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Tomb Raider Review

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9.0
User Score
9.0
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VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Gameplay: Smooth, exciting, and cinematic in the best way possible. The emphasis has switched from puzzles to hard-hitting action.

Narrative: The plot is a bit short and predictable, but an excellent world and beautiful character development.

Visuals: Stunning. These graphics raise the bar for Tomb Raider’s future competition, and they do so without any lag.

Lara Croft. One of the gaming industry’s most iconic characters is finally back, and she won’t disappoint. It’s a shared opinion among gamers that the Tomb Raider series has had it’s flops. Many of the games have received criticism for being “just a sequel’ and rightly so. Now, Square Enix has taken an extended amount of time to not only do the series justice, but develop Lara as a character as well.

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She has truly transformed from a mere sex icon to a relatable and engaging character.

Simply titled “Tomb Raider,” this game takes us back to a time before any of the adventures we’ve seen. Lara has recently graduated from college, and she has no idea about what it means to be a Croft.

Her story begins on the Endurance, a ship headed for the rumored location of a long-dead and mysterious kingdom. The crew that she is traveling with hopes to shoot a Television series about the island. After a hasty decision to alter their course and head East, where Lara believes the ruins actually reside, the crew finds themselves shipwrecked on an island called Yamatai. At first, they seem to be in luck, as Lara was right about the location, but this island’s true nature is nothing like what any of them expected.

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I don’t think she signed up for this.

Gameplay: The opening seamlessly teaches you stealth tactics as you fearfully traverse through a tribe of lunatics to make your escape. Lara can sneak up behind enemies to strangle them quietly, shoot a wall with her bow to make guard look the other way, or even find hidden routes to avoid confrontation altogether. Now, her ability to strangle someone without detection or a second thought is a bit contrasting to her devastated state in cut scenes, but we’ll let that one slide for the sake of having options while stealthy.

Along her journey, you acquire five weapons: the pistol, crowbar, bow, rifle, and shotgun. They all start out pretty basic, but you can collect Salvage Points from various chests around the island to upgrade them. They each have their own alternative type of fire that can be quickly accessed when needed. For example, the bow can fire flaming arrows and the pistol can shoot in three-shot bursts. This provides a lot of options when thinking about how you want to play the game.

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I think I’ll set you all on fire. Because I can.

The crowbar is the only exception in that it doesn’t have an alternate form, but don’t let that fool you. Melee is one of the most exciting parts of combat. Instead of just employing the simple swing-swing-swing method, quick time events are incorporated into the combat for more devastating attacks. In previous Tomb Raiders, quick time events could feel a bit overused and sluggish, but most of them are now optional and much more efficient.

The game also features a leveling system that allows Lara to learn new moves such as ducking and then crippling a knee combo or the good-old-fashioned stab in the eye. There are three skill groups to choose from. The survivor tree involves traversing terrain more quickly and obtaining more salvage for weapon upgrades. The hunting tree has skills to improve ranged combat and stealth, and the brawler tree is more focused on short-range combat. Overall leveling is simple but satisfying, and the game compensates for your increasing epicness really well by providing more daunting challenges.

Ok, so let’s talk puzzles. They’re not as central to the game as seasoned  Tomb Raider fans might expect. Where battle took a backseat to solving problems in past games, puzzles are now mostly optional in the form of hidden tombs. They are very short but sweet and fairly challenging. Most of them center around trying to figure out how to get from here to there by using fire or wind in clever ways, or traversing very rough terrain. If you get stuck, you can use Survival Instincts, which turns everything grey except certain key items. You can even filter which items will show up in this mode in the options menu for a more easy or difficult experience. This new set up is definitely a big change for the series, but many welcome it. Keeping the puzzles in the form of side quests keeps the momentum going in a refreshing way.

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Though not terribly challenging, puzzles will still make you think.

Narrative: I’ll admit, the story is no masterpiece, but it far surpasses any of the series’ previous installments. The island is incredibly detailed and has a surprising amount of lore that can be discovered. A number of key items scattered about reward players for exploring. Relics can be examined to learn more about the ancient people that once lived there. Documents give fascinating insights and accounts from various characters in the story. GPS caches yield a secret reward in the end, but there are far too many to justify the amount of time put in, so completionists beware.

Supporting characters and plotline are both fairly predictable. You have your stereotypical geek, tough chick, pompous TV star, etc. They’re not robots or anything, but they’ll do little to make you really remember or care about them. The plot alludes too much to secrets that might otherwise have been a great surprise. Knowing where you’ll be two steps before you get there is rarely as exciting as keeping some things a mystery.

But among these ordinary elements, the extraordinary arises in Lara Croft as a brand new character. She starts out not unlike many college graduates, qualified but still unsure of herself in the real world. She makes her first kill with a tangibly realistic air of devastation, and the way her brutal journey molds her into the unrivaled badass fans know her to be is equally plausible. Gone are the short quips that are completely flat in tone and void of personality. Gone is the cold, relentless killing machine with little to no humanity. In this Tomb Raider, players will finally see a young woman begin as Lara and leave as a Croft.

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That’s a Croft if I ever saw one.

 

 

 

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
Tomb Raider Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Profile photo of Leah Freed
Leah Freed


Leah has always been an avid gamer from the time she was a small child. Combine that with her passion for the world of literature and you get someone with an acute interest in the narrative aspect of games. She wants to contribute to the development of narratives and see the industry grow to be recognized as the art form that it truly is. In the meantime, Leah enjoys cosplaying as her favorite characters, placing in Tekken and Magic the Gathering tournaments, delving into captivating novels, sleeping under the stars, and pretty much any adventure that presents itself. With an incredibly high appreciation for spontaneity, Leah looks forward to the many escapades a career in the gaming industry will inevitably provide. Favorite Game(s): Mass Effect series Favorite Genre(s): Literally anything with a compelling narrative.

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