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Tomb Raider 4: The Last Revelation

Cultural icon Lara Croft never seems to be off our screens at the moment. Not content with a Lucozade advert, a forthcoming film and a new TV ad campaign, she's gone back to her roots with another in the hugely successful Tomb Raider series - like Cliff Richard, she's back just in time for Christmas.

Players of the other games in the series will know what to expect from this outing. It continues the much-imitated combination of viewed-from-behind platform and combat action and anyone familiar with these games will be able to pick up The Last Revelation instantly.

Lara at sweet sixteen

For those few who have missed out on Lara's adventures in the past, the games follow the fortunes of our upper class (and unfeasibly large-breasted) archaeologist heroine. Viewed from behind and slightly above, you guide the intrepid explorer through exotic locations, finding historic artefacts and battling various endangered species and Arabs - why is it always Arabs? Oh, and she occasionally saves the world along the way.

As you might expect, Core Design has seen fit to update Lara's portfolio with some new features. Finally, gamers will get a chance to see her go up and down poles - her repertoire also includes shimmying round corners, levering objects out of nooks with a crowbar and kicking open doors. Yes, before you ask, crawling has been added, so you will finally get a chance to see Lara on her hands and knees - I can almost hear your palms sweating!

She can also combine objects and weapons, Metal Gear Solid-style, to make new or more useful tools. For example, the skeletons she fights are immune to normal bullets, but if Lara combines a revolver with a laser sight, she can aim for their heads, shattering their skulls with a single shot. This still does not kill them, of course, but it renders them only able to stumble around blindly.

Tomb Raiding in Egypt

The graphics have been substantially re-worked for this addition to the series. Lara is now fully skinned - to eliminate problems with sharp corners at joins like elbows and knees - although Core has resisted the temptation to reward her efforts with yet more silicon. The old grey box proves itself well up to the task, though, throwing a surprisingly large number of textures at a fair old rate. There is life in the old dog yet. But sadly the good old 3D glitches are back - Lara still stands in walls every so often, although the camera problems plaguing many recent third-person games are gone.

Sound is much like the others in the series. These games have always used music to create atmosphere well, and TLR is no exception. The footsteps, moans of the undead and occasional comments from Lara complement the action with admirable subtlety.


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