Tomb Raider I - Screenshot

One-Hour: Tomb Raider

Synopsis: Somehow I completely missed playing Tomb Raider when it came out in the mid 90’s, which I find strange because this is a period in my life where all I did was play video games. So when Steam had it on sale recently for just over $1, I knew I had to fill the un-naturally large triangular-shaped void left in my youth. (Spoiler alert, I also picked up Tomb Raider 2, 3, and 4 for the same price, so guess what’s coming soon?)

I can assure you, the tropes are real. This game consists of “raiding” a sealed tomb where you can find conveniently placed modern-day amenities such as medkits while requiring not one – but two guns to do so, dodging arrow traps that fly out of the wall automatically when you run past them, and finally – admiring Lara Croft’s … ahem … geometrics. Based on the way the rest of the game is rendered, they totally knew what they were doing.

Now that we have that out of the way, on to the review: For a 25-year-old game, it holds up surprisingly well. Playing a game designed for a 17″ CRT on my 32″ LCD didn’t look nearly as bad as I thought it would and the levels are expansive without requiring mid-level loads or cutscenes. (Although, it’s worth noting that while the levels are expansive, it’s because there’s not a lot going on in each area – at least not that I’ve seen so far). DOSBox (which comes pre-packed for the game) allows the game to play with minimal issues, and it’s refreshing to not have to type “set blaster=a220 i5 d1 t2” for audio to work correctly.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get as far as I’d like in an hour, but I attribute that to accidentally pressing the Windows key on my keyboard and crashing DOSBox. (Sadly, this happened more than once). I suspect there’s a game mode that disables this key like I had on my old mechanical keyboard, but I haven’t found it yet. Because the game kept crashing, I kept having to restart from the beginning as the game didn’t seem to auto-save.

If I had to nitpick (which hardly feels fair beating up on a classic game like this), I really missed the mouse + keyboard controls with the ability to move the camera with the mouse, and WSAD for movement. I remapped the keys to use WSAD, but it wasn’t the same. This game assumes you have a numerical D-pad on your keyboard, and I can assure you I do not. I have hopes for the sequels, perhaps gameplay has been refined? I’m hoping yes!

Even though it’s a bit painful to play with the weak controls I do want to revisit it because I’m curious to see how far they were able to take this game. I suspect the areas I have seen are a sign of things to come and there’s likely some cool tombs to raid.

What I like: Straight up 90’s nostalgia; there’s nothing new by today’s standards but for 1996 this game would’ve been epic.

What I don’t like: Extremely clunky controls, camera tracking could be way better

Would I buy it again?: This game cost me $1 – of course I’d buy it again.

Game Details:

Game TypeThird-Person Adventure
PublisherCore Design, Eidos Interactive
Year Released1996
StorefrontSteam
Tested PlatformPC
Author: Greg

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