The Angel Of Darkness
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Copyright © 2005 www.tombraiderchronicles.com | Feb 16th 2001

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness is, without doubt, this year's most anticipated title, propelling Lara Croft - the most successful video-game character in the history of the industry - onto the Sony Playstation II and PC platforms for what promises to be a highly charged, action packed and digitally re-rendered adventure penned for a five year incubation period.

The Angel Of Darkness is a three part adventure that begins in cosmopolitan Paris, where Lara Croft arrives only to be framed for a crime she apparently did not commit, and begins a hasty retreat through the dark Parisian underbelly relentlessly pursued by the authorities while attempting to piece together a puzzle surrounding the conspirators who seek her doom, vehemently led by the unscrupulous Eckhardt. Weaponless and without a penny to her name, Lara must negotiate her way through the initial segment of her adventure combining a desperate acquisition of apparel and hardware with a search for five 14th century paintings penned by the famous "Obscure Painter."

The architectural majesty of the famous Musée du Louvre in Paris will play host to a spectacular robbery in Part II when Lara Croft actions the theft of the 14th century artworks to further her adventures, drawn deep into the poignant bowels of the catacombs rooted beneath the city where her traditional Tomb Raider skills will be resurrected by a series of mind-bending puzzles and action-packed, death-defying leaps and jumps. Core Design's second playable character, Kurtis Trent, joins forces with Lara Croft and they both advance their challenge for beneficial resolution with the recovery of the five antique paintings.

The surgical-steeled schematics of high-tech industry is sown into the game-play broth as both Lara Croft and Kurtis Trent travel to Prague, Eastern Europe, for the third and final part of their adventure and descend into the monstrous Strahov Complex for a final showdown with Eckhardt. Here the first episodic adventure of Tomb Raider Next Generation will conclude. Adventures involving the new AI character Kurtis Trent are likely to spawn from The Angel Of Darkness in the form of a spin-off video-game series - such is the depth and historical content Core Design have sown into their first additional playable character; although no official confirmation has been made. Core Design will expand the interactivity of The Angel Of Darkness by offering downloadable components such as character development and plot details via the web, although the studio dispelled earlier rumors about their internet update strategy by stating that the games themselves will not be made available online.

The Angel Of Darkness will also sport more role playing elements in the form of attribute development, which awards more diligent players richer content and improves Lara's skill and dexterity the more she performs specific actions. Rather than allowing players to tweak the game's characters to their liking, certain actions - such as running and sprinting - will automatically become more effective the more a player performs them. This allows Core to include areas in the game that are accessible only by characters of a certain proficiency level.

The Lara Croft model has undergone extensive digital surgery and her current 500-polygon skeleton has been shed for a 5,000 polygon external chassis, affording an improved fluidic appearance that will catwalk gamers with a more organic and human feel. Environmental architectures and game-play schematics have been redesigned from the wire frame up with Core Design gearing up to exploit the PS2's huge terrain-based polygon capabilities to render more depth, texture and response to its levels.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness has initially been slated for a November 2002 release, although we suspect mandatory teasing will see the game commercially available sometime in December. During a visit to the Derbyshire-based studios last year, we noted a Microsoft XBOX Developers Console in Next Gen Mission Control, but to date no official confirmation has been made as to whether this platform will host Tomb Raider. Sony Playstation II and PC platforms are the only confirmed consoles.

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