Tomb Raider: The Rebirth of a Legend
The past years have seen Lara Croft in a completely different perspective, but none of them have been as gritty or as dark as this version, Square Enix has been sweeping a lot of praise for completely revolutionizing long forgotten IP’s such as Deus Ex, Sleeping Dogs which was supposed to be a True Crime game and more recently they stole the show by bringing Agent 47 back into service with Hitman Absolution, each of the games is a brilliant display of the publishers capabilities and Tomb Raider is nothing less of absolutely spectacular and should be a proud addition to the already successful lineup of games that Square Enix has pushed out in the recent years, put aside all the skepticism and try this game out. I promise you a great game full of thrills, spills and MANY reasons why this game could be the best Tomb Raider game as of yet.
The Tomb Raider reboot is a complete revamp of a series, we have seen Lara portrayed as someone with optimism, no fear and completely confident in her abilities such as her character in Tomb Raider Legends, Anniversary and Underworld, but the way that Lara is portrayed in this game is absolutely amazing, she is a fish out of water and completely on her own. She and her crew are marooned on an island and the latter are taken captive by the violent inhabitants of the island who are surely not taking them to the welcoming party. Lara is perceived as young, vulnerable and completely helpless up until she takes first blood on her assailant using a pistol and learns the hard facts of life to either fight or die; from then on a survivor is truly born.
Lara is one who will stop at nothing to save her friends, she will travel across the island through various locations and achieve many objectives with each bringing her closer to saving each of her friends, but when she is outnumbered and is forced to make use of a variety of weapons such as machine guns, pistols, rifles and especially the newly introduced bow and arrow (which is perhaps a very essential tool for Lara) She will be able to conquer all the major obstacles that lie in her path and be able to traverse previously “out of reach” terrains with the help of a zip line made from a arrow with a rope tied to it.
The continued evolution of Lara from survivor to fighter is indeed a very strong tale where you will feel empathy for Lara and her troubles, you will literally cringe as she goes through various hairy situations and be feeling her pain along the way, the way they allow the player to grow attached to Lara is a very strong relationship between player and AI which is very rare and only a few developers are able to do this well enough. The difficulties that Lara will face are what makes her a truly remarkable character and how she survives each life threatening encounter truly contributes into molding her personality to someone whom we know will be a great fighter in the later games and for now she is getting used to the hardships of bearing the Croft family name.
The first hour or so of the game is perhaps the best setting of the game, YES it is packed full of lots of QTE’s but this isn’t your typical button mash to defeat a boss as much as you are fighting for her survival and saving her. From here on the game becomes more accommodating and lets players choose the path; the game rewards those who prefer exploration over linearity. If you choose to go through the road less traveled you are sure to find more rewards and perhaps even some collectibles.
The game plays out like a typical third person shooter, players will have to be precise, calculated and even more so careful, you never know when turning a corner might result in a QTE that can make the difference between life and death for Lara. You have to be on your toes and be ready to go from walking to an objective to walking to a gun fight within moments of surprise but don’t worry the game will give you plenty of cover, weapons, ammo to make use of but none will be as rewarding as the Bow and Arrow, the both are a match made in heaven and truly make a stealthier approach more appealing as Lara sneaks up behind her attackers and chokes them out with her bow so that she may be able to subdue her foes in a more subtle manner and without attracting attention to herself.
Unlike most adventure games Lara is able to earn XP by completing objectives, killing enemies and other ways. Earned XP will yield you points which can help you increase Lara’s various traits such as stamina, endurance, hold her bow string for an extended period, more accurate shots etc. While this may sound like a hindrance, I assure you that it is not and you will find this to be more beneficial and quickly adapting to it, Lara is also able to go hunting for animals and as usual make use of their spoils for her own benefit and also yield XP.
The island is ENORMOUS! The single player story is a good 15-20 hours long and there are plenty of reasons to go back to the island once you have beaten the game, you will be able to explore lost tombs scattered on the island and reap rewards from them (it wouldn’t be a Tomb Raider game without some Tomb Raiding now would it?) The tombs are very well designed and indeed have unique puzzles that really challenge the player to figure them out, and once you have done so you will definitely feel a lot cleverer. There are plenty of collectibles to collect but the most fun comes from figuring out where they are on the map and you have to use your ingenuity to figure out paths to them, you are basically looking at a good game which can span the duration of over 2 dozen hours.
Also, the only real complaint I have against this game is that Lara isn’t able to swim while in almost every preceding Tomb Raider game there were many water filled levels and many under water puzzles at times, The reason behind this could be that we are seeing a completely fresh Lara and she may not be used to the aqua as of yet. Hopefully this won’t be an issue in the next game as I felt that this was a truly difficult thing to adapt to since the water levels of Tomb Raider games are always the most fun.
Graphics & Sound:
The graphics are pure eye candy! The console versions are absolutely stunning and really make the player feel like they are actually on the island. Whether you are playing in the dark and rainy nights or in the day light you will definitely find the island very tantalizing. The real show stealer of all 3 versions would have to be the PC version of course which of course comes with MANY optimized options that will definitely make an already immersing experience even more lifelike.
The entire game is full of believable and times simply brilliant voice acting, Lara’s voice actor, Camilla Luddington, has done an ABSOLUTELY amazing job over being the voice of the adventurer and her voice is truly convincing over her trials and tribulations, you can really hear the grief, despair and times teary moments of Lara in her voice and I most certainly hope that she makes a comeback. The rest of the games characters are also good but I found Lara’s voice to be the most convincing.
Sadly where the game is a spectacle in the single player departments makes it a disappointment in the multiplayer department where sadly it gets very dull, repetitive and currently is very one sided. I am not saying that it isn’t good but it definitely is something you won’t be coming back to once you reach a certain level and are tired of the constant repetition. The multiplayer could have been more polished and appealing but sadly due to the fact that there are more active multiplayer games out there that will quickly take back the place in your heart once you are done with the single player, The game may or may not be your cup of tea so I will leave it to you to decide that for yourself.
Tomb Raider is the return of a long forgotten adventurer, we are seeing Lara in a completely different context than she has ever been portrayed as before, we see her face many perils and dangers and see her character development in a darker and grittier environments and life threatening situations that truly gives us hope for a more stronger Lara in the future Tomb Raider games.
If you are a fan of the series or even a fresh entrant to it then PLEASE grab this game, you will not regret your decision once you are past the first hour and discover the many activities that lie before you. Tomb Raider is indeed a polished, gorgeous and marvelous game. This game has shown us a side of Lara players could hardly fathom and it does so in a way that truly makes us feel attached to Lara.
The single player campaign ALONE is a good 15-20 hours and even more so if you decide to continue exploration of the island for collectibles and tombs which is truly rewarding. If you wish to partake in the multiplayer too you can give it a shot too but I believe that “to each his own”, and what I didn’t like maybe you will find to be more suitable for you. This game is offering you TONS of entertainment value at a good price and the game is truly deserving of great praise! I once again tip my hat to Square Enix for a truly magnificent game and applaud the efforts of Crystal Dynamics over a job well done. I am glad that the wait paid off and I definitely can’t wait for the next game in this reboot.Date posted: March 5, 2013