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Tomb Raider (2013)


Capwn
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Are the locations on the island all linked together? Will i be led back into areas that i've already been to before, or do you get pushed forwards all the time and need to use the fast travel option to go and explore previous areas?

I've just arrived at the Forest and due to what's happened in the story, it feels like a good time to give the exploration/collectables more of a chance.

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The old games still exist and I hardly think you can perpetuate a franchise called Tomb Raider beyond an origin story without more tombing!

Hopefully with less handholding next time.

I've just arrived at the Forest and due to what's happened in the story, it feels like a good time to give the exploration/collectables more of a chance.

Eh? The forest is the first area

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But Smitty there's so few 'tombs' in the game if they didn't signpost they were there, a huge percentage of people would miss them ;)

TBH, out of any game, TR seems perfect for Red Dead Redemption style treasure maps. These could have led you to the secret Tombs. That way there would have been a real sense of exploration and discovery. Or failing that, just use audio cues, so when you're close to a secret Tomb there's a subtle hint, again letting you explore and discover things for yourself.

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Eh? The forest is the first area

Just got to a bit where its midnight and i'm about to enter a Forest. For ages now i've been expecting to finish a section and end up back in a previous area. There now seems to be a natural break in the story, so it feels like i won't be spoiling the action and pacing of the game if i try collecting some stuff. Thing is, i keep moving forward then the next big action sequence kicks in and it ruins it if you stop and look around.

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It's a reboot. She isn't a tomb raider yet. Hence no tombs, I can take this as an explanation without any problem.

I can't, because the game needs them. The problem is that the game is uncompelling without them, with the whole TR aspect acting as window dressing for their cliched action-a-thon. It's the same reason why Lara farts out little hurble-blurbles when you pick stuff up, you can virtually hear the devs straining to reassure you that Lara is an archaeologist, really she is, and that's a a crucial part of the game, honestly it is. Look, Lara just said this was a purse from the late Bing-Bong dynasty, how can you say this isn't a Tomb Raider game?

Besides, your defence is wrong - there are tombs in the game and Lara does raid them. They are just largely optional and extremely simplistic. They're there, in some form, they are just rubbish and the game has no interest in them - shooting people in the head is far more interesting to the devs (even though we've all played this stuff before and seen better elsewhere). It's more Man Killer than it is Tomb Raider, but that doesn't mean that those sadly undeveloped elements aren't in there.

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Yep.

Troll troll troll, bait bait bait. If you could perhaps make an argument or provide some insight into your experience of the game that would be nice. I've played a lot more of the game since I was last in here, but it's hardly my fault that it's such a repetitive game that I feel the need to offer up impressions that are repetitive.

You'll notice that I came back and said I was enjoying the game a lot more, and that I've given opinions on various new things and ongoing stuff. But of course you pick out one half of a sentence because your interest is not in talking about this game or debating some part of it with me, but in attacking me for daring to write more than the unspecified number of posts and types of observations you find acceptable.

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Tomb Raider was always about shooting things. Usually when cartwheeling or jumping backwards shooting polygonal tigers. Lets not create some mythic archeological history for the series. It was always Bing Bong dynasty.

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Tomb Raider was always about shooting things.

Compete nonsense. It was always about raiding tombs with a bit of combat. Man, I really did think after this actually coming out and people playing loads of it that some of you would drop the pretence that it isn't radically different from the previous games. I mean, for better or worse we could talk about the reality of the actual game, but instead people want to laughingly pretend that it's just business as usual with some new tricks. I can understand people enjoying this, but I can't really understand people claiming it's no different from the old games.

Are you one of these people who argue Uncharted is just a better TR rather than a completely different beast?

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As for 'Bing Bong dynasty', the last three TR games had some really good mythology, particularly Underworld with its unified legends theme, and certainly all of them were primarily focussed on tombs/ancient shit and mythology both in their gameplay and their narrative. Those little object descriptions are a blatant attempt by the mods to shove some TR feeling back into the games, except in the old games you'd be marvelling at glorious tombs rather than the fascinating Wikipedia entry behind a piece of collectible tat.

That said, some of the few potentially intriguing bits occur during the very few parts where Lara is talking about history or mythology, because the game threatens to offer the sense of mystery and excitement at uncovering the past as the old games did. That sense usually only lasts about 30 seconds though, until the next explosion, QTE, or snore inducing cutscene.

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I just want to say: Smitty, thanks for your posts in this thread, I've really been interested in your breakdown of the issues you have with the game. That's not sarcasm, by the way - I've enjoyed all of your posts, in much the same way as I enjoy reading a good review or analysis of a game in a decent magazine/website. So, yeah, whatever El Spatula might think, some of us appreciate you writing your perspective on things (much as I enjoyed your posting in the Spec Ops thread, though I can't recall if I ever said anything at the time) - you're one of the people who makes Discussion threads worth reading.

Me too, actually. There's been a lot of trolling in here, but very little of it from Smitty, who's nearly entirely made interesting posts about the game.

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Smitty, you might want to revisit Tomb Raider 2 and 3. I don't think there's barely a level that counts as a tomb in either of them.

Funnily enough I was just thinking this, half the Tomb Raider series isn't situated in Tombs. Some of my favourite moments have had nothing to do with Tombs, Venice in 2 for example.

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I enjoyed UC 1&2 but have enjoyed this more. The fact that it has reinvented itself in a different form to the legacy games doesn't really bother me at all. Great few hours of entertainment; but we can't all like the same things now can we?

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Ok, whoever negged me, care to list the tombs in Tomb Raider 2 and 3?

I didn't neg, but surely it's not about LITERAL tombs, but the more puzzley nature of the stages. The figuring out where to go. What that switch does. Etc.

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Smitty, you might want to revisit Tomb Raider 2 and 3. I don't think there's barely a level that counts as a tomb in either of them.

This is just semantics about what is a tomb again. 'Tombs' are just old abandoned places with complex platforming and some mystery or piece of history at their heart. Yeah not every level in every TR games fits this description, but they are overwhelmingly this sort of thing - big, complex, old, abandoned and full of history. When they're not they're still classic TR gameplay - work your way around a complex space using all of Lara's acrobatic abilities. People keep bringing up the ship - so what? It's all of the things above, and it's at the bottom of the sea! isn't it a fascinating space to explore?

It's not an issue of wallpaper or styling that's at stake here. I mean there's concrete bunkers in this game and they'd be just as suitable for a tomb-like environment as anything else, if you could find a way to make navigating them interesting and have there be something fascinating to find in them.

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I didn't neg, but surely it's not about LITERAL tombs, but the more puzzley nature of the stages. The figuring out where to go. What that switch does. Etc.

APM pretends not to understand this simple distinction for the purposes of argument, as does Disciple. One of the levels in Legend starts off in a decrepit theme park and you've got stuff like the Russian research base up in the mountains. Both abandoned, both old, both unique interesting spaces, wonderfully atmospheric and a chock a block with platforming and interlocking areas. I mean, an ice-encrusted abandoned Soviet paranormal research base is not an everyday environment, is it? Exploring that sort of space is fascinating, whether it's 60 years old or 2000 years old.

What form the 'tomb' takes really doesn't matter much.

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Smitty, you might want to revisit Tomb Raider 2 and 3. I don't think there's barely a level that counts as a tomb in either of them.

Yeah sure, Smitty could say 'the physical navigation of tombs/ruins/rural and/or occasionally urban environments', but what's the fucking point? We all know what he's talking about.

This game stands on its own strengths, so can we stop using semantics and generally being deliberately obtuse to obfuscate discussion of its faults?

As an aside, I'm replaying Legend which I picked in the sale XBLA sale alongside this. Other than the opportunity to basque in nostalgia, it's offering an interesting contrast. It still plays really well, the platforming mechanics and controls haven't aged a day but it's the secrets that are the heart of the game and they're really well done. Hilariously it does still have a worse frame rate than the new one.

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If that's how you want to define the word tomb then so be it. I'm not purposely trying to undermine you or anything of the sort.

However, imo, those games had run their course. Games with levels based around perfectly placed ledges and hand holds in years old places are a thing of the past. The platforming in games like Uncharted and Enslaved et al, are to me, proof of this. In game worlds that look this good, a series of perfectly placed ledges just looks... well, silly. I am of the opinion that those kind of games are a thing of the past like the original Resident Evil games, an anachronism born out of technological limitations. But that's just me, and you may not agree, and that's fine, but at least you know where I'm coming from.

One last thing on this game, Lara doesn't go looking for tombs, she goes looking for adventure, and in a terrible cliche, adventure finds her. It states this right at the beginning, so the game doesn't missell itself. And finally, Lara herself says how much she hates tombs in the game itself. Having not finished it yet, I don't know whether her opinion of them changes, but I'm guessing it does at some point.

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This is a bit long so I've spoilered it, its what I wrote in my review of the game

http://bitparade.co....cle.php?id=3024

It takes a brave soul to “reboot” a franchise, particularly one thats as legendary within its field as Tomb Raider is, but Crystal Dynamics and Square-Enix have decided to give it a go and if all of the marketing material we've been subjected to during its development is to be believed, they're going about it in a rather controversial manner that could make Lara Croft a key player within the videogames industry again. However, said marketing material has left a rather confusing message, as though Square-Enix aren't particularly sure who the game should be aimed at. We've been subjected to a bunch of rather violent, if not “torture porn”-esque, trailers that no doubt appeal to the man children out there, but theres also the side of the marketing that tells us this is Lara's most character driven and, more importantly, emotionally mature tale to date.

The confused nature seems to have spread to the game itself. Initially, it feels as though the developers want the experience to be one of survival, that would fit in with the story surrounding Lara in this new origins tale afterall, but the manner in which you're encouraged to play the game and the pace at which everything moves along suggests that this is more of an all out action game. One of your first tasks has you hunting a deer, which Lara sobs over and apologises to as she feasts upon its carcass at this point you'd be forgiven for thinking that the new direction of survival is really going to work out, but this is the first and the last time that you have to actually hunt for food, it never appears again. It feels like a bit of a missed opportunity, the game instead chooses to rely upon a regenerating health system like we get with every other action game on the market now and thus Crystal Dynamics have ejected the chance to develop what could have been a key part of the games own character by encouraging you to hunt for food and use the plentiful campsites to cook it and then ultimately use like the old franchise's health packs. Likewise, ammunition, for your bow and your guns, is scattered everywhere. You're never left wanting regardless of how you approach the games action sequences. Which is a shame, as again, there's an element of the developer wanting you to hunt and scavange for ammunition. One skill upgrade allows you to retrieve your arrows from fallen enemies and animals, but within the confines of what the developer has actually provided the player with it becomes redundant.

The plot elements are rather unfulfilled too. Early on in the game, Lara is a quivering mess. Shortly after killing a person for the first time she's genuinely shocked, but again thats short lived and rather shallow as she soon states to Roth (one of the key characters) that it was easier than she expected it to be. Rather than any further question being raised, this is dismissed with Roth simply stating that “she's a Croft” which is somehow used as the reason for her being able to kill hordes of people, regardless of the cirumstances (and in the circumstances given by the game, it would be completely understandable for her to have to kill others but this is never really addressed). These early moments feel like a falsified attempt to create sympathy for Lara's cause. Before long Lara is literally screaming for the blood of inhabitants of the island her and her colleagues and friends find themselves on. It all feels a bit weird in this post Spec Ops: The Line and The Walking Dead world. Both of those games allowed the characterisation to progress and Spec Ops in particular felt like it questioned the motives of the protagonist, the antagonist and the player themselves. Now, I personally don't expect every game to raise questions of morality or give us deep, interesting characters, but as mentioned previously, that is essentially what we were promised. An interesting origins story that would make Lara a more believable character in a more believable (and brutal) world than what was offered in previous games. Unfortunately it feels like the player has been sold short on this front.

The exploration, unfortunately, also suffers. There's plenty to see and do, but it all feels unimportant, it doesn't really have any meaningful use within the context of the game other than to fluff it all out a bit. The games titular tombs are all single room, optional affairs, they have no use other than to help fill a bullet point on a statistics screen and unlock achievements or trophies depending upon the platform you're playing on. They're all hidden, which is fine, but the challenge of discovering them is taken away from the player by the amount of sign posting and handholding the game throws at the player. As soon as you're close to one, a chiming type noise plays and a pop-up notification flashes up on the screen stating that an “Option Tomb is nearby”. It's not the only bit of handhold the game features either. Spend more than ten seconds trying to solve anything and you'll be given a hint, usually its telling you to hit L2 to bring up survival mode, but the game also likes to remind you of the various skills that you've been given at every little opportunity. This handholding has also taken the risk of the franchises key draw, the exploration of the environments. Gone are the leaps of faith, if it can't be made, Lara won't do it, the player is fenced in and in a move to take away the skill of keeping character momentum as an attribute of the player, you no longer have to make Lara swing or hop when its needed, she'll automatically launch herself of anything thats been designed with this purpose in mind. All too often control is ripped from the player, either because the plot calls for that obligatory moment that all third person games now have where the character is slowed to a walking pace whilst he/she chats to someone over a radio, other times the camera twists in a different direction so that the developer forces the player to look upon the piece of scenery that they have created, its never done in a way that tries to bring attention to something that the player can do, only for something for them to see. These are both criticisms that could be levelled at many other games, but they both seem to be more prevalent here. The player doesn't even have the option to crouch themselves and using ducking behind cover or being in a “ready” position with weapon drawn is automatically taken by the character.

Thankfully the auto-cover is never much of a problem and actually leads me on to the games strong points. The combat is genuinely good. The bow is particularly satisfying to use in such situations and has the versatility of being able to fire “fire arrows”. It can also be used to traverse the environment by firing ropes across pre-defined area's and can set alight to specific obstacles in order to solve puzzles. Despite my earlier criticsms of hand-holding when tackling certain obstacles or when popping in and out of cover, movement is genuinely enjoyable. Lara moves in a believably fluid way, her animations aren't stilted or advertised with no specific queues making her feel less like an on-screen caricature than she has ever felt. The inclusion of subtle, but incredibly believable, movements like putting a hand against a tree as you move past or gradually, slowly and silently crouching as you approach some bushes give her an uncannily lifelike appearance that makes the game a joy to watch.

There's one particular moment, and its not even a key point of the game, where all of these positive points really stand out. You're in a wooded area at night and there are a number of guards doing patrols all of whom are carrying torches. By slowly, quietly making your way from tree to tree and using some of the raised area's you can take each one out silently in a manner which feels so much more natural than many of the more dedicated stealth titles currently on the market, and this is where Tomb Raider excels. Forget all the marketing stuff, forget whats gone before and this reboot is a genuinely exciting adventure title. Okay, so there are elements that could really do with being filled out considerably and hopefully if a sequel is green-lighted then Crystal Dynamics will do just that, but what they have actually given us here is a highly enjoyable game, that whilst it shares many similarities with other titles on the market, it does so in a much more believable and enjoyably effortless way. Hopefully this is Crystal Dynamics testing the waters of what the fanbase want, afterall, rebooting a franchise as beloved Tomb Raider must be incredibly difficult, and whilst fans of previous instalments may be dissapointed with many aspects of this release, they should also take heart that there are some incredibly interesting foundations for some rather sensible game mechanics here. Develop that survival element more and give us proper tombs to explore, remove some of the Uncharted style elements and Tomb Raider could become as important as it was all those years ago again.

again, apologies for the length (and the link and the poor use of paragraphs) I don't usually post my own writing anywhere like this anymore.

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