Tomb Raider Review
- Posted March 6th, 2013 at 13:01 EDT by Michael Harradence
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Tomb Raider is a fantastic addition to the Croft catalog and a fine rebirth of a classic character. With a great story, sumptuous visuals and meaty combat, this is one game you can't afford to miss out on in 2013.
- The fantastic visuals
- Lara Croft's characterization
- The classic Tomb Raider blend of combat, puzzles and hidden collectibles
- Narrative sometimes loses its punch in combat-heavy situations
- Frequent combat sequences can get a little tiring
- Some minor camera issues and visual glitches
How the mighty have fallen. Back in the late 1990s, you couldn’t move for the amount of Lara Croft mania that was sweeping the globe. Our busty archaeologist had not only conquered the gaming world, but her iconic image adorned the bedroom walls of spotty teenagers everywhere, magazine covers and even secured a spot on U2’s PopMart tour. Indeed, Miss Croft was every ounce a gaming legend, blagging a spot on the mainstream consciousness that only the likes of Mario and Sonic had achieved up until that point – possibly more so, in fact, thanks to her ample sex appeal. Unfortunately, it all went tits up for Lara after the new millennium, as brand fatigue set in and numerous other hiccups (including the monstrosity that was Angel of Darkness) managed to besmirch the Tomb Raider name.
By the time PS3 rolled around, Lara Croft was playing a barely-discernible second fiddle to cheeky chappie Nathan Drake; sure, her games weren’t bad by any stretch, but no longer did Tomb Raider pack the same commercial appeal as it once did. This is where Crystal Dynamics came in, having conceived the idea of a series reboot. This eponymous effort is an origins story of sorts, detailing just how our nimble heroine became the gun-toting, back-flipping badass we know and love, paying homage to both the old games and modern stable mates such as Uncharted in the process. But does Lara Croft ultimately still have a place amongst today’s gaming greats as she once did?
Tomb Raider scrutinizes a 21-year-old Croft as she and her companions find themselves on the hunt for a forgotten city named Yamatai. Unfortunately, their ship ends up on the wrong side of a massive storm, and the treasure-seekers find themselves shipwrecked on a mysterious Island in the Dragon’s Triangle. Although everyone survives, Croft is separated from the group and thus begins exploring the Island. While ostensibly a search and rescue mission with the ultimate goal of escaping the Island, Tomb Raider is more a journey of self-discovery for Croft; a gripping tale of one woman’s quest for survival that will shape her character and push her beyond previously inconceivable limits.
I’m no fan of comparisons, but yes, Tomb Raider is fundamentally quite similar to Uncharted – though that should hardly come as a surprise. However, while the Island shares much of that game’s linear progression, its pseudo open-world template is far more rewarding in the long run. The main quest alone is a meaty 15 hours or so, packed full of diverse set-pieces, intense shootouts and lush locations; but it’s the extrinsic goodies, the loot-filled tombs and multitude of collectibles that encourage you to venture off the beaten track that will have you compelled to dig deeper into Lara’s quest. More on that later, though.
Most of your time will be spent navigating the myriad of cliff faces, pillars, ladders, rooftops and other such obstacles that act as platforming playground for Lara’s impressive acrobatic skills. Croft has never moved so elegantly and precisely, while leaping from pillar to pillar, scaling walls is a cinch. Hitting X makes Lara jump, and as long as you are pointed in the right direction, she’ll catch onto any crevice or handhold. Thankfully, the level design is so that you won’t be left arbitrarily leaping into walls in the vein hope Lara will grab hold; the path forward is decidedly unambiguous, allowing for a smooth and satisfying jaunt between surfaces. That and Lara’s Survival Instinct, activated by hitting L2, highlights points of interest. The game keeps you on your toes too by spreading a few QTEs throughout some of the more perilous platforming too; miss a trick, and you’ll plummet to your death.
Naturally, you’ll have to fight your way across the Island. Wolves, cultists and mercenaries alike all take offense to your presence, so you’ll have your hands full. Fortunately, Miss Croft is more than equipped to deal with any threat; pistols, shotguns, a bow and more will become available to you over the course of the game, allowing you to adapt to any combat situation. Being a big Uncharted player, I felt immensely comfortable capping baddies, and it’s not hard to see that Crystal Dynamics has obviously doffed their cap to ... (continued on next page) ----