Play Time 13h 30m
Play Time 13h 30m
I’ve never played a full Tomb Raider game before so with this I got to finally say that I’ve entered the series. That said, I can’t say that I was a big fan of it. The dungeon experience wasn’t the best and the way the auto save points worked would actually harm you at times. I think this game could have used a bit more polish which would have helped a great deal. Ultimately it’s not a bad game but it’s not really a good one either.
The story starts with Lara being tasked with finding an ancient Atlantean relic. Little does she realize that this will put her right in the mix of an ancient feud among 3 gods. One of them wants total global annihilation and there’s a whole group of mercenaries after Lara. She will have to outwit all of them if she wants to stay alive here, but that shouldn’t be a big problem for a professional like Lara. She is ready to do whatever it takes in order to win here.
First off I have to say that the story is excellent. It’s considerably better than what I was expecting going in. Battles with gods? Count me in! The story is very engaging whenever the cutscenes show up and it started off on the right foot too with a big T Rex showing up early on. That really set the stage for how this game was not going to be afraid to go supernatural. Things just kept on escalating.
We even got a serious plot point with Lara having to decide if she was willing to take a life in the process of saving the world. The villains were really solid and there were also a lot of quick time events for all of the bosses. Now this was a nice touch and really made the whole game feel a bit more cinematic. I’d give that a full thumbs up all the way, that was really impressive.
Unfortunately a video game cannot survive on the story alone. That may be easier for a movie or a show where it can survive poor effects and graphics if the story is good. Gameplay is the top factor in any video game so if that isn’t good then the rest of the areas will have a very hard time keeping it afloat. That’s exactly what happened here. A lot of areas in the game are good but the gameplay isn’t and that’s the whole point of the title.
On the surface level this is just another classic 3D platformer. You run and jump through the levels as you use your gadgets to get to the end. Each dungeon has a ton of puzzles to solve so you have to get past them in order to get to the end of the game. Once you’ve pulled that off then the sky is the limit. The level endings are really smooth with the transitions so you’ll just be walking when suddenly the level is over. It’s a fairly long game as well so don’t expect to coast through this one. The puzzles are much too difficult for that.
You may jump in the wrong direction once or twice but for the most part there isn’t anything wrong with those mechanics. Lets talk about the first issue which is the auto save feature. It’s as it sounds, when you move somewhere the game will auto save so that you respawn there. Sounds simple enough right? Here’s the catch, lets say you’re going through one of those long platforming sections and you fall? You better hope you die because if Lara clings to the wall and you land safely then it’s going to auto save you from down there since there are almost always checkpoints by the entrances. Now you have to do the whole platforming angle again but if you die for real then you respawn back on the ground.
This made one level take super long because I had to keep running over to where the complicated jumps were and the time added up real quick. This seems like a quick quality of life feature that just didn’t go the way the devs intended. I love auto save but maybe it just shouldn’t work backwards or you should be able to warp to other quick save locations. Those are just two quick ideas I would have on that subject.
Speaking of jumps, some of them can be a bit iffy. There’s a certain jump where you have to swing around on a cable and then do a reverse jump. This is really difficult because the camera angle has to match exactly or Lara won’t jump the way you want her to. This should have been cleaned up since jumping should be based on direction and not the camera work. That just makes a lot more sense.
Finally, a lot of the puzzles are difficult but in an annoying way as opposed to being endearing. So as a result you just feel like the game is grating on you. The combat sections are a lot of fun, I liked fighting off the bad guys and doing the quick time events but the exploration parts were no good. Sometimes you could be playing for an hour or more and nothing would happen because you’d be on the same puzzle for ages. Some of them barely even give you any direction. You just have to go in and hope for the best which is not what you want to see in any kind of puzzle adventure.
The graphics and soundtrack are good at least. Really, the game shines in every area that isn’t the gameplay. That’s an area where I’m sure the modern games have cleaned it up a whole lot. Now if you want to play the game for the story then that’s still not a bad idea because the story is really good. Just brace yourself for the actual gameplay because there will be several sections where it just isn’t fun. You’ll be plugging away at the levels but more automatically as the dungeons break your spirit.
Overall, Tomb Raider: Anniversary is still a nice milestone for me because it was one of the biggest video game series that I hadn’t started yet. Now I can say that I really know how it goes but I would say the Indiana Jones games are winning for now. Those are fairly similar in some ways but it’s a more simple game design so no big quick time events but the puzzles weren’t so bad. I can’t say I would recommend this one too wholeheartedly but you know what you’re getting into. So if you like puzzles then by all means you should jump in.
After a long time, I have finally gone and seen the sequel to the first Lara Croft film. The first one wasn’t exactly a thrill a minute so this one really tried to add in as much action as possible. The Cradle of Life shows many glimpses of a world where it could actually have been a solid film, but these glimpses are simply too brief and the film is ultimately plagued by a few negatives.
As for the plot, Lara Croft has finally met a challenge that is too much for her. To get to Pandora’s Box, she will need to get into villainous territory. Her two assistants are already out of the picture thanks to the enemies so Lara is forced to free an associate from prison. This man is there for a reason so this is a pretty big gamble, but the two characters have a long history between them. Now that we’ve got the drama in place, the adventure can really start!
The actual plot isn’t bad and Lara is essentially just embarking on a new quest. Unfortunately, bringing someone along was definitely not a good move as the guy drags down the film. His name is Terry and he’s definitely not a good character. For starters, he’s a total criminal who clearly has not reformed in his ways. He talks tough right from the start, but he still gets beat up a few times and Lara also tricks him on more than one occasion. It becomes very evident as to why the two of them ended up parting ways. They definitely can’t trust each other and both prefer riches to companionship. Terry goes off the deep end rather unexpectedly at one point although I didn’t care for him anyway.
He also gives us the worst scene in the film as he and Lara decide to see if they’re still meant for each other. The long romance scene is an example of a very poorly developed plot and one that is completely unnecessary. After not seeing each other for years and parting on bad terms, I find it hard to believe that they would get back together so quickly. If so, the characters are definitely too easy and it hurts any chances that they had of being likable.
Likewise, the scene also hurts Lara’s character and I definitely don’t care for her here. She’s a character who tries to get in as many one liners and burns as possible, but that also means that they don’t all work. While she claims to be a professional, she nearly dies by staying in a crumbling ruins for too long and her banter quickly dies down when held at gunpoint. She’s a decent adventurer, but she’s hardly a great fighter. (Although, she’s good enough to beat her partners at Kendo) Using her feminine wiles to get through the adventure was really the last straw for her character.
As such, there weren’t many likable characters to be found in the film. I actually didn’t mind one of her partners as he was really petty. In the kendo match, he finally got a hit towards the end of their bout and started celebrating a lot. It’s like fighting on For Glory in Smash Bros where the opponent will taunt numerous times after finally getting an elusive KO. The other member is fairly weak and doesn’t add much to the story. He does try to warn Lara about the fact that the villains are on to him, but she is evidently not the sharpest tool in the shed and misses all of the warnings that he gives.
I need to quickly take this time to mention the fact that it’s not really wise for a treasure hunter to have a very well known mansion in the middle of such a big landscape. Lara doesn’t have any real defenses so any villain organization can just bust in as we saw in this film. She really needs to think about adding some much needed security to make the place a little tougher to break into.
The film was surprisingly a little more violent than I had expected it to be. One of the scenes in the climax involves a man burning to death with surprising detail as he melts. Another scene, which I found to be more intense involved a guy who was poisoned. From the way that the scene played out, it started to look like he was literally spitting out his guts. That likely wasn’t what was happening….likely, but it sure looked like that, which was pretty gruesome.
Let’s quickly look at a nice positive for the film, which is the fact that there are monsters to be found. Towards the end of the film, we find out that there are monster guardians which watch over Pandora’s Box. They can phase through objects and their speed isn’t too shabby. It almost goes without saying that there physical strength is very good. Watching them take down the group of humans was like watching the Raptors take everyone down in Jurassic World. The monsters take their time and methodically take everyone down one at a time. It’s very impressive to watch and it was a fun scene as monsters are just what we needed. They were a little too powerful so we never get to see Lara fight one of them, but the plot hax would have likely been too immense so I suppose that it’s fine.
Some of the special effects don’t quite hold up here though. One scene in particular comes to mind as Lara glides across a city. It clearly looks like she is just being held by a string with a background picture that is moving in the background. That definitely looks fake, but I suppose that we can’t have too many films with good effects right? On the bright side, it’s bad in a bit of a campy way so I wouldn’t call it a huge issue. Just something that it fun to note.
It’s really too bad that the film crumbled as it went along because I did find it to be interesting. For example, the opening scene was fun as Lara infiltrated an underwater temple and the plot began. That was the film’s first missed opportunity as Lara should have fought the villains. A nice fight scene at the beginning of the film is always a fun way to start off. We got a fight later on between Lara and another villain that was fun though. Even if the collateral damage did end up destroying the guy’s “priceless” statues. A film just needs more good qualities if it wants to be good. The plot isn’t enough, you need good writing, good characters, and more. This film couldn’t really pull off any of that as I’d call the writing decent at best. Even the final scene’s humor is a plot that’s probably been overdone a little at this point. You will feel a little bad for the two assistants…but very little.
Overall, The Cradle of Life is definitely not going to be the film to give video game adaptions a good name. It had a fairly interesting plot and the monsters at the end were cool, but that wasn’t enough to make it a good film. Making the poison scene a little less graphic and cutting out the make out scene between Lara and Terry would have helped the film a lot and that probably would have put the film in the clear with a 2 star boost. That being said, the could have/should have case can be applied to just about any film. So, when it all boils down to it, The Cradle of Life simply couldn’t stay afloat and Pandora’s Box just wasn’t meant to be found. If you’re looking for a good adventure film, then you should probably watch Indiana Jones…although I haven’t seen those in a while. Be on the lookout for the CGI ants! As for Lara Croft, we’ll have to wait a long while before we get a film that does the classic games justice.