Tomb Raider Review
For 17 years we have had the pleasure of controlling one of the most athletic, adventurous and damn right crazy archaeologists since the likes of Indie himself. Yes Lady Lara Croft has been raiding our hearts for some time but we never asked ourselves, “How did she become so kick ass?” Well with this reboot of the classic series, we get to experience every one of her “first times” as if it were yesterday.
This brand new Tomb Raider reboot is the origin story of Lara and how she became the woman that she is today and with the last few game titles being a flop, Crystal Dynamics really needed to pull something amazing out of the bag to keep the franchise going and honestly, they did it, with authority.
In the story you are playing Lara Croft who has embarked on her first real expedition with a small crew of people to find the lost island of Yamatai. Straight away shit hits the fan and the ship is caught in a sea storm and taking on more water than a wet t-shirt competition.
The ship coincidently lands on the island that she was looking for but that is as far as Lara’s luck stretches because she is soon to be tested of her survival skills, knowledge, agility, endurance and sanity.
Obviously everyone has been split up and Lara must find her way around the island to find her friends and get off of this crazy, cult-filled rock before she breaks her nails.
When I started to play this game, I was instantly hooked. From the word go, you are immersed into how Lara feels from falling onto a 10inch spike from 20ft up, to her continuously falling down holes and slipping down sides of mountains (Honestly Lara watch where your walking). There are a lot of moments in the game where you will feel her pain and hear yourself go “Ouch”, or “ooooh” because of what is happening to the poor girl. As the game progresses, you empathise for her and connect with her in a way you have never connected with a game character before. Towards the end of the game I was feeling that I wanted to go up to her, give her a hug and say “There there”.
Lara goes through a lot of painful moments mentally and physically. There is actually one moment that she is in so much pain that when you try to jump, she is in blinding agony and your health gets screwed.
With all this realism and uniqueness in the game, it really makes you feel for the posh 21 year old.
The great new feature that Crystal Dynamics has brought to this polished reboot is that fact that now you can gain experience to earn what is called survival skills. Those skills can then be used to purchase yourself new traits and skills to help you along your endless battle on the island. You can improve on your survival skills which involves becoming better at looting ammo, food etc. There are also Hunter and Brawler skills which help you in improving your ammo capacity, fighting skills and brawler capabilities.
You can also upgrade your weapons by looting salvage which is what would be considered as currency for the game. This can then improve your weapons by giving them better accuracy, ammo capacity, less recoil and more.
As well as saving automatically in the game, you also have camp sites which are basically little fires set up around the island. This is where you are able to improve your skills and purchase your weapon upgrades. The great thing about this game is that you are able to travel back to areas where you have been previously. Now you can do this on foot which would take forever or you can use the camp sites to fast travel to these locations by selecting them on the map.
Obviously Tomb Raider isn’t Tomb Raider unless there were tombs and there are many scattered around the island. Inside these tombs are assortments of puzzles that will baffle, annoy, and on one occasion for me, make me cry. Once you have solved the puzzle though, you are able to reap the rewards which are generally loads of salvage, gun upgrades and a tonne of XP.
There is also a lot of exploring to do in the game where you can collect relics, GPS signals and journals from various people, which gives you different insights to the story.
There are also challenges in each area, where you must burn five flags or find five graves etc.
this also makes you want to explore the island more thoroughly in order to collect everything.
Climbing is also a great experience, with Lara moving fluently and confidently making you believe that she is climbing up the cliff edges with her axe. Leaping across to dig your axe in never ceases to make you feel that you have achieved it in an epic way every time.
The multiplayer mode is disappointing to say the least and is the biggest let down of the game. It honestly feels like it has been bolted on at the last minute and the combat system is not as free flowing in the multiplayer as it is in the single player. A few of the modes feels like one team is in favour of the other and becomes one sided which made me feel like I was in school again where I was pit up against the school bully, I had no hope in winning. All in all give it a try as it is a laugh for a few minutes.
This game being a Square Enix game, I can’t help but feel that they brought some elements from their previous game Hitman Absolution. This being the fact that you have an instinct mode which makes the screen go grey and show you hints and points of interest around your area and what direction to head in towards your next objective. It being a good idea, I feel that because I have that option, I tend to become lazy and use it quite often in areas and especially when it is too dark to see even with a torch lit, I find myself using it to see my way through.
There are some awesome bullet-time moments in the game where you are slowed down and given time to aim at a certain target. An example of this is when Lara is trapped and Wolves are coming out at her at all directions. The time is slowed down so you are able to aim and kill those four legged rejects from twilight whilst in mid-air.
The game boasts amazing graphics and Crystal Dynamics have paid great attention to detail especially when it comes to each individual scratch that Lara collects on her body over the period of the game. Everything from the little crab crawling on the floor to the scaling mountaintop that towers in front of you looks stunning and textured extremely well. This is also the first game that I have seen a game character shiver because of the cold. When Lara is left out in the cold rain with nothing to cover her, she quivers all over her body and continues to do so even in the cut scenes. At first I thought it was a glitch but after a while I realised that it was in fact deliberate and in doing so made you realise just how cold it really is. You even get drops of rain fall down the screen to give you a feeling that you are within the game.
The music very much feels like you are in an Uncharted game especially when you are fighting an enemy and once all enemies are defeated, the music stops.
I found no issues with the sound. All was executed right on que and when I was on the beach in the sun I had to take a moment to stare out onto the horizon and listen to the waves crashing against the wrecked ships that lay there (Tear runs down face). The voice acting was brilliantly done, with all different type of accents rather than the generic American style that seems to be in every game. Camilla Luddington did and amazing job on the voice of Lara, making it sound believable and that she was a 21 year old woman.
Tomb Raider has finally come back to take its crown. The game is visually stunning, the gameplay is exciting and at times can have you on the edge of your seat. The odds are stacked against Lara and you sympathise for her in every hurdle that she encounters. The game is focused on Lara transforming from a young woman into the Lara Croft that we have grown up to know in the past.
This is an amazing action game that brings a whole new emotional level to one of gaming’s most loved heroines in nearly 20 years. Lara has definitely taken her spot over Nathan Drake.
Well done Lady Croft.