With stellar Action/Adventure games like Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed being so popular these days, Crystal Dynamics took it upon themselves to reboot Lara Croft’s character and the series. The majority of Tomb Raider games have been top notch so did Crystal Dynamics ruin an old favourite or bring Lara back to life in all her glory?
Tomb Raider begins with a story where Lara starts out as a young girl on an exploration whom gets lost in the dangerous forest of Yamatai island and through her fight for survival she evolves into a killing machine with an arsenal to rival many action game stars.
Tomb Raider plays very similar in style to the Uncharted series and that is a good thing. The Uncharted series is considered among the best, if not the best in Action/Adventure games for its mix of stellar action, a gripping story and clever puzzles. The 3rd person view that you play Tomb Raider in is almost exactly like Uncharted. The control mechanics are very similar too.
There are several elements that are involved in the gameplay of Tomb Raider. The first I will mention is exploration, with the need to go searching areas for salvage resources in order to gain experience points to upgrade your various skills/tools/weapons in order to be able to open a gate or something to gain access to the next stage of a level or to improve your chances in a fight against Yamatai islands hostile inhabitants.
The next element is the action sequences, which are also similar to Uncharted, especially the gun fights. These sequences are intense and fun just like in Uncharted. You not only have gun fights though, as there are elements of stealth and hand to hand combat involved in taking down enemies. There’s the use of a bow and arrow to take out unsuspecting foes in a quiet fashion so that you go undetected which enables you to better your position so that you avoid a mass amount of enemies being alarmed and sent to the scene. As for the hand to hand combat, it reminds me of the recent Batman games where you slowly and quietly walk up to an enemy from behind and with the press of a button initiate a dramatic take-down of your desired enemy.
In addition to this there are also various quick time events which are placed in certain important situations of cut-scenes and are very dramatic and its usually the difference between life and death, depending if you hit the designated button and the right time or not. They are not difficult and if you fail the first time, it doesn’t take you back any further than to the start of the QTE, so you’ll eventually hit the button at the right time and see the completion of the sequence and move on to the next bit.
Of course no Tomb Raider game would be complete without its puzzles. In this game there are plenty of puzzles to tackle and although they can be tough, some logical thought and trying a couple of things can get the desired result you need in order to progress. There isn’t an abundance of puzzles to encounter, so it never becomes tiresome or boring to work through them. A tool that is heavily used in Tomb Raider in order to solve puzzles and gain access to sections of the game is fire. Lara has the ability to light her fire torch at various points throughout the game in order to be able to see through a tunnel or dark area she is going through or to burn a section in a wall or set fire to a explosive barrel etc. to gain access to the next part of the level.
Overall Tomb Raider plays like it should on the current systems and is a very good rival for the Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed series in determining the current king (or queen) in this case of the Action/Adventure genre.
Although the current systems are probably at their limits, it’s great to see developers use their skills to make games that still amaze. Tomb Raider is such a game. When I first loaded it up and started my journey into Lara’s world, I found myself admiring the scenery around her and her character as well of course as she is presented in all her digital glory. While Tomb Raider may not quite be up to the lofty standards of the unbelievable Uncharted 2 due to a few clipping issues and the enemies and supporting characters not being as detailed as Lara’s character model, it certainly comes close and will give most other games a run for its money. The lighting is fantastic and everything on screen helps create an awesome atmosphere for your adventure.
Tomb Raider doesn’t have the thumping gun fire like Gears of War or the musical score of a Halo, but what it does have does an outstanding job of setting the mood and atmosphere of this great adventure. The voice acting is spot on and the game makes you feel like you are in the shoes of Lara every step of the way.
With a massive adventure to play, plus the multiplayer section of the game (which we will delve into in more detail once the game is released), Tomb Raider won’t be leaving your console for quite some time.
Well, its official, Lara Croft’s comeback is a resounding success! Tomb Raider excels in every way and is just a joy to play. You are on the edge of your seat every moment and the game commands your full attention and will keep you up to the early hours of the morning because you’ll want to see what comes next. A definite game of the year contender already!
AAG SCORE: 9.1/10
+ Lara is back!
+ Gripping adventure
+ Awesome atmosphere
- Minor clipping issues
– Enemies and supporting characters could use more detail