Thursday 15 November 2012

Tomb Raider 1996 Retrospective

With a new 'Tomb Raider' game on the horizon, imaginatively called 'Tomb Raider' in a bid to relaunch the series, I have taken it upon myself to revisit the original, also named 'Tomb Raider', which came  out all the way back in 1996. So I whacked out my old PlayStation One copy, which took forever to find, set up the PS2, which has been collecting dust for the last few years and began a nostalgic journey back to my teens. But how has this game held up against the test of time? Well... Let's find out shall we?  
The original cover showing Lara Croft's unrealistic body shape.  Didn't every woman look like this in the 90s?

The first thing that hits me is how outdated the graphics are, with harsh sharp edges to everything, it looks like Lara's wearing a Madonna style cone bra, she was so on trend. And with her big eyes, narrow nose and massive lips, she looks a bit, dare I say, like a monkey. But putting the aesthetics aside and the slightly clunky game play, the game is still pretty good. The eerie atmosphere of the tomb that's been empty for hundreds of years holds up very well, helped mainly by the score which sets the tone perfectly.
The expansive levels still look good and bring back so many memories. I suddenly remember there's a hidden room, if you back flip off the block, jump forward and bounce off the rock before pulling yourself up into the room to receive you reward, a small medipack, worth it! Maybe it's because I played it so much as a kid, but it feels a little to easy, of course I took full advantage of the games auto lock guns, but I felt like I was cheating, there is absolutely no skill involved, not to mention the puzzles are a bit basic. But I just didn't care, I was having to much fun. I love the noises Lara makes, the sigh as she pulls herself up, the ah-ha moment when she discovers a secret and the small bits of dialogue she says in the cinematic cut scenes, 'Pierre, you litter bug.'

I still got a little jumpy whenever a wolf or gorilla would turn up out of the blue, but I'm not gonna lie, the impact of  the T-Rex is lost now. Knowing it's coming  and knowing there's a cave you can stand in and shoot him where he can't touch you means all the excitement has gone. I lost more health from an unexpected bat then from this bastard. However, those bloody cat mummy things still freak the shit out of me, I don't know why but there's something about them I just don't like.

 There is a feeling of restraint in playing an old game that has been improved on in many sequels and even a remake. I feel like Lara's 'run' is so slow, it's more of a light jog and when she 'walks' she's just taking the piss. But I do love how she can swan dive into a forward roll, as well as being able to pull herself up from a ledge into a hand stand  before elegantly lowering herself to the ground. And she has the ability to push and pull large stone blocks around easily. It's amazing how someone can have so much upper body strength yet such a petite frame - she must be on a very strict diet.

There is so much I love about this game, from the mansion training level to the story about Atlantis. How much did you love the inventory screen? That spinning circle of items Lara has collected that she is supposedly carrying in her tiny backpack, not to mention the passport of saved spots and past levels that you can revisit to your hearts content. I couldn't find the original but here's the one from the second game; it's pretty much the same but with some funky Chinese fabric in the background.

Ah, memories. I want to take a moment to talk about the weapons. Four guns, that's all you get, your standard duel pistols with unlimited ammo, thank you very much, the much loved Shotgun, Magnums and those wonderful Uzis, that you don't even get til right near the end and have to jump on an invisible platform to get your grubby little hands on them. I also loved that at the end of each level you got your stats, like how long it took you, how many secrets you found, I always missed one, and how many animals you killed, or should that be how many animals are now extinct. I completely forgot about all those things until I replayed it.
It may have dated a bit, ok a lot, but I loved it and I'm looking forward to the release of the new one. What do you think? Let me know, feel free to comment, follow, like, plus and share.


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