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First Foray into Tomb Raider

January 7th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Gaming

So I’ve never played a Tomb Raider game before, mainly because I was never much of a platformer gamer back in the day. I liked my strategy games and flight simulators mainly. The only FPS game I’ve ever really liked (and really played) for the computer is Deus Ex (of course on console that would be Goldeneye). Then when TR transitioned to the Playstation from the computer well, I never owned a Playstation so that didn’t help either.

When I got the PS3 and my friend lent me Uncharted, that was what got me hooked on the action platformer genre. The similarities between Tomb Raider and Uncharted are striking, moreso to me because those are the only action platformers I’ve ever really played. Ledge gripping, wall climbing, running and gunning, puzzles, treasures, etc – it’s all very similar. Others with a more wider range of platformer experiences would see things differently than I of course.

I’m past the first underwater Mediterranean level and about to lay waste to a boat of pirates. So far the game has been very engaging – the puzzles are not too difficult although I admit I did take a few minutes locating the second wheel to open the underwater temple doors. Swimming underwater was easy and fun, seeing bits of seaweed and plankton floating past you adds some much needed depth to the view. The sharks are not overly-aggressive, which is nice. They don’t really chase you unless you provoke them, I was able to swim around and not have to bother shooting a single one of them. Swimming around the entire underwater area to look for treasure, I came across this little buggy artifact:

It’s just a peice of rock stuck in the middle of the water. It doesn’t move or anything and you can swim through it. I found this way out on the edges of the swimmable territory.

I guess my only major gripe so far is how the game handled the Krakken’s tentacles. How they were attached to the beast is beyond me. For example when you stir the one near the underwater entrance to the temple. That scared the shit out of me but when I cautiously peeked out of the water what do I find? A barred door I have to unlock with a puzzle. Then I proceed to climb at least 4 flights of stairs, while navigating over several pits and rock falls, before finally reaching the huge room containing the Krakken itself. That’s one long-ass tentacle! Then in the gear rooms – if you look under the ledge the tentacle was resting on, there’s no hole in the wall or anything that it could have come through to be there in the first place. Speaking of which, I hope this gear doesn’t do anything:

I’ll be submitting these two images to I Get Your Fail 😛

So the platformer stuff is real good: running, jumping, swinging, climbing, swimming – all that is handled well and I haven’t fallen to my death accidentally yet because Lara does a good job of catching herself when she approaches ledges. I love that (unlike Zelda: Twilight Princess where Link happily jumps into lava as much as possible. Grrrrrrrr). I especially like the wall climbing where you just use the L stick to navigate along the wall. Simple and effective, no need for any fancy button combos, just traverse. I hope that’s in Uncharted 2.

Oh and being entirely new to the franchise I should also mention that I don’t feel lost in the water. They have a short prequel video that contains a bunch of key scenes from earlier games to set up the backstory, and the journal Lara keeps in her PDA also reveals more about things that happened in the past which are relevant to this game. So good job there Crystal Dynamics.

Next play session I’ll be able to evaluate the running and gunning aspect, which I don’t expect will top Uncharted’s excellent combat/cover system, but we’ll see.

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