Tomb Raider. Possibly one of the most iconic gaming series to have ever been released on a console. Even if like me you aren’t really a gamer, you will have at least heard of both Tomb Raider and the series’ main star, Lara Croft. Revered by hardcore gamers and hardcore perverts everywhere, Lara is without a shadow of a doubt a pop culture icon. So really as a new game in the series is scheduled this year, it was no real surprise the mystical being Roberto lobbed this onto my lap for me to try. I tried not to let the fact he was cackling unnerve me. Or the fact he wasn’t wearing trousers while he stroked the cover.
Now I do have to confess here, I have actually played Tomb Raider before. It was a simpler time, where HD televisions were a thing of fantasy and the use of 3D was merely constricted to those dinosaur magazines (remember those?). Yes, I played Tomb Raider 2. And yes, I remember absolutely nothing about the game. apart from the fact you could lock the butler in the fridge. Potential homicide aside, Tomb Raider 2 left no real impression on me. Thankfully its latest incarnation, Tomb Raider Underworld, did.
The story is basically this. Lara is trying to find out what happened to her mother, who went missing in a plane crash, when she was a child. Along the way, she fights octopuses, mercenaries, giant spiders and viking zombies. In terms of the story, I’m a huge fan of Norse mythology so I found that aspect of the game very enjoyable.
To be frank, like Uncharted before it, I found myself enjoying the game immensely. However, unlike Uncharted, I actually found Tomb Raider more challenging. Indeed, the RPG format offered a lot of flexibility within the game, combining aspects of shooting, puzzle solving and action adventure. The puzzles, assuming you’re not cheating and using walkthroughs (like I would never do…*awkward cough*), will require some thought on your part and will keep you pretty engaged for a while.
The controls are pretty straight forward, meaning a non-gamer can pick it up fairly swiftly. For example, if you despise shooters, the game offers auto lock on your enemies. To a non-gamer like me, it made the challenge of shooting the bats hell bent to chew my face off a mere formality. As a whole, there’s plenty to like about this game.
That being said, this game is far from perfect. Namely, there was one main culprit of why I was unable to finish this game, and no it wasn’t the janitor in Scooby Doo. No, the mask was ripped off to reveal the true mastermind, the god awful camera angles. You see, gentle viewer, somewhere in Eidos, the man in charge of that aspect of the game got terribly confused. He made the somewhat understandable mistake of confusing the command “close up of where I want to jump” with “I want an extreme close-up of Lara’s arse”. Now I understand the idea of appealing to your market. However, when you’ve died for the 50th time and all you have to console you is the image of Miss Croft’s backside on your screen before she hits the floor because you jumped in the wrong direction again, it can become somewhat tedious.
So what was my final impression of this game.? Overall, I think there’s a lot for the casual gamer to enjoy. However, for a first time gamer new to this series, I would seriously recommend playing an older Tomb Raider (particularly Tomb Raider Legend for this series) before inserting this game into your console. As this game can be picked up at your local CEX for less than a fiver, I firmly believe its worth the investment.
The upshot is this: you’ll be able to do it, and you’ll probably enjoy it, but be prepared to be frustrated. You’re going to die. A lot. But lets be honest, for a gamer overcoming the challenge is all part of the fun.