Tomb Raider Review

Tomb Raider Review

Lara Croft is back! But not in the way we all usually expect to see her. It feels like only yesterday when Square Enix announced that they wished to reboot the Tomb Raider franchise, therefore allowing them to tackle the series from a variety of angles, some of which couldn't have been done before.

Gone is the courageous, tough- ass kicker and instead we are presented with a much more realistic take on the Lara Croft character which is essentially now a person who actually feels real feelings and therefore allows us as humans to better understand her and what she’s going through. So does this new take on the legendary Tomb Raider prove to be a turn for the better? Or was the original always best?

Story
Aboard the Endurance, Lara Croft and her crew of archaeologists are on a journey to find the lost city of Yamatai. While crossing the Dragon’s Triangle, a freak storm hits the ship causing them to become shipwrecked on a mysterious island. Lara is separated from the others when she is captured by a strange, savage man and trapped in his cave home. She manages to escape while her captor is killed as the cave collapses around them.

Just a little further...
As Lara tries to locate the other survivors, she finds more evidence that the island is inhabited, complete with strange carvings, dead bodies, and ritual sacrifices of animals. After reuniting with her friend Sam and have her taken away while she was asleep. Lara reunites with the other survivors to find her and unlock the mysteries of the island.

The narrative itself can be engaging and not so engaging at times, depending on how you want to look at it. Overall however I felt that it was paced well and any extra or side details were covered in the journals found around the island. These journals gave us the views of characters with Lara, the enemy and those that inhabited the island long ago. From my perspective certain plot points came across as a little obvious but it was good to see that it wasn't just all about Lara as some of the prominent characters have a decent role in the overall structure.

Gameplay
One thing that is pushed a lot in Tomb Raider is exploration of the island and while the older games did this in the form of “tombs”, they are still available but to a lesser degree and more toned down, something we’ll touch on a little later. So the island itself is massive as you’ll find yourself climbing cliffs, doing balancing acts over waterfalls and basically getting into a lot of danger due to those hungry wolves that always seem to hang around. We see Lara croft thrown into an environment that she’s not familiar with and forced to survive. Not necessarily speaking on the climbing aspects as she mentions undergoing training with Roth but more when it comes to actually fending off the enemies.

I found it interesting that this wasn't translated into the gameplay itself, therefore making things a little unrealistic. To us the players, we control the character as if she was completely used to the situations she gets in, whereas I would have liked to have seen something that alters the gameplay in a way that works with Lara’s current state of mind.

Simon say's - DON'T FUCKING MOVE!!
The single player has you going around this island from the outside while at the same time, visiting certain areas as well such as caves, hideouts and a monastery. Along with the main areas that the game takes you to, you can also come across optional tombs offering their own rewards and puzzles. Objectives are used to progress the game and keep the player on the path set out for them. While this makes things pretty linear, you don’t have to stick to it and can opt to go explore the island or take part in any side quests. Objectives range from reaching a specific location, to collecting items all the way to general survival against obstructions, crazy wolves and sharp tree branches.

What Tomb Raider does to elevate the action is include scripted events that happen within the environment. I think I lost count of how many times Lara fell down a ravine or a hole, only to crawl back up in the most dramatic fashion. In some cases this is done via Quick Time Events and for the most part, it turns out pretty cool and adds a boost of excitement to the adventure. The game also does a good job at initially letting you know when to do things at what times so you won’t be left completely confused as to why you fell of that cliff. (Of course that didn't happen to me)

In a way, combat is split into two parts with the first being the use of weapons such as pistols and arrows to attack enemies from a distance and the use of weapons again, for more close combat e.g. using the climbing axe. Also during certain segments, Lara (in a very magician like way) can alter and create new weapons from the ones she has, for example – the bow having a lighter attached to it in order to create arrows of fire. You can also upgrade these weapons via the Base Camps around the island, these also serve as a save point and allow you to buy new skills to improve Lara’s combat and killing of (some) harmless animals. One other good feature these hold is the ability to Fast Travel between the places you've already been to. Let me tell you that the island is gigantic and this is a more then welcome mechanic, especially when revisiting areas for Trophies/ Achievements purposes.

Base Camps! You're one-stop shop for all you're upgrading needs!!
The AI themselves are not a huge challenge to take on and while it’s true that this all depends on the difficulty, I did my first playthrough on “Hard” and didn't feel like I was really being challenged. Just like you the enemy as access to a variety of different weapons that can be used against you in a strategic way for example, using a Molotov Cocktail to drag you out of cover or having an archer at the back covering the melee guys coming from the front. In this sense it’s pretty good but again even on the higher difficulties, they don’t feel like much at all, especially the melee guys who are way too easy to avoid.

Overall I felt that gameplay wise, it was pretty well rounded. The puzzles while limited were pretty interesting and travelling around the island was a complete joy, whether it was climbing cliffs, parachuting through a forest or just generally walking. Like I mentioned earlier, I would have liked to have seen a differentiation in gameplay between how Lara is at the beginning and how she is half way through. Lastly there are certain segments that you have to complete to progress which is fine, however some of them seem like they were just put there to increase the game’s time e.g. Lara has to hunt for food because apparently she was hungry, however you don’t have to do ever do it again after that.

Online Gameplay
The standard nowadays is for titles to have an online aspect to them and while in my opinion, Tomb Raider did not need it, in the long run, it was interesting to see how the Single Player part would be incorporated to make a great Multiplayer experience.

The obvious things from the get go is that the characters you've come across in the Single Player would be playable in the Multiplayer. Not all of them are available immediately as some are unlocked at specific levels. You can choose between both the Solari and the Suvivors. Before jumping into a game, you can get your loadout together which includes the weapons you've come across in the game and a few new ones. You also have the ability to upgrade these weapons as well by finding salvage during matches.

As for the Multiplayer part itself, I felt that it was good however not exactly great either. I felt that certain aspects such as the auto run and crouch behind objects should have been kept from the campaign, instead of being assigned to buttons. One thing I do like is how strategic it can get sometimes, especially when making use of the lightning rod or detonating a bomb at just the right time to take out your enemies. For a first attempt, it runs really well however I still think its missing that factor that really could have made it stand out from the rest.

Graphics/ Sound
Visually, Tomb Raider doesn't match up with its similar series Uncharted however the island itself is gorgeous and completely fleshed out. I also liked the look of certain locations you visit and felt that the team really captured the “it’s been here for thousands of years” vibe. Animations are done well and work side by side with the gameplay, even during moments where Lara over jumps or slips after climbing a cliff, you can see it translated through the way she reacts.

Well... that's pretty high up...
Sound work is done pretty well; however there were some moments that I felt certain character’s lines came across as a little unbelievable. Camillia Luddington did a fantastic job with Lara and really brought across a side from the character that we've never seen before. The game doesn't feature much background music except for moments when it really counts, however this is made up for by the many sounds you’ll hear from the environment. From the windy cliffs to the raging waterfalls, it really makes the island feel alive.

Final Verdict
Tomb Raider provides a fresh and interesting take on what’s already a legendary franchise. Having Lara less super human allowed players to better understand her along with giving the character more depth to her background. Gameplay is solid and traversing the island is a complete joy. Now Lara has picked up the courage to do her own thing, it’ll be interesting to see where Square Enix takes her on her next journey.

Story = 9/10
Gameplay = 9/10
Graphics/ Sound = 9/10

We Know Gamers Final Score = 9/10

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