Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider wants to be a mix of Uncharted and Arkham Asylum. The vistas, climbing and action sequences are there but there is also an upgrade system with hidden bonuses and unlockable skills – when you take the time to explore. The game is superficially even more linear than Uncharted though, when you are not playing through a quicktime event or guided sequence it tells you to hurry up and get to the next objective – it never encourages the player to explore and see the complex part of itself. This doesn’t really matter if you do decide to pick it apart but if you don’t the gameplay elements feel rather disjoint. Tomb Raider also doesn’t reward the player for backtracking as you can pick up everything on the path you are required to play the game. The exploration elements as such are not bad, they just tend to revert to cheap ways of hiding things that you have little purpose to look for and the skills involved feel very game-y. It feels tangential to the real game which is sad since they really give it character.

The benefit of rushing the player through the game is that the story feels more coherent, and I liked that part a whole lot more than either Arkham Asylum or Uncharted. I did not have very high hopes for it originally since I did not care for Rhianna Pratchett’s work on Heavenly Sword or Mirror’s edge, and there was the whole controversy bit a while back that made it sound like a cheap horror story. Tomb Raider delivers a real character arc that is not overplayed and is tightly connected to the actual growth of Lara in terms of game mechanics, and the exploration parts of the game are tied into the supporting cast and backstory of the world in an interesting way. The supernatural parts could have been handled better, but at least they are heavily downplayed.

Tomb Raider doesn’t do a lot of new things that feel really fresh design-wise, but it executes what it does mostly well and presents a story that is both better crafted and more interesting than similar games.

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Posted on Apr 01/13 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »