Why I Can’t Directly Compare Tomb Raider To Uncharted Part 2 – Differences

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We’ve already covered the similarities between Tomb Raider and Uncharted. Now, let’s move on to contrasting our two titles a bit. These are, what I think, the more important franchise defining aspects:

Theme and Tone:

Uncharted Series

  • Much more of a “Summer Blockbuster” or Indiana Jones feel
  • Light hearted and peppered with comic relief
  • Globe trotting, searching for clues to a hidden location
  • Overly confident, narcissistic protagonist
  • Supporting cast feels more like sidekicks in a buddy cop movie

Tomb Raider

  • Gritty tone (akin to the Christopher Nolan Batman reboot)
  • Survival dominates Tomb Raiders theme and the motivation of it’s supporting cast
  • Marooned on Yamatai your goal quickly transforms from archeology, to escape
  • Base arsenal is able to be upgraded and transformed into more effective weapons
  • RPG like skill tree adds depth and customization
  • Open Environments (not necessarily open world, but definitely less linear than Uncharted) let you traverse your surroundings more freely

You may be thinking to yourself “But Dylan, those lists are almost identical in length?”. As I alluded to earlier it’s the more rewarding aspects that differentiate the two titles.

Tomb Raider elicits a more primal “fight or flight” response than Uncharted does. That’s due to the more realistic, grittier tone Tomb Raider employs. I never felt like I was the underdog when playing Uncharted, even when I was facing down an army of mercenaries, alone. That’s not a bad thing what so ever, it’s just that developers Crystal Dynamics and Naughty Dog were focused on different themes. They were both crafting a completely different story, and protagonist, it just so happens they inhabit the same genre. Also aforementioned was the difference in theme. Uncharted puts Nathan Drake on the war path to whatever artifact he’s hunting. Whether it be El Dorado, Shambala, or Ubar, and never really deviates too much from that singular goal. Tomb Raider starts out similarly with Lara searching for a lost civilization. Things quickly change when the current inhabitants of Yamatai seek to murder herself and her crew in cold blood, and intend to use her friend Sam, as the sacrificial lamb to awaken a deity.

Another glaring difference is between our protagonists. Nathan Drake rarely bats an eye at the disposal of hundreds, maybe even thousands of foes. Whereas Lara Croft becomes physically ill and weeps over her first kill. Ever since the emergence of Uncharted it’s been obvious Naughty Dog used elements of the original Tomb Raider series to craft their plot, and even more heavily their protagonist. Nathan Drake is the original Lara Croft minus one pistol, an English accent, and triangular breasts. The old Lara was brash, confident, and fool hardy in the same light as Drake. Crystal Dynamics effectively cleaned the slate with the Tomb Raider reboot and birthed a new Lara Croft to the tune of “A Survivor is Born“. Lara begins the story as a fresh faced explorer with international fame on her mind, and quickly changes her outlook when her life and those around her are threatened, and in many cases taken. The transformation from a meek, inexperienced, coddled young girl doesn’t happen in as subtle of manner as I’d like to have seen, but there’s definitely an evolution of the character.

Besides the harder to portray tone and theme differences, there’s also differences in the core game play experience. Take weaponry for instance: I infinitely enjoy Uncharted’s tight third person shooter mechanics, intuitive pugilism, and platforming aspects. It makes for an exceptionally fluid combat experience, and I also appreciate the interchangeable weapons in Uncharted. For example, when you happen upon an RPG, and ruin four mercenaries day in the blink of an eye. In contrast when beginning your Tomb Raider experience you have no weapons. Lara is forced to fend for herself in a harsh environment, with little to no experience, or tools at her disposal. The addition of a crude hunters bow is the extent of your weaponry in the opening segment of Tomb Raider. Throughout your time on Yamatai you come across three other basic firearms, and a climbing axe. All of which are a permanent arsenal. The ability to upgrade your weapons, and eventually create a better version of the base weapon was a nice feature in Tomb Raider, that wasn’t present, or maybe even necessary in Uncharted (Nathan Drake ain’t got no time for dat!)

I also think the supporting cast in the two titles couldn’t be more different from an onlookers perspective. Nathan Drake has a host of experienced treasure hunters and thieves at his disposal. None of which, besides Elena Fisher are out of place in a gun fight. The motivations of Drake’s motley crew are self serving and treacherous. On the flip side, Lara Croft has a group of archaeologists and scientists in her core group, with the exception of Roth, who acts as her mentor throughout her transformation into survivor. Lara’s group of companions have only survival on their mind (well everyone besides Whitman)

Lastly we have the fact that Tomb Raider offers a sandbox type world, whereas Uncharted, features a linear level design.

Well that wasn’t necessarily easy, but it does show a stark contrast between the two titles. I genuinely love both games. Both Naughty Dog and Crystal Dynamics achieved their respective goals in spectacular fashion. I hope my argument of not being able to cast Uncharted and Tomb Raider in the same light is pretty clear at this point. Now, go out into the world with a higher level of enlightenment!

 

Dylan Zellmer

I split time between games journalism and making video games. My love of it’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), fitness and my family define me otherwise.