Saturday, June 09, 2007

Tomb Raider: Anniversary Update 4

Tomb of Qualopec (part 2)
  • The old breaking-floor-in-front-of-switch puzzle.
  • The aforementioned puzzle was actually very poorly designed, and I can't imagine why they let it slide. Here's the deal: you have to pull a box out of a dark, hidden hole and use that to jump to a ledge and then to a pole and a second pole. That's easy enough, except that I missed the dark, hidden hole the first time and just wanted to jump to the second pole which is actually low enough and close enough to a ledge to make it look like Lara could get to it. In fact -- and here's the stupid part -- Lara's body passes through the bottom of the pole if you jump for it! It totally looks like you should be able to grab it, but because the game knows you shouldn't be able to get it from there, she won't even do her grab animation. That's a clue, see? You can't get her to grab, so that tells you you're doing the wrong thing.
  • Heck, she can almost touch the ledge you get to from the box too, if you jump from the right place. But, of course, the game knows you can't do that without the box, it doesn't even let you try.
  • I did like the part about getting the second pillar free in the main room of this level. I figured out where I should go by using my guns to verify that a particular part of the room could move. Then it was a matter of figuring out that I could make a particular leap from a ledge that seemed unintuitive. Past that it was easy.
  • I did get to use the guns to shoot another rope, but I was disappointed that the game throws up a big red "YOU CAN SHOOT THIS!" targeting icon, just in case I hadn't figured it out.
  • I chose normal difficulty -- perhaps these hints wouldn't have been there had I chosen hard? I'd hate to restart now. I think Legends allowed you to change difficulty mid-game, so I might bump it up and see what's different. Or maybe I could read a FAQ to see if it's explained somewhere. Or the manual...crap, I should have already checked to see if the manual explains the difficulty levels.
  • Larson is another interactive cut scene. The button presses are, no lie, like 20% of the screen. I realize that the "take bullets like crazy" of the battles in the first game would be kind of unrealistic now, but I don't think this was the solution. I liked them in God of War, and they seemed better done there -- here they just bog the game down needlessly.
  • I left one raptor alive. He was down in a pit when I was exiting part of the level and the game allowed me to bypass him without killing him.
St. Francis Folly
  • Just watched the opening cut scenes, so no gameplay here yet.
  • The remake of the skyscraper cut scene was ok. I liked the reading of the old manuscript in the original to Pierre's narration.
  • Lara picks up a can Pierre threw on the ground, calls him a litterbug, and then throws the can back on the ground. There's even a trash can in the background, I think. Intentionally funny?
I've been thinking of how to explain the difference between the original and this game, in particular the controls.

Original = pure physics simulation.
Remake = physics + assistant/preventive magic.

To elaborate...

The original had a very rigid set of fundamental rules, like the laws of physics. Lara could jump certain distances, catch in certain circumstances, and could even bend her trajectory a tiny bit while in the air. The levels were constructed carefully so that everything was set up for you to play through approaching the rules in a straighforward way, but if you found a way to exploit the extreme cases of the controls to get somewhere quicker or in a different way, the game didn't stand in your way. It was, quite literally, a simulation.

This game (and Tomb Raider: Legend, whose engine it uses) is also a set of physics rules but it adds a level of magic on top of that set of rules. The magic comes in two types: assistance and prevention. The assistant magic makes certain moves possible that might otherwise be dodgy, just by the physics. So if Lara needs to make a jump along a wall from the end of a ledge, this magic comes out and makes the jump possible. On the other hand, as in the description of the broken third puzzle in Tomb of Qualopec, the preventive magic gets in the way of the physics of the situation and just makes certain movements and actions impossible. So whereas I can make Lara jump far enough that her polygonal model intersects the pole I will eventually need to climb on, since I didn't jump from the place the designers wanted me to, the magic says "no way" and Lara passes maddeningly through the pole.

That's my analogy for now.


rufbo said...

"# Larson is another interactive cut scene. The button presses are, no lie, like 20% of the screen."

What do "button presses" in what I suppose I'm wrongly assuming is a cut scene mean?

jvm said...

It's next generation Dragon's Lair.

These are QTEs (quick timer events) or interactive cut scenes where you watch a movie and have to tap the correct button when it flashes on the screen. So during the scene with Larson you'll watch Lara fighting him and a huge X or O or square or triangle button icon will flash up there at certain points. If you don't hit it in time or you hit the wrong button then the scene ends with Lara defeated.

These icons are HUGE. Seems outrageously large, given the modest size of games with similar schemes, like God of War or Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones or even Tomb Raider: Legend.

rufbo said...

Sounds more Parappa than DL... that's pretty sorry. I thought the slight interactivity of MGS3 was strange enough -- that's just strange.

Men's Panties said...

Tomb Raider is incredible!