I was originally going to blog about Lara Croft today, but once I started writing about her, I realized that the blog was actually turning into a longer scholarly essay about gender in video games. That’s actually great, and it means I’ve got another opportunity to join the ongoing culture war that is Gamergate with my written critiques. Unfortunately for you blog readers, it means you’ll have to wait for that article to come out before you find out what I was going to say about our eponymous Tomb Raider.
Instead, I think I’ll talk about the game itself, or at least my experience with it. I began playing Tomb Raider when it was called Tomb Raider (like, you know the first game.) Lara Croft was basically a boxy assembly of pixels and the jungle environment a mass of geometric shapes with green texture meshes and weird hulking dino-bot things. It was still really fun even when I couldn’t tell what exactly was attacking me. I still just pulled my out pistols with unlimited ammo and started shooting until everything stopped moving. Good times.
I played TR2 and TR3 with a similar, though somewhat diminished enthusiasm, mostly because they were derivative in terms of what Lara did and where she went. When Tomb Raider 4: The Last Revelation came out, I was psyched. That game was fun, fun, fun. Incidentally, it was also when Lara Croft’s breasts reached the height of their inflation and part of the topic of my new essay. Our Lady of the Guns and Boobs (that’s her christened saint title) made her way through what were now an identifiable variety of landscapes, from Southeast Asian jungle temples to Egyptian pyramids. She got to drive a jeep and swing on ropes and solve puzzles. This was definitely my favorite game of the series. I kind of stopped playing the TR series after that game though, mostly because that’s about the time I discovered The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, which you already know I think is the greatest game ever in the history of games.
I was so freaking excited when Tomb Raider: Anniversary came out a few years ago because it promised to be like the game I loved back in the day but with new and improved graphics and heuristics. Sadly, it was boring AF. I never even got past the first location. The game mechanics required me to hit a series of goals at each interval, and I couldn’t continue to the next stage unless I did it exactly right in the given time. Perhaps this is how the original game was played too, but my memory of it is faulty. Or perhaps I have become spoiled by open world games and just can’t go back to a time when I was required to clear a level in order to progress. I guess that’s how all games were until the era of the sandbox RPG. At one point, I threw my controller on the floor in frustration at not being able to solve the stupid temple door puzzle and rage quit the series. I no longer have the patience to play the same level over and over until I can move on to the next one. Okay, Dragon Age: Inquisition, time to wow me with your innovation.
In summation, I wonder if I replayed Super Mario World 3 after all these years whether I would rage quit forever after getting repeatedly killed on the water levels. Apparently, I now have the attention span of a…oh, look a bird.