I just booted up Tomb Raider: Anniversary because I’ve always loved the idea of the Lara Croft games, but never really got into them. I had an N64 instead of a playstation as a kid so that was out. By the time I got a Playstation 2 the Lara Croft games had dive bombed into awfulness. Then came Crystal Dynamics.
Crystal Dynamics is a really solid developer. I don’t think any of their games win awards for best of the best, but their games always work. You turn it on, you play it, you like it, you turn it off and all is well. Putting them on Tomb Raider to right the ship was the best idea anyone around Lara Croft had since they went about making the first movie.
I’m just about an hour into it and there’s a lot of stuff here. One of the reasons I never played Tomb Raider as a kid (even with friends) is because Lara Croft is an absurd character. The redesign kept much of that absurdness, only toned down to slightly less offensive forms. The beginning of the game has a cut scene where someone tells Lara to go do stuff, I skipped it. I really can’t abide a majority cut scenes. The actual game game starts with a Man in a refrigerator moment.
Lara Croft doesn’t need to wear clothes. She’s a super hero. We start in the mountains of some country we don’t care about. There’s a native of the land with a huge backpack full of stuff he needs to move around, except no rope to help Lara climb up. No big deal, Lara has a magic video game grapple hook. I need to write a feature about video game grappling hooks. Metroid Prime may be the only game that actually has one. This is off topic.
Lara Croft is standing in the snowy mountains surrounded by death and cold in nothing but her short-sleeve shirt, short shorts, a pair of pistols, and a magical grappling hook. That’s all. It’s freezsing outside, no leg warmers, nothing on the arms. This is what we’re dealing with. A character who’s main purpose to try and sell video games based on her sexual appeal, and never do we dare to limit her sexual charms by putting her in outfits that someone might actually wear when traversing through ice cold mountains.
That’s the whatever of it though. Once I’m able to get past this I’m assaulted with one of the dumbest animations I’ve ever seen. It’s Lara’s handstand. Throughout the game you’re climbing over stuff (which is part of the real fun of Tomb Raider) and often times when you’re pulling yourself up onto a ledge, you’ll do a handstand. This serves no point, especially since there’s an animation of her actually just climbing up the same way every pereson on other human being ever would climb up a cliff face. It’s frustrating because I know what it is. There is so much good going on in this game from a gameplay standpoint that it just makes the dumb stuff more frustrating. The only reason she does these absurd animation is to show you, again, how sexy she is. I get it. Lara is a sexy character, now let me play my game. It really says something about who they think is playing this that the only way their target audience will finish this game is if they’re constantly rewarded with shots of Lara attempting to earn a few extra dollars on the side.
No biggie though. I already gave Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix my two dollars, and I knew what I was getting into when I started playing this. The rest of the game is good enough for me to ignore all this stuff.
Oh, and about our dude in a fridge. This dude is eaten by wolves right before you enter the tomb. Lara then kills the wolves and leaves the dude’s body (along with his giant backpack of presumably useful stuff) outside, cause yeah. That’s just how she rolls.