Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
04 July 2006
Tomb Raider, you fools... not Urban Raider
In the original Tomb Raider, Lara Croft rode to the top of a skyscraper on a cut elevator cable, broke into the Natla Industries offices on the top floor, and found clues that led her to her next exotic destination. In Tomb Raider: Legend, Lara jumps from one skyscraper to another on a motorcycle, from that one to yet another on a zipline, infiltrates a Yakuza penthouse, and battles the boss under a glass dome on the roof.

The former: easy and fun. The latter: trying and unsatsifying.

The difference is that Lara's urban adventure in the original game was a stylish 2 minute cut-scene while this new game makes it into a plodding venture that took me over an hour to complete.

Ultimately, I don't think it's the urban environment's design that kills the fun. Rather, it's that Lara just doesn't appear to belong in that setting. Starting with Tomb Raider 2 these kinds of adventures have been a standard part of the series, but to date it hasn't been handled in a way that didn't strain my suspension of disbelief.

In a traditional tomb raiding setting I can accept artificial boundaries. Underground caves, mountaintop fortresses, even underwater shipwrecks are all naturally contained settings. But on the streets of Paris in Angel of Darkness or in the bizarre opera house of Tomb Raider 2, the expectations of a more familiar reality make it difficult for me to believe that Lara has to get from one building to the next on a makeshift zipline or through a field of broken glass through some contrived climbing and jumping exercises.

If the Tokyo level in Tomb Raider: Legend had been handled in a cool cutscene, or been replaced with a non-shooting sneaking mission, I might have been happier. As it is, I'd rather Crystal Dynamics look back at the original game, as they said they did when making Legend, and realize that one of the coolest moments of the early game was watching a movie of Lara -- as opposed to playing as Lara -- in a city and scaling a skyscraper.
--Matt Matthews at 12:23
Comment [ 1 ]

Comments on this post:

I feel your pain. I recently got CJ out of Los Santos in in GTA:SA, and though it's humorous the first time you hear the Dolly Parton sound-alike DJ talk about signification and dialectics, the area gets old quick. I'm only one mission in, but why do I want to take my mob guy out to the farm? This feels like a sitcom that's jumped the shark (Will & Grace are in Green Acres!) instead of a natural extension of the genre/fantasy I thought I was experiencing.

In GTA3, the "farmland" between cities was a bridge. Forget that the cities were insanely close -- I think there's a parallel with the cutscene remarks you make. Skip making me play the parts of the game I don't care for or don't fit in with the idiom. Gimme what makes the game singularly enjoyable.

By Blogger rufbo, at 04 July, 2006 15:18  

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