The legally required full-body still.

"'Cry for dawn, motherfucker!'"

Some menacing dude, possibly a Turok character who got lost, prepares to go medieval on our heroine.

It wouldn't be Tomb Raider without neat stuff to explore and Lara's ass in the foreground.

Shoot people in much higher detail!

Tomb Raider III

Perhaps one of the most known video game characters of this generation, Lara Croft is returning to Playstation again for a third bout. Coming later this month, Tomb Raider 3 promises to captivate gamers with dynamic gameplay and improved graphics. But how does the game fare with other games in the genre, or even other games in the series? Well, until I play it head-to-toe, I cannot answer that question in its entirety, but I can, however give you a synopsis of what I know as of now.

Story and plot has never really had all that much of an integral role in the Tomb Raider success, but the first two Tomb Raider's at least dished out an effort of juicy plot details. The first TR had you spelunking through dark caverns in search of the secrets of Atlantis. The sequel put you up against a vicious cult circle in a tale of dragons and myth. Now the third game in the series totally shuns away plot intricacies and simply demands of you one thing: find various artifacts and get money for them. Although there may be some added quests, this is what I have been told, and it came straight from the horses mouth.

The graphics in Tomb Raider III appear to be just about a half step up from those found in TR II, which ironically were a half step up from those found in TR I. The game benefits intensely from the fact that it is a Playstation exclusive title and did not need to be redesigned for the systems capabilities. In other words, it was made with PSX gamers in mind. The graphics are still a bit rough around the edges, but they are, however, a little smoother (and rounder and bouncier and.. er..nevermind) in other places. Notable improvements also include dramatic water effects, sweet light generation, and the return of the big T-Rex (being confronted by that thing for the first time in the first TR was one of my all time favorite video game moments). Lara also has about double the animation (triple and even quadruple in some places, if you know what I mean, and I think you do), as do the hordes of enemies that must be encountered on your journey.

I cannot comment much on the music/voice acting in the third installment of Tomb Raider, simply because the demo I played had no sound. However, considering the dramatic scores of the prequels and the equally talented voice acting, I am sure that there will not be much of a problem.

Although the gameplay remains incredibly indifferent from TR III's predecessors, there are a couple extra moves for you to try out. First of all there is the knife that is located in Lara's boot. Using it on enemies is not the wisest of wise choices, but it works well for its primary ideal: chipping at rocks and carving out thin cavern walls. You can probably expect to chip off thin slate to read hidden messages and things like that. Also, now Lara can crawl and she even has a couple more jumping maneuvers. Tomb Raider III will be fully compatible with the Sony Dual Shock system. The left analog will control Lara's movement, while the right will serve as the new "look button". Games that control with the analog controller are usually hit or miss (HIT: MGS; MISS: Resident Evil DC), so cross your fingers tight.

Expect a full GEO review just a few days after TR III's mid-Novemeber release date.

Andrew the Game Master

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