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With Tomb Raider III, the third installment of the Tomb Raider series, you again enter the world of Lara Croft, the queen of female super heroes, and with an English accent at that. It is an action game with a healthy dose of adventure and puzzle elements thrown in. Lara, an archaeologist, is off to more exotic worldwide locations--the blistering deserts of Nevada's mysterious Area 51, the dark streets of London, the lush islands of the South Pacific, the jungles of India, and a mysterious island near Antarctica. Core Design, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Eidos created Lara Croft in November 1996. She was the first female character to star in her own action game series. The Tomb Raider series and Lara Croft have grown in popularity, and she has become a pop culture icon. She has been in more than 80 magazine and newspaper covers, has more than 100 web sites dedicated to her, and the rock band U2 even featured her in a music video. Currently there is a Lara Croft movie being made by Paramount. Price: $50.00.
Because of the difficulty level, I would suggest this game for Intermediate and Advanced PC/game users. It would be difficult for most players to finish the game without a strategy guide in hand. If you relish a real challenge, this level of difficulty gives Tomb Raider III a lot of value.
  • Revamped game engine includes a new triangular landscape system for richer terrain detail;
  • New reflection system for realistic transparencies and shadows;
  • Improved AI system for Lara's numerous enemies;
  • New special effects including rain, snow, fire and other lighting effects;
  • New moves that get Lara out of sticky situations--a speed dash, monkey swing, and crawl;
  • Play the first set of levels and choose your next adventure from the remaining three sets;
  • PlayStation version features dual shock analog control and high-resolution graphics.

Storyline--Tomb Raider III revolves around a crystalline meteorite, Charles Darwin, and an ancient culture that lived on the continent of Antarctica. Million of years ago, a meteor survived the plunge through the Earth's atmosphere, impacting the then warm climate of Antarctica. The first people to discover this land were a tribe of Polynesians. Despite the now freezing conditions, there was an abnormal abundance of life and the tribe settled, worshipping the meteorite crater for the powers it appear to hold. Generations later though, catastrophic events forced them to flee in terror.

Today, the same area is being excavated by the research company: RX Tech, who are picking up unusual readings from the meteorite's impact zone. It is in this zone that they uncover the body of a sailor from Charles Darwin's voyage on The Beagle. It seems a few of his sailors had explored the interior of the crater and looted four artifacts placed with the meteor. Following a story from one of the sailor's journal, RX Tech have started to take a particular interest in, not only the crater area, but other parts of the globe where the sailors traveled to and died in.

One of these places is India--where Lara is currently searching for the legendary Infada artifact. Unaware of its true history, she only knows that in local beliefs it was supposed to hold great powers and has been revered by tribes there throughout the years.

Levels--There are numerous huge levels that show thought and insight from the designers.Your job is to guide Lara Croft through a surprisingly varied set of these levels. Unlike Lara's first two adventures, the game play in Tomb Raider III is non-linear, both in the style of play within the levels and in the order in which you choose to play the levels. It contains 5 separate worlds which link together. India is the first location, after completing this level, the player can choose any of the three mid-game areas: Area 51, South Pacific or London and play them in any order, gaining certain advantages or disadvantages depending on the levels they choose to play first. The game concludes with Antarctica. Also, the levels themselves now have multiple paths to victory. This multipath and locale design offers extended gameplay. Outdoor levels are stunning and gigantic.You have the traditional switch, door, boulder, and spiked-pit routine. But there are new additions to the level designer's palette. Laser-activated machine-gun turrets, piranha-filled rivers, subway trains, and electrified fences all add to the depth of the levels. Puzzles are more frequently integrated seamlessly into the levels, with switches that radically alter entire rooms instead of simply opening a door.

Engine--The new graphics engine allows the introduction of triangular shapes and curves into the game, thereby adding to the detail of the landscapes. The new engine also allows for enhanced shadows, transparencies, smoke effects and reflections so you get muzzle flashes, smoking guns, campfires, and icy breath. The addition of multi-colored lighting effects is great. Lara's flares glow brilliantly and fluorescent lights flicker and cast long shadows.

Moves--In Tomb Raider III, Lara has an even further expanded range of moves. Lara can now monkey-swing; crawl under low-lying ledges; and back into a crevasse on all fours to get out of sight. She can also sprint for short periods of time. The expanded moves lets Lara do just about anything a normal adventuring femme fatale would be able to do, thus freeing level designers to create levels that make more sense and are more real like.

Animals--Enemies come in different forms, animals, humans, and mystical. There are dinosaurs, tigers, monkeys, vultures, poisonous snakes, and sewer rats. All of the animals are vastly improved in appearance and behavior. Core used an animal behaviorist to help model the way the animals act.

Vehicles--There are a variety of vehicles for Lara to use. She can navigate a river in a kayak, traverse hazardous terrain in a quad-bike, and even splash down whitewater rapids in a rubber raft.

Weapons--Lara still has the double pistols and the double uzis from the previous games, but there are additional weapons:

(1) Desert Eagle: The replacement for double magnums. It's the biggest, most intimidating pistol around; (2) H&K MP5: The replacement for the M16 in Tomb Raider II. This is the machine gun of choice for the Navy SEALS; (3) Grenade Launcher: A carryover from the last game, except the grenades bounce around realistically before exploding; and (4) Rocket Launcher: This hefty beast needs to be mounted on the shoulder.

Outfits--On the fashion side, Lara begins with her classic threads in India, but dons a black leather catsuit in London, blue desert camo pants and a tank top in Nevada, and a skimpy looking jacket and orange camo pants in Antarctica.

Landscape--The new landscaping system incorporates triangles which makes for smoother surfaces and architectural structures such as domes, arches, vaulted ceilings. Organic structures and rocky floors are also possible with the new system.

The size, scope, and atmosphere of the levels; improved graphics; and better control make this the best Tomb Raider. I really enjoyed this game. If you liked the earlier versions of Tomb Raider, you will welcome this newest addition. And for those women out there who can not get into games that feature Marine commandos and alien creatures, Lara Croft might just interest you. The Tomb Raider games emphasize exploration and gymnastics over combat. The opponents are there to keep you on your toes.
Processor: Pentium 166MMX
Operating system: Windows 95/98
Memory: 16 MB
Hard Disk Space: 2 MB
Direct X 6.0
4MB SVGA card

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