Review of Tomb Raider: Secret of the Sword Slots
After the great fan reaction from the original Tomb Raider Slots in 2004 it was pretty much guaranteed that Microgaming would go to the well again to come up with a sequel. It’s strange because when you first see Secret of the Sword in a game list you might think that it’s going to be about the He Man & She Ra movie of the same name, but it turns out that they just borrowed the moniker. An odd choice, to say the least.
I recently went back to this one in order to write the review and I have to admit that I was pretty blown away. The free spins are awesome, the random reel features are great, it has some of the best bonus rounds ever, and it has super “high-tech” audios…and it was launched in 2009! I’ve never seen a machine this old stay this fresh.
This was actually based on the video game Tomb Raider: Legend from 2006 and is generally considered as Lara’s “comeback” release, selling more than 4.5 million copies over various systems. Out of all of the different ones they had to choose from, Microgaming definitely made the right choice.
Sure I’m totally biased due to the strong female lead character but the praise I’m about to give this title is well-deserved. This in-depth review will completely detail why it should really be considered as one of Microgaming’s best releases of all time: in short, there’s an awful lot to like.
Those familiar with the original Lara Croft slot from Microgaming will immediately notice that the graphics are quite similar and the playing card symbols look almost identical but with a bit of an update. This is very nice for the continuity but the comparisons will stop there because the graphics in this one are 10x better.
Click the screenshots below to enlarge them and see for yourself.
Lara is called to Bolivia to investigate a religious stone platform in a long-forgotten city that may hold the key to the mystery of a family friend’s death. She arrives and fights through mercenaries after being told of a secret sword that was dismantled many years before, only to finally confront the evil boss Rutland who hints that Lara’s nemesis Amanda Evert might still be alive.
After investigating the tomb where Amanda supposedly died she realizes that she is in fact still alive and probably working with Rutland to find all the pieces of the sword to reunite them and use its power for evil. Lara now has to be one step ahead of them and unify the sword herself to save the world from tyranny.
This release from Microgaming puts you in Lara’s boots as she travels around the world visiting mystical places in search of the pieces of the sword. Every country you visit is beautiful and unique, and will give you exciting new ways to win cash prizes. This is definitely one of the better online slot plots out there since it stays true to the source material and is quite detailed.
If the last installment of Tomb Raider Slots didn’t give us enough Lara, it’s possible that Secret of the Sword might actually give us too much, thanks to the five different Lara symbols. This is probably “two Laras too many” because it’s hard to keep track of them all – they should have mixed in a couple of different ones to keep things easily distinguishable. Oh well – here’s what we got:
- Blue 10
- Green J (Jack)
- Yellow Q (Queen)
- Orange K (King)
- Red A (Ace)
- Lara Croft
- Lara Croft Driving Red Motorbike
- Lara Croft Shooting Two Guns
- Lara Croft Climbing
- Lara Croft Close Up (Wild)
- Medallion of Light (Scatter)
With five Lara symbols involved in the action you could probably guess that she’s going to be the highest-paying, but which one? Well, it’s the Lara Close Up Wild that will give you 7,500 coins for five across the reels. The amounts then tumble like an archaeologist falling down a mountain with Lara Climbing, Lara Shooting, Lara Driving, and Lara Standing awarding 2,000, 1,000, 500, and 300 coins respectively for 5 of a Kind.
Lara does this for the adventure, not the money and would never consider retirement. You’ll have to do the same since there’s not a Secret of the Sword Jackpot available that would allow you to quit your day job.
In the Global Adventure Bonus you’ll be off to Bolivia, London, Ghana, Nepal or Tokyo to gather Hidden Sword Fragments of the secret sword. It arrives by hitting the Passport Symbol in the middle of each of the 5 reels, with each one that falls being logged and accumulated when it lands. Alister shouts words of encouragement to you every time they land – what a nice bloke!
Once triggered, you’ll want to dig around carefully to find the Hidden Treasure Bonus because it will give you one of the following:
- All of the prizes available in that location
- 2x Multiplier
- Random Cash Amount
- Transport you into the “Shootout Bonus”
The Shootout is an awesome Pick Em’ style area that gives you a 3×5 board of ancient golden discs that are each covering the prize amounts that are listed down the righthand side of the screen. At the beginning of the feature all of the amounts are visible and then they start to get quickly mixed up before disappearing.
You’re then allowed to pick one and only one, and you’ll receive whatever amount that is eventually revealed, (you’ll automatically shoot the discs one by one to see what’s behind them). As they’re blown away the corresponding ones are removed from the right side of the screen, eventually leaving you with the one that you picked, (this is extremely fun because the tension really mounts as you watch).
As you make your way across the globe you can win up to a total of 70x your average bet size that triggered the round. However, as an experienced archaeologist, you already know that there are booby traps all around the world and this game is no different. If you stumble into 2 of them you’ll end your round but sometimes it’s possible to be saved – you’ll just have to vanquish an old foe to do it.
You’d better bring a big jewelry box because hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot of the Medallion of Light since it’s the Scatter and 3 or more on the board will trigger the free spins mode. This is actually one of the highlights due to the “Rolling Reels” feature which can give you multiple winning paylines.
This happens as the symbols in a winning line disappear from the reels and the ones above them fall down to take their place, (these are sometimes also referred to as “Collapsing Reels”). If these new ones create another winning payline you’ll get the payout and in a fantastic twist, you’ll also receive a multiplier that will increase by 1 each time, which will of course drastically increase the odds of boosting your bankroll.
The process will repeat itself until you’ve finally hit a losing combination and then the multiplier will go back to 1 so you’ll have to start at the beginning again and jack it back up through more successful results with the Rolling Reels. The maximum multiplier amount you can receive is 5x and unlike the first Tomb Raider release, you cannot retrigger free spins whilst rolling.
However, there is a Secret of the Sword Super Mode that will randomly give you 5 spins with Sticky Wilds that will hang around for the entire feature. There’s no rhyme or reason to when this will be triggered so you’ll have to be patient.
There aren’t many crazy graphics to speak of in the regular mode except for the quick animation on the Wild when it’s used in a payline win. It shows Lara doing a summersault as she falls into a canyon and then her legs pumping as she runs; this is exactly as exciting as it sounds. Luckily there’s also the animation of the Medallion of Light rotating when it graces you with its presence and it looks pretty nice.
However, once you hit the Super Mode you’d better buckle your seatbelt because the graphics get really intense and will give you some of the best animations in the game. As soon as you hear the bass drum and erratic strings start up, Lara will climb up onto the reels from the bottom of the board and do her trademark flip to get in position to shoot out lower-paying symbols to make them Wild. Or she might decide to swing in from the side of the screen and take care of business with a surprise kick attack.
In addition to all of this action, sometimes there’s an insane “Showdown” that has Amanda blast into your bonus round and call you out for being too slow. The two of you then face off in an awesome double-handed shoot out with the last person standing taking the piece of sword – this was definitely one of the coolest features in gambling games at the time, (and perhaps still today).
Malcontents will claim that the user controls look very dated but most will agree they’re part of it’s charm. Every other effect was cutting-edge at the time and still looks better than most new titles being released now.
Audio & Soundtrack
This machine is more adventurous in the soundtrack department compared to its predecessor, boasting a full orchestral number that continues for a very long time without looping. It’s easily one of the longer scores you’ll find out there and it helps to build the drama and tension…especially with the occasional frantic blasts of pan flute that always seem to come when you’re least expecting it.
Then just when you think that the original audios are over, Microgaming surprises you in the free spins mode with a new track that features chanting monks and a heavy Euro trance beat. Think “Enigma mixed with KLF” and you’re on the right track. Oh, not to mention that there’s a frantic tune for the Super Mode that will have you on the edge of your seat. The audio engineers have set the bar for real money online slot machine soundtracks…and they did it back in 2009!
The back and forth between Lara and Alister is quite groundbreaking, especially considering the year that this title was released. The constant conversation between the two of them flows like a real video game and it’s definitely one of the major strengths of Secret of the Sword. And be sure to leave Alister waiting in the special area to discover a few easter eggs.
All of the other regular sounds are pretty good but they’re not as fun as the first one from 2004. This is because the original sounded very much like an actual “one-armed bandit” on a Las Vegas casino floor. Oh well, with all of the other audio treats that are stuffed in here, we’re not going to complain.
If you love Lara Croft as much as the rest of us do, you’ll want to check out Tomb Raider: Secret of the Swords Slots, if only to see the fantastic updated images of her – she’s definitely changed a bit since the late ’90s. The shocking thing is that even though this machine was released in 2009, it’s still a lot of fun to play today.
It has tons of free spins available, multiple unique bonus areas, and cutting-edge audio techniques that haven’t been duplicated since. It truly is one-of-a-kind and the team at Microgaming deserves a lot of credit for their efforts. Oh, don’t forget about the Rolling Reels that will have symbols exploding while the multiplier amount gets pumped up.
The soundtrack is massive with numerous long songs that won’t annoy you with choppy loops and they seem to play forever. It’s hard to understand why so many releases today have terrible audios with short sound clips that loop like a skipping record when this title perfected sound effects back in 2009. Software developers should really use Tomb Raider 2 as a blueprint for all of their future projects.
So if you’re looking for a great machine that won’t drown you in paylines or befuddle you with complicated features, Secret of the Sword Slots is the one you’ll want to load up. It’s insane how well this game as held up and it’s absolutely one of my all-time favorites.
Random Video of Secret of the Sword
Here’s a fan-created video detailing the evolution of Tomb Raider over the years and how Lara Croft has changed in each version. It’s pretty interesting – I had actually forgotten about a few of these incarnations. Enjoy!