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2013 in Review: Tomb Raider Makes Us Ask, Do We Have to Kill a Classic in Order to Save It?

Square Enix updated Lara Croft for the modern age of games, but the end result barely resembles Tomb Raider as we knew it.

Article by Jeremy Parish, .

About an hour and a half into Tomb Raider, not long after young protagonist Lara Croft is forced to kill a man for the first time in a desperate act of self-defense, she stumbles into an ambush.

"Light her up!" screams an unseen antagonist, blinding her with a flood lamp as six or seven men take aim and open fire. Lara survives, of course, or else it wouldn't be a very long game; she clears the entire room with deadly force.

This style of shootout -- one young woman against half a dozen gun-toting thugs (or more) -- is repeated over and over again throughout the entirety of Tomb Raider. Like her new inspiration Nathan Drake, Lara is forced into racking up a disproportionately enormous body count over the course of her adventure, wiping out entire hit squads of goons at a time.

Like most archaeology grad students, Lara Croft is effectively bulletproof as well as proficient in archery, small arms, heavy explosives, and brutal melee kills.

That's par for the course in contemporary games, especially those gunning (literally) to take a bite from Uncharted's format. But it feels bizarre in the context of a Tomb Raider game, even one coming after Crystal Dynamics' previous attempts to reboot Tomb Raider, Legend and Underworld. In the course of surviving that single ambush beneath the spotlight glare, Lara guns down more people than she killed in the entirety of the 1996 game that launched the Tomb Raider series.

No, really. Think back to the original Tomb Raider and, if the cobwebs of your memory haven't obscured the details, you'll recall that Lara Croft's debut outing saw her enter armed conflict with a total of five humans. Not only that, each had a name: Larson, Jerome, the Kid, Pierre, and the Cowboy. There were no faceless mooks to kill in waves, and whenever you had to deal with several henchmen at once it made for a difficult and harrowing challenge. Each encounter with human characters in 1996's Tomb Raider proved to be memorable and significant, and every one represented a key moment in Lara's adventure.

Despite this paucity of human targets, Tomb Raider '96 wasn't short on combat. Lara took on any number of creatures both mundane and mystical throughout her journey, from bats and wolves to the bizarre skinless humanoid monstrosities of Atlantis, and of course the infamous earth-shaking T-rex. (Even Lara's nemesis, Jacqueline Natla, turned out not to be truly human herself.) Lara collected quite a number of weapons during her adventure, and players found plenty of opportunities to put them to use.

Yet no sensible person would ever call Tomb Raider '96 a shooter. It had shooting, yes, but that didn't define the game. Those encounters, whether with humans or wildlife encountered along the way, acted as punctuation. They existed to liven up Lara's journey, whose essence was about exploration, not combat. The original Tomb Raider saw players navigating complex labyrinths, navigating ancient traps and puzzles, and picking her way though a vast underground space in search of answers to an ancient mystery.

The challenge of traversing these impressive-looking spaces is somewhat diminished when it's a step removed from Assassin's Creed's automated grappling.

On its surface, the new Tomb Raider seems much the same. But the balance is skewed, and the game's elements exist in very different proportions. Lara engages in nearly as much combat as she does exploration, and the traversal aspect of the adventure feels greatly stripped down. Where some found Tomb Raider '96 dull because of all the wall-climbing in solitary caverns it entailed, the reboot's crime is in making the act of exploration nearly non-existent -- boring in its simplicity. The game text makes a cheeky reference to "tomb raiding," which after all these years comes off as a little too self-conscious for its own good (like when Star Trek finally referenced its own title three decades after its debut). The irony, though, is that no other game in the franchise has contained less of its namesake tomb-raiding than this year's. Quite the contrary; Crystal Dynamics quarantined anything resembling the cave-diving of yore into optional "tomb challenges," carefully sealing away the need for any skill besides those revolving around combat neatly out of sight.

Don't be afraid, they reassured players. Those scary parts where you're not killing things can't hurt you anymore.

2013's Tomb Raider, as its barebones title implies, essentially relaunches the entire series. With this game, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix/Eidos have wiped Lara's slate clean, reworking her origin to conspicuously ignore the childhood flashbacks of previous games. And why not? It's not like the existing Lara Croft canon is any great shakes; what plot existed in the earliest games was only there to offer players the most minimal excuse to go spelunking in ancient ruins. Reboots are all the rage these days as intellectual property holders try to wring a little more life from their brands without forcing mass audiences to worry particulars like backstory, continuity, or history.

You can probably credit (or blame) DC Comics for the concept of rebooting; they came up with it back in the '80s when they realized they could no longer reconcile four or five decades of goofy superhero stories with the more serious plots they wanted to tell. So, they hit the reset button on their universe and let everything start from scratch. Now relaunches are a handy way to preserve the things most people can connect to about a franchise -- generally characters and settings -- without being bogged down by all the baggage of the past.

The tomb-y, raider-y bits are literally hidden away from the mandatory game.

But where Crisis on Infinite Earths led to a number of genuinely thoughtful new takes on the DC Universe, including Batman: Year One and John Byrne's run on Superman, contemporary reboots tend to be less about clearing the way for fresh, nuanced stories than about retelling the same old stories in a flashier way. Sony Pictures, for instance, appears to have relaunched Spider-man a mere decade later so they can recycle not only villains but also individual scenes. The aforementioned Star Trek franchise went back in time to radically change its series' backstory... only to put all the pieces back where you expect them, but this time with more lasers and less characterization.

Lowering barriers to entry is the watchword of contemporary large-scale pop culture, even as the tremendous success of intricate works like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones demonstrate a thirst for complex, serialized narratives. But those are "premium" shows -- read "niche." To really soak up maximum dollars (instead of merely a whole lot of dollars), IP holders have to break things down to their most easily digestible form, which has translated in practice to constant reboots and endless retellings of the same iconic tales.

Tomb Raider slots neatly into this trend. Here we have a new origin story for Lara Croft, which is totally unlike the previous origin stories of Lara Croft, yet ends up creating the same Lara Croft we used to know (except less cartoonish in appearance, and much grimier). And it all makes for a pretty damn solid game; it simply stinks at being Tomb Raider.

And, not unlike most comic books, Tomb Raider uses imminent peril to a woman as the core story motivation. No, not a threat to Lara -- to her friend Samantha.

Don't get me wrong; my complaints are no rose-tinted lamentation against change. By no means were the old school Tomb Raiders perfect; there's a reason Crystal Dynamics has essentially reinvented the franchise twice now, and it's not because they simply had nothing better to do with their time. Tomb Raider '96 was a product of its era, and that era was nearly 20 years ago. The original game could get away with presenting the exploration of 3D spaces as its main hook, because 3D spaces that you could actually explore were so exciting and new in 1996. These days, we're over it. A few developers still somehow know how to sell us on the thrill of wandering around big video game worlds -- mostly Bethesda -- but for the most part it would take a special kind of game to work like Tomb Raider did in 1996 and still excite us.

And that's even assuming you were to modernize the game's fundamental mechanics. Tomb Raider, seen through 17 years of hindsight, is almost comically boxy and unfathomably clumsy by the standards of 2013. Truth be told, it was too unwieldy to work even a few years after its debut, though that didn't stop Core Designs and Eidos from rehashing the same dated engine annually for five years until the formerly impressive sales of Lara Croft's adventures took a dive off a steep cliff and the franchise fell into a tragic cycle of trailing into obsolescence and playing catch-up with the competitors it helped inspire.

Tomb Raider 2013 couldn't play like Tomb Raider 1996; not if it was to exist outside of gaming's niches, anyway. Crystal Dynamics already tried modernizing the original Tomb Raider, quite literally, in the form of Tomb Raider: Anniversary. It sold decently, but nowhere near what Square Enix and Eidos aspire to. They have blockbuster ambitions for the franchise; could the world's only video game series that can claim to have caught the attention of Douglas Copland, U2, and Angelina Jolie settle for anything less? The rules of blockbuster games, unfortunately, have grown fairly rigid and painfully stifling. Sure, there are exceptions, but for every Minecraft that did its own thing in its own way and hit big, you have a dozen Brinks or Vanquishes that did their own things in their own way and flopped. To play with the big kids, developers know you have to play like the big kids.

They tried it the old way, and it was pretty good. But it only sold incredibly well instead of unbelievably well, so... back to the drawing board.

The reality of video games is that even the most popular ideas have a shelf life. How many franchises from 15 years ago remain vital today? Those that remain active have almost universally reinvented themselves. Castlevania is barely recognizable in its current form; Metal Gear looks like Splinter Cell and vice-versa; Half-Life proves that absence makes the heart grow fonder; and even evergreen Mario and Zelda seem to have lost their shine. Final Fantasy's sales and ratings have dropped sharply this past generation; meanwhile, Bravely Default (a direct sequel in all but name to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light) has won over hearts who otherwise sneer at Final Fantasy by simply filing off its original branding.

The new Tomb Raider bears only a superficial resemblance to its ancestor. As someone who enjoyed the older games' sense of exploration and discovery (made to feel all the more profound through the sparing use of musical cues), I found the new game intensely frustrating for abandoning so much of what drew me to the franchise in the first place. And yet, I find myself at a loss to suggest how it could have been anything different without relegating itself to near-irrelevance in this boom-or-bust market.

Do we have to kill a classic series in order to save it? Tomb Raider suggests yes. But let's not forget, our corporate overlords do have an alternative: They could let a good idea fade gracefully rather than beating every last drop of blood from its mangled, mutant carcass. I realize business operates on the principles of profit rather than class, but playing for integrity can pay off, too. In the coming year, I wouldn't mind seeing a few faltering favorites actively retired -- if not forever, then at least until someone has a genuinely great idea to revitalize it. There's no shame in admitting that the best place for a classic just might be in the past.

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Comments 32

  • Avatar for SDC3 #1 SDC3 3 years ago
    Tomb Raider being a good game but not a good Tomb Raider game reminds me of my own thoughts on Bioshock Infinite: A good game, but not in any way a good Bioshock game.

    That seems to be happening a decent amount lately. I wish I could say it about Castlevania: Mirror of Fate, but man what a trainwreck.
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  • Avatar for Sam-Derboo #2 Sam-Derboo 3 years ago
    I definitely agree with that sentiment vs the shift from exploration to shooting. To be fair to this latest game, though, the first Tomb Raider (and its remake) was the only one to put so much weight on the human opponents. In the second game Lara already had to gun down a few dozen nameless gangsters. IIRC, Tomb Raider Legend was particularly "bad" with all the killing, and they even tried to pull off that character arch of Lara getting over her first kill there much later, as if the countless henchmen she'd gunned down by then didn't count.
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  • Avatar for Dogislander #3 Dogislander 3 years ago
    Right on. I actually thought Legend was a step in the right direction, with more cinematic gameplay INTERSPERSED with enough satisfying exploration. Sure there was a huge head count, but that's what action games ARE, by and large. Can we really nitpick about characters being essentially bullet-proof in an action game?

    But, yeah, very disappointing turn, since it's basically Uncharted Lite now. However, Uncharted succeeds where this one fails by the sense of FUN the games have, whereas this one is all dark, foreboding with a lead character with a forced "I can DO it" personality. Gonna go play Legend and Tomb Raider 2 again now.
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  • Avatar for Ohoni #4 Ohoni 3 years ago
    I thought Tomb Raider was fantastic. Second best game in a tough year. Yeah, there was more combat, and yeah, it was more FPS-based, but it was fun enough, and the vast majority of the game's content was in traversal.

    It may have had more combat than vanilla TR, but it still had way less than most other games on the market. The "raiding" was more often of open forests and cliffs than actual caves, but it was still some clever platforming and puzzles equal to anything in the old games.

    I do miss flipping over dogs while shooting at them though.

    I plated TR1 and 2, maybe a little 3, but none of the games since. I played this one, loved it, and will happily buy the sequel.
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #5 jeremy.parish 3 years ago
    @Sam Derboo You're absolutely right; that's why the original TR remains a personal favorite of mine. I wanted to mention here (but couldn't integrate it gracefully without going off on a tangent) that the move toward more human enemies was where TR began to go off the rails. I remember one sequence in TRII where there was some big beefy dude trying to kill Lara with a wrench... so I jumped up on some crates and filled him full of bullets while he walked in circles on the ground mere feet away. The original Core games were all downhill from there.
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  • Avatar for Critical_Hit #6 Critical_Hit 3 years ago
    Bravo USGamer. This is EXACTLY what I've been trying to communicate to people over the course of the year. I can't agree with everything here any more strongly - saying, "It's a good game, but a terrible Tomb Raider game" is what every review should've said.

    It's not like I want to stifle Crystal Dynamics. They've been a great studio ever since Gex shipped, and they already rebooted it once CORRECTLY. They can do what they want. But I know I'm not happy with Tomb Raider '13 and won't ever pick it up. I'm just hoping that now they got people to pay attention to the series again, that the brodudes and lesser game journalists are onboard, they can start to turn it into a proper Tomb Raider game. Fool them into playing something less dumb action game and more engaging exploration/puzzly game.

    It's funny you wrote this and the DmC article (Right Game, Wrong Name) in the same week. Because they're perfect companion pieces. DmC got the core of the series right and changed the presentation, and was considered a disappointment. Tomb Raider changed the core and kept the presentation, and was beloved. Weird state of things...
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  • Avatar for curryking3 #7 curryking3 3 years ago
    I'm not a fan of the changes either. Sure a good game, but it's not a Tomb Raider game, and doesn't capture anything that made the series good in the past. It has been Uncharted-lite and I think that's the problem.

    Tomb Raider Anniversary was when I really realized how much TR as a series could really offer. It was unique in the way it handled combat and traversing.

    By making all these blockbuster games similar, whether it is TR or MGS or any other series, are we really getting more good games? Or are we just getting more of the same "safe" game? I don't want to play Uncharted several times in a row.

    I want to play Uncharted when I play Uncharted, and I want to play Tomb Raider when I play Tomb Raider. The latter doesn't seem possibly anymore unless I go back and play the ones before the reboot now.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #8 SatelliteOfLove 3 years ago
    "And that's even assuming you were to modernize the game's fundamental mechanics. Tomb Raider, seen through 17 years of hindsight, is almost comically boxy and unfathomably clumsy by the standards of 2013. Truth be told, it was too unwieldy to work even a few years after its debut, though that didn't stop Core Designs and Eidos from rehashing the same dated engine annually for five years until the formerly impressive sales of Lara Croft's adventures took a dive off a steep cliff and the franchise fell into a tragic cycle of trailing into obsolescence and playing catch-up with the competitors it helped inspire."

    In the years afterwards, I too looked upon TR1 as a sort of hitchy stutterstep to true, quality 3D movement. I replayed a few levels not too long ago and was amazed when I realized the team behind it did a fantastic job realizing the precision inherent from the restrictive tile-based movement. I have this article to thank for reinventing my views:

    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/187601/untold_riches_the_intricate_.php?print=1

    It's almost like turn-based RPG battles; they're spawned by severe, as-of-yet uncompromised hardware power or software design restrictions, yet can sing if crafted by skilled hands. But they're both disavowed once the conditions of that fugue state are lifted as technology marches on and the results and standards of before are seen as primitive by defacto.

    To bring it back around to the article, it's one of the reasons I see the gameplay in the reboot not being seen as a minus. The platforming is out of the way. The searching is out of the way. The rationing of ammo and healing items is out of the way. When it does rear its head, it's in the way of spectacle, narrative, and reward. The goals are COMPLETELY different. Completely, willfully different.

    God's honest, though: at least what the original had in mind they hit.Edited December 2013 by SatelliteOfLove
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #9 touchofkiel 3 years ago
    Never been a fan of the series, but that single offhand comment in one of your screen captions got me thinking: Assassin's Creed mechanics would be so awesome with a different type of focus. Imagine all those landmark/tomb/catacomb missions, with a greater emphasis on getting by (actually intelligent) A.I. without resorting to lethal force.

    (Which is a big problem for the AC games: except for the insta-fail missions, you're never really discouraged to kill random guards, and it's far too easy to do so. But I digress).

    A Tomb Raider-like game, with AC mechanics and some tense, infrequent enemy encounters - that sounds like a winning game.

    Like I said, though, I'm not beholden to the series, so I can't really care what they do with it. I do know, however, that Uncharted Lite is about as wholly unappealing to me as, well, Uncharted.

    They're not selling the idea of Tomb Raider, the game. They're selling the name and the ludicrously, infamously chested heroine. As such, the franchise is particularly ripe for re-invention.
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  • Avatar for B0b #10 B0b 3 years ago
    "Even Lara's nemesis, Jacqueline Natla, turned out not to be truly human herself."

    Spoiler Warning!!
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #11 jeremy.parish 3 years ago
    @touchofkiel The assassin tombs in ACII were basically what you're describing, and they were my favorite thing in the entire franchise. Basically Prince of Persia by way of AC (and therefore very Tomb Raider-like, since TR1 was basically the original Prince of Persia 3D). Sadly they dropped that feature like a poisoned hot potato in every sequel, because we can't have nice things.
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #12 jeremy.parish 3 years ago
    @SatelliteOfLove No, I totally agree. The mechanics in TR were bad for action, but for exploration they proved wonderfully precise. Sidle up to a ledge, take two backward steps, run up and press jump a second later: It was consistent and reliable.
    @B0b Sorry, dude, after 17 years the statute of spoiler limitations is long past.
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  • Avatar for Windwhale #13 Windwhale 3 years ago
    When they first announced this reboot, I felt a little excited: Could this be a game without the underlying sexism of the past games (which kept me from playing them), focusing even more on exploration, mystery and survival in a harsh wilderness? Then I woke up and remembered what times we live in and that big publishers rarely take such risks.
    And I think they are wrong: Popculture phenomena like "Lost" prove that there is an audience for these themes, even on a big budget level. People still want originality and Tomb Raider has the name recognition to set itself apart and still be profitable.

    But Crystal Dynamics opted to do another torture porn flavored bloodbath instead.
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  • Avatar for nickn #14 nickn 3 years ago
    I loved the reboot. But the game up to where Lara kills her first person is infinitely better than the massacre that follows. My wife(who hates games) was watching up to that point and was completely drawn in. Then it was reduced to the standard genocide simulator and lost some of its appeal.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #15 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    I'm starting to hate fanbases.

    By staying so close to the formula, you get what is happening to Zelda and Mario. Even though the games remain cases of exemplary game design, you still have more and more people feeling fatigued. They're being driven away and, at the same time, these are the same people who will tear down a game for being too different.

    Jeremy, I'm actually down for your idea of shelving these 20-year old franchises if it means less whining from jaded fans. I'm someone who loved Tomb Raider (maybe my GOTY) but I can't stand how it's constantly shoved into my face as the posterchild of everything wrong with games today. I'm tired of it. I understand all the points made by fans, and I don't argue with them because they're essentially correct. 2013 TR is a different game. Everything about it flies in the face of what defined the original game. It's undeniable, but like you admit in your article Jeremy, how is TR going to stay relevant if it keeps churning out similar games in a rapidly changing market? Anniversary and Underworld were the games TR fans demanded, no? Did they set the world on fire? Was anyone paying attention? Those games got ignored despite being occasionally excellent platformers.

    TR had to change. The same thing happened with Resident Evil when RE4 came out. If it kept going the way of Code Veronica and RE0, it would've dissolved faster than a slug in sodium.

    I get the anger. I accept the criticisms. I just wish more people would realize that franchises that have been around for 20+ years rarely, if ever, stay the same. Most of the time they go through drastic changes. With that being the case, isn't it just easier to accept the changes rather than resists them? We would all be a lot happier and less disappointed.
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  • Avatar for danger.to.others #16 danger.to.others 3 years ago
    I too wish someone out there would make a new game with more quiet moments of exploring without constant combat.
    I went into a cave area with hanging leaves and cascading sunlightthat looked so good in AC4, I paused and just looked....only to be mangled by a jaguar.
    But in Crystal's case, making her tomb raid deep intricate areas when she's just a kid wouldn't make sense to the story the reboot told.
    Learning to kill only takes being thrown with your back against the wall. Learning to climb takes time.
    While the combat did get a little out of control in it's sheer volume, it was still by far the best Tomb Raider by way of story, character, controls and graphics.
    The real judgement day comes with the sequel. No excuses, there should be some more exploring going on, now that Lara's all grown up by the end of the reboot.
    But I'm with you in that if someone made a game today, but with modern controls, of simply exploring and climbing and searching for treasure, I'd be a day one purchaser.
    But I'm conflicted, since I enjoy killing people, so I loved what the reboot was, as well.
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  • Avatar for metalangel #17 metalangel 3 years ago
    @jeremy.parish I remember, even at the time, being infuriated by Pierre. How the hell was he getting ahead of me, constantly? What secret route that I couldn't see was he using? To add huge insult to injury, he'd appear, soak up a ton of your ammo, eat your health, and then as soon as he ran behind any object and out of view of the camera, he disappeared. Fuck that, that's complete bullshit. Even if I cornered him and filled him with lead while keeping him in view, the moment he left the camera's view, he disappeared.
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  • Avatar for metalangel #18 metalangel 3 years ago
    @jeremy.parish I remember, even at the time, being infuriated by Pierre. How the hell was he getting ahead of me, constantly? What secret route that I couldn't see was he using? To add huge insult to injury, he'd appear, soak up a ton of your ammo, eat your health, and then as soon as he ran behind any object and out of view of the camera, he disappeared. Fuck that, that's complete bullshit. Even if I cornered him and filled him with lead while keeping him in view, the moment he left the camera's view, he disappeared.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #19 brionfoulke91 3 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino But the way they "changed" Tomb Raider is to make it exactly like other modern games with it's heavy emphasis on linearity, Hollywood style cinematics, and cover based shooting. If your argument is that Tomb Raider shouldn't be more of the same, it doesn't really make sense to change it in such a way that it just offers more of the same of what's popular right now.

    The irony is if they actually released a Tomb Raider game that was like the original versions, it would be very unique in today's console world. Games like that aren't really made anymore. Instead they went the safe route. I'm surprised gamers aren't already heavily fatigued of Uncharted-style games, but I suspect the fatigue is coming soon.
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #20 touchofkiel 3 years ago
    @jeremy.parish Well, they didn't completely drop them - Brotherhood had the Romulus tombs, and Revelations has... I forget. But I agree, ACII's were simply the best, and also my favorite part of the game (and perhaps the series).
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #21 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    @brionfoulke91 How many games actually nail that formula though? People keep saying they're tired of Uncharted clones, but they are sure as hell excited about the next Uncharted. Why is that? It's because Naughty Dog makes quality products and when the formula is well produced, people like it.

    Tomb Raider was a great action game and it one upped Uncharted in many areas: in terms of exploration, player progression, combat and even story, TR had way more to offer, so it wasn't just a game trying to ape a formula but rather a game trying to improve it -- just look at how well implemented the auto-cover system is; it should almost be a standard.

    My overall point I guess, is that by deriding the game as being derivative, you're ignoring the actual quality of the game. In this case, you have a superb game being lambasted for not being like something else. It doesn't feel right to me. I mean, why can't this game also be a Tomb Raider game?
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #22 brionfoulke91 3 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino@Kuni-Nino You just did a complete 180. You started by saying: "By staying so close to the formula, you get what is happening to Zelda and Mario. Even though the games remain cases of exemplary game design, you still have more and more people feeling fatigued." This was your argument for why Tomb Raider needed to change.

    Then I pointed out that Tomb Raider is simply imitating the popular games of today, and now you claim "Naughty Dog makes quality products and when the formula is well produced, people like it."

    So I guess the "formula" is fine if it's Uncharted style games, but not okay if it's anything by Nintendo. Then perhaps Nintendo games would meet your approval if they turned Mario and Zelda games into cover based shooters?
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  • Avatar for wizbob #23 wizbob 3 years ago
    This article only holds up until you look at the old Tomb Raider games, it would be impossible to put something that primitive in terms of story, mechanics or style on the market now.

    My memories of the old games are a mish-mash of multi-storey mechanical buddhas, t-rex attacks and awful voice acting., much closer to Mario or Zelda than an attempt to tell a real-world story. I love Mario & Zelda but I don't think that's where Tomb Raider wants to be.

    The new game was possibly my favourites of last year; it had an intriguing story, open jungle areas like MGS3, decent characters and polished mechanics.

    The tombs themselves were a little short but imaginative and well-constructed. I think most of the old traversal mechanics were included but not used much, which bodes well for the next game.

    The best example for me was the temple that had been reused as a jerry-built fishery; it had a beautifully layered history, a logical reason for the physics-based puzzles and not a single switch or lever in sight.

    Much more attention has been drawn to the gunplay than the other new gameplay element that was introduced in this iteration; the exploration is fantastic. There are large open areas where you can hunt wildlife, collect artifacts and camp by fires. I spent hours digging up the history of the island; the pirates, WWII, the ancient indigenous culture and the links between them. More of this please!

    I agree that there was probably too much combat but it was incredibly slick and it broke up the exploration and tombs.

    It's very hard to take the criticism of this game seriously. If you want even more tombs, download the DLC.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #24 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    @brionfoulke91 How is that a 180? Based on the sales figures of recent games in both series, isn't it fair to say that their low numbers is partly due to franchise fatigue? 3D World and ALBW have both sold like B-tier franchises. A lot of people are complaining about rehashed content.

    The reason why I selected Mario and Zelda is because those are the only franchises, right now, that have managed to survive for decades without having changed their cores. You have to remember, Mario and Zelda were once on the cutting edge of game design. Would you say that's true now? The answer is an obvious 'no' seeing as how previous games have failed to generate any imitators and the games continue dive in terms of total sales. They're getting hit with the 'rehash' label even when it's completely unfair.

    If you look at other old franchises like Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, Castlevania, Metal Gear, you'll find games within those series that completely diverge from one another. They've had to evolve to accommodate consumer tastes. This is what should happen.

    The other point regarding Uncharted, you have to keep in mind that the cinematic action game is a genre that is hot right now, and a genre that is still evolving. Tomb Raider in the 90's was still just a platformer with occasional combat sections. The reboot is a straight up cinematic action game which represents a radical shift for the series. It was a new experience for everyone. Tomb Raider hadn't been that for a very long time.

    As for your question, I would love to see Mario or Zelda go into third person shooters. I imagine it would be something we've never seen before and that would be great to see. Remember how people groaned at the thought of turning Metroid into an FPS? Then Metroid Prime came out and obliterated everything?
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #25 brionfoulke91 3 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino So correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you're saying that game franchises should change in order to imitate what is popular, making money is what's important, and originality doesn't really matter. Am I wrong?
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #26 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    @brionfoulke91 I'm saying that franchises should continue to evolve. It's good when they do.
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  • Avatar for gigantor21 #27 gigantor21 3 years ago
    I really liked the Tomb Raider reboot. I didn't go into it with any preconceptions as I'd never played the original games, so it being action oriented didn't bother me. Having been thoroughly disappointed with the DMC reboot, though, I can totally understand where long-time fans are coming from.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #28 brionfoulke91 3 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino Depends on how they evolve. In the case of Tomb Raider, it started out as a genuinely unique experience that captivated people, and has now "evolved" into a clone of another series in a desparate attempt to stay relavent and make money. There's really nothing good about that. I think devolve is a more appropriate term than "evolve" in this case.

    I'm sure it's a nice game for people who enjoy the style of Uncharted, a shallow and Hollywoodized game where you spend most of your time killing countless people. I personally don't. But even if you like them, you can't try to pretend like the newest Tomb Raider game is a form of progress. The only progress this current Tomb Raider makes is to drag AAA gaming one step closer to homogeneity.
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  • Avatar for alexb #29 alexb 3 years ago
    I think the new Tomb Raider reboot kind of failed to make any impression at all. The dramatic cutscenes and reboot of Lara were quite predictable and cliched. Lots of crumbling rocks and slow mo, outstretched-arms-and-mouth-agape-in-a-silent-scream jumping scenes. And horrific, gut-piercing injuries that were forgotten about seconds after the cutscene detailing them ended.

    In particular, the way the game went from a completely pedestrian sequence where Lara weeps about shooting a deer when she's starving to gameplay consisting of little more than puncturing scores of enemy skulls with bullets or a climbing pick just a few hours later, complete with flourish animations from Lara and sweeping kill cam shots, is beyond ridiculous.

    It's also worth pointing out that the actual story the cutscenes were in service to was so afraid of offending or weirding out anybody that they actually made the bad guys a pack of nondescript, grimy white guys, even though the setting was an ancient Japanese island ruled by a mythological figure.

    The exploration felt hemmed in and overly guided and the climbing and traversal felt completely weightless. I mean that literally. Lara moved like she didn't weigh anything. Too quick, with no inertia even when launching herself off the side of something with a giant leap and catching or landing on something 20 feet away. It was like you were controlling some kind of robot in a pretty girl skin rather than an actual human with flesh and bones. Her amazing proficiency with antique rifles and shotguns and ability to completely absorb recoil with her tiny frame were similarly inhuman.

    This disconnected, weightless feel to the gameplay, combined with the regenerating health and the omnipresent GPS minimap, made the experience feel very sterile and artificial despite trying to make the setting as dirty and organic as possible in its art direction. How can you feel like you're exploring anything when the game will tell your your latitude and longitude and helpfully let you know there's a "hidden tomb" three meters to your right?

    I think Crystal Dynamics made a very polished, good looking game that plays easily and is enjoyable in a bland way. But in so many ways they flubbed the little details that make a story and a game feel distinct and right. The game had zero identity. If this is what has to be done for a brand name to survive, so be it. But I don't think you can classify what happened here as "saving" anything.Edited December 2013 by alexb
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #30 SatelliteOfLove 3 years ago
    @alexb
    That was what I meant earlier, it's a rather flatter me-too game where the action and exploration bits at their best when they don't get in the way of the emphasized parts, similar to the bare scant cutscenes in Wiz's first paragraph.

    Thing is though, we have analog 3D exploration done much better in the years after TR1's debut. That's the real defining moment, they shouldn't be stumbling on such things now whereas TR1 had much less to draw from when they went with the "chessboard" design that was expanded upon to what I described and linked to earlier. The occasional fact the recent one's gameplay got in the way of the narrative showed that narrative wasn't strong enough to get past it wasn't helping much, either.Edited December 2013 by SatelliteOfLove
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  • Avatar for docexe #31 docexe 3 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino Ok, while I understand your point about franchises needing to evolve and how sometimes the resistance to change from fanbases might be detrimental to them (something that I also personally decry), I want to point out that the way you enunciate your example with Metroid Prime as an FPS game is not entirely accurate: When it comes down to it, Metroid Prime is not a FPS in the vein of Doom, Halo, or COD, but rather a typical Metroidvania game that just happens to have a first person view. The game was considered successful specifically because it managed to adapt the core gameplay of a Metroid game to a new perspective.

    As I see it, when it comes to the evolution of a franchise, regardless of what changes you make and what new elements you include, you NEED to preserve some of the core elements of the original gameplay, atmosphere or feeling, as those are usually what makes the series distinctive and what attracted players towards it originally. Otherwise, if you discard those elements entirely, you would be better doing a spin-off. It’s a tough call, balancing the old with the new, but some developers have managed to do it (see Resident Evil 4, the sands trilogy of Prince of Persia, and even Nintendo itself with Mario Galaxy or some of the unappreciated entries in the Zelda series).

    Now, the only Tomb Raider games that I have played are Tomb Raider 2 (which I actually hated back in the PSOne era as I just felt its controls incredibly clunky), Legends and Anniversary (which I actually liked back then), so I honestly don’t know how the new Tomb Raider fares in that regard. I think it’s a bit disturbing how the game seems to have moved to emphazise combat and gritty violence, but I will need to actually play it before I can emit any judgement.Edited December 2013 by docexe
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  • Avatar for jeremypeterson25 #32 jeremypeterson25 3 years ago
    For a reboot that now focuses more on action than exploration, it had the best 3rd-person action I've ever played. It felt so perfect to me while sneaking around, taking cover, shooting. I want all action games of this perspective to now control the same!
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