REVIEW: Tomb Raider

tomb_raider_logo_by_lubeans2011-d544tdk

Lara Croft is back, younger then ever and slightly resembling Cheryl Cole.  The new Tomb Raider endeavors to tell the story of how our iconic explorer came to be the woman we have known and loved over the past 16 odd years.

Review scores have been overwhelmingly positive about the much touted reboot of the franchise which is a shame because I’m about to piss on that parade because quite frankly I see very little to merit.

Tomb Raider of old primarily centered around the exploration aspect of just that, tomb raiding.  You’d be pushing and pulling blocks, cherylflipping switches, timing jumps and my god was it rewarding when you finally figured it all out.  There was, as with most games, the end of area boss and story scene which popped on another layer to the journey and by the time the credits rolled you understood what was going on and felt pretty good about the last 10 or so hours.

Then along came Uncharted.  Often described as Tomb Raider but with a bloke, which in fairness is a rather crude comparison but one that largely conveys the game’s direction and allows someone with no prior knowledge of the franchise to become instantly imbued with the pretty much everything they need to know about it due to the success of Tomb Raider, but, here lays the problem.  Uncharted is an action game.  A cover shooter with a jungle / desert / snow skin.  The combat is sloppy, AI predictable and the story about as loose a prostitute with the noro virus after a curry.  When I played Uncharted I couldn’t find one single redeeming feature about it, but on the flip side, I do understand its appeal.  The same appeal that lured me into the cinema to watch the latest Die Hard shambles.

So where do I begin with Tomb Raider?  The positive.

It looks fantastic.  The character animations and the overall aesthetic have had some noticeable attention paid to them making the world and those in it believable. The way in which Lara traverses certain objects make a refreshing change to the run / jump / grab and shimmy approach in previous titles.

That’s it.

sc1My first problem was roughly the first hour which serves as a tutorial. Problem being is that the entire sequence had been scrutinised, demoed and trailered to death. I knew the dialogue, I’d seen the danger and knew exactly what was about to happen. The first hour felt like a complete waste of time and descended into a rather slow paced bordom sigh fest in which I left at one point to make a cup of tea, only to find myself dead at the end of one of the lengthy Lara Croft pity party cut scene quick time events.

Swiftly moving on to problem two, that being quick time events.

The new Tomb Raider is mad on quick time events. I’m just over a quarter of the way through and they have been frequent and annoying. The prompt will usually be a waggle or press triangle which in itself is relatively unintuitive and I often felt as if my button presses weren’t registering.  So far we’ve had multiple insta-death situations where even though I knew they were coming, and what to press, it still required tedious repetition before the game finally moved me on.

The third problem with Tomb Raider is the skills and upgrade system. When has that ever been a thing. Upgrading current equipment by salvaging parts from numerous boxes that require no skill to find, results in no sense of achievment when you finally do upgrade something, and, as these salvageable parts are literally everywhere, having them so readily available removes the whole Destiny’s Child ‘I’m a survivor’ story arc. Skill upgrades seem like an after thought as they all seem to be relatively passive in activation and having bought seven of them already can safely say I see no added benefit to having them at all.

sc2

Number three. Combat. This point is more like one of those maths questions that are split across part ‘a’ and part ‘b’. Firstly, too much combat and secondly, how bad combat is. For someone who has never killed anyone before and having so much emphasis lumped on to her first kill, I find it jarring to then single handed mow down another 25-30 guys, who share the same voice, movement and behavior I might add, not 30 minutes later. Enemies can easily be grouped into melee, light and heavy classes, all of which are susceptible to head shots with your basic pistol. Some heavies will have shields which you will need to first dodge their attack, and then counter with your own. The dodge button being circle (Playstation) makes you immune to everything except bullets. Immune. I never made a conscious effort to time my so called dodge with an enemy attack, it just makes you immune. Rambo Raider: First Assault will have you exchanging bullets in staged action sequences more often then you’ve had hot dinners but with no crouch or cover button, often leaves you exposed when you think you’re safe. This is compounded by a clunky aim mechanic where old faithful auto aim or even assisted aim would have been a perfectly acceptable solution.

Four.  Environmental inconsistencies.  There are some sub quests early doors that require you to burn something.  To be fair, most things in the first quarter of Tomb Raider require you to burn something however normal fire just isn’t good enough.  You can be surrounded by fire but only be able to light your torch from fire that is present in a drum or a lantern.  Why you cant light your torch from a completely engulfed thatch house I’ll never know.

sc4

5ive.  Gear.  Gear can be generically summed up as stuff you find that you needed a while ago to access something….but you need now to get past something else.  The most ridiculous gear you’re gifted is the rope arrow that serves as a ghetto grappling hook.  In short, it allows you to latch on to other rope in order to pull down buildings, really weak doors or set up a zipline into some shooty shooty action.  Why you need to attach a rope to a door, that is locked by more rope when you have fire and a gun I do not know but hey, in the words of 2Pac, “That’s just the way it is”.

For a story that is primarily centered around survival, very little survival actually happens. You know what did survival really well? Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater. Resetting bones and eating animals to restore stamina was a great touch. Every item you will ever need in Tomb Raider is readily available, bullets are never in short supply and you never go hungry. The game will have you watch Lara go through the most ludicrous falls, be impaled on metal and partially burned and come out the other side with not much more then a dirty face and a moan.

I find the overwhelmingly positive review scores for this game nauseating as the only thing remotely similar to this Tomb Raider and any other Tomb Raider is the name.  I get that this is supposed to be a reboot, but to literally morph one of the most beloved franchises into a dreary action shooter that happens to carry a recognisable name and a face is disgraceful.

In keeping with the 10 scores this game has been receiving it seems fitting for it to receive another here.

Centigrade2

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: