Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why I haven't even played the new Tomb Raider game

I'm seeing all over the place how one of the most famous names in video games is having a lot of trouble lately. There's a rather good article at gamesetwatch about making Lara Croft more female friendly, and another (from the other end of the spectrum) about making it an M rated game.

Well, I can tell you three very specific reasons that my wife and I didn't buy the last game. They're the same reasons we still haven't finished the one before that.

One - Give me the freakin' camera already! I can't stand having the camera yanked around with the excuse of "cinematography". I'm all for making things as pretty as possible, but I don't know how many times I've been lining up a jump and the camera moved. And in case the developers haven't noticed, that makes the controls a little difficult.

Two - There's only one solution for the puzzles. The player's not allowed to come up with a solution, just to figure out what solution the designer wanted.

Three - the difficulty is not consistent. This is why my wife gets frustrated. She makes it through most of the game without having to stress much of anything, and then she gets to a boss fight, and suddenly she can't get past it because she doesn't know some combo move or another.

I'm sure you've noticed that I've linked to the same list repeatedly. None of these complaints are new. They're all at “Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie!” This isn't some obscure list, it's published annually at Gamasutra (the site for the game industry, for those who don't know). All the designers need to do is read what their peers have said.

Personally, I like the Tomb Raider games, there's just a few things that make the game almost unplayable. It's not that we don't like the story, or the look of the game, or any of that. It's just a few design tweaks. I hope to see the Tomb Raider games keep going for a long time.

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