Nicely atmosphere, nice graphics... and sense of adventure.
There's a lot to like about the game. The primary thing I value about the game is the realistic level design. The structures don't really seem *that* realistic if you start really thinking about them, but when looked at really close, they seem quite breathtaking. The places have very good atmosphere and graphical style, and while the levels generally seem to be pipe-running, at least the level structure is *believable*. The beginning of the game is a good example: Caves that gradually turn into an ancient city. Caves look like caves. Ancient city looks like an ancient city or something.
The music, or lack of it, is a good example of well-done ambience. Not really game music genre I really appreciate except in the game itself, but then again, so is ambient music in general. In general, the game has really nice atmosphere and pretty well-done pacing. And levels generally tend to be the right size or something.
I *think* the PC version had this cool, very PC-like feature of me being able to save wherever the heck I wanted to. Not sure if this was true or not, but the fact is, the Playstation version has save points in middle of the level and between levels. One of the reasons I kind of dislike about consoles... grr. I hate, hate, hate save points.
The controls seem to be pretty good, quite intuitive, and not really often leave me in trouble, but often they're also not good *enough*. Not awful, but could be better. Sometimes, I completely manage to mess up a firefight. Tricky jump things are nearly damn impossible to get right without training, which kind of annoys without accurate saving... Also, in these days, I'm more used to "where you point, there you go" kind of control, using left and right to turn and forward and backward to move is so... 1996. Okay, maybe it works on d-pad while direct pointing is more for analog stick. Kind of works. Kind of.
And those wolves/dogs are so sad when they die. =(
The Bottom Line
Only a few days ago, I finally got myself an used PSone. The idea, of course, was that me, as a Nintendo fan boy, could finally buy the few good games that were ever published on PS without feeling incredibly silly about my supposed loyalties. I couldn't find Final Fantasy VII or Vib Ribbon to use the console Appropriately, so I had to pick up the only good PSone game the game store still seemed to have, shining from the middle of the sea of forgotten-on-the-shelf EA Sports garbage and games cruelly aimed to part small childrens' parents and their money...
I played halfway through the game around 1996 on PC, and pretty much forgot about it until now. Now it all seems to flood back to me. Was this game *ever* good! There's quite a bit of really good things in it. For some reason, Zelda: The Wind Waker reminds me a lot of Tomb Raider, don't know really why, there seems to be some similar architecture and, of course, block-pushing and vaulting.
And today...? Well, the graphics aren't really that great (but there's also this fact that while the PS version definitely looks worse than the PC version, at least it *works* today - I can't even begin to guess how to get a DOS game running right now, much less one that uses 3DFX Glide...), some physics stuff is absurd, some puzzles aggravating (especially with this thrice-loathed save point thing), but these days, the game is still pretty much playable and quite fun, still. Definitely worth the budget price tag it seems to carry these days.
Here's a game that definitely has the Sense of Adventure thing down. I'm not really certain on what to do with all of those sequels, but the first part of the series should definitely be part of a healthy breakfast for every serious gamer. *Even* if you're a thick-headed fan boy/purist/elitist like me who doesn't think anything Popular could possibly be Good. Well, this game was Popular, but it also was kind of Okay, so the Opinion should Officially be "Meh" - in other words, just go play it anyway. =)