Release Date: 2013
Developer(s): Crystal Dynamics
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Platforms: Windows, OS X, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One (the temptation to write Xbone is strong but I will not surrender!)
Though a 2013 release, I only bought and played this game earlier this year. I had a slight backlog, don’t judge me! Added to this is the fact that I have not played a Tomb Raider game since the early 2000s. This was a whole new Lara for me. Rounded boobs? What!!!
You meet a young Lara on her first expedition. She and the crew of the Endurance are searching for the fabled land of Yamatai. After a brief disagreement, it is decided that the group will venture towards the Dragon’s Triangle, as suggested by Lara. Shock horror! There is a storm which shipwrecks our motley crew with Lara being separated from everyone else. The game revolves around you/Lara trying to find the rest of the crew, staying alive and keeping them alive, and finding a way off the island.
While trying to do all of this you/Lara discover a number of odd things on the island, from WWII military hardware to Oni type beasts. Lara stumbles across a hidden tomb now and again and collectibles (diary entries, sound clips and letters) aid the player and Lara to uncover just what has been happening on the island for all these years. And, of course, there is a band of human men trying to find you and kill you.
Style & Weapons
Tomb Raider is a third-person action-adventure with a little survival on the side. The character has fluid motion and reminds me a lot of Uncharted 2. The graphics are killer and Lara is a masterpiece. I especially love the way dirt and blood cling to her and can only really be removed by dunking her in water. Great attention to detail went into, not only, the character design but also the environments. More than once, I found myself pulling the blanket tighter around myself when walking Lara through a blizzard. I felt a form of physical relief when I was able to locate a base camp.
There isn’t a huge variety of weapons in the game but what there is, is all you need. Lara has her trusty pickaxe, an indomitable shotgun, rifle, pistol and bow. All weapons can be upgraded through scavenging the parts required. By the end on it, I was a one woman wrecking ball that even Miley Cyrus would envy. I honestly did realise just how much I needed to smash someone’s face in with a pickaxe until I played this game. The fighting style is fluid and weapon change outs are fast. The shotgun’s stopping power made it a clear household favourite at Casa de Maria. Show me a (wo)man who doesn’t love an under-slung grenade launcher, and I will show you a liar! All in all, a great selection of easy to use, fun weapons that make you feel like a total Lady BAMF.
Not only is this a fantastically fun game to play, it’s a great origin story too. Lara faces demons she didn’t know she had and has to dig deep at times to retain her humanity. As a reboot of a franchise that is near and dear to many a gamer’s heart, I think that Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix did supremely well. The narrative is gritty, which is one thing I liked very much. It help me understand the hardened tomb raider from the earlier games while making this Lara highly accessible to a new generation of Tomb Raiders.
The lighting and environments were stunning. I enjoyed the interaction the character has with the environment, at any part of the game. The map is large and the number of activities (side quests) numerous, which assisted in fully exploring an area and thus familiarising the player with the environment. This, for me, ultimately added to the game’s replay value. The variety of enemies tested the player’s skill with the various weapons, especially when they were not yet fully upgraded. I found some of the supporting characters annoying but that might just be me.
I have recently heard a number of complaints that there weren’t many tombs to raid and this is true, however, I do want to point out that Lara was not yet a fully fledged tomb raider in this story. This is meant to be her first taste of tomb raiding. Perhaps the name was a misnomer and created unrealistic expectations. I, personally, did not have a problem with the number of tombs available for raiding. I would, however, have liked more puzzling in the game. This is a Tomb Raider staple and I felt that this was skimped on. Rise of the Tomb Raider (set to release on 10 December) promises to fix both of these problems.
My rating is largely dictated by the number of hours I as willing to lose to this game, the replay value and fantastic story telling. Graphic can be overlooked for certain games but it was a bonus that this Tomb Raider was visually stunning as well. Considering that one of the software updates for my Playstation essentially bricked my machine earlier this year and I lost all saved data for Tomb Raider, I’m not upset. I’m looking forward to replaying Lara’s story.
My Rating: 4.5/5
Tomb Raider is available for download via Steam, PSN Store or the Xbox Games Store
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