert" is a terrible final level for all the aforementioned reasons, as well as being unfinished, unfairly difficult, and glitchy. Other reasons include, but aren't limited to:
    • First off, because Lara only has one weapon through out level, it is possible for her to run out of ammo before the level ends. In the later half of the level, the game gives back very little refills, meaning you could accidentally waste ammo early on, and there are a lot of enemies to kill. All ammo and health kits are found near the beginning of the level, and there is a point of no return, after which item pick ups are diminished greatly.
    • One of the secrets requires you to beat two shooting galleries, but with unreasonable conditions: to even access the second gallery, you need to clear the first one, which isn't easy, but not too bad. The second gallery however, is much harder, and you have to clear it while poisonous gas is filling the room, which causes the screen to distort erratically. If you fail this one, you will be locked inside with poisonous gas choking you out. You get treated to Lara being slowly asphyxiated if you mess up this secret.
    • A new enemy is introduced in this level: 2 sharply dressed cyborgs with deadly weapons. You cannot kill these things with firearms, which the game doesn't make clear at all, leading the player to unknowingly waste precious bullets on their first run through the game; instead, they can only be killed using the environment, and even that can be a pain. Both of them need to die so you can collect pieces of a key item needed to finish the level, so it's not like you can just ignore them.
    • There is a game crippling glitch in the final level: the second cyborg needs to be locked in a room with poisonous gas filling it, but you need it to chase you to said room from across the hallway, all while an attack helicopter is firing on you. Do not save between the initial helicopter attack and locking the cyborg away in that room, otherwise your save file can be corrupted, which will in turn affect the cyborg's AI, causing it to fall into pits with no means of recovery Make sure you have at least one other save file to fall back on if this happens.
    • Finally, the level can become physically impossible to beat if you run out of ammo and health packs. Every enemy you face needs to die so you can beat the game, but said enemies are all packing extremely damaging weapons, and there parts where you will take damage no matter how hard you try to avoid it (like the aforementioned helicopter assault). Good luck surviving the rest of the level if you have no health packs left! Also, good luck if you run out of bullets with enemies remaining, too.
  13. Because of the recycled gameplay loops, reused graphics and sounds, and limited scope, the game overall has a soulless feel to it. See the Reception section for more details.
  14. Some of Zip's dialogue in VCI arc is missing from the PC version of the game, which is glaring since some of it is him telling you what to do (i.e. close the doors to the lift when you're ambushed by armed guards).

Good Qualities

  1. In the Rome levels, we get treated to some good banter between Pierre and Larson, who return from the first game in the series.
  2. The game features a much better tutorial than its predecessor, since it is not only an optional area Lara can explore right at the start of the game, but it actually goes over every single move in the game, something that The Last Revelation did such a poor job at. Though some elements are left out, like the ability to search shelves for items.
  3. Zip makes his debut in Lara's undercover mission, and his wise cracks do lighten the mood somewhat. This game isn't the last we get to see of him, either.
  4. The Ireland levels do have a really creepy and haunting atmosphere thanks to its inspiration from old Irish folklore.
  5. The PC version came with a second disc containing level building tools to allow fans to design their own levels based off of the game's engine.
  6. The soundtrack composed by Peter Connelly is quite good and even fits the dark atmosphere.
  7. As with all other parts of the franchise, the graphics are as pretty and detailed for their time.
  8. Even though the cover of the American edition looks pretty silly, overall the cover looks pretty nice in each version, especially in the European edition.

Reception

AVGN Enraged.jpg "What were they thinking?"
The Shit Scale
Games that are debatably bad High level of shit contamination The very high category The severe zone Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Major code red
👆
This game/console belongs to the "Games That Are Debatably Bad" category of the AVGN's Shit Scale.

Critical Response

Although Tomb Raider Chronicles received mixed to positive reviews, scoring 70.59% on GameRankings and 63/100 on Metacritic for the PlayStation version, while the PC version scored a measly 60.24% and 57/100 on the same respective aggregating sites. Many critics took issue with the game's outdated feel, criticising the controls for remaining the same as the first entry with very few noticeable differences. The lack of innovation and antiquated design were cited as the biggest sore spot for the title, with IGN stating in their review that game would do very little to attract fans who didn't enjoy, or got tired of the series after the previous entries.

In retrospect, the team that worked on Chronicles had become burnt out from three years of annual sequels, and wanted to end the series after The Last Revelation because of franchise fatigue, but Eidos wanted the series to continue on. Andy Sandham, the designer of Chronicles called the game a "load of old shit", citing it to be the hardest Tomb Raider game the team had ever worked on, and that they only went through with the project for a paycheck, rather than out of passion for the craft. The team's lack of enthusiasm and franchise fatigue played a big role in how the game turned out, as many assets were reused or re-purposed from The Last Revelation.

Commercial Performance

Tomb Raider Chronicles only sold 1.5 million copies worldwide, making it the worst selling entry in the franchise, and the first one to bomb both financially, and critically.

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