davidn: (Default)
[personal profile] davidn

When you finish a game and your mood is "Thank god that's over", it probably isn't a good sign. I finally decided to go through Tomb Raider 3, long after playing the second one when it was released and then catching up with the first several years later - the games had scored a record-breaking three 10/10s in a row from the Official UK Playstation Magazine, which I'd thought of as a major accomplishment before I realized that game journalists handed out top scores not necessarily according to the quality of the game but according to how much cash the publisher had poured into the magazine's advert space. (Honestly, though, OPM was usually pretty good for avoiding this, until they gave the rubbish Star Wars Episode 1 game a cover feature and a 9/10 which was a dead giveaway).

The Prince of Persia-alike gameplay that I enjoyed in Tomb Raider 2 is still completely intact, but this time around there's just a bit too much of it in every respect. There are twenty levels and every one of them is absolutely gigantic, which on paper sounds great for the longevity of a game but in reality means that each of the drags on for far longer than you think they will, and that the moments of feeling you're getting a reward for your progress are few and far between.

Even though I'd previously said that I enjoyed the precision and heaviness of the controls compared to the modern Tomb Raider games, as you have to precisely line your jumps up in a world made out of predictable Lego bricks, I found myself getting irritated with the slowness of it all this time around. A lot of it is due to the new crawling ability, a stance in which you're completely vulnerable and the time taken to turn around to react to anything could be measured on a calendar. The other new mechanics are all just irritating as well - poisonous attacks that cause your health bar to drain over time until you use a precious medikit, an exposure meter that limits your swimming in cold water to a few seconds, and new vehicles that are very good at getting caught on corners.

The levels are also arranged completely incomprehensibly - it's rare for a switch to show you what it's done, and usually it'll be to open a door or change the water level on the other side of the map somewhere. They're also set up so that small slips can send you back an extremely long way (the third level River Ganges is particularly bad for this, having to climb a long route above a river and waterfall, and if you fall in, the current will take you all the way back to the start). Towards the end, they even manage to make a minecart ride boring - it's set up like a roller coaster, but you have to watch your speed very carefully and put the brakes on to get around corners, but not too much so that you can't get over gaps. There's no way to react correctly the first time around because you require future knowledge of the route.

Thankfully, you can save at any time... on the PC, at least. Save crystals are dotted throughout the levels, mostly in secret areas, and on the PC they just refill your health but on the Playstation they act as tokens that allow you to save. I would estimate that there are about eighty of them in the game if you find every single secret - I used 714 saves. I can only imagine how frustrating this game would have been on its home platform - but maybe everyone was a bit more willing to take a punishment in those days.

I've been rather negative about this despite having spent twenty hours on it - I still enjoyed traversing the Indiana Jones-style obstacles, as awkward as many of them were. The penultimate level is much more along the lines of a classic Tomb Raider environment with a set of four satisfying element-based challenges, which leaves a good impression right at the very end if you can make it there.

Finally, it's also worth mentioning a truly astonishing bug that you can trigger by loading a game while still on an interstitial screen, causing the game to use the wrong texture set (and apparently random bits of video memory as well, because the FRAPS counter makes it into this one). It plunges you into a terrifying otherworld make up of letters, wrong textures, and bits of your own face.

Date: 2018-01-27 04:47 pm (UTC)
kjorteo: Glitched screenshot from Pokémon Yellow, of Pikachu's portrait with scrambled graphics. (Pikachu: Glitch)
From: [personal profile] kjorteo
As someone who is fascinated possibly (arguably) to the point of sexual attraction to old MissingNo-like "Loaded garbage data and it turned into this somehow" glitches, this video tour of the Minus World presents Silent Hill utterly delights me.

And your description of the River Ganges reminds me of what happened when we played Snake, Rattle N' Roll and you ended up quoting As Long as I Fall. :D

Date: 2018-01-28 12:36 am (UTC)
kjorteo: Screenshot of Doomsday Warrior with a portrait of Amon, a fighter in ostentatious heavy metal attire. (Heavy Metal King)
From: [personal profile] kjorteo
I'm not bold enough to proclaim that anything I personally haven't heard of must not exist, but... that song was the first, and still (to date) only time I've ever heard that metaphor, anyway! I agree, it's brilliant.

Date: 2018-01-27 10:23 pm (UTC)
chalcedony_starlings: Two scribbled waveforms, one off-black and one off-white, overlapping, on a flat darkish purpleish background. (scribble twins)
From: [personal profile] chalcedony_starlings

(+) Is that the end screen image at the top? That's very… uh… o..O

(−) Huh. O..o

Date: 2018-01-27 10:42 pm (UTC)
kjorteo: Crop from Action Replay box art, of a very cheap imitation bootleg Charizard with a hippo-like giant nose and ear tufts.  Text on the bottom reads "NOT FAKE" (PARizard: NOT FAKE)
From: [personal profile] kjorteo
Welcome to Tomb Raider!

Though I'm unsure if this is a parody image (like if David cropped that just to make some pointed jab at "this is what Tomb Raider games look like to most people") or if it really actually does that, and I'm not sure which is worse.

Edit: Wait, shouldn't her ponytail have, like, an ending of some sort? You can't just braid forever until the braid magically stops mid-braid.
Edited Date: 2018-01-27 10:43 pm (UTC)

Date: 2018-01-27 10:47 pm (UTC)
chalcedony_starlings: Two scribbled waveforms, one off-black and one off-white, overlapping, on a flat darkish purpleish background. (scribble twins)
From: [personal profile] chalcedony_starlings

(−) Obviously her ponytail is part of a Long Gun from Schlock Mercenary.

Date: 2018-01-28 12:46 am (UTC)
kjorteo: Portrait of the low-res overworld model of Red XIII from Final Fantasy VII, looking grumpy. (Sigh.)
From: [personal profile] kjorteo
"The End." Hah. I see what they did there.

Yeah, there's a reason I never got into this series.

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