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Lara Croft has been climbing, swinging and shooting on numerous game platforms for more than a decade. Now the limber heroine has landed on Nintendo’s Wii.

The T-rated “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary” — developed by Crystal Dynamics for Eidos Interactive — is actually a souped-up version of the original game in the franchise. Lara, an English heiress and archaeologist, still trots the globe, searching for the mysterious Scion, battling nasty critters, leaping over chasms and performing impressive acrobatics. However, this isn’t an exact re-telling of the original tale. There are new areas to explore and activities to try.

In re-creating the adventure, Crystal Dynamics used the engine that it developed for the successful “Tomb Raider: Legend,” so the graphics and game play are far superior to anything offered in the 1996 original. Of course this just means that Lara looks even better, the Egyptian ruins look even spookier and the T-rex looks even more frightening.

And while developers have pumped up the graphics and game play for the release of “Anniversary” on several other platforms over the last few months, it has paid special attention to the franchise’s first outing on the Wii. The results are quite satisfying.

The Wii’s motion-sensitive controllers are most often used for aiming guns, slinging grappling hooks and similar tasks that will be familiar to Lara fans. Most of these gestures feel natural and work well in combination with the buttons and joystick. I especially enjoyed the ability to lock on to a target using the Wii remote and continue shooting while running and doing acrobatics using the Nunchuck controls.

In addition, developers created several extra puzzles just for the Wii. These require using the controllers to brush off dusty archaeological finds, draw symbols, make charcoal rubbings and perform other tasks. The extra tasks can add several hours of game play.

Even with all of the changes and improvements, I still have one question: What is Lara doing in the Peruvian Andes wearing those skimpy shorts?


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