I gave up on a computer game last year. Just stopped playing. I don’t know whether my fingers are losing their responsiveness now that I’m getting old, but I just could not get past the first boss fight. And this was only about 5 minutes in to the game. Fortunately, it was one I had borrowed so I could return it from whence it came and not worry about it any more. If I’d stumped up cash for the damn thing, I might’ve tried a little harder.
Then I started playing Tomb Radier: Anniversary. I’ve played the Tomb Raider games since the start, loved the thrill of exploration, the searching for secret areas, the wanton destruction of endangered species. The series has had its high points – Tomb Raider itself, Tomb Raider 3 – and its low points – Tomb Raider 2 was too hard, the latest one too short on the PS2 – but I’ve stuck with it. I’ve only missed out on playing one of the games, Angel of Darkness I think it was called, but I understand from reviews that I’ve not missed much.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary is a remake of the original game using the updated graphics of Tomb Raider: Legend. Visually, it is a thing of beauty. Puzzles that were simple “flick switches, run around and stomp pressure pads” became far more interesting. And the environment? Wow! Gorgeous. But they’d tweaked combat, introduced a bullet-time-esque special move that you could use to pull off a one-shot kill, and this is where my problems with the game started. I could not, no matter what I tried, master this move. Not an issue with the little beasties, the wolves and bears of the game, but when it came to the dinosaurs I started to find the combat a little tough even on the easiest difficulty. I battled on, killed the dinos, progressed to the centaur mummy things with shields.
Back in the first few Tomb Raider games, before they started moving towards the unkillable monsters you just had to avoid, combat was simple: Pump as many rounds of ammunition into the target as you could and it would die. The bigger the bad, the more ammunition you needed. You’d work your way through magnum, uze and shotgun rounds and end up running around whatever it was blasting away with your pistols – pistols that never, ever, needed reloading. This bullet-time special move thing broke that. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was a case of “pull off the special move and you’ll finish the combat much quicker”, but it wasn’t. This move became required. Somehow I managed to pull it off twice without dying and moved on to the aliens. Then it was needed again and I’d lost my mojo. Died many times in succession, got cross, nearly wrecked a controller. And then I had a flashback to the previous year and just gave up. I felt so much better. I shelved the game, moved on to something far more fun, and haven’t gone back to it since.
There’s talk of another Tomb Raider game at the moment. I don’t know if I’ll bother or not. You changed too much last time, guys. And if the “old” gamers don’t buy a game, the young gamers won’t because they don’t have the cash.
The take-home message from this post is this: It’s your cash. You spent it on the game to have fun, not to raise your blood pressure and aim for that heart-attack. You could always trade it in for Lego Harry Potter.