Tomb Raider Review
Cart: Tomb Raider
Cab: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Coin: Crystal Dynamics
Tomb Raider. I can remember playing the original game on PlayStation, and being blown away by it, knowing that it heralded the arrival of a new kind of adventure game, a style taken to its cinematic conclusion with the Uncharted series.
However, there was another side to Tomb Raider that Uncharted has never really attempted; slow, careful exploration of tombs and a sense of surviving the environment. In a way, Uncharted has always been a Saturday night movie, and there is definitely room for something grittier and less linear, which is exactly what the new Tomb Raider sets out to be.
Tomb Raider is an origin story that tells the tale of how Lara Croft turned into the tomb raiding heroine we all know and love, and it is probably the darkest TR game yet. That is not to say it is as dark as
The Daily Mail Eurogamer made out in its ‘rape’ ‘news’ ‘story’, as the scene in question is tamer than Shredder trying to give April a kiss in TMNT. A lot tamer.
However, once Lara starts her adventure proper, you do begin to feel that she is on the edge of survival and start to root for her, which is a lot more than most games achieve. The character of Lara is also spot on, with just the right balance of fearfulness, inquisitiveness and sass creating a decent character to build the rest of the game around.
There are a few too many QTE’s in the game, especially in the first half an hour, and the occasional stealth sections are tiresome, but these are thankfully very rare occurrences in an otherwise polished game. Likewise, the multiplayer is best forgotten.
The island the game is set on is pretty large and can be explored at will, as you unlock new areas, although this is not open world in any way. You find campfires spotted around the game that let you upgrade your weapons and skills and also warp between areas, letting you explore the island, looking for loot and secrets.
While I was disappointed that there isn’t more true exploring, the optional tombs that you can find are a fairly decent substitute, with condensed puzzles that I found really enjoyable.
The upgrade system is good, if not spectacular with salvage that you can spend on upgrading different aspects of your weapons, and EXP that unlocks skill points to give Lara new abilities, such as being able to retrieve arrows from killed enemies and animals. The ability to get EXP from skinning animals only serves to emphasise what this game could have been. Lara exploring an open world island, killing animals for food and scavenging loot in free-form dungeons; now that would be a game.
Whilst Tomb Raider isn’t that game, it is the best game in the series so far, and I include the originals in that. With a real sense of progression throughout the campaign, and decent pacing, Tomb Raider is one of those rare games worth paying full price for.
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Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.