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Old 05-02-20, 14:30   #1
Final Count
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Default My casual review (and ranking) of Tomb Raider Chronicles

Oh boy, itís time for Chronicles. A game that consistently has ranked at the bottom of the series for me. During this playthrough though, I was a bit positively surprised! I donít think Chronicles is a bad game, itís just not as good as the others. If The Last Revelation felt fatigued, then Chronicles feels downright tired. It feels like a Tomb Raider game thatís tired of being a Tomb Raider game and wants to be something else.

I like the overall story of this game, and I think each of the four episodes act as an accompanying piece to the four previous games. The Rome-episode is clearly a tribute to the first Tomb Raider game, with Pierre and Larson being there, and the setting being reminiscent of the Greece-episode of that game. The Russia-episode has Lara going up against gangsters, in search for a treasure at the bottom of the sea, like how she fought Bartoliís thugs and explored the Maria Doria in Tomb Raider II. The Ireland-episode has us playing as teenage Lara, who was introduced in The Last Revelation. The VCI-episode is very similar to the gameplay of the Nevada levels in Tomb Raider III, plus sheís back in her catsuit!

Iíll do a quick The Good vs. The Bad mini-review, and then move on to rank the levels. Nitpick-warning and all that...

THE GOOD:

- The story is good. Itís a great idea to have Laraís friends reminisce about her, after her presumed death, although I wish they wouldíve had Zip tell the VCI story. I also wish they wouldíve had Jean-Yves there, instead of Charles Kane, so Laraís friends had felt a bit less unfamiliar.

- The reunion with Pierre and Larson was a cool little throwback, and they work surprisingly well as comic relief. Of course, this means they are nowhere near as menacing or mysterious as they were (orÖ Pierre was) in the first game, but I liked them here too.

- Graphics are very good Ė same as The Last Revelation, really.

- The four episodes offer great variation in both setting and gameplay.

- Laraís leap out of crawlspaces is the best addition since crouching was introduced in TRIII. This is basically a feature we shouldíve had all along, since crawling was introduced.

- The classic Tomb Raider engine feels like itís being used to its absolute full potential here.


THE BAD:

- Core Design was tired of making Tomb Raider games, and it showed numerous times. The Rome episode feels like old school Tomb Raider, but it also feels very standard and unimaginative, even though I enjoyed it. The other episodes borrowed a lot from franchises like Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Syphon Filter etc., and could just as well have had a different character than Lara. They still feel like Tomb Raider, because of the handling and so on, but in tone they have gone far away from what made Tomb Raider the thing it was. It makes sense because the previous couple of games were being criticized for being ďmore of the sameĒ, but for a die-hard Tomb Raider-fan like me, ďmore of the sameĒ isnít bad, if the levels are good.

- Too many cutscenes. This was a big problem for me in the Ireland-episode in particular, where I truly felt that the abundance of cutscenes broke up my enjoyment of the episodeís levels. The cutscenes are overly long too, and not very interesting. When I was a kid, I fought my way through the levels of Tomb Raider games, because I was excited to see the cutscene at the end. They basically functioned as a prize for completion. I always saved my game right before the end of the level, so I could go back and watch it. What a difference a couple of games can make.

- And speaking of cutscenesÖ *Nitpick alert* why is Laraís head so much bigger than anyone elseís in cutscenes?

- Itís a minor complaint, but how could they mess up the continuity of Pierre and Larson so badly? It seems obvious that this game is supposed to take place before Tomb Raider, but how could Pierre and Larson possibly survive what happened to them here? Plus, they also die in Tomb Raider. So, which comes first?

- Zip is annoying and painfully clichťd, but Lara at least had some fun lines to fire back at him. Again, a minor complaint, but I would have preferred Lara to not have had an earpiece companion at all. This also bothers me in Legend, because they kind of take the feeling of isolation away.

- The BUGS! No, Iím not talking about the ones in the lab in the 13th Floor, but the ones that you constantly need to be on your toes for in the VCI-episode in general. I ran into several, like Lara suddenly being invisible, a room being flooded when it shouldnít be, and a level not ending when it should.

- Thereís some good levels in here, but nothing that will ever break into my top 10 or 20.


My ranking of the Tomb Raider Chronicles levels, based on my recent playthrough

13. Deep Sea Dive
I mean, what else could be placed last, really? Itís not because itís a bad level itís placed last, but because itís barely a level at all. I wish there would have been a bit more to it. A bigger cave, more of the sunken U-boat to explore, etc. Itís fine for what it is though, and it looks pretty good.

12. The Old Mill
I generally had a difficult time getting into the Ireland-levels, and The Old Mill stood out to me as the weakest. Perhaps it was because I was fatigued by this setting by the final level, or perhaps it was simply because I found this level to be quite confusing and irritating. It irritated me, that the solution to stopping the Changelings at the beginning of the level, was to throw a lit torch at them, because it hadnít previously been established that they were afraid of fire (right?). The abundance of long cutscenes also irritated me, because they constantly interrupted the gameplay. Also, the demon horseman is so (unintentionally) laughable and over-the-top, that it ruins any sort of creepy atmosphere he was supposed to evoke. I LOVED the first time the old mill was revealed to us though, and the creepy music in the background.

11. The Base
Thereís nothing downright wrong about this level, but thereís just not really anything interesting going on in it either. It reminds me a lot of certain places in the Antarctica opening level of Tomb Raider III, but that level has a ton of stuff going on. Also, the setting is kind of uninteresting in the first place, but I guess it was necessary to introduce the following couple of levels.

10. Streets of Rome
Similar to my criticism of The Base, thereís just not much going on here. The tutorial is very boring Ė I mean, couldnít they have come up with anything other than a dark warehouse to test your skills? And absolutely nothing stands out in the rest of the level either. Itís prettier than The Base, which is why Iím ranking it higher, but besides that these levels function similarly.

9. Labyrinth
The first area inside the church is genuinely creepy, but the rest of the level felt rather dull. The main puzzle of turning the wooden walkways was painfully basic as well, and I simply stumbled into the correct solution first try, making me wonder if there even is a wrong way to do it?

8. Gallowís Tree
Yeah, the Ireland levels arenít doing well in this ranking. My main problem with them is, that they look and sound great, but they arenít fun to play. Style over substance, I guess. They ooze atmosphere, and they show us what Core Design couldíve done with a Survival Horror-type game. The levels are very reliant on cutscenes, which isnít really my cup of tea. Gallowís Tree is my favorite of the Ireland-levels though, because I enjoyed the creepy crypts towards the end, and I also thought it was a cool idea to burn the roots of the tree for itsí heart. Unfortunately, the level also had one of those ďunintuitive puzzlesĒ (which are very typical for The Last Revelation and Chronicles unfortunately), where we had to use a sling on a boarded-up entrance. These sorts of puzzles just feel kind of automatic, and unrewarding.

7. Red Alert!
The terrible reputation of this level preceded it, and so I save-scummed my way through it. Thankfully I didnít encounter any of the numerous game-breaking bugs, but I did encounter a few other annoying ones. Anyways, this level looks fantastic, and is a long trial of tricky and entertaining challenges, which is how I prefer my Tomb Raider levels. It is painfully obvious though, that Core Design desperately wanted to make something other than Tomb Raider by 2000. This doesnít mean that the episode isnít fun to play (because it is), but itís very gimmicky Ė which we already had in the entire Ireland-episode Ė and itís not THAT different from the Russia-episode, which also relied a lot on stealth. I do think the reason for Lara being in such a hi-tech location made sense though. I also like how awesomely much of its time this episode was for 2000.

6. Trajan Market
Iím pretty sure I had this level at the bottom the last time I played the game and ranked the levels. I donít understand why, because itís a very atmospheric level. There are some areas in Trajanís Market that are quite uninteresting to look at, texture-wise, but they fit the feel of the level. I liked navigating the Roman baths section though, and really felt like I was uncovering something long forgotten. The level feels a lot like it couldíve been a part of the first Tomb Raider game, because the textures and colors are similar to those of the Greece episode in that game. The only thing I didnít really like is, that I find the weird Roman iron octopus a bit laughable. I mean, what is that? And the gameís aiming is a bit too choppy for my liking, to require such pinpoint precision from the player.

5. Sinking Submarine
This level takes the previous Submarine-level and turns it into one big death trap with fire, electrified pools, and what-not. This was a cool idea, and I think they pulled it off nicely. Thereís a nice sense of desperation to the level, because the thought of being aboard a sinking U-boat isnít particularly relaxing. But what was up with Laraís sudden affection or the Russian general? Where did that come from? Classic Lara isnít exactly the most affectionate person, so why the out-of-the-blue INTENSE will to save this man? Did I miss him showing any kind of heroic thing earlier in the episode, which made Lara appreciate him?

4. Submarine
I find Submarine slightly better than itsí sinking counterpart, because it has a lot of sneaking around in ducts, and staying silent, which I always find fun to play. This level also feels a lot like Tomb Raider III, particularly the Nevada-episode. This kind of derails my theory that the Russia-episode is an accompanying piece to Tomb Raider II, with both The Base and this reminding me of Tomb Raider III. Overall, a fun level to play through.

3. The 13th Floor
So we finally get the answer as to how Lara got her hands on the mysterious Iris-treasure. This serves as a great introduction to the hi-tech dangers and obstacles of the Von Croy Industries-building, and itís nice to see Lara in a completely different environment. Itís a very fun level to play through, with equal amounts of sneaking and fighting to keep the experience varied.

2. Escape with the Iris
This is the fifth Chronicles-level in which Lara has no weapons, which I find a bit crazy. For once, her weapons arenít taken from her though, but deliberately given up passing through a high-security section of the VCI-building. I find this cool, and I truly think this is one of the better no weapons-levels of the franchise. The level has a ton of atmosphere (and Wolfenstein 3D wall textures!) and is fun to sneak around. Thereís also a considerable amount of meat to it, as we make our way through the offices, to the elevator shaft, and beyond.

1. Colosseum
I think this may be quite a surprise to you guys, as I seem to remember reading this isnít a very popular level. Thereís a couple of reasons why Iím ranking it at the top. First, I really dig the setting of this level. Uncovering an alternate entrance to the famous Colosseum of Rome and encountering (zombie?) gladiators and lions beneath the ďknown structureĒ is awesome. And overall, it just looks good. Second, there are some good platforming sections, and a timed puzzle that was surprisingly difficult to me when I was younger. This level feels like old school Tomb Raider, and thatís why I like it so much. Itís a rather short level, but I would definitely pick this as the representative for Chronicles, if an anthology of the first 5 games were remade or something (Iíd love that, by the way!)

Conclusion
Chronicles is a fine game, but it offers little replayability for me. I can forever go back to the first three games, which seem to never age with me, and I occasionally want to play games like Last Revelation, Angel of Darkness, Legend and Anniversary as well. I haven't really revisited the newer games, since completing them, but that's because they are much more time-consuming and different. My point with all this is, that Chronicles just feels a bit over-shadowed. It's not a bad game, but it's not great either.
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Old 08-02-20, 21:45   #2
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Can't believe I almost missed this review!

Once again, your thoughts are super interesting and a fresh view.. most people around here adore the Irish section and find the Rome levels stale

Me? I love the whole game!! It's for sure one of the easier ones to really get into when you're 9 years old and not so great at tomb raiding without getting lost
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Old 08-02-20, 23:08   #3
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Thank you for posting your review.
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Old 08-02-20, 23:27   #4
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Nice read! I'd probably rank the levels differently and I also have different things I like or dislike but that's exactly what makes reading this more interesting.
It would be rather boring if everyone thought the exact same, right? I'll be looking forward to more of these
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Old 11-02-20, 18:33   #5
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I definitely do see the idea that the story with certain characters from TR1 - TR6 is a plothole because how could Core Design would just have the idea to put Larson & Pierre right back into TR5? I can't even believe that Pierre just got right back into AOD as well. So those type of series from Core Design is definitely a plothole from their perspective. That's why I never recommend for TR5 to go for a remake at all. Nor will AOD either because it wasn't finished properly obviously.
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Old 11-02-20, 18:45   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRExpertgamer View Post
I definitely do see the idea that the story with certain characters from TR1 - TR6 is a plothole because how could Core Design would just have the idea to put Larson & Pierre right back into TR5? I can't even believe that Pierre just got right back into AOD as well. So those type of series from Core Design is definitely a plothole from their perspective. That's why I never recommend for TR5 to go for a remake at all. Nor will AOD either because it wasn't finished properly obviously.
Stop spamming every thread with this... You literally copy-pasted and posted this on other threads, both today and yesterday. Your post isnít even correct and accurate, one can judge from the bolded part.
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@Final Count While I love Chronicles {Itís the best Classic game imho}, I agree with some of your criticisms...

Quote:
I ran into several, like Lara suddenly being invisible, a room being flooded when it shouldnít be, and a level not ending when it should.
Care to elaborate?
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Old 12-02-20, 07:08   #7
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Thanks for your comments guys!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomb Raidering View Post
@Final Count While I love Chronicles {Itís the best Classic game imho}, I agree with some of your criticisms...


Care to elaborate?
Yeah, the invisible-bug happened right at the beginning of the 13th Floor. I went to the left, and ducked into the crawlspace there, and then when I stood up, Lara had disappeared! I could still control her, and hear her footsteps, but there was no model. Even when I reloaded the game, she wasn't there. After exiting the game, and re-entering, she was back.

The level that didn't end was Escape with the Iris. When I went out to the fire escape, the end did not trigger. So I could run up the stairs, and fell through the part of the stairs "which I was never meant to walk on". Again, reopening the game helped and the end triggered as it should.
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