Review by Ofisil

"Indiana Jones eat my dust!"

Tomb Raider is an Action\Adventure game developed by Core Design. I'm sure that most gamers know of Lara Croft. She is the most popular videogame heroine in the world after all. Her looks polarized opinions and made many people talk about how she was nothing more than an unrealistic girl made to excite boys adding that she was a very bad role model for girls. In my opinion all these were bull@#$%, but most importantly people tend to forget that behind the bust of Lara hides a wonderful game, with great gameplay and a fantastic atmosphere. Read on to find out why Lara Croft isn't just a girl with a large bra…

Story: 7/10
Presentation: 7.5/10

Several years before the start of the game's actual plotline an explosion occurs in New Mexico, unveiling a strange device, which holds a mysterious figure bound in cryo-sleep. Present Time: Aristocrat-Gone-Treasure Hunter Lara Croft, is hired from a rich & powerful lady who wants her to find a mysterious ancient relic called the Scion which resides in an ancient temple in Peru… and the game begins. But what starts off as a simple adventure ends up into an Indiana Jones-like chase where along with the dangers of the ancient temples you'll traverse through, you'll also have to deal with some hired mercenaries who are after your findings. While simple the game has quite good presentation and most of all, its has my favorite thing in videogames next to gameplay… ATMOSPHERE!!! The game is simply one of the most atmospheric games for the Playstation, (the best one possibly being Silent Hill), and that is a huge plus for me. While simple the plot of Tomb Raider is well presented and will please gamers with its mysterious atmosphere, short but sweet FMVs and its plot twists. All in all what we have here is no Final Fantasy 7 but for a puzzle oriented Action\Adventure title it'll do.

Gameplay: 8.5/10
Replay Value: 7/10

Tomb Raider introduces the classic platform-oriented gameplay of the first Prince Of Persia in full three dimensions and fuses it with a lot of exploration, puzzle solving and a bit of bad-guy shooting. You control Lara from a third person perspective and your purpose in each level is to find the entrance to the next one… however things aren't exactly that simple. Between you and the next area lie myriads of enemies & deadly traps, not to mention that the road to victory isn't exactly straightforward!

Indiana Jones eat your heart out:
Most of the game revolves around “platform puzzles”, meaning that in order to reach a certain place you'll first have to figure out how to reach it. You can make all sorts of jumps and get grip on the edge of a flat surface in order to climb on it. At first you'll find it a tad hard to get used to Tomb Raider's controls since this isn't just another action game. Don't worry though. All it takes is a little practice and understanding of the game's mechanics and nothing more and after that controlling Lara become as easy as drooling over her, (ahem). As you go on, the various acrobatics you must do become even more elaborate, more challenging and more lethal with a single mistake leading to certain death. While this can become a bit repetitive and while near the end of the game the challenges become less imaginative, a great part of Tomb Raider's success lies in this wonderful platform-puzzle style. Now when it comes to shooting enemies everything is pretty simplistic. Lara Croft automatically targets enemies so it's insanely fun and easy to run & jump around while shooting baddies. Enemy AI is very simple so enemies don't pose any real threats, especially after finding the most advanced weapons of the game, but to say the truth, the first Tomb Raider is the one with the less shooting going on, something that some people may not like. I prefer it that way though, not to mention that the fact that you'll rarely see an enemy creates some sort of tension.

Explore uncharted territories:
This game is made for those who love exploring. If you want fast pace action look elsewhere since in most levels you'll spent more than 20 minutes searching for an item and about 1 or 2 minutes shooting at enemies. There is no explanation about what to do and where to go. It's you against an unknown territory so you'll have to use your brains and imagination in order to move on. Each level poses different challenges and keeps the game from being too repetitive. For example: In some levels you'll have to do some insane acrobatics in order to reach a very high part, while in an other one you'll have to shoot a couple of monsters in a very narrow area. In some levels you'll have to avoid traps that you'll suddenly set off, while in others you must solve some tough puzzles. Some are just about finding the right key and in some others you must twist your brain in order to figure out how to use the various strange machinery you'll find. Besides all these the game is full of secrets that lead to health packs and ammo, secrets that range from the plain obvious to the where-the-heck-is-the-darn-secret! The flaws of the game? You can only save in certain locations of the level leading to a LOT of deaths, something that can become quite annoying especially after having made a couple of tough jumps. However this will force you to play more strategically, be more careful and use the save crystals in the best time possible. Finally the game besides not being a game for everyone, (since it's quite slow paced), can be quite repetitive, since after the first half of the game nothing will really excite you. If you can get passed these few problems you are in for a great adventure.

Graphics: 7.8/10
Design: 8.5/10

The graphics of Tomb Raider polarized gamers' opinions, for several reasons, mainly for Lara Croft's ridiculously large breasts. Before reviewing the actual graphics of the game let me say one thing here folks… I don't give a damn about political correctness and I hate puritans!!! People get extremely uptight, especially when they deal with matters of sexuality. I could go on and on about this subject but in the end this is a game review and not a social analysis. However let me point out a mistake that many people, especially women make with videogames… videogames can be realistic but they tend to be unrealistic more often for one simple reason… THEY ARE FREAKING GAMES DAMN IT!!! A marine who fights demons, a robot ninja, a sexy vampire babe, warrior gals in chainmail bikinis, buff dudes with dual chainguns, etc, etc… all these are unrealistic but they are also cool. Oh, to hell with it… on with the review! Tomb Raider is a fully 3D PS game and many gamers don't like that, usually due to the large amount of pixelation. Well I judge a game depending on the system it came out… so, while Tomb Raider has a lot of visible pixelation, I deal with it. Why? Because it's a PS game folks, not a PS3 one. More importantly though it's not how good a graphic engine but you've done with it and Tomb Raider is simply a wonderfully designed game that oozes with atmosphere! You'll traverse through Snowy Peruvian ruins, deep caves with underground rivers and waterfalls, dark Greco-Roman dungeons, Egyptian labyrinths and some even weirder locations that all look wonderful, have excellent lighting and use of special effects like the wonderful light refractions when you swim, or the wonderful distance fog technique that keeps things smooth but also creates a certain mysterious feeling. The levels look good and have a nice variety between them and are filled, (well not exactly filled), with various creatures that range from wolves and bats to… oh, I don't won't to spoil the surprises :) Finally Lara Croft IMO is a wonderfully designed character, with great a great body analogy, (yes girls, I know she is unrealistic *rolls eyes*), nice use of colors and small details but more importantly with 100% flawless animation. Finally we have some small but great FMVs. Between episodes. All in all a great looking game.

Sound: 7.8/10
Music: 7.8/10

The sound effects of the game are generally pretty good. Running sounds different in different surfaces, Lara moans & groans as you climb or bump around, the weapons sound good, (although a tad weak), and so do the various creatures that range from wolves to strange mutations. The ambient effects like waterfalls, rivers and so on are even better because they create a certain atmosphere. However the best thing about the sound section of Tomb Raider is… the silence! Most of the time you don't really hear anything else apart from your feet on sand, something that can make you feel that you really are traversing through a dark ancient temple. The music of Tomb Raider is simply fantastic. It consists of marvelous, dreamy tunes or fast paced orchestral pieces. The first are used when you enter a new and good-looking part of the level, or where you reach a certain key area where an important item is. The later is used in order to build tension usually when an enemy appears, although sometimes this kind of music will start in parts of the game where it shouldn't, like in the first level, where after having confronted a lot of wolves you reach a place where the “action” music starts and all you see in front of you is another measly wolfy. Another minor flaw is that the “dreamy” music I've mentioned before is very, very short and starts so rarely that it is somewhat disappointing. In the end though this is just nitpicking since the sound portion of TR is awesome.

[+]:
-Good, well presented plot
-A unique platform\puzzle oriented gameplay
-Great mix of platforming, puzzles, exploration and action
-Very good level and character design.
-Great, mysterious atmosphere
-Great animation
-Wonderful music, very good SFX

[-]:
-A tad repetitive, especially near the end
-Enemies too stupid and easy
-Not many gunfights available
-Not being able to save anywhere on the map

Also Play:
Prince Of Persia (PC & Other Platforms)
Prince Of Persia : The Sands Of Time (PC)
Super Metroid (SNES)
Tomb Raider 2 (Playstation)
Tomb Raider: Anniversary (PC & Other Platforms)
Tomb Raider: Legend (PC & Other Platforms)

Overall: 7.7/10

Without a doubt Tomb Raider is a wonderful game, an exciting experience, a fantastic adventure. No… hype and a large digital bust aren't enough to sell a game… in the end all that matters is gameplay and Tomb Raider is very good at that. Sure it's not for everybody, but those who like slow paced platform oriented adventures with a lot of exploration involved will find their selves at home in the ruins of Tomb Raider.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/05/12

Game Release: Tomb Raider (US, 11/15/96)


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