Innovative Action Adventure title for the time.....still is in many ways
When i first played this game back in 1997, it represented the "quantum leap" that next generation gaming promised (at the time) me. The 3D world it provided was begging to be explored.....2D had died with the 16bit era (for the time being)
Onto the review (!). TR basically involves the adventures of a young lady called Lara Croft, who is on a quest to find the Arc of Scion, an ancient artifact. The player travels through 4 different locales solving basic puzzles, fighting man and beast, engaging in platform based action, and exploring for items. Each world is broken into 3 or so sub levels. The locales are nicely varied, and the story is great, however the acting not so great :)
By far the strongest aspect of TR are the environments: They possess a great sense of mystery and wonder, and you cant wait to reveal the next cavernous area or underwater pool. Swimming down into a dark, deep pool is awesome! It should be mentioned that the sense of space is good despite the draw distance being quite small. The makers cleverly blacked out the far distance, which helps to increase the feel of "unfolding" a cave or cavern. It works very well. Overall, the sense of exploration is great. I have yet to find a game since which peaks my desire for finding out what is around the next corner, as what TR did. There is a real "abandoned" mood to a lot of the areas, which some people may find boring, but since the title IS "Tomb Raider", i myself believe tombs should be uninhabited. The use of music is limited to key areas of the game, and this minimalism works a treat, serving to enhance the eerie feel of the levels. Later TR titles got a little more mainstream with miltary zones, cities etc, which is the prime reason my interest decreased with these ,as they just felt like the series trying to be more "Action" based, rather than "Action Adventure"
One last note, which some will disagree on, is the use of fixed save positions. I LIKE this, because getting to the next one requires patience and discipline, and not being able to save every step makes it a bit harder overall. Maybe this is because i grew up in the era of 3 lives and no continues, but nothing beats conquering a hard play area after multiple attempts in ANY game.
Overall, a genre defining game which no serious game fan should not know about, nor appreciate for its revolutionary design and play mechanics
The controls. By far the most annoying aspect to this game is the clunky control system. Lara moves nothing like the lithe young lady she is portrayed as. However, we must bear in mind that at the time, the sense of freedom was great, and my opinion in born out of being spoilt in the years since with control schemes of the current generation of games.
One other aspect is the difficulty of the puzzle sections of the game. They are not overly taxing, and this was probably done to appeal to a wider audience. However, some more hardcore puzzles probably should have been included in order to find extra items etc..
Overall I Believe the control system is the games only real flaw.
The Bottom Line
Atmospheric, challenging game, with minor control issues.