Tomb Raider: A Game that Refuses to Let you Actually Play the Damn Thing

August 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Back in the days when I wasn’t really sure what the internet was for I used to buy the ‘Official Playstation 2 Magazine UK’ on a fairly regular basis. That monthly trip down to the newsagent was one filled with great anticipation – an act which provided my only real connection with the wider gaming community. Back in those days of course, any publication of this type spent the majority of its time dealing in those staples of video game journalism, reviews and previews, but every month the editors of OPSM2 would fill their back pages with more opinionated content and one month this took the form of an article entitled:

“Haters of the Greats”

Actually, that probably wasn’t the title at all, but it’s the best I’ve got for you right now. At any rate, one particular complaint from the article felt especially relevant to me as I recently made my way through Tomb Raider (2013). The complaint was regarding Metal Gear Solid 2 (then a recent release for the Playstation 2) and, if memory serves, went something like as follows this:

“Imagine you are sitting in an amazingly powerful sports car, a Ferrari or a Porsche, one that’s capable of absolutely bombing it down the motorway. Except whenever you come close to putting your foot down, the owner of the car sitting in the passenger seat beside you forces you to pull over and look at pictures of his stupid children. The car is Metal Gear Solid 2, and the children are Hideo Kojima’s numerous cutscenes and endless radio conversations.”

Tomb Raider doesn’t include hours of radio conversations, nor does its story come anywhere close to the meta-insanity of MGS2. Nor, it must be said, are its cutscenes even particularly long but their problem is that they’re constant and invasive – at best, unnecessary and, at worst, actively in the way. You’ll be climbing up the most generic of cliffs, only for the game to pointlessly cut away to introduce the presence of enemies. You’ll be crossing a rushing stream, only for the game to take control away, purely to make the camera more shaky and ‘atmospheric’. You’ll be rushing a group of enemies, only for a cinematic to happen, and for Lara to dispatch them with no input from yourself.

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