Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tomb Raider Demo - oh how you broke my heart

I unfortunately don't have a lot of time but I want to talk about the Tomb Raider: Underworld demo real quick. It's a gorgeous game for the most part and I'm definitely going to pick it up when it comes out. I enjoyed Tomb Raider Legend and wasn't a huge fan of Anniversary but I managed to finish it nonetheless.

Tomb Raider has always been one of my favorite franchises and I was super excited when Crystal Dynamics took it over. That being said...there is one part of the demo that drove me nuts.

They introduce this new mechanic where you pick a stick up off the ground and they teach the player to look for holes in the wall (or columns) to place the stick in. Once placed - it becomes a horizontal pole that she can climb which lets you explore the environment more and move on to the next puzzle or whatever. This is a welcome addition and seems like it could open a lot of things up.

So step 1 in all of this - is seeing the stick on the ground. Step 2 is finding the proper place for it and Step 3 is putting it all together. Simple, clean and elegant.

After doing all that I climb up and around and find the same type of stick ALREADY placed in a hole. So naturally they teach the player to remove the stick and now Lara can walk around carrying the stick.

This is where Step 4 comes into play and this is what drove me nuts. Step 4 in ANY other videogame would be to remove the stick and find a new hole to place it into. So...I walked around for about 5 minutes looking for somewhere to place my new found stick. When Lara does any action such as jump she lets go of the stick. The worst part is that the stick has physics - so I'm up on this ledge, I let go of the stick and kick it off the ledge and immediately think, 'Oh no!! Now I have ruined the puzzle and must restart the game'.

Turns out...all the player has to do is remove the stick from the hole that it was in to solve the 'puzzle'. There was no step 4!! Maybe because it's a demo and perhaps the middle part of the game and none of this really has context but I really did wander for a good 5-10 minutes looking for that 2nd layer of the mechanics that were just taught to me.

Also - please tell the player what they have picked up. Again - this may just be a 'demo' thing but I picked up all sorts of things off the ground and she just put them in her backpack without ever telling me what they were.

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