The Tomb Raider games have always consisted of a great mix of exploration, platforming, and gun play with a nice dash of Rube Goldberg type puzzle solving. As the years wore on the games became much more outlandish, and dare I say, ridiculous. If there were any series in gaming that needed a nice shot in the arm, and maybe a trip back down to Earth, it was this one. I’m glad to report Crystal Dynamics has done both of these things very well, and it makes me excited for things to come.
When we start the game, Lara is a young archaeologist heading off on a hunch about a lost city in a place called the Dragon’s Triangle. Her mentor and father figure, Roth, has faith in Lara’s findings and affords her the use of his ship and crew. A mysterious storm shipwrecks them and this is where Lara’s journey into becoming the hero we know she becomes begins.
You spend the game trying to reacquire your friends and trying to make sense of your discovery, which I will not spoil here. Suffice it to say the story is very engaging and I found myself itching to discover more about the mysteries Lara uncovers. The narrative always has you engaged in Lara’s journey, her discovery of strength and will, as well as the overarching story. I found the pacing to be superb as they juggled the overall mystery, and Lara’s growth, with incredible clarity as I never felt one overpowered the other and thus minimized the power of both. The strength of the voice acting helps give the story it’s emotional depth and it’s some of the best I’ve heard in recent memory. Lara’s voice actress gives the character life and a sense of weariness simultaneously, giving Lara’s fear and trepidation a palpability never seen in the Croft character before. The supporting cast is very well rounded and offer great contrast to Lara while at the same time making you work your hardest to do what you can to save them because you end up caring that much.
The gameplay in Tomb Raider is some of the best handling third person combat this side of Gears of War. It doesn’t have the stick cover mechanic like Gears, but that’s a good thing, you just have to walk up to a piece of cover and you are all set. The bow handling in this game is the best in gaming hands down, and the gun play is no slouch either. The combat is varied enough to where I was switching to multiple weapons in a single encounter. A bow for the guys up top, a shotgun for the dudes rushing me, maybe finish them off with a melee attack, and pull out the rifle or pistol to handle the baddies at mid range. You can also shoot a guy in the leg with a bow and finish him of with a melee or a headshot, your choice.The AI is superb,and the encounters hit that right amount of challenging without being frustrating. It hits a sweet spot that most games don’t even come close to.
This game is also very graphically beautiful as well. On the PC the game shines in 1080p and the advanced options help bring Lara’s harsh world into vivd detail for the player. The game is also no slouch on the consoles and is easily one of the most beautiful games of the generation. I’m amazed they could squeeze such a good looking game out of such old tech.
The only 2 complaints I can level against the game is the amount of collectibles, but they at least give you back story and XP, another things most games don’t do. Also I had some crashing issues with the PC version I played(I fixed it by turning off Tesselation)but come on, I don’t have two GTX 670s to turn off options now do I? Crystal Dynamics have come out since launch and are promising to fix the issue which only seems to effect Nvidia card owners.
The game has a multiplayer component, although it is forgettable and mediocre at best. This however, doesn’t effect the overall package as the single player alone justifies the purchase.
The Tomb Raider reboot is a great game, one of the best this generation, and so far this year. I highly recommend you buy and play this great work. Now only if Hollywood could do reboots this good.
Review by Adam Soviak