Here’s a great example of me wondering if I’m having a contrarian opinion just to have one, but here it is anyway: I thought Tomb Raider was a much better game than Last of Us.

I know, Last of Us has a superior story. Tomb Raider’s story could be best described as ‘imagine if the writers of Lost explained what was going on!’  Also, while there were interesting goings-ons in the various journals and artifacts you found throughout the island, the characters with actual speaking roles were little more than caricatures.  Also, I realize that working at Bioware has morphed me into being a VO snob, but other than Lara herself, the VO in TR ranges all the way from ‘bad’ to ‘dear lord godawful’.  There is certainly no one with the writing and depth of Ellie from LoU.

That being said, Last of Us suffered most from the fact that the game design completely undercut the story – a stealth game where your sidekick girl was too stupid to hide from zombies, in a world where human life is precious but not so precious that you don’t kill every damn person you meet.  Tomb Raider was trying to sell a different fantasy – to make an interactive Indiana Jones movie – and in this regard, they did an admirable job.  In particular, the adrenaline sequences (sliding down waterfalls, dodging avalanches) are masterfully done, and completely pull you in.

A lot of hay has been made about Lara Croft starting vulnerable and weak, but from my point of view, this was one of the strongest thing about the experience.  Everything about Lara starts off hesitant and uncertain, and its really gratifying to play her as she starts to earn her swagger.

Other notes:

  • Unlike LoU, guns actually work on this island!  At any rate, it was possible to kill people with guns.
  • It may be time for me to play a pure stealth game, because I’ve played two games in a row now where it teases you with the potential of stealth, and then forces you into way too many open gunfights.
  • Lara Croft has so many different pain gasps, heavy breathing and other gutteral exclamations that one can only imagine the cold sweats that must have broken out in that recording session.

Would play again.  Next on the docket is Hitman: Absolution, because the trailer promised me leather-clad nuns.