Monday, 2 November 2015

Twomb Raidered

Tomb Raider 2 is done and dusted. It's basically more of the same, but I'll sum up a few things here. First up, I didn't enjoy it as much as the first game. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it, just that I preferred TR1. Most of that is about the level design and the amount of enemies. TR1 was very much about empty, unexplored spaces that were inhabited by a few wild creatures, but not much else. In TR2 there are a lot more human foes. They don't particularly make the game any harder (in fact, I'd say the recurring 'boss' humans in the first game were trickier to kill), they just serve to get in your way and slow you down a bit. I much preferred the feeling in the first game where the true enemy was the environment. That game had plenty of levels where the whole thing was an elaborate puzzle, but there wasn't so much of that this time around. It's not all bad news, though. I did actually like some of the level innovations here - I enjoyed the 'real world' locations, such as cities and buildings more than I thought I would. I enjoyed the Venice section and the Himalayan monastery. The sunken shipwreck was fun for a bit (I liked the upside-down level particularly), but it dragged on waaay too long, and I don't think underwater levels are particularly Tomb Raider's strongest point. The story - what there was of it - also didn't really go anywhere. That's actually one aspect that I am looking forward to improving. The first game didn't really have much at all, and the second game had a few cut scenes, but not really much to speak of other than the manual telling me a bit about the dagger. I can't wait to get some proper story elements to drive the game forward and bring a bit more meaning to each level. I don't know how much that will really improve in the third game, but the first cut scene I've seen was already much better.

There were only a couple of new moves introduced: zip-lines, which were fun but not really that integral to gameplay, and vehicles, which in general handled terribly, but didn't overstay their welcome, and were a nice diversion from the main game. I don't want vehicles to necessarily become a much bigger part of the series (but I think they do), but they made a fun, quick break from the core gameplay. They also added flares to light up dark areas, but I only really used them a couple of times throughout the adventure. There was also a bit more graphical polish - higher resolution, which is good to have, and some more polygons and frames of animation, but otherwise it's business as usual. I've started the first level of TR3 and that makes some more integral changes to the moveset - a duck and crawl move, and a sprint - that feel like much bigger additions (they've also changed the sidestep keys to what used to be Shift+turn, which has confused the heck out of me, but I'm sure I'll get used to it).

Next up on the series list is TR3 and, as mentioned, I've already had a quick go at the first level. If nothing else, that shows that I'm still keen to play these games. They definitely got something right in those early Tomb Raiders that is keeping me firmly hooked. And I'm very glad to see that they still have the 'save anywhere' feature in the PC version. I'm hoping that stays, there's nothing worse than those horrible save crystals in the PS games (oddly, they do actually have save crystals in the PC version, but they simply serve to refill your health. Maybe they couldn't be bothered to remove the graphics from the game when they ported it?).

In other news, I dug up the manual for The Train, but I haven't been able to give it a decent go yet. I did have a quick go, but died instantly because I couldn't figure out the keys - hence the need for the manual. I'm still not planning on staying long on it, but I'll see how it is.

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