Last week, I wrote a review for the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider for Pxlbyte.com – it has been well received so I decided to share it with you all.
Lara Croft might be taking a page from Nathan Drake’s book, but this reboot is legitimately Tomb Raider reborn in a whole new way.
Platform: PC – Xbox 360 – PS3
Release Date: Out now
Price: $39.99 (USD)
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
*Author’s Note: I’m going to get this out of the way early- yes, the new Tomb Raider took a lot of concepts from Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series. However, I refuse to believe that disqualifies all that Tomb Raider achieves in its execution. Now, on to the review…
The first thing you notice when you start Tomb Raider is that this game is positively gorgeous. The graphics fidelity of this game is high- the characters are well rendered and the environment is dynamic and vibrant. The island of Yamatai has some incredible vantage points and the dilapidated ruins littered throughout the island reveal the long history of destruction and chaos on the island. There were multiple moments throughout my playthrough where I would just stare at the screen and take in the scenery. Yamatai would be a great place to vacation… except for the whole crazy cult thing.
Tomb Raider pulls no punches at the start. From the first fifteen minutes of the game, Lara is fighting for her life and the gamer feels woefully underpowered for a good portion of the game. In fact, one of the things Tomb Raider does best is believably depict Lara’s arc from fragile and naive student to a hardened survivalist.
The gamer feels deeply implicated in the fate of Lara, which I think is the hallmark achievement of Tomb Raider. The atmospheric tension in the game is almost tangible. I have played very few games that made me carefully look around every corner and constantly douse my torch light (which had no effect on the game, but made me feel better, dang it!) The game is constantly throwing surprises at Lara, with quicktime events that will result in her horrific demise if failed.
Be warned, this game deserves its M rating for the death sequences alone. Each death is cringe worthy and brutal, which feeds into the gamer’s desire to protect Lara. I have rarely been so concerned about dying in a video game, but I think these graphic images make the death feel visceral and consequential in an innovative way.
The plot of the game is nothing remarkable. The overarching story follows many of the classic troupes of an adventure epic: stranded on an island, crazy cult inhabiting the island, sacrificial deaths, predictable betrayals, etc. Many of the other character deaths in the game felt “meh” at best, I believe in part because the gamer is so invested in Lara. It is the character development of Lara that keeps the story interesting and the gamer invested in seeing it through to the end. The supporting cast really only exists as a foil for Lara, which made me sad for the missed opportunity for some good story telling.
Click here to read the rest of the review!