Friday, 15 June 2007

Tomb Raider review (finally...)

After countless days of expectation, here it is at last, my review of Tomb Raider 1 for the almighty Saturn!

Read on, dear children...

The first thing anyone talks about this game is, obviously, the gameplay, since the whole reason why the game was a success was because of its innovative and responsive gameplay (ok, that and Lara’s boobs…).

The thing is, controlling Lara today is not really what it used to be, so, instead of being amazed with the endless possibilities (you can jump, climb, roll, hang on ledges, etc, etc…) most gamers today will rant about how slowly she turns, how rigid she moves and how long she takes to stop after a sprint, resulting in an inevitable fall from a high place.

This takes me to the probably worst thing about this game. It is so fucking easy to die! You’re trapped between an enemy and a wall, you die. You do a standing jump, can’t make it, you die. You do a running jump, the ledge is too close, you smash your face against it and you die. You jump too soon, you die. You jump too late, you die. You die. You die! You DIE!!!

...let a video demonstrate...



If this is bad enough on the pc version, where you can save anywhere, imagine in the Saturn version, where you can only save when you find save points in the form of some crystals, and, to make it better, you only find 2 or 3 of them in a level that takes from 30 min to a whole hour to complete. FUCK!

Of course the game has some positive aspects too, so let’s talk about them for a minute. For a start, back in the days it was different from everything you had seen. Here you control Lara Croft (don’t tell me you didn’t know that…), probably the sexiest grave robber, err… tomb raider ever, in a quest to find a powerful artifact known as the Scion. In order to do that you’ll travel around the world visiting 4 main areas; Peru, Greece, Egypt and finally Atlantis (let me say that these levels probably aren’t what you’re thinking, whatever it is that you’re thinking…).

In each level you’ll invariably have to find keys, activate switches, kill some animals (and later some more paranormal beings) and jump, jump, jump (and die, die, die…). The focus on the puzzles and the exploration make for a slow paced game, so if you’re expecting a shooting fest, look other way. This, in addiction to the hard nature of the game and the controls that today don’t seem nearly as good as in 1996, makes this game appropriated only for the pacient retrogamer.

Another good thing about this title is the presentation, with varied locations (the grey caves where you start contrast with the brown of the Greece levels and the yellow of the Egypt ones) and an awesome level design. This may not appeal to everyone, though, because, although the level design is really great, this makes for more open-ended levels instead of the linear design many gamers like. As it is, expect to spend a lot of time thinking about what to do next, since that isn’t always obvious.

But the graphics also have negative aspects about them, with the framerate being the worst. When you’re walking in corridors or something like it it’s all fluid and fine, but when you reach a large area (and there are many of them) the game slows down to the point it affects gameplay. At first you forgive this, thinking that the detail demands sacrifices, but as time passes by you start to get really annoyed by this.


What makes me think is, they said that the Saturn version had worst graphics compared to the PS1 but had faster gameplay. Well, I can see the “worst graphics” part, but I can’t really see where is this “faster gameplay” they talk about…


Anyway, at least the sound is the same everywhere, so you can expect the same atmospheric soundtrack the PS1 or PC players are listening to.


So, overall, what’s my opinion about this title? Well, Tomb Raider sure was a great game for it’s time, but it didn't aged so well, and today even a retrogamer, at least one that never played it 10 years ago, may not like it. I still recommend this for the more patient gamers out there or any collector that wants to have a piece of gaming history in his collection, but all the others should play TR Anniversary instead. Believe me, you'll have much more fun.



PS – I know a lot of you guys were expecting the “greatest review ever seen”, so you might be a little disappointed with this modest piece of writing. To make up for that, here is a photo that might sheer you up

And a bonus comic (click to enlarge)

7 comments:

Caleb said...

Nice review!

I like the inclusion of the Ctr*Alt*Delete webcomic.

Having played TombRaider only on a Demo PC and later versions of it I can't say what my impressions are.

However, from what I remember the points you made seem to be correct.

fatherkrishna said...

Brilliant! Utterly brilliant! I have this esteemed title and having never played any Lara on any console I actually was blown away by the Saturn version and it's gameplay, although I never got past the first set of caves even with a walkthrough!

This was not because I lost interest in the game, more to do with a new batch of games being bought including Head Hunter.

However, this stunning review has made me want to pick up this title and play it BEFORE I try Anniversary.

As well as excellent writing, the illustrations made me lugh out loud!

Great post as usual Nebacha!

J said...

I had no idea you could save anywhere on the PC version. The PlayStation version also had the save crystal dealio too. It definitely causes you to approach the game differently in comparison to the later installments where you could save anywhere.

Good review. I still hold the original in high regard. It was definitely a breath of fresh air when it first arrived.

gnome said...

You brilliant reviewer, you! Following Father's steps, are we?

Hilarious read, too.

The Elderly said...

A very good review... it pains me to see lara die so often, but you are quite right it was a frustrating element of the game.....

sigh!....

(stares at photo.. cheers up.....)

fatherkrishna said...

It is a rather nice photo isn't it?

I can't decide which one I like the most, so I'll have them all...

What? I'm only allowed one? OK Angelina... You're coming with me...

The Elderly said...

no no.. foul play.. you cant'.. why i've had my eye on her for..

(falls to his knees...)

please FK for all that's sacred.. don't take Angelina away... she's all I've left.. that and the chip and fish fantasy....

...(looks pleadingly in FK's eyes...)

...please don't.....

(a tear forms in the old mans eye.....)