Disappointing Anniversary for Tomb Raider

The original changed the way we look at adventure games. The new one, for Nintendo's Wii, looks dated and doesn't fit the system

Love it or hate it, the original Tomb Raider for the PSOne ushered in a new era. While it was not without its flaws (awkward camera, frustrating controls), it more or less established the 3-D adventure genre. Earlier this year we were privy to a grand remake in Tomb Raider: Anniversary, and after much anticipation, it arrived on the Wii, waggle controls and all.

Wii games fall into two categories: games built around the remote and nunchuck, and those that have gimmicky controls tacked on. Anniversary falls into the latter group with disappointing results. Although it fixes many of the annoying problems that plague the original, actions that formerly required a mere button press now require a shake of the nunchuck. Firing off a grapple hook is a complicated affair that, while doable, feels awkward. You now point the remote in order to aim, which sounds like a great idea in theory, but the way Crystal Dynamics sloppily executed it. An obtrusive camera further hampers the action when shooting. Considering most of the enemies are beasts that want to tear our heads off, we don't have time to waste fighting the camera.

Other waggle controls feel similarly wonky, and there is too much reliance on the d-pad, turning what should be simple maneuvers into complicated ordeals. They did throw in some extra puzzle elements that use the remote for rotating objects, or simple tasks like drawing or making a rubbing, but they feel like juvenile additions.

As far as the presentation goes, nothing has really changed since the PS2 version, other than sporting a widescreen resolution and being a little sharper. However, some of that sharpness brings out more visual flaws we didn't want to see. This makes the Wii version look dated. Yet, the game still places Lara in a variety of architecturally beautiful surroundings (caves, tombs, temples; you know the drill) in a variety of countries. The soundtrack is still very good and the voice acting is characteristically cheesy, but overall, it captures the Tomb Raider theme.

Tomb Raider: Anniversary offers a ton of terrific puzzles, and it's a grand quest, but unfortunately for Wii owners, this is easily the worst iteration. If all you own is a Wii, you probably owe it to yourself to rent the game, but the Wii-specific controls are too often a nuisance and very seldom translate to more fun.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.