Wow. I just want to start with that first, because that was my first impression after getting captured, escaping the cave of a cannibalistic psychopath, and emerging to see the whole island of Yamatai. (I’m hoping that’s how you spell it).
The unique idea with this new installment in the tomb raider franchise its that it’s a reboot and/or origin story of how Lara Croft got to be one of the most well known female protagonists in movies and video games. She starts out as a woman who is inexperienced and extremely frightened, but slowly learns how to be a brutal killer and a courageous explorer. The games plot is at it’s best when things take a supernatural turn, and without spoiling anything, just know that these darker moments, especially at the end, will carve Lara into the bold treasure hunter we know her as today.
Though past installments of the Tomb Raider franchise have been fairly mediocre at points, this one really takes the series back to its roots, and adds new features that make it all the more fun. I especially loved how subtle the game was, because there were moments where I would stop and say, “Wait, am I supposed to play right now or is this a cutscene?” The difference between the two is hard to spot, and makes it feel more dynamic overall. Lara automatically takes cover when under attack, which helps with the simplicity and ingenuity of the game. Counter kills, Napalm Arrows, and tactical pistols are only some of the fun weapons you’ll be able to use. But these aren’t weapons you just earn as you progress. littered across the island are boxes you can use for salvage, which when enough is collected, unlocks a whole new version of a weapon and better upgrades to go with it. Though it can be tedious and sometimes a little bit unfair how much salvage you have to save up for the better upgrades, it’s still fun to see these new tools in action. The upgrade system is similar in some aspects to Arkham City, with leveling up allowing you to pick new perks from one of three skill trees. This could have been exciting, but more than half the upgrades do little to honestly improve your skills until maybe later on, when you unlock the brawler skill tree. The combat is fantastic, and is almost perfectly balanced. There’s never that moment where in most games you might think, “Okay that was completely unfair and I would’ve never seen that coming.” It does a marvelous job of letting the player feel the need to be prepared, but still not have enough foresight to think how predictable that was.
Tomb Raider has a numerous stash of hidden items, such as GPS caches, ancient records, and even journals that allow a backstory on everything from your shipmates to the mysterious Japanese ruins. And of course, it’s impossible to ignore the tombs. Assassin’s Creed has hidden blades, Batman games (hopefully) have batarangs, and Tomb Raider has tombs. My one complaint is that they’re a little short and there’s not a lot of them. But they are fun, and provide a map to all of the hidden relics across the island, which brings me to the collectibles. I recommend finding as much of these as you can while progressing through the main story, because once you’re done, there’s little reason to find the rest, since you’ve learned all the islands mysteries. If there was maybe a secret giant tomb or something similar for finding all of these hidden tidbits, then there would be reason to continue. But once the mysteries are solved, the single player lacks any more appeal, which is too bad because they could have taken a page from Arkham City’s Riddler trophies and made these way more fun to find.
Now this is probably the biggest letdown. It’s a cool idea to do what most games are and trying to provide a backstory for this multiplayer telling the “story” of Lara’s other crewmates, but there’s too much issues with the design, the lag and even the graphics. It should have been more unique but it took too much idea from the single player which makes it feel bland, and with plans to only make multiplayer dlc and leave the single player single, (if you’ll pardon the crappy excuse for running out of fancy words) my hopes only soar lower.
Overall, despite a tasteless multiplayer and little replay value, Tomb Raider is a huge amount of fun, with an exciting story, a fantastic new Lara, and some inventive new gameplay mechanics, this is truly taking the franchise back to where it belongs among the greats. I’m giving it a 9.0 out of 10.
+ Love the subtlety of the game
+ Great way to tell the beginnings of Lara Croft
+ Fantastic cover system and combat
– No major changes when unlocking a new skill.
– Very little replay value.
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