Tomb Raider

Release Date: March 5, 2013

Developer: Crystal Dynamics

Platform: PS3/X360/PC

My first encounter with the Tomb Raider happened when I was 9 years old. I remember sitting atop my Uncle’s bed while passionately mashing buttons and manipulating the D-pad in hopes of maneuvering Lara to safety. She was graceful, acrobatic dual pistol wielding spitfire, but didn’t have the strength to vanquish foes larger than her. Despite that, she used her experience, brains, and flexibility to prevail. To me, this Lara Croft was a dangerous beauty with the strength to compete against the leading male protagonists of that time. Since 1997, with the birth of two movies several comic books and games, the Tomb Raider franchise has become a successful one. But with eight games under her belt, how could the great Lara Croft be pushed even further? In 2013, we received our answer with a reboot.

Tomb Raider has a vastly beautiful world which gives Lara ample opportunity to practice her adventuring skills. Hidden within this environment are collectibles concerning the story in some way. Not only that, but as the name suggests, the player has many opportunities to explore hidden tombs. The camera is dynamic; it moves as Lara moves, reacts appropriately to heightened moments, and seamlessly slips between the gameplay and cinematic moments. The game also incorporates experience points and skill points that can be used to upgrade acquired weapons, and Lara’s adventuring skills respectively.

In this installment of Tomb Raider, we’re introduced to a Lara Croft before her days of glory. She’s young and ambitious with a dab of youth filled insecurities. She and a small expedition team are in search of the kingdom of Yamatai which was under the rule of the Sun Queen. Their ship gets caught in a mighty storm and they become stranded on an island. They soon realize they’re not the only people stranded because of the roaring seas. When one of Lara’s friend is kidnapped by one of these islanders, she takes it upon herself to be the hero. What begins as a simple search and rescue morphs into an intricate plot involving the Sun Queen and her supposed shamanistic abilities.

Tomb Raider

There’s an abundance of good with Tomb Raider and a handful of disappointment. Let’s tackle the latter first.  Memorable secondary characters add to the story’s emotional implication when trouble comes their way. They help one to believe in the main character’s cause. Now, I understand that this game is Lara’s coming of age trials and she has to be independent, but her supporting casts are so bland when they get screen time. The game gives them paper thin personalities coupled with a poor excuse of a backstory. When these characters encountered trouble my thoughts were: “Maybe if they perish, nothing will hold Lara back.” Because apparently, pain make Lara stronger in this game.

The game’s second disappointing factor is the Multiplayer. You can play as either the scavengers or the survivors and are given a large array of characters that are unlocked at higher levels. However, all these characters are a carbon copy of Lara: same attacks, same movement style, same starter weapons. There’s four game modes: Rescue, Team Death Match, Cry for Help, Free for All. All the game modes have scavengers as your opponent save for the Free for All. There’s a loadout at the start of the match which can be used to switch out weapons. As you level up, more destructive weapons will be awarded to you. The single player world that gaave you beautiful and expansive environments that has been split into five maps. Two of those maps are Beach and Monastery. The beauty of Tomb Raider’s world has been condensed and have become platform oriented for Multiplayer purposes. The actual gameplay doesn’t have the same level of control as the single player. It’s been reduced to a barrage of frantic players whipping about in a disoriented frenzy. It’s a shallow shooter with minimal enjoyment.

We’ve covered the less brilliant factors, now let’s go over what makes Tomb Raider great. The story is a superb blend of the supernatural and reality. Throughout the adventure, the player is made to question the reality of the island and the people on it. It also reveals to us the nature of humans during times of desperation. Desperate humans will cling to anything for comfort, religion being a favored luxury. It drives humans to do horrid tasks, like kill their own brethren for the hopes of reward. However, the inhabitants worship the Sun Queen not for a happy afterlife, but for escape of the island. This makes them dangerous because they believe their mission is attainable. For the first half of the story, the player is led to believe that their only troubles were these deranged people and being shipped wrecked. The notion is quickly extinguished when a rescue plane is knocked from the sky by the heavens themselves.

Tomb Raider

Nowadays most games have pretty reliable graphics. There are still a few games that set themselves apart though. Tomb Raider is that game. When Laura is coated in blood, it remains until washed off; when she trudges through the waters, her body glistens and her clothes dampen. Even perspiration appears when Lara is fatigued. The detail I liked best was the piercing wound she acquired in the start of the game because it was a reoccurring issue throughout the game. When the injury had first reared its ugly head, it had a displayed hindrance during the game. For instance, the player can see Lara struggled against her wound during her climbs and battles. At some point of the game, this wound does heal and Lara is able to utilize her max physical capabilities. The injury is then reintroduced later on in the story and becomes a crutch during battle. This is executed by a disoriented camera with blurred focus. The blurred focus continues until Lara reseals her wound.

While small details are ever present, the combat is ever changing. In addition, your enemies are surprisingly intelligent. There were a few occasions I thought hiding would be a beneficial strategy only to be forced out from dynamite. If dynamite didn’t work flanking me into a corner certainly did.  Fighting was one of my favorite parts of the game even if I found myself cursing profusely at my horrid luck. This might not have been the cause if Lara’s level up system had been less than adequate.  The skill system is simple: You gain a skill and then use that skill on one of the three categories areas (Survivor, Hunter, Brawler). As the names suggest, the categories have skills relative to their terms. Survivor for example, has a skill called Arrow Retriever. This skill enables Lara to reuse arrows that have taken a home inside the bodies of your fallen enemies (and prey). The system is simple, yes, but don’t misinterpret simple for boring because the fighting system is far from that. Without properly leveling up, the player won’t make it very far in the game. Each upgrade aids to Lara’s growth as a seasoned adventurer. With it, she has heightened survival senses, a quick trigger finger, and quick reflexes against her assailants.

The last favoring point is the game’s female empowerment. This was what pleased me most. This revamped Lara was an embodiment of the past: resilience, bravery, perseverance. An added bonus was Lara’s modest sex appeal. We’re also able to see what all she had to endure in order to be molded into a seasoned adventurer. Boy, does she endure a great deal.  The developers Crystal Dynamics did not hold back when it came to Lara’s hardships.  Female characters aren’t given the same level of troubles as their male counterpart in a lot of games, so this was greatly appreciated. Tomb Raider’s gritty display of Lara’s death is testament that unpleasant moments happen to both sexes. Crystal Dynamics help shatter the concept that females should somehow be shielded from the same level of pain as male characters.

Tomb Raider

The universe of Tomb Raider has been on going since its birth in the mid 1990′s. It was Tomb Raider 2013, however, that put Lara back on the map. With its engaging story, beautiful scenery, and exciting combat there shouldn’t be any doubt as to how this adventure turned out. It was good of Crystal Dynamics to give Lara a modern and humanistic makeover as opposed to her goddess-like predecessor with this entry. This embodiment is a realistic inspiration for males and females alike. Still, Tomb Raider’s supporting characters greatly paled compared to Lara, almost to the point of non existence. Also, the multiplayer seemed more gimmicky than necessary for this traditionally single-player game. Despite that, Tomb Raider was amazing and players will find themselves going through the adventure several times before retiring to newer games.

 Pros

  • Engaging story filled with mystery
  • Beautiful and interactive environments
  • Realistic combat and intelligent enemies
  • Level-up system makes Lara stronger as story progresses

Cons

  • Bland secondary characters
  • Gimmicky multiplayer

Score - 4.5

About Dotta


I'm on this site because I game and I have a preference for action RPG's. I don't discriminate though. If it looks decent, I'll play it. I make contributions through reviews, but I'm here to draw. My interests involve drawing, biking, sleeping, and ogling.