Lazy Raiders

That Lara Croft, for all her tight pants and big boobs she’s still very conventional in her Tomb Raiding. Sure, she heads off for a quest, woefully undersupplied, hoping that an ancient tomb that no-one’s seen the inside of for years will be healthily stocked with medkits and ammo for the weapons she, again, didn’t bring with her when she set off – probably because she has a ludicrously small backpack. But she’s still conventional. She walks around. She climbs. She runs. She jumps. But, like when Channel 4 got Baldrick to tell us about a series of small walls every week on Time Team, there’s a new player in the field of archaeology – enter Dr Diggabone. He’s going to turn this tomb-raiding malarky upside-down.

Dr Diggabone, it has to be said, is not quite the sex symbol that young Lara is. He’s portly and, well, just a little bit ginger. He sports a massive moustache, and his whole ensemble is topped off with a pith helmet. He looks like he’s meant to be rummaging around in dusty old tombs. If you want to sex it up a little, though, you can play as your own avatar. You even get a natty khaki outift and your own pith helmet – which is good, as my 10th Doctor’s suit would have looked a little out of place.

The gameplay is ridiculously simple. You remember those games where you guide a ball through a maze? That’s what this is. Only this time, you’re the ball and the tomb is the maze.  Using the left stick to rotate the maze, you fling Dr Diggabone down stone shafts, along corridors and into rooms. Along the way you’ll collect gems – collect enough of these and you’ll unlock golden idols. Collect enough idols through the levels and you’ll gain access to the relic rooms and wonderous, magical treasures. Along the way you’ll come across all of the classic tomb-raiding hazards like spikes, spinning blades of death and snowballs.

The spinning tomb design adds a new twist (I am sooo sorry) to the gameplay here. When faced with a hazard, you need to spin the maze in such a way that your character avoids death by impalement or fire or terribly crushing agony. This is where mastery of the spins come in – you’ll need to learn not to fling the maze around but to twist it gently, so that your every move can be controlled and you’re not just putting your faith in gravity. When the crushing boulders come into play you can use these to smash all the spikes and give you safe passage – just be careful not to put yourself between the boulder and the wall.

Graphically the tombs are well realised, with a lot of detail going into the look of the scene – rooms glow in torchlight, gems sparkle and the coloured doors and keys leave you in no doubt as to what does what. The only problem is that as the tombs become more complex – adding more paths to travel along – it becomes harder to see where your character is. I have crushed my tomb raider on more than one occasion because I had no idea where he was as I twist the scene trying to find him. This is the one teeny-weeny drawback to the game and the solution is, potentially, not for everyone. You have the option to zoom into the scene, although this means that the bigger picture – the layout of the tomb – is lost from your view. Should you choose to zoom in to better see your character you’ll probably find yourself zooming out shortly afterwards to get a sense of direction. This, coupled with the constant spinning, may just make this game a no-go area for anyone with motion sickness!







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