Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Quick Review: Tomb Raider

Years ago when I first got my Playstation, one of my first games that I received was Tomb Raider. I do not know what captivated me into the playing the game non-stop till I beat it, but I did. From the wolves to the T-Rex the game had everything.

So now here I am, the year 2013, and Tom Raider returns. This time Lara Croft is re-imagined. She is an inexperienced explorer who just recently graduated from College. For her first adventure she is traveling
into the Dragons Triangle, just outside of Japan. Lara Croft, unlike her past titles, is not acting out of personal gain but out of desperation and pure survival.

I'm going to be honest here, I can not remember a single story from past Tomb Raider games. But alas, the story for this years Tomb Raider will be one I will remember. The story will drive you into the game and keep you wanting more. One can easily spend hours playing and easily get lost in this enthralling story-driven game.

Lara Croft, a fledgling archaeologist, is determined to find the lost  Kingdom of Yamatai. Her determination leads the crew that she is part of to venture into the Dragons Triangle. After a mysterious Lightning strike causes the ship to split and eventually sink. Back on Land, Lara Croft is kidnapped, which begins her story on the island full of rituals and sadistic inhabitants.
The question remains throughout the game, how will they escape this mysterious, dangerous, and yet beautiful island?

The core mechanics of Lara Croft still exists in Tomb Raider, find treasures and kill anyone that is found in your way. But yet the game expands on this simple formula and creates a dynamic and exciting experience. Tomb Raider introduces an automatic cover system into the game, which proves very valuable as the game is no cake walk.

A major part of any Tomb Raider game is exploration and traveling through the beautiful landscapes.  Throughout the game you can find secret tombs to explore and puzzles to solve. The classic Tomb Raider
is back and better than ever. New elements of puzzle design is introduced throughout the title making each puzzle refreshing. 

Getting new tools such as a rope arrow just adds to your arsenal of ways to solve and traverse the landscape. One might find similarities between Tomb Raider and Uncharted, but rest assure the original Queen of action adventure games is back.

One thing to take notice in the game is the beautiful soundtrack. The soundtrack creates an atmosphere that without, the game would not have produced the same experience. This is also complimented by the incredible visuals  of the game. In one word, Tomb Raider is simply magnificent. Multiple times through play-through one might find themselves just starring into the distance appreciating the graphics and set pieces.
One of my biggest complaints about the game is the secret tombs in fact. I did not find myself feeling rewarded after completing the tombs. When you reach the end of the tomb you are only rewarded some generic salvage (to upgrade weapons) and sometimes weapon parts.  I would have liked more elaborate puzzles to complete and a better sense of accomplishment, but needless to say when you are completing the puzzles Lara Croft feels like she is more in her element. You will however be finding Lara Croft running and gunning more towards the end rather than exploring.

As I mentioned, you can find salvage from secret tombs as well as crates throughout the island and looting corpses. Salvage is used to upgrade your weapons, improve accuracy, damage, etc. This is a welcomed addition to the series, though it is not necessary to upgrade the weapons
to complete the game.  

In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. In fact, I found myself playing the game 6 hours at a time and enjoying every second. Not many games that have come out recently has accomplished this, and I thank the Crystal Dynamics team in creating a Tomb Raider game that surpasses the experiences of past. This is a must BUY game.