So I read my significant podcasting other’s Tomb Raider review, and summarily dismissed the game. Deprava came down pretty negatively on it, as you can read here. Now, the problem with rainy weekends is there ain’t s$$t to do, and Steam makes buying games easy. Long story short, I ended up getting Tomb Raider. I basically agree with everything Deprava said about the game, except I kind of don’t, because he made the game sound derivative and skip-worthy, but it’s actually kind of amazing in the way only transcendent camp can be. Think Fast Five in video game form. Anyway, before you read anymore, please understand I want you to buy this game right now. Don’t wait for it to be reduced price; buy it now and play it now. I’d say “rent it,” but even Blockbuster shareholders don’t rent anymore.
Crystal Dynamics, whom Wikipedia revealed designed the game, mixed together Batman: Arkham Asylum, Uncharted, and Assassin’s Creed III, then multiplied them by tits, and raised everything to the power of shaky cam. The result can only be described as a HOT mess, with all capitals in “HOT” because it completely makes up for the mess. The game is frantic as hell; I’ve put in 3 hours into the game, and still have no idea what I’m doing where or why. By the way, that was 3 hours straight. And I have ADD, so that’s impressive. I could not put the game down. I only did so to write this review. So far, it’s just been shaky cam chasing Lara’s tits as she slides down waterfalls and gets shoved down caves on fire. I don’t know how rock burns, but basically everything in the game environment can and will burn. Little hint windows keep popping up all game long, just in case you forgot your torch can burn s$$t 4 hours in. I’d criticize the game for this, but anyone with an attention span longer than a squirrel’s probably won’t find the experience enjoyable, and those hints are likely useful to those people and me.
OK, the premise of the game is…well, I’m not sure. There was a 2 minute intro video which felt like an edited trailer for a game show they just decided to use as the entire expository opening. Lara was on a huge ship listening to an iPod, when a storm wrecks the ships and she gets washed up on an isl—aah! someone punched her. Now you’re hanging in a cave, wh—fire! fire! now you fall. AH! You just fell onto a metal pole that stabbed you. This is basically the pacing for the plot from now on. S$$t happens really fast and you get hurt. Eventually you learn the island is called “Yamatai,” and was once an ancient land near Japan ruled by the empress Himiko. I won’t bother using my encyclopedic knowledge of Japanese history to explain what’s wrong with that, because I’m pretty sure this video game was designed by a fifteen year old while he was masturbating. Let’s just say Lara dropping observations like “These cave statues predate the Kofun period” come off pretty hilariously. I’m also not going to point out that the whole game is basically the Green Arrow’s origin story. Even though I just did.
Let’s talk about
tits Lara. She’s an archaeologist who was looking for Yamatai on a 3-Hour Tour. After getting washed up on the island, she toughens up really quick though and grows character-wise. By quick I mean instantly, within 30 minutes she’s killed people, scaled cliffs, been stabbed through the gut by a metal pole, torn the metal pole from her own gut, killed wolves, stepped into a bear trap, etc. A gruff Scotsman gives her a pep talk at one point about needing to be tough, and I was like “Have you seen the last 2 hours?! This chick could chew you into diamonds.” But you know, if you say stuff, it makes it true. So cut scenes talking about her character growth make it real even though she’s been Rambo from 2 minutes into the game. The background to the story, and characters, are introduced mostly through short videos Lara watches on her camcorder, and they provide a nice respite from the falling and hurting. It’s a good effect, though perhaps a bit trite.
And she’s Rambo. The gameplay is fun and exciting. You can kill people with bow and arrow headshots. It’s awesome. Lara also gets fire arrows later on, so she can flame-arrow bad guys in the face. You can run around parkour-style like Assassin’s Creed. And the LB button is also detective mode like in Arkham Asylum for whatever reason. It’s an incredible combination of all that made the last 5 years of action/adventure games fun. The action seems more fluid than in the Uncharted series, which tends to be denser and heavier. Deprava lampooned the level up system, but it adds a lot to the game, as areas you cannot immediately access open up later on, for more exploration. Another cool aspect: you rest and level up at bonfires, which is straight out of Dark Souls. And that’s a top 10 best game all time. There’s also weird graffiti markings all over the island, like the signs in Portal. Crystal Dynamics took everything from everywhere! It’s glorious; I just hope Apple doesn’t sue them.
The exploration, by the way, is the best part of the game. Yamatai is an amazing environment, and roaming through the island is pure fun. The game’s presentation in general is top-notch. I don’t use the term “AAA title” as slander, like Deprava does. I personally tend to enjoy professionalism and high production value, as oppose to the recent slew of indie games, which are gaining STEAM lately. get it?! They’re always 2-D platformers and s$$t. It’s 2013. Use 3 dimensions, at least. Anyway, Tomb Raider is a AAA title, and feels like one. It’s cinematic. The shaky cam is a big reason I never know what’s going on, but it keeps me on my toes. The cut scenes aren’t overly ponderous, and don’t break up the action too much. Interestingly, during the cinematics, the camera always seems to be focused on Lara’s tits. It’s shaky, but like it’s tethered to her breasts or something. Shots reveal her cleavage head-on, underneath, and even in interesting behind the back from above shots. It’s like a weird voyeur porno. If you doubt me, look up at the pic for this post. That’s from the first 20 seconds. But the game is about a woman finding her place and being strong, so I guess it’s OK?
I’m not going to mince words. The game is hyper fun. Did I mention there’s Oni demons and magic? It’s all in there. It might be shallower than rain puddle, but not everything can be James Joyce. If you’re looking for pure escapism and frenetic action, this is the title for you. Go buy it, and explore the mysteries of Yama-Fire! Fire! Now we’re falling.
P.S- I’ve played more of it. The copying doesn’t stop at other video games. There’s a 3 minute sequence that’s straight ripped from The Descent, a horror movie about Aussie lesbians fighting goblins in Appalachia. These people have no shame. Love it!