Tomb Raider Review
March 11, 2013 | Follow comments
By Montel Allen
Tomb Raider finally hit stores and was met with high praise. After a delay to a new year, many were skeptical if the game would be good or not. Could a reboot even compete with the greatness of the titles that surround it? The answer to that is a resounding yes. Tomb Raider goes above and beyond and then climbs a little higher over expectations.
Tomb Raider looks phenomenal. The games kicks off with a beautifully rendered, familiar cutscene and then throws you into the game without skipping a beat. You start Lara’s (and your) adventure in the tombs of the island of Yamatai. As you work to get out, Lara’s smooth flowing animations work their magic. The environment around you in the game really makes things feel that more immersive. The elements really shine in this game. Fire moves and behaves as it should, water dances appropriately, wind blows through the trees, and causes fearsome damage as well. There are vistas in this game that are simply breathtaking. As you are up top a radio tower you can see the mountains, the cliff sides, the trees, as well as the wildlife in the game.
The soundtrack is also worth noting, as each song played feels so perfect in each moment of the game. When moments are quiet and tranquil the music is soothing and really helps set the tone and pacing of the game. On the contrary the same is done for the intense fire fights and jaw dropping action sequences.
In Tomb Raider you play as Lara Croft on her first expedition with her crew. As she is shipwrecked on the mysterious island of Yamatai, trouble occurs right away and she is captured. Lara starts off as an innocent girl who just wants to live, and has to learn to survive by any means necessary. I was very curious to see the transition of first time killer to total badass who begins setting people on fire with flaming arrows. It is very alarming to see Lara cry in emotional and physical pain after killing someone, then headshot anybody in sight. However, you can understand why she has to kill everyone and quickly adapt to this horrific environment. After this minor bump in story telling the rest is absolutely breathtaking. The writing in Tomb Raider is parallel with that you might find in some award winning and nominated television series/movies. This game has some of the deepest philosophical quotes I’ve ever heard. It actually made me pause the game and think about my own life. It’s truly great to see how far gaming has come in storytelling. The steps the story takes with Lara as she becomes more and more reckless is character development at its best. It’s nice to look back and hear her screaming for enemies to stop shooting at her to her yelling valiantly, “Alright you bastards, let’s see what you got!”
Lara’s voiceover is well done and talented, as well as the supporting actors and actresses. Everything is very believable in this story, even with the supernatural basis of it. There are flashbacks before they get to the island too, done by showing Lara watching footage on a camcorder. Instead of pulling the cliche of “3 days ago” they actually thought of something that fits well into the story. Finally, the action set pieces are a thing of beauty and would make even Nathan Drake shake in his shoes.
The combat in Tomb Raider is definitely on the excellent side of the spectrum. When defeating an enemy you gain experience points that go towards leveling up your skills and weapons. The level progression in this game just feels right. The pacing of your skill growth feels natural and actually fits well with the story. As Lara gets tougher and more reckless, so does her ability to take down enemies. For example, you can’t take a pickax to an enemy’s head or stick an arrow through his eye right after you make your first kill. Lara has to grow into a more violent survivor. When the shootouts happen they feel completely reasonable. I never felt like I was fighting useless waves of enemies. The game places them sporadically. They feel realistic in numbers to the point where you aren’t wondering, “Can one girl really take out all of these dudes?” It never seemed that I should have shot, impaled or burned another enemy more or less. During these shootouts, one definitely needs cover which is one of the best parts of this game in the gameplay department. There is no button for cover. Lara takes the proper position on her own depending on that size and shape of cover you decide to place her behind. It frees up buttons and is something I enjoyed having done automatically.
There’s also plenty to salvage and collect as you go on your journey through a well-crafted, linear, yet open world. As you progress through the game you build and add to the world. Whether it be adding another zipline or blowing a new entrance into a room/cave/tomb.
Speaking of tombs, I admire the way the game sets up the ‘tomb raiding’. Most tombs you encounter will be optional. The treasures within are all “guarded” by a puzzle. Puzzles aren’t thrown at you in this game. Most are optional and have just enough challenge for them to feel satisfying to complete. The game is definitely helpful thanks to a decent amount of check points, subtle camera movements and instinct, which shows you things to salvage and the right path to take to get to your destination.
The game also has multiplayer that has 4 generic game modes and 5 maps. It has plenty of unlocks, but due to a lack of incentive and players online, it’s hard to believe many will reach level 60. This is the games weak point.
Tomb Raider does something that only games such as Heavy Rain and Red Dead Redemption can do. It makes you feel for the character(s) you play as. As you play through the story of Tomb Raider, you watch Lara grow in so many ways as character. The world that developer Crystal Dynamics places you in is full of many wonders and mysteries. The gameplay is top notch and smooth, the story is on par with the best in any medium and the sound and graphical quality of the game is something to immerse yourself in. With all that said, Tomb Raider is a game that takes you on a wonderful journey and something I can do all over again. A SURVIVOR IS BORN!
Let us know what you think of Tomb Raider in the comments below. Also don’t forget to see the unboxing of the collector’s edition here –> http://www.gamezombie.tv/2013/03/07/tomb-raider-collectors-edition-whats-inside/