For ten years, Lara Croft has been raiding tombs while always saving the world at the same time. Over time, Lara had was seen more of a sex idol in many of the fans' eyes and less of a tomb raider that she was well known for; her breasts grew larger in some games and the quality of each game after Tomb Raider 1 and 2 was declining, tombs giving way for modern settings like military bases and underground subways. It was thought that Tomb Raider would die out until Tomb Raider Legend renewed the series. Tomb Raider Anniversary returns Lara to her first adventure again with many upgrades. Veterans of the series may or may not like the changes, but newbies will definitely eat this one up.
Tomb Raider Anniversary is a remake of the first Tomb Raider game, it is not a simple remake with updated graphics. The game has been redone from the ground up and it shows. The environments look a lot more detailed this time around and Lara herself looks better than ever. Lara's skin and clothes actually get wet when she goes in the water, showing off the details even more. While the story is still the same, which is to find the three Scion pieces, the way the story is executed is quite different to keep things a bit fresh. Many of the rooms and events that occurred in the first game return and if you played the first game, it will be nostalgia. While the rooms are lush full of details, many parts of the levels from the first game had been either cut out or merged with other parts, making this game very short compared to the original. While some of the puzzles in the original makes a comeback, they are solved in a whole new way, so veterans should not expect to tackle the puzzles the first time around. Most of the characters from the first game are different too; Natla and her henchmen don't have their accents, Larson doesn't look or sound like a redneck, and Pierre is bald, but they are still evil as they were before and possibly better than ever. Veterans of the series may not like the differences, but newcomers of Tomb Raider won't mind.
The controls play out pretty much exactly like Tomb Raider Legend, so if you played Legend, you will get used to the controls in no time. If not, not to worry, they are easy to learn. Weapon changes and using Medi Kits are assigned to the D-Pad for quick use without having to go through a menu. Shooting is done with R1 and L1 for lock on. You can walk by holding R2, but unlike the Playstation 1 Tomb Raiders, you can still fall off edges even by walking. With circle and X, Lara can jump and roll while square uses her grappling hook. During combat, if Lara pisses off an enemy, it will charge at her and that's when you can do an slow motion dodge that gives you the chance to do a headshot. This will be vital to boss fights, but for regular enemies, it becomes too easy. You can adjust the camera with the right stick, but the camera is usually placed far away from Lara and it gets easily stuck in narrow halls and behind walls during combat, making it hard to fight effectively. Lara can climb ledges and scale walls like she always has done, but now she can balance and jump from poles and run the walls with the grappling hook, both which are very nicely done.
You'll spend most of your time figuring out puzzles and searching for key items, but combat is just as equal in time spent on puzzles. Key items are never hard to spot and ammo and medi kits are a bit too plentiful, making this tomb raiding a bit of a cakewalk, no matter what difficulty you play on. Even some secret items, a staple in the series, are in plain sight 80% of the time. While enemies do attack in groups, they rarely keep attacking you if they push you down to the ground, making it easy there as well. To make things even easier, checkpoints are everywhere, making saving useless. This can help cut back on having to trek back to where you died all over again, but this can feel too easy. Despite the flaws, there are tons of unlockables that will keep you coming back for more. Even Lara's mansion is its own separate level full of nooks and crannies to explore.
Overall, Tomb Raider Anniversary definitely recaptures the moments of the original game, despite all those missing rooms. With lots of ammo to get, tons of checkpoints, and simple (for most) puzzles, this tomb raiding seems to have been made for beginners. Camera problems will definitely frustrate you as well. The otherwise solid gameplay plus the bounty of unlockables makes the game well worth it to play. For veteran Tomb Raiders, you may want to rent the game first if you hold the original game in high regard. Newbie raiders should get this game, but renting it doesn't hurt either.