Review by skeletorissatan
"So, you want to know how to be a classic, follow in the footsteps laid down here..."
A harsh but true fact of the gaming world is that many supposed classics are merely considered so because of the nostalgic feelings attached to the memories of playing them. Examples of false masterpieces are rife and one does not need to do a lot of back tracking through their gaming experiences before they find one. Another point worth noting is that what constitutes a classic is relative, and that not everybody holds the same criteria for deciding a flawless game and when these two factors are combined it becomes very hard for one person to take another seriously when they herald a game as being almost the finest thing since sliced bread. A few select games manage to elude these factors however, and genuinely are the incredible works of art that they are proclaimed to be and the first game in the long running Tomb Raider franchise is one of the best examples of this.
This game is frequently considered to be one of the most perfect Playstation games of all time and a release that eludes criticism for the simple fact that there are no criticisms to be made of it. When it is stacked up against the games of today it of course pales in size, scope and graphical accomplishments but it makes up for these set backs and remains its relevancy purely due to the clever level design and the fact that without the breakthroughs in three dimensional game play cast down by the debut of this legendary series then many of the games one could consider stacking it up against of today would never have existed. Tomb Raider is a game that is not the best looking game today but is almost certainly one of the most influential games of its generation and an example of how tightly a game can be designed. Also when one factors in the unthinkable of the time in that this game had a female hero, and one that was considered to be a gaming babe at that, this was the voice of a generation and one that more than merits the attention it receives.
Tomb Raider was initially released in 1996 upon a Sega Saturn audience before shortly being given its PC and Playstation releases, garnering mass acclaim from critics and ordinary players alike. The game was revolutionary to all of its predominantly chauvinistic male audience who perceived the idea of a female, hard as nails front woman to be about as likely to happen as a child friendly Grand Theft Auto game and when it was unleashed, many did not know what to make of it. Aside from the obvious connotations of having a strong female leading role, the game became renowned for its innovative graphical work with three dimensional platforming that at the time was almost unbelievable. The game provided some well rendered backdrops for the story that would unfold that showed that 3D game play could be more than just the boring and bland environments that populated the Doom games.
Another rightful reason that Tomb Raider was praised upon release was for its involving and mature story that was equal parts interesting and fun to be a part of. The gamer controls front lady Lara Croft as she is commissioned to find three artifacts that quickly becomes a tale of cut throat relations and revenge as Lara has the artifacts taken from her and she is almost murdered, before she tracks down the people who ambush her and attempts to take the artifacts back. The story has many twists and turns to it that keep the player involved and helps it refrain from becoming stale and as the story unfolds you will await the next chapter with bated breath and anticipation. This is a masterpiece of story telling that was ahead of its time in nearly every sense and the writing behind it was superb. To carry the story forward this game has several cut scenes that were beautiful for their day and some fantastic voice acting work coupled with a spectacular sound track that could be seen as the sound track for a generation. Anyone who played this game extensively, or anyone who intends to play this game will no doubt have memories of the highly melodic music in the game and will have an odd smile on their face.
The meat of the game revolves around exploration and frequent combat scenes that make for a thrill ride of a game that consistently keeps the player on their toes. Many enemies will be encountered as you press forward through the murky dungeons and icy snow landscapes that will frequently challenge your skill to survive, especially one particularly memorable set piece that involves a T-Rex and numerous Velociraptors around an Aztec temple. The combat is well handled with a wide variety of weaponry that ensures that any style of game play is catered for and that if one wishes to go for a one shot dispatch of a Wolf by using a shotgun then they may do so, whereas if your preferred vision of the game is of Lara spraying ammunition blindly with an Uzi then this can also be done. Tomb Raider was certainly not a game devoid of interesting secrets either as there are numerous scattered across the sprawling levels and there is even an in-game count that enables you to track how many secrets you have found in a level so the player will leave no stone unturned in their quest to find every secret.
So many games since Tomb Raider have made an attempt to recreate the sheer intelligence found in the level design and failed purely due to the immense amount of variation and memorability carried within. Few games can claim that they have pitched a gamer against a Tyrannosaurus Rex armed with just two pistols and a shotgun and expect them to succeed. Nor can many games of the mid 1990's claim to pack such a punch on the exploration side of gaming. Every level within this game has so much to take in that it will stun you the first time you play through it. This has some of the best designed platforming sections in any game and it succeeds in everything it aspires to do, be it the on land or under water sections.
Tomb Raider is rightfully considered a masterpiece and can speak for an entire generation of video game lovers. It is a work of art that many games attempt to recreate the fantastic level design on display here with each attempt feeling more and more tedious to play through. Tomb Raider may not be the most technically advanced video game out there today but it can more than hold its own against the latest blockbuster Call Of Duty game purely on the variety to be found in it and the clever level design. This is a game recommended to absolutely everyone as it has enough excitement to be garnered for it for every single type of gamer in existence. It may have spawned many sequels but none will ever match the originality nor sheer entertainment factor worn proudly as a badge on the arm of the original Tomb Raider game.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/30/13
Game Release: Tomb Raider (EU, 11/25/96)
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