Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (Last updated 24 October 2005)
I've posted a major update to my Angel of Darkness stuff - a large number of screenshots! Go here for more.
'Angel of Darkness' Mac shipped 18 December 2003! The System Requirements have been reduced from the tentative advice pre-release, but the extent of this reduction depends on your graphics acceleration. Be sure to check your machine specs before ordering, particularly your graphics acceleration hardware specs, to avoid disappointment! These are the latest requirements from the Aspyr site:
Angel of Darkness on MacRaider?
For those who've read them, my previous impressions were based on playing the PlayStation 2 version of the game, which had some very significant control and camera issues. Due to the difficulty playing the game I was never able to get past about the midway point (Hall of Seasons), but I'd seen enough to know that under the covers was a great game and if the problems, particularly the controls and camera, were fixed it would be a worthwhile continuation of the classic TRs we know and love. And guess what? Yes, the Mac release does address these issues, and has given us almost the Lara of old, with the familiar 'over the shoulder' camera and Lara always going forward when the Up Arrow is pressed! Now that was a big relief for me!
Following here are my impressions of the Mac release of AoD. The v1.0 release is Build 42, and the v1.0.1 updater takes it to Build 46. The conversion was done using the latest PC build, so some of the earlier PC problems should have been addressed with the first Mac release. I'm running the game on a dual G4/1.25 MHz (Mirrored Drive Door model) with 768 MB RAM and a GeForce4 Titanium 128 MB graphics card. I've set the HQ Shadows and FSAA on, and Distance Fog off (due to some graphics bugs with the fog). It runs well, although without fog it does get a bit of a drop in frame rate in the large open areas in the Ghetto streets. But although just noticeable, they don't affect gameplay and are usually only for short periods. However, for a lower specced machine they may be significant, and you may need to run with only Distance Fog selected to speed it up!
Although based on my experience with the PS2 release, and web forum strings about the PS2 and the PC games, you may also like to check out my 'Angel of Darkness' Editorial - I felt I needed to say something in response to all the controversy surrounding this release! But be aware that much of the criticism doesn't apply to the Mac game!
Despite being called 'Tomb Raider', and having a lead character by the name of 'Lara Croft', a feisty woman with a ponytail and excessive firepower (not to mention figure...), along with some classic TR action ('The Serpent Rouge' nightclub goes way beyond what we're used to!), this is not quite Tomb Raider as we know and love it, and therein lies the main issue - enjoyment of this game will largely depend on whether you can take to the new concepts, new style, character interaction, and the somewhat stodgy early gameplay, and come to appreciate the good points despite any difficulties you may have. And as it happens, there is a lot to like in AoD, and it is quite a challenging and rewarding game if you persevere!
As the Mac game has resolved the two major issues (control/camera) I am finding the changes in game style interesting and challenging. For example, the interaction with other characters in the form of short conversations is something I've advocated on a number of occasions in the past, and even though it's not used a lot in AoD it does give the game a quite different feel. Now you can do things with other characters instead of just shooting them all, or ignoring those who don't attack!
The Mac AoD doesn't have an audio option for surround sound, which is one thing that makes the PS2 game a bit special. However, given the superficial differences, the Main Menu, and the In-game Inventory are pretty much similar to those we're used to, with only minor changes such as separating the inventory into subsections of Health, Weapons, and Items, and a different structure to each. BTW, the Health listing now includes more than just the small and large medipacks, and one of the additions is a chocolate bar, which restores 10% of Lara's health! I never knew that chocolate was actually a health restorative, so maybe I now have an excuse for the occasional 'fix'! Or maybe not, don't think my doctor would agree...
One thing that is missing is the ability to take a health hit on the run - as there is a greater selection of items to restore Lara's health, it now has to be accessed from the inventory, thus interrupting gameplay...
Concept and Storyline
Graphics, Game Map and Texturing
Lara also has some new animations, among which are the stealth walk, wall-hug, and belly-crawl; along with the ability to use cables to swing across gaps with either hands only, or hands and feet; and the ability to climb drainpipes. One classic action - the backhop - is no longer in the game as it doesn't work with the terrain style, but Lara can take steps backward, and with some practice this seems to be a workable way to do it. Worst thing is trying to jump from an edge, and you generally have to watch Lara's feet and jump on the foot that lands just before the edge. Things like ladders are now separate objects rather than wall textures, and Lara's ladder climb is now great to watch. She can also climb low fences and small apertures (like low windows) properly, and she no longer has unlimited endurance - shimmies for example now have limited duration, as do many other strength related tasks, but her duration is improved by increasing her strength (see below).
A quite useful new move is a diagonal climb - as Lara is climbing a textured wall, if she is approaching an overhead ledge she can how move in a diagonal fashion, by using the Up Arrow key together with the Left or Right Arrow keys. This is quite neat to watch so be sure to check it out on a suitable wall! Certainly a lot easier than climbing, then moving sideways, then climbing, sideways again etc. which was very annoying, particularly in places like Madubu Gorge in TR3!
Lara now can increase her body strength by doing some tasks, which then allows her to do other things that were previously beyond her strength. This is an interesting concept, but it does lack a little in the implementation. For example, using a crowbar to break the lock on a door may increase her upper body strength, and pushing a crate might make her legs stronger. You'll know this in the early levels because she will *tell* you that she feels stronger now! Lara can't sprint at the start of the game but as she gains strength in her legs she can. Or she may not be able to move a box or kick a door in until she gains strength. Generally, this may mean that it could be worthwhile to retrace your steps to see if you can now do something that was beyond you before, or you may find that you can't do something until you've done a bit more musclebuilding. Interesting concept, could maybe have been better implemented, but works well enough.
The new animations are also not without their problems. The stealth movements are neat, but can look a little odd at times (although wall-hugging up to a corner gives you the chance to peek around it, which is quite cool). And the integration of different movements (like changing direction suddenly) don't always work as well as it might, but is OK. One of the main attractions of Tomb Raider for me over the years has been the way Lara moves - even in TR1 she moved well, with good implementation of physics issues such as inertia, and the possibility of a high degree of accuracy and agility for an experienced player. But AoD is not what I hoped for in this regard - although looking good in general, Lara now has moments where she looks a bit like a miniature animated clay model rather than a human being, and the precision of old is much harder to attain. But it is bearable...
Controls and Camera
In fact the only control issue of any real significance is a slight lag in some places between pressing a movement key (or releasing it), and Lara responding. So she may not start running immediately in some places (so you need to allow a couple of extra run-up steps for jumps) or maybe she won't stop crawling over the top of a goodie in order to pick it up. This is not to be confused with the new Walk default (Shift key) - it is now a toggle as well as a 'hold-down', so if you tap the Shift when in Run mode, it will switch to walk mode and doesn't need to be held. Or you can use it in the old way and hold down while running, in which case it will toggle to run once you release. This is actually quite useful - in difficult places with narrow ledges it is very handy to be able to lock it on!
A safety device has been added to Lara's repertoire - the automatic ability to grab an edge if she accidentally goes over facing forward (and how often in the past have we gone over a ledge like that!) This is activated if the player runs Lara accidentally off a high ledge, whereupon she will twist around as she goes over and grab the edge. You can then pull back up to safety! Which also highlights another change - the Grab is now toggled, so you don't have to hold the Action key down to maintain a grip.
To hang from an edge, Lara no longer has to turn, hop back, and grab it. All you need to do is approach an edge either forwards or backwards, get Lara reasonably square to the edge, then tap Action for her to either turn herself and hang off, or just back up and hang off. Again, the Action key does not need to be held, just tap again to release. Of course, Lara's strength comes into this, and she can only hang for a limited time...
Possibly the most difficult new movement to get used to is Lara's sidestepping when in combat mode. Which means, when she has the weapons drawn and a target is close, she can sidestep in a shuffle to avoid the enemy, while still maintaining a weapons lock. Not a lot of help against another gun, but with the absence of the backflip it can be a useful alternative to sideflipping, instead of standing still. And it might also be useful if Lara's stuck in a cramped space..? But to be honest I'd rather get into open ground wherever possible!
With these differences in control style, and the reduction in precision of Lara's movements, AoD will take a little getting used to for us classic TR gamers. But you will find it becomes easier and more natural after a while, and I for one am very happy to see a less structured, more real-world style of environment!
MacRaider AoD Mini-Walkthrough
This walkthrough was updated 3 January 2005 with the addition of a guide to accessing and playing the illegal outside area in the first level 'Parisian Back Streets'! Highly recommended for inquisitive raiders - check it out!
In these walks I don't detail every single goodie or item, nor do I follow Lara's every single footstep. And as there are no secrets in AoD don't bother looking, but do keep your eyes wide open for goodies - they give an occasional glint of colour to attract your attention, but can be easy to miss! This is important as if you're not careful you could run out of health items, or find your ammo running out in awkward places. Get most of the pickups and you'll finish the game with plenty in reserve.
What I have done is give information about each level's objective, and some general hints about the gameplay in some difficult or confusing places, with enough detail to complete each stage. Due to the gameplay style and the different routes available in some places depending on the player's choices, I will also try to give an indication of which route may give a better outcome. But I stress that my experience with the game has shown me that too much detail may not be a good thing - no matter which decisions you make, and which route you take, you should still arrive at the end! That is, unless you offend someone when you talk to them - you just may get Lara shot...
I would also like to thank the authors of Stella's walkthrough for a few tips I needed to complete the game!
For more detail try Stella's walkthrough, which is written from the PC game. This remains a draft version with some small errors and may never be completed, but is still quite useful if you want more detail... As it may be subject to alterations (like the addition of unmentioned items) it should be taken as a reasonably detailed guide only (at a quick glance I've noticed some items missing, so be sure to explore every area carefully!) But it does give good details of the levels and routes, and will give you more than enough information to complete the game! It also gives details of the moves, weapons, goodies etc. so the coverage is quite detailed.
Stella's 'Angel of Darkness' Walkthrough - this is the index page for her walkthrough and has links to every level. Note that there is at least one additional side area that is only linked from a walkthrough page, but it is clearly indicated in the walkthrough (that one is the dungeon under the Hall of Seasons, but it may not be the only one).
Screenshots (added 24 October 2005)
I have finally been able to post some good screenshots for Angel of Darkness! These are posted on my .Mac site which has a lot more bandwidth than I have available for MacRaider.
I have sifted through all my screens and selected a total of 48 from virtually every level of the game. I've posted them as high quality jpegs at 640x480 resolution. Most are just there because they're great eye candy, but I've also picked a few for novelty interest.
Hints and Tips
The following are tips from my own observations and experiences...
Watching the FMVs - for the first time in a Mac TR, these are now Bink videos, a format widely used in PC games, but not so often on a Mac. This is a pity as these have the capacity to be of very high quality, and surprisingly small size, although the AoD Mac FMVs are not as high quality as I hoped. You only have to watch the PC Last Revelation FMVs to see how good Binks can be, with better quality, larger frame size (640x480), and smaller file size than the Mac QuickTime versions!
Bink videos can be viewed outside the game on a Mac, but to do so you need to download the small free Bink Player from Rad Game Tools. At October 2004 there are three versions - a Classic Player for OS 8.x, a Carbon Player for OS 9-X, and a native OS X player called the 'Bink Mach-O Player'. Note that the latest Mach-O Player v1.6g release runs well in Panther, although some earlier versions did not (the v1.6a Mach-O Player wouldn't run on my Mac at all). These players are quite basic, and you may have to open the Bink Player first to access the FMVs as they don't associate automatically, or reassign all '.bik' files to the player. In OS X 10.3 it's fairly easy to change the default app by 'getting info' on a Bink movie, but you may need to be the administrator to get it to work properly.
The FMVs are located in the Data folder on the hard drive after installation from the first disk. There are also a couple available direct from the second disk Data folder. They include the game credits (PC and Mac), the intro movie, and a flashback, along with a couple of variations on the theme. Not as good as the Last Revelation FMVs, but OK.
There is no in-game screenshot key as in previous games, but unlike previous games you can use the system screenshot command. However the standard 'Shift Command 3' is a bit awkward, so in the Mac OS X System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts, I re-mapped the first Screenshot command 'Capture screen to file' to 'F8', which is similar to the F13 I'm used to from previous TRs and actually easier to reach with my left hand. There are limited options for using a single key for screenshots, but some of the 'F' keys are available and F8 doesn't conflict with the F9-11 used in Expose.
Unfortunately screenshots are a little more quirky than before, and if Lara is moving when it's taken she can end up being split horizontally. Whether this is because of my GeForce4 graphics, or is just an OS X quirk I don't know... When Lara is still the screenshots are great. Another thing, not sure if this is OS X Panther only, but the screenshots are PDF format, which are quite large. Use the Preview 'Export' command to convert them to JPEG for easier storage if you want to save space. Or better still, download the 'QuickImage CM' from any good Mac shareware download site. This is a small freeware contextual menu item that gives you the ability to convert images directly from the contextual menu, and is the fastest way I've yet found to convert PDFs to JPEGs - it can even convert in batches as large as you like!
I re-mapped some of the controls to make it more like the classic TR's, and easier for me to adjust to. I changed the Jump to 'Command', the Duck to '.' (period), the Stealth to'/', and Quick Save & Load to 'F5' & 'F6'. I also changed the Roll to 'Option', which I find a lot more convenient from previous games. This puts every control under my fingers without moving my hands.
Quick Save & Load
The game allows a maximum of 15 separate savegames, much like previous TR's, but the Quick Save & Load work differently. When you Quick Save, the game overwrites your previous quick save (slot 1) without warning, so if you, like me, prefer to save in a new slot regularly, this is only possible now by exiting and using the Save menu. The quicksave file is always the first in the list (0.TRAODSG), the rest are reserved for manual saves.
The AoD savegames are named differently to the format in previous games. Now they have the save number at the start of the name, and the number is in hexadecimal format in the order 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,A,B,C,D,E, corresponding to slots 1 - 15 in the Load/Save menus. As it happens, it's easy to organise your saves if you like to archive them for future reference, by changing the first character in the name according to the above listing. For example, at the end of each stage I move all the saves to a storage folder, copy the final save back to the Save folder, and rename it '0.TRAODSG' so when I go back into the game it will be in the first slot, ready to play the next stage.
These tips are OS X Zip Archives containing text files. After downloading they should extract by double-clicking, or failing that use Stuffit Expander.
If you can't solve the 'Brothers' puzzle in 'The Vault of
this tip (0.8k)
New - added 3 Jan 05! If you want to activate the GodMode cheat for any purpose at all and need a detailed guide, download it here (6.5k)! This has been fully rewritten with complete instructions which will enable even those with very little Mac experience to activate GodMode, even if you've never heard of the Terminal!
Downloads (Mac game only!)
I will only be posting AoD savegames for the most difficult spots in the game or for overcoming bugs, and not for beating the ordinary bad guys or solving the easier puzzles - the walkthrough contains any necessary details for these.
These savegames are posted as OS X Archives in Zip format and they can be extracted by double clicking them, using the OS X contextual menu command to extract them, or by using Stuffit Expander.
tr6_trainingxtra.zip (15.4k) - This savegame puts Lara in the illegal outside section of the first level 'Parisian Back Streets'. This savegame doesn't need GodMode and is for use in the normal AoD game. This area is easily accessed with GodMode (there is a small download in the Hints and Tips section above detailing the use of the GodMode cheat) but I've included this save for those people who are still a little reticent about using the Terminal.
tr6_louvregalleries.zip (38k) - this contains 3 savegames for those people who find that the game crashes when the 'Louvre Galleries' level loads. Two of the saves are from different places in 'Louvre Galleries' and the third is from the start of the next level if they don't load. More details in the readme enclosed!
tr6_hos_obscura.zip (16.4k) - this is a savegame shortly after Lara has managed to get the Obscura Painting from the room high above the 'Hall of Seasons' after subduing the ghost. This is a very tricky task as the painting is hard to take from the statue, and requires precise positioning and fast reactions! Took me ages...
tr6_galleriesundersiege.zip (10.7k) - This is a savegame from directly after the cutscene early in 'Galleries Under Siege' for those who experience a crash at that point.
tr6_mca_proto.zip (10.5k) - This is a savegame from after the Proto has been defeated in 'Maximum Containment Area' for those who find Kurtis difficult to control (and who doesn't ;-)
tr6_boaz.zip (3.2k) - This savegame is from directly after the Boaz Monster has been defeated in 'Boaz Returns' for those who can't get past the targetting problems and Kurtis' arthritis... When the save loads you will see the monster falling, then a cutscene will load. (The Hints and Tips section has a download link for the cheat to beat Boaz, if you prefer to try that.)
tr6_ld_gate.zip (6.5k) - This savegame is from directly after Lara has passed the gate in the timed run in 'The Lost Domain'.
If you know of any other sites offering AoD Mac saves, please let me know of the site's main page URL - if I can gain permission from the site owner I will post the link here!
Registration Number - It was discovered after the shipping of the game that some escaped without the registration number on the CD case. If yours is one of these and you can't install the game, contact Aspyr for the fix.
Stuck at the 'waterfall' in the Louvre Storm Drains after turning all the valves? - there is a known bug with the v1.0 release (Build 42) of the game that stops the valves operating correctly, thus making it impossible to swim down the large hole to reach the next area. This only happens if you play with 'Distance Fog' turned on in the prefs (when you launch AoD). Turn it off, and try again. There is also a v1.0.1 updater (Build 46) posted to fix this problem. Go to Aspyr's AoD Support Page to download.
How to know what version of the game app you have? If you 'Get Info' on the AoD app (the one with the 'Lara' icon), the version number can be seen in the info window. Alternatively, when you start the game and reach the splash screen (where it says to hit any key) the build number is shown at the bottom left. The original v1.0 release is Build 42, the v1.0.1 release is Build 46.
Graphic Bugs: Distance Fog - I'm running the v1.0.1 update with an nVidia GeForce4 Titanium 128 MB graphics card. When I turn 'Distance Fog' on, around the Parisian Ghetto streets there are 'holes' in the fog where no fog effect is seen - the further away these holes, the worse it looks. I'm also running with High Quality Shadows and Full Screen Anti-Aliasing turned on, but whether these have an effect on the fog I'm not yet sure. Of the three I'd rather do without fog, so I've turned it off... These issues may not be apparent in other areas, but I strongly recommend that if your machine has enough grunt to do it, that you turn Distance Fog OFF as it obscures much of the wonderful terrain! The other two settings (if available) should be left off on slow machines, as they can cause bad slowdowns and don't make a major difference to the look of the game graphics. Bottom line, experiment and see what your machine can cope with.
Errors in the Angel of Darkness manual
Yes, it's happened again, but these are probably as much the fault of the original Eidos manual being wrong...
Page 14 'Pushing/Pulling' - when Lara is standing beside a moveable object with the 'hand' showing, and you hit the Action key, she doesn't 'assume the ready posture' as claimed in the manual (same in the PS2 game...) There could be two reasons the hand appears, the other of which is that there is something there Lara can pick up. So if she doesn't pick anything up, then hold Action down and hit the Up or Down Arrow keys to see if she can actually move it instead. As the moveable objects in AoD are not constrained to any familiar shape from past games, they can be hard to spot! A good example is on the rooftop in the first level 'Parisian Back Streets' - there are two barrels that show a 'hand' when Lara stands close to them, one of them has a pickup on it, the other can be moved.
Page 17 'Inventory, Save/Load' - The Quick Save and Load keys are incorrectly identified. the default is F1/F2 respectively, but these can be changed to the more familiar F5/F6 in the Control setup. Note that they work differently to their equivalents in previous games! I never used them, but saved manually in the menu...
Page 17 'Inventory, Items' - The manual claims that Lara has a 'blood stained fax' on her at the start of the game. Wrong - no fax, nor any blood stain... Same as the PS2 game.