Home > Uncategorized > Ferret vs. The Video Games – Tomb Raider 2013

Ferret vs. The Video Games – Tomb Raider 2013

I don’t mention it often here, but I have been known to record myself playing video games for the Internet. In amongst all of this, I played a few of the Tomb Raider games, and that proved to be fairly popular. Of course, with the release of the reboot, I’ve had pretty much everyone who enjoyed those videos contacting me and demanding to know what I think of it. Well, I’ve finally got round to playing it, and here are my thoughts.

For those who don’t know, the Tomb Raider franchise follows archaeologist and adventurer Lara Croft as she travels around the world collecting various trinkets to contribute to her vast inherited wealth while simultaneously killing off the poor and needy. Part of that may be my own personal characterisation, although it’s hard to tell anymore.

Anyway, following the fairly subdued reaction to Lara’s first current gen outing, Underworld, developers Crystal Dynamics decided it was time to revitalise the franchise. They chose to do this by rebooting everything, casting a young and inexperienced Lara in the lead role and showing her progression into a battle-hardened badass.

As a Tomb Raider fan for many, many years, with the first game being one of the key reasons I wanted to get a PlayStation in the 90s, my reaction could have been one of revulsion, horrified by the complete destruction of my favourite franchise. I’m happy to report that it’s not.

Truth is, I’m willing to admit that the series had gotten a little stale and needed some revival. Underworld, while a decent enough game, was a little bland, and did nothing new. So I welcomed some kind of major change, and it seems that Crystal Dynamics have handled it really well.

Let’s look at it from a standalone perspective. Is TR a good game? The answer is yes. It’s an excellent blend of puzzle-solving, exploration and huge set pieces that offer an obvious debt of gratitude to the Uncharted franchise, which has been stealing TR’s thunder lately.

In fact, I’ve heard criticism that the game is Uncharted with boobs, but this is inaccurate. Sure, there are moments where everything’s exploding around and you need to run like hell, but there are plenty of moments of quiet reflection, where you can explore the landscape and enjoy the scenery, seeking out the many collectibles hidden about the world. The ever-evolving combat system also makes the game feel a little more involved than Naughty Dog’s series.

The progression from inexperienced university student to hardened survivor feels natural. At the start of the game, things feel tricky and your actions are limited, but as the game progresses, you gain more abilities and weapons and the pace gets faster as a result. Lara’s character also noticeably changes as the game moves forward. She starts out scared of everything, awkwardly shuffling through small passageways and struggling forwards, then ends up determined and stoic in the face of danger.

What’s more, I like this new Lara. As awesome as the old Lara was, she was a bit of a flat character, but her characterisation is drastically improved here and her abilities feel more varied. Adding the different bow and arrow types as well as her up close melee options make the game much more interesting than just making use of Lara’s guns all the time like in the older games. She’s also less easy to criticise as a heartless aristocrat. This is partly a criticism because I actually enjoyed making fun of her for that, and I can’t really do that here, but oh well.

One serious criticism I do have is that the game feels a little short. I haven’t finished the game yet, but it feels like I’m very close to doing so, which is a shame because I’m enjoying the game a lot and don’t really want it to end so soon. And yes, I have been going after the collectibles, so this is definitely a disappointment.

Is it a worthy addition to the Tomb Raider franchise? Absolutely. Some argue it doesn’t feel like a “real” TR, but it maintains that sense of confusion in its puzzles, the same sense of wonder at entering new locations and wondering what you need to do here, and Lara does grow into a character much closer to her original depiction, despite concerns that she starts out as someone completely different.

It’s not the best Tomb Raider game in my eyes. That accolade still goes to Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, and that’s unlikely to shift, but the reboot is almost certainly top three for me. It’s a real shot in the arm for the franchise and I would love to see this rebooted universe continue (despite Squeenix’s claims that it sales were “disappointing” – more on that in a later post).

I know there are a lot of people out there who feel that it’s not Tomb Raider enough for them, but I’m not one of them. Yes, it’s different, but it’s a great game and there’s enough exploration and puzzle-solving to prevent it from feeling out of place in the franchise.

So there you go. Tomb Raider 2013. It’s awesome. Simple as that.

(Since writing this, I decided to give the additional multiplayer a try. This was my experience:

– Entered a match at the last second on the losing team
– Entered another match in the last ten seconds, again on the losing team
– Finally entered a match at the start, PS3 crashed and required a hard reset
– Successfully entered a match and played it through to the end, not particularly bowled over by it
– Attempted to try another mode aside from deathmatch, ended up sitting in lobby on my own for eternity
– Entered another deathmatch game, was frozen by Host Migration, HM didn’t affect opposing team, got killed (counting as two kills somehow…), then the PS3 crashed and required a hard reset

Conclusion: The multiplayer is terrible!)

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