Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Played Lately: Tomb Raider (2013)

  • Okay, I actually played this nearly two months ago, so "Lately" is not the right word. Just bear with me, please, because this is still important.

  • When our family came to the town to celebrate my daughter's second birthday, my brother brought along a copy of the latest Tomb Raider game. The two of us tend to stay up late and catch up on gaming since we rarely see one another. So we decided to pop in the disc and see how far I could get before I passed out.
  • As would be expected, Tomb Raider looks amazing. The environments are detailed and beautiful. Climbing around, leaping and grabbing, and shooting dudes is all satisfying visually. And, of course, Lara herself looks great. The well-documented makeover really brings her to life in a way that has been lacking in prior games. (My proclivity is to mention that her breasts are much less pneumatic, but this recent article by Jenn Frank has me second guessing whether I should care so much.)

  • The gameplay is surprisingly similar to the earlier games, though I'm not sure why I assumed otherwise. There is all of the exploration, puzzle solving, and combat that you would expect. You can tell the Crystal Dynamics has been at this a while as it is quite polished. They've just updated everything to match modern sensibilities. I had quite a lot of fun for those first several hours. Some of it was nostalgia, but it would not have worked if it wasn't a really good game. Except for one thing.

  • I do not, and I never will, understand why this game needs Quick Time Events. It really doesn't, but they can't help but put in several "Press X to not die" sections. It is so boring. And I am so very bad at them. It's just one button, but it invariably takes me three tries to get them right. And god help me if they string multiple prompts together because I have to learn each in triplicate. So in one case, I say Lara die several times because I can't react to the prompts. I have to memorize them. Slowly. It throws the pace of the game completely off and kills whatever tension they were hoping to build. I'd rather just watch a movie than be forced to endure so many pointless failures before I can get on with the game.

  • This is the reason I've been holding onto this post, even though the actual play took place in early March. This faux gameplay is a travesty. It's a design tool that needs to be put back in the drawer and locked up. I will probably play Tomb Raider again because there is so much that I do like. But it's sad that this one part can spoil so much of it.

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

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