Tomb Raider Review: An Icon Reborn!
Since 1996 Lara Croft has been featured in many of her own games. It has been nearly five years since Tomb Raider: Underworld was released in November of 2008. In 2011, it was announced that Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics were working on a new project featuring Lara Croft. We all new this meant a new Tomb Raider! It was announced that it would be an origin story of the famous Lara Croft and how she became the badass archeologist we know her as today. Month after Month and year after year more and more information would be released, from the cover art to a demo of a portion of the game to a new trailer. Finally after years of waiting, Tomb Raider was released March 5th 2013!
Gameplay and Presentation
In previous Tomb Raider games, we knew Lara Croft as a rich archeologist who had no problem pulling the trigger when she needed to. Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics decided to start on a clean slate, rebooting the whole series, starting with an origin story. This new Tomb Raider is the origin story, the new perspective on Lara Croft. In the campaign the game starts off with action and suspense within the first five minutes. I both love this and dislike this. I like this because it goes straight to the suspense, no waiting or transitioning. I don’t like this because we barely know about any of the characters, making them feel more “two-dimensional” and the player feels less connected. However this issue is fixed throughout the story as more information is released through Sam’s video camera, which I admit was a creative and interesting way to give us some background knowledge.
The controls are very easy to get use to, using L1 to aim your weapon and R1 to fire your weapon, using L2 for your survival instincts and R2 to access unlocked features for certain weapons (like the rifles grenade launcher). As you progressed through the game you unlock more weapons, and the more you explore, hunt, and play the story the more you can upgrade and evolve your weapons! You start off with nothing, then a bow, handgun, rifle, and finally a shotgun. You also unlock tools like the climbing axe and the lighter, and with these tools you can enhance your weapons (like the fire arrows and rope arrows for your bow). You upgrade your weapons at base camps. These base camps can be found everywhere on the island, at these base camps you can purchase skills and upgrades for your weapons using salvage from your foes, animals you hunt, and salvage crates while exploring. You can buy new skills with skill points, some examples of skills are stealth kills and finishing blows. I do admit it is very cool to finish off an enemy by lodging a climbing axe in their head. This is a very great system because it gives a reason to explore the island, adding more depth and replay value. Earlier, I mentioned something called Survival Instincts, this a new system that, when accessed, turns everything grey, however, what will help you will glow golden. This feature works smoothly and it is very helpful, especially when scavenging through optional tombs throughout the island. Which brings me to the next topic: Tombs.
What is a Tomb Raider game without tombs to explore. Throughout the island there are hidden tombs, when close you will receive a notification on your screen, they are pretty fun puzzles and some are not really too challenging. They are only about 1 room big, rarely 2 rooms. This is the aspect that disappoints some die-hard Tomb Raider fans. They expect to raid tombs in the game, they wanted some puzzle-like challenges. However, this does not bother me even though I myself am a die-hard Tomb Raider fan. The reason this does not concern me is because I know that the developers tried to incorporate tombs in Tomb Raider, but they were really focusing on the story and they want us to focus on the story. That is why I do not really mind the lack of tombs, because I am more interested in the story this time around.
“The emotions and development of Lara Croft in this game is unbelievably realistic.”
The emotions and development of Lara Croft in this game is unbelievably realistic. In the beginning of the story, for instance, I felt sympathetic for Lara when she was stabbed in the abdomen after taking a fall, she cried and screamed as she pulled out the object. An example I feel the need to cover is Lara’s first kill. Lara has no choice but to kill a man who is trying to kill her. In self defense, she pulls the trigger. The developers did a lot to make it seem more and more realistic. like having Lara say things such as, ”I had no choice,” and “He was going to kill me”. I also thought it was a nice touch to have her apologize to dead bodies she would check and animals she would kill. This part of the game was very important as well as a great idea. It transitions a young woman lacking experience in the wild to a survivor with determination and courage.
Visuals and Sound
“I really liked the fact that this game featured a dynamic camera, making the game seem more like a movie”
The visuals in Tomb Raider were absolutely stunning! I’m not going to lie when I say I was wondering how the next generation of games are going to top the graphics in Tomb Raider. From the sun rays shining in the camera lens, to the dirt and blood on Lara’s body, to the droplets of water and blood that hit the camera to give a first-person feeling, which made the game much more immersive. I really liked the fact that this game featured a dynamic camera, making the game seem more like a movie. That’s the other problem however, the fact that the game seemed more like a movie than a game. The reason I say this is because there are so many quick-time events. But I did not completely hate them, they put me on the edge of my seat.
The sounds in Tomb Raider are amazing. I was using a headset while playing and I feel like the developers went as deep as they could when it came to the sounds. I was able to here Lara crying, the footsteps of enemies, nearby insects, and even the droplets of water in a cave. The immense sound quality of the game also made it so I can hear the emotion in Lara’s voice when she is shaken. The music in Tomb Raider is also really good, making me reload to the last checkpoint just to listen to the music again. I feel like the orchestra did a perfect job, the music goes perfectly with the game.
If I had to describe Tomb Raider in one sentence, it would be what follows: Tomb Raider is an amazing game with beautiful scenery, exciting music, and a compelling story about an archeologist and her survival on a treacherous island. I do like the fact that the developers are trying something new with multiplayer, however, the multiplayer is boring and repetitive. That is really my only issue with the game, probably my only reason not to give it a perfect score. I am glad Tomb Raider has returned with a fresh start. It opens up a ton of new opportunities for the future of Tomb Raider. So should you pick up Tomb Raider? If you love action and adventure games filled with beautiful graphics, gruesome deaths, multiple explosions, and survival horror than Tomb Raider is perfect for you.