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Old 30-01-20, 09:56   #1
Final Count
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Default My casual review (and ranking) of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

I have achieved something big today. I have completed the only Tomb Raider game, I had yet to complete. So now I can call myself a true Tomb Raider, with every single game under my belt. Now the big question is, why did it take me so long?

For some reason, The Last Revelation never quite won me over, like the previous three games had done. And that's despite me playing it heavily, just like I did Tomb Raider III. I never actually got anywhere in The Last Revelation though. This means there are parts of the game I'm as familiar with, and excited about, as the first three games, and then there are parts that are completely unknown territory to me. Due to this, I had a feeling of playing a brand-new classic Tomb Raider game during the second halve of the game, which felt pretty strange after so many years as a fan.

I’ll do a mini review, with “THE GOOD” vs. “THE BAD” and then a ranking of the game’s levels.


THE GOOD:

- The Last Revelation Lara-model is probably my favorite – of all time.

- Graphics are gorgeous, even today. I think this is the pinnacle of the classic Tomb Raider “look”. It looks better than Chronicles, even though that’s a newer game, because Egypt is an exceptionally attractive place in general.

- The fact that the entire game is set in Egypt was a great idea, and in theory made the game much more focused. And despite being in the same country, there's still the classic Episodic structure that I love so dearly, in the sense that the various parts of Egypt are quite different.

- Some neat new features, like the ability to combine items, Torch puzzles, NPC companions, Lara dripping water after swimming, being able to shimmy around corners etc.

- Fantastic FMV sequences.

- Generally, a good story, but I have some complaints that I’ll elaborate on in “THE BAD”-section.

- An overall thing I’d like to say about The Last Revelation is, that in a lot of ways it feels fresh. We’ve heard countless times how sick and tired Core became of Tomb Raider, but there’s a ton of new ideas in here.

However…


THE BAD:

- … unfortunately, most of them aren’t greatly executed. I think the new… what shall we call it… backtracking, non-linear, hub-like level system of this game is either something you love, or you don’t. I’d wish they would’ve kept it like in the original trilogy, because it feels somewhat underdeveloped in this game. You know “good on paper” and all that. I’ll elaborate more on this, in my level ranking.

- While the game felt fresh in certain aspects, it felt fatigued in others. Most of the time, we don’t do that much. Compared to Tomb Raider III, where we are constantly faced with tricky platforming, this is probably the most “down to earth” Tomb Raider game ever. Most of the game is based around running from A to B, picking up an item, and then using that item somewhere else. Sure, that might be what Tomb Raider is all about, but in the previous three games, we are kept busy with a lot of different stuff to do (mainly platforming and puzzle solving).

- Lara and Von Croy's relationship feel underdeveloped. The opening levels in Angkor Wat feel bizarre, because Von Croy comes across as very unlikeable, which doesn't really make sense in terms of how he's supposedly someone close to Lara later in the game. Also, what happened after he got stuck, when trying to grab the Iris? And how did he got stuck on the edge of a rock? And how did it end up in Lara’s possession. Never mind.

- Too much tampering with Tomb Raider tradition. I mean, was it necessary to remove the classic circular Tomb Raider menu and inventory layout, in exchange for the boring layout of The Last Revelation? Also, no Passport or Croft Manor. I remember that the fact that Croft Manor had been removed REALLY bothered me as a kid. I just could not believe it and thought that it perhaps could be unlocked.

- The music is not nearly as good as in the previous three games. There are some decent tracks in the game, but mostly it's rather mediocre. And that’s a shocking thing to feel about an entry in a video game series that I ADORE musically.

- You enter a room, and the camera swoops around the entire place for ages, while Lara just stands there. What's up with that? I hate it.

- The game had FMV sequences in abundance during the first halve, and then there was nothing for the second.

- The ropes. May they burn in hell.

- Excessive and pointless backtracking. There are so many levels in this game, and half of them are barely levels. I would have preferred if several of the levels had been merged, to create big classic Tomb Raider levels instead.

- And the worst thing: There are barely any good levels in this game. Yes. Shocking.

- The Cairo-chapter is awful. I really, really tried this time, but I just don't like it. Every time I’ve attempted to complete The Last Revelation, I either got stuck, lost interest, or had my game ruined by a bug (10-year-old me didn’t understand the concept of backup saves) in Cairo. None of the other Tomb Raider games have an entire chapter, that I just simply hate.


Ranking the levels/areas of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

A thing that annoys me about Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, is that I think the game has too many unnecessary level splits. This is possibly a bit nitpicky, but I really, really dig the original trilogy’s way of structuring their levels, with each level having a certain amount of meat to it, as well as it’s completely own identity. The Last Revelation abruptly switches between levels so much, that I hardly knew what level I was in, which made most of them flow together and come across as rather unimportant individually. I’m aware that this was Core’s intention, and that this is what games evolved to be more and more like in the future. I’m just such a big fan of the way it was in the original trilogy, that this will forever feel more like a desperate attempt to change the formula up a bit, than an actual improvement on the formula.

So, I've taken the liberty of bundling some of them together. Whenever levels have been bundled, I'll explain why in my ranking.

18. Cairo
It feels a bit unfair to bundle 5 (or is it 6?) levels together, but I just can’t really tell them apart. It’s probably not a surprise that I'm ranking Cairo at the bottom though. Cairo is the section that ruined the game for me so many times, and almost this time as well. I spent over a week to get through these levels, because they are such a chore. Their layouts are confusing and depressing, and I simply have no idea of what I’m doing there. I'm aware it's supposed to be like that, and look like a war zone, but they are hard to get in to. Also, it never really felt like I was doing anything, other than “running around”. The gameplay felt like an afterthought, especially coupled with the awful controls of the bike (God forbid you end up in a corner with that thing). I've bundled all the Cairo levels together, because they seem so insignificant separately. Levels like the Citadel and Trenches are longer than the others, but there is still barely anything that sets them apart. If I have to say something positive, I'd say that I did have some fun trying to trick the turrets during Trenches.

17. Angkor Wat
The two Angkor Wat levels are unique because they are the only non-Egyptian location, and they introduced teenage-Lara! But besides some unique textures (and an Indiana Jones cameo!), there's not much of interest in these levels. Like I pointed out earlier, I would've preferred a more likeable Von Croy here to lay the ground for the rest of the game’s story. They could’ve done something interesting with the two, but they didn’t. This is especially odd considering how their interaction with each other is, right at the end of the game, as well as their interaction at the beginning of The Angel of Darkness. Something is missing, and these levels are to blame for it. Also, this is what we got instead of Croft Manor, and it’s not a good replacement.

16. The Mastabas
While this wasn't necessarily a bad level, it got repetitive rather quickly. While I liked the Scales puzzle, everything else was just the same over, and over, and over again. The monkey near the end literally jump-scared me though, which is rather funny in hindsight.

15. Menkaure's Pyramid/Inside Menkaure's Pyramid
I've bundled these levels together for what I hope is obvious reasons. I like the tricky climbing of the pyramid in all the levels this challenge is present, because, in general, there's not a whole lot of platforming-challenges in The Last Revelation. The inside of the pyramid is nothing spectacular, but a nice couple of basic challenges (to be completely honest, I've already forgotten most of these two levels).

14. The Sphinx Complex/Underneath the Sphinx
I don't understand why this had to be two levels. The Sphinx Complex is barely a level, and it would have made Underneath the Sphinx better, if it had just been one big level. I know, I know… who cares, they are only set apart by a 3 second loading screen. Anyways, there was a lot of potential in this level, as it brought back a classic Tomb Raider-trope; Find four items from four different challenge rooms and bring them back to open the door. Both maze challenges were fine, but then the other two challenges are barely challenges, simply being rooms where you pull things out of holes. Which is bizarre, since Core had designed an absolutely gruesome blade challenge, but this doesn't lead anywhere and is completely useless. So, I feel like this level had some potential that it didn’t quite live up to.

13. The Guardian of Semerkhet
Not the worst level in the World, but it barely gets going before it finishes. The blade challenges in the beginning are difficult to master without getting hurt, but I've gotten better at it since I was 10 years old. The confrontation with the actual Guardian is another good memory from this game, and the Guardian is truly menacing when it charges towards you. Also, I love the ending FMV here. Sweet revenge for Miss Croft.

12. Valley of the Kings/KV5
I loved these levels as a kid, but they haven't aged that well. The car handles awkwardly and feels too light somehow. The level also suffers from what other vehicle-levels have suffered for in the past; It's too short. You never actually get the chance to just ride the car, because you always must be careful wherever you ride, and then the level randomly ends. For once though, there's a rocking track in the background.

11. Pharos, Temple of Isis/Cleopatra's Palaces
I’ve merged these levels, as they work pretty well if you see them as one big level. Temple of Isis is a fine little challenge to warm us up before Cleopatra’s Palaces, which truly is one of the most beautiful levels in the game. The imagery of this level reminds me a bit of some of the Roman levels in the first Tomb Raider game. The mechanical Beetle puzzles are quite original, and a fun little memory from this level as well.

10. Karnak
I've decided to bundle The Temple of Karnak, The Great Hypostyle Hall, and the Sacred Lake, because they basically function as one big level. You constantly go back and forth, and sometimes you are only in one of the sections for a couple of minutes, before moving on. I really like the look of these levels, but when I think back, it feels like you aren't doing that much here. You are mostly running back and forth, without any proper puzzles or platforming.

9. The Burial Chambers
This felt like a proper Tomb Raider level, where you constantly had to be on your toes, and watch out. It’s one of those levels I hated as a kid, but really like now. I remember being so frustrated with the rope out of the rotating chamber, that I probably spent weeks in just this level. This time, I did it first try (unlike a certain other pair of ropes I'll get to shortly).

8. Catacombs/Temple of Poseidon
Here’s the one place in the game where I think the backtracking between levels kind of work. I like how you need to pull a lever in the upper part of the catacombs, then go the lower part (through Coastal Ruins) - pull something, and then return to the upper part again. It still feels kind of pointless though. Catacombs has the dubious distinction of featuring the most horrible Tomb Raider challenge of all-time – The double rope jump! Gah! The underwater stuff in Lud’s Gate is pleasant in comparison. Temple of Poseidon is pretty cool actually, but it ends almost as soon as it begins. By this point in the game, I was desperately longing for a classic Tomb Raider marathon level of platforming, puzzles, traps etc., and I almost got it in…

7. The Lost Library/Hall of Demetrius
… but not quite. I’d say this is the only level in the entire game, that is up there with Lost Valley, Palace Midas, Temple of Xian, Temple Ruins etc. in its iconic imagery, traps, non-linear approach, puzzles and so on, but it’s still not quite there. The Talos enemies are highly memorable, especially the encounter with the one on the mechanical horse, and in general the level has that ancient (and a bit spooky) Tomb Raider vibe. And while the few puzzles are fine, the level is simply missing something. Also, Hall of Demetrius is literally a 3 minute level, with half of that being a cutscene. These two levels should’ve definitely been merged.

6. The Great Pyramid/Khufu Queen's Pyramid/Inside the Great Pyramid
I decided to bundle these three together, although I originally had decided against it. The thing is though, that they actually feel like one big level, because they start and end exactly where the previous level ended, or subsequent level began respectively. The levels mostly consist of more pyramid climbing, but the final descent into the Great Pyramid is awesome.

5. The Temple of Horus
This was a great ending level to the game, which Tomb Raider III didn't really deliver. So there's that. The Scale-puzzles felt very rewarding to solve, and the entire cave where we try to imprison Seth (and the nerve wrecking escape at the end!) were awesome final challenges for the game. I absolutely hated the track that's looping throughout the first halve of the level though.

4. Alexandria/Coastal Ruins
I'm aware that this is an odd level to have so high, because you don't actually do much in it, but I absolutely love the setting here. The Egyptian Adventure was a personal highlight for me, when I was a kid, and I still adore the quirky little challenges you must complete in this attraction. It doesn't make any sense though. Why is there a theme park, that literally kills the visitors if they fail? Perhaps that's why it was boarded up.

3. The Tomb of Semerkhet
Another great level here, with the weird ancient Ludo game being a highlight. In general, this is probably one of the more classic-feeling Tomb Raider levels of the game, as it has a bunch of traps, challenges, and minor puzzles. The beetleswarm is a very cool little challenge as well.

2. The Desert Railroad
Uncharted 2 is famous for the level set on a moving train, but that was invented in The Last Revelation! I LOVED this level as kid, and I still find it very fun and exciting to play through. I acknowledge that you don't actually do a whole lot in this level, but it's just a unique concept that's fun to play through. While the black and red ninjas are a pain-in-the-ass to take down, they are so damn awesome in their design.

1. The Tomb of Seth
This is the true first level of the game, and I think it’s up there with the great opening levels of Tomb Raider II and III. First of all, the opening FMV is gorgeous, and Lara has a totally bad-ass introduction that I love. It’s also one of the most atmospheric and beautiful levels of the game. Especially the caves at the beginning, with the cobwebs, the NPC companion and his torch. The level is primarily based around moving sand from certain rooms, to advance further into the temple, which I find a really cool idea. Unfortunately, the level kind of stops before it truly gets going. It feels a bit underwhelming to have this as my favourite level, but it just feels very whole and has a lot of personality.


Conclusion
I’m aware there’s a lot of negativity in this review, but I actually like the game a lot. It’s definitely the earliest Tomb Raider game, that I don’t love though. For years I had it high in my overall Tomb Raider series ranking, but that’s mostly because I like the parts of the game I know well, even though there are parts of that I’m not excited about either. Like I’ve mentioned multiple times, the Cairo chapter totally drags the entire experience down, and the Giza chapter afterwards isn’t anything special either. The game has a lot of great stuff in it, but it is severely dragged down by certain new implementations to the formula, that I just straight up don’t think work.

If I could tinker a bit with the game, I think it could be great. I’d remove the hub-like level structure, merge certain levels to make them meatier, and perhaps chop Cairo down a bit.

It’s still better than Chronicles though, which is the game I’m on to next.

Last edited by Final Count; 30-01-20 at 10:06.
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Old 30-01-20, 10:27   #2
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I understand a lot of your criticisms, but some were just outright obnoxious:

• The original trilogy had more platforming and puzzles than The Last Revelation??? Bias.

• While the hub system was invented, levels became huge. Think Karnak, Alexandria, Cairo, and Giza as whole levels. The PS1 didn’t handle this, so they split the levels.

• Lara and Von Croy’s relationship was always shaky. Von Croy blamed Lara after Angkor Wat, and they became rivals. Towards the end of the game Von Croy gets possessed by Seth. And in the ending FMV Lara’s unsure if Von Croy is free from Seth or not. That’s why she hesitates taking Von Croy’s hand. Von Croy was a nice addition.

• Lara retrieves the Iris from Von Croy Industries {VCI} in Chronicles {which sort of acts as a prequel - some of Lara’s adventures in different times}. The VCI section takes place before TRIII, that’s why the Iris is in TRIII too. One more reason for Von Croy to hate Lara.

• The Flying Cameras. If you don’t like hints, have it your way.

• Inventory. I can’t believe that it’s a con in this review. It was cute and plain. The classic inventory was getting old at this point.

• Croft Manor. Core didn’t want to include Croft Manor in The Last Revelation, because the TRIII Manor was already ‘their definitive manor’. There was nothing more to add, and they didn’t want to copy-paste it.
________________________________

Unrelated opinion: Chronicles > The Last Revelation
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Old 30-01-20, 10:43   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomb Raidering View Post
I understand a lot of your criticisms, but some were just outright obnoxious:

• The original trilogy had more platforming and puzzles than The Last Revelation??? Bias.

• While the hub system was invented, levels became huge. Think Karnak, Alexandria, Cairo, and Giza as whole levels. The PS1 didn’t handle this, so they split the levels.

• Lara and Von Croy’s relationship was always shaky. Von Croy blamed Lara after Angkor Wat, and they became rivals. Towards the end of the game Von Croy gets possessed by Seth. And in the ending FMV Lara’s unsure if Von Croy is free from Seth or not. That’s why she hesitates taking Von Croy’s hand. Von Croy was a nice addition.

• Lara retrieves the Iris from Von Croy Industries {VCI} in Chronicles {which sort of acts as a prequel - some of Lara’s adventures in different times}. The VCI section takes place before TRIII, that’s why the Iris is in TRIII too. One more reason for Von Croy to hate Lara.

• The Flying Cameras. If you don’t like hints, have it your way.

• Inventory. I can’t believe that it’s a con in this review. It was cute and plain. The classic inventory was getting old at this point.

• Croft Manor. Core didn’t want to include Croft Manor in The Last Revelation, because the TRIII Manor was already ‘their definitive manor’. There was nothing more to add, and they didn’t want to copy-paste it.
________________________________

Unrelated opinion: Chronicles > The Last Revelation
I don't know if I'm biased, I've played just as much Last Revelation (except Cairo and onwards) as the previous three games. I just think the first three games feel more varied. I could be wrong though.

Well, that's exactly what I'm trying to do, thinking of them as huge levels. I've merged several of them. But the previous Tomb Raider games had much larger levels, so it doesn't make sense that something like Karnak had to be split up? It's not that big of a level, even if all three sub-levels are viewed as one. If you look at the entirety of the Alexandria levels, then yes, that would be too huge for one level. But that's not what I'm saying they should've done.

You are right, she got the Iris in Chronicles. Forgot about that.

The Last Revelation inventory sucks, because it gets so crowded. In the previous three games, you had a tier for Saving/Loading, a tier for your weapons/items, and a tier for your artifacts/key items. There's a lot of cycling through lots of stuff in this system.

Couldn't I just as well call you biased for your dismissal of the inventory in the original trilogy? :P

Anyways, thanks for your comments.
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Old 30-01-20, 13:02   #4
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Nice review. Maybe I would have appreciated TR4 more if there was one less classic game, but I simply can't exclude any of the first 3. It still is the most creative classic TR and as you said Core's tiredness didn't show at all (at least for the first half of the game ). As I've said before, it would help if TR4 was seperated into 2 games. Instead of chronicles, we should have the last revelation part 2.

I don't really like the ring inventory. Anniversary did it better and more responsive.

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I understand a lot of your criticisms, but some were just outright obnoxious:
How exactly??
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Old 30-01-20, 13:08   #5
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Originally Posted by CroftManiac05 View Post
How exactly??
I specified my problems with the review on the post you quoted.

I still respect the OP’s opinion, however... He talks about a lot of facts too.
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Old 30-01-20, 13:19   #6
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How exactly??
No good levels. There are good levels indeed. Otherwise the game would be awful.

No passport. Like, is that even relevant?


And how did he got stuck on the edge of a rock? He fell and got stuck. I don't see any mystery behind or why is this important. He got stuck because of his foolishness and Lara abandoned him. That's it.

You enter a room, and the camera swoops around the entire place for ages. It happens a couple of times and they're not that long. You can save the game after a sequence if they bring you any trouble.

Most of the game is based around running from A to B, picking up an item, and then using that item somewhere else. That's basically the definition of Classic Tomb Raider.

I think the reviewer compared TRIV to the previous one when it tried to stay away from them and only counting the flaws. TRIII also had nasty backtracking and you could die anytime (so repeat everything again), TRII too and this one was even slower than IV. All of them have good platforming.
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Old 30-01-20, 13:23   #7
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^ I didn't find any of these obnoxious but anyway...
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Old 30-01-20, 13:26   #8
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^ I didn't find any of these obnoxious but anyway...
Maybe obnoxious is not the word, but kind of nickipicky as the author admited
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Old 30-01-20, 13:29   #9
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^ I didn't find any of these obnoxious but anyway...
Quoting SoraSakai: To you. They weren’t obnoxious to you.
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Originally Posted by SnatchingEdges View Post
Maybe obnoxious is not the word, but kind of nickipicky as the author admited
It well fits imho...

Synonyms for ‘obnoxious’: unpleasant, disagreeable, dislikeable, etc. Describes this review.
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Old 30-01-20, 13:42   #10
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Originally Posted by Tomb Raidering View Post
Quoting SoraSakai: To you. They weren’t obnoxious to you.

It well fits imho...

Synonyms for ‘obnoxious’: unpleasant, disagreeable, dislikeable, etc. Describes this review.
I don't think it's 'unpleasant', disagreeable for sure It's just a very personal review that could've been summarized in 'I didn't like hubs'. Maybe if he had a different perspective he'd enjoyed the game more (seeing all levels as one with different sections and not comparing it to its prequels).
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