Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Tomb Raider: The Benny Hill Years

So Tomb Raider finally deigned to make itself available for Silver gamers. (Users with a Silver Xbox Live account, I mean, not gamers over 70. That would be weird.) I dunno about you but I'm getting quite hacked off with the limitations of Silver accounts. Unless I'm missing a really obvious button somewhere I can't even upload my Braid times without a Gold account, which is really silly. Anyway, Tomb Raider Underworld. Or should I say Tomb Raider Underwhelming? Ha! Nah, probably not.

Good things: Looks brilliant. Gorgeous environments. Routes through levels less obvious than before. Nice atmosphere. Same old solid platforming and okayish combat. Whatserface Mrs Lara's Voice Actress Lady is still good.

Bad things: Lara runs too fucking fast. In fact everything in the game is too fast. Lara's animations, the tigers, the little rats that flicker from the floor to Lara's throat like Mexican jumping beans... it's like watching a video of Legend sped up a little. I might get used to it, but just now it's horrid. Combat becomes a terrifying frenzy of rolls and dodges. When you're running down a beautifully drawn corridor you want a bit of time to admire the foliage, but before you know it Lara's already jittered off to the other end of the level. It's really bizarre.

Of course you couldn't admire the foliage even if you wanted to because the camera is pretty temperamental too. It doesn't seem to do what I want, which would be fine if it was good at doing its own thing, like in Galaxy, but it isn't. Other niggles include occasionally obscure level design and a really abrupt ending - so much so that I thought I'd died and only realised I hadn't when the title screen popped up. I'll still get the game, though. I've got to have something to complain about. (Also: shooting tigers, kicking ancient vases to pieces, stamping on rare spiders - is Lara the least ecologically friendly adventurer type woman ever?)

Anyway, as if to make Sunday's post even more redundant, I've had a go on Mirror's Edge as well. It's a lot of fun. I'm especially impressed by the feeling of connection with your character - she has weight and momentum and obeys the laws of physics occasionally, so she's already one-up on Lara "made out of crisp packets" Croft. Hearing her pant as you run is a nice touch as well (and probably thick with masturbatory potential for the more pathetic end of the platform game fan spectrum). Controls were fine. I appreciate the minimal use of face buttons, allowing you to hang on to the joysticks most of the time. Combat and shooting is pretty clunky, but seriously who cares. That don't-shoot-anything achievement is mine.

It was the PS3 version so I hated the pad, but otherwise it pretty much meets all my expectations. Meets, but doesn't exceed. Still, that may be a lot to ask from a demo consisting of a quick tutorial and a very short level I've seen played through a dozen times before. I'll have to play the full product to find out how the other levels hold up, and more importantly how long it turns out to be. I have concerns. Other than that, can't complain at all.

No word on Banjo yet in case you're wondering. My flatmate's getting Little Big Planet tomorrow so as soon as I manage to steal it off him I'll let you know how it is. Until next time, look after yourself - and each other. (And try to violently murder as much endangered wildlife as you possibly can.)

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