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JadeDragon's reviews and playing tips: Pocket PC games

Tomb Raider, by Eidos, $29.95, for iPAQ and other Pocket PCs
Reviewed July 2002

If you are rich, it's good. If you are rich, traveling around world and shooting monsters with big guns, that's even better. If you're Lara Croft, all that is your destiny. From the big PC and PlayStation hit, Eidos has brought Tomb Raider to the Pocket PC. Even though it's been sequeled many times on PlayStation and PC, Tomb Raider for Pocket PC, which came out before the PlayStation 2 new release, is a faithful port of the original Tomb Raider. The graphic qualities resemble the raw talent of the original game; and the game play follows the first hit to the tee.

Playing Lara Croft on Pocket PC brought back the wonderful memories of my first time playing Tomb Raider on PS. The game gives you the entire environment and movements of Lara Croft from the original game. You'll remember the snowy tunnel, the grassy meadow and the vines crawling on the ground and on the walls covering the ancient carvings on the stone. You will see the caves with water you have to swim in; and you'll see the ancient temple, the palace and the coliseum still standing there. In the interior, you will see pillars, stone walls with carvings, bridges that are covered by corpses, as well as small and large tomb like rooms. Lara's movements are smooth and precise, even when moving. You can see characters' shadows. You'll also appreciate the polished title screen that came straight from the original game. You can set options, save/load games and go to training mode from this screen.

As if the original Tomb Raider got shrunk down from the TV screen to the Pocket PC, the graphics keep the original jagged pixilated look, maybe even more jagged on the Pocket PC. I played it on an iPAQ 3835, and turned the brightness of the device to maximum, and turned the brightness in the game options to maximum, it's still a bit too dark to see in some dark places. The 3800 series does have a darker screen than other iPAQ models, so you may find it easier to see if you're not a 3800 series owner. While the movements of Lara and other characters/monsters kept the original game's smoothness, the environment looks poor in comparison, maybe because it has to render a very rich environment on much smaller screen. Often it's easier to see far away objects and scenes compared to things that are up-close because of the pixel distortion.

The gameplay is the jewel of this game, and a joy to experience. You'll easily spend many hours playing; and you will explore 15 very massive levels of caves, temples, pools and tombs. You will pick up many items including medical kits, weapons, ammo, keys and other items. You will need to shoot and kill bats, lions, crocodiles, and rats, dinosaurs to survive. You need to figure out puzzles and perform incredible actions to advance. You will never know who you will run into at the next corner of the tomb, but one thing is sure: you will die a lot. Get your guns ready, and shoot as early as you hear the animal roar. While the shooting was fun and swimming was a breeze; the exploration is a bit tricky, as the environment isn't as clearly rendered as on the big screen. Lara's movements such as side rolls, backward jumps, jumping over high walls are pure fun in the game. Tomb Raider uses all the hardware buttons as game controls, as well as 7 on screen buttons in conjunction with the hardware buttons. For example, if you want to look around, you can hold the Look button on the screen and use your D-pad to look at the directions you wish; you can use the jump button then the action button if you'd equipped Lara with guns, and she'll jump and shoot at the targets way above her.

Great game controls and glorious game play would probably be the main reason people want to play this game on a Pocket PC. The sound effects are very realist as well. From animal howling and roaring, to footsteps on the stairs and in the snow, Tomb Raider for Pocket PC kept the sound bites of the original. The game is displayed in landscape mode, for lefties or righties. The game itself takes up over 700K on iPAQ and not a lot more for game data. Currently it officially only supports iPAQ in three languages (English, French and German).

Playing Hints and Tips

When you explore, check everything. Look for things that stand out. When you try to jump over a short wall, use running-jump or side jump roll, and when you try to jump over a tall wall, use jump and hang. Shoot early, even when you just hear the animals but haven't yet seen them, especially in later levels. You will meet the animals as soon as you start the levels. There's a pretty good amount of ammo and new weapons throughout, make sure you pick them up.
Go through the training (choose Lara's home at the game's title screen to get to the training mode).

Tomb Raider screen shot

Tomb Raider screen shot

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Read our interview with Eidos Interactive here!

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics Tremendous style and character movement, carried over from the original. The environment is hard to see in some places, and small animals like bats are hard to see.
Sound Plenty great sound effects, it retains the creepy feeling of being alone in an ancient tomb.
Fun Meter Game play will keep you hooked for hours. With a little training, the game play could be pure fun!
Addictivity The depth of this game is amazing, you will know what I mean if you played the original game. The areas to explore are massive. If you'd fallen in love with this double shooting chick before, you will fall in love all over again.

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