TR5: Crane Guy

My last session was pretty insubstantial; all I did was wander around the Russian naval base level, which I had already completed, looking for secrets. I’ve been sort of half-cheating on this, using an online guide — specifically, the venerable Sinjin Solves guide — to find the approximate place to start looking for a secret, but not reading the details. Sinjin’s high-quality walkthroughs are practically an essential part of the Tomb Raider experience as far as I’m concerned, and I’m pleased as punch to discover that they’re still online.

In the process, I found a lovely little bug. In the center of the level is a warehouse-like room with piles of crates. While you’re in this room, a ceiling-mounted crane slowly chases after you with murderous intent, controlled by a guy who you can see through a large bulletproof window, in a control room that you can only reach via a jumping puzzle. (Because you don’t have the keys. The guy in the room presumably didn’t need to do a jumping puzzle to get there.) When you burst in, you get rid of him in a non-interactive cutscene. I honestly don’t remember if Lara shoots him or if he runs away, because that’s how little life means in this game, but either way, the crane pursues you no more.

Anyway, when I started a new session and loaded my save and went back there to look for secrets, I found that crane guy was standing there in the control room again. The crane wasn’t active. Just the guy. Because, of course, the graphical mesh of a man in the control room was never actually controlling the crane. The guy and the crane are just two player-visible manifestations of the same bit of game logic. Except apparently not, because the guy can appear independently of the crane, which reveals a little something about the implementation.

It’s the sort of thing that I wouldn’t normally expect to pass QA in a game of this relatively small scale, and it leaves me wondering: Is this because standards have risen in the last nineteen years? Or did it just slip through because this was the studio’s Contractual Obligation Game and their hearts weren’t in it?

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