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tomb raider review

Tomb Raider Review: Best Game of the Year or Epic Fail?

Tomb Raider Review: Best Game of the Year or Epic Fail?

Tomb Raider is one of the most awaited games of the year, and the tenth in the Lara Croft Series. It is also quite famously a re-boot of the game with everything from the gameplay to the character having been changed. One of the most noticeable things from a first look at the game (for me as a girl gamer) is that she seems to have gotten a breast reduction (in fact, she might even be smaller than the statuesque Angeline Jolie who played the part in the movies).  That being said, she’s still just as much of a badass female fighter, and I had to try, and review Tom Raider. Plus, Square Enix is one of my favorite game studios, so needless to say, I had pre-ordered the game as soon as it was available.

tomb raider review

What’s in the Box

I purchased the Playstation 3 version of this game because yay! Bigger screen.  Usually I tend to have a bit more fun with the PC games, just because they are more accessible and I can play them wherever, but for this, I decided PS3 was the way to go. I also purchased the Survival edition to add to my collection (groceries? What groceries?).

Basically what you get in the Survival edition is a tin box with a red line ‘Collector’s Edition’ label. The contents of the box include:

  1. Copy of the game (obviously)
  2. Play Arts Kai Lara Croft Figurine (pretty cool for a collection but for causal gamers, worthless)
  3. Map/Poster
  4. Iron on Patches
  5. CD
  6. 5”x 7’ photo
  7. Weapons Pack downloadable content (unopened as of yet).

The Story

The part about this game that really intrigued me is that it actually goes back to Lara’s beginnings. After a horrific boat crash, the young Lara washes up on a beach and must survive against all odds. With none of the weapons we have easy access to in the other games, she must use her wits to survive against nature, and the other survivors. What I really like about the story is that it shows how Lara became who she is, and all in all, it’s a great backstory. Without any spoilers, Lara is 21 years old, just graduated, and going to Japan. I really love the character depth, although some of the gameplay isn’t quite on par with the characters, it is a minor flaw that I am willing to overlook.

tomb raider review

Not Suitable For Children

Before I go any further, let me reiterate that this game is not suitable for children. There is a scene early on in the game before Lara makes her first kill that could be interpreted as a possible rape scene. Plus, there are many very brutal deaths in this game. Not only do your score more points if you kill more brutally, the death scenes for Lara herself are almost on par with those seen in Mortal Kombat. It’s a great game, but not for anyone who has kids who are not used to violence. On the other hand if your kids play Mortal Kombat or even the Walking Dead, you can let them have at it.

Graphics

The graphics on Tomb Raider are truly stunning. I own a lot of games and Tomb Raider is one of the highest quality graphic games I have ever played. Everything from the characters to the backgrounds has been spectacularly done. Even if you’re a bit of a graphics snob, you’re going to love this.

Gameplay

The part of my Tomb Raider review that everyone has been waiting for. I started out on normal mode and played my way through the game, and am now stepping it up to Hard.  Tomb Raider provided me about 15 hours of original gameplay, and I’m guessing it will take a little longer on the second time around. It’s fun to play for thirty minutes, or to have an all-night-oh-no-it’s-3AM session as well.

There are two main ways to play the game including exploration and adventure, and the game does include a large amount of both. You’ll have to use stealth, explore new places and even a cave or two, and engage in active and often brutal combat. The plot is dark, the gameplay is fast paced and intense, and the game is truly a work of art.

Tomb raider review

  Pros of Tomb Raider

Probably one of my favorite things about the new Tomb Raider is that you don’t have to spend time learning ridiculous moves like barrel roles, or remember to hide behind the bush when you get there. The game does it for you automatically if you get to the cover. It also switches between sprinting, running, and crawling as appropriate, so you don’t have to make the mistake of missing an opportunity or being unable to get somewhere (hello Dungeons and Dragons) because you don’t realize you have to switch your mode of movement.

Gameplay is overall very fast paced. The first bit of action starts within minutes of the game and it does ramp up progressively as you go along. Lara starts out being threatened by a man where she makes her first human kill, and then must battle her way through packs of wolves. By the end of the game, those wolves are hardly a threat. Action is fast paced, the game is brilliantly well played out, and does require some strategic thinking. Nearly anything can become a weapon so while you’re not going to be handed an AK47, you can use your wits and create something or upgrade what you already have.

There are four basic weapons including the bow that you see so much in the trailers. Lara is also pretty fond of her torch. For new gamers, a headshot is one of the easiest ways to take enemies down (you can knock them out with one hit plus you get precision rewards).

Another thing that I got is that Lara is never portrayed as a super hero, badass woman who can get anything she wants. Tomb Raider starts out showing a very frightened and innocent young woman and then showing how nature and her situation, force her into becoming something she isn’t, the kick ass killing machine that is Lara Croft. Her situation is very real, and the game really makes you earn her skills and her status. If you fail, deaths are brutal and swift.

Cons of Tomb Raider

No review would be complete without a list of cons, and as much as I loved Tomb Raider, it has a few flaws as well. My biggest disagreement with the game is that there are just too many things to pick up. You can pick up literally everything as a collectible or to use as a weapon and a good percentage of those things are more than a little ridiculous. The survival elements are a nice touch in the game at first, but you’ll notice that after about an hour of gameplay (or longer if you take time and collect everything) they just aren’t really considered anymore.  The puzzles are often really too simple; and Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics seem to have dropped the underwater puzzles from previous games. For the stickler, there are also a couple of errors in the game. One of the most notable is that any time you come across any of the other survivors, they are considerably more clean than Lara herself, almost as though they found a nice shower to wash up in first.

The game is also very similar to Uncharted and Gods of War, although it could also be argued that both of those games are similar to the Lara Croft games of previous generations.

Finally, I hated the multiplayer. It’s still, unresponsive, and really quite poor compared to the single player game. I really feel that if they were going to release a multiplayer for a game with a single lead character, they could have waited until they had developed more in the way of ideas for it. Multiplayer isn’t much fun, end of story.

Tomb Raider Review

So what’s the final consensus for my Tomb Raider review? I think that it is actually one of the best games I’ve played in a long time. With stunning graphics, a beautiful locale, an interesting story, strong gameplay, and a look at the origins of one of the coolest tomb raiders ever (okay Indiana Jones is kinda cool too), it’s definitely worth a purchase. The plot is dark, but brilliantly done, and lets face it, we all love dark plots. While there are flaws in Tomb Raider, it is overall a great gaming experience. I would definitely rate it at least 9.5 out of 10, especially if you pretend the stupid multiplayer doesn’t exist. All in all, I think Tomb Raider is an excellent game but I do think that it would have been better if they had left off the multiplayer and maybe focused a little more on the puzzles and games we’re used to with Tomb Raider.

Have you played Tomb Raider?

About Katrina O'Reilly

Kat goes by her game handle MissTRex. Born in Jaynesfield Wisconsin,she is currently studying game design at Full Sail University where she will graduate in 2015. She plays games and frequently purchases, rent's and borrows new ones. Come back each week to read her new game reviews on the High Tech Society.