Wednesday 1 May 2013

Tomb Raider III 1998 Retrospective

With the release of the brilliant new Tomb Raider game, my love for the original games has been rejuvenated. I've gone back on a trip to the 90s to revisit the original Tomb Raider, the hugely successful follow up Tomb Raider II and now I've made it to the third game in the series. When the game was first released, I was very vocal in my belief that this was by far the most superior Tomb Raider game, with better graphics, story and gameplay. But how does this one hold up over time and how does it compare to the original two in the series?
After the global success of the first two games, Core Design decided to stick to the formula that had proved so popular in the past. They pretty much just made everything bigger; bigger levels, bigger arsenal, bigger wardobe and bigger breasts. One of the new additions to Tomb Raider III was the fact that you could chose the order of what locations Lara could visit in the game. There's only like three to choose from but at the time, the idea of making the choice for yourself was very exciting. The levels were more open than previous games, making it seem like you were exploring a larger area and that the game was a little less linear. This was also the last game with the classic rotating menu screen, still one of the best things about the original trilogy. 

The story itself is very similar to the past games; Lara travels the world to find four meteorite stones that give the owner supernatural powers when put together. It's not very imaganative, original or interesting really, but what does a 14 year old boy care about plot when you get to kill innocent animals across the globe. Lara still has absolutly no regard for endangered species. One of my favourite things about Tomb Raider III was the training level. With each game, it grew bigger and better each time. By the third game, the hedge maze was gone and in its place was a quad bike course, but first you had to find the sodding key, which was of course hidden. Why Lara can't keep these things on a hook like normal people is beyond me. I also loved her trophy room, again hidden, with the T-rex head and the artefacts from the previous game, pretty cool for a fan of the series, and of course you can still lock the butler in the freezer. Thank God for that.

The game starts by dropping you in India with no seemingly obvious explanation, they really were getting lazy by this point. You meet some crazy guy who you agree to help find more artefacts like the one she just found. After that, the globe comes up on screen and you get to choose your next location. When I first played the game, I left Nevada till last, which was a big mistake, after spending the whole game collecting weapons and ammo only to have them taken away. Why is there a prison in area 51? I liked how you let out the prisoners, who thankfully kill all the guards for you at the risk of potential rape, worth it. I did like these levels because they were so different from the traditional ones. I also liked the alien corpse and the random whales. I didn't much care for the South Pacific levels, which were more traditional but a little boring, so Lara invades a local village and goes about killing the poor bastards. And of course she comes across some dinosars, how many bloody times can one woman find dinosaurs and live to tell the tale? Come on!

Back in the day, London was my favourite level, but coming back to it now, the blocks that make up the level structure just look terrible, I mean really awful. The game should have stayed in ancient locations that worked with the limited graphic of the time. Oh, and I hated those bloody save crystals, they made saving the game a pain in the arse. I can't remember how many times I'd have to replay whole sections because I kept dying. Tomb Raider III has made me very, very angry in the past.

Looking back now, I see the game as just more of the same, a quick easy money-maker, but at the time, I thought Tomb Raider III was a far superior game to its predecessors. It retained most of the elements of the original games with only minor improvements but in retrospective, it's clear that the first two games were better.

No comments:

Post a Comment