- Game: Tomb Raider
- Release Date: March 5, 2013
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Crystal Dynamics
- Genres: Action/Adventure, Survival, Platform
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Lara Croft is back in action in this newest addition the Tomb Raider series, but she is not what you would expect from the famous heroine. Taking place as a reboot of the series, this game showcases Croft in her most fresh and vulnerable state – as a 21-year-old on her first true adventure aboard the Endurance. Alongside Croft is her best friend Samantha Nishimura and old family friend Conrad Roth. Also along for the ride is Dr. James Whitman – a famous archaeologist hoping this expedition will give him enough air time to escape bankruptcy, Jonah Maiava – a fisherman, Joslyn Ryes – the ship’s mechanic, Angus Grimaldi – the ship’s helmsman, and Alex – the tech specialist. All are hoping to find the lost island of Yamatai on this expedition and discover the secrets of the ancient shaman queen Himiko – also known as the Sun Queen. Lara urges the group to steer into the Dragon’s Triangle to find the island, and even though Dr. Whitman does not agree that this is the best choice, the rest of the crew follows Lara’s judgement. Their worst fears are realized as they encounter a storm that rips the ship in half and crash lands it on a strange island.
With the crew separated from Croft, she tries to find a way to reach them only to be knocked out and kidnapped by an unknown assailant on the beach. When Croft wakes up she is tied up and upside down. Her instincts kick in as she frees herself only to fall on top of a piece of metal that lodges itself through her side. After removing the scrap metal, Lara regains her ground and attempts to make an exit. Among dead bodies, ritualistic alters, and carvings a strange man emerges and attempts to attack Lara and pull her back into the strange cave. Croft frees herself and escapes the dangers of the cave by the skin of her teeth, causing a rock collapse that kills her assailant. Lara Croft now faces a beach full of ship wrecks and destruction with the thought of immediately finding her crew and getting of this crazy island. After a short trek Lara runs across her friend Samantha and a stranger names Mathias who claims to be stuck on the island as well. Lara let’s her guard down and falls asleep by the camp fire but upon awakening she discovers that both Samantha and Mathias are gone. Something is not right, and Lara is determined to discover what is really going on with this Mathias character as well was with the island in general and all its secrets. With everyone’s lives in danger and in Lara’s hands, she faces the hardest of tasks and most treacherous of scenarios.
It becomes Lara Croft’s mission to save her friends, whom she feels responsible for. Among savage inhabitants that are determined to kill her, Lara must brave the most dangerous of situations that test her true strength and character. The story is full of twists and turns as well as ups and downs, keeping players on their toes and emotionally tied to Lara as well as the other characters in the game. Lara must grow up quickly on this island full of seemingly impossible situations as well as become a true hunter, explorer, fighter, adventurer, and most of all – a true Croft.
Tomb Raider offers up a fresh new take on classic Tomb Raider gameplay, but there are also many new abilities and additions to game that give it an entirely new feeling. Tomb Raider is all about action, adventure, and survival. Throughout most of the game, Lara Croft is on her own and must make do with whatever she can find that will save her life. One of the first things she comes across is a bow made of sticks and string that she uses to hunt animals for food as well as kill her enemies. The bow is one of the more stunning aspects of the gameplay, giving players the choice between stealth killing and straight action in a flawless way. Croft also comes across guns throughout the game which she acquires from fallen enemies. A pistol, an assault rifle, and a shotgun are found and used in the game alongside the bow. A new and welcome addition to this game is the upgrade system. At campsites scattered throughout the game Lara can sit down and upgrade her weapons as well as her abilities and skills. Weapons can be upgraded through finding salvage in boxes, chests, and from enemies around the environment. Finding a set of parts will allow Lara to upgrade the weapon more and more while adding new abilities to them such as extended magazines and incendiary ammunition Lara may also upgrade her own abilities giving her keener senses in the survival tier, more skill with weapons and hunting in the hunter tier, and strong melee abilities in the brawler tier. Upgrades to abilities are accomplished with skill points which are the outcome of gaining certain amounts of XP. XP is gained through killing enemies, salvaging the area, exploring tombs, finding collectibles, and hunting the animals of the island.
Optional tasks such as exploring tombs and finding collectibles add to the gameplay by pushing players to explore the surrounding areas and find more information about the island, the characters, the main story, and even weapon upgrade parts. The tombs are scattered around the island and usually hold secret collectibles or treasures. A massive amount of XP is also gained once completing the tomb and each tomb is equipped with a puzzle to complete. Much like past games in the series, artifacts and collectibles can be found around the island, but unlike past games they actually mean something to the player by offering up advantages and information. Relics may be found and identified by Lara, giving players a general knowledge of the island and its past. Documents, when found, give Lara a sense of what people have been thinking and/or doing on the island, revealing previously unknown information and furthering the players knowledge of the situation they are in and back story of characters in the game. The documents come from people in the Lara’s crew as well as ancient and present inhabitants, including Mathias. GPS caches are spread around the environment as well, alerting Lara about nearby treasures and secrets. In general, the collectibles add more depth to the game and the gameplay as players learn more about the story and explore uncharted areas.
Exploring the island is something of a marvel as Lara uses her tools and abilities to make her way around. The introduction of abilities such as rock climbing with a pick axe make the gameplay more in-depth than that of previous games. As players explore the island they find themselves gaining more weapons and weapon upgrades to help them progress through the story as well as uncover previously unreachable areas. The game features a fast travel system, certain campsites will allow players to travel to previous campsites across the island. This can be used to go back to hunt and acquire salvage or to explore and discover new collectibles with a new tool that allows for entrance to an area that was previously unreachable. The island is an open-world and features no visible loading screens. This means that transitioning from one area to the next is as seamless as walking or climbing there. The lack of loading screens allows for players to fully immerse themselves in the gameplay without being taken out of it by waiting for an area or scene to load. One action sequence leads to another and it’s done in such as way that players will not even realize they are in a completely new area of the island. Cutscenes in the game transition into gameplay flawlessly, making it hard to distinguish when it’s a cutscene or actual gameplay. Tomb Raider’s gameplay is so smooth, fluid, and responsive it leaves little left to want from a players perspective.
Tomb Raider brings a whole new level of presentation, visuals, entertainment, and cinematics to the table. The game presents itself in such a way that players are drawn into the setting, characters, and environments. With amazing graphical content on the PC as well as on consoles, Tomb Raider spares no expense in showing players everything clearly down to the dirt in Lara’s pores. The environments are also stunning in and of themselves, appearing extremely realistic and lifelike. There are little to no glitches or bugs in the game, progression is very smooth, and the surroundings captivate the player as they trek across the island discovering new locations and venues along the way. Character development plays a large part in this title. Lara Croft is new to the adventuring business and therefore has none of the experience showcased in past games. She get’s beaten, assaulted, injured, as well as suffers loss, feels emotions, and even breaks down into tears and all the while makes you understand her as if she were a real person. Real progression as a character takes place though, as the game progresses Lara learns more and becomes a more determined warrior. It’s hard not to want to protect her and to not feel awful when she suffers and that is all thanks to the writers and the brilliant voice acting done by Camilla Luddington. Other characters are believable and relateable in one way or another as well, none of them appear to be out of the normal or unnecessary components to the story.
Cinematics play a large role in the visuals of the game. Since there are no loading screens some scenes must transition with a cinematic sequence, and these sequences are done in such as way that they feel real and tangible, much like the gameplay and visuals. It all flows so smoothly that it defines a whole new style of game, a game in which players may feel free to fully immerse themselves in the world around them without being ripped away by bulky or overly long cutscenes with large graphical differences compared to the gameplay. There are special scenes in which Lara Croft may die based on the players actions, but these are not your typical fall off a cliff kind of deaths. The team behind the game added in gruesome and detailed death scenes in which Lara may become impaled on a branch or crushed by a boulder. These add to the protection feeling mentioned above, pushing players to help Lara and not get her killed by the environment and it also simulates real dangers in the wild of the island. Sound effects are also well done, bringing even more realism into the tone of the game. Even the small things like reloading a gun and sound really nice. Overall, the visuals and presentation of Tomb Raider as a game are incredible and beautiful, only adding on to the marvelous gameplay and enticing story.
- Story/Plot: 10
- Gameplay: 10
- Visuals/Presentation: 10
- Length: 9-15 hours
- Replayability: High
- Entertainment Value: High
This game does feature multiplayer, though it was not included in this review. For more on the multiplayer aspects of the game check out GAM3VIDZ’s review of Tomb Raider’s multiplayer.