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Re: Together Retro: Tomb Raider

Posted: Fri May 12, 2017 10:24 am
by CRTGAMER
nullPointer wrote: One thing I really like about the Steam/Xpadder pairing is that I can map Steam's screenshot button (F12) to a controller button and easily snap off screenshots with no muss, no fuss.

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Entering the central chamber of St. Francis Folly
TEKTORO wrote:Game totally does feel like an adventure!

THIS. Tombraider in its day was groundbreaking. Played thru DOSBox (for an old game visuals still hold great) or Steam today worth a revisit especially when you get to the Roman Lion ever higher floors level pictured above. With Joy2Key this gives an option of your favorite controller including an arcade stick for the tricky jumps.

I played a bit of the PS2 Anniversary of the original which I like better then the "city" incarnations that followed the original. Tempted to try the Wii version of the remake for the aim mode of the Wiimiote.

EDIT
Just picked up Laura's Book at BookOff for five bucks. Art book with fiction story and quick strategy walkthru guides of the first two games of the series. Also a decent price online for a bit of nostalgia.

Lara's Book--Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider Phenomenon
Paperback: 200 pages - Publisher: Prima Games (July 1998)

https://www.amazon.com/Laras-Book-Lara-Croft-Raider-Phenomenon/dp/0761515801


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Lara's Book is a love letter from definitive Gen X scribe Douglas Coupland to definitive Gen X pinup girl Lara Croft. The buxom star of Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II is idolized in both words (Coupland provides a work of fiction about Lara and waxes poetic about his feelings for her and her unique stardom) and pictures (literally thousands from digitally rendered images of Lara in a polo uniform to handmade drawings by her legions of fans). Coupland's story, "Air Tibet," illustrated wonderfully by Kris Renkewitz, is tons of genre-hopping fun, and his description of his obsession with Ms. Croft is singular and evocative of the freestyle interludes of Generation X.

If you're feeling a little weird about owning a glossy-paged, coffee-table-worthy pinup book dedicated to a video game, Lara's Book justifies itself by containing complete strategy guides for all the versions of Tomb Raider. Anyone interested in game development or the minutia of Lara's workstation-induced birth will find the Core team's account of Tomb Raider's development entertaining. Did we mention that it has thousands of pictures of Lara Croft? --Andrew Boscardin

Re: Together Retro: Tomb Raider

Posted: Fri May 12, 2017 1:53 pm
by nullPointer
Xeogred wrote:Hmm, that's definitely on PC. Looks awesome.
I have to say that running that nGlide wrapper has made the game quite a bit easier on the eyes. You wouldn't mistake it for a more modern game by any means, but the subtle improvements really help to take the sting out of the low poly models which are present throughout.

Oh man I meant to mention it before, but apparently the voice director of Tomb Raider was gravely misinformed regarding the pronunciation of the word 'scion'. Every stinkin' character in the game pronounces it as 'skee-uhn'. It's 'sai-ahn' you dolts! It sort of breaks immersion when Lara, who is supposedly the product of British gentility keeps on butchering this word. (And yes, I realize that we're talking about a fictional artifact of supernatural origin here, so they can pronounce it however they like, but if that's the case they shouldn't have used an already existing word for the purpose, IMO).

Re: Together Retro: Tomb Raider

Posted: Fri May 12, 2017 5:26 pm
by Xeogred
Yeah, now you guys have me interested in checking it out since the PC version look so sharp and clean.

For comparison sake, I tried playing some Syphon Filter 1-3 a few months ago and phew... the draw distance, fog, framerate, and muddy washy textures that wave around when you move around, it's crazy to go back to. I think we can all admit and agree that some 32/64bit 3D stuff has aged kind of poorly. I suspect Tomb Raider PSX performs similar. :lol:

Otherwise I have no issues with low poly. Those screenshots look amazing to me. If the textures stay sharp and in place, along with a good framerate, I'm definitely tempted.

Re: Together Retro: Tomb Raider

Posted: Sun May 14, 2017 4:37 am
by nullPointer
Xeogred wrote:Yeah, now you guys have me interested in checking it out since the PC version look so sharp and clean.

For comparison sake, I tried playing some Syphon Filter 1-3 a few months ago and phew... the draw distance, fog, framerate, and muddy washy textures that wave around when you move around, it's crazy to go back to. I think we can all admit and agree that some 32/64bit 3D stuff has aged kind of poorly. I suspect Tomb Raider PSX performs similar.
Ya know I never would have guessed that I'd be saying this, but it's worth giving Tomb Raider a chance. There's definitely some idiosyncrasies here symptomatic of its era, but if you can look past the imperfections of its age, there's still a lot to enjoy in Tomb Raider.

I've tackled a few more levels in this game over the past few days, and I've still not reached a place where I feel like I just want to binge through the rest of the game. Much like the mechanics of the game itself, this just seems to be a game to be played slowly and deliberately. That's not a bad thing necessarily, and it might be just me, but after playing a level or two I just reach a point where I've had enough Tomb Raider for the time being. It really is a good game though, just not something that keeps its hooks in you the way some games do.

After raving about the level design, I have to say that the Colosseum level was a bit staid and conventional. It seemed to rely more on combat than on interesting puzzles or platforming segments. And while it might be thematically correct to feature a lot of combat in the Colosseum level, I'm just not convinced that the combat in Tomb Raider is good enough to keep the game afloat for long. Most of the levels in Tomb Raider have you backtracking, but typically the backtracking is done in such a way that it's not overly tedious. The Colosseum pretty much has you simply crisscrossing back and forth across the Colosseum itself while exploring fairly paltry antechambers to the main area. It felt a bit like filler material.

Having said all of that, the followup level in the Palace of Midas was a great improvement, and the Cistern after that was probably yet again on of the best levels in the game thus far. The water based puzzles in which you must raise and lower water levels are introduced at just the right time in the game just as the puzzle logic starts becoming a bit too familiar. The Cistern level is also a great improvement in that it features an outbreak of the color green in a game that up to this point is predominantly brown and grey. Yay for altering the visual palette! At this point I'm just starting in on the Egypt levels which should be good for some good ol' fashioned traditional tomb raiding.

All told I'm still having a good time with this game, and will be seeing it through to the end. I'm still not sure whether I'll jump right into the Unfinished Business expansion immediately after this one, but I certainly haven't written the idea off yet either.
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You feel less guilty when they seem so happy to be filled with hot lead

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Based on real Minoan Frescos

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GREEN! How I've missed you!

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This guy's a total dickbag. It figures that he's French. (Just kidding! Uh ... Vive la France! :mrgreen:)

Re: Together Retro: Tomb Raider

Posted: Sun May 14, 2017 10:04 am
by TEKTORO
Played some of that dungeon crawler Tomb Raider and it's amazing, definitely more fun with people the actions/puzzles/platforming and especially the technical coop is on a whole other level.

My coop partner? A 4yr old..lol so yea it's accessible too!

Re: Together Retro: Tomb Raider

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 12:56 am
by nullPointer
So I'm entering into the final two(?) levels of Tomb Raider, and while I'm still enjoying the game, I have to say that I feel like the developers might have started running short on ideas about half way through the Egypt levels. Just because the movable block and switch puzzles are getting more elaborate, they're still just the same ol' block and switch puzzles that have been appearing for the entire game. There's also a more pronounced reliance on combat in the last few levels and while it has it's moments the combat in Tomb Raider is not necessarily the game's strong suit. I will say that fighting the skateboarding kid with the uzis in the (makeshift) skate park is probably the most 90's thing I've ever seen though. :mrgreen: All that section needed was an Offspring song to complete the motif.

I've been meaning to mention a couple of small subtle things that I really like about Tomb Raider. I really like games that visibly show your accumulated gear in game. It's a super nice touch when you pick up the shotgun, that you can visibly see the shotgun on your backpack from that point on. Or when your weapons are stolen, that you no longer have your pistols in their holsters. It's nice when developers actually attempt to address the question of, "How in the holy hell am I supposed to be carrying all this gear!?" Hundreds of pounds of ammunition notwithstanding, it's just a nice touch.

Another cool touch is the save screen of all things. When you save your game there's a nice little animation of flipping through a passport. But for each level you pass your passport displays a new stamp. I thought it's just a cool way to display your level progression in a way that's consistent with the in-game events.

Going back to the ammunition for a moment, I'm afraid I've been a total miser with ammunition. I think the tank controls just automatically put me in survival horror mode, and now that I'm at the end of the game, I practically have endless reserves of magnum and uzi ammunition. The shotgun ammo is still a pretty valuable commoditiy but even then I have very little to worry about considering how many times you really need to choose the shotgun over a lesser weapon. It's occurred to me that doing a "pea-shooter only" run through Tomb Raider would be an interesting challenge, although by the time I finish up, I think I'm going to be done with Lara for a while. Still on the fence about jumping right into the Unfinished Business expansion.
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Tomb White Trash Trailer Park Raider

Re: Together Retro: Tomb Raider

Posted: Thu May 18, 2017 9:07 am
by Melek-Ric
Like a lot of early 3D games, I just can't stand old TR. It's practically unplayable to me. I never got into it as a kid, so I have no nostalgia about it. After playing Mario 64, games like TR felt too tank-like to me.

I am enjoying TR 2013 and will finish it one of these days. My main complaint with new TR is that it focuses too much on combat and not enough on exploration and adventure.

Re: Together Retro: Tomb Raider

Posted: Sun May 21, 2017 3:42 am
by nullPointer
I tanked on through the last few levels of Tomb Raider on Friday. Towards the end of the game the number of enemies you face increases dramatically. As I've mentioned a few times now, the combat in this game is sort of mediocre at best, so this winds up being a bit of a mixed bag. Overall there's nothing too terribly difficult here though, and I had plenty of high powered ammo stored up for the end game gambit. I have to say that these end levels really have some shades of Silent Hill, what with skinless mutants, pulsating meat tunnels, and an ambient heart beat playing in the background that starts to become grating after a while. If this game had come out after Silent Hill, I'd be accusing it of plagiarism, but since it released three years prior; who knows maybe there was some Tomb Raider DNA working it's way through to the foggy streets of Silent Hill.

In terms of puzzles, I'd have to say that the highlight of these last few levels is the mirror image doppelganger you encounter at one point. Part of what makes this encounter tricky is that it occurs in a room with two other enemies initially, so amidst all the flippy dippy gun play it's easy to inadvertently fill your self with bullets vis-a-vis the doppelganger who mirrors your every action. It's a nice touch at a moment in the game when the mechanics of every conventional puzzle in the game has already been rehashed six ways 'till Sunday. The final battles are okay, but not terribly different than most of the standard enemies you've been fighting through these levels; they're just more bullet-spongy.

The story really goes a bit bonkers in these last couple of levels, but chances are you're not playing Tomb Raider for the riveting story devices any way.

All told I enjoyed Tomb Raider more than I thought I would, and I may have even enjoyed it more than the first time I played it in the early 2000's, since even at that time this game was already feeling a bit antiquated by the standards of its more sophisticated peers. This time I knew what to expect, and was able to appreciate the game for what it is.

After finishing Tomb Raider I needed a palette cleanser, so I played through Mega Man 2, and then started up the Unfinished Business level expansion pack. I'll record more thoughts on that later, but it's interesting that even in the couple of years between Tomb Raider and this expansion pack, the developers had made improvements to the ideas presented in the first game. So far I would say these expansion levels equal and/or exceed the quality of the base levels in terms of design and execution.

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Maybe it's the neck, but I see a lot of E.T. in this creature design

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In a truly diabolical twist, this lady hid the scion in a giant anus

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Battle of the Bad Bitches

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Next Order of Business

Re: Together Retro: Tomb Raider

Posted: Sat May 27, 2017 1:34 am
by nullPointer
Sorry for the double post, just wanted to post up a few more thoughts on Tomb Raider before the end of the month, specifically regarding the Unfinished Business expansion pack. Frankly, it was a bit of a mixed bag. On the positive side, it's interesting to see how the level design concepts had evolved between the release of this expansion pack and the base game. Unfinished Business was released on PC two full years after the release of Tomb Raider, shortly following the release of Tomb Raider III (and it was released free of charge to boot). As you play through the expansion pack, you can really see how the two years and two intervening games helped to impact the design of this expansion. The levels here are a bit more tightly designed, and there's not quite so much aimless backtracking. I would say these levels can easily hold their own against even the best levels in the base title.

On the negative side, this expansion pack suffers a bit from what I think of as "expansion pack-itis" It's not as polished as the base game. Sure the design is neat, but there are definitely more graphical glitches and other minor hiccups present. There are flashing textures, occasional stuttering, and if you save in the presence of certain traps (particularly dart traps), it will disable the trap entirely. You can tell this game just didn't have the same sort of development/test cycle that the original did. It's understandable being as it was released free of charge, but it's definitely noticeable. There's also no story elements to speak of. Going strictly from what's offered in the game, you have no idea where these levels are supposed to fit within the chronology of events. The Tomb Raider wiki fills in some of the details here, but it would have been nice to have these details exist within the game itself. To that end, there's not even a proper ending/credits sequence when you finish these expansion levels. No 'Congraturation', no 'A Winner is You', nothing. You just finish the last level which sends you to a black screen at which point pushing start kicks you back to the title screen. It's as if the developers were like, "You got this for free you little shits; what did you expect? You want an ending? Pay me." Again it's not the end of the world but it felt like a bit of a jarring let down after completing the damned thing. Did I mention these levels are exceedingly more difficult than the base game? They are (partly due to a reliance on unrelenting combat segments)

At the end of the day, the Unfinished Business expansion is probably best left to die hard fans of the series. Those with only a passing interest would be best advised to simply move on to Tomb Raider II, IMO. While it is a fun little post script to the first game, I would say that Unfinished Business falls firmly into 'series completionist' territory.

Here's a few screenshots from Unfinished Business. Aside from the graphical glitches, it really does have some nice set pieces.

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You actually get to spend some time under the starry sky in this one. Neat!

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This room had a cool animated effect in which the cats on the terraces appear to be running around the room

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Probably the best looking sphinx in either the base game or the expansion pack ... and they hide it directly behind a wall. :roll:

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Unfinished Business utilizes a lot of these zoom-out effects to show off the scale of environments. It's a nice touch.

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Another Tomb Raider room with shades of Silent Hill

Re: Together Retro: Tomb Raider

Posted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:07 am
by citchmook
I play the original three titles at least once a year. I honestly still get the excitement that I didn't when I was young, it's the music or something ha.