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Tomb Raider 6 - The Angel Of Darkness

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Tomb Raider 6 - The Angel Of Darkness

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness is the sixth game in the Tomb Raider series, and is the sequel to Tomb Raider Chronicles and The Last Revelation. It was developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. The game was originally released in 2003 for PlayStation 2 and Windows, and was the first Tomb Raider title to be released for the PlayStation 2 console. The storyline follows Lara Croft as she attempts to clear her name while she is hunted across Europe, accused of murdering her former mentor Werner Von Croy. The game received mixed to negative reviews from critics and is widely considered as the weakest game in the series.

Plot

The story begins in Paris where a serial killer the press have named "The Monstrum" has been terrorizing the city, killing over seventeen seemingly unconnected individuals in a brutal, ritualistic fashion. Accused of the murder of her one-time mentor, Werner Von Croy, Lara is forced into hiding. Following notes written in a journal by Von Croy, Lara races to recover five hidden paintings before a secret organisation called the Cabal, whose ultimate goal is world domination and immortality with the assistance of an ancient biblical race known as the Nephilim. Through her adventures, Lara is first hindered then helped by Kurtis Trent, the last surviving member of an order that splintered off of the Knights Templar in the 15th century called the Lux Veritatis (Latin for 'Light of Truth'). Near the end of the game, Kurtis is seriously wounded by a mutant creation of a Cabal scientist, but there are indications that he did not actually die.

Pieter Van Eckhardt is the main villain of Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. A normal 15th century alchemist, he was contacted later in his mortal life by the Nephilim and entered a blood pact with them in exchange for immortality, and was tasked with the creation of a powerful weapon known as the Sanglyph (literally 'blood-sign'), able to utilise human blood and body parts to resurrect the Niphilim if it would ever become necessary. To keep the Sanglyph safe, Eckhardt split it into five pieces and hid each piece behind five paintings he created depicting evil imagery.

As time went on, Eckhardt grew ever more evil and powerful, and eventually form a group known as the Cabal, four individuals who all shared the same desire for immortality. To attain this immortality, the Cabal prepared to resurrect an extinct race known as the Nephilim (the product of relationships held between fallen angels and humans). Eckhardt believed that by using the Nephilim he would attain immortality and, in the end, dominate over all. However, thje Lux Veritalis were able to put a halt on Eckhardt's plans. The Lux Veritatis acquired three ancient weapons of light called the Periapt Shards and, led by Brother Obscura, used them to seal Eckhardt in a deep pit. The seal on Eckhardt would only last if the three Periapt shards were combined. Brother Obscura then confiscated the five paintings that contained the pieces of the Sanglyph, and painted over the previous images of evil with new religious images. These were hidden throughout Europe in locations known only to the Lux Veritatis, and were christened the Obscura Paintings. A copy was made of each, referred to as the Obscura Engravings, with each engraving containing an encoded map to the location of the original painting.

In 1945, something happened and one of the shards became separated from the other two. Eckhardt escaped the pit and vowed revenge against the Lux Veritatis, then revived the Cabal basing it out of Prague. The new Cabal became devoted to hunting down any members of the Lux Veritatis. Eckhardt also managed to obtain the third Periapt Shard from the Lux Veritatis. He hid these shards in his old laboratory, deep underground beneath the Strahov, the headquarters of the Cabal. Eckhardt and the Cabal set out to reclaim the five Obscura paintings, in order to acquire the Sanglyph. By the time Lara became involved in the plot, the Cabal had already attained three of the five paintings. Eckhardt then hired Werner Von Croy to find the last two; Von Croy did learn of the location of the fourth painting beneath the Louvre from the Obscura engravings, but he never informed Eckhardt. Von Croy then asked for Lara Croft to assist in finding the paintings, shortly before his murder.

The Sanglyph whose five pieces are hidden behind the Obscura paintings and gives the bearer immense powers. Lara finds the two remaining paintings in Paris and Prague, though Eckhardt reclaims from her before retreating to his old laboratory, where he starts reviving the Nephilim race. The Cabal had retrieved the last Nephilim specimen from Turkey: a Nephilim body which had been named "the Sleeper". During the final confrontation with Lara, Eckhardt starts the process of reviving the Sleeper. He battles Lara using the Sanglyph, but he is eventually killed by Karel, his right-hand man, who stabs Eckhardt with the third Periapt Shard. Karel reveals himself to be the last surviving/living Nephilim and that all the people who have helped Lara have died at his hands to avoid the destruction of the Sleeper. He also unwittingly reveals that it was he that murdered Von Croy in the shape of Eckhardt (thus revealing that the Niphilim are shape-shifters) and spared Lara because Von Croy said she would be of great assistance in gaining the paintings. He then offers Lara a chance to join him in his resurrection. Lara, disgusted with his callous attitude to human life and Von Croy's murder, refuses, and decides to put an end to it by using the Sanglyph on the Sleeper - thus overloading it with the new blood the Sanglyph has collected and destroying it and Karel.

Gameplay

Much like the Tomb Raider games before it, The Angel of Darkness is a 3rd-person action-adventure-puzzle game that stars Lara Croft. The player controls Lara as she explores thirty-one levels, manoeuvring carefully across traps and solving puzzles to progress. Lara's new moves include a back-flip, a small hop, stealth, army-crawling, rolling out of the crouch position, hand-to-hand combat and the "super-jump" that can be performed whilst sprinting. Unlike other Tomb Raider games, it is sometimes necessary for Lara to acquire a strength upgrade to manage to clear certain jumps. An RPG element was added to the series, with the player choosing what Lara says in conversation, such as polite questions, bribery, or threats. Although this does not affect the main storyline, it does alter the route taken to ultimately reach Lara's goal. For example, she enters the club 'Le Serpent Rouge' differently depending who she talks to, and may be shot by Bouchard by saying the wrong thing. This, however, is mostly the case only at the start of the game (Parisian ghetto); after that, choosing what you say only affects the replies you get when entered in dialogue with another character.

Angel of Darkness is also the first game in the series to feature an additional playable character besides Lara Croft (later DLC for Tomb Raider: Underworld would feature another). Kurtis Trent initially appears to be an antagonist to Lara, but the player assumes control of him late in the game, shortly before he and Lara form an alliance against Eckhardt.

Characters

The game follows Lara as she attempts to clear her name and recover five hidden paintings before a secret organisation achieve world domination and immortality. The game introduces a second playable character and also features the following:

  • Lara Croft
  • Werner Von Croy
  • Kurtis Trent: The second playable character, Kurtis Trent is looking to avenge the death of his father, Konstantin, grand master of the Lux Veritatis. Kurtis is the last of this enigmatic order.
  • Mademoiselle Margot Carvier: An academic historian conducting an archaeological dig at the Louvre Galleries in Paris. A colleague and friend of the late Werner Von Croy, she too is murdered by the Monstrum after helping Lara to retrieve Von Croy's Journal.
  • Pieter Van Eckhardt: The Black Alchemist, leader of the secret organisation, The Cabal, based at the Strahov Fortress in Prague. He appointed Werner Von Croy to recover five artefacts known as the Obscura Paintings, thought to have alchemical power and linked to dark arts.
  • Louis Bouchard: A man involved in dark dealings in the Parisian underworld. He is the owner of the nightclub 'Le Serpent Rouge', currently closed due to a number of deaths among the staff, and is believed to be linked to The Monstrum.
  • Marten Gunderson: A forces provider for anything from basic security to invasions. He works for Pieter Van Eckhardt and leading the siege at the Louvre.
  • Joachim Karel: A corporate mastermind based in Paris, investing in Cabal and recruitment whilst protecting their interests worldwide. He also holds a dark secret.
  • Dr. Grant Muller: One of the Cabal's scientists working in the Bio-Dome.
  • Kristina Boaz: Survivor of a plane crash, head of Corrective and Remedial Surgery at the Strahov Psychiatric Institute in Prague.
  • Janice: A local prostitute who shares some useful information to Lara regarding the recent events in the Parisian Ghetto.
  • Pierre: Owner of the restaurant Cafe Metro. He agrees to help Lara find Bouchard in exchange for a box he left at the 'Le Serpent Rouge' nightclub. He is unrelated to Pierre Dupont.
  • Bernard: The former janitor of the 'Le Serpent Rouge'. He agrees to help Lara find Bouchard in exchange for a box he left at the 'Le Serpent Rouge' nightclub.
  • Francine: Pierre's ex-girlfriend. She helps Lara get into the graveyard of St. Aicard's Church.
  • Willowtree Herbalist: Owner of a herbalist store in the Parisian Ghetto.
  • Daniel Rennes: A pawnbroker back in Parisian Ghetto, specialist in blackmarketeering. Gets killed by Pieter Van Eckhardt.
  • Anton Gris: Boxer trainer, friend of Louis Bouchard. He owns a boxing studio (set inside a church) which doubles as an entrance to Louis Bouchard's underground lair.
  • Thomas Luddick: A journalist in Prague. He gave information about the Cabal and a Strahov Fortress security pass to Lara Croft. He is killed by Pieter Van Eckhardt.

Deleted characters

  • The Shaman: A North African healer and tribal mystic who took care of Lara's recovery after the Egyptian tombs. The Shaman was originally intended to appear in Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness in flashbacks telling of how Lara survived her fate in the ending of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. Although she was cut for unknown reasons, renders of the Shaman can be seen on-line and in the official strategy guide by Prima Games.
  • Luther Rouzic: Librarian Honorarium at Prague City Archives. Acknowledged world authority on dead languages and texts. Keeper of the Strahov archives. Little is known about Luther's role in The Angel of Darkness, whether he was a sixth member of The Cabal or simply a civilian in Prague. Like the Shaman, official renders can still be found both online and in the game's strategy guide, while early concept artwork appear in the special features menu in Tomb Raider Chronicles.

Locations

Paris, France

Lara meets with Werner in his Parisian apartment before he is murdered in front of her. Now a prime suspect, Lara lies low in the back alleys, but is forced to also visit a nightclub called Le Serpent Rouge, and the famous Musee du Louvre. Parts of the Louvre are faithfully recreated in the game, most notably the ancient foundations of the mediaval Palais du Louvre, which form part of Lara's entrance into the museum.

Prague, Czech Republic

Lara hunts for clues in the apartment of an affluent art dealer, known as Mathias Vasiley, who was recently murdered by The Monstrum. The main location in Prague, the Strahov, is the stronghold of the organization behind The Monstrum killings, the Cabal. The Strahov Fortress is made up of different areas, including a bio-research facility, an underwater research facility, and a mental institution. The real Strahov is a baroque monastery which gives its name to the Strahov distinct of Prague. This monastery bears little resemblance to the game's Strahov visualisation.

Exclusive Collector's Edition Soundtrack

Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness included an 8-track promotional soundtrack in the 'Collector's Edition' of the game, exclusive to European sales. If pre-ordered in late 2002, consumers received a companion documentary DVD 6 months before the release of The Angel Of Darkness that included the soundtrack in DVD format. However, the same material was later reciprocated on Audio CD with the game's release in 2003.

All material is composed by Peter Connelly, with additional contributions by Martin Iveson. The score was recorded live by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, London, in 2002 (orchestrated by Peter Wraight and conducted by David Snell).

Reception

The game received mediocre reception from critics, receiving a 5.3/10 from IGN and a 6.5 from GameSpot, with an overall GameRankings score of 56% for the PS2 version and the PC version a 55%. The Metacritic review site stated that PS2 version of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness has met with "mixed or average reviews", while the Windows version received "generally negative reviews". Reviewers praised the storyline, improved graphics, sound and the environments, while they criticized large amount of bugs, control system, combat system, camera, steep system requirements etc. As most critics ranged from negative to mediocre receptions, other media received the game more positively, the Official UK PlayStation 2 Magazine gave the game an 8 out of 10 stating "Although some issues with the controls and some bugs, the game is faithful to the series and delivers a true Tomb Raider experience."

Featured Images

Tomb Raider Games

Tomb Raider (1996) · Unfinished Business (1998) · Tomb Raider II (1997) · The Golden Mask (1999) · Tomb Raider III (1998) · The Lost Artifact (2000) · The Last Revelation (1999) · The Times (1999) · Chronicles (2000) · The Angel of Darkness (2003) · Legend (2006) · Anniversary (2007) · Underworld (2008) · Beneath the Ashes (2009) · Lara's Shadow (2009) · Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2010)

Tomb Raider Movies

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) · The Cradle Of Life (2003)

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