Tomb Raider 3 – PC
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Release Date: November 21, 1998
Nerd Rating: 9.5 out of 10
There’s no one in the world I would rather climb to the top of a waterfall, battle football-sized rats, and use my prison inmates to beat people up with than the Lady Croft. The Tomb Raider games, especially Tomb Raider 3, is the bearer of so many special memories and personally my favorite Tomb Raider game so far. What makes this adventure so special? Honestly, Tomb Raider 3 was the tip of the golden age for our British explorer. When the first game launched, PlayStation sales went through the roof. By the time Tomb Raider 2 was released, Lara Croft was a household name. This third installment raised the quality of the games several notches through the graphics, gameplay, music, and the adventure itself so much that every game afterwards felt underwhelming.
And that’s the bittersweet thing about this game. We get to see Lara, for the last time for several years, be at her absolute best.
The game begins with a flashback to millions of years ago, when Antarctica was a tropical paradise endowed with beautiful greenery and exotic creatures until a meteor falls from the sky, causing a devastating impact. Skipping to present day, this mini-film shows a group of researchers excavating the area, finding a disturbing, yet fascinating, discovery: the body of a sailor who traveled with Charles Darwin. After studying the sailor’s journal, the researchers find that the meteor impact zone may have held special powers, and more clues are hidden throughout the world, including India, where a young but seasoned Lara Croft is looking for the Infada Stone, an artifact known locally to have illusive powers akin to the research group’s meteorite…
The first notable thing about Tomb Raider 3 is it’s gorgeous graphics and colors, which were superb in 1998, and still hold up quite nicely. Almost everything is still angular, of course, but the developers put extra care into level
design, intricate details and surfaces, including 3D effects that would make Micheal Bay feel bad. You just can’t frown when you can easily see Lara’s smoking guns and blood spurting out of the velociraptor you just killed. Not to mention how beautifully Lara’s movements fluidly coincide with the eye-popping environments. It’s just breath-taking.
Speaking of Lara’s movements, she’s got a new set of moves that make exploring the world even easier and more adventurous. She can now climb hand over hand (monkey bar), crouch, crawl, and sprint with the speed and grace of a majestic freaking gazelle.
My favorite part about Tomb Raider 3 is the exemplary selection of weapons. Lara will always have her dual pistols, Uzis, and a shotgun; but this time around she also has a rocket launcher, MP5, grenade launcher, a Desert Eagle (a personal favorite), and a harpoon gun. But don’t let the impressive weaponry distract you from the integrity of the puzzles, because they’re absolutely great in this game. The biggest attribute of the Tomb Raider games has always been about the ingenuity of the games and the thrill of the adventure with Tomb Raider 3 being an incredible example of that. Every new level has some of the most cleverly laid out traps and visually interesting set-ups that I’ve even seen in a game. And of course, there’s always boulder traps:
The music for Tomb Raider 3 is also very well done. The menu music, as well as sounds and music in the levels are reminiscent of the first game, but also presents something fresh. Most notably the music that’s featured during the Nevada levels (Nevada Desert, High Security Compound, Area 51). It’s music that legitimately gets you pumped
and ready to escape a prison, infiltrate Area 51, and steal things. I absolutely adore this music.
As for the overall story, well, it’s okay. On paper, it sounds like it would be an interesting novel, but via the game, it’s not a very memorable one. I’ll always remember Natla from the first game because she’s a smart but manipulative psychopath, but the villains in Tomb Raider 3 are barely villains; but merely obstacles to get around before the next level. Without giving away the complete story, it’s safe to say the goals of these characters don’t exactly match up with powers of the meteorite artifact, so their desire to get their paws on it makes absolutely no sense. For example, a beauty entrepreneur whose company is based out of London wants to use the powers to create a product that is impenetrable, the only downside of this product, however, is if it used incorrectly, it can horribly deform the user.
If you want an artifact that’s millions of years old, you better have a damn good reason. But, the adventure itself is
definitely worth the playthrough. Even Lara’s mansion is enough to spend a good hour in. You can practice the controls by putting Lara through an obstacle course in her backyard; there are secret rooms and puzzles, lock the butler in the freezer, and you can even unlock an obstacle course for an ATV! There are so many memorable moments within the levels that make this game an absolute essential for any platforming fan (or a fan of videogames in general!). Whether it’s found in the level details, unique environments, music, and the puzzles or traps. Tomb Raider 3 is the beautiful bolt of lightning that flashes before your eyes and brings an exciting ruckus of thunderous adrenaline into the dark night sky that has earned the title of being a classic Tomb Raider game.
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