Oft delayed. Beset by secrecy. Over two years in development. But has the latest adventure for Lara Croft been worth the wait?
No, frankly. Falling well short of what fans of the franchise had the right to expect, as well as barely endearing itself to new Lara-ites, The Angel of Darkness is the equivalent of watching Alan Shearer spending the twilight of his career in the Third Division. Touches of brilliance, but ultimately you know the magic has gone.
Take the cut scenes, for instance. Flakey would be an adequate word to describe the production values of some of them, falling some way short of the quality of the in-game graphics themselves. Then there’s the tutorial, designed to help you through the learning curve and familiarize you with the still-clunky control system. You steadfastly have to wait for the voiceover to finish guiding you through what you need to do before you’re allowed to do it. And heck, does it guff on.
More worryingly, the in-game camera can really be a hindrance. Many moments in Tomb Raider games rely on a degree of accuracy to execute, and this one is no different. Which makes it all the more frustrating that right throughout the game you will find yourself battling with a camera that at times resolutely refuses to do what you need it to do. It’s not something that will trouble you most of the time, instead waiting for you to get into a tight spot, and then throwing its spanner firmly into the works.
The sloppiness extends further. When you encounter seemingly incomplete characters, walls that don’t appear to be solid and further graphical glitches, the sneaking suspicion that the deadline has got in the way of a good game kicks in. This, you may remember, was to be the big reworking of the franchise, which up until this release had generated a new sequel on an annual basis. It’s really quite disappointing, then, that after the longest absence from our monitors to date for Lara, she arrives in pretty much the same kind of game in which we last saw her.
Much of the level of criticism above is, of course, in reaction to our level of disappointment. At heart, The Angel of Darkness isn’t a bad game, just a frustrating and under-performing one. There are moments in it when you do remember why many of us fell for Tomb Raider in the first place, and it certainly presents quite a sizeable and lasting challenge.
But ultimately, it’s just not good enough. Lara Croft games used to be something to clear the decks for so you could spend some real quality time with her. Now? She’s approaching bargain bin fodder. How the mighty are fallen.