In all honesty I wanted to like the new Tomb Raider game. Ever since it was released and they showed off a few trailers, I was excited about what this new chapter meant for Ms Croft and her tropical tomb adventures. It’s a pity then, that the Tomb Raider demo at this years Eurogamer turned out to be the most boring piece of software I got my hands on.
The demo was a basic introduction to the climbing and hunting mechanics present in the reboot. For a game that is set on an island filled with nature and a variety of animals, some of which I got to kill, the experience was something of a lifeless one. Running through the undergrowth there was no sense of adventure. Even scrambling across a wrecked plane didn’t hold any surprises. Oh that parts coming away in my hands. How quaint.
I think most of my criticism falls on the level design, which never rose above simply being a point A to point B kind of affair. When the map did open up in which I had to hunt animals for meat, I immediately got lost, ending up stuck at the edge of the map. My exploration proved fruitless, and this made me sad. When the demo wasn’t funnelling me down a linear path I was lost in unintuitive design and had to refer to my map several times to get back on track. Oh and she has a digital map, which kind of kills the whole survive in the jungle vibe.
As for the shooting mechanics and hunting, there’s nothing wrong with them on a technical level. Aiming is fluid and precise, holding the bow string back for too long resulted in shakier aim which was meant you had to line up your shot and take it without too much messing about. The hunting elements leave much to be desired. It amounts to little more than standing a few feet away from your target and shooting them, running after them until they stop, and shoot them again. I landed my first arrow into a deer’s neck, thinking it would make a nice clean kill. Imagine my surprise when I needed another two to take this super animal down.
I suppose it was mighty handy then that I just kept coming across arrows in the middle of the jungle. The fact that this game is advertised as Lara surviving in the wilderness, I was kind of hoping I’d be able to make my own arrows by collecting materials. There’s no indication that this is the case, so the whole woman vs wild thing was a big disappointment.
Were there any bright sparks in the demo? Well I liked the upgrade system. Sitting around a camp fire you can use experience to level up skills in a very Dark Souls kind of fashion, but I didn’t even get to play around with that as it only became apparent at the end of the demo. No, on the whole I did not enjoy my time with Tomb Raider. I realise demo’s aren’t always indicative to the final product (the original Dead Space had an awful demo), but if anyone asks I’ll tell them to save their money and go play Uncharted.
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