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Retro Game Review: Tomb Raider

Posted by ptcgaming on April 22, 2009

The original "Tomb Raider" was quite the spectacle when it was first released.

The original "Tomb Raider" was quite the spectacle when it was first released. (Screenshot from Wikipedia)

Platform: Sony PlayStation
Released: 1996
Developer: Core Design

Background:Ah, Lara Croft with guns, guns and more guns. Lara’s first foray into the “Tomb Raider” series was quite the spectacle when first released, sending the heroine into the depths of massive caves, underwater and of course into tombs. This was also one of the only games to ever care the you-know-what out of me on a few occasions. While “Tomb Raider” looks primitive compared to more recent additions (including a remake of this one), it was indeed something, well, different. Not too many games featured gun-toting women as the main character, which may have been a big draw for, um, male gamers.

Graphics: 3.5/5
As far as the original PlayStation’s capabilities go, there are some games that do indeed look better than this. And while Lara might look a little “square,” many of the enemies, especially the wild animals, look pretty realistic. One complaint, though, would be how many of the wall textures blend together, sometimes making it hard to see whether or not there’s an opening ahead.

Sound: 4/5
The voice acting is clear, but the repeated grunting when you climb something can get old. Most of the voice acting is done during the cutscenes, which is just about the only time Lara comes in contact with humans (the NATLA villains, specifically) other than a few random sequences during gameplay. The music is well-done, but you’re sure to know when trouble is ahead. That’s when the “trouble ahead” music starts.

Controls: 3.5/5
For having to move Lara around with a digital D-pad, the controls work, well,they’re OK. Your thumb might start to hurt after moving her around for more than an hour at a time, because using the D-pad isn’t nearly as fluid as using an analog stick. And the developers at Core made sure you have to use every single button on the controller, since they each do something different.

Gameplay: 4/5
This game is a lot of fun (Play it in the dark. That adds some suspense). Lara automatically aims at her nearest foe, which is great for run-and-gun action. Solving puzzles slows the game down a little, but not nearly as much as you’d think. The story is pretty straightforward, and you’ll figure out what’s going on after just a couple cutscenes. But that’s not what makes the game.

Overall: 3.75/5
You’d be hard up to find anyone who played this game and didn’t like it. I remember there being this argument about whether “Tomb Raider” was in fact better than “Resident Evil.” I’m not sure which is better, especially since they have different game tempos. But one thing’s for sure – this is a game that fired off several more additions and two full-length feature films, the first of which wasn’t all that bad. Now that’s something you don’t hear every day.


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