In this groundbreaking 1996 title you play as adventurer Lara Croft who is on the hunt for an ancient artifact called the Scion, which requires her to travel across the globe for it's pieces. but she will have to face off against deadly creatures and traps alike to acquire them.
Story Introduction and Premise
The game starts off with a CGI cutscene detailing how Lara comes to know of the Scion. one of the things that have not aged well at all are these cutscenes, with it's compressed video quality and awkward 90's low-budget animation. Thankfully the plot of the game is interesting enough, even if it lacks in intricacy. Lara isn't one of the most detailed characters in the world: she likes adventure, she owns a mansion, and she has a hilariously proportioned body and that's about it. But the fact that a woman was headlining what became a massive gaming franchise was a big deal at the time. Shame they didn't make her a more detailed character.
Here is where the games major strengths and flaws lie. A little over a decade after first playing this game I still enjoy the exploration, the puzzle solving and fighting the strange beasts. A big problem is the game doesn't exactly have fantastic controls (as in, trying to move Lara feels like moving a tank) but I was surprised how quickly I adapted to it's 'unique' control scheme. I played this game on the Playstation, and that system had (and the PS3 still has) a notoriously bad D-PAD. I feel that being able to use an Analog stick to control Lara would have improved the feel of the game (I also had a better experience playing the later games on the PC)
Platforming and puzzle-solving make up the majority of this game, and thankfully it is not incredibly frustrating as one might expect. In fact, solving the puzzles and successfully landing a massive leap give a nice feeling of satisfaction (and the puzzles aren't stupid hard), combat is slightly hampered by the controls but the game features an auto-lock on system so you don't need to worry about aiming, just maneuvering. If combat took up the majority of this game I imagine it would get frustrating quickly.
The level design is a combination of odd and actually quite impressive set-pieces. There are still moments in this game that made me go 'wow' (the camera zooming out and showing you standing on top of a Sphinx) and there are moments that just make you go 'wat' (A lever underwater opens up a door above ground. Why?) a nice thing about the stage design is that navigating the levels isn't a massive hassle, you will very rarely get completely lost. But they also aren't a cakewalk, and the difficulty curve feels fair.
Graphics and Sound--Production Values
I think it's fair to describe the graphics at this point as 'pretty bad', at the time it was one of the best looking 3D games out there (especially in an era with such abominations as 'Bubsy 3D') but now time has caught up with this game: the animation looks stiff, the textures blurry and the level design uses a lot of 90 degree angles. the sound work sounds a lot better, the guns are loud, Lara makes a sickening crunch noise if she falls to far and the large beasts make some pretty good roars. The voice acting does not hold up however, it ranges to mediocre to hilariously bad. Thankfully talking also isn't a major component of this game.
To summarize: while this game is clearly showing its age, and you might take issue with one or two things in this game, I'd say it's still worth checking out, due to its value in gaming history and the fact that at its core it's still a fun game.
What did you think of this review?