Friday, January 10, 2014

Tomb Raider: massacres

This is the 2013 game called Tomb Raider, as opposed to the 1996 game called Tomb Raider.  I completed the 1996 game called Tomb Raider back in 1998, after I completed the 1997 game called Tomb Raider II.  I also played a significant amount of the 2007 game called Tomb Raider Anniversary (on the PS2) which was a remake of the 1996 game called Tomb Raider but not the 2013 game called Tomb Raider.  I'm not sure if I completed that.

I hate it when games have the same name.

Anyway, the 2013 game called Tomb Raider is actually really good.  It's easily recognisable as a game in the Tomb Raider series, not only because of the name - there's a lot of exploration, working out how to get to different places, and an athletic female hero.  However, there are also a lot of deaths, which goes against some of the plot of the original games.  In the first Tomb Raider, the bloke who employs Lara and then subsequently double crosses her is meant to be the first human she ever kills.  In this game, which I think is set before that first game, she's gunning down hundreds.

I don't remember a Tomb Raider which is quite so bloodthirsty, in fact.  There's a flimsy story excuse as to why Lara is happy to shoot men, along the lines of them being brainwashed and it being a kill-or-be-killed situation, but when Tomb Raider II came out one of the chief complaints was that Lara was too gun-happy and this is magnitudes worse.  At times it's less of an exploration game and more of a strategic cover shooter.  Hiding behind crates and popping out to kill enemies is eerily reminiscent of Read Dead Redemption and LA Noire.

Despite this (and the heterogeneity of modern game design), I'm enjoying the game.  There's no global travels for Lara here, no separation of the game into areas and levels - instead, as I explore the island more I'm appreciating the value in getting to know one area so well.  It helps, of course, that this one island seems to include tropical beaches and snow-capped mountains.  There's a good sense of geography in the game, though, and some of the scenery is spectacular.

I'll continue to play this, no doubt, although I am starting to tire of the excessive grittiness and attempts to shock.  I've lost count of the number of cutscenes with Lara covered in blood.

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