Tomb Raider

Developer: Core Design
Platform(s): PS1, Saturn, PC
Release Date(s): Nov 1996 (PS1), Oct 1996 (Saturn), June 1998 (PC)

Why am I even bothering to review this game? It is as mainstream as McDonalds, and would be like reviewing a chocolate chip biscuit, there is no way it is going to be in any way different from what you are imagining the game to be like in your head. However, I did just clear it, so why not, lets talk Lucozade mascots.

The set up:
Lara Croft is an accountant in a law firm, until one day, her father is killed by a man with a solid gold peg leg. Vowing revenge, she trains for several years on the same mountain Batman trained on so that she could have her revenge on this mysterious pirate killer. Little does she know, he now lives on the moon…
Nah, she actually raids tombs for a laugh.

The biggest flaw in Tomb Raider, and I’d be interested to see if they fixed it in the remake, is that there is not nearly enough story or character development to keep you interested. Lara raids three tombs in the game, to retrieve three pieces of an artifact. When she puts this together, her employer steals it and Lara chases her to Atlantis.

That’s the whole story. I’d like to say there is a little more to it than that, but it is honestly that blunt throughout the game. And maybe it’s the fact that Lara is so badly dated, but her attitude is not nearly as appealing as it is portrayed in the media. Frankly, she’s a bit of a crazy bitch. Crazy we knew, but she comes off as cold and one-dimensional.

Naturally, allowances have to be made for the age of the game itself. In fact, if the cut scenes are skipped completely, and Laras character is left completely to the imagination, it works extremely well. This is actually the best way to play the game I found, with absolutely no regard for the storyline.

It is very much the gameplay that is the focus here, and it still holds up reasonably well. There are some glaring issues. The graphics, of course, are dated. All the textures are perfectly flat and very few things move the way they’re supposed to. Lava in particular moves like a living glob of toothpaste. And a lot of items are actually in 2D, which rotate as you walk around them. Oddly, this aspect sent my sister into hysterics.

There is also the fact that Lara handles very much like a tank. Additionally, she has an incredibly sparse number of abilities, in comparison to many modern games. If she couldn’t swim, she’d probably qualify for that parking space…

Despite all these issues, the game is still very much playable. This is because some things are just inherently fun, no matter how old they are. Jumping around and shooting things is great. There is no two ways about that. And the puzzles are good and tough. Challenging. A bit too bloody challenging.

I remembered this just as I was writing it. The puzzles are a pain in the arse! Yes, they are good and challenging, and I would have left it at that, if Tomb Raider was not lacking one particularly handy modern feature. Auto-save! I can’t count the amount of times that I managed to survive an absolute gauntlet of death traps just to be killed by a random monkey or pit of spikes. If you could simply go back and redo the bit you had messed up, this would not be an issue. But far more often than not, you will be sent back, halfway through the level, to undergo the whole thing again. Grrr I say to that.

Overall:
Tomb Raider is a game that can be summed up very simply. It was a truly brilliant game upon release because of its ‘mind-blowing’ graphics and ‘revolutionary’ gameplay. It is true, at the time a lot of this game probably was mind-blowing and revolutionary, but this is not the case now. This is an example of an excellent game that has badly aged, like Madonna. You will see hundreds of great reviews for this game. However, this is a more modern perspective on things, and all that can really be said is, it’s obvious why they did a remake.

Awful Rating: 5/10

“I raid tombs” – Lara Croft (she doesn’t actually say this, but nothing she actually says is interesting)

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • I bought Tomb Raider three times…twice I saw it really cheap in shops for the PC, and twice I discovered they were cheap because they were impossible to work. Good thing everything is cheap in the Playstation Store.
  • Lara Croft’s’ chest, sharper and pointier than ever in this game. The Madonna parallel is there for a reason.
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