I just finished playing Tomb Raider. Here’s what I thought of it, my opinions about the game and the feelings it left me with.
Raiding My Back Catalogue
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to play 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot. I knew it got good reviews when it came out. I knew it had an issue with ludonarrative dissonance (I’ll talk about that later). But that was 7 years ago. The world has changed; technology has advanced; games have changed. Was it going to hold up?
Well the short answer is yes. Review over, we’re all good. But really, I want to talk about a few things specifically.
The first is Lara Croft herself. She’s an actual human character now! She has a backstory, emotions, opinions. It’s like she’s an actual human person!
Admittedly, it’s been a long time since I last played a Tomb Raider game – probably 20 years if I’m being honest. Unless you count the Lara Croft spinoff games, Temple of Osiris and Guardian of Light. So that’s to be expected. But the way she was framed in certain scenes was genius.
Every Frame a Painting
The jungle starts out misty, dark and foreboding. When you go into caves, the camera pulls right up to Lara, drawing attention to the frightened look on her face. Common cinematic tricks to make you empathise with her, without clunky dialogue and long conversations.
But as you progress through the story; as Lara grows in strength, power and determination, the colours gets more saturated. The skies start to clear. You climb a lot of things, getting higher and higher in a symbolic rise from the ashes. It’s all very clever and was not lost on me, despite all my years as a very cynical man. The art direction is amazing.
There’s Always a But…
That ludonarrative dissonance is definitely at play here. Early in the story, Lara is freaked out and struggling to deal with having killed someone. But you’ve actually happily mowed down a whole bastion of troops along the way – and you continue to do so.
Unfortunately I don’t have a solution. Removing the combat would definitely have slowed the game down a bit too much. And to be honest, some of the later (absolutely brutal) abilities that you unlock could easily be tied to some kind of PTSD episode – it’s just that the game never tries to explain the disconnect. Thankfully it’s actually pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.
A minor complaint I have is with the camera. In a few places it felt like the game was trying to push it out of my control. I understand that during certain areas you might want to direct players to look at a specific point. Hell, Uncharted does this a lot too. But it wasn’t subtle. It was very obviously taking control away from me when I was trying to look where I was going. Again, not game-breaking by any means, but a little frustrating. I complain about this a couple of times in some of my highlights.
My Last Word on Tomb Raider
I enjoyed the story (despite the obvious-from-the-start “bad guys”) and I really loved the game. It just felt great to play. Tomb Raider was exactly what I expected it to be, and just what I wanted. A great series for me to look into now that I don’t have a Playstation for Uncharted!