Recently, we’ve been playing Tomb Raider, the definitive edition on the PS4. It’s the game that actually made us interested in the new generation consoles in the first place, and it’s a highlight in what has been a very quiet early market for this new Playstation.
I was intrigued by the game trailer when we saw it so very long ago, it looked good but I was concerned about the level of screeching and pained noises that Lara was making. It seemed to show a level of realism that I’m not really looking for when it comes to an hour or two of Playstation time.
My initial feelings when the game first started were exactly that too. Along with the incredible views, you get increasingly graphic and painful looking interactions. Within minutes, Lara has impaled herself on something and then limped her way into the daylight in a blood-soaked shirt. Maybe this is something that people are used to and I’m just way behind the times when it comes to current games. But when Lara used to die, she would make a few brief grunts and then crumple. End of story. Now, when your current story comes to an end, it’s because her head has been crushed by a rock or someone has slit her throat, or any number of gory views.
I’m still coming to terms with this, but it is something you gradually get used to the more you play. Two things I can’t get used to are the difference between when I’m playing and when I’m watching, and how hard it is to fight/shoot. Cut scenes are so called because it used to be really obvious when you would cut and watch a short video, then return to playing the game. Now there is no line and I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat waiting for Lara to move before realising she’s under my control again. Slightly embarrassing.
The shooting skills required in this game are a level beyond me. Mr C and I make playing Tomb Raider something of a shared experience and it used to be that he would do all the searching vast areas and unravelling puzzles, whilst I would do the jumping and the shooting. With the new game, those roles have been completely turned on their head. I can’t do the shooting at all. Aiming is new to me, and very hard. Reloading or switching weapons is clunky. Don’t get me started on hunting those deer. How I long for the days where Lara would aim for you. At one point, battling enemies with shields, I resorted to button-mashing and hoping for the best. I haven’t had to do that since, perhaps, Street Fighter 2.
The puzzles, however, that’s an area that has grown in interest for me with this definitive game. After a short while of playing, we found ourselves jumping all around a fallen plane, setting fire to things, working out which bits needed to move where to get where you wanted to go. There are secret tombs and a huge number of things to collect (too many, really, but you’ve got to love the scope) and lots of mini-challenges to complete.
All the while, you’re traipsing around an incredible landscape. The graphics are supreme, it goes without saying, but the island background makes it what it is. With planes falling out of the sky, hostile islanders, radio towers to climb and people disappearing without trace, the game is essentially Lara does LOST, but it’s so beautiful that it’s worth it.
Having quite recently played some of the older games, it’s quite a transition to this new way of playing, but Lara continues to evolve. I don’t like all the new things but there’s enough of the old Tomb Raider left to make it playable and ultimately enjoyable.
The only thing I’m really, really missing, though, is the a-ha. It’s just not the same without it.