PAX Prime 2012: I Killed Deer in Tomb Raider
By Joseph Christ on September 5th, 2012 (3 comments)
Well, 4 deer, 3 bunnies and 2 birds to be exact.
In the hunting level of Tomb Raider we were allowed to play at this years PAX Prime I was a harbinger of death to all the furry creatures who attempted in vain to skitter away from the piercing shock of my bow and arrow. Lara Croft, beaten and bruised from her ordeal on that island thus far, also exhibited another emotion. Anger. And it was a virtual woodland holocaust laying at her feet by the time my demo had ended.
Not since the Secret of NIMH had so many puffs of horrified furballs ran in horror from the wave of death threatening to crash upon them. And just when the whiz of arrows through the air was silenced, just as they thought it was safe and the person waiting patiently behind me thought it was their turn, I found more arrows.
You can't really blame the animals. Lara Croft's British accent is bound to lull anyone into a false sense of security. How do you think colonialism came on so strong? "Dear sir!" the nice British man says in a sweet dulcimer-like tone that would make even the most ardent conservative come out of the closet. "Why don't you let me and my men in for some tea and land?" And *BAM* just like that your country is turned into a British colony!
So there I was, running around the level killing more and more animals when I just needed to kill one and having a blast doing it. Not that I want the new Tomb Raider to just be a great bow and arrow shooter. Quite the opposite in fact, and the platforming and exploration bits I was able to experience were exceptionally well done. Killing animals involved much more than running on a flat surface. I ran up hills and on rocks to get a better shot. Some animals stuck around the stream running through the middle of the level, as animals often do, which meant I needed to sneak the long way around to get a good shot.
My takeaway from playing Tomb Raider was that all the mechanics felt equally impressive and fun to just play around with. And when you can develop game mechanics that allow you to forget about your objective and just use them for the sake of their entertainment value, you know that you have something good on your hands. It's that same sort of thing that I love about Dishonored, and pretty much all games that focus on mechanics first and then build a great story around the abilities of the player.
If a game has a strong foundation that allows for enjoyment even without narrative or spectacular visuals, then everything else is just a bonus.
Joseph Christ is the Reviews Editor and a Podcast Personality at 4Player. Specializing in reviews, editorials, drinking, and saying inappropriate things about gaming franchises that are beloved by millions, his satirical and sometimes edgy style offsets a more serious and penetrating substance lurking below the surface. He is also the host of the Cocktail Time Podcast. You'll follow his Twitter if you know what's good for you.
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