Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Released: March 5, 2013
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
It’s funny how you can resent and despise something for so long, yet still be such a great fan of it. For years, the Tomb Raider series has been plagued with mediocre games, still trying to cash in on the exploitation of Lara Croft as the action hero with breasts as big as her guns; and as a fan of the original PSOne game, it broke my heart. So many years later, after an era of games where Nathan Drake did Lara Croft better than Lara Croft, we finally get the Tomb Raider game we need…but still not quite the game we deserve.
Right from the opening cut scene, it’s easy to see the developers have built an absolutely beautiful game. And within the first few minutes, the entire tone of the next 15 hour journey is set. A series once known for its sexuality has made a dramatic turn toward gore. Before you even take full control of the character, Lara has nearly drowned, had her skull caved in, and her torso impaled. And that’s just the first five minutes. Not to mention the craziness that takes place later that I won’t spoil for you.
But of course, Lara endures for as long as you can keep her alive, and the action begins. Two words: Bow and arrow. It’s without a doubt the most fun weapon in the game, and with every head shot comes a large, but brief, flare of pride. The other artillery you gather through the game, like a simple handgun, shotgun, and automatic rifle (all of which are upgradable) are great, but you almost feel guilty when you’ve failed with the bow and have to resort to a firearm.
The game is surprisingly more action oriented than I thought it would be. The title on the box is Tomb Raider, and, obviously, you expect there to be tombs to raid. And there are, but they’re probably the most disappointing part of the game. Each tomb consists of merely one puzzle, none of which are very difficult, resulting in Lara finding a chest hiding some treasure you never even see. For a game that implies such adventure, it’s a severely underwhelming experience. Personally, I was looking forward to a more Legend of Zelda dungeon solving type of adventure. Instead, tombs are pretty much an afterthought, while firefight against insurmountable odds of cultists trying to kill you takes 90 percent of your time.
Though I was terribly disappointed by the simplicity of the actual tomb raider, I can’t take away from how solid and fun an action adventure game it is. Though, sadly, once it’s over, it’s over. There’s little to no replayability to this game. Once the campaign has been conquered, you’re able to go find collectables you missed, or go find the few lame tombs you couldn’t find before, and there’s even the completely mediocre multiplayer, but there’s nothing else after that. Something as simple as replaying the campaign with all your upgrades available would have gone a long way.
One nice little perk, however, is (depending on where you pick up your copy of the game) the special mini hardcover prequel comic from Dark Horse. It really is a beautiful book, even if it adds hardly anything to the already thin story.
Whether you were a fan of the original Tomb Raider games, or never played any of them before, there’s quite a bit to be enjoyed in this reboot…even if there isn’t enough. Hopefully the sequel will have more to offer.
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