Tomb Raider Thoughts From A Lara Newbie

By Alec Meer on April 5th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

peekaboo!

The only other Tomb Raider game I’ve ever played was the first one, which I found alternately brilliant and annoying. Oh, and I reviewed The Angel of Darkness for a magazine, but that doesn’t count. This year’s reboot, Tomb Raider, was my first experience of Crystal Dynamics’ work with Lara Croft, so I was a relative blank slate in terms of expectations. Perhaps that’s why I had a better time with it than John did – there wasn’t anything I knew to miss or call for, any pre-existing associations to be endorsed or threatened. That didn’t stop me from howling in misery at all the quicktime events and the often bobbins plot, of course, but there’s an awful lot in there I really dug.

  • First up, Lara. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call her especially memorable, but she was certainly freed from the chains of faint absurdity which have dogged her for so long. She convincingly grew from scared and vulnerable to scarred and veteran across the course of the game, even if she had to suffer enough near-fatal falls to fill a hundred Die Hard movies in the process. There was a great, sensibly subtle physicality to her when climbing up rock faces or making dangerous jumps too. Sure, she was essentially capable of superheroics, but it wasn’t realised in pantomime or tawdry fashion. Aside from occasionally recoiling at an oddly inanimate face which looked like a wax model of Jennifer Lawrence, I enjoyed her company, I never felt like a dirty old man and I never questioned her leading-woman status. She certainly put paid to the lie that action game stars need to be brawny man-hulks or cynically sexualised Valkyries.

  • The environments. Not the silly colour-coded wall-climbing, exploding building bits, but the large, exploration-friendly ‘levels’ which contained plot objectives, the excellent but too few, too brief Tomb side-missions and assorted collectibles. Judicious use of light, shadow and ambient occlusion meant they looked amazing on PC, dense and Earthly settings not laid low by silly sci-fi or perpetual twilight. While interactions were restricted to some degree, there was real joy in simply clambering around them, getting to high or out-of-reach places just for the hell of it. And for the pick-ups, but I’ll get to those shortly. I didn’t feel too ushered around these areas, despite the sometimes shrill protestations of the plot – I went in determined to damn well play the game at the pace I wanted, and happily it let me once I got through each new area’s introductory talky bit. I didn’t proceed to storyline missions until I thought I’d combed every inch of every environment, and it’s definitely in that hands-off free-roaming that the game most shines. I even revisited a few areas after the end of the game, using gear Lara hadn’t had the first time she was there to access new areas, in a pleasant touch of optional Metroidvania.
  • The Tombs were wonderful, but you knew that. There weren’t anywhere near enough of them and they all wrapped up far too quickly, but they contained the best aspects of the game in capsule form – gigantic architecture, navigation-based puzzles with big visual pay-offs. They seemed at the heart of what the game was trying to be, and it’s sad how often it forgot this in favour of quick-time events, but at least the MouseTrap philosophy behind them did extend into the broader game, and those larger environments. I’m usually pretty DLC-resistant, but I’d definitely have gone back in for more of those tombs – it’s crazy that there won’t be any.

  • Hell, I even enjoyed the shooting. Sure, regenerating health is a perennial let-down, but at least it wasn’t a recharging magic-shield. The limited choice of weapons, and the very clear roles they took (especially by contrast to the homogeneous death-tubes of that other big action game of recent weeks, BioShock Infinite), served the game well, and while the idea of Lara being distressed by her first kill only to then mow down hundreds without blinking was classic videogame absurdity (see Niko Bellic in GTA 4) I thought the combat itself was well-balanced, most enemies a sweet spot between bullet sponges and mere mortals. Upgrading the weapons, with the effects being visual as well as statistical, was pleasant roleplaying-lite, and seemed far more tactile and rewarding than the similar, vending machine-based system in Binfinite.

  • I especially loved the bow, and how it gradually turned into a sort of massive string-based Transformer. It was my primary weapon most of the time, even when it was incredibly unwise for it to be so, simply because it felt good. Best of all, the bow served the purposes of exploration, with all its zipline-creation, wall-pulling and fire-starting – it felt cannily enmeshed with the game and its environments, rather than simply the faddish sniper rifle analogue it’s been in other recent games.

  • Something which surprised me, given it’s a game element I so often sneer at (see the Arkham and Assassin’s Creed games), was how hard the collectormania element grabbed me. At one point, I even decided I was going to 100% the game. I made it a good way towards that until trying to find the last few GPS caches became too gruesome. Most of the while though, it felt rewarding. The combination of environmental/navigational puzzles necessary to reach all the relics, caches, documents and whatnot, and the fact they had in-game rewards rather than simply progress towards achievements, made all my clambering and falling off things and rope-shooting and swearing seem eminently worthwhile. When this stuff isn’t merely ephemeral, and when it fits in-game logic (i.e. Lara hunting relics makes sense; an Assassin collecting hovering feathers does not), it feels like it’s – pun not intended – achieving something rather than grinding. Though the GPS caches were a collectible too far – no museum’s going to by those, Croft.
  • But: I couldn’t stand the supporting cast. It was one of those cases where we were expected to care about them right out of the gate, without their having done anything to earn it. Twists were signposted from three furlongs away. The baddie made no sense and just appeared to pop out of nowhere unless you’d found and listened to the audio diaries. The father figure character seemed to be constructed only of stereotypes. I didn’t care when people died. Why did the black character need to be angry and unreasonable from start to almost-end? The idea that the tall, handsome guy in fashionable glasses was supposed to be some sort of feckless ultra-nerd who Lara couldn’t possibly be attracted to was laughable. The best friend/damsel in distress character had no definable personality traits. This was so clearly, and often so winningly, Lara’s game – it would have been better without these people in it, were she shipwrecked alone and trying to find a way home by herself. At least she wasn’t ultimately dependent on these people – in fact, she wound up leading them – but their very presence did diminish her.

The QTE overload, the super-prescribed wall-climbing and the unannounced, disorientating switching between cutscene and suddenly needing to act certainly grated at the time, but it’s now been a couple of weeks since I played Tomb Raider I find that my feeling about it is predominantly a fond one. I enjoyed being in that place, solving the grand puzzle of the environment with the grand Swiss army knife of my bow, and I think this reboot is a fine sign-post to where this series could and should go. Hopefully Crystal Dynamics, if they’re allowed to make another in the wake of the game apparently not meeting sales expectations, are receptive to complaints about quick-time events and Unchartedisms. I want more puzzle-fun in large, epic environments, because I reckon they did a stand-up job when they made that element of the game their focus.

And no, I couldn’t get the hair to run well either.

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50 Comments »

  1. Bhazor says:

    JENNIFER LAWRENCE! Thats who she reminds me of. That’s been bugging me since the original trailer.

    I really didn’t feel what everyone else seems to have for this game. The exploration seems overly scripted (ziplines here but not there, you can climb this sheer cliff face but not slightly jagged floor), the combat was just OK and the story was just rubbish. It lacked the variety of Uncharted, the power and weight of Arkam and the sheer fun of Farcry 3. A perfectly average experience.

    • edenicholas says:

      What are you people on about? Lara Croft is clearly Camilla Luddington.

  2. SirKicksalot says:

    Lara looks more like Angie Varona to me: http://oi50.tinypic.com/21bqkjr.jpg

    Now I’m just going to paste my thoughts from another forum:

    tl;dr version: it’s Uncharted but shit. Everything Uncharted does good, TR does worse. Everything Uncharted does bad, TR does worse.

    I hate the enemy waves. Shantytown is one of the worst levels of this generation.

    Combat needed to be more like in I Am Alive. Have you played that game? It’s a bit contrieved but it does the whole survival-and-exploration shtick infinitely better than TR and most other games.

    If only you could talk to the monsters… There’s a scene where one enemy tries to initiate dialogue. I was so happy! I actually thought the game will pull a U-turn and the bad guys won’t be that bad after all :/

    I strongly dislike the tombs. You waste more time walking through buffer areas than solving puzzles (“puzzles”) because the game is too cool for loading screens.

    The narrative is awful, like everything Rhianna Pratchett writes actually. All the backstory is vague, meaningless crap. The “you’re a Croft moment!” falls flat because I don’t actually know what that means. I am not familiar with this franchise – all I know about old Lara is that she’s a sarcastic rich girl doing stuff for fun, and I may be wrong about the second part. The reboot assumes I am familiar with the character because it doesn’t explain anything beyond “her dad was rich and some of the crew knew him”. I actually couldn’t figure out exactly how well the characters knew each other or Lara’s family.

    The characters are worse than Far Cry 3′s, and that’s saying something (I especially hate the magic Polynesian dude). So many dumb decisions are made. Bonus negative points for the cutscenes: shaky, full of SO REAL AND RAW crappy close-ups and bad framing – it’s basically what a hipster with director delusions would shoot on his thousand dollar Best Buy camera.

    Lara is a bad character. She’s stupid. She’s bipolar. She’s way too noisy. Her internal dialogue bounces between Game Dialogue 101 and meaningless meditations on fate, strength and… whatever. The kind of thoughts a stoned 2nd year philosophy student has at 3 AM. I bet she likes Prometheus.

    One thing I don’t think I saw mentioned anywhere the awful interface. Have you noticed how many bars, percentages and numbers are on screen – and they’re all for the same thing? This game bleeds numbers and stats, and they’re all redundant. It’s a mess. It says so much, but so little actually matters. Crystal must be overcompensating for the half-assed upgrade system.

    I greatly enjoyed the copious amounts of gore and the presence of Vladimir Kulich as Random Enemy Guys. I was sort of curious about the mystery, but eventually the game dragged so much I lost interest.

    At least I got a cool steel case and Square has fair prices for my region so I don’t feel too ripped off.

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      I got to say, I Am Alive is really great. It was ignored because some moronic PR people, but the game itself is quite solid.

    • Squire says:

      +1

      I’m not sure what else there is to say. I agree wholeheartedly.

      They [The publishers? Whoever forces all these terrible decisions...] saw how well Uncharted 2+3 sold and “Copy that, add crafting and make the puzzles [Hidden Tombs] optional”.

      One of the worst things is that the scripted destruction animations in this game looks like the artist took the models and sliced them up with lasers so they fall apart in the “wrongest” way possible.

    • Pliqu3011 says:

      @SirKicksalot ^This pretty much.

      I thought Tomb Raider represented pretty much everything that’s wrong with most current AAA titles.

    • Bhazor says:

      Everything needs to rip off I Am Alive’s stamina system for climbing. I seriously can’t play Assassins Creed because of how uninvolving the free running is.

    • Laurentius says:

      “I hate the enemy waves. Shantytown is one of the worst levels of this generation.”

      Oh yeah ? So i bet you haven’t played Mass Effect 3 – London , in comparison Shantytown is awsome level.

    • DXN says:

      To be honest this is pretty much how I’m starting to think of a lot of AAA games. I usually stop my self from full-on ranting about it, because I’m still not really sure whether I’m just being crotchety or jaded or what. But I’m just tired of giving all these games, which have such huge budgets and such clever people working on them, the benefit of the doubt. I’m tired of equivocating. The fact is, so many of these games are just shit in every respect except a) making a pretty slick, reliable combat system and b) providing some pretty skyboxes and backdrops. The writing, conception, characterization, their failure to tie it all into something larger and more resonant — compared to every other medium and even to the high-points of the videogame medium itself (you know the ones, Thief et al) — they’re actually, really just fucking terrible. They suck. They are shit.

      But I’m still thinking about whether I actually believe myself when I say that. Am I just succumbing to whatever it is that makes angry internet men be angry internet men? Or is it really time that the industry pulled its head out of its collective arse and started living up to the promise of the medium, instead of just churning out gory shooting gallery after gory shooting gallery, and lacquering them with feeble, pathetic attempts to deconstruct and subvert what they are in fact so very happy to do, and do, and do again?

      • elgonzo says:

        Don’t worry… Eventually, you will learn to ignore. Just like blockbuster cinema…

    • guygodbois00 says:

      Well said, sir. You echo my thoughts exactly.

    • Howard says:

      @SirKicksalot
      Totally agree. Paint it any way you like, but this game is at best some kind of sick, twisted, torture-porn, at worst, quite possibly the worst game I have ever played. Everything – literally everything – about it is wrong, ill conceived or just plain broken and childish.
      Total and utter crap.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Shantytown is one of the worst levels of this generation.

      Shantytown is absolutely fantastic if you try to run around during almost every battle, instead of hiding behind covers like an idiot and killing enemies the most boring way like in average cover based shooter.

      • 3lbFlax says:

        I agree – its designed to support and reward keeping on the hoof. Problem is, it doesn’t make this clear enough. Lara is a vulnerable character against these enemies and it makes sense to put her in cover. This becomes more confusing later on in sections where certain enemies will cut you down in a second if you’re in the open. Should I hunker down or keep moving? I often didn’t know until I’d failed a few times.

      • Rinu says:

        I agree. I enjoyed Shantytown because the map was big and scenarios made me to incorporate more styles of fighting despite being usually “camper” type of player. I applied hide&seek in the second big fight, easily my favorite.

    • Cyrius says:

      I gotta say I disagree with that. I thought Tomb Raider to be Uncharted but more winsome, and with less douchey and archetypal characters. Nathan Drake was just a douchier Indy, after all.

      I have played all of the Uncharted games, and what I liked best about them gets shit on by them themselves towards the second half of the game when the eschew the reality they try to create by making monsters (occasionally men too) which need to be shot over and over in the head or with rockets etc and do not die.

      Plus samurai are better than jungle savages or whatever.]

      Rambling a bit, neither my coffee nor my meds have kicked in.

      • Cyrius says:

        One last thing.

        For me, thus far, Tomb Raider is GOTY based simply on immersion and my own enjoyment of it,.

        I thought it would be Bioshock:Infinite but it hasn’t captured me yet like I thought it would.

    • Rinu says:

      I think the interaction with characters spoiled its execution. When nothing happens around them, no enemies, and they start preparing for a death because a number of enemies is overwhelming, it’s weird. Or desperate shout is followed by a short awkward silence until the animation starts running, the meaning is kind of lost.
      This often happens in TR9 and I would say it’s one of its biggest flaws. However I have played games much worse in that department. I enjoyed the game and look forward to a possible, more polished sequel.

  3. Njordsk says:

    I HATED this game with passion, such a letdown when you expected a new tomb raider (and actually raiding tomb more than 30 sec you know). It was just another soulless rail TPS with an annoying (but cute) main character.

    They should have made it a spinoff called Lara croft, now TR is dead for me and I cry every two days about it.

    I miss the brain-fucking 3D puzzles.

  4. woodsey says:

    It’s a decent game by itself, but when I think back to past Tomb Raiders, what I remember (accurately or not) is the sense of a real descent over several hours into a single tomb. That, to me, is the very essence of Tomb Raider, and the fact that it’s not there is frankly bizarre. Especially when they managed it so well in the previous 3 they’ve done.

    Worse is the fact that the excuse – albeit implied rather than said – is the story. They should have written around that, whereas instead it seems the story was leading the way.

    Some games are very difficult to describe in terms of others (people try and do it with Dishonored and come out with at least 5 games), but Tomb Raider is literally just an Arkham game smashed together with an Uncharted one – sans any Tomb Raider DNA save Lara herself – and it’s not as good as either of them.

    • Redkid says:

      I agree with most of this.

      I’d just like to point out that the story was to “create” the Lara we know from the other games, and in this the game succeeded very well I thought. It leaves the stage open for a “proper” Tomb Raider(Get rid of the damn bow Lara!) where you explore tombs and descend for hours into ruins because Lara *wants* to do it.

      • woodsey says:

        It does handle Lara herself very well. But they could have also done that story in a way which actually focused on exploration (of actual tombs, no less!), and ditched the combat almost – if not entirely – altogether.

        • Redkid says:

          Ah, but one could argue that the entire point of an “origin game” is the story, and if so then (at least in the case of this story) they couldn’t have had a focus on exploration. Rewrite the story? Perhaps, but I’d personally find it hard to get another story that creates the slightly psychopathic nature of Lara, especially one where she spends most of her time exploring.

          EDIT: What I am trying to say here is that while the game isn’t exactly what we might have wanted, it might have been a necessary evil for a successful reboot. It remains to be seen if they can follow up what I considered to be a great “origin” with a “proper” Tomb Raider.

  5. Lagwolf says:

    Funny thing about Tomb Raider is that I had no desire to play it but I am rather enjoying watching Hannah play it on YouTube. it might have something to do with the fact that she is a woman like Lara. Not sure…

    Are her companions as annoying/unlikeable as the “friends” in Farcry 3? From what I have been watching they are not that as bad.

  6. Morovski says:

    I really enjoyed my time with the new Tomb Raider. Sure it has it’s flaws, as mentioned in the article and by the posts above, but it rekindled my love of gaming after so many sub par games recently.

    It’s been a long time since i got so hooked on a game, thinking about it when not playing and then being annoyed that it was over! The ending seemed to hint at a second game in the series and I am genuinely looking forward to that.

  7. Dubbill says:

    I liked the tombs but the handful provided felt like an introduction to the mechanics that would then lead on to longer, more involved outings. Instead some of the tombs took longer to get in and out of than they did to solve.

  8. Justin Keverne says:

    If you step back a little and view the entire island as a single “tomb”, a lot what was true about the previous games still holds.

    The QTE complains I can’t argue with, though I struggle to remember many of them beyond the first hour, the more equipment and skills Lara develops the more infrequent the QTEs become. Unless we’re going to say the melee combat sequences are QTE based, I can see an argument for that though I don’t agree.

  9. bravekarma says:

    As someone who practiced archery for a few years, it disappoints me how characters in video games are shown using bows, as in the screenshot. I mean you probably couldn’t shoot a target 5 meters in front of you holding the bow like that, not to mention it would be very hard to draw the bowstring in that stance. Movies usually get it right but video games seem to be still lacking, though I can’t criticise games that use old-timey bows without nocks (like Thief and Elder Scrolls) since I don’t know how to shoot them.

  10. faelnor says:

    I started playing the Crystal Dynamics trilogy because I was hugely dissatisfied with the new game.
    I’m halfway through the second game. Tomb Raider Legend has a lot of problems but it already feels more enjoyable and better written than the new game – at least it doesn’t pretend it’s not a video game. The second one, Tomb Raider Anniversary, is a remake of the original Tomb Raider. It has a few camera and movement issues but it’s hugely satisfying and exactly what I wanted from the new game. It’s also as close to the original game as you can get in terms of difficulty and approach to the exploration and it feels, surprisingly, unexpectedly, refreshing today. The whole gameplay just works without all the unnecessary modern elements like cover-based shooting, heavy QTEs (there are just a few), cutscenes with only a bit of gameplay, upgrades and regenerating health. More importantly, it doesn’t just work because of the nostalgia of an old gamer, it works because it is solidly built as a game, with the undeniable fun of self-contained but clearly open-ended levels with lots of bonuses and exploration, just like a game such as Thief has.
    Looking forward to playing Underworld.

  11. Low Life says:

    Less than a month after finishing the game, I must admit I don’t even remember a black character in the game – I guess it tells something about how memorable those side characters were.

    I remember the nice fat guy and the girl I was running after the entire game.

  12. Laurentius says:

    I quite enjoyed the game but not the bits i was hoping i would be. QTE were terrible so was the plot the cast and all that stuff that shoud us keep caring where game is going. Moving, climbing, jumping works pretty neat, super easy if you comapre to the orginal but that’s how games are these days. Combat i thought i would hate it but it turned out quite enjoyable, actually one of the finest, miles away better then let’s say ME3. But my biggest gripe is how much cutscene game doesn’t match gameplay game. In cutscenes Lara is hitting the floor bazilion times while when i was controlin her, i missed jump maybe twice. I don’t understand why game even tries to humanize Lara with all the “first kill” bullshit, when later camera will cheer our actions with gratutios gore shots of Lara riping peoples throats with her axe and/or finishing them with blowing their heads off close up with her shotgun. It’s incredibly stupid

  13. strangeloup says:

    There seems to be a real split of opinion on the game. I’ve seen it a couple of places for around the £20 mark, but even at that price I’d want to be more sure of it. I very much enjoyed all the previous TR games — except Angel of Darkness which was just utter dreck — and have them all on PC as well as several versions on console (the Wii version of Anniversary is particularly good) but I really don’t feel sure about this one.

    In short, I miss there being demos.

  14. Radiant says:

    The colour coded climbing bits are incredibly important.

    If they were not there you would be running into every wall hoping for a climb animation like a savant pinball.

    The way they are in the game, you see the white and you immediately make plans to climb it or get to an area you can get to climbing it.
    You take risks.

    The fact that they are so immediate is a wonderful thing.
    People get upset because they think it’s the game ‘dumbing down’.
    It’s not.
    It’s the opposite. It’s smart as fuck.

    • Qazi says:

      I dunno. I’d prefer no magic climbaxe walls that blatantly lead somewhere, and have every wall be climbable, and have that be part of the puzzle of navigation.

    • Howard says:

      You are just wrong. Having a tiny, limited and eventually unimportant set of “options” is one thing, but labelling them all so that even the most retarded cat can see the path is a piss take too far. This is not game design, its how to label things for those struggling to recover from full-frontal lobotomies.
      Every time (and it happened a BAJILLION TIMES) that Dead Faced Lara fell over, I expected to see L and R in marker pen on the soles of her shoes…

  15. cerpinandcygnus says:

    I think I’ll just play 1 and 2 until this takes a price plummet.

  16. Qazi says:

    The GPS Caches were for the obligatory ominous Sequel foreshadowing.

    It was those pissing anti-ship mines that I couldn’t find.

  17. suibhne says:

    Ha, I had exactly the opposite take of some people here. I took a timeout from playing TR: Anniversary to grab this new TR on sale from Amazon, and I found it a huge breath of fresh air compared to the remake/original TR. I played TR2 and TR3 at release, back in the day, and I enjoyed them…but going back to the original TR without the benefit of nostalgia really pointed up the game’s glaring, fun-killing shortcomings. I’ve been particularly irritated as hell with some of the huge “tombs” that require large amounts of backtracking if you don’t do everything in exactly the right order…which, you know, you pretty much can’t do the first time around. And the combat is clumsy as hell. I dread every single combat section, which never really happened in the new game even tho it featured about 50x as much combat.

    That’s not to say TR:A isn’t a worthy game, but I think many people’s views are heavily colored by nostalgia.

    The new TR isn’t perfect by any stretch, and I’m particularly puzzled by its lack of real “tomb raiding”. But I think it’s a perfectly decent evolution of the series – I basically like where the series is now headed (even if, sure, I could always like it more).

    • RedViv says:

      Very much agree – game is not perfect, but I can see where they are going with this, and hope they expand on the best parts. A few more breathers between the attack waves/action sequences (which, really, are only replacing “ancient timer ticks while Lara sprints through hordes of critters to the exit” parts of the oldest games) and a few longer puzzles, and I really won’t miss anything of old Lara’s.

      • Bhazor says:

        They already have that. It’s called Uncharted. It’s better than this.

        Tomb Raider was and should be different. It should be about large complex puzzles with marginal combat and most deaths coming from exciting trap gauntlets.

        • KenTWOu says:

          It’s not, it’s absolutely linear, while Tomb Raider has hubs.

    • Mman says:

      “I’ve been particularly irritated as hell with some of the huge “tombs” that require large amounts of backtracking if you don’t do everything in exactly the right order…which, you know, you pretty much can’t do the first time around… “Nostagia”"

      Or plenty of people like having to actually explore and work out how the environment comes together rather than being handed the right path on a plate and aren’t delusional because they like a gameplay style you don’t? While backtracking becomes more of a problem in some of the sequels, In the case of the original game (and remake) I can only think of a few levels that don’t frequently provide shortcuts or compact interlinking design to make backtracking pretty easy anyway.

      No one (sane) is going to defend the quality of the combat in earlier games, but it also makes up a small fraction of the game in most of them and has multiple ways to make it almost irrelevant, as opposed to making up a significant portion of the main story like in the reboot; which isn’t a statement of quality either way, but the focus is so different it’s practically Apples and Oranges.

      • suibhne says:

        I didn’t call anyone delusional. But never mind that – can you explain to me how it’s fun, in the Francis Folly tomb, to climb the same narrow path up from the tomb floor about eight times? Or how, in the Peruvian ruin, it’s fun to climb to the top of the waterfall four or five times (especially since the wolves respawn every time you load a checkpoint above the waterfall)? Because that was my experience, and I found it not fun in the slightest.

        I like some of the old tomb design, sure. I really missed that in the new TR. And the generous checkpointing in TR:A helps to mitigate some of the glaring design problems. But the combat sucked, as you acknowledge, and I find even the tomb design to be pretty seriously flow-killing at times. When I grok a solution in short order, it’s a lot of fun; when I don’t, it’s downright boring.

        And let’s not pretend there are multiple solutions in TR:A, okay? There’s exactly ONE solution to each tomb/puzzle, at least in the first half of the game; the only question is whether you perform that solution with all steps in the optimal order, or you do things in the “wrong” order and have to backtrack/retread. (There are a few sequence-breakers that are possible with exploits…but c’mon, those are exploits.)

        • Mman says:

          “I didn’t call anyone delusional.”

          Accusations of “nostalgia” are inherently calling people with a different opinion delusional; it’s saying that someone else’s opinion is embellished and wrong. Maybe you somehow didn’t mean it that way, but that’s part of why it’s one of my most despised words on the internet, as people throw it around as a synonym for “your opinion is wrong” without seeming to realise the much nastier and dismissive implication it has.

          “can you explain to me how it’s fun, in the Francis Folly tomb, to climb the same narrow path up from the tomb floor about eight times?”

          Given that both Anniversary and the original game make it pretty clear that you need to find the switches first, I don’t see any way you would have to do it even close to eight times (let alone going right from the bottom to the top), unless you completely missed the clues or doors.

          ” Or how, in the Peruvian ruin, it’s fun to climb to the top of the waterfall four or five times (especially since the wolves respawn every time you load a checkpoint above the waterfall)?”

          This is an odd example because it’s a failure state and not something forced on you; the way to avoid this is to not fall in. In Anniversary’s case (where getting back up takes much longer) I actually agree that the backtracking if you fall is oddly overdone and it may as well just mercy kill you and send you back to a checkpoint up the top.

          I’m not sure what the thing about multiple solutions is about because I never said there was. In both the original and Anniversary though there are plenty of times where you can do a couple of steps of a puzzle even if you don’t have everything to solve it, or at least open a shortcut to make getting back much quicker and easier when you do have what’s needed. Since you seem to be specifically talking about Anniversary more focus on an “optimal” path is also a symptom of that game’s design as several areas are more linear in structure than the original game.

  18. Crate says:

    I personally found the Tomb Raider story quite good. It was far superior to the other third person action game I played on PC, Max Payne 3. Also, Tom Chick posted a defense of the story/characters: http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2013/03/04/tomb-raider-they-arent-heavy-theyre-my-crew/
    I feel like he has made some good points on the story. Maybe it’s not as ambitious as some other types of games, but among recent action games, it is peerless.

    SPOILERS

    Also, Lara pretty much saves the princess by the end of the game, which I found to be wonderfully subversive.

    • Baal_Sagoth says:

      I agree. Tom Chick’s articles on the game are pretty insightful and present a nice perspective from someone that wasn’t already desperately searching for (inevitable) flaws before the game even came out.
      I liked this companion piece to the review a lot though. It’s comes quite a bit closer to my reaction to the game and reading something like that is nice every once in a while. Now, here’s hoping the people that seemed to be on board with the reboot are actually enough to warrant a sequel to this excellent little game and aren’t drowned out by the loud and aggressive critics of it. Not to say that the ones who actually played the game don’t have a fair point here and there.

  19. KenTWOu says:

    Alec, It’s worth mentioning that after the last patch the game has 99 save slots and that’s another reason why it gave you much better experience.

  20. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    I agree with a lot of what’s been said.

    It’s a nicely put together game, but it’s just another hand-holding, QTE-infested, script-athon for the most part. Like endless others.

    Some aspects are promising, but they’re either too brief or not expanded on enough. The tombs themselves are pathetic compared to the wondrous tombs from the early games. It doesn’t matter that the game simply wants to introduce the story of the character and nothing more – the fact is the strongest parts of the game were the parts that were over in a couple of minutes.

    Which in my book = pretty average game.

  21. RvLeshrac says:

    “The baddie made no sense and just appeared to pop out of nowhere unless you’d found and listened to the audio diaries.”

    I’m shocked – SHOCKED – that the story makes less sense if you’re not actually paying attention to the story.

    The logs were placed almost explicitly in your path so that you couldn’t avoid them. The critical ones more-so.

    Did you play System Shock 2 and then bitch about how you couldn’t open certain doors without the audio logs? Can we look forward to the review where you say that the Many don’t make any sense if you weren’t reading the audio logs?

  22. byghostlight says:

    I am really enjoying the game but the
    1)QT moments are lame. Especially the (spoiler) where you first kill someone. The much hyped moment had zero resonance but i was more watching and waiting to see what button i was suppose to hit.
    2) the help system seems to be created for those weak of mind (read: console gamers). A reminder for survival instincts keeps coming. like an unsubtle “look-closer-you-are-missing-something”. the worse moment was it came up and Lara “there is a hidden tomb close by” i look straight ahead and there was the rock wall wall COVERED in big arrows pointing to it. GRRRR at least give me a chance to find it.
    3) There is absolutely no sense of danger. In previous game each jump you made you were screaming your heart out. you had to do certain type of jumps from a certain distance, and sometimes you barely made it. This game rarely has it. the worse offense is when you cross a log from one piece of land to another. If you just push forward there is absolutely zero chance of falling, unless you stop… what the what, where is nerve wracking, heart in throat moments?!
    4) to misquote Ian Malcolm “eventually you do plan to have some tombs in your, in your Tomb Raider game, right? Hello?”

    Look i love the game, really really love it, but it highlights all that is wrong with gaming in 2013. Everything has to be a “movie” now days instead of playing, we now watch. Thanks console/casual gamers generation :(