Lara Croft has been through a lot in the last decade. She’s been the star of several triple A titles, and even a spin off game that features the Croft name. Most people have forgot about their adventures with Croft since her glory days on the original PlayStation Sure she has been in a decent amount of games this generation, but the sales from the early days just weren’t there. Now in 2013, players now get to experience Lara’s origin story. Before she was a bad-ass treasure hunter, she was naive and innocent. Croft is back.
The Endurance has crashed on an island close to Japan, and you and your friends are captured. It’s up to Lara to do what is necessary to survive. I was surprised on how well the story was told, with some minor exceptions, although it doesn’t hamper the experience. Crystal Dynamics did a fantastic job on making Lara feel more human than she did in previous titles. By not focusing completely on her over-sexualized appearance, Lara is relatable, and likable You empathize for her as she gets abused and attacked. The other characters are varied stereotypes that really don’t hold any emotional weight compared to Lara. What was that about games with female protagonists don’t sell?
The Island of Yamatai is a dangerous place. Withered down buildings, hostile animals, and an insane cult are just some of the obstacles that Lara must overcome. You are given tools along your journey to beat the overwhelming odds. Guns, Ice pics, and rope are just some of the equipment you will come across. Some areas will be impossible to navigate until you find said items. Standard guns are available, but what you really want to use is the bow. The precision and stealth that that the bow holds makes it the most useful.
Combat feels very similar to the more recent third-person shooters. You can pop in and out of cover, melee enemies, as well as use the environment to your advantage. The combat doesn’t really add anything that hasn’t been perfected in other third-person-shooters like Gears of War 3. However it is enjoyable and well designed enough to play through.
Traversing and exploring the islands of Yamatai is the pinnacle of Lara’s adventure. The island is brimming with detail and you’ll want to explore every inch of it. Climbing and navigating feels very similar to how the Assassin Creed series has established. Discovering the handful of tombs that are scattered throughout Yamatai is bittersweet. For a game titled: “Tomb Raider”, there certainly aren’t many on the island and that’s a shame. They are one of the best parts about the game. The tombs contain intriguing but not over complicated puzzles, that always lead to some sort of precious treasure.
Tomb Raider is one of the best looking games of this generation. The PC version looks even better with the addition of advanced hair technology that triumphs The Witcher 2.(Sorry Gerlat) The actor performances, both capture and voice, are exceptional. Music plays its part well, and sound design here is right on point.
Tomb Raider has accomplished what it set out to do. Establish Lara Croft as a relatable character, and make the series relevant again. Crystal Dynamics has managed to modernize and take mechanics from other games and make them their own. Hopefully Lara’s next adventure will feature more tomb raiding, and less firefights.
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