Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft is a platform and third-person shooter game developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. It is the third installment in the Tomb Raider series and the sequel to Tomb Raider II. The game was originally released on 20 November 1998 for the PC and PlayStation. The story follows Lara Croft as she embarks upon a quest to recover 4 meteorite stones scattered across the world.
Millions of years ago, after the time of dinosaurs, but before the time of humans, a meteorite survived the high density plunge into Earth's atmosphere. It was around the size of a small house, but may have been larger before the atmosphere descent, which would have burned it down to a smaller size. The animal inhabitants of a tropical area, actually an Antarctica island, millions of years ago, sensed the meteor coming and were immediately alarmed. A few minutes later, the meteor crashed into a bed of trees, exploding and vaporizing everything around it. Over the next few millions of years, this island area of tropical Antarctica became inhabited by Polynesians, early humans. There, they discovered the meteor, and the strange, unnatural powers that it possessed. The Polynesians worshiped this rock, and sculpted four objects of different shape and power from it; the Four Meteoric Artifacts.
As revealed by one of the tribesmen the inhabitants of these islands fled when one of the natives was born from the sixth king without a face, due to the over-exposure to the meteorite artifacts, similar to the effects of radiation. This naturally shocked the other tribesmen, and so they fled what they now were calling a 'cursed island'. They left the four meteoric artifacts inside a meteorite chamber beneath the Antarctica islands' surface.
It is here, when all four artifacts are combined, that any living thing can be radically evolved.
In 1834 when Antarctica had become a frozen continent Charles Darwin's HMS Beagle arrived at the site and the sailors on board fell into the chamber which was a barren cave and discovered the artifacts and then were attacked by a pack of wolves killing one of them. All but one of the crew members Stephen Barr survived headed back to London where he sold his piece of the treasure after the others were killed for their artifacts in Nevada, India and the South Pacific.
In 1998 the mining company RX-Tech, founded by Dr. Mark Willard, set out a mining and drilling excavation in Antarctica to try to find a rumored Meteorite Cavern, which Willard found evidence of in a diary of one of the sailors on the HMS Beagle. Currently, one section of the group is drilling into the ice in order to discover anything. Willard is seen speaking to someone on a phone, though the recipient cannot understand him (whether this was because of his deep Scottish accent or a low signal, it is unknown). At this time, the drill bit becomes lodged into some rock (this could be meteoric). The drill breaks, just as a snowmobiler drives up, asking Dr Willard to come to Site 2 (another excavation area). Upon the short journey, Willard asks "Find any more meteorite?".
The reply from the snowmobiler is "Something a little younger than that". When they arrive at Site 2, we see a carved Polynesian head, like the ones seen on Easter Island, followed by a camera zoom that shows many more embedded into the snow. Willard then approaches a small depression in the ice. Below it is a small wooden block, bearing the name of one of the crew of the HMS Beagle. The inscription on it reads Paul Caulfield, 1812 to 1834. Willard says "This place has a busy history....".
Later that year Lara, has somehow heard of the mysterious Infada Artifact shortly after completing her search for the Dagger of Xian, possibly from the rumors spread among the Infada Tribes around Calcutta, India. At this point, Lara does not know that the Infada artifact is one of a set of four meteoric items. She navigates the jungles of India. Lara begins her journey upon a massive sloped hill in the higher regions of dense Indian rainforest, presently unsure where the rumored temple, which houses the artifact, is located.
After locating the Indra key she enters a swampy area and meets one of Dr. Willard's encamped researchers, Tony, who has gone insane from the isolation and the effects of the surrounding temple. This Temple, possibly called the Temple of Indra, was the main fortification of the Infada Tribes who worshiped the stone, until they abandoned the temple and left it in ruin with five Ganesha keys inside and possessed statues of Shiva.
In her excavation of the temple Lara discovers two other researchers of Dr. Willard, Randy and Rory both dead and mysteriously hovering in the air. One of them has a weird hole in his stomach. Lara slides down a slope, exiting the temple. As she reaches the bottom, she balances herself so she doesn't fall over the edge and into the river. She familiarizes herself with the environment, but suddenly takes a step back as she spots Tony standing on a raft in the middle of the River Ganges.
At first, he doesn't notice her; he seems to be more interested in the scrutiny of some aquamarine block embedded into his chest. Lara, knowing that this must be the Infada Artifact as the block hasn't killed him, realizes that Tony must have been one step ahead of her, despite what he had said about leaving the Jungle, and had already killed Randy and Rory, one of which had a wound as if something had been stabbed into it and ripped out. Using a nearby quad bike she traverses the river Ganges canyon and finds that Tony's raft has crashed at the bottom of a waterfall. Behind his raft is an entrance to the Caves of Kaliya.
After navigating the mazes within the caves she encounters Tony who can now levitate, throw fireballs, and convert water into a toxic slime. Once she has managed to kill Tony, she collects the Infada Stone and then encounters Dr. Willard who recounts the tale of the HMS Beagle, the existence of the meteorite chamber and the locations of the remaining artifacts. Lara agrees to help him find the others.
South Pacific IslandsEdit
In the South Pacific, she passes through a coastal village and arrives at a tree house where she learns that a group of Australian soldiers had crashed there and some have disappeared. As the title of the level indicates, the next location Lara will visit is the site of the plane crash. With the help of the Swamp Map given to Lara by the soldier in the tree house, she can safely cross the large swamp and proceed to the Crash Site.
There she encounters dinosaurs and meets the other soldiers, who will help her battle against the compsognathus and Velociraptors However, there is a much bigger enemy waiting for Lara – the T-Rex, which she must face alone. At the Crash Site, Lara must find two keys that belonged to the two now deceased soldiers of the crashed group. After finding the Commander Bishop's Key and the Lt. Tuckerman's Key, she must then activate the crashed plane’s gun turret. Activating it makes it possible to proceed to the Madubu Gorge. Here she navigates the river on a kayak avoiding crocodiles, poisonous lizards and piranhas.
Lara learns from one of the cannibalistic tribesmen both the history of the tribe from their brief history in Antarctica and that the Ora Dagger is now in possession of Puna, a deity who resides in his own temple in the hills. Once he is killed, Lara steals the artifact.
In Nevada, Lara begins here search for the next artifact. She reaches Nevada from the previous location you visited through unknown transportation and battles through hordes of wildlife ranging from rattlesnakes to vultures. After blowing up a cave with dynamite she again traverses a new canyon with a quad bike and drive over a electrified fence only to crash and be captured by government military police officers. With the help of other prisoners in the complex she recovers her pistols but loses all other weapons and ammo and stows away on a truck into Area 51. Here she finds the artifact designated Element 115 inside an alien UFO after witnessing a caged orca and several alien bodies.
In London, Lara searches for the Eye of Isis, now in the possession of Sophia Leigh, the head of a cosmetics corporation. Lara learns that the corporation has performed sick experiments on humans in order to achieve immortality and eternal youth for Sophia's personal gain. The deformed subjects of Sophia's failed experiments, presumed dead by the corporation, were dumped in the sewers, and assist Lara in exchange for a bottle of embalming fluid from the Natural History Museum. Sophia sends a number of assassins, under her employment, to kill Lara.
However, they are all unsuccessful and Lara climbs through a ventilation shaft to Sophia's office where she is sitting with the artifact on her desk. Sophia mockingly offers Lara a job, telling her that with her lifestyle she would be the perfect face for her products, then Lara tells Sophia that her human subjects she experimented on are still alive. Lara demands she hand over the artifact which she refuses to do. Sophia takes the artifact and runs out the balcony to the other building and Lara who works her way up Sophia's building and across to the one she is on. Sophia attempts to kill her using the powers of the artifact, but Lara defeats her by shooting a fuse box connected to an electrical bridge that Sophia was standing on after the battle causing her to get electrocuted. After retrieving the Eye of Isis, Lara sets off to give the artifacts to Dr. Willard in Antarctica.
Upon arriving to the cold Antarctica, Lara discovers the dangers of the nature as the helicopter she arrived on plummets to the depths of the ice cold water. Lara is able to escape cold death, her pilot being not so lucky. She must now find her way to Mark Willard at the RX Technologies base. To get there, she mounts the RX Explorer, and lowers a yellow Inflatable boat to aid her maneuver on the icy water. There are many dangers ahead in addition to the cold water: apparently the crewmen of the RX Explorer and their dogs don’t like visitors…
Lara also discovers something very unsettling inside one partially demolished house at the RX Tech base: a Mutant Scientist who had worked for Dr. Willard who she later comments might as well be Brundlefly. She meets Dr. Willard in his cabin and confronts him on what she has found out. Dr. Willard discloses that he is planning to encourage rather than halt the mutations, only on a global scale, using the combined power of the artifacts and the Meteorite they were carved from. As Lara voices her opposition to his operation, Willard betrays her, stealing the artifacts and disappearing into the excavation site.
She chases him through the mines of the research company, riding mine carts and confronting horrible legless mutants and claw mutants. Buried deep to the ice and snow of Antarctica lays the Lost City of Tinnos, the remnants of the ancient civilization that lived there. Deep within the structures of the city there are many dangers ahead. She collects four Oceanic Masks that are hidden in the city and places them onto their receptacles and together with the second Uli Key turns off a mysterious pillar of light, revealing an opening below to the meteorite cavern.
After fighting more mutants (including insects and reptile like things within the city itself) and navigating the treacherous ruins of the ancient city built atop the meteor crater, Lara faces Willard, who has now used the power of the four artifacts to activate the even greater power of the meteor: to greatly speed up the evolutionary processes of the human body and thereby turning himself into a terrifying and all-powerful spider-like creature.
Lara deactivates the meteor by taking the artifacts out of their positions that they were put in, kills the mutated Spider Willard and escapes by helicopter.
She is greeted by a smiling pilot. Lara smiles back and then shoots him. She takes the helicopter and rises high with it. A gun turret is aiming at her helicopter, but before it launches any missiles, Lara takes care of it with her aircraft’s weapons. Another turret aims at the helicopter, launching a missile towards it. Lara narrowly avoids the hit, leading the missile to explode to a snowy hill. A helicopter appears behind Lara’s, shooting at the tail. Lara tricks it to a dead end, hiding in the air above it. She surprises her chasers, shooting them, causing the foe’s helicopter to explode. Lara takes off with her helicopter, leaving Antarctica for good.
The gameplay of Tomb Raider III picks up where Tomb Raider II left off. Once again, Lara's range of abilities has been expanded, now including such moves as the crouch stance, crawling, a sprinting move and the ability to "monkey swing" on overhead bars and vines. Sprinting allows Lara to gain a burst of speed while running. A bar then appears in the corner of the screen to indicate the amount of stamina Lara has left. At any time during a sprint she can perform a forward roll, for example to dive under closing trapdoors.
A portion of the game still takes place underwater, but this time new perils have been added. In some levels (e.g. Madubu Gorge), the current of the stream will pull Lara in a fixed direction, preventing the player from being able to swim back or grab onto a ledge. These waters can only be navigated using a kayak. Additionally, some tropical pools are inhabited by a school of piranhas. Unlike alligators, these fish are invincible, and as soon as Lara enters their waters they will flock toward her, and kill her within seconds. Furthermore, the water in the Antarctic levels is too cold for Lara to swim through it. She can only remain in the water for a short amount of time, and submerged under it for an even shorter amount of time. When she dives into it, a new status bar will appear in the corner of the screen to indicate her body temperature. If that bar reaches zero, Lara's life will rapidly decrease. The only way she can cross these waters over a large distance without freezing to death is by using a motorboat.
Quicksand is a new type of ground that distinguishes itself from regular soil by its moving surface. Should the player fall into it, Lara will sink deeper and deeper until she disappears and drowns. Sometimes these swamps reveal hidden stepping stones for Lara to cross.
As always, the pistols are Lara's most basic form of defence. The shotgun, the harpoon gun, the uzis and the grenade launcher have remained from Tomb Raider II (though the grenade launcher's grenades will now bounce around unless directly hitting a living target, unlike the instant explode upon impact style of Tomb Raider II). The small-calibre semi-automatic pistols have been replaced by the powerful Desert Eagle. The M16 rifle has been changed to a similar MP5 sub-machine-gun. Also new to Lara's arsenal is the Rocket Launcher.
On the PlayStation version, saving the game is restricted to the amount of Save Crystals the player has stored in Lara's inventory. These floating blue crystals can be found throughout each level, but unlike the original Tomb Raider, they do not require the player to save the game at the pick-up spot. The PC version allows the player to save at any point. The developers planned on having the Save Crystal system for the PC version, but this was unfinished and the green crystals act instead as small medipacks.
The objective of the game remains unchanged, although Tomb Raider III arguably has fewer tombs to explore than the previous games. Instead, most levels take place in a more modern environment, and Tomb Raider introduces an element of stealth into the game play. For example in the Nevada adventure, it is sometimes preferable to sneak past guards instead of fighting them. Being spotted may set off alarms and close doors that are otherwise needed to complete the stage and therefore the player will have no other option than to take a more difficult route. Unlike its predecessors, after completing the India levels, the player can then choose which of the next three areas of the world they want to explore in any order they wish.
- Lara Croft - Main character and heroine of the game, this time in search of the meteorite artifacts.
- Dr. Mark Willard - Lara's employer and head of RX Tech with secret evil ambitions.
- Tony - Crazed former RX Tech researcher.
- Puna - The local tribesmen's god who lives up in a temple in the hills.
- Sophia Leigh- Head of a cosmetics corporation who mutates her workers while searching for immortality.
- Bob - The leader of the Damned and one of Sophia Leigh's former experiments.
- John - Sophia Leigh's hitman. He shoots people for her.
- Commander Bishop - A commander in the Australian army.
- Lieutenant Tuckerman - A lieutenant in the Australian army.
- Randy - An RX-Tech employee stationed in India.
- Rory - An RX-Tech employee stationed in India.
- Billy - An RX-Tech employee.
- Stephen Barr - One of Charles Darwin's sailors. He returned to England with the Eye of Isis.
- Paul Caulfield - One of Charles Darwin's sailors. He was killed in Antarctica by a wolf.
- Smythe - One of Charles Darwin's sailors. He went to the South Pacific with the Ora Dagger.
- Henderson - One of Charles Darwin's sailors.
- Jonson - One of Charles Darwin's sailors.
- Mauki - One of the Polynesians who was born mutated by the power of the meteorite artefacts.
- Winston - Lara Croft's butler.
Lara's mansion in England, UKEdit
Tomb Raider III features the largest tutorial level yet seen in a Tomb Raider game. The assault course from Tomb Raider II is drastically expanded to include exercise of Lara's new moves, target practice and a racetrack to hone the player's handling of the quad bike. Inside the mansion, a secret room can be discovered filled with artefacts and memorabilia from Lara's past adventures. It is the last game of the series to feature this level until Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend.
The game begins in the jungles of India, where Lara is on the trail of a mystical relic called the Infada stone. She travels by foot and on a quad, as the game takes her through the ruins of ancient Hindu temples and along the shores of the River Ganges. Whilst exploring these parts, she comes across a researcher hired by Willard, called Tony, who eventually goes mad with Jungle Fever and steals the Infada Stone from its shrine, driving it into his chest. This chapter has 4 levels: Jungle, Temple Ruins, The River Ganges, and The Caves of Kaliya.
South Pacific islands, OceaniaEdit
Among the beautiful, tropical scenery of the South Pacific, Lara fights a tribe of cannibalistic warriors and reanimated dinosaurs, finds a crashed plane, and kayaks through the dangerous currents of Madubu Gorge. Her trail leads her into the Temple of Puna, where the "Ora Dagger" meteorite stone is supposedly guarded. In this episode, she also learns of the Polynesians' journey to Antarctica and why they fled in such a sudden manner. Prolonged exposure led to one of the natives being born without a face leading to the shocked tribe fleeing the cursed land. Later, she manages to defeat Puna in his temple and acquire the stone. This chapter has 4 levels: The Coastal Village, Crash Site, Madabu Gorge, and The Temple of Puna.
The United States Government has obtained one of the stones, and named it Element 115. It has been stored deep within Area 51, the secret military base in the Nevada desert, where all sorts of experiments are rumoured to take place. Unbeknownst to them, it is one of the four pieces of meteorite rock on Lara's treasure list. After a haphazard attempt to break into the base, Lara is locked up in a cell and stripped of her weapons (for this reason it is preferable to play through the game with this level being the first of the optional levels, as important arms such as the Rocket Launcher can be lost forever otherwise). From here on the game takes her through prisons, laboratories and military testing hangars. The levels in Nevada have an emphasis on using stealth rather than action. Unlike the other chapters, the Nevada chapter has 3 levels: Nevada Desert, High Security Compound, and Area 51.
London, England, UKEdit
Lara crosses the rooftops of London on a dark and rainy night, in search of another mysterious artefact called the Eye of Isis, which is currently kept in possession by the infamous cosmetics tycoon Sophia Leigh. After a brief detour through St Paul's Cathedral, she goes down into the disused Aldwych tube station, where she is introduced to a secret gang of masked mutated men who call themselves "The Damned". These were experimented on by Leigh with the Eye of Isis in order for her to achieve eternal youth only to leave them disfigured and immortal. Later, she visits an Egyptology department in the British Museum. Lara then goes on to infiltrate Sophia Leigh's gigantic cosmetics factory, and makes her way through a system of air ducts to reach Sophia Leigh's office for the final confrontation. Lara also visits "All Hallows", a level taking place in All Hallows-by-the-Tower, if the player has collected all of the game's secrets by the end. This chapter has 4 levels: Thames Wharf, Aldwych, Lud's Gate, and The City.
After Lara's helicopter crashes into the icy waters of Antarctica, she makes her way through the abandoned research stations of RX Tech. After meeting up with Dr. Willard to hand over the stones, she descends down mines and into the recently excavated Lost City of Tinnos. The heart of the meteorite cavern is where the mad scientist performs a ceremony to transform him into a large immortal mutant until the artefacts are removed. This chapter has 4 levels: Antarctica, RX Tech Mines, The Lost City of Tinnos, and Meteorite Cavern.
Tomb Raider III received generally good reviews. Some reviewers commented that gameplay had not changed a lot but still praised the game, saying it had "In-depth gameplay, good graphics and an established, unique theme." IGN commented the levels show "Real thought and Insight from designers" and praised the new vehicles but expressed frustration that the control system had still not improved. "Absolute Playstation" praised the game, saying it surpassed the previous two installments, complimenting Lara's new abilities and moves, also saying the save system was an improvement from the previous games. Gamespot praised the game, saying it will provide "hours of fun" but also stating that if players want "something new" they will have to "look elsewhere". The game is generally considered the best of the original trilogy of Tomb Raider games, but reviewers consistently commented gameplay hadn't changed a lot from the original Tomb Raider game.