When first announced, Tomb Raider caught my eye. From watching and being able to preview the game, I knew that Tomb Raider would be an awesome reboot. Luckily, I was correct, but I had no idea just how good it would be.
Putting you in control of a young Lara Croft aboard the ship Endurance, Lara who is keen to cut her teeth, you’ll quickly find yourself ship wrecked with your friends and crew on a strange island in the Dragon’s Triangle. Here you will be with foreign mercenaries that take you and your comrades hostage. Lara will have to think quickly to save her friends and then escape the island. Overall, the story is great. It has many twists and turns and unexpected plot moments, and it’s great to see the progression of Lara Croft. Early in the game you’ll be faced Lara having to kill her first man in self defense, it’s a very emotional and important scene, but it is letdown with Lara dusting herself off and then slaughtering anything in her way. Scenes like this happen a lot, where Lara is forced to do something she clearly doesn’t want to but has to in order to survive and the game makes a big moment of it, but then later you’ll be doing that exact same thing many times. It hurts the believably of those particular scenes, but it would be impossible to design a game around Lara crying over every enemy she puts down.
Tomb Raider plays like a dream. Controlling Lara is easy and the combat is nice and fluid. As someone who is not a big fan of third person combat, Tomb Raider has done a very good job. As you’re a young Lara Croft, the game spoon feeds you new and exciting gameplay mechanics that make exploring the island and combat even better. For example your very first weapon is a bow and arrow, after a few hours of play you should be set with fire arrows and the ability to create lines of rope that you can use to traverse the island. Whether you have to unlock items through story progression or through the RPG elements (which we’ll talk about in a moment) built in, Tomb Raider does a nice job of not giving you everything at once.
Tomb Raider is also very rich in set pieces and the game is much better for it. In the first fifteen minutes of the game, Lara is kidnapped, hung upside down, impaled on a metal rebar and then slides down a waterfall in order to escape her captors. This pace keeps up for the majority of the game, but it doesn’t ever feel too much. It adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game and they’re great sequences to play. Some of my favourites were later in the game when Lara is running through a burning village, or swimming through a river of blood only to come out stained crimson. The set pieces are sometimes loaded with quick time events which could be their only negative aspect, I’m not a big fan of quick time events, but they are used well in Tomb Raider and they make sense to be there. The set pieces in Tomb Raider make it an unbelievably cinematic and immersive experience.
Built into the game is a great RPG element that allows you to upgrade Lara and her equipment. Whatever you do on the island from picking up collectible artifacts, killing enemies and progressing through the story you will receive XP points that go to unlocking an upgrade token. Once you have your upgrade token you can use it to unlock many things for Lara. You can upgrade her health, give her some more combat moves or more ammo capacity or just make it easier to find collectibles. It’s a great system that allows players to customize to their playstyle, however it easy to obtain all the unlocks during the game as Tomb Raider lacks a New Game + mode.
Along your travels you will also find salvage that you can use to upgrade your weapons. Lara comes with a bow at first, she then finds a pistol, later on she’ll find a sub machinegun and much later on a shotgun. It’s balanced perfectly as you also have to find weapon parts, so you just can sit there and spend salvage on upgrading everything at once. For example with the pistol when you first find it you can upgrade the damage and the magazine, but much later during the game you can then equip a silencer and even more damage. It’s like this for every weapon and it stops you from making a weapon over powered and using nothing but that. It allows the player to experiment with the weapons and upgrading system.
Tomb Raider looks amazing. The level of detail in the environments and in the characters (especially Lara) is great. Lara Croft starts off the game looking clean and ready for action, during the game however her image changes. She looks tired, scared and worried all while being filthy and bloody from the island and its challenges. The developers have done a great job at not only writing a tale that changes Lara Croft, they’ve done a great job showing the player how Lara changes. It adds a lot to the believably and immersion of Tomb Raider. Not be outdone the world itself also looks great. The island is split into sections with each providing a different environment. There are cave, mountain, beach and building sections that all look great. The cave environments stand out as you have to control Lara slowly explore the dim caves with a torch in hand. In short, developer Crystal Dynamics have made an excellent world to explore in and filled it with great characters.
The level of detail is also high in the sound department. The voice acting in Tomb Raider is of great quality. The performance from Camilla Luddington as Lara Croft is amazing! She is able to provide great detail to the character. Other voice work is great, but it takes a backseat to the amazing work of Camilla Luddington. Sound effects are also great and like the voice acting immerse you in the world. The presentation in Tomb Raider is nothing short of amazing.
Tomb Raider set out to be an origin story, to reboot the franchise and it has completed that goal above and beyond. As every origin story should it provides in amazing detail the changes of Lara Croft through her adventures. Tomb Raider appeals to everyone, fans of adventure games, fans of Lara Croft and fans of video games. This reboot is a must buy.