'Tomb Raider' - review

Sunday, 03 March 2013 11:02 PM Written by 

You are shipwrecked. Forced to fend for yourself on an unforgiving island, you search for your lost crew. You find them, but the island natives capture your team and it looks as though all hope is lost. How far are you willing to go to save them, and more importantly, how far will you go to save yourself?

These are the questions posed to Lara Croft, the famous explorer of the “Tomb Raider” series.

Crystal Dynamics has put together a reboot of the long-running series, and the legendary Lara Croft has been taken back to her roots. You are in control of a young novice adventurer who has the skills she needs to survive in the wild, but lacks the confidence to play the steadfast hero.


We get to watch that hero’s birth.

“Tomb Raider” is a gaming masterpiece.The most successful elements from gaming greatness like “Uncharted 2,” “Resident Evil 4,” “Arkham City” and “Super Metroid” are applied to a rich, original environment. Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t just a mashup of old tricks. Somehow Crystal Dynamics have been able to borrow what makes adventure games work, and then take it to a whole new level.

 



At its heart, it’s a third-person action adventure game, but there is a laundry list of other things it does well. It features RPG elements that kept me wanting to explore to acquire more salvage to improve my gear. Platforming is a major part of the exploration and puzzles. The game doesn’t skimp on controls and shooting either. “Tomb Raider” is a tight and polished game from start to finish.  

Lara relies on four main weapons: a pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, and bow. Different combat scenarios require finesse with each weapon. Salvage gathered from around the map can be used to upgrade your arsenal.By the end of the game, even Rambo would be impressed with what Lara is packing.

The world feels open but it’s not overwhelming, and Lara is kept on a focused path. Compared to a game like “Far Cry 3,”  which drops you into the world and basically tells you to go nuts, “Tomb Raider” makes sure your priority is to save your crew without constricting you to a forced linear path.And if you didn’t think there would be actual tomb raiding in the new “Tomb Raider,” you’d be wrong. The island has plenty of hidden pathways to find and uncover the ancient history of the island.

 



This game captivates. I never wanted to put it down for many reasons. Each area is different from the last, and I wanted to keep playing to see what new challenges faced Lara as a character, and to see how it would continue to shape her progression. I wanted to find the next bonfire to upgrade weapons to make me a more efficient killing machine. I wanted to get to the end, but I didn’t want it to end.

With gameplay being the best I’ve experienced in 2013, the presentation is just as stellar. The soundtrack and the voicework - not to mention the game’s overall sound quality - are excellent. CamillaLuddington’s performanceas the voice of Lara grows and evolves with each hurdle she overcomes. The orchestral soundtrack sets the tone for a truly cinematic experience.

When the story is completed, a “New Game Plus”-type mode is unlocked, so you can freely roam the island and tie up loose ends, or complete all of Lara’s upgrades. I’ve always said that a New Game Plus mode is the best reward an adventure game can give, and “Tomb Raider” is no exception to that rule.

 



And then there’s the multiplayer. I don’t want to call it “tacked on,” but, well, it’s tacked on. There is a huge disparity in the quality between single and multiplayer. You get four modes: free for all, team deathmatch, and two modes that are similar to territories, or search and destroy. Not only is the action not very enticing, but the structure is outright frustrating. In deathmatch, you can choose to spawn by a teammate or spawn at the base. A team’s base is at a centralized location. So if an opposing team is able pick off people on the map, while some stay holed up at your base, it becomes a spawn killing fest and the match is essentially over.

“Tomb Raider” is a single player game. Don’t waste your time with multiplayer.

With that aside, “Tomb Raider” is a rare gem. It blends those two essential elements of compelling storytelling and addicting gameplay that keep the controller firmly in your hands. This is a game you have to play.



9.75 out of 10



Pros

An original take on familiar gameplay elements
Top-notch presentation
Compelling origin story of Lara Croft

Cons

Multiplayer is as uninspired as it is unnecessary

 

 

Price     $59.99 
Console    Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC 
Rating    M for Mature
Release Date    2/19/2013 

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