This installment in the Tomb Raider franchise, much like the others, is a third person shooter. It is certainly aimed at being an arcade type game rather than a realistic one, and thus handles as such. The controls are much as you would expect, W,A,S,D move Lara around the map and the mouse aims her different weapons and tools. Spacebar is used to jump and shift is used to dodge enemies during combat, while E is used to interact with just about everything you come across. Q is used to use Lara’s unique ability called “Survival Instinct” which is basically a hint system. It highlights areas that can be interacted with in a yellow glow for easier identification.
The one annoying bit about the controls is something I talked about in the gameplay as well. As I mentioned, the game is littered with quick time events. Normally I don’t mind them, but they occur way too often, and seem somewhat sporadic in nature. For instance, one time I was meant to hit left and right repeatedly which was done on the A and D buttons, and the next time I was meant to do the same thing, it was done with the left and right arrow keys. I haven’t the vaguest idea why it switched which keys I was meant to hit, but it was extra annoying when I failed the event three or four times before I found out I was supposed to be hitting different keys. The other thing about the quick time controls is that they often require you to hit the F, E, or mouse button. Sometimes you are meant to hit the key repeatedly, sometimes you are meant to hit it only once, but with certain timing.
I don’t mind quick time events, just don’t overuse them. I’d much rather play the game than do constant events that don’t allow me to enjoy the game. This applies for the events where it is basically a cut scene and I have to hold a button to progress it. If I am climbing a ladder, let me feel like I am in control and go up and down the ladder as I please. Hell, let me jump off to my death if I am feeling crazy enough, but this nonsense of one way cut scene-esque gameplay that I have little to no control over is just annoying. I didn’t mind it in Heavy Rain, but that’s because Heavy Rain owned up to what it was, it embraced the fact that it was a giant movie with quick time events, and it worked because it was honest with us. I just feel that quick time events, especially too many of them cheapen the gameplay experience. Video games are art, and a quick time event is just like a five year old throwing paint at your masterpiece.
The game does also feature gamepad support, and will instantly detect a gamepad when it is plugged in. It allows you to switch from gamepad to mouse and keyboard on the fly which is awesome for someone like me who switches back and forth repeatedly to take screenshots and play the game. And while the mouse and keyboard controls are fully customizable, the gamepad controls cannot be edited at all. When I say that there is no customizability, I mean it. You literally cannot edit the gamepad controls in the options menu; in fact it seems as if the game doesn’t even recognize that you have a gamepad plugged in. Everything still functions properly, and the game obviously has a preset button configuration, but there appears to be no way to change it whatsoever.