Ryu’s Musings – Tomb Raider PC First Impressions

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Tomb Raider explores the intense and gritty origin story of Lara Croft and her ascent from a young woman to a hardened survivor. Armed only with raw instincts and the ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, Lara must fight to unravel the dark history of a forgotten island to escape its relentless hold. Download the Turning Point trailer to see the beginning of Lara’s epic adventure.

So i was bought this for my birthday (which is in a few days) and as a way of passing time while recovering from a rather nasty flu bug.

One thing i have to say about this game is it looks amazing!! My GFX card is a piddley little GT 520 and frankly the game looks stunning, even at 1366*768. I can’t imagine just how amazingly breath taking the game would look on a full HD rig with a high end graphics card. There is one part in the tutorial where it moves seamlessly from the game to a movie to the game. Sadly it’s not always that seamless.

tomb raider screenshot 1
Hunting for no actual survival reason

Before we get into the game itself, lets get the 2 big issues out in the open. Firstly, and primarily, this game is an AMD game, and uses a lot of AMD technology, including the new tech that mimics hair naturally. Overall due to the fact that Nvidia didn’t have any time with the game prior to release the game has some optimization issues on Nvidia rigs. The recent patch for Nvidia included some fixes and optimizations but it still tanks if you use the hair and a a few other options in game. Though honestly, the game still looks freaking awesome even without these extras. Also from what i saw the hair tech isn’t really that great, it has a few issues and still doesn’t look natural to me.

Secondly, and i hope this is a short term thing, Steam is screwed up and this is a steamworks game meaning it requires steam. This was bought on Origin, since it’s significantly cheaper at the moment there (26,99 for the Survivor Edition opposed to the usual price of 34,99). I downloaded the game fine, but when Steam came to install it decided it would take near 3 hours to install. In the end i cancelled and re-downloaded directly from steam which has a few problems at the moment.

Edit: 24hours since i first started to write this and the Steam issue seems to have been resolved

So i got the game installed finally and so far I’m liking it, though there are a few damn annoying things.

Your supposedly a survivor of a shipwreck, your on a forgotten island that has been lost to the outside world. Your whole purpose seems to be to survive. However the game doesn’t really pull off the survival aspect very well. You get a bow and arrow very quickly, which isn’t an issue. However you barely go 20feet before running into other arrows. In fact your awash with arrows before you’ve even really started the game.

The same problem comes from scavenging, you find stuff all over the place, loads of weapons and upgrades, hardly any sort of survival aspects. Ammo, both arrows and normal are all over the place. So there’s no real survival aspect to the game, there’s no need to conserve your ammo and be strategic in the way you do things. Considering this is a survival game, it fails in that respect.

You get loads of weapons upgrades, but TBH there’s no reason to use anything other than the bow and arrow, since it gives you more XP from hidden and silent kills. As well as being easier to get head shots and not alert everyone and their brother to where you are.

Finally we get to my biggest bug bear, QTE’s, the dreaded Quick Time Event. Within the first 45minutes of the game you have loads, and i do mean LOADS of QTE’s. I don’t really have an issue with QTE’s so long as they’re used right. Sadly in this game, so far at least. they haven’t been. At times it felt like the QTE’s were added just to break up long sections where nothing happens. Frankly rather than QTE’s we’d of been better off with mini movies. I have been told that as the game progresses the QTE’s become less prevalent which is good.

I’m taking a quick break to finish writing this, just had the so called rape scene which caused so much trouble during the pre-launch events. Frankly if people consider that rape then they really need to have a reality check. Be warned there’s a spoiler incoming. If you don’t want to be spoiled skip the next paragraph.

So as we know from the vid that caused all the hype Lara is captured and gets groped (apparently this equals rape in some peoples minds), she then promptly knees him in the nuts, bites his ear off, then finally shoots him in the head. Hardly what i would call rape lol

rape scene
It’s actually assault

So, this scenes actually shows my problem with QTE’s, the entire scenes plays out in multiple QTE’s. Which is very immersion breaking, it’s hardly a suspenseful moment when you’re having to pause and watch a little icon rather than what’s going on in the scene. Depending on how well you do this 2 minute segment can have upwards of 5 QTE’s, that’s 5 in 2minutes, talk about ruining the atmosphere.

That’s something this game does very well. It plays out a very atmospheric story, mixed with cinematic game play that really draws you in. Makes you start to feel for Lara in a way none of the other TR games have ever done. Then it goes and ruins it all with a QTE. Damnit Square Enix haven’t you learnt that QTE’s are NOT the way of the future.

The PC port has been done fairly well, though it does suffer from a few annoying issues. No saves, the game auto saves at various points of the game, and when you use campfires.  Also there are multiple actions bound to a single key. great for consoles, not for PC. Also for some reason there’s no real crouch, and at certain times your camera gets locked, so your literally walking blind at times.

Now, the bad stuff is out of the way I’ve got to say, this game is freaking awesome!!

Yes it has a lot of stuff that are annoying, but they’re just that, annoying. Yes the game would be superb without them, possibly even GOTY material. But even with them the game is awesome. The story is engrossing and well written, easy to follow and fall in with. The characters are amazing, and not just including Lara.

Speaking of Lara, she’s really well done, and i do mean REALLY well done. She’s a bit naive in the game, but toughens up a bit fairly quickly. Yet at times she still shows her naivety, such as getting sick after killing someone, being squeamish over touching dead meat, stuff she does without even thinking in the other games.

What’s more is that this game is firmly set in the real world. All of the other games I’ve played had a bit of magic thrown in, such as zombies, mummies and other monsters running around causing mayhem. So far this game has none of that, hints due to the story and such, but nothing over the top. All of the stuff your fighting are guys with guns or  bows as well as creatures you usually find on an island, such as wolves and deer.

The Tomb Raider aspect of the franchise has been moved aside and it’s more of a 3rd person shooter than anything else. The tombs are still there, and if your interested you can go off and raid them. However as far as i know, none of them are mandatory.

Lara you look good both ways
Lara you look good both ways

I love this, since frankly I’ve never been a huge fan of the tomb raiding aspects. Platforming was and is a nightmare for me. But this way you get to enjoy the story of Lara get some great gameplay, and if your interested go off and do some tomb raiding.

The game has met with sever criticism from old school TR fans, they claim the game is to far from it’s roots, less focus on raiding and platforming. what’s more the platforming is to easy, with the game basically telling you what to do each and every time your met with an obstacle. While i can understand their point of view, i do feel that the new way is better, as it’s more accessible, as in both old and new comers to the genre can get into the game easily enough.

TR always had a niche feel to it for me, sure it was popular, but it was something very few people ever really played to completion.

Frankly, this game is well worth the getting, I’m loving it to bits and it will be the first game i play to completion this year.

Edit: Regarding DLC

The steam forums are awash of hate posts at the moment due to the release of DLC for the game. So i wanted to post my thoughts on it. Firstly all the DLC is optional, with a few exceptions. I won’t bother with the MP DLC since i never play games like this for it’s MP. The SP DLC includes a few skills, clothing packs, and a map pack. As well as the ‘special’ stuff included in the Survivor Edition of the game.

Things to remember here is that releasing the items from the Survivor edition should have been expected. Pretty much every game that’s come out the past few years has gone this route, release a special edition, wait a while and then release the stuff in it as a paid DLC. Thing is this is exactly what fans called for, they complained when pre-order and special editions got more stuff, so publishers decided to release the extras as a paid DLC after a period of time.

The rest of the DLC, are fully optional. All of the skills we get are unlockable in-game as you level up. So by buying them all your doing is giving yourself a boost, and not much of one truth be told. The clothing, well come on lets face it, re-skinning our characters is what we always want to do. So they looked at what would fit in with the setting of the game, and made some and released it. Nothing says you have to use it, but it’s there if you want it. What’s more the price of the DLC is ridiculously cheap. If they’d put the DLC up for £2-3 each, i would agree with a lot of the rage claiming it’s a cash grab. However with the exception of the map pack and the Final hours book, the DLC is a mere £0.59 each. The map pack, is £1.49, which is fair value IMO, and the Final hours book is £1.99, which is exceptional value IF your interested in learning about the game development and stuff.

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One Comment

  1. Hi man, if you want my review on it. It was my very first article. I thought it was an amazing game which could have benefited from a bit more story.

    Honestly, I thought the combat was kick-ass and the more open-ish world was perfect! I enjoyed this game quite a lot and I’m going to replay it with a controller… Because I can.

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