(Slightly) Old Video Game Review: Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider brought a woman into a man’s world.  An adventurous and dangerous protagonist, who would shoot her way to victory.  The first Tomb Raider also brought one of the earliest forms of cosplay with Lara Croft.  A big-breasted woman, wearing a tank top and some short, shorts while duel-wielding pistols.  I don’t know exactly if specifically Tomb Raider started to ruffle the feathers of feminists, but it definitely helped bring the word sexy to video games.  Over the years however, the game became dull and Lara Croft getting hotter.  But that doesn’t mean Tomb Raider was doing something spectacular, actually it was worse than mundane.  Eidos was losing touch with their Tomb Raider fanbase.  You know what the worst part of that is?  It was potentially putting Lara Croft as an afterthought in the video game industry.  Eventually, Square Enix picked up the rights to Tomb Raider and put all the pressure in the world onto Crystal Dynamics to revive the Tomb Raider franchise.  Thankfully, Crystal Dynamics not only revitalized the Tomb Raider name, but boldly rebooted the series.  The result?  Welcome back, Lara Croft.  You are relevant in the gaming world once again.

lara croft

No time for rest.

Crystal Dynamics did something Eidos wouldn’t have thought of doing.  Changing the entire look and persona of Lara Croft.  No more sexy killer with an adrenaline for adventure. Nope, Lara Croft became a simple, reserved girl who was helping her friends track down mythical history.  A girl who gets dirty, injured, broken, battered, bruised, and scarred both emotionally and physically.  The story starts you off on a ship looking for the mysterious island called Yamatai.  An ancient island lost to the pages of history.  No one knew of the island, let alone its inhabitants.  The myth piqued the interest of Lara and her friends.  To find a discovery and make a whole TV series out of it.  However, they have to cross what is called the Dragon’s Triangle (something like the Bermuda’s Triangle, but near Japan) and survive the horrors that have plagued the sea.  And…from there you can pick up the game and play to see what adventures you get with the new Lara Croft.  The story reminds me of the Uncharted series, which is definitely not a bad thing at all.

pc

Shhhhh…

The gameplay is really similar to the Uncharted series as well.  I think it’s great; it makes it easier for hardcore and casual gamers to pick up the game and play.  The game is a third-person shooter, with over-the-shoulder gun mechanics.  The controls are simple and the game does have QTE (quick-time-events), which I didn’t know about when I first played the game.  This got me killed a couple of times…since I wasn’t expecting it.  There are also some platform elements to the game, which are simple enough for casual gamers to get through.  There are simple puzzles as well, but nothing that would stump a 10-year-old (even though I would ask why the parents bought them a rated-M game).  The combat is fast and fluid.  Going to cover to cover and shooting your way through various baddies is challenging and satisfying.

xbox

Don’t play with fire.

They also added in a some RPG-elements.  Lara can gain new skills by hunting animals, killing brutes, or just finding tombs and treasures.  Collect salvage to mod your weapons to become stronger.  There is quite a bit of exploring you can do that extends the experience of Lara Croft.

Graphics are simply amazing.  The world the game developers have spent building is realistic, ancient, and mythical all rolled into one.  I enjoyed roaming and searching each area for hidden secrets and tombs.  The high mountain ranges to the ocean shores to the temples scattering about the island looks beautiful.  The world is also teeming with wildlife; you can kill crabs to wild boars. The characters are rendered with amazing details and each character has a distinct personality.

ps3

Arrow to the…

Speaking of characters, the voice acting is superb.  The emotions and unique dialogue each character expresses brings out a more realistic and believable character.  The sound effects reflect the immense world around Lara Croft.  You can hear the birds and animals rustling around you while mother nature rolls through the landscape.  The battles Lara Croft faces are furious as bullets whiz by, explosives are set off, and you can hear the screams of your enemies dying.   The sound envelops you into the game and brings the world of Yamatai to life.

Tomb Raider reminds me of the original Tomb Raider.  There were great gunfights.  Plenty of platforming elements.  An interesting story.  A sense of adventure.  What Crystal Dynamics did to the Tomb Raider franchise was nothing short of amazing.  Gamers who haven’t played Tomb Raider, for whatever reason, should pick this game up.  I’m just awaiting the next Lara Croft adventure.

Rating: 8.4/10

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