Tomb Raider has been around since the mid 90’s and transformed a woman into a gaming icon this is all thanks to the original developers at Core Designs. The franchise has spawned 8 games and 2 movies starring Angelina Jolie. During these games Lara Croft has toted her classic outfit and was even deceased by the end of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. The 9th game in the franchise is a reboot of the famous icon, allowing gamers to experience a new Lara Croft. This game has been hit with tons of controversy, such as seeing Lara Croft being sexually harassed in the game. Along with gamers being skeptical with the new direction Crystal Dynamics has taken the franchise. So how exactly does this Tomb Raider hold up to the past relics in the franchise?
Story | 8
Lara Croft is at it again, this time rounding up a bunch of explorers to find the lost Kingdom of Yamatai. This is the crew of the Endurance, a ship that will soon become in peril. Which is all thanks to Himiko, the goddess queen of Yamatai who can summon storms. Lara’s instinct convinces the crew to travel into the storm only to see the Endurance sink in the process. Now the group of shipwrecked survivors must overcome the weather and the inhabitants of the island. While the survivors and villains are all interesting characters and are played well by their voice actors, they don’t feel as fleshed out as the main character. The real story here lies with an inexperienced Lara Croft and her path to become legend.
Lara Croft is motivated to find this lost Kingdom of Yamatai and will stop at nothing to find it. During her expedition, Lara encounters a large amount of physical abuse. This is even more interesting as you start to feel sorry for the character. The bond between Lara and the player grows stronger over the course of this experience. Allowing gamers to want to make better decisions when playing the game, which includes engaging the enemy and even making sure you line your jumps correctly. Lara will start to show strong character development as she experiences numerous characters that put her exploration of the Yamatai in jeopardy.
Gameplay | 9
Gameplay is a breath of fresh air for the franchise, with an amazing platform experience as well as fire fights that are engaging. Tomb Raider delivers an amazing experience that allows Lara Croft to truly develop into the icon that she is. There are a variety of challenges that allow Lara to level up and gain XP points. After she levels up she is able to unlock a new skill via a skill point. Lara must visit a camp fire which are scattered throughout the island in order to unlock these Skills. The arsenal that Lara has at her disposal are all upgradeable. To upgrade weapons first, you must gather up enough scavenged parts that you can find from boxes, dead animals, and defeated enemies. As you start off your journey you acquire an old bow which by the end of the game if you chose to upgrade it with your scavenged parts will become a very sturdy and deadly recurve bow.
Even deadlier than Robin Hood
While engaging enemies in a firefight Lara will positions herself in cover, if it is at waist-high. During these engagements enemies will flank her and try to get Lara out of cover by throwing molotov cocktails and even dynamite. Certain objects are able to give Lara the advantage as lanterns can be shattered spreading fire. AI in this game is tough and give formidable challenge to even the most seasoned gamer. This is found especially during the end sequence of the game as wave after wave come at you.
Platforming in the game is epic and intense. An early part of the game has Lara climbing up a downed airplane. As she does the plane begins to come loose and starts to fall, it is up to the player to quickly navigate Lara to safety before it falls. Jumping in the game is handled much like a Legend of Zelda game, rather than having a button press much like the Tomb Raider games of the past. The game is also similar to that of Metroid as the player acquires new gear they can unlock different areas of the island. After Lara has unlocked all of her gear she can then go back and obtain the scattered relics, GPS caches and documents to unlock more of the back story in the game. Optional tomb’s are the highlight of the side quests as unique and complex puzzles must be solved in order to obtain the hidden treasure each tomb has to offer.
It works but not as well as Single Player
Single player is one of the best experiences this generation. However, with the multiplayer you get something that is, well underwhelming. Abandoning the great shooting mechanics of the cover based system in the single player game with a more run and gun style approach. While it works, it doesn’t work quite as well as you may have hoped. With 4 modes such as Rescue, TDM, Cry for Help and FFA. Rescue is a round based mode that is similar to search and destroy and cry for help is more along the lines of domination. Players are able to unlock characters as they progress through levels in multiplayer, yet only the hardcore will unlock everything.
Graphics | 8
The visual style that Tomb Raider presents is unique and breath-taking. Everything in the game looks and feels like it should. While moving through a tomb is dark and eerie giving gamers a creepy vibe while navigating them. Lara’s character model only adds to the experience, with tears in her clothing, open wounds, and dirt covering her body and clothes. Crystal Dynamics did a splendid job at making Lara over, even if she does need a shower. The locations on the island are all different and bring purpose. From snowy mountain tops, to a beach full of scattered ship wrecks. Tomb Raider offers gamers a variety of unique visuals and a distinct art style.
Tomb Raider will leave you wanting S’more
Audio in the game is both loud and charismatic. The voice acting is spot on and the weapons in the game are explosive. Music during the in-game events hit key notes that only heightens the intensity of the game. Not everything in the graphics department is perfect. In some parts of the game bugs and glitches ream their ugly head into this work of art. One particular scene I encountered had Lara Croft sliding around like Gumby. Leaving the game feeling like it needed just a tad bit more of polishing for the final product.
Final Verdict | 8.5
The new direction Crystal Dynamics has created for the Tomb Raider series is fantastic. This is thanks to the new artistic visual style and character design. The game is paced well and really allows gamers to get sucked into the island in the Dragon Triangle. My only gripe is that the campaign only lasts around 10 hours. With a tacked on multiplayer that doesn’t add to the experience and only 10 optional tombs, the game leaves you wanting more. However, if you are a fan of past Tomb Raider games don’t hesitate to pick this one up as the game brings adventure to your favorite console and PC.