Monday, July 14, 2003

Plummeting... Plummeting... Reload.

I've had a hankering for a new PS2 game recently, and a few days ago ended up buying Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. I seem to remember that I enjoyed the first game on the PC in college, so I figured I'd give the latest installment a try.

I've only had a couple hours to play, and so am not very far in the game. It seems reasonably cool, but I've found several glaring errors that make me hesitant to put much time into it.

First, within ten minutes of starting, I hopped over a little fence (at Lara Croft's request, since I was still in the tutorial phase of the game), and found myself trapped in Collision Volume hell. Lara was walking endlessly against a fence and wouldn't respond to any movement controls; I ended up restarting.
Then, a few levels later (in the Parisian Ghetto), I found a doozy. The level is broken up into several zones, each loaded separately. There's no visual distinction between the zones--the game just fades to black when you hit certain spots in the streets, loads from disc, then comes back in the same spot. You can see past each load point before you hit it, which suggests that each zone has some of the geometry from the surrounding ones. That way, it feels like one big continuous level.
However, at least one of the load points is buggy. The polygon (or whatever it is) that triggers a zone change is not big enough. As you run down the street, approaching the load point, if you happen to wander through the deep doorway on the right, you can get completely around the trigger. This allows you to enter The Land Beyond the Load Point. In this land, everything seems normal at first, but after several yards you suddenly fall through the floor, and then plummet forever into the blue abyss. The best you can do is reload from your last save point.
As far as I can tell, The Land Beyond the Load Point contains a fair bit of geometry from the zone beyond (to achieve aforementioned seamless effect), but very little of the collision geometry. Reasonable enough, as long as you can never get there. But I did, and not by doing anything tricky--I was just walking around, exploring doorways.
Ugh. I wonder if I can expect the whole game to be this buggy.


  1. I read a review of the new Tomb Raider movie, which Karie and I spend good unemployment compensation money to see, and the review stated that the reason for the very poor opening weekend was....drum roll....NOT the movie itself, but how buggy the newly released game was.
    As the movie execs see it, the movie was great (it actually was not bad, worth the afternoon price just to see Angelina Jolie in a silver body suit), so the bad opening must be due to the poor performance of the game. The article went on to state that the game was actually very decent, however it had so many flaws, bugs and missteps, that it was unplayable. It listed the exact bug you mention as well as dead end levels, getting trapped in walls, and rendering flaws.
    I suppose that if you ignore the reboots, don't get stuck in a crack, don't miss the level triggers, and blink when the polygons disappear it is really suppose to be a very decent, and enjoyable game.