Reviews

Published on March 12th, 2013 | by Cryss

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Tomb Raider Review – The Origin Of Miss Croft

Tomb Raider Review – The Origin Of Miss Croft Cryss
Gameplay
Story
Graphics
Multiplayer
Replay Value

Summary: 2013 is shaping up to be the year of the reboot, how well will Tomb Raider fare when the curtain falls?

4.5

Will you survive?


I was certainly curious about the reboot of Tomb Raider, was the series even in decline? I mean the world had clearly changed in the decade and a half since her inception, but had Lara stagnated. Crystal Dynamic’s origin story attempts to humanise the intrepid explorer, by reliving the events that forged her into the heroine we’ve come to know and by many extents, they’ve succeeded. The plot has always been a bit of a mess, what with the cause of her parent’s death’s constantly changing and Lara’s death in the fourth game. Thankfully the reboot is far more concise, telling the story of a fledgling archaeologist and the events that harden her into the unrelenting force she will become. A storm rips the not so aptly named ‘Endurance’ apart, stranding Lara on a deserted island and separated from the other survivors. It quickly becomes apparent that she’s not alone, and the islands inhabitants harbour dark plans for those washed ashore. Characterisation throughout is excellent, the opening of the game made me a spectator to the shattering of the human condition, breaking the codes and values society has set for us. In an attempt to preserve her life, Lara made her first kill and a guilt ridden woman broke down in tears, it’s a world away from the confident killer berating those who would halt her progress towards to climactic finale. Variety is the spice of life and Tomb Raider serves up a blend of platforming, action heavy set pieces and engaging 3rd person combat. Journeying through the island of Yamatai is surprisingly linear, but comprised of wide open arenas that can be traversed in a multitude of ways. These are littered with relics, documents and parts to bolster your arsenal, I found myself exploring every inch of these playgrounds, but by promoting exploration it removes any sense of urgency from the narrative. Lara When at an impasse, Lara can activate her survival instincts, pinpointing objects in the environment that you can interact with. It’s a pretty handy tool if you find yourself stuck, but the games designed well and you can read the world without it. One of the key themes is this coming of age story and it’s evident in your character progression. New equipment is introduced at a steady pace and opens up doors that were previously closed to you; it’s worth combing an area a second time in order to garner its secrets. The island is full of hidden tombs that require feats of platforming and puzzle solving to reach the pinnacle; you’ll also be rewarded with a large experience boost for your trouble. Nobody said it was easy and Lara’s journey is fraught with danger, sometimes this is represented through frantic set pieces that draw on my old nemesis, the quick time event. I’ll admit they’re mostly tasteful, but I had trouble with one wolf resulting in me wearing away the “A” and “D” letters on my keyboard. No one ever said it would be this hard, Lara’s journey begins with nothing more than her strong will and determination to survive, yet by the time the curtain calls you’ll be carrying a small arsenal, with each weapon suited to particular sorts of encounters. I gravitated toward the bow and arrow; there is something innately gratifying about readying an arrow before plunging it between the eyes of the Rambo wannabe with the assault rifle. Varying enemy types force your hand towards different weapons, machete wielders bear down upon you and grenadiers litter the back lines, forcing you away from precious chest high walls. When the guys with the riot shields show up, you’ll be glad to have something a little faster firing, but try not to underestimate Lara’s skills in hand to hand combat. The weapon upgrade system is pretty diverse, allowing you to pick and choose upgrades that appeal to your playstyle. I wouldn’t expect anything less than top notch graphics from a triple A game, and you won’t be disappointed. The various locations showcase a vibrant and diverse colour palette; everything from vegetation to snowy mountaintops is awash with colour. TressFX Playing on PC gave me a chance to try out AMD’s TressFX rendering technology, aiming to recreate the thousands of hair strands that encompass the human head. It’s a technical marvel, despite minor clipping issues it makes Lara feel all the more human, with the next generation on the horizon it’s something I hope to see more of. As depressing as it is to write this, I was really looking forward to the multiplayer segment of Tomb Raider. With the ability to lay traps, the open arenas of Yamatai would become a cage from where I would lay waste to those who opposed me. Unfortunately the entire system is a little redundant; the combat mechanics that excelled in the campaign don’t function as competently online. The inability to fight whilst climbing leaves a hollow taste in your mouth, as you dangle harmlessly in the air, little more than a bullet riddled piñata. The multiplayer even promotes spawn camping, creating a base that’s inaccessible to the enemy whilst granting you protection results in people setting up shop at spawn, attempting to pick off their targets. It gets even more depressing when your team surround the pathways down from this safe haven, in the hopes of picking off any willing to leave home base. Tomb Raider Multiplayer Everything is a little unbalanced, from the maps to the weapons, abetted by a Call of Duty-esque unlock system that robs you of the choices you’d held dear until you raided the online lobbies. Ignoring the lacklustre multiplayer, Tomb Raider’s got it all, excellent pacing, fantastic voice acting and a gripping campaign. It’s an emotional tale of survival and whilst this eventually gives way to frantic action, it’s shown just how far Lara has come. The reboot is a world apart from what I’d come to expect from Tomb Raider, it’s dark, it’s cruel and I want more already. P.S I want to see more Tomb Raider multiplayer in the future Square Enix, make it good this time!


About the Author

Avid video gamer, freelance journalist, community manager and aspiring editor. Random quote: I'll show you a sweet dream, next night



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