Tomb Raider has undoubtedly been one of the greatest games 2013 has presented thus far. It mixes excellent exploration, together with some addictive combat and beautiful environments to boot. Our Editor-in-Chief Jamie Briggs, gave Tomb Raider a 9.0 stating, “Exploring the island is not only heaps of fun, but addictive, when you can reap weaponry upgrades as the reward.” But what did the rest of the Analog Addiction staff think of the game?
In this 3 part series of ‘Analog Analysis’ we hear thoughts from George Sinclair, Vlad Pintea, Rob Gisbey and the games original reviewer, Jamie Briggs as they analyse every aspect of the game.
In part 1 we discussed the origin story of Lara Croft, the games use of exploration, if set pieces hurt the game experience and our favourite part of the Tomb Raider overall. Now in part 2 we discuss the games flaws, the multiplayer mode that has left many wanting and Tomb Raider‘s comparisons to the Uncharted series.
Many have compared the game to ‘Uncharted’; what are your thoughts?
Vlad Pintea: First of all, it’s clear that past iterations of Tomb Raider were an inspiration to Uncharted. Now before all of you try to shoot me, let me say it: Tomb Raider is not Uncharted,or the other way around. While Naughty Dog’s franchise portrays all sorts of adventures across the globe, following a more “relaxed” character (I’m saying this because Nate always cracks jokes left and right, which I always enjoy), this reboot of Tomb Raider is more grounded to reality (well, mostly). Lara is terrified of the island; at almost every step of the way she’s about to break into tears. This frightening experience is what really sets the game apart from Nathan’s. Sure, Tomb Raider‘s setpieces were clearly inspired from Uncharted, but Lara’s personality, and the focus on more exploration are the reasons why players should not accuse her of copying Nate, and just enjoy both franchises.
George Sinclair: I think Uncharted‘s always been about the narrative and Tomb Raider’s has always been on the exploration. With Tomb Raider‘s new presentation, the influence from Uncharted is clear regardless of who game first oh so many years ago. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Uncharted but Tomb Raider in no way is a inferior game as they both have such different cores and strengths. The only similarity between the two in my mind is that the shooting combat is exactly the same and equally as clumsy.
Rob Gisbey: Just as Tomb Raider was the inspiration for Uncharted, Uncharted in-turn has obviously influenced the reboot of Tomb Raider – It’s been a beautiful symbiotic relationship. While they are both similar in a lot of ways, I think each has an edge over the other in certain regards.
The one major thing that differentiates the two in their tone. Naughty Dog’s series is much more of a light-hearted affair with a loveable, roguish Indiana Jones-like character at its centre. On the other hand Tomb Raider is inherantly more serious, violent and gritty, delving into far darker, more emotional territory. They’re both great in their own right and I think there’s more than enough room for both of them to happily coexist.
Jamie Briggs: I think it is really hard not to, not that it takes away from the game in any regard, but there are many similarities. Both contain explorers, both contain cinematic scenes and both showcase both characters slaughtering hundreds. Though they have similarities, Tomb Raider does many things better and vice versa. I would definitely say to players who didn’t like Uncharted and are deciding to avoid Tomb Raider thinking it is a ‘carbon copy‘, should rethink their strategy. The fact is there is enough room in the gaming industry for both franchises and there are many things that set them apart, so even if Uncharted didn’t tickle your fancy don’t miss out on the strong offering Tomb Raider has to share.
Did Tomb Raider need multiplayer and what were your thoughts?
Vlad Pintea: No, it did not. I understand that Square-Enix wanted to be sure that players wouldn’t simply trade their game in after the completion of the single-player campaign, but, while there’s nothing wrong with the multi-player side, it simply doesn’t feature anything we haven’t seen before, or which hasn’t been done better in other games. It’s workable, but that’s it.
George Sinclair: Multiplayer was just a tack on and I think my silence on the matter speaks louder than words could.
Rob Gisbey: It’s really a difficult question. I don’t think any of us expected the game to have multiplayer, yet unfortunately it’s almost a prerequisite these days, if only so developers can push DLC after release. Personally I don’t think it was strictly necessary and honestly the whole thing seemed very tacked on, lacking any real imagination.
Having said that – Mass Effect 3 showed us that a multiplayer that’s essentially been shoehorned in can in fact work and I wonder if a similar wave-based hoard-like mode would’ve served Tomb Raider better in the long run?
Jamie Briggs: Tomb Raider didn’t need multiplayer and thought it tries to do some unique ideas, ultimately it just feels average. It felt like another game that had an amazing campaign delivers a sub-par multiplayer to produce longevity to the experience, it was even developed by Eidos Montreal meaning Crystal Dynamics didn’t have many hands on the creation. I also think it was a unfair tactic to give the game an Achievement/Trophy for getting to level 60 in multiplayer, I think many will ignore the Trophies all together knowing that is out of reach.
The multiplayer definitely tried, but as I said it just never felt like anything more than a few hours to pass the time sort of deal. I cannot see many playing it thinking this is their new online multiplayer home, I personally would have rathered Eidos work on some more hidden tombs for the main campaign instead.
What major flaws held the game back?
Vlad Pintea: I wouldn’t say that the game has any major flaws, though there are two things which bother me. First, there are the quick-time-events. As our editor Jamie Briggs stated in his review, some of the set-pieces simply couldn’t have been done without limiting the player’s access, but even so, I feel like some QTEs could have been simply removed in favor of a cut-scene. Second, I think the secondary characters could have been more fleshed out. Besides Roth, who clearly was Lara’s father figure, the other characters were flat-out boring, sometimes annoying, and stereotypical (especially Reyes). Oh, and I would have liked more impressive rewards after completing a tomb than simply more exp.
George Sinclair: I think that Crystal Dynamics lost sight of the “survivor” tagline. A survivor is more than just someone who falls from a high ledge and hunting animals and gathering food only served to get the player experience points which was disappointing as that was the focal point of the marketing campaign.
Rob Gisbey: Honestly I don’t think Tomb Raider had any major flaws and the problems it did have were mainly story-based. Its side-characters were mostly uninteresting cliches and weren’t really fleshed out enough for players to truly care about their fate. Also Lara’s almost immediate transition from terrified victim to unstoppable killing machine was rather jarring and probably should’ve been spread out over a longer period of time.
One of the things I would’ve liked explored in more detail was Mathias, cult leader and antagonist of the game. I feel his tragic story (which was only really alluded to through the game’s scattered documents) could’ve been elaborated on to make him a more sympathetic, relatable character instead of the one-demential cartoon-like villain he became. Also a harder difficulty setting wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Jamie Briggs: The biggest flaw the game had (apart from multiplayer) was its side characters, they were the most cliché characters I have ever seen. the nerd trying to be a hero, the one who distrusts Lara but changes her mind, the strongman with a heart of gold, the one that turns evil and so forth. Not only that but they were handled poorly, not once did I ever care what happened to Lara’s friends, they were just uninteresting. Dead Space 3 was another game recently that struggled to bring life to their side characters, so this is not something that leave Tomb Raider alone in this regard.
Having a stronger side-cast would have given you a reason to care about their struggles on the island, but it all seems phoned in at times.
We hope you have enjoyed Part 2 of ‘Analog Analysis’, stay tuned over the next few days for our finale when we tackle the Tomb Raider‘s relevance in gaming, the future of the series and our overall thoughts on Lara Croft’s latest adventure.