Tomb Raider – an unexpected nice snack from my gaming buffet

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I recall this statistic that the majority of gamers don’t finish most of the games they buy. Sadly, I have to face the fact that I belong to that part of the community. With all these sweet titles coming out, it’s hard to finish one before the next one is begging for your attention. To me, it feels like paying for a meal I won’t finish, because someone was so kind to order another, even better looking plate for me. Well, I should just accept my gaming life has turned into a running buffet, and I shouldn’t wait finishing my plate when I can just throw something else good-looking on it. Following that philosophy, I decided to get myself a helping of Tomb Raider. How was it? Better than expected.

I got Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for my birthday (thanks babe!), but I didn’t have the chance yet to give it a spin. One of the reasons was that I wanted to finish the story of Assassin’s Creed 4 before starting an entirely new game, but who am I kidding? My lifestyle doesn’t give me the time to play quickly through a game (especially one with so many distractions as AC4), so if I want to at least get a feeling for a game and not having it catch dust on my shelf, I should just throw it into my PS4 and give it a spin. Another reason was my hesitation to even try the game. From what I had heard, Tomb Raider distanced itself so far from what previous installments represented that it was hard to actually call it a “true” Tomb Raider title. Let’s just say I can see both arguments for and against that statement.

It’s important to know that Tomb Raider is no more the classic tomb-raiding and puzzle-solving game I grew up with. Right from the get-go, you meet a Lara Croft who has to survive in dire circumstances, fighting the elements, mad Russians and her own fears to make it in the most hostile environment. The gameplay puts emphasis on this struggle, forcing puzzles and supernatural elements to take a backseat. An upgrade system for both Lara’s skills and her weapons gives a sense of progression, while an interesting story plays out throughout the game. Still, it’s clear to see that this is no longer our childhood’s Tomb Raider. This game is no remake, it is a rebirth. However, Lara is reborn as a completely different person.

3.-Tomb-Raider-2013

And that’s my problem with this game. Yes, it is really enjoyable. Controls are smooth, the gameplay elements interact really well with each other and the Definitive Edition just looks so goddamn nice (did you see that hair moving in the wind? Daaamn!). All in all, it’s a damn good game…but why sell it under the name Tomb Raider? Alright, I know why: to cash in on name recognition. Still, it makes me sad. I have some expectations when it comes to games featuring Lara Croft, and Tomb Raider isn’t scratching that itch Lara used to scratch (oh God did I just say that?) when it comes to climbing around old monasteries, collecting jade dragons or locking your butler in the walk-in refrigerator. The game might tell me I’m controlling Lara, but to me, it feels like I’m controlling some tank-top girl lost in the wild, trying to survive.

And trust me, that still makes for an interesting story, one I love to see unfold in a game as cool as this one. Just…just don’t call it Tomb Raider if there’s no Tomb Raider inside. When going around my gaming buffet, I like to get on my plate what it said on the tin. Nothing worse than chewing something unexpected, even when the flavor is unexpectedly tasty.

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