Tomb Raider Review
A Legend Reborn
One of the most challenging obstacles for any game developer dealing with recreating an extremely well-known character, is staying within the vision of the fans while still providing a new and refreshing spin on the character. Crystal Dynamics understood the challenge that they would be facing in dealing with creating a new Tomb Raider game, but decided to create this new rendition of Lara nonetheless. In fact, studio head Darrell Gallagher stated, “forget everything you knew about Tomb Raider, this is an origins story that creates Lara Croft and takes her on a character defining journey like no other.”
Tomb Raider is the story of a more timid and fragile Lara Croft than many fans are used to seeing. The game begins with Lara beginning her first expedition aboard the ship Endurance, with the sole purpose of finding the lost kingdom of Yamatai. Through a series of horribly rash and quickly regrettable decisions, Lara finds herself stranded and alone on an island of horribly hostile and extremely angry savages with no other intention but to slaughter her and her friends for no justifiable reason. Lara will then find herself running back and forth trying to rescue her friends all the while avoiding multiple threats from the hostile native islanders.
One thing I am always on the look out for in games is how they interact with the player – as in how they make the player feel while he or she is playing the game. At some point, when you are playing a game that heavily depends on scripted events and is extremely story driven, it can pay a heavy toll on the gameplay experience. Many times when I was playing Tomb Raider, I felt as though I was just doing mini games to complete a movie. These scripted parts really took away from the whole game experience for me – I mean come on, in the end you are just answering button prompts to execute ridiculous moves that are never possible in the real game. On many occasions, Tomb Raider seems to walk that fine line of action oriented fun and uninvolved scripted laziness. Aside from those few scripted areas of the game, the game is extremely fun gameplay wise and I wish they focused more on these aspects of the game.
Throughout your Tomb Raider playing experience, you will get extremely attached to Lara as she grows into a much stronger character who becomes more and more aware of her inner potential. You will play in a third person perspective as you take on your many adversaries. Lara will mainly be using her bow as the primary weapon throughout the game and the gameplay feels just right. This was a refreshing change from her normal dual wielded pistols setup. Lara’s bow feels and behaves like a bow and not like some ridiculous arrow firing machine gun. It fits in perfectly with the gameplay and feels like a great fit for Lara’s personality.
One of the most surprising parts of the gameplay for many people, was the gruesome and almost ridiculous ways in which Lara can meet her demise. Whether it’s being hacked in the chest with an axe or crushed by massive collapsing boulders, the possibilities for Lara’s death seem endless. The surprising thing for me was, that in a weird way, I really tried more than I normally would to avoid death in a video game. It was hard to watch the character you know and love meet a painful end. Crystal Dynamics was successful in creating a strong emotional bond between the player and Lara throughout the entire game; the deaths felt meaningful and difficult to bear rather than just a standard respawn like in many other games.
Tomb Raider looks incredible no matter what platform you are playing on. I played the game on PC, I am a PC gamer all the way, and the game looks incredible. Whether you are exploring the dense and humid jungles on the island floor or climbing high in the beautiful snow topped mountains, the graphics are just perfect in every way. A tremendous amount of detail is put into making each tomb have a dark and eerie feel as you can almost sense a looming booby trap and detect the trickles of water running down the cave walls. The detail is truly impressive. The character detail on Lara herself is equally so. You can clearly see her emotion and feelings through the graphical detail in her face and body language.
It seems like many game developers are getting away from the more hardcore elements to appeal to a larger audience. Now, I personally am a huge fan of puzzles in games. It is interesting to be taken out of the mindless slaughter in games and forced to complete a challenging puzzle. Unfortunately, the Tomb Raider puzzles are so simple you don’t even realize that it is a puzzle and it just becomes mindless tedium. This is nothing that should stop you from playing the game, but if you were expecting challenging puzzles within the tombs you will be disappointed.
Enough Talk, What’s the Score?
Tomb Raider is an extremely fun gaming experience. It has fantastic writing and takes an interesting approach to a character that we are familiar with and gives her a whole new personality. The game is great, but some of the aforementioned aspects stop Tomb Raider from the high scores that many fans were hoping for. So, go ahead and pick up Tomb Raider, you will definitely enjoy your time with it.
You can pick up Tomb Raider on Steam right here or just buy it at a video game retailer near you.
Leave me some comments regarding your opinions of Tomb Raider.