Tomb Raider is exactly what the franchise needed. A reboot. But not just your standard run-of-the-mill reboot, this one sets an example. All rebooted franchises should look at what Crystal Dynamics has brought us and take inspiration, because this is the true re-imagining Tomb Raider needed to live on. It’s amazing for fans and newbies alike and is definitely a must play game from this year. With only a few gripes to hold against it, Tomb Raider is one of the most delightful breaths of fresh air gaming offers right now.
Tomb Raider follows the story of Lara Croft, the familiar (although reimagined) veteran protagonist of the series. Lara and the crew of the ship, the Endurance are traveling in an attempt to discover the lost kingdom of Yamatai, the home of Himiko, the infamous Sun Queen who is said to hold mystical powers. The crew consists of Sam Nishimura (Himiko’s ancestor and good friend to Lara), Conrad Roth (Lara’s mentor), Dr. James Whitman (An Archeologist), as well as a few other minor characters consisting of Alex, Jonah, Grim, and Reyes. After some debate amongst the crew, they agree to search for the lost kingdom in the Dragon’s Triangle. As expected, tragedy befalls them, and Lara grows from innocent, scared girl to badass island survivor.
The story is fun, entertaining and perplexing at times with many twists and turns to help keep your attention. It’s fun watching Lara develop as a character as well as the changes that come to the other characters’ personalities and feelings towards her. There are many hidden journal entries written by the Endurance survivors, Lara herself and even people of the past like WWII Soldiers and members of the ancient Japanese kingdom. Lara’s journals initiate after reaching a major plot point in the story and resting at a campsite. This is a really cool way of summarizing while giving the character more depth, and giving you something to listen to while upgrading.
The game features several side tombs and collectables in each area to find and complete. These offer you material (salvage) to upgrade your weapons, as well as experience to buy in-game perks. As you search the island, you’ll acquire salvage to beef up your weapons to a god-like status. Some examples would be explosive arrow heads. Yeah, they’re pretty badass. You’ll also gather experience to allow Lara to buy perks which (obviously) powers her up. There are three tiers of perks that unlock as you buy from the predecessor tier, and three categories of perks. These categories are Survivor (Collection related perks), Hunter (Weapon related perks) and Brawler (Melee/Countering related perks). Survivor perks are invaluable for people who want to 100% the game ASAP, while Hunter and Brawler will help the player kick as much ass as possible in the shortest amount of time.
One complaint I do have about the game is the number of puzzle sequences there are. If you skip the side tombs (which you shouldn’t) you miss out on the majority of the game’s puzzle sequences. And even with those scenes, there still really aren’t that many. Although they do exist, the game definitely could have used some more with smaller gaps in between each one.
Tomb Raider offers a very familiar sense of control and flow. It plays similarly to the Uncharted series to an extent, but offers some diversity too. Every button feels right, the pacing is excellent and you’ll never fall behind in the plot. Lara feels real, the way she walks, jumps, hides, shoots, and falls. They all feel real. It’s really a great feeling that this game’s controls will entice within you.
The combat flows well and is quite fun at times. The only problem with the combat is how good the cover system is. You might say, “Wait, if the cover system is good, how is that a bad thing?” My answer to this question is simple. The cover system is so perfectly intertwined and seamless, that the AI isn’t good enough to fight you. It’s not that the AI is bad, it’s pretty standard, but it has a hard time getting around how well the cover system was injected into the real time combat. The way that enemies get around this is by having dedicated grenadiers when you don’t move, as in, guys who spam Molotov Cocktails and sticks of dynamite to force you to move from one cover to another. This isn’t bad, it makes sense, and overall doesn’t change how fun it usually is when fighting a mob of angry island dwellers.
The weapons you’ll find yourself using in combat can be categorized in four types. These are bow, pistol, rifle and shotgun. The bow rocks at mid – long distance and is the silent weapon of choice. The pistol is good for all ranges and is excellent for precision shooting. The rifle is a mid-close range killer and the shotgun is point-blank one hit kills galore. All of these weapons are a lot of fun to use and feel balanced. The upgrades add a lot of diversity to the weapons and you’ll definitely pick out which ones are your favorites to use in a short amount of time. I personally favored the bow and shotgun.
The game is a decent length; I finished in around 10 hours on hard mode with enough collectables and treasures still hidden to convince me to head back into the wilds for more adventure. I feel if Crystal Dynamics had put more emphasis on puzzles in more areas of the game they could have extended the playtime to around 12 hours. Sadly, the only replay value after I finish collecting everything (It will probably take me a while though, maybe 5-10 more hours) will be the multiplayer, which I actually plan on ignoring after my terrible experiences with it.
Yeah, the multiplayer is pretty tacked on. It’s boring, unbalanced and flat out unfair at times. It’s really not worth your time playing unless you’re already a high level and will kill everyone hundreds of times over until everyone except you realize how god awful it is and quit.
It’s seriously pretty bad, you should just ignore it. In fact, I am adding a new badge to the arsenal because of how bad it is.
Overall, Tomb Raider is as I said before; exactly what a reboot should be. It brought life back into a nearly dead series while taking it in a new direction and was executed amazingly. I can’t recommend Tomb Raider enough for fans and action/adventure players enough. Ignoring the multiplayer, this is one of the best games that has come out this year so far, and I think it will hold its own against some of the bigger titles launching in quarter four.
*Evolution of a Franchise
*Pretend the Multiplayer Doesn’t Exist
I give Tomb Raider a 4/5.
Excuse me while I go and collect the remaining treasures in my playthrough J