By Josh "Dr.Rouge" Vasquez
The cinematics of Tomb Raider III.
ou have to admit that the girl has taken the town by storm. She's quite the clever little rich girl, handy with the old magnums and pretty charming to boot. No matter what the setting, whether it be the wildest jungle or the darkest sea, she refuses no challenge. Throw lions, tigers and bears at her, and even the occasional hell-beast, and she just shrugs them off. Lara Croft is unstoppable.
Of course she's nowhere to be seen in the opening cinematic of her latest adventure Tomb Raider III: The Adventures of Lara Croft. This particular little bit settles with depicting the odd comet crashing into earth and the ever-popular arctic setting as background for the "mysterious goings-on."
The piece is broken down into two basic sections, a primordial opening in which an asteroid hits the earth, wiping the landscape clean of all life, and a second scene which fades up several million years later on some kind of geological expedition which is carrying out research on the frozen wastes. It's a fairly standard technique in the adventure genre, cutting between the past and present with such radical steps. The power of the setup is that the viewer is only given a hint as to the significance the earlier action will have for the later series of events. One can only imagine that the end result will prove to be far more complex.
The animation is pretty standard fare, relying more on voice to build character than actual physical distinctions. While you do lose an element of subtlety with this approach, the technique certainly enables the action to glide along at the typically numbed, slightly hollow action film pace. This doesn't mean that there is nothing rewarding about the Tomb Raider III opener. There are a few effective moments with the Scottish leader of the team who seems to be having trouble communicating with his superiors over the radio system. The poor transmission quality seems to make his accent even more unintelligible to the Americans on the other end. He strains to make himself heard so he might convince his employers that all is going according to plan. "Everything is going swell," he says, stressing the swell in a comic attempt at an American accent, as if that is all they need to understand. The gag works and the viewer can chalk one up for the important role voice plays in the creation of these animated lives. The ice bound gang soon uncovers a series of huge stone heads, brothers to the famously mammoth figures on Easter Island. Obviously this comes as a surprise to our boys. Of course Lara Croft, during game play, arrives on the scene to sort out this rather odd historical aberration.
It's a testament to the popularity of the Lara Croft character that she doesn't even have to appear in the opening of her own game. I suppose that the numeral III next to the title is evidence enough of her strength as a marketable object. The cinematic of the game does suffer a bit from her absence, however, simply because nothing is as interesting as Lara herself. Perhaps it is precisely because of the interest her character generates that the development of her personality seems to take precedent over all other considerations. It's also just cool to see her running about, actively preparing us for the adventure to come.
Tomb Raider III's opener is pretty standard fair, but this is not necessarily an unforgivable offense. While they may not quite live up to the standard of Miss Croft herself, there's nothing wrong with the odd head in the snow.
- Josh "Dr.Rouge" Vasquez is a regular contributor to loonygames.
Credits: Pixel Obscura logo illustrated and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Pixel Obscura is © 1999 Josh Vasquez. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited...we know where you live.