Having just completed this title eight years after it's release, I feel that a review is in order. Now I will clarify now that I haven't played the original Tomb Raider game, mostly because I was barely even around when the game was released. So because of this, I will be reviewing the game as the single game that it is, and not as a remake as another game.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary definitely took me back to my younger years of gaming. Reminding me of the challenging titles I would spend countless hours playing; such as Spyro, Harry Potter and Crash Bandicoot. This game shows that there is more to gaming than just aiming and shooting at endless AI.
TR: Anniversary takes you on a journey to four distinct locations: Peru, Greece, Egypt and the Lost Island, as you scale massive structures and defeat a variety of different enemies to recover the three pieces of Scion. This journey is divided into a series of chapters, each location having three or four each. Most chapters will take the average player around 10 - 15 minutes to complete depending on its size. On my first playthrough, it took me 09 hours 31 mins to complete the entire game, not including deaths, pauses and retries. That was on hard difficulty whilst also collecting all the collectibles as well.
The majority of the game you will find yourself scaling massive structures and navigating deadly paths. Although for the most part you will not encounter any problems, it is no secret that the game's sense of direction is a bit vague. Sometimes you can be looking directly at a ledge, but when you jump, Lara seems to decide that a more diagonal jump is required, meaning that she misses the ledge all together and inevitable falls to a squishy fate. However, due to the game's frequent checkpoint system, these frustrating moments tend to have minimal impact on the game as you are never more than a minute behind where you were before. The only time this does become an issue is when you are trying to complete the various time trials for each level. I can recall a number of times I had to restart an entire chapter due to this. I found that most errors can be compensated if you just take a little care when lining up your jumps.
Whilst for the most part the game is pretty straight forward in where you need to go, I did find myself getting lost in larger more open areas. However, for the most part the game is quite linear and easy to follow. It's only when you need to backtrack or when something is hidden that you may need to stop and think for a bit. Overall, I found the game to not be to difficult, so you are not stuck trying to complete a single bit for hours, and not too simple that it doesn't require any thought at all. I think this was a near perfect balance for both enjoyment and satisfaction.
Whilst navigating the world, Lara has various means of moving around. These are all explained in the early chapters of the game, and include wall running and swinging amongst some more obvious. After a while, these means of movement kind of feel old and overused as they are so few in number. You find yourself constantly swinging and wall running everywhere you go. I was disappointed to not see any vehicle sequences throughout the game, as I think this would have made an improvement to the game, and help to break up these large climbing areas - although I guess this was most common for a game of this age.
The combat in the game is broken into three categories; main combat, boss combat and quick time events. The majority of this combat will be done using the lock-on firing mode. My personal experience with this was much like the navigation in the world, it seemed to want to lock on to everything but the enemy. This made combat a little more frustrating as when there is a massive bear charging towards you and you keep shooting a switch the entire time it does kind of break the atmosphere. The game does also offer a manual firing mode, although I would strongly advise against this as the movement is very sluggish and Lara becomes rooted to the spot when in this mode - making you an easy target.
Main combat makes up the majority in the game and is usually done with two or three low health enemies that run towards you. These range from from flying enemies to larger ground based enemies to rats! These enemies all work in mostly the same way: you fire a bunch of shots at it until it gets mad and charges at you, whereby then you, if timed correctly, enter a slow motion sequence where an insta-kill can be performed. Failing this, you could always just spam them with bullets till they drop.
The game doesn't offer many boss battles, but the ones that they do are largely varied based on who they are. You will usually take a couple minutes to figure out how this enemy works, and what their weaknesses are before you can start taking them down. I enjoyed the variety with these enemies as it wasn't just a shoot and dodge scenario. When I played the game, I was on hard difficulty and I was able to defeat most enemies pretty easily once I knew how they worked.
The last type of combat you will encounter is quick time events. These are, for the most part, rather fun and bad ass. How these work is a cut scene will play for a bit, then it will begin a slow motion sequence where you then have to press the correct button that pops up on screen. These usually correspond to the in game controls, so for example, jump is A and so on. I enjoyed playing these as it helped give variety to the game's combat, but they were rather basic. Each event would consist of around three or so single buttons to press every few seconds. It would had been nice to maybe see some longer events like this, that have more complex buttons, but overall they were fun to play, even with how brief they were.
Now it doesn't seem right to talk about achievements in a review, but since this is an achievement site it kind of does feel right. Having just completed this myself, I can tell you that this is a pretty easy game to complete, but you are going to need to put the work in. It should take around 10 - 12 hours to max whilst using a guide, and will require a minimum of two playthroughs, one on hard difficulty and collecting the collectables, and two, getting your running shorts on for some speed runs. Yes, there are collectables in the game but don't worry because there are only a handful on each level, with most appearing near enough along the main path anyway. Just use a guide, and there are plenty of them, and you should have no problems at all. Hard difficulty is not much of a challenge in my opinion. I haven't played the game on any other difficulty to provide some comparison, but I was able to complete this with little to no trouble at all. The majority of your gamerscore will come from completing sections of the game without dying - which sounds kind of tough. Well it is actually very easy if you frequently save, as whenever you die, just reload the save and bam, you never died.
So now it's time to draw this review to a close. I'm giving this title a four out of five, the only reason it didn't score a five is the technical problems it has that just holds it back a tiny bit, and causes you to scream at the TV a few more times than you should. Even with these bugs, I very much enjoyed playing the game, and have already downloaded Legend and Underworld ready to play hopefully very soon.