Recently I played the first two games of the Tomb Raider remakes. They’re especially fun if you like 3D platformers with a bit of story, which I do. However, there were a few things which I found lacklustre. I’m including both games in one post mainly because of how similar they are, and when I say similar, I mean they’re basically the same game with the second one having improved graphics and mechanics. However, I will mostly be focusing on the first game.
The first Tomb Raider (2013) goes back to when Lara Croft was just starting out being a badass. The game starts with Lara sailing to find the lost kingdom of Yamatai but everything goes horribly wrong as she gets stranded on a seemingly deserted island and separated from her friends. Typical. She’s forced to explore the island to try and find her friends, but what she finds out is that there are bad guys there and apparently this is actually the island she was looking for in the first place. Basically, you have to fight off bad guys, while doing parkour to get around the island, so that you can find your friends and the truth about the Yamatai island. The second game Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015) follows a similar plot progression where she goes to a place, gets separated from her friend, and finds out that she’s not the only one who’s doing the same thing but with different intentions. It’s quite a generic explanation and if you look deeper into the story it’s somewhat interesting. Interesting enough for more games to be released.
I do want to say that the actual story progression, not the story itself, in both games is well executed. This is what kept me playing the second game. The games made me ask questions and think of what might happen next. Let’s just say the presentation was better than the content itself in that regard. The cutsences and the transitions were decent and didn’t break the immersiveness of the games, so props to that. But what I really want to praise is the camera work. It brings you closer to the action with its great angles and cool transition scenes, and makes you feel connected to Lara, as if you’re going through exactly what she’s going through. Very nice. The controls felt solid, which is to be expected from AAA rated games, but in the first one some of the animations were a bit off. This didn’t really ruin my experience of the game since they were minor, but I still noticed them. In the second one, they’re mostly fixed. Mostly.
Anyway, let’s get into the actual game. In the first one you experience the newness of the game, figure out all the mechanics, enjoy the level design and even the simple plot. However, this is very different when it comes to the second game. Straight away you notice that you’re basically playing a revamped version of the game. Pretty much everything was the same, from solving parkour puzzles, to fighting enemies, to gaining rewards. One thing that didn’t get boring was seamlessly manoeuvring through each level (in both games). Especially when the dynamic environment crumbles behind you and you make it just in the nick of time. It was deeply satisfying, just because of how beautiful the environments are, seemed like everything was put there for a reason. The architecture looked wonderful, even if it was a little dull in colour in the first one, but that’s only because of where the game’s set. The second game improves on that and is definitely something to look forward to. Personally, I feel the level design and how you move around the levels is one of the strongest aspects.In both games there’s a reward system which allows you to unlock skills and upgrade weapons. Maybe that’s why I spent an hour or so playing the first Tomb Raider scavenging around and locating secrets. But stopped caring soon after since the rewards and upgrades didn’t feel worth it. In Rise of Tomb Raider, I didn’t even bother trying to find any secrets or complete any side missions. Oh yeah, didn’t I tell you? The second game has those. Nothing interesting or maybe I’m just not a hardcore fan. Anyway, the reason I stopped caring is because the skill tree was dry, there were a couple of obvious options like take less damage from enemies and some cool moves, but all the other ones might as well have not existed. It didn’t feel like my character was getting any stronger through-out the games. I did like the weapon upgrading because you could see the models being changed in game and made them more powerful. Rise of the Tomb raider did polish and updated both the skill tree and weapon upgrades mechanic and to be honest, it wasn’t too bad, but wasn’t enough keep me on board to do the extra work.
Going to be quite honest with you, I love Tomb Raider and I played a bunch of previous games too, but not quite like these two. These games have a simple yet compelling story, which the games carefully put you through and make every dramatic moment the best it can be. The environment and level design alone make me want to replay the game, but I won’t, since it’s just not a game to be replayed. But that feeling is there, okay. Once you’ve completed the story there’s really nothing else to do, except maybe discover some tombs I’ve missed. The only two aspects of the game I really enjoyed are the story and the level design. Not so much the actual story since it’s a bit cliché but the way the story progresses and how the game makes you feel part of it. The level design is on another level, its beautiful environments are breath-taking and the way you move through each level is fluid and seamless. It’s worth playing and completing at least the first one for the low price they are now. I’ll definitely purchase and play the next game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider but only when it’s on discount.