The new Tomb Raider game has been out for 10 days now, and I’ve gotten around to beating it, with a little delay.
I’d been looking forward to this game ever since it was first announced. The Tomb Raider series has never really been that close to my heart when I was a kid, mostly because the games were primary played by my console owning friends. But ever since Tomb Raider Legend I’ve been an avid fan. So can the new Tomb Raider justify its reboot of what was already a great series? Read on.
Tomb Raider takes a break from the traditional scope of the previous games, and has a darker tone to it throughout the game. Lara Craft is back, albeit with a “rookie” feel, seeming much less experienced that previous, and much more scared in the face of danger. The concept of surviving is in center throughout the game, and fans of the series may feel a bit alienated by this. However, it is not a lasting feeling, and the game quickly gets you drawn in to its story.
The Story once again sets Lara Croft in pursuit of archeological wonders, this time the island of Yamatai. But the ship goes down and the survivors – Lara among them – must now find a way to survive.
The game itself at first feel a bit “shoddy”, the controls when aiming feel tricky. But actually this impression is due more to the movement of the enemies rather than the aiming system, which complements Lara’s “rookie” feel in a great way, and despite Lara being a skilled dodger of attacks, aiming under heavy fire can be stressful and has just the right feel to it. Lara will face multiple enemies in the game, ranging from wolves to human antagonists. The AI is great and enemies will actively try to flank and corner you. Attacking strategies allow the player to take a stealth approach, or if preferred, a more chaotic “shoot everything that moves” approach, both with their individual benefits and drawbacks.
During the story of the game, Lara will find multiple kinds of collectibles and small challenges that can be completed for extras (artwork, XP etc.), and the great thing is that the game has “fast travel” spots that allow for backtracking later, if players choose to focus on story progressing first. This is also the reason this very review got delayed – After finishing the story I went back and collected items for trophies, and I lost track of time.
The weapons in the game are pretty standard, with the exception of the longbow. I personally favored the bow, since it allowed me to feel like a complete badass, sneaking around my enemies silently picking them off one by one. All weapons have upgrades available through the so-called salvage that Lara loots of enemies, crates and animals, and players should prioritize their favorite weapon, and work their way from there. For players of the non-stealth kind, ammo is luckily easy to come by, and you’ll rarely hear your gun running dry.
The mood in the game is great. It’s not scary as such, but Tomb Raider is one of those games that will have you keep playing just to see “what’s around that next corner”, constantly anticipating the next encounter. Everything from narrow claustrophobically enducing corridors and caves to huge open landscapes, the game developers have understood how to utilize these environments to their maximal potential.
The campaign is about 8-12 hours long, depending on how thorough the player is in collecting items etc.. I felt this was a suitable length, being a bit longer than the previous Tomb Raider games. The game is long can at certain points feel long due to some level of repetitiveness, but it does not overstay its welcome at any point, and in general the level of action and puzzle solving is quite well balanced.
One major drawback of the gameplay itself is that enemies, despite popular belief do not respawn! This is very annoying for trophy whores like me. Many of the trophies in the game are related to defeating enemies with certain weapons and in certain manners. And the backtracking feature is great for collecting items, but without enemies respawning (disregarding a few in 2 locations), it is very tedious having to start a whole new game just to do something that could have easily been put in the game.
Tomb Raider is one of those games that makes me wish I had a kick-ass gaming pc. The game, even on consoles, is beautiful. Those of you that have read my review on Dead Space 3 knows my appreciation of beautiful design in gaming landscapes, and Tomb Raider fully lived up to my expectations. Gameplay is smooth and I experienced little to none drops in frame rate etc. in story mode, even when action got heavy.
One thing that takes some getting used to is the lighting of the game. The game, at least some of it, is very dark. This is not a drawback as it seems only natural that underground caves etc is devoid of light, but it takes some getting used to. Using your torch in this game is actually required, and this will be a new experience to many.
One issue I have with the visuals is that sometimes the graphics seem “unevenly distributed”, so to speak. In cutscenes, sometimes characters seem much more detailed than other times. I don’t know why this is, but it caught my eye a few times. And seeing how beautiful the game is on PC, this bothered me a little. But this is the only thing I can put my finger on visually speaking.
The most striking element here is the voice acting. Seeing as Lara is supposed to come across as a”greener” than she is in the other games, the voiceacting of her and her comrades sets a high bar for voice acting. Luckily, I felt that this was delivered to a more than satisfactory grade. There is a believable grade of drama in the voices cast, and one related thing I enjoyed a lot was the random chatting between enemies. Enemies that have not yet discovered you will talk about their situation and never once is the chatting irrelevant to the story. The game took extra time for me to beat because I always wanted to listen in on every chat my enemies had before engaging them – I’d really wish more games would include this feature as well as Tomb Raider does it.
All in all, I can safely recommend this game to any action adventure fan. Existing fans of Tomb Raider games will get a fresh new take on the series that still remembers its roots, and newcomers to the franchise will find an easily accessible adventure that quite possibly will reel them in to the genre and have them hoping for more!
REVIEW SCORE: 5/6