Some of you out there are under the impression that Tomb Raider is a viable franchise. These would be the people at Eidos. Others out there might also be under the impression that Tomb Raider is a fun franchise. These would be the people who buy these games (I borrowed it). And even more, some of you may think that Lara is hot. These would be depraved losers who need to go outside.
I am here to tell you that none of these three things are true. Lara’s had her day, and now it’s time for her to go to the old folks home, settle down with Mega Man and Crash Bandicoot, and sip lemonade while playing rummy. Sadly though, Lara does not get a moments rest, and is still busy being whored out to every console known to man since her inception. She’s been on even the worst of systems, such as the Saturn, or the N-Gage.
Lara’s outing on the N-Gage is a surprisingly similar one. I wondered why for a minute, and then I realized that I was playing the 1996 PSX/Saturn/PC game. Yep, this is the true power of the N-Gage — the system can play 7-year-old ports of games that weren’t even that demanding at the time! Fortunately, there is a slight deviation from modern Tomb Raider games — instead of having to complete an inane and unnecessarily challenging training mission to “enjoy” the game, you can skip it and get into the games “action.” Sadly, the only action in the first level is figuring out which buttons do what. Since there are so many buttons on the N-Gage’s controller, Tomb Raider uses all of them. Have fun strafing and shooting at the same time, since it’s so damned hard to hit the two buttons at the same time when you’re fingers aren’t the width of a toothpick.
Once you figure out the controls, the game is exactly the same as the 1996 Tomb Raider, which basically means that if you played through that, (which I believe everyone and their mother did), then you won’t be too totally impressed with the port. For starters, combat is awful, mainly because I found seeing the things I was supposed to kill to be a chore because of the swinging camera and the small, narrow screen. Turning to aim at the beasts (such things as wolves and rats) isn’t an option because they’re faster than you and can attack you quicker than you can set yourself up.
The levels are pretty big, and there’s fortunately no slow down as your traverse them — only horrible clipping everywhere. Sometimes you’ll be running along, and huge white triangle will appear in front of you and then suddenly change to a texture, as if the game is having some sort of seizure. Lara doesn’t even look all that great for a change. Her chest doesn’t seem all bulgy, and her trademark booty and face are also noticeably lackluster. Isn’t that the whole reason for playing Tomb Raider in the first place? Audio takes a hit as the sound is remarkably bland. Gunshots and footsteps are pretty much the only thing you’re going to here, as there’s practically no music in the title.
In the end, if you’ve bought an N-Gage, try to avoid this title. Then again, there’s really not that much choice is there? I suggest that you maybe give the game a chance, since it does go out of its way to feature online “Ghost Racing” (which I never checked out but I here is a pain to use) and also includes some exclusive levels. So it may actually put the N-Gage to use before you put it in its box in hopes of selling a practically unused system on EBay in 20 years. For the rest of you, donít buy an N-GageÖ for this gameÖ