Video games have a lot of well-known characters, but while a lot are well-known, some do not have the legacy that Lara Croft has. She’s so popular that even non gamers know about her thanks to the movies. Unfortunately, the last few Tomb Raider games didn’t do Lara justice. Many series can benefit from a reboot and that’s all it took for Lara to reclaim her spot as the Queen of video games. The reboot of Tomb Raider got a TOTAL makeover and we should rejoice.
What makes this reboot great is that it’s an origin story. Anybody can just pick up this game without any knowledge of previous Tomb Raider games and have fun. Plus, without giving away details, long time fans of the series will see some awesome throwbacks to previous Tomb Raider games.
I’m pretty sure that this is the youngest that we’ve seen Lara and because of that, some of the sequences are just that more shocking. I’ll keep the plot details short so nothing is really spoiled, but the overall plot is that this is Lara’s first expedition. She’s on the ship called the Endurance with her friend Samantha, her dad’s close friend named Roth, a down on his luck celebrity archaeologist named Whitman as well as a handful of other shipmates/friends.
They’re looking for a Japanese location called Yamatai and while looking, the ship splits in half. This separates Lara from her group. For the rest of the game, Lara is searching for her friends, trying to escape the increasingly dangerous island and ultimately trying to survive. The game starts off when you’re tied up trying to free yourself and from that moment, you know that the tone of the game is extremely serious.
The pacing of this game is spot on. Overall, the game took me about 13 hours to complete and that didn’t include all of the optional tombs and hidden items. I didn’t even realize that I played for 13 hours because the game flowed so well that I just kept playing. You know a game is amazing when all you care about is wondering what’s going to happen to Lara and the crew.
One of the biggest praises for this game is that it looks more like a movie than a video game. There is no HUD in the game. The only time that things pop up are when you kill someone, pick up items, salvage items and discover tombs. This makes the game great because there is no clutter on the screen. Plus, when Lara is climbing, going through caves, pipelines and more, the camera makes the game look more personal.
Sure, the first hour or two consisted of TONS of QTEs, but with a game that looks this beautiful and with all of the events happening during the QTEs, I just didn’t mind them. The QTEs in this game aren’t as tedious as they are in other games. The QTEs in Tomb Raider have purpose which is a first in a game for me. The gameplay reminds me a lot of Uncharted.
I LOVED Uncharted, but I wasn’t a fan of the sequels. For Tomb Raider, this gameplay works perfectly. Lara can run and jump across long distances, she can use her pickaxe to grab onto cliffs and climb up. She can use her bow to shoot ropes to traverse across broken bridges, she can use the same bow to pull down walls as well.
Other things that Lara can do include: lighting up torches, shooting walls with shotguns, climbing up ropes, ziplining and much more. I won’t give away everything! The controls are so fluid and responsive. Gun-play and shooting arrows are executed with great results. It plays like any other third person shooter and for that I’m thankful! Lara has never been controlled this well before.
Throughout the course of the game, Lara kills a variety of enemies. After they’re dispatched, you can loot them for salvage and ammo. In addition, you can hunt animals such as wolves, birds, boars, rats, rabbits, chickens and more. This also provides salvage. Everything you do in this game gives you experience points which you can use at campfires.
Speaking of campfires, that’s one of the finest additions to the Tomb Raider franchise. Campfires provide many uses. You can fast travel to any other found campfires throughout the game. When you gain enough experience, you will unlock a skill point and you can then use this at a campfire to upgrade Lara’s abilities.
There are three sections that could be upgraded. The first is survival which includes upgrades to hunting, looting, better climbing and more. The next section is about guns. You can upgrade your ammo, gun strength and also unlock some extremely brutal finishing moves. The final section is called brawler. This can upgrade Lara’s health as well as giving her some dirty tricks like throwing sand in the face of an enemy, stunning them and more.
Mix and match the upgrades during the game because some sections require variety. You can also use the campfire to upgrade individual weapons. You spend your salvage as currency to make your weapons more deadly and you can also add some special features such as silencers, explosive arrows, stronger bullets and much more. The last thing about salvage is that later on in the game, when you find salvage, you can also find parts to weapons that will add more upgrades to at the campfire.
Tomb Raider has an absolutely gorgeous open world. You’re free to explore the island as much as you want. You can find relics, GPS trackers as well as journal entries that are written by friends and enemies. This helps provide back story to many of the events that take place during Tomb Raider’s campaign.
While it doesn’t take away from the game by not looking for these items, you’ll benefit from an awesome story as well as some experience points that may help you for the later sections of the game. Each area of the game also consists of hidden challenges that will give a lot of experience if completed.
They consist of finding items, destroying items or occasionally fighting enemies. They are a fun distraction to the game if you’re looking to take in the sights of the island. If you’re focused more on just playing through he story, all of these challenges and collectibles are available to be found after the game is completed.
Lara is told “You’ve got great instincts girl… You just gotta know how to use them.” This is an important gameplay element. Lara has a mode called survival instinct which I compare to detective mode in Arkham Asylum!
By pressing the button that enables survival instinct, Lara can locate hidden items and during puzzles, you can see points of interest that will help you progress. It’s entirely possible to play the game WITHOUT survival instinct and I would recommend it. By constantly using survival instinct, the difficulty of the game can decrease significantly.
The final single player gameplay element I’ll be talking about is the subject of tombs! What would a Tomb Raider game be without tombs? While you’ll see a few during the story, most of the tombs are hidden and entirely optional. There aren’t even that many in the game, but it’s a section of the game that really excels.
Tombs put the player’s brain to work because every tomb is just a giant puzzle. Some tombs I completed on my first try while some tombs had me really evaluating the situation before attempting. By completing a tomb, you get a skill point as well as unlocking the location of every hidden item in that area.
I wish that the game came with more tombs, but I’m happy with what they gave. The back of the box says that this game supports DLC, so I hope that if there are any single player DLCs in the work, they include some more fantastic tombs!
This is the first Tomb Raider game that includes multiplayer. It lacks the same charm and level of intensity as the single player campaign, but that doesn’t mean that fun can’t be found in multiplayer. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a fun alternative to other multiplayer games out there. In multiplayer, gamers can make loadouts for the survivors and for the scavengers. You play these games 4 on 4.
The are also 4 game types. These include: Team Deathmatch, Free For All, Cry For Help and Rescue. While Team Deathmatch and Free For All are usual game types for multiplayer, Cry For Help and Rescue are a little more unique. In Cry For Help, the survivors are trying to activate radios so that help can arrive while the scavengers are trying to kill the survivors to obtain batteries that they drop. The survivors must activate 3 of 4 radios while the scavengers need to retrieve 20 batteries.
Ranked matches play in 3 rounds and a team wins when they win 2 rounds. In Rescue, the game plays a little like Capture The Flag. 4 survivors are trying to retrieve 5 medkits while the scavengers are trying to kill 20 survivors. The catch for the scavengers is that in order to kill a survivor, they must execute them with a melee attack and survivors can shoot while they’re bleeding out during this gametype. Something interesting that the multiplayer does is that it allows players to set up traps to mess with their enemies.
I’ve set trip wires that caused walls to cave in on enemies and I’ve set up ropes that when stepped on, traps enemies upside down. This makes them immobile and easy to kill. If you’re trapped in a rope, partners can shoot the rope down to save you. There are 60 experience levels in the multiplayer of Tomb Raider and with each level, you unlock new weapons and loadouts.
There are only TWO problems I have with the game and they are very minor problems. Sometimes during some of the more intense battles or when an achievement unlocks, there are small moments of slowdown during the game. Secondly, I wish that there were a few more tombs because that’s where the game really shines and for a game called Tomb Raider, that’s where it lacked the most.
Not all games have a great story, but Tomb Raider does. It’s a series that definitely needed a reboot and it got the one it deserved. Not only is this game intense, fast-paced, dramatic, terrifying, thrilling and drop dead gorgeous, it’s also well acted and entirely believable. There hasn’t been a game in a while that had me screaming due to some insane moments.
It’s an absolute pleasure to play from the first scene all the way to the credits. Most video games have heroes that seem near invincible, but Crystal Dynamics wanted to prove the point the Lara is human. When she got hurt, I felt it. When she cried or was scared, I genuinely felt what she did. It’s a special moment when a game can produce so many different emotions and this is something that Tomb Raider does exceptionally well.
It offers an experience that most games don’t. If you were never a fan of this series then be prepared to change your opinion because this game means business. All I can say is: Welcome Back Lara! You’ve been missed. I’m not sure when her next outing will be, but all I know is that when she comes back, I’ll welcome it with open arms.