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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 90: The Raiding of (non-existent) Tombs

Richard Naik's picture

It's a Tomb Raider extravaganza! We dish on the latest incarnation of Lara Croft, female protagonists in general, and the state of the "Cinematic Action" genre, a term which I claim full credit for coining. With Richard Naik, Brad Gallaway, Ashley King, Sara Rich, and (later on) Tim "Skype Connection Dropped" Spaeth.

Also, check out this article by our good friend Rhea Monique if you have time. Well worth a read.

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Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PS3   PC  
Developer(s): Crystal Dynamics  
Series: Tomb Raider  
Genre(s): Super Powers   Adventure/Explore  
Articles: Podcasts  

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Tombless Raider

I agree with the sentiment that it's definitely a good game, but it's just not a good Tomb Raider. It feels like another series has fallen prey to the "gritty, colorless shooter" syndrome that games like CoD are responsible for.

Also, I can't help but laugh at the fact that the devs obviously want you to care about Lara being forced to kill human beings, and then go on to include a "kill 200 dudes" achievement.
Am I the only who played (and really loved) Tomb Raider Anniversary, by the way? It did the exact same thing: force Lara into a situation where she has to kill a human being, but it doesn't force her to kill 100s of others in the rest of the game. This is the reason why I have trouble accepting this game as an origins story (it's a reboot, separated from the original series as far as a I'm concerned). She's ALREADY been through this sh*t.

except the games have been this way since TR2

2 things-

From Tomb Raider 2 onward, Lara was recrafted (or reCrofted) into an action hero to please fans who thought TR1 was too 'boring'. Go play 1 & 2 back to back and you notice immediately that the number of enemies skyrockets. That's what people wanted. It wasn't what I wanted..

second, 'raiding' tombs in the game never amounted to anything more than navigating large environments and finding secret paths, switches, simple machines, and ways off the level. That has not changed, at all. What made the game about "TOMBS" was that you were looking for an "artifact", and the artifact never did anything other than signify you were at the climax of the game. I posit Tomb Raider was never about raiding tombs as it applies to archaeology. It was about exploration and platforming and solving simple puzzles and shooting things. Lara Croft never touched a shovel, never used a brush to dust off a dinosaur bone. She shoots dinosaurs. She takes treasures and pockets them. Nothing has changed.

Hey, how about that

Hey, how about that multiplayer!

I wanted to make one additional spoiler-free comment about the endgame, but couldn't thanks to Richard's Internet connection and/or his cats. My favorite part of any Metroid/Castlevania is the "Go Back and Collect All the Goodies Once You've Fully Upgraded Your Equipment" sequence, and Tomb Raider really nails this. You might argue that putting waypoints on the collectibles ruins the exploration aspect (I'd argue that's what the challenges are for), but for me the fun was figuring out how to traverse the environment to get to the waypoint. The reward for finding everything isn't terrific, but it was a fun hour or so. Kind of an amalgam of Metroid and pre-III Assassin's Creed.

It's great to have Tim back

It's great to have Tim back for the podcast. He made very good points about Lara's humbleness and her heroic status.

Alas, I also regret the conspicuous absence of Sparky Clarkson, since he had so much to say in previous articles about the Cinematic Action Genre, Tomb Raider, Uncharted and Enslaved.

Anyway, regarding Tomb Raider :
I was never much of a fan of the series, because the first episodes featured pixel perfect platforming, nonsensical puzzles, no story or completely bogus ones (Tomb Raider Underworld...), and lousy fights (the fights with the dinosaurs in TR1 come to mind).

Here at least, Lara is a human being, the fights are enjoyable and apart from the over the top setpieces, the scale of the challenges seems right. There are no huge tombs because these hiding places were built up by small groups of people, there aren't thousands of Egyptian slaves to build a colossal pyramid.

Regarding the fights, despite the huge number of people Lara kills, I never once found that she was a cold blooded machine : I played on hard, and I struggled to win every fight, scrambling from cover to cover, shooting blindly. It involved more guts than pinpoint accuracy.

Apart from that, I agree with everyone that the death count is too high to make each killing count, survival is seriously lacking, RPG elements make the experience too gamey.

Regarding the Cinematic Action Genre, Brad said a problem he had with the genre is that it foregoes all challenge. Sparky Clarkson said on the contrary that Uncharted 3 for instance had too much challenge, and players should play on easy to enjoy it most.

Personnally, I love TPS gameplay, and I find Uncharted gunplay challenging and interesting (even if at odds with the pacing required by the scenario).

It saddened a little to hear you sing the praises of Enslaved over Uncharted, when the main difference is simplistic melee combat instead of gunfights. Sparky Clarkson also had a lot to say about Enslaved story and characters, with which I agree wholeheartedly.


I'm with you upselo on getting Sparky Clarkson on the GC Podcast. I want him as a semi regular too. He's too good not to have his thoughts heard. I know that he hates hearing his voice on podcasts but he's being too sensitive. I just recently listened to an old Brainy Gamer podcast that Sparky was on 5 years ago, and he sounds fine.

Break the drought Sparky.

sorry to ask this here but

sorry to ask this here but wasn't sure where else to post this. How come the gamecritics reviews no longer show up on metacritic?

Last I checked, we're still

Last I checked, we're still listed with MetaCritic. Was there a particular review that wasn't there?

Our Tomb Raider piece is up:


Scroll down to 65 and it's there. = )

Japan, Gender and Sexuality

Hi everyone.

Something that boggles me every time is how come japanese games are so rarely discuss when it comes to gender/sexuality issue (except when it's to mock the weird things on kotaku). Their take seems much more varied and mature than that of american games. Of course, things like .hack GU may be too obscure for people to compare to Mass Effect - in this game a male party member is in love with the male protagonist without there being any awkwardness at all. But for instance, FFXIII is probably the game with a female MC, right on the cover that sold the most this gen, and it's not discussed when the topic is brought up.

Japanese games have long had fascinating, human, female MC. Shion in Xenosaga, who is seen in a relationship that is central to the story. The Atelier games generally have great, fleshed out female MC. Nier's follow-up, Drakengard 3, also seems to have a great take on this. And those examples are just on the top of my head. I'm dazzled that this is not explored more often on this subject.

jumping and controls

I remember the original Tomb Raider games and they had these awful controls in where Lara would either go forward, back and rotate. There were a bunch of moves for the combat, but she mostly controlled like a tank.

The offshoot of that was that each edge for a jump was approached with the same measure of caution. You would approach the edge, gauge the distance and then determine whether you needed a run-up to the jump. It did give this sense of tension for each jump.

Since fluidity was introduced to this genre, it's certainly (I feel) taken away some weight, or even a sense of consequence, from the jumps. Of course, the explosion of parkour a few years made this easy running around and death-defying jumping with ease quite fashionable, and it seems to have stuck. Stepping back to the old run and rotate control system would seem to be a poor decision.

Anyway, still listening through to the podcast as I type... so i thought i'd jot down a thought :) Thanks for the good work, guys.

Add Valkyrie Profile to that list

... so many japanese games/series with decent female MCs.

HYPOTHESIS: I wonder if it's because most games with female MC are japanese that they sell less on average!

Cheers Brad, I think I was

Cheers Brad, I think I was looking for some of the more inflammatory "best work" pieces.

Excellent podcast richard,

Excellent podcast richard, and I'm really enjoying the format even when I haven't played the game in question. Please, please guys do a spoiler ridden podcast of Bioshock Infinite! I just finished that game, and it is hardcore calling for this treatment. I enjoyed Sparky Clarkson's articles, (though I disagreed with his final assessment, I still thought it was an excellent game), but I'd love to hear the rest of you discuss it.

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