Tomb Raider III: The Adventures of Lara Croft is the second sequel to the smash hit Tomb Raider and was developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive in 1998.
The game follows archaeologist-adventurer Lara Croft as she embarks upon a quest to recover four pieces of a meteorite that are scattered across the world. Lara can explore five new locations: India, the South Pacific, London, Nevada, and Antarctica.
New gameplay additions include: long areas on which Lara can slide down (a mechanic that actually opens the game), weather effects, swamps (that you slowly sink into and will eventually drown you), a new set of vehicles (quad bike, kayak, boat, underwater propulsion unit, and mine cart), and a variety of ever more devious traps that must be avoided to survive.
Tomb Raider III features in-engine cut scenes (as well as the occasional pre-rendered cut scene as seen in the previous games) and these usually contain dialogue between Lara and other characters, but there’s no lip sync and the way characters move their heads when they speak is unintentionally funny.
There are new creatures to shoot or avoid, such as poisonous Cobra snakes, baboons, and piranha fish that infest the early areas. This Tomb Raider game also appears a bit more fantastical than previous games, with a Ray Harryhausen-inspired multi-armed, sword-wielding walking statue attacking Lara during the first level. Which was a shock to me, but it definitely helps make the game memorable, at least compared to the first two games.
Tomb Raider III is a good continuation of Lara Croft‘s adventures. From the outset you’re having to do some serious platforming, puzzling and fighting to survive and make progress, and the varied and complex environments are a step up from previous instalments. There are a couple of strange features, like birds chirping when Lara is exploring underground (which doesn’t work and negatively affects the atmosphere), and some kind of poisoning effect when swimming in the water (which seems to happen whenever there’s a red mist in the water, but it feels more like a bug to me), but in general the changes to the game seem like a step in the right direction. Not that Tomb Raider III is massively different to the previous two games – it’s more of the same, but with extras, which is what fans of the series wanted.
A stand-alone expansion pack, featuring six new levels, called Tomb Raider III: The Lost Artefact, was released in 2000.
See also: Tomb Raider II.