Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Played Lately: Tomb Raider (2013)

  • It has been a windy road that lead me to finally playing Tomb Raider, the modern, gritty reboot of the classic franchise. I first played the opening hours when my brother brought his Xbox 360 copy along for a visit. I liked it, right up until I screwed up several quick time events. Eventually, I put the game in my Amazon wish list because I thought it would fun to play on my new PS4. Then around my birthday, I bought a new computer and started reinstalling Steam games. As I was combing through my library, I discovered that past me had the foresight to pick up a copy during some sale. I thanked past me for looking out for me and installed the game.

  • I'm not one of those people who are sick of gritty reboots. In the hands of a deft storyteller, I like the new Lara. I like how she overcomes her challenges because she knows she is the only one who can. I like watching this woman discover that she is extraordinary. (I don't like the much too real death animations, but they don't seem to linger as much as I remember.) It hit me when we (Lara and I) reached the top of the radio tower. This woman does not believe in herself, but she's willing to do the hard work anyway. And as she goes along, she builds in confidence until she is ready to take charge of her situation. It's actually a very subtle change that happens over the course of many hours.

  • One concession to playability I made was to turn the combat difficulty down to easy. The last thing I want to do is replay multiple firefights when the exploration and story are what I'm really looking for. I cursed that there was no difficulty setting for the quick time events, but they seemed a little easier in this PC version. At least, I only died needlessly several times instead of the relentless cavalcade of horrific murders my slow fingers committed over and over again.

  • When it's at its best, Tomb Raider makes you feel like you are exploring a neatly crafted, if fairly linear, puzzle-like world. The back story establishes why the enviroment can differ so much from level to level. Unlike the Assassin's Creed games where you hold your stick in a direction and your avatar climbs, traversal feels like an active process. Various clues inform you of which actions to perform without flashing button prompts on the screen.

  • I did not one hundred percent the game, but I came away satisfied. The ending was intense, and there was no massive boss monster to overcome. Tomb Raider is likely to be one of my favorite games of the year.

© 2014 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

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