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Does the tomb raider game (1996) Still Hold Up With 2017’s Gaming Standards?

Written: Laura-Louise Slattery
Developer: Core Design
Platform: PlayStation

        Originally released on the PlayStation 1 back in 1996, the popular Tomb Raider series rocketed its relic-hunting pistol-wielding heroine, tomb raider angelina Jolie into worldwide stardom. Since then, the tomb raider game has transformed into a widely well-known video game franchise, along with a range of comic books and movies as well as turning Lara Croft into the pop culture icon the gaming world knows and loves today. The tomb raider movie was released 21 years ago and still remains in the hearts of many die hard Tomb Raider fans even now. But there is only one question that’s left dangling in our minds: does it hold up with the gaming standards of 2017? Let’s find out!

the tomb raider game image

Last year was tomb raider anniversary; the first Tomb Raider game celebrated its 20th anniversary, proving to be a ground-breaking success 20 years on. The game was developed by Core Design, the Derby-based game company which at the time consisted of only six staff members in total. Beginning its development in 1993 and taking a minimum of three years to complete in the process, the tomb raider game was finally released to the public on October 25th 1996 to massive critical acclaim. The game sold over 7.5 million copies worldwide, paving the way for countless 3D action-adventure platformers to follow in its footsteps and securing women in strong leading video game roles as well as creating one of the largest video game community in the world. Playing Tomb Raider now during a time of more modern realistic graphics and lifelike motion capture has proven that games have truly changed since the age of polygons and awkward PS1 running animations.

The tomb raider game storyline

Tomb Raider tells the story of Lara Croft, a young archaeologist from England with a polite yet feisty demeanor who goes in search of the ancient Scion, an artifact that holds the incredible power of creating the army of Atlantis if placed on top of the altar inside the Great Pyramid which lies in the center of Atlantis. But as in all the tomb raider games, Lara is always obligated to protect the artifact from falling into the selfish hands of greedy relic collectors, or in this case,the game’s primary antagonist, Jaqueline Natla.
The game is presented in third person view, allowing the player to see and control Lara navigating through the various caves and tombs as the camera follows her from behind. The gameplay is quite simple and the puzzles that Lara must solve in order to progress on wards are still very challenging and exciting to experience even 21 years later. Throughout the course of the game, Lara is faced with killing a range of animals such as bats, bears, and dogs as well as dinosaurs and Atlantean mutants which gives it those Indiana Jones/Jurassic Park vibes, the two movie franchises that inspired Lara’s adventures. Very few human enemies appear in this Tomb Raider game but become more apparent in Tomb Raider 2 and 3. Much of the gun-orientated gameplay you expect to witness is very limited as the core significance of the game is based around solving puzzles and exploring levels through classic platforming style gameplay such as using Lara’s signature running jumps to grab hold of ledges, etc. Since the animations and graphics are quite dated, that should be no reason not to play it. The true essence of the game lies in using your intellect to solve and work your way around the different puzzles presented and to manoeuvre around the levels by examining your surroundings as closely as possible.

the tomb raider gameplay

The most recognized features to appear in Tomb Raider are the platforming and the threatening booby traps that await Lara in each level. As well as performing a number of jumps and quick running movements, Lara can also hang off ledges, shimmy across ledges, and perform a variety of rolls and dives, in and out of water. The animations, movements, and overall platforming were many reasons Tomb Raider was praised upon release. Critics and gamers enjoyed having the freedom of exploring around the expansive locations and being able to climb, swim, and hang from vines or cliffs to advance further into the game. A popular situation used in the series originated in this game where Lara must venture her way through a level to retrieve her pistols when they are taken from her. This has become one of the most intriguing game mechanics used in Tomb Raider as it creates a feeling of uneasiness and vulnerability for the player, forcing them to find a way to dodge enemy attacks until Lara’s weapons are found. Additional weapons she does acquire are the iconic shotgun, the Magnums, and the Uzis which are all featured later on in the sequel games.
In terms of graphics and controls: Tomb Raider has not aged well. The controls make you want to tear your hair out as Lara runs much slower in this game than the other follow-ups which creates a large amount of difficulty when dodging speeding boulders and running around tight corners. The graphics are very outdated and are still glitchy enough at times and this often takes you out of the game especially if it is your first time playing this game in 2017 and you’re so used to seeing the glossy PS4/X-Box One graphics of the reboot games. Lara’s character model amongst others like Jaqueline and Larson, the game’s villains, look very stale and basic as do the bleak textured faces, and if it is your first time playing it today, you will be very disappointed to see that Lara doesn’t have her trademark ponytail yet. The opponents you face in the game such as the lions you encounter in the colosseum level will make you laugh rather than scream simply because of their unintentionally hilarious faces. Although back in 1996 they would have caused you to squeal and drop your controller in utter fear.

the tomb raider gameplay

In terms of everything else: the tomb raider game series has aged very well. The atmosphere Nathan McCree’s phenomenal score created in the still holds up even now. One of the greatest accomplishments Core Design did with this game was making the player feel like they were exploring a dark eerie tomb themselves and imagining they really were in Lara’s boots. The sound effects such as growls and grunts alongside the music worked so well to bring that feeling of uneasiness into the player’s mind. The creepy sound effects used along with the music helped to put the player on edge so that when they entered a new area, they would have no idea what enemy was going to pop out at them next or what trap was going to spring. This was something that the classic PS1 Tomb Raider games did so well and something that the newest tomb raider game reboot games seemed to fail at: creating a chilling and exhilarating atmosphere that makes the player feel like they’re ‘in’ the game rather than just playing the game.

Observation on the tomb raider game

Overall, Tomb Raider does hold up well with today’s more modern gaming ecosystem and not just by nostalgic reasons. It’s an enjoyable game to play once you get past the not-so-great controls, the polygon graphics, ponytail-less Lara, and silly textured lion faces; it’s a fast-paced exciting action-adventure game to get stuck into. The storyline is simple and easy to get behind, and doesn’t take itself all too seriously like the reboot does. It lives up to its iconic name, and is by far one of the best PS1 games that should be experienced at least once.


This Article is solely written for #BulevurGames by Laura-Louise Slattery making her the sole owner, all copyright procedures should please be observed before recreation.

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