My Thoughts on TombRaider

I am mostly a PC gamer and used to keyboard + mouse for shooters for years. For Tomb Raider, I used Xbox controller for change, also because I found it easier to control 3rd person characters with a controller in games like Assassin’s Creed, Batman, etc. Though aiming with a controller was challenging.

Tomb Raider is an action-adventure game about a girl looking out for adventures. Their ship gets wrecked on a mysterious island and then first 60 to 90 minutes is about the struggle to survive and finding the other crew members. This initial part is focused more character development of Lara Croft and game might feel little restrictive/slow at this early time, but it opens up later on. I really like this character development part, how all this cruelty on the Island and this struggle to survive contributes to her growth as a character she’s famous for. There’s not much focus on other crew members, but you get some detail about other characters in the form of these documents that you will find while exploring the Island.

The overall story and/or plot was also decent even though you may get a feeling sometimes like you already know where things are going, that said still game keeps you curious and interested in knowing more about this mysterious place. I always had this feeling that Dr. Whitman will do something crazy at some point which will hurt our crew in some way.

I really like how significant they made the moments when she kills the first animal and later when she kills a human for the first time. But when as soon as you get that pistol and the bow shortly after that and it’s all about headshots and finding interesting ways to kill your enemies. She becomes this sort of Predator or Rambo on this Island. You can even hear her saying things like – “Why you are doing this?”, “You don’t have to do this”, etc. while you are taking headshots. “Why are you doing this?” – BOOM Headshot. But it’s a game after all and it has to fun. And I think they made the right choice here.

Few minutes back your character is crying because she killed someone and now you are finding the most creative and/or goriest ways to kill your enemies.

The combat is great, I really like the bow and it was my most used weapon, it felt very good. The game will reward you for the headshots which is always a welcome feature. Also, I really like the feel of shotgun and especially with fire ammo it felt so satisfying blasting off enemies with the shotgun at close range. As you progress you unlock counter kills. It feels so satisfying and rewarding after dodging some particular attack and then triggering the quick time event to claim your reward in terms of performing some special attacks to kill your enemies. They will give you different weapons and ammo types at right pace which keeps things interesting and you will never get bored on combat. Also the combat didn’t felt repetitive which a very good thing.

I also liked the ability to take down some of the enemies silently without alerting everyone whether using arrows or melee attacks. Also liked these little details like if you shoot someone with a fire arrow it will alert everyone but if you use normal ones it won’t.

You will get these moments when you will feel Overpowered or Kill Me If You Can and after few minutes Game will kick your ass if you aren’t careful and you will blame – Game isn’t fair.

Another nice thing is that they will give you right weapon at right time or if they give you a new weapon they will also give you a reason to use it. Examples – shotgun and the encounter with those enemies with a shield, place when you get grenade launcher and tons of enemy after that. You will also get these moments after acquiring these new weapons/ammo/kill skills that you will feel Overpowered or Kill Me If You Can and after few minutes Game will kick your ass if you aren’t careful and you will be like – Game isn’t fair. Just for an example I got this vibe at towards the ending part during battle with this large ONI army. Another example is during 2nd encounter after you get the grenade launcher.

The enemy AI felt little dumb in the beginning, enemies will come out of cover will wait for couple of seconds and then shoot and then there’s another 1 or 2 sec window before they go back to cover, so this in turn allows you to take headshots easily. But in later part (by later I mean after 70-80% of the main storyline) they do become a little more intelligent and quick specially the ONI warriors.

This also provoked a thought in my mind if console shooting games have somewhat less intelligent AI intentionally so players don’t get frustrated because I feel we can’t aim as preciously with a controller as compared to mouse on pc.

I like how instead of killing you directly sometimes they will give you those QuickTime events and it feels like game wants you to spend more time in-game rather than in menus and loading. Those OMG moments were also good, also enjoyed those sequences of sliding down rivers or after plane crash dodging obstacles etc.

The rolling I think was very important in the game especially for combat. It fits very well with dodging and counter kill mechanics. I used it a lot especially for enemies with those shields and it seemed a must have feature for ONI battle.

Exploring is another thing that I liked about this game. Mostly I don’t explore too much in other games like Borderlands etc. because I don’t have that much time. In some games it feels little so tiring to walk through / drive through those large areas searching for loot etc. but in Tomb Raider using ropes and maybe because of level design it didn’t feel that much tiring. Also one thing I liked here is that you can skip exploring if you decide to go through some areas quickly whereas in other games like Borderlands sometimes exploring feels mandatory to get better weapons to kill that next boss which otherwise seems impossible or very difficult. There are also some side tasks which will also give you some rewards.

The artifacts and documents, related to fiction of the Island kept me curious and was a good motivating factor for exploring in this game. We also get more rewards like unlocking new ammo types, unlocking concept art/ models, etc. For me the exploring felt balanced and more worth it than exploring those big tiring islands just to get another same gun with the couple of extra numbers in damage etc.

I enjoyed the physics puzzles I solved most of them easily except few of them. Also, they will give you rewards for solving those puzzles whether you are exploring secret camps etc. Also, the Controls felt so good and smooth whether it’s climbing rooftops, using rope network, solving these puzzles, etc.

I haven’t tried the multi-player yet as I couldn’t find any servers online. But I bought the game for single player only anyways so no regrets there. That said still I would love to checkout multiplayer if I can find servers only.

Conclusion

It’s a great game and a strong contender so far for the Game of the Year. I really like the combat and the pacing. Story was good enough. Exploring was fun and motivating rather than tiring and something you have to do. Third person controls were good felt smooth throughout. Enjoyed physics based puzzles.. It’s a good game and highly recommended for anyone looking for a good adventure game or a good overall single player experience in general.

For the next installment, I would like to see some more weapons and ammo types, also maybe some more types of counter kills maybe with a bit of more gore in it. Some combos will also be a welcome feature. Some more difficult puzzles. Also, story can be made a little more interesting. I don’t really mind the linear story line but at the same time some non linearity is always welcome like even in smaller forms like save this guy or not or whether to trust someone in the group or not, etc. For example, when we meet Dr. Whitman in later part with Father Mathias people there could be an option to trust him or not, etc. Some people might request more exploring, but that’s something I felt was in the right amount in this game.

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About chetanjags

Game Developer

Posted on May 31, 2013, in GameDesign and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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