Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tomb Raider - I Have No Idea if I'm Suppose to Explore Tombs or Her Wounds.

     Tomb Raider from back when I played it during the early 2000's was about playing as an explorer of tombs.  Who oddly had stiff jumping which caused her to fall down cliffs like a manikin and fighting dinosaurs gaining wounds.  Now we are playing as a poor unfortunate soul of a super natural witch spirit thing while getting brutally beaten around.  This game seems to be one of those reboots things that is popular lately, where instead of a new IP a company just reuses an old franchise for nostalgia bucks.  It makes me think game companies took the recycle, reuse, reduce thing shamelessly at full force for everything.  But this game dishes out more pain to itself more so then I could ever do sadly.  Anyway let's talk about if this is game worth excavating for.

    The Tomb Raider as I said before is a series that was about exploring levels while doing awkward death jumps.  Searching high and low for hidden artifacts, medkits, and other things like getting eaten by a bear.  So having the series rebooted in a post Uncharted world, many people would think it would rip off the series that borrowed from it.  Ironically that isn't the case, the game feels like Metroid with out the interesting atmosphere for lack of a better description.  It's pretty much playing through the story and getting better gear to explore more of the island to FINALLY explore tombs, which I thought was the goal of the game.  Seems that the developers of this game wanted to tell a story of how Lara came into her own, as a monster known to kill anyone or thing in her way.  And it's funny to say that because everything gameplay wise feels inconsistent with what is going on with the story.

    After their boat crashes and Lara finds camp the game implies we need to hunt for food to survive a'la Metal Gear Solid 3.  Yet it's not needed, after hunting the first deer I never bothered hunting because there was no real need to outside of pretending I'm a survivalist.  After shooting the first deer we see Lara uncomfortably having to kill the creature for food, which sets the tone that she isn't into killing.  Which later on in the story she pretty much mows down the crazy cultists one after the other, it's suppose to show she grew as a character.  Personally I thought it was fitting to a degree, but it's very jarring with how far she goes.  Where in one scene she bursts through a door with the soundtrack whaling and screaming how she will kill everyone while shooting off a grenade launcher.  Granted I will admit her methods of killing can be very off putting for someone who couldn't slice a deer open originally.  Besides hunting the islands wild life (and by that I mean the non-human animals) we get into the platforming aspect the series was known for.  And it's a welcome upgrade compared to the old Tomb Raider games, I was pleased they didn't nick all of the designs from Uncharted's tomb.  Platforming here has different colored ledge's and walls to show where you can grab.  Not so obvious to where it's annoying, but not so hidden to where you are hopping up everywhere while hearing Lara huff and puff like a fat guy trying to reach the top shelf for a bag of Cheetos.  As you go through the story Lara gains new methods of getting around, though to be fair it's just different ways to climb.  Along with Lara's shift in ethics on human worth, the combat itself has been shifted to more modern gameplay.  By that I mean wave after wave of the same three types of enemy's; with a special one thrown in once and a while to keep the player from falling out of their chair from boredom.  It's pretty standard for a third person shooter to be honest.  Dull, but not to the point of wanting to drop Lara down cliffs to see how devs rendered another death scene.  The only interesting fights involve you scuttling around to hit an enemies weak point.  Besides that you mow down so many crazy cultists to the point where you ask yourself, how many of these fuckers have been stranded on this haunted island.  All while in the process of gaining XP for skills that really don't help with anything.  The only useful one is for getting more scrap, and using your Ax for attacking.  For me it's because I mostly used the bow and arrow to get headshots.  With that said it leads one to wonder what is the point of skills if they don't better your ability to liberate the head from the body of a cult member.

    During your plowing of cultists you learn that the island is indeed super natural.  As evidence shows how any vehicle who tries to save you ends up in a pile of fire and screaming terror.  Seems Lara has a knack for getting people around her killed, on purpose or not.  Even her expedition team wonders if they will live hanging out with the walking death machine.  Speaking of her teammates they're just cookie cutter background fodder.  Hardly in the game to the point where I don't remember nor care about them.  Just feeling like they are a means for Lara's end, another bullet in her chamber.  The only two who have enough spot light to matter is the scummy archaeologist who telegraphs betraying you harder then Lara shoving an ax in your skull and Sam.  Who is pretty much just a talking macguffin who won't shut up.  Yet I still didn't care about them, I just wanted to have a fight the cult leader in a way that wasn't semi scripted bullshit.  Yet the game didn't even give me that...  No instead you fight the some demon thing hyped up by cult members through out the game, and it's just a dodge and shoot battle.  But at least after that you can fight the cult leader in a lame fight with dual pistols, just like Lara did in the old games (wink wink nudge nudge).  Which would have been cool to do through out the game instead of just this one fight, but with how third person shooters are made nowadays doing so would leave Lara with more holes then a blowup doll at an orgy.

    At the end of this stupid dig through the nonsense I feel the game is average at best.  I don't get what makes Tomb Raider (The Reboot) special outside of the fact it's from the Tomb Raider franchise.  Combat feels like every other third person shooter killing waves of mindless idiots, with a leveling system that feels pointless.  Being able to increase your abilities with a weapon to get more XP (yay).  Even gun upgrades fill token, awesome I can now reload my shotgun a bit faster and blast another load slightly harder in some dude's face.  I only felt like I grew in power as I gained more weapons and even then I preferred my bow and arrow.  The game in a technical sense isn't bad, and it is entertaining to play.  I just can't help shake the feeling that while it is slightly above average it didn't do enough to help it stand out for me.

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