Note: May have spoilers on Tomb Raider Legend.
The only Tomb Raider game I've actually beaten was the first one. Now, I'm struggling with the newest incarnation, the GameCube version of Tomb Raider Legend. I'm having fun.
There's one big problem with the game, though. Modern world has its bad sides.
The biggest difference between the first Tomb Raider and Legend is that nowadays, physics seem to actually work. On the first level I ran into a physics-related problem: How to get a block from a pit to the upper level? There's a nice new swing that I was supposed to use; I can use it to make blocks fly. Just drag it on the other end of the swing and jump on it.
Hm... maybe it' has something to do with stacking the boxes atop one another?
Yep - position the boxes carefully, run to the end of the swing, and ta-dah, you have two stacked boxes. With careful tweaking, I could use it to scale the wall.
Except that I couldn't do anything when I got up to the wall. Hmm.
Turns out the physics problem is a bit different: I'm supposed to drag the box on the other end of the swing, jump on the other end from height, thus sending the box flying in a nice big arc to the upper level.
And herein lies the problem: Back in the day, the game was, uh, gamelike. Nowadays, with physics modelling, the options are a bit too limitless.
In TR1 the choices were appropriately limited: If you couldn't drag a box to some place, it's pretty clear that it is not used in that place. However, with a little bit of painstaking effort, in this game, you can take the boxes to a weird location where they can be of remote use. So the problem, from a game design point of view, becomes this: how to give the player some leeway and make the world seem real and without arbitrary barriers, yet make the game "gamelike" enough that they will figure it out easily?
Just a random thought...