March 30, 2007 - Sometimes, life just isn't fair. While plenty of game characters have suffered at the hands of diminishing product quality over the years, reputation sullied and tarnished beyond repair, other's have marched on in the face of humiliation and - somehow - managed to keep a stranglehold on their popularity. So, what's the lesson here? Easy, have big boobs and don't be blue.
Of course, in the case of Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider series pulled off something of a coup de grace last year when publisher Eidos wisely entrusted the floundering franchise to veteran developer Dynamics. The result was one of the finest comebacks in videgame history. Needless to say then, since the overwhelmingly positive response to Tomb Raider: Legend, all eyes have been on Dynamics to see which direction it would take Eidos' flagship filly next.
It was a bit of a surprise then when it was revealed the next Tomb Raider game would eschew the direct sequel approach in favour of a return to the series' roots with a celebratory re-imagining of the game that launched Lara's career, just over ten years ago. Not that we're complaining - it's the only pre-Legend Tomb Raider we didn't think was completely rubbish.
Thankfully, Dynamics seems to be on track with Lara's new outing, wafting its customary design magic all over the place a second time around. At least, that's the impression we got when we had chance to sit down with Eidos and explore the previously unseen, completely reworked Egyptian level - dragged kicking and screaming into 2007, replete with angry mummy cats and great big dinosaurs.
Although it's easy to describe Anniversary as a remake, Eidos is keen to stress that, in many ways, this revisit to Lara's past is a completely new game. Although fans of the original will recognise the story, major set-pieces and key puzzles, Dynamics has housed all those familiar elements in levels which pay homage to their ten-year old counterparts but play out entirely differently.
For a start, Egypt unfolds on a much grander scale this time around. The tomb itself is astonishing in size - with previously stunted areas stretched into vast, cavernous expanses. 'Epic' doesn't really do the game justice either - the fraction of Egypt we were lucky enough to see should take even a seasoned Tomb Raider veteran three hours to play through first time around, thanks to new puzzle solutions, dramatically different routes through the level and a ridiculous numbers of secrets to uncover.
Visually too, Anniversary is - unsurprisingly - a world away from the original game. Even though Eidos is confining Lara's newest adventure to PS2, PSP and PC - avoiding next-gen consoles for the time being - Dynamics has managed to create an enormously detailed, convincing world for Lara's archaeological exploits. Using an upgraded Legend engine, every inch of Egypt comes alive with effects like specular dust particles, light blooming and an increasingly filthy Lara Croft.