Game Review: Tomb Raider
WHEN we were first introduced to the voluptuous and iconic Lara Croft, she was rendered in all her polygon goodness, she brought games that were fresh and new although looking back now, the older Tomb Raider games were hard to play because of stiff controls.
Ideas were fresh though and introduced Lara as a strong independent archaeologist with next to no fear when up against the most ferocious of foes, being it enemy militia or huge dinosaurs.
Zip forward to present day, an age rife for remakes and reimagining’s, under a new developer Crystal Dynamics and publisher Square Enix, we have a whole new Lara and a whole new game simply titles Tomb Raider.
Tomb Raider shows us how Lara came from being a young, timid, highly achieved academic to the strong and fearless heroine we know her as today. Lara’s journey begins as part of a crew of archaeologists aboard the ship Endurance who all decide to travel to a dangerous part of the world known only as the Dragons Triangle.
Suddenly their ship is stuck by a violent storm which breaks it in two, resulting in the crew being stranded and separated on a mysterious island. During the first hours of Tomb Raider, we see a fragile young woman get thrown left right and centre by the islands wildlife, this inevitably forces her to kill and turn steadily into a fearless survivalist.
Yet there is something more sinister lying in wait amidst the islands tropics. The story is fantastically brought forward thanks to the pacing which Crystal Dynamics have got spot on and thanks to the fabulous voice acting and motion capture cut scenes. The story feels focussed on Lara’s growth however with little emphasis on her fellow crewmates’ back stories however it’s easily excused due to the fantastic set pieces and predicaments Lara finds herself in, I was hooked.
The gameplay I would describe in a nutshell is “if Uncharted and Assassins Creed had a baby, its name would be Tomb Raider”. A bold but true statement as playing as Lara constantly reminded me of Uncharted protagonist, Nathan Drake as the movement mechanics are suspiciously similar as well as her interactivity with her environment and similar fascination of talking to themselves.
Lara isn’t completely like Drake however as first off, Lara can’t fight for toffee, yet she does have a knack for using the bow and certain firearms.
Lara isn’t as amusing to listen too as the old Lara. I mentioned some similarities to Assassins Creed; reason being is more the environment and hunting mechanism that is introduced early in the game. The Island has a partially open world feel, players can fast travel between camp sites discovered and certain terrain can be climbed and traversed using Lara’s trusty pick axe which also can be used to break open doors and crates to hunt for salvage which is used to upgrade weapons.
The star of Tomb Raider however has to be its outstanding cinematics which seamlessly mix in gameplay. Huge explosions, massive leaps of faith, near death experiences, daring escapes, it’s all here and it looks phenomenal keeping that jaw firmly on the floor thanks to Tomb Raiders second to none visuals.
The island looks amazing offering some breath-taking sights mixed in nicely with the ever changing weather effects and every injury Lara gets is shown on her body mixed with dirt and sweat,( hey being a badass explorer is hard work). Lara impressively interacts with nearly every aspect of her environment whether it being tight squeezes or sliding down treacherous mountainsides, Lara adapts to it all which impressed me on a grand scale. Tomb Raider has a lot to offer, side missions, hidden tombs to raid, collectables in the form of relics, salvage crates, GPS coordinates and diary pages, hunting, upgrading, there’s a huge amount for the player to do and the overall visual quality never gets compromised.
Crystal Dynamics have reimagined the fabulous Tomb Raider series flawlessly giving it the new lease of life it so desperately needed. Players are going to be talking about this game for some time to come and there is a multiplayer mode for those wanting a break from Tomb Raiders fantastic story without turning the game off. Breath-taking visuals everywhere you look, huge production values and outstanding gameplay brings us one of the best action adventure titles available.
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: 5th March 2013
Story – 4.5/5
Graphics – 5/5
Gameplay – 5/5
Overall – 5/5