• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

First Tomb Raider Review out in the wild - Embargo up on Monday 02/25

Okei, played a few hours of the PS3 version yesterday at my university, so here are some quick impressions (this will be messy):

(I'll preface this by my tastes on similar games - I loved the original Tomb Raider trilogy back in the day, particularly 2. Didn't enjoy 4, Chronicles, AoD or Legend. Enjoyed Anniversary and Underworld. Liked Uncharted 1, adore Uncharted 2, disappointed in Uncharted 3).


It looks wonderful. Like, really. I'm playing on the PS3 version, so I'm not sure about the Xbox version, but it runs well (few framerate dips here and there, minor). I'm honestly extremely impressed with the graphical quality. The island is extremely atmospheric. Rain soaks the environments, thunderstorms and lightning strikes illuminate dank alcoves and caves, and Lara's model herself is extremely detailed. I'm excited to see this game on the PC.

It's Uncharted. I don't like to redact it as such, but I mean it as a compliment. Will individuals who enjoy the early Tomb Raider's a lot be disappointed? Hard to say. I love them, yet I can accept this is a different type of game now. Regardless, it's not 'Uncharted-lite'. It is of equal quality (surpassing Uncharted 3 for myself, as I was greatly disappointed in that after the second game). Early game focuses on survival - finding shelter and camp, learning to use your equipment and bow, etc. Each section you enter is more like a large hub. They are all connected, however, and hide secret treasures, diaries (voiced) and tombs (yay!). You will go off the beaten path, more so than you ever did in the Uncharted series.

The gun(bow)play is smooth. Extremely smooth. The scramble motion (circle button) is a great feature which adds to the sense of tension and uncertainty. There is cover, but it's not sticky, you merely approach some form of cover and Lara will align herself correctly. Very easy to move in and out without getting stuck like in Gears or Uncharted.

There are upgrade paths. You can reinforce your bow strings for faster shooting speed, create stronger axe's, etc. There are also skill points, which allow you to upgrade either your survival instincts (scavenging for food, supplies), your hunter abilities (combat abilities) and personal or strength or such (health, etc).

The story is engaging so far. As I said, I'm only about 4 hours in, but so far there has been ample amounts of mystery and intrigue about the island, it's inhabitants and the supporting cast. The music and sound effects are phenomenal. I'm a bit of a sound freak, so I'm usually greatly disappointed in games that don't take full advantage of these areas. Not so with this. I advise anyone to play with headphones, as little details such as dripping stalactites in caves add so much to the atmosphere.

That's all. Apologies for the info dump, it's the best I could do right now. Any questions about the early hours and I'll try my best to answer.

Fantastic, thank you for the impressions.

Could you perhaps elaborate more on the scramble motion.
 

OwlyKnees

Member
Thanks for the impressions. What does "scramble motion" mean?

Oh, sorry! It basically means that instead of a dodge button, Lara sort of 'scrambles' on the ground to avoid attacks. You can also roll at the end of it.


How frequent are the "cinematic" moments. This ranges from standard cutscenes, to forced walking, to "interactive storytelling" where you're forced to listen to people drone on, to QTE style scenes, etc. etc. Basically, how often is NORMAL CONTROL OF LARA taken away from you to service the narrative? And do you know how much of it, if any, is able to be skipped?

Hmm. Standard cutscenes seem to be of a regular amount, it's hard to quantify. I certainly don't feel that there has been too many cutscenes in the first four hours. Forced walking occurs regularly, but it's typically for short periods (like two to four seconds on approaching something the developers deemed important) and there have only been two radio calls I've had to listen to. QTEs are often in the 'cinematic' moments (and poorly done, might I add).

However, actual moments such as running across collapsing buildings, climbing through narrow gaps and scaling large vistas are all controlled by the player. I was actually surprised by the amount of control given during the 'cinematic' moments, it's comparable to what you'd get in an Uncharted game. They make great use of various camera angles during these scenes, too.
 

Sappy113

Member
I don't play a lot of games these years due to time restraint issues, but this is one of the few games I'll definately be playing this year. Only 3 other games I know I'll also be playing is God of War, The Last of Us and GTA5.

I couldn't give two shits if this game strays too far away from the old Tomb Raider games I grew up with. I couldn't care less if it treads the Uncharted-path. All I want is a good, fun game. Call it Tomb Raider, Mountain Goatherder or BOOM, really doesn't make much difference to me.

Looking forward to those 15 hours. That'll probably last me a month or two!
 

Lime

Member
The story is engaging so far. As I said, I'm only about 4 hours in, but so far there has been ample amounts of mystery and intrigue about the island, it's inhabitants and the supporting cast.

Good. Well, the voice acting is. Has a large range of accents from Britain, which are all voiced well. I live in Scotland, therefore it was nice to hear convincing accents and references to the 'Glasgow Kiss'.

Just to get an idea what to expect: what do you consider good/engaging stories in video games? Any examples?

Thanks for the contribution.
 

wetflame

Pizza Dog
I've been really interested in this since the reveal trailer, and although there's been all sorts of disparaging remarks about it on GAF in the meantime I've always held out hope that it'll turn out to be quite good. That little hands on seems to back that up, which is a relief. Will probably wait for more reviews and a drop in price and pick it up. Especially if there's a lot of mysterious stuff and exploration involved. Always nice when there's more going on under the surface.
 

OwlyKnees

Member
Might I add, the animation in game is very well done. Little touches, such as the way Lara holsters the bow over her shoulder when not in use, shivering and shaking her hands dry in cold water, quivering lips and distant eyes when sitting at the camp fires. All little touches that I seem to appreciate in games probably more than I should.
 

DieH@rd

Banned
Makes sense.

So some shaddy reviewer got a copy of the game and leaked it online.

That's not always the case. Retailers are sometimes receiving their copies early, and hundreds/thousands of people all around the world have access to the game.
 

OwlyKnees

Member
Just to get an idea what to expect: what do you consider good/engaging stories in video games? Any examples?

Thanks for the contribution.

Soul Reaver, Persona 4, Grim Fandango, Uncharted 2, MGS3. These are games I would consider to have exceptional stories. Tomb Raider, so far, doesn't come close.

I'd put it on a comparable level to series such as Assassin's Creed (the historical aspects, not the real world stuff) and Mass Effect. In other words, engaging stories, enough to get you through the gameplay.
 

SadAli

Neo Member
Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in.

Am officially hyped again which is also going to force me to backtrack after working hard to dampen my other half's expectations for the last 6 months.
 

OwlyKnees

Member
Probably posting too much right now, but I keep recalling details that I've forgotten to mention.

The game does a great of job of letting you play it. In other words, it doesn't say 'Jump here! Climb here! Throw this through here!'. You'll still get hints, but not as often as many other modern games. While it's not difficult to figure out yourself, it's nice that you get that sense of 'I figured out the correct route/action to take' instead of the game telling you to do it.

Edit: Totally forgot there was an instinct mode. It's L1. Don't use it. I never do and thus have been able to experience most things through my own discovery.
 
Oh, sorry! It basically means that instead of a dodge button, Lara sort of 'scrambles' on the ground to avoid attacks. You can also roll at the end of it.

This sounds very interesting.

A game with a dedicated dodge button could go either way, but it sounds like they've nailed it.
 

Spazznid

Member
Yep, well at least from G-Force in Glasgow.

It's gods work you're doing...

Can I ask, did you get a look at any options?

Also, Enemy AI, was it ok? I don't care for good or great, but they don't get stuck walking towards you or anything, do they?

Also, is the sound quality good?
 

OwlyKnees

Member
It's gods work you're doing...

Can I ask, did you get a look at any options?

Also, Enemy AI, was it ok? I don't care for good or great, but they don't get stuck walking towards you or anything, do they?

Also, is the sound quality good?

Yeah, I set up the options before I began to play. I live in a shared dorm, so everyone is basically playing it, but I made my own save. What would you like to know?

Enemy AI is fine. I'm only playing on normal and you really can't take too many hits (at least so far) before you need to seek some cover. Enemies will range from melee characters who charge you down, guys with guns who will duck and shoot, guys with bows (which they can light on fire, forcing you to move cover) and some heavy armoured guys who you will have to force into errors to expose themselves.

No idea if there will be a supernatural twist, or not.

Sound quality, as I mentioned, is fantastic. I care probably too much about sound quality in games, and it's very impressive to me.
 

Lime

Member
Soul Reaver, Persona 4, Grim Fandango, Uncharted 2, MGS3. These are games I would consider to have exceptional stories. Tomb Raider, so far, doesn't come close.

Good taste :)

I'd put it on a comparable level to series such as Assassin's Creed (the historical aspects, not the real world stuff) and Mass Effect. In other words, engaging stories, enough to get you through the gameplay.

Okay, so the usual video game writing quality once again. If they really treat a complex issue like character growth through attempted sexual assault, I don't have any high hopes for this game doing justice to the character and plot, if the execution of the narrative is equal to the "quality" of AC or Mass Effect.

One last make-or-break question: Does the game comment on the brutal murdering by Lara Croft? Does it justify or properly establish her morally questionable actions?
 

OwlyKnees

Member
Good taste :)



Okay, so the usual video game writing quality once again. If they really treat a complex issue like character growth through attempted sexual assault, I don't have any high hopes for this game doing justice to the character and plot, if the execution of the narrative is equal to the "quality" of AC or Mass Effect.

One last make-or-break question: Does the game comment on the brutal murdering by Lara Croft? Does it justify or properly establish her morally questionable actions?

Haven't gotten far enough to see that yet, sorry! At least in the first four hours or so, there has been only one comment on her killing someone when communicating with someone else, of which she says '...it's scary how easy it was.' Not sure if they will go further with it or not.

And yeah, the character growth is abnormally fast. She walks across a suspended log once, absolutely terrified, but every occasion afterwards is really not such an issue for her. I guess I've gotten too used to 'video game' narratives, but it is still managing to keep me engaged to see the game through.
 

B-Dex

Member
Probably posting too much right now, but I keep recalling details that I've forgotten to mention.

The game does a great of job of letting you play it. In other words, it doesn't say 'Jump here! Climb here! Throw this through here!'. You'll still get hints, but not as often as many other modern games. While it's not difficult to figure out yourself, it's nice that you get that sense of 'I figured out the correct route/action to take' instead of the game telling you to do it.

Edit: Totally forgot there was an instinct mode. It's L1. Don't use it. I never do and thus have been able to experience most things through my own discovery.

It does exactly that in the footage I've seen. Even so far as to leave the hints on screen minutes at a time. Plus all the edge highlighting in white paint. It looks great and flows really smoothly but it seems far too hand-holdy. Granted it is early in the game so maybe later on it teeters off.
 

sublimit

Banned
Forced walking occurs regularly, but it's typically for short periods (like two to four seconds on approaching something the developers deemed important)

Forced walking needs to die in a fire slowly and painfully.Seriously this is the ultimate sin against the gamer.
And to see this awful trend creeping its way in a game that was suppossed to be all about the control the player had to traverse the environment is a really sad thing. :(
 

Mr_Zombie

Member
How's the platforming? Is it automatic type of no matter when and how you jump you will always land where you're supposed to, or does it require any skills? And what about exploration? Do you have to find a path to your destination point yourself, or is the path always obvious at first sight?

EDIT: Oh, I've noticed you were already talking about that. Thanks for the input :)
 
Forced walking needs to die in a fire slowly and painfully.Seriously this is the ultimate sin against the gamer.
And to see this awful trend creeping its way in a game that was suppossed to be all about the control the player had to traverse the environment is a really sad thing. :(

It got on my nerves in Max Payne 3
 

OwlyKnees

Member
It does exactly that in the footage I've seen. Even so far as to leave the hints on screen minutes at a time. Plus all the edge highlighting in white paint. It looks great and flows really smoothly but it seems far too hand-holdy. Granted it is early in the game so maybe later on it teeters off.

Which hints are you talking about? I have seen literally none apart from the introduction of new game mechanics (learning to use your axe to climb, recovering from your grip slipping, picking up objects, etc). The edges are indeed highlighted, and certain surfaces are textured differently to indicate that you can use items to climb, but what I meant is that it doesn't explicitly tell you to do anything. There are sometimes multiple climbing paths and multiple puzzle solutions to an objective.

Maybe I'm too used to games such as the AC series, which takes hand-holding to a new level. It felt like a breath of fresh air, personally.
 

OwlyKnees

Member
How's the platforming? Is it automatic type of no matter when and how you jump you will always land where you're supposed to, or does it require any skills? And what about exploration? Do you have to find a path to your destination point yourself, or is the path always obvious at first sight?

The platforming is mostly automatic, but satisfying. Movements such as jumping, then hitting an additional button to lodge your pickaxe is fun, but hardly challenging.

In terms of exploration, as I mentioned earlier, there are multiple pathways to many of the objectives. If you do not use instinct mode (which I suggest), then you will have to find the route yourself. Even instinct mode won't highlight the route to take, only pinpoint you to your destination. You can explore each hub for secrets and hidden tombs. If you've played Sly 4 (the most recent example I can think of), it's similar to that in the sense that there are multiple hidden things throughout each area and you're free to go in any direction.
 
Yeah, I set up the options before I began to play. I live in a shared dorm, so everyone is basically playing it, but I made my own save. What would you like to know?

Enemy AI is fine. I'm only playing on normal and you really can't take too many hits (at least so far) before you need to seek some cover. Enemies will range from melee characters who charge you down, guys with guns who will duck and shoot, guys with bows (which they can light on fire, forcing you to move cover) and some heavy armoured guys who you will have to force into errors to expose themselves.

No idea if there will be a supernatural twist, or not.

Sound quality, as I mentioned, is fantastic. I care probably too much about sound quality in games, and it's very impressive to me.
Makes me think of Far Cry 3, but that could just be because that's the game I'm currently playing
The platforming is mostly automatic, but satisfying. Movements such as jumping, then hitting an additional button to lodge your pickaxe is fun, but hardly challenging.

In terms of exploration, as I mentioned earlier, there are multiple pathways to many of the objectives. If you do not use instinct mode (which I suggest), then you will have to find the route yourself. Even instinct mode won't highlight the route to take, only pinpoint you to your destination. You can explore each hub for secrets and hidden tombs. If you've played Sly 4 (the most recent example I can think of), it's similar to that in the sense that there are multiple hidden things throughout each area and you're free to go in any direction.
Ugh.....I hope it's not too bad. That's what ruined Enslaved for me.
 
OwlyKnees, is there an option to turn off instinct mode entirely? If not, is there at least a difficulty level that automatically disables it?

One last make-or-break question: Does the game comment on the brutal murdering by Lara Croft? Does it justify or properly establish her morally questionable actions?

Is that what you think it is?
 

Lime

Member
Is that what you think it is?

Uhm, yes?





 

OwlyKnees

Member
OwlyKnees, is there an option to turn off instinct mode entirely? If not, is there at least a difficulty level that automatically disables it?

Not on normal difficulty at least. I wasn't able to notice if hard mode disabled it or not. It's not a big deal, just don't press L1 (or LB).
 

G-Fex

Member
To be fair

All of those guys on that island deserve to die.

None of them should be allowed to live.

What for?
 
Uhm, yes?


It's not murder, and I don't see any way for you to justify saying it's murder. It's self-defense. Brutal self-defense, but self-defense nonetheless.

Not on normal difficulty at least. I wasn't able to notice if hard mode disabled it or not. It's not a big deal, just don't press L1 (or LB).

I know, but that's not the point. I'd like an option to just take the ability away so I'm not tempted to use it.
 
Not on normal difficulty at least. I wasn't able to notice if hard mode disabled it or not. It's not a big deal, just don't press L1 (or LB).

It's like Forza 3, you may be tempted to not use that rewind button but by god I almost always did when I screwed up. I much prefer when they flat out give you the option to disable something.
 

B-Dex

Member
The mythos and backstory for why they went to the island is very intriguing it's just too bad it's stuffed behind wave after wave after wave of "savages" to brutally murder.

Not to mention they have turned her into Isaac Clarke by having her have to do absolutely everything for everyone. And always getting separated.
 
Z

ZombieFred

Unconfirmed Member
To be fair this is still just a video game and video game violence is always going to be surreal. Hell, it's a lot of bad guys on an Island that would kill the main character in an instant so it's still self defense and you might as well have some fun with her development on transforming into a physcopath :lol:
 

JaseC

gave away the keys to the kingdom.
Given Nixxes put in an option to disable object highlighting in DE:HR PC, I'm hoping there'll be a similar option in Tomb Raider. Exactly one week to go until the game unlocks.
 

G-Fex

Member
To be fair this is still just a video game and video game violence is always going to be surreal. Hell, it's a lot of bad guys on an Island that would kill the main character in an instant so it's still self defense and you might as well have some fun with her development on transforming into a physcopath :lol:

They do kill her in a instant if there's too much jelly on the screen.
 

Acheteedo

Member
2013's games have so far been mildly disappointing to very disappointing, hopefully Tomb Raider can break the trend.
 

KenOD

a kinder, gentler sort of Scrooge
It's only murder if it's illegal. Somehow I doubt that island has many laws not of the Jungle (which may or may not be written by a Khan and Louie).

So OwlyKnees, you mention finding hidden things in the world. How good is that for expanding the story or lore of the world? Tell us who used to live there, how the enemies set up camp there, the bones of Swiss Family Robinson, etc? I didn't play games like Metroid Prime or Dishonored for such things, but they gave added enjoyment to be sure rather than it being just another game world.
 
Z

ZombieFred

Unconfirmed Member
It's only murder if it's illegal. Somehow I doubt that island has many laws not of the Jungle (which may or may not be written by a Khan and Louie).

So OwlyKnees, you mention finding hidden things in the world. How good is that for expanding the story or lore of the world? Tell us who used to live there, how the enemies set up camp there, the bones of Swiss Family Robinson, etc? I didn't play games like Metroid Prime or Dishonored for such things, but they gave added enjoyment to be sure rather than it being just another game world.

I'd like to hear more about this too because usually Crystal Dynamics do a great job on having their enviroments having that additional layer of story telling to make you feel more engrossed (Tomb Raider:Underworld for example) and actually feel like you're uncovering a new world and having that sense of mystery with it.
 
Have very high hopes for this game...and want this to review very well, both for quality and the reactions of some overzealous posters here. Hopefully Gamefly sends it out to me...I have a pretty good track record with them on getting it near release.
:D
 
It's only murder if it's illegal. Somehow I doubt that island has many laws not of the Jungle (which may or may not be written by a Khan and Louie).

In the strictly legal man-made law sense, yeah. But we were talking about it in the moral sense.
 

B-Dex

Member
I'd like to hear more about this too because usually Crystal Dynamics do a great job on having their enviroments having that additional layer of story telling to make you feel more engrossed (Tomb Raider:Underworld for example) and actually feel like you're uncovering a new world and having that sense of mystery with it.

The island itself is very mysterious and the lore around it is great from what I've seen. Just too bad the rest of the game gets in the way.

"Oh look a cool artifact and wow look at these buildings" followed by 30+ guys with assault rifles and flaming bows attacking you.
 

Lime

Member
To be fair

All of those guys on that island deserve to die.

None of them should be allowed to live.

What for?

I'm not sure if you're actually being serious. Most people do not deserve to die and if this game is aiming to provide a coherent serious treatment of character growth through lethal trials and tribulations, it should depict the violence in a sensible and rational manner instead of the childish and inane idea that murder is intrinsically justified if a person is attacked.

It's not murder, and I don't see any way for you to justify saying it's murder. It's self-defense. Brutal self-defense, but self-defense nonetheless.

There are other ways of solving apparent conflicts that doesn't necessarily require taking the lives of other (fictional) human beings. Lara could have used stealth, persuasion, distraction, etc. to avoid the conflicts. Or she could incapacitate the other people instead of brutally murdering them.

Even at that, the presentation is too hyperbolic to justify the murders. Pick axe to the skull or shotgun to the face are not necessary ways of dealing with lethal situations. Instead, these over-the-top methods are more akin to a grindhouse film than something grounded or realistic with emotional weight.

To be fair this is still just a video game and video game violence is always going to be surreal. Hell, it's a lot of bad guys on an Island that would kill the main character in an instant so it's still self defensae and you might as well have some fun with her development on transforming into a physcopath :lol:

That's the problem. If this is simply "lol a video game" understanding of its violence, then the attempt at depicting a serious narrative with empathetic and realistic characters completely falls to the ground.

It's only murder if it's illegal. Somehow I doubt that island has many laws not of the Jungle (which may or may not be written by a Khan and Louie).

Ever heard of ethics?
 
Top Bottom