I beat ‘Tomb Raider,’ and now I’m sad.

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This happens a lot, actually. I tend to get really emotionally vested in the games I play.

When I beat ‘Max Payne 3,’ I didn’t feel sad. Max wasn’t a character I would miss; that guy was an unholy mess, so I just felt dirty playing the game. When I finished the ‘Saints Row’ games, I felt like a bad-ass. And when I beat ‘Half-Life 2, Episode 2,’ I just got pissed off, because I’d arrived late enough to the party with that one that I already knew there was no ‘Episode 3’ forthcoming. Damn Valve.

Speaking of Valve games, ‘Portal’ was an important turning-point in my life. The first time I finished that game, and the credits rolled, and I heard ‘Still Alive’ the first time (here’s a video; the album version features Sara Quin on vocals. Yes, that Sara Quin), I was a changed man. I was late to that party as well, so really I’d just discovered what the world already knew. ‘Portal 2’ nearly did the same thing. I played those two back-to-back. Good times.

I didn’t expect this from ‘Tomb Raider.’

When I’d first heard there would be a reboot (that word is becoming profanity) of ‘Tomb Raider,’ I wasn’t interested. I could only imagine the sort of cartoony, top-heavy Lara Croft they would create using today’s tools and hardware. High-res boobs, in other words, and not much more. So I ignored the whole thing.tr_post2

That is, until they showed some gameplay footage at E3 2012. People talked about the violence, and it sure was violent, what with Lara putting arrows into dudes’ eyes, but it looked intense and quite beautiful. It deserved to be on my radar.

So I waited.

I won’t bother saying too much about the game itself. You should play it. I’ll only say that the game was incredibly tense, so much so that I found I couldn’t play it too late in the evening or I’d have trouble sleeping. The writing and voice acting were both great, and the animation and environments were top-notch. A note about that TressFX hair physics: it’s unnecessary. Not worth the minor framerate hit. Lara’s hair looked great without it. Interesting tech, though.

(Given the motivation, I could most definitely write a better, longer, more interesting review of this or any other game. That would be outside the scope of this post, though.)

When I beat it, I felt a great sense of accomplishment, but mostly I just felt sad. It really is a special thing, when a game can move you, knock your emotions around, and leave you bummed out when the whole adventure is over. That’s what ‘Tomb Raider’ did.

So what’s next? I think I’ll play something older that I missed. ‘Psychonauts,’ maybe.

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