The new gameplay elements, such as the stealth mode, are largely pointless.
Lara also bulks up over the course of the game, in what's probably the most nonsensical new feature. At particular moments when Lara pushes boxes, climbs, makes big jumps, and performs other such physical feats, she'll comment that she's gotten stronger--this will enable her to leap slightly farther, kick open previously locked doors, and more. It's a gameplay contrivance that keeps you on a linear path through each area. One consequence of this is you'll probably never really know exactly how far she can leap. Just when you're starting to get a good sense of the range of her jumps, she'll grow stronger and jump a little farther. All this would have gone over better if the game controlled well, but since it doesn't, it'll just lead to many more untimely demises.
Thankfully, you can instantly save your progress at any point, and the loading times between deaths aren't quite as lengthy as on the PS2. Still, you might find yourself dying a dozen times or more in a single area, especially when the path to your goal isn't obvious. On these occasions, you'll end up watching loading screens more than playing the game.
To be fair, these particularly frustrating sequences aren't necessarily commonplace in Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. They just tend to stick out, because you might find yourself having a good time making progress in the game, only to hit a huge snag of this sort. Some of the jumping and climbing puzzles are actually thrilling, especially since Lara moves as fluidly and realistically as ever, and often just barely manages to get her grip on a faraway, seemingly out-of-reach ledge. The action sequences, meanwhile, are much easier than the jumping, so you'll probably greet them with relief. Just like every other Tomb Raider episode, this one has its fair share of puzzles, and some of them are pretty good. You'll need to carefully observe your environment and maybe even consult your former mentor's notebook to figure them out.
Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness has a lot of variety to it, which is one of the best things about the game. During the few sequences when you play as Kurtis Trent, the game becomes more like a survival horror game like Resident Evil than a typical Tomb Raider game. Close-quarters battles against surprising foes will keep you on your toes here, but while Trent's sequences seem different from Lara's and he has a few unique animations, he controls exactly like Lara does. At times, the game's levels are filled with enemies and require a lot of shooting. Other times, it's just you against the environment, such as in one memorable sequence when you need to figure out how to activate an ancient and gigantic machine at the heart of a dangerous temple--and then figure out how to get out of it, since its whirling blades and crushing gears aren't healthy for your skin.
Some of the locations are huge, and they give a great sense of their size and scale. Others are tight and claustrophobic. Some locations are modern--in one sequence, you'll break into the famous Louvre museum to steal a dangerous artifact. Earlier in the game, you'll climb to the very top of a run-down dance club. Other locations are classic Tomb Raider--remnants of ancient civilizations, bizarre contraptions, centuries-old architecture, and more.
All this would look great if not for the game's often noticeable graphical problems. The frame rate can seriously slow down even on high-end machines, though you can trim away all the graphical bells and whistles to get better performance. Lara and her enemies will often clip through solid objects, and Lara's shadow can often be seen projected onto thin air, such as when she's hanging from a rope. On the other hand, the detail in the environments can certainly be impressive. And as mentioned, Lara looks great in motion, particularly when she's rock-climbing. The character models are pretty simplistic, and the enemies often look silly when they slump down like contorted rag dolls when killed (and even sillier when the corpses simply blink out of existence). But overall, this latest Tomb Raider does look pretty good, especially if you can forgive a few obvious blemishes.
Unfortunately, most players probably won't bear with Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness long enough to enjoy its good qualities.
The audio is probably the single best aspect of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, as it features excellent ambient effects, a perfectly suited musical score, and first-rate voice acting. Lara, Kurtis Trent, the main villain of the game, and the other key characters all play their parts very well during the cutscenes, and the music heard throughout the game effectively sets the often-ominous tone of each gameplay sequence. It's too bad the music cuts off while loading, which might have helped alleviate some of the tedium of the trial-and-error parts.
In fact, it's too bad that Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness can't really be recommended. It's a good-sized adventure with a better-than-average story and some memorable locations and sequences. It's also a long overdue installment in a series that was intended to reinvent the franchise in a bold, new way. This latest Tomb Raider can be rewarding for those who can suffer through its cumbersome controls, numerous highly difficult gameplay sequences, and occasional bugs. But we shouldn't have to make so many concessions to enjoy a game that seems like it could and should have turned out much better than it did.