Tagged: Tomb Raider

Katy inspired some unexpected thoughts on Tomb Raider

I recently finished Rise of the Tomb Raider which brings the reinvented Lara Croft origin story right up to where the original game kicks off. I’ve been meaning to revisit it for a while so I set off into the PlayStation original to see how it holds up, to see if I could still enjoy it, and to unpack some baggage about modern game design. But leave it to Katy to glance up and instantly cut through all the philosophical, ludo-narrative bullshit bouncing around in my mind by stating “it looks like Michael Jackson as Lara Croft in Minecraft”. It’s too perfect, especially the Minecraft part.

The blocky polygons and low-res textures of the 90’s are currently my jam. The 32-bit era of 3DO, PlayStation, and Saturn has replaced the classic 8-bit generation in my heart. I spend a lot of time looking at and thinking about those early 3D games and really never equated it to Minecraft’s look. It’s one of those cases of being so close to something and needing a little perspective which Katy unknowingly gave me. Tomb Raider is especially relatable as it’s also built on a block-based grid system. Lara’s animations all fit within the bounds of a single block and you come to use it as a measuring stick of sorts for navigating jumps and pitfalls.

From http://classictombraider.tumblr.com

Before the advent of fog (for better and worse) games simply let the limits of their worlds trail off into the black darkness. It works the same for both Tomb Raider and Minecraft to instill the sense of mystery as terrain, treasures, and terrors come rolling out of the blackness. Sure, it was a design choice for Minecraft and a technical limitation for Tomb Raider but the outcome is very much the same. Once Katy pointed it out I saw Minecraft in several of the game’s early underground jungle scenes… and yes, I also see the MJ resemblance in early Lara’s face.

I may be a decade late on this revelation but it’s been yet another angle to look at both games from. Believe me, it’s also the most positive correlation to modern game design that I’ve gathered. Video games have hardly done anything groundbreaking over the generations aside from refine their graphical fidelity, but all that is for a different post.

For today let’s just appreciate the ability of someone to make a goof and change your perspective at the same time.

Achieving: Ultimate Efficiency!


The Achievement pictured here is for completing all of the in-game challenges but it should really be for ultimate efficiency. I finished the game back in May and shortly thereafter Steam rolled out its trading card stock market/time sink. Tomb Raider got some cards and I always meant to load it up but didn’t feel like letting the game idle for hours just to unlock the digital cards.

In comes the Steam Autumn sale and with a super cheap DLC tomb to raid I finally dove back in, got the cards and even finished off the Achievement up above. Oh, I also got the added benefit of freeing up hard drive space on my laptop once I was finished. BA~GOINK!

The ‘Tomb of the Lost Adventurer’ DLC, by the way, is a pretty paltry offering. It’s basically the devs exchanging money for experience points as the area is lousy with salvage. If you’re still in the midst of playing the game it’s a quick way to gain a couple upgrade points but it didn’t offer me anything except a refresher on how to play.

Achieving: Tales of Pointless Self Reward in Games retold in brief posts whenever we feel like it.

More emotive than any Tomb Raider game ever made

The Sci-Fi Channel created several “I Am Sci-Fi” promos in the early 2000’s with both real stars and virtual ones. This is Lara Croft’s. Her facial reaction to losing at Pong is still one of the most emotive and impressive I’ve ever seen in animation. I don’t know if it was motion capture or a brilliant animator but I suspect that knowing the context of that situation as intimately as we gamers do is what makes it so perfect.