• Tomb Raider Review

    Tomb Raider is an action-adventure game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. It is a reboot of the popular Tomb Raider franchise that was released on March 5th, 2013 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and the PC. This marked the first Tomb Raider game to appear under the Square Enix banner after the company bought Eidos back in 2009 taking Crystal Dynamics with it. If you're interested, you can find a review of the original game here.

    First off, Lara Croft looks amazing. The new look really suits her well as it still resembles the older model, best shown here, as the actual gameplay model looks nothing like this.

    The game wastes no time showing us what kind of game it's going to be in the first three minutes by having us ride into a storm, getting shipwrecked and stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere while taken hostage and tied upside down inside a cave. You didn't happen to break that mirror you were looking into earlier, did you, Lara?

    In retrospective, The Walking Dead opening is looking a hell of a lot better right now.

    Our first couple of seconds of gameplay is spent swinging back and forth trying to get out of that predicament. Then the game rewards you by having Lara set on fire and falling on a big stick impaling her abdomen. You're going to notice that pattern a lot while playing through this game. Anything that is anything is going to try to kill Lara, and you're going to feel every moment of it.

    One button mash annoyance later we're bleeding out and wandering through a cave with nothing but a torch to light our way. Luckily there's a “survivor instincts” mode which highlights Lara's destination, an object she can use to create a path, and pretty much anything else that can be of use. The game also features Quick Time Events, sequences where you either need to press a button at just the right time, or button mash to avoid impending doom. These days they seem to be a staple in action games and I find them more of a nuisance than a challenge.

    Tomb Raider mixes platforming, shooting, survival, and RPG elements into one action packed bag while still managing to feel like Tomb Raider. Whether you're jumping and grabbing onto ledges, or solving puzzles, it's as Tomb Raider as Tomb Raider can get. When being attacked by wolves, it's as every bit as terrifying as in the original Tomb Raider.

    The first weapon we find in the game is a bow and arrow, because when you think Tomb Raider you think bow and arrow. Later on you'll find the standard Tomb Raider arsenal, like a semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, and a rifle that can later be modified with a grenade launcher.

    Another thing, this time around you have limited ammunition. That's right, your weapons can run out of ammo and you'll have to find some more. No jumping left and right while firing endlessly at a T-Rex for you this time. The limited ammunition furthers the survival elements of the game and makes you want to ensure those shots count.

    Lara can earn experience points through killing enemies, solving puzzles, exploring, and hunting. These experience points allow you to upgrade her skills and give her a better chance of surviving. You can acquire these upgrades at campsites that are scattered around throughout the map. Here you can also upgrade your weapons and fast travel across the island.

    The most frustrating part of this game has to be the enemies. You feel Lara's anger as they're trying to kill you. By the time she finally flips you'll feel like you're right there beside her launching grenades and blowing them to pieces.

    I can't remember the last time a game made me want to forgo stealth play and just to sling arrows at everything that gets in my way. Not that the stealth play is anything fancy anyway. It's just Lara crouched behind some cover. Some times if you're lucky you can sneak up on them with the axe, which acts as Lara's close range weapon as well as a tool.

    Tomb Raider takes place on Yamatai, an island in the Dragon's Triangle off the coast of Japan. How interesting, it's set in the country of origin as their new publisher. The island is home to the “Sun Queen” Himiko who was said to have shamanistic powers that allowed her to control the weather. The legend is cleverly pushed in the background while you're more focused on the survivors trapped on the island until solving the mystery is the only way to get off the island. Then in classic Tomb Raider fashion the legend proves to be very real, and on top of everything else, you have Stormguards to worry about.

    The archaeological aspect hasn't been forgotten either. With just a little exploring you can find ancient artifacts lost to time and in a separate screen get to examine them as Lara explains what they are. Some of the items have more stuff to find on them, if you only take the time to look.

    There aren't many glitches to be found this time around, but the ones you can find will make you die. During one fight an enemy turned invisible while they were attacking me. In another battle the enemy sank into the ground and I couldn't get him, but you can bet he could get me. Then there was the time Lara just froze while everyone else was shooting at her and I had to restart the game to break out of it.

    There are times where it feels like the game is too focused on making Lara's life miserable to reward you in any way. The first time in the game where you need to sneak by enemies you end up getting caught anyway and strangled, so what was the point of that? At a later part Lara tracks down the pilot of a helicopter out of guilt just to watch the pilot get killed, and when she had to sneak past an army of Shadowguards and in the cut scene ends up getting caught anyway. What's the point of overcoming an obstacle if the game is going to make it irrelevant?

    Conclusion: Tomb Raider is a much needed facelift for the series while retaining the essence of what made the previous games so great. Whether you're a longtime Tomb Raider fan or just being introduced to the series for the first time, Tomb Raider is a roller coaster ride waiting to happen.

    Get it.

    For more reviews please visit ToriJ's Video Game Reviews.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Tomb Raider Review started by ToriJ View original post
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Bolivar's Avatar
      Bolivar -
      Great review that actually sold me on the game. I already have it free from PlayStation Plus but it just moved a couple slots up the backlog from this.

      Also wanted to say I feel like your reviews have noticeably progressed and gotten better and better over time since you started posting them here. Congrats, excited to read the next one!
    1. Ayen's Avatar
      Ayen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Bolivar View Post
      Great review that actually sold me on the game. I already have it free from PlayStation Plus but it just moved a couple slots up the backlog from this.

      Also wanted to say I feel like your reviews have noticeably progressed and gotten better and better over time since you started posting them here. Congrats, excited to read the next one!
      Aw. Thank you, Bolivar. That means a lot to me ^_^
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