Released in 1998, I was first introduced to Tomb Raider III when I watched my dad play it in the early hours of the morning (Like 4am/5am) on the PlayStation before heading off to work when I was around four years old. It wasn’t until years later, when the PlayStation was passed down to me because my dad had upgraded, that I got to really play the game for myself.
Sure the mechanics can be a little clunky and that first run through I didn’t get further than running around Croft Manor and shooting at the butler, but it still holds a special place in my heart and upon revisiting totally holds up.
No matter how many years have passed, this game is still able to kick my ass and maintains the title as one of the hardest games I’ve ever played. That being said, my rage was dampened by the fond memories of me and my next–door neighbour taking it in turns to run around, shoot Lara Croft’s guns and inevitably die a few hundred times before retiring to the tutorial level.
Bustin’ a Move
Building on the previous instalments in the series, TRIII saw Lara now able to crouch and swing from overhead bars… of course if you don’t fancy doing that then you can also just opt to fall into some quicksand… which I succumbed to one or two hundred times.
Silence is Golden
Something I had forgotten about this game is the lack of music. Something which might seem odd but actually added to the atmosphere of the game play as a whole. Traversing various lonely environments while radin’ those tombs in (almost) silence definitely adds to the sense of isolation and works to increase the tension during pivotal moments of the levels. Of course there are appearances of music throughout the game, but its placement seems deliberate – such as to let the player know they’ve found a secret.
One of the First Female Leads
Up until the Tomb Raider series, there was very little in the way of female lead representation in video games; unless you’re include Ms Pac-Man. Obviously it can’t be glossed over that she could have been seen as problematic – especially to younger audiences (polygonal chest problematic) but at the end of the day she was also the first strong female gaming character I, and so many other girls, were introduced to. It can also be argued that her appeal paved the way for the idea that a woman in a video game could be more than just a damsel in distress.
Although not a perfect game, the Tomb Raider legacy is definitely one which holds up to this day and regardless of the reasons why, Lara Croft’s character helped gaming in its transition from what was perhaps a more niche audience, to the versatile consumers of today.
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