Review by LeoLion0818
Raiding tombs is always fun, but there's just not much to this particular game.
What do you get when you mix a supposedly hot chick and a slew of massive dungeons? You get this. Everybody knows about Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider series. The game that started it all, the big debut of the series, was a prelude to what would later follow; a series of disappointments. The story is never fully explained, it's just about collecting the legendary Scion and the background behind the ancient relic. Don't get me wrong; the game itself is pretty good. There are enough traps and odd creatures to keep the player occupied and on edge. However, Lara's motives for keeping the Scion to herself and trying to locate the other two missing pieces are unknown. But, maybe a decent story isn't necessary for a game like this. I mean, do any of us know anything about Lara's past at this point? No. Do any of us care? It's unlikely. What is clear, is that, Tomb Raider is a fun game that constantly presents disappointments.
Tomb Raider doesn't completely fail to deliver the story. The player knows about the Scion, it's history, and the motives behind the evil Miss Natla to obtain it. What it does fail to deliver is our understanding of the heroine; Miss Lara Croft and what her motives are. Why is she after this mysterious relic? Does she simply just want to put a stop to Natla's plans? Does she even know of Natla's plans until it's too late? What's the deal with her? Why are we doing this? Do we even have a reason other than to entertain ourselves for hours on end? None of these questions are answered in the game. There are three basic questions, that, when left unanswered, make for a weak story; these questions are as follows: Why here? Why this person? and Why this particular event?
Level Complexity: 6/10
It's perfectly understandable that the earlier tombs would be easier to navigate through. However, this lasts for almost the first half of the game. You don't see any "real" traps until the fourth level, which is scarce even at that point. Then you go without any major traps until the eighth level. Now, Tomb Raider has a total of fifteen levels. It's not until the last three of them that the traps are really out to get you. Is it just me, or are these tombs not very well guarded? These levels will cause the player to run around in circles trying to find a certain switch or passage for three times the length the player will spend avoiding traps or killing baddies. On the first playthrough it may take up to twenty minutes to find that lever that you need to open the door or lower the bridge. No action, no traps to avoid, no enemies to kill, just time to search for said lever. Simply put, the developers at Eidos took too much time in preparing a game with hidden passages and levers instead of focusing that energy onto making the levels more action packed.
I don't even know where to begin on this issue... Tomb Raider is not a very realistic game. I have yet to actually see a person jump high enough that their feet are above an average doorway at the climax point. Jumping is one of the big issues I have with this game. First of all, nobody can jump as high or as far as she can unless if they're superhuman. Also, since this game uses a crude grid system, it's very easy to tell if you can make a jump or not. Two squares distance means run and jump, three squares distance means run, jump, and grab the edge, you always know exactly what you're doing. Also, when people jump, they can use one of their hands to grab a ledge off to the left or the, Lara seems to lack this basic skill. Lara's also incredible at surviving drops; she can fall off of a good twenty foot ledge and land perfectly unharmed 100% of the time. Aside from the jumping, there's no way that her pistols could house an infinite amount of ammo. She could at least wield a dagger or something that doesn't require extra parts to find. Speaking of ammo, who leaves all of these medpacks and ammo clips lying around everywhere? I don't know of any human who could carry four sets of guns, a compass, and up to one-hundred first aid kits all in a little backpack. As long as Lara has medpacks she can survive underwater for as long as those will hold. That's right. Once your air gauge is empty your life gauge will start to deplete, since medpacks restore you life gauge no matter what the circumstances you can hold your breath for as long as you want; just make sure that you have the medpacks to support it. Aside from that, this game is full of glitches. The game testers didn't do their jobs right if they allowed this many glitches onto the disc.
Tomb Raider has very simple controls. The action button is exactly the same as it is for just about every other PS game. Every button has a use, and will be employed at some point in the game. Even if you don't like the original controls you can choose between two other control settings.
Okay, you get to wield Uzis, that's pretty sweet. Aside from that the weapon selection is very lame. You have pistols which you'll use for the first half of the game since you have unlimited ammo for them, the second gun to grace your presence is a shotgun which is almost never used because it's highly impractical in most situations. Third comes the magnums which are used for three levels and then become obsolete. Finally the uzis come into Lara's control and are used in the final two levels. Weapon selection in Tomb Raider is very simple, in that, you have one weapon that's always used until a newer model makes it obsolete.
Fun Factor: 8/10
The Fun Factor is the only redeeming feature of Tomb Raider other than the soundtrack. Despite it's disappointments and flaws it is a fun game. It may seem dull and dreary at times but all in all it's fun to play. Tomb Raider has an addicting quality to it, something that makes it playable despite the many problems. Tomb Raider is problematic, but sometimes the problematic things are the best things when presented at the right time.
Tomb Raider is a world filled with enemies to take down. Almost none of the enemies that Lara faces are human; they're beasts who have made these tombs their homes and they plan on taking out any invaders. There are a few baffling elements however. Such as: why are their lions in the European ruins. Why are there dinosaurs, period. and why aren't there more people after these legendary pieces of the Scion. Once you get to the latter half of the game you'll encounter ancient creatures from the lost city of Atlantis which are actually quite terrifying. These ancient creatures have mystical powers that they can use to take Lara down in an instant; because they are there to guard the scion.
For the time Tomb Raider had decent graphics. The only drawback is the crude grid system used. Due to the nature of this system you can see the game in squares. The outlines of each individual square are visible as the camera rotates around the field. Everything either occupies an entire square or none of it (save for Lara, enemies, and the really small pickups). There are no curved edges, no half-filled squares, nothing that would upset the balance that the grid operates on. Don't get me wrong, the graphics are great and everything looks realistic. All of the walls of the caverns have those little spots on them, and everything is designed just as it would appear in reality. However, these patterns are exactly the same from square to square which kills some of the realism.
Sound and Music: 7/10
The sounds get extremely repetitive after a while, and it's obnoxious to hear the same dying cries of all of the creatures on Tomb Raider, but the soundtrack is great. Every song played conveys the mood of the moment and signifies either danger, awe, serenity, or odd events. The music is even played by an orchestra, it completely lacks the synthesized sounds of previous video games. Listening to this soundtrack makes one wonder if this was originally made for a film rather than a video game.
All that happens when Tomb Raider is engaged after completion is the ability to play every level with every weapon and unlimited ammo for every weapon. The game itself is exactly the same except that you get to push through every level with the uzis.
Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Product Release: Tomb Raider (US, 11/15/96)
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