I hated Tomb Raider growing up. It was the jumping puzzles really. I hate games where you have to back flip off a tightrope, then do a somersault over a fence, and finally land on a 4 inch square or else the room explodes and you have to do it all over again. I saw Tomb Raider for sale on Steam the other day, and figured I’d give it a shot. It got great reviews, and didn’t really look like it was just back flipping off shit so you could land on other shit. I just finished it the other day, and I wasn’t disappointed. Really, I quite liked it. I thought the quick time actions were a little lame, but otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. There are some people who didn’t enjoy the game though, and for some of the dumbest reasons. As a warning, there will be some spoilers ahead.
For those of you who don’t know, you play as a young Lara Croft, fresh out of school, and ready to start in the world of archaeology. After an opening scene, the ship sinks in a storm, and you wake up on an island. This is where we are introduced to people’s first complaint. You see, the Lara Croft we all knew and loved was one tough woman. She had no problem doing all those fore mentioned back flips, all while shooting at wild boar or what ever it was that always attacked her. Not so much as this game starts out. You see, Lara cries, a lot. But I don’t see that as a problem. When the game starts, her only experience is going out on school trips or with her father, on normal digs. She never had to fight off giant bats or cannibals yet. So far, she only experienced the boring kind of archaeology that they don’t make games out of. It makes sense for her to not be prepared for any of this, and for it to devastate her emotionally. She watchers her friends get captured and beaten. She watches people getting murdered and is then forced to murder people herself. She is shot, stabbed, starved, and completely alone. You’d cry too.
But she grows, and that’s the important part. As the game progresses, she toughens up and you see the Lara Croft that we all knew and loved emerge. She wasn’t born a hero, but they sure as hell forged her into one in this game.
Which also brings up the second reason that people didn’t like it, rape. There is a horrible rape scene in this game, and thankfully, it’s also on YouTube so I can share it with you.
A guy calls her pretty, pets her, and implies that he would like to have sex with her, and people are ready to burn this game? Sure, when he implies that he would like to have sex with her, he also implies that her consent isn’t required, but still, aren’t we making mountains out of mole hills here? Yes, rape is a terrible thing that happens here in the real world. It’s also a terrible thing that happens in works of fiction too. The game didn’t treat it as a joke, it doesn’t make light if the situation. Quite the opposite actually, since Lara shoots the guy in the face at the end of the scene.
Also, the people that she is fighting for most of the game, are little better than pirates, and we all know just how gently pirates treat women. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg here. You see, the antagonists are all shipwrecked men who could not escape the island. They were trapped much like Lara was, only since they were men, they had the possibility of joining the Solarii Brotherhood. The smartest and strongest willed ones were killed first, this left the ones that Mathias would easily be able to bend to his will. These men were then locked in caves for days to weeks, without food or water, until they were either killed by the others in the cave, or left broken and ready for Mathias’s message. Only then were they allowed to out to join the Solarii Brotherhood. You’ll not I said that only men were allowed to join. That’s because any females, from little girls to old maids, were burned at the stake as quickly as possible. Even if a ship full of porn stars ready to shoot “Back Door Island Savages 12” were to land on the island, most of the men wouldn’t even get to see the women until the ceremony where they are lit on fire.
I can guarantee you that if you were you to take only the dregs of society, drive them crazy and brainwash them in a cult like society, you are probably going to wind up with a rapist or two mixed in with the normal thugs and murderers.
That said, I liked the game. My main problems were the quick time events, where you have to hit certain buttons to perform an action before the time runs out. Initially, I had no idea what to do because the game doesn’t really tell you. They show the indicator on the screen, and you just have to guess what button to hit. You have to turn on the subtitles for it to tell you what to hit. This causes problems though, since you’ll be reading the subtitles and miss the indicator because it’s on the other side of the screen, or even behind the subtitles. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was always the same key that you hit, but they jump between E and F. The first hour or so of game play is just full of these quick time events, but as you play, they seem to be less frequent.
There also aren’t many ridiculous jumping puzzles. There are a few that are needlessly complicated, but they all seem to be in the optional dungeons, so you can skip them and still play through the entire game.
The game itself is rather short. I beat it with 75% completion (I didn’t look for all the secret items or tombs on my first play though) in 12 hours. I haven’t checked out the multiplayer part yet, maybe it will extend the game a bit more. You can always go back to older levels and replay them with new equipment and skills to find more treasure that is hidden in them. This isn’t without its own annoyances though. Some parts of the levels involve bridges that collapse or buildings that burn down. When you replay them, the destruction you initially caused is still there. While I don’t expect the Solarii Brotherhood to run out and rebuild buildings every night, it would be neat to be able to play through the same burning building again.
The Steam Winter Sale is coming up, and it will probably be marked down again, I’d probably suggest waiting until then to get it unless you are a huge Tomb Raider fan. Of course, if you are a huge fan, you probably already own it anyways. I’d probably give it an 8 out of 10, but only at the sale price. It could have been a little longer, and there are a few things that could be tweaked here and there. Like I said, overall, it was a great game, for $15, had I paid retail, I’d probably be feeling a little ripped off.