Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Crystal Dynamics returns to the Tomb Raider franchise for Lara Croft’s origin story. With a prequel that has a great pace and mood. To gameplay that is tight and super polished. With a multiplayer mode that is surprisingly fun. And a PC port that is done fantastically well with all of the options you could ever wish. Does Crystal Dynamics have what it takes to bring Lara Croft back to her former gaming glory?
Lara and crew are searching for the lost land of Yamatai and the tomb of Sun Queen Himiko. When Lara’s ship the Endurance hits a freak storm splitting the ship in half. Lara wakes up upon the shore of an island alone and starts calling to her friends. She is then knocked out and suspended from the ceiling of a dank cave.
a transformation…into a woman with no fear, bloodthirsty for vengeance.
Lara blames the shipwreck and the loss of her friends on herself. As the story moves on Lara makes a transformation from fledgling archaeologist unwilling to kill a deer for food into a woman with no fear, bloodthirsty for vengeance.
During the story you start to feel for Lara and her quest to save her friends. Some missing pieces of the story are played back through a video camera that Lara finds as she rests at camps. You truly believe that Lara is going through the worst trials and tribulations of her life. You will feel Lara’s pain, sacrifice, and lost throughout the story. However, there is a strange disconnect early on in the game. When Lara is at her most vulnerable in the story you see her killing dozens of men. Making the gameplay and the story not complementing each other till about the last third of the game. This fault can be forgiven given the amazing level design and the brutal enjoyable combat Tomb Raider has.
The gameplay in Tomb Raider is similar to the Uncharted series of games, but has a slightly different flow. Tomb Raider can be broken down into three different phases. The platforming exploration phase. The scripted over the top action sequences and finally the high paced combat of the game.
Tomb Raider levels usually start off in the exploration phase. During this Lara is climbing up buildings, scaling to the zenith of ten story cliff sides, searching for hidden collectables, and finding any salvage she can to upgrade her gear.
The over the top scripted sequences are right up there with big budget blocker buster films.
During this part many of the game’s optional tombs appear. Some of the tombs will be accessible right away and some later in the game when you have obtained the correct gear upgrade to access them. These tombs are some of the most rewarding experiences in the game. The puzzles in these tombs are excellently crafted and give you a huge sense of reward when completing them. Not to mention the hidden treasure inside that will help you find more secrets in that area. The instinct mechanic plays a big role in your exploration as well. Using instinct shows you where your next objectives are and can show you a traversable path in the environment.
The over the top scripted sequences are right up there with big budget blocker buster films. These have Lara fallings out of broken planes and hit her parachute only to have it break. Then she struggles to pull the cord on her reserve chute. Or sliding down endless waterfalls evading giant spikes or propeller blades. If you happen to die during these sequences you will be greeted by some of the most brutal video game deaths ever. Hit a sharp pole while barreling down a waterfall and you see a giant spike through Lara’s head and having your slowly claw away at it until she gives her last breath then dies. This turns out to be super unsettling for the player and makes you want to succeed that much more.
Tomb Raider’s combat is the epitome of what video games are: fun and satisfying. Nothing beats the satisfaction of pulling the bow string to full draw and unleashing an arrow into your attackers eye then it’s lights out for him. Being a primary duck and cover shooter for the action suits the Lara well. But don’t think you are going to sit behind cover all day and pop up when the moment is right to fire off your bow for that perfect head shot. Enemies are going to me throwing molotov cocktails, dynamite and charging you head on just to flush you out of cover. Luckily Tomb Raider has this great mechanic that can get you out of trouble in a pinch.
It is ideal to try and take out as many enemies as possible before you are spotted.
This allows you to get away from enemies fast and switch to cover effectively. There is a certain amount of stealth that can be played in the game as well. You can go around during certain areas and stealthily dispatch all of your foes, but if one of them sees you then all of the enemies start heading for cover and rushing to your position. So it is ideal to try and take out as many enemies as possible before you are spotted. Also don’t worry about dyeing a lot in Tomb Raider. Tomb Raider has a very generous checkpoint system and your pretty much begin right where you last died.
After eliminating these enemies or progressing through the story you earn experience. The experience you earn will allow you to choose different perks you want. For example, you can have Lara climb more effectively or detect animals in the surrounding area when in instinct mode. Collecting salvage and loot off enemies plays a big part as well. Salvage is the currency used to upgrade your weapons. Some of these upgrades include building your bow stronger to pull back the string faster or extend the clip of ammo in Lara’s firearms. These upgrades can only be performed at one of the games many campsites. Campsites also allow Lara to fast travel between different camps on the island. This is great for back tracking to see if you can open the next coveted tomb.
Tomb Raiding For All
Here is a mode that I wasn’t expecting to like as much as I did. Multiplayer has four different modes. Standards like Team Deathmatch and Free For All and some interesting experiments like Rescue and Cry For Help. Team Deathmatch is standard fair with the first to twenty-five kills wins. Free for all has an interesting twist, the first person to fifteen kills win. If you get a long enough kill streak you become the “Executioner” then you will only need a couple more kills to win. In the Rescue match type the survivors need to recover medical supplies and the Solarii must finish the survivors with only a melee execution kill. Finally there is Cry For Help, in this mode the survivors must capture three points before the Solarri get twenty batteries from killing the survivors. I had a blast playing this multiplayer mode myself.
…most of the PC population just wants to play Team Deathmatch.
It has all of the perks and gun upgrades from leveling up found in most multiplayer today. Everything you could do as Lara in the singleplayer game is present here in the multiplayer. Using the zip lines, climbing up rocky cliff faces and pulling yourself up to different platforms. There are two problems that came about during the multiplayer for me. The Solarii seemed very powerful during the early levels of multiplayer and most of the PC population just wants to play Team Deathmatch.
I am glad to say that Tomb Raider on PC is not just some simple port. This version of the game is simply above the rest. The game runs a constant 60fps on my PC almost fully maxed out. The new AMD tech TressFX for hair looks great on Lara however since I had Nvidia hardware I was taking a huge hit in my FPS so it wasn’t worth keeping it on.
The graphics here are absolutely stunning.
I do bet that for ATI users they would experience must better frame rates since it is AMD tech. If you want to experience next gen it is here with Tomb Raider on PC. The graphics here are absolutely stunning. From the fire effects to the incredible vistas when looking over a cliff.
Crystal Dynamics has easily hit a grand slam with this game. A story were you care about how Lara is feeling and whether or not she will save her friends. Gameplay that lives up to what Tomb Raider should be. And Graphics that just take your breath away around every corner. I’m glad to say Crystal Dynamics, reboot successful.
BOG’s Tomb Raider Review Score
|9.0||Why so high?
Great story, Excellent level design, Satisfying combat
|Why so low?
Strange disconnect with story and gameplay, Multiplayer could use more polish