TOMB RAIDER CHRONICLES: PROLOGUE
Copyright 2000 www.tombraiderchronicles.com

[ August 19th 2000 ]

The wrath of Horus hones in on Lara Croft, the ground beneath her rocks, unbalancing her, her stammered stance kicking up tiny whirlwinds of dust as fragments of small rocks rain down, a blizzard of dust, partially obscuring the safe path through the toppling pillars. Lara is running now, her heart beating it's way through her chest, the beads of sweat a torrid storm across her forehead, she launches herself over a spike-filled pit, eyeing through the corner of her blurred sight the fate that lay beneath her. Hurriedly, she scampers, leaves the pyramid as a myriad of explosions amplify around the open space she once stood in, support pillars continue their almost motionless glide to earth, ricocheting all around her, as a huge portion of the ragged ceiling, lined with stalactites, silently detaches itself from above and descends with evil certainty to the ground below.

Five days later, England - Jean Yves, Winston and Father Dunstan, exhausted from the emotional funeral of Lara Croft, enter the Croft Mansion, and head for the study. Pouring his guests a drink, Yves is swallowed by the soft leather of a Chesterfield and stares into the red liquid, his mind racing, a million pictures enacting through the torment of his imagination, the image of Lara’s tomb forcing it's way to the surface past all other memories, tormenting, reminding him of his loss. As the fire crackles in it's glorious stone surroundings, the flames licking the scorched tiled ceiling, the firewood popping under consumption, Yves sighs, and watches as his two friends sit down and gaze thoughtfully into the dancing flames. Winston smiles, remembering an earlier exploit involving Lara Croft, and tilts his head towards Yves, the shadows of the fire gently illuminating the side of his face, the gentle tickles of light suggestively forming a pose in his glasses, and he begins to speak....."

Level One - Streets Of Rome. Classic Tomb Raider lovers are catered for in this entry level into Tomb Raider Chronicles, with action and adventure the key elements to this first level map. Lara Croft, refined graciously through the complete character recoding an rebuilding of Core Design, is accompanied by Larson, the "half mad Texan dimwit" first seen in Natlas Mines way back in the 1991 original Tomb Raider classic, and his French partner in crime Pierre.

Donned in a glorious ball gown, Lara Croft, intrigued at the slightest scent of adventure, purchases a stone from Larson and Pierre. Soon after, doublecross and espionage ensue, and a race through the winding, ornamental streets of Italy follows. Similar to The Tomb Of Seth, Rome incorporates the training level where Lara is introduced to new moves and weapons before departing on her first flashback adventure. ".......Jean-Yves chuckles, pulls his weary body from the all-encompassing airchair and slowly drifts over to the fireplace, the fire more consistent now, the heat gently kneading the view above the fireplace. An oil-painting of a classic ocean view, at it's centre a German World War Two U-Boat, drawing the attention of his gazing eyes as his mind slipped back into thought and he began his rendition......"

Level Two - The Submarine Jean-Yves reveals that the ship was carrying the mythical Spear of Destiny.. Dressed in the armed camouflage uniform of a soldier, Lara Croft's second mission marries her with her narrator, Jean-Yves, and the story unfolds of the ship carrying the mythical Spear of Destiny. Steeped in magical mystery. the Spear that was said to have pierced Jesus' side and was en route to Germany when a mysterious explosion halted it's journey.

Adventure ensues... the tubular notes of crystal gently tapping the neck of a bottle pauses Yves narration, the calm and warm atmosphere suddenly cut short by the violent clatter of a window almost torn from it's hinges as the wind whistles through the curtains, victorious over it's obstacles. The candles blow out, and the white trail of smoke gently circumvents in a dispersing, winding trail to the ceiling. "Winston smiles, the momentary snap to reality nudging a dormant memory thought long forgotten........"

Level Three - Spooky Island Tenderly aged sixteen, young Lara prepares for an early night at Conussie - the Butler's old Irish home, a violent storm desperately hammering the stone walls, frantically searching for a way into the tranquillity of Winstons home. Curousity grapples Lara's attention once again, this time in the vision of an aparition on the neighbouring islands that are ramdomly illuminated as forked lightning licks the top of the trees, crackling through the air, the scent of scorched plant life hanging in the air.

In true Lara Croft style, she seeks out to investigate, and is presented with a myriad of puzzles and traps to solve in the third Chronicles adventure. "Winston stands, and leads Jean-Yves and Father Dunstan to a secret trophy room hidden deep within the walls of Croft Manor. Tentatively blowing the dust from old iron-held candles, Winston draws a match and the warm, incandescent glow of the candles gently illuminates the room, casting eerie shadows across the golden accomplishments of many lifetimes."

Level Four - Tower Block Stealth and carefully planned strategy are the key elements to this final, or is it..., level of Chronicles. Lara is attired in a black cat suit, and must use all of her cunning if she is to succeed in this beautifully designed high tech level. Accompanying Lara is Van Croy, last seen jumping the light fantastic in The Last Revelation, and a curious new character called Zip.

The Gameplay - The engine architecture, although remaining predominately the same, has been refined to a visually spectacular degree, with lighting adding atmospheric glamour to an already attractive gameplay, and an intriguing selection of new and improved moves thrown into the virtual broth. Lara's interactivity with her new environments has been greatly improved, and new skills such as searching through filing cabinets and draws adds a further degree of realism to the game.

Lara's characters are also smarter, some with new listening skills, which Lara must combat with additional stealth moves and silent strategies. Core Design has taken the best from the rest, the memorable, and the functional, the favourites and the intriguing, from it's previous four Tomb Raider instalments, ripped apart the environmental architecture, and re-writen the code to produce a faster, smoother, visually stunning fifth Tomb Raider. Included in the PC version of Chronicles is a level designer, one of the unique applications tailored to each version of Tomb Raider.

Although this may be the last in the Tomb Raider series as we see it, Tomb Raider fans will be manipulating environments and creating new levels for many years to come. Lara aint dead yet!

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