Today I find myself yet again sitting behind my desk with nothing to do. So instead of the usual (watch QI) I’ve decided to do something a little bit more constructive. I’ve decided to go on an adventure. Searching for the lost kingdom of the Yamatai on a remote island deep inside the Dragons Triangle far off the coast of Japan. It’s here I must learn to survive if I’m to ever find my way home. I am Lara Croft and I am a survivor… I’m not really, I’m actually overweight and jobless. Anyway, here’s Tomb Raider.
The opening sequence begins with Lara and the rest of the Scooby Gang sailing towards the lost kingdom of Yamatai, which just happens to be located within the Dragon’s Triangle, a dangerous no go area for all things maritime. This scares the jinkies out of some of the crew, but not Lara, no. She’s out to prove herself as a real archaeologist like her farther before her. Naturally as to be expected, shit goes down, the ship gets ripped in two and Lara and the rest of the Village People are stranded and looking for a way home.
I’ve enjoyed the Tomb Raider series since the beginning but given the fall in standards throughout the series it was defiantly due an over-haul sooner rather than later. So when I heard that a reboot was on the way I was really looking forward to it. When the first trailers and game footage was released at E3 in 2012 I was even more so. Then I got a copy, played it, put it down to sleep now and again, then completed it and thought to myself “For a reboot they really haven’t changed a lot”. The story still had the stain of the weird and wacky like all Tomb Raiders before it. Which is a shame because it starts off so well. Trapped on a remote island, good, island is a home to a psychopathic cult, understandable, psychopaths believe that the storms surrounding the island are caused by a goddess’s vengeful soul, far-fetched but as long as they aren’t right about any of th… oh, they are right? Dam, and I was hoping the series had before serious.
Tomb Raider is a good example of why you shouldn’t get excited about a game based on it’s trailers alone. For example, the trailers would have you believe that the game had a whole island to play around on, nope, you explore less than a third of the island even then it’s just linear interconnected corridors with the odd larger area to roam around. Also if the trailers were to be believed there would be survival mechanic in which you must find time to eat, sleep, drink and heal like Metal Gear Solid except without all the snakes. Again, you’d be wrong, there’s one moment at the beginning where you must hunt deer and make a fire in a tutorial esque fashion and after that it’s never seen again. It’s as if the game suddenly caught a bout of amnesia, came to next to a copy of Uncharted and continued like that was the norm. Now, I like the Uncharted series, but I like Uncharted being Uncharted, not Tomb Raider being Uncharted. The jumpy explory bits expected from a Tomb Raider game are as good as it’s ever been but when the actiony shooty bits start you might as well be playing Uncharted if Nathan Drake was a British, student girl on a gap year gone horribly wrong.
The game was described as telling the story of how Lara changed from a young naive child to a battle hardened, stone cold killer. Bless the game because you can tell it’s trying to humanise Lara but fails in it’s consistency. For example when she first kills a deer, she’s crying and is apologising to it. Or when she kills her first person after her attempted “rape” she’s crying, in distress and mentally and physically exhausted, feeling hopeless and overwhelmed by the situation she’s in. At this point you think “wow, this is a pretty dark, serious Lara”. Seconds later however, she capping crazy psychopaths like it’s going out of fashion. At that point all seriousness is lost and the series falls back into old habits again.
Now for my final thought. Tomb Raider really does suffer from a lack of ambition. It starts off very well by characterising what a good reboot should be. It’s new but has a sense of familiarity to it. Sadly though this drive isn’t continued throughout the game, it’s lost after the first half an hour, becoming less like a new spirit child and more like the old one in new pyjamas. The set for a serious, darker Tomb Raider is lost in favour for the same old song and dance from years gone by. Not that it was a bad game, in it’s own merits it’s one of the stronger games of the series but it had the potential to be so much more than it is. And on that bombshell it’s time for me to end, thank you very much for reading, Goodnight. *Then plays Jessica by The Allman Brothers*