Review by T.Geiger

Reviewed: 12/14/01 | Updated: 12/14/01

Well, I know I'm playing Tomb Raider, but where are Lara's... assets?

The review by AAtreides sums the game up pretty well, but I felt he didn't emphasize the negatives quite enough.

Contrary to what pretty much all the other reviewers said, I thought the game control was horrible. Sure, it was natural enough, but I found it to not be as responsive as it should have been, considering that this was a ''jump across those columns, push that block, and avoid the certain death'' game.

I don't care to count the number of times I'd run off the edge of a platform instead of jumping. Raziel also doesn't seem to know how to not go from 0 to 60 in nothing flat either (well, you can actually walk, but a tiny nudge on the controller should not send you over the edge into the chasm in a full sprint).

The actual jump is horrid as well. In fact, I don't even think it was a jump, but more of an uncontrolled burst upwards. You generally went in the direction you wanted to go.. generally.. but not always.

And even if you did, because of the aforementioned speed factor, you often wound up sailing over your target. I spent a full half-hour in a chamber with 2 spider vampires, trying to jump to a ledge above, and about 15 minutes of that was trying to jump onto the freling lowest platform... as in not over.

And as a software engineer, I can't believe some of the stuff they pulled in this game. A number of the puzzles or challenging rooms are not just because its a challenging game, but rather that the programmers decided to use the game's design flaws (poorly responsive jump being the most abused) to create the illusion of challenge.

Now I'd like to point out that I'm not a bad player, and that my controller is not broken (not this one anyway), so these control problems are inherent in the game.

My other big cheese with this game was the camera system. The only time it will move of its own accord is when it would otherwise be in a wall, and it doesn't even do that all the time. And I really love when 80% of my screen is devoted to Raziel's upper back. The only time I actually died was due to this sort of thing. It was my first encounter with a vampire wraith, and the camera got positioned so that the wraith was between me and it. I thought I had killed it when I saw a blue aura appear around its head (kinda how some other monsters get), and I went to devour its soul. I began to think, ''hell, its taking a long time to die.'' And then I noticed my health meter was 99% depleted. There were lots of other points that had similar camera problems.

Had these two items, control, and camera adjustment, been better refined, the game could have easily been in my ''must buy'' category.

There were only three other things that I felt could have been done better, and were not serious problems.

You can't kill a vampire without a weapon - Oh, sure, you can throw them in a lake or on a stake.. and how many times do you have to incapacitate them to carry them there?

Story - The story was developed about as well as Castlevania: SotN, which is to say barely at all.

Quake 16-million-shades-of-one-color Syndrome - The spiritual plane is neon green and the material plane is brown.

As for what I may have actually liked, I thought the graphics, sound, and atmosphere were excellently developed. If you want more detail than that, read someone else's review.

As it stands, Soul Reaver was not ready to be released yet, and it shows. The game is far too similar to Tomb Raider for its own good, and suffers from some very serious flaws. You should definitely rent first.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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