Game Review: Tomb Raider (2013)

Tomb Raider
Playstation 3 | Xbox 360 | PC Download
Third Person/Action Adventure/Puzzle Game
Rating: M
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Designer: Darrell Gallagher
Writer: Rhianna Pratchett
Artists: Visual Works (CGI)
Composer: Jason Graves
Release Date: March 5, 2013

Not to sound like that old guy, but I can remember playing the original Tomb Raider back in 1996, dear God I am old. I was in college and I was living with a few friends, and we were taking turns playing the game, while the other helped out by reading the walkthrough. I don’t think we ever beat it, but there were some fun times either way. I think I dabbled in the series as it continued on various systems, but never really got into enough that I finished the game. Any time a game revolves around timed jumps so perfectly timed, that is where I fail in video games.

But when I heard they were rebooting the series and giving us a sort of prequel, I was interested in checking it out. And much like most things on the internet, the initial buzz was not favorable, well that was until people actually got to see it and play it.

And we have both Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix (Final Fantasy Series) behind this installment, and are giving us a more grittier, some would even say almost super hero like, as Lara Croft takes a real beating in this game and keeps on trucking. And much like most reviews about this game, I am going to mention how much this game reminds me of the Uncharted series from Naughty Dog. The game doesn’t focus too much on the tomb aspect, as there are still tombs throughout the game, but the main focus of the game play is survival.

And we have the lovely Camilla Luddington (Californication), voicing our Lara this time around. She was also the face of the game as they took the demo and videos around the country to the various conventions.

And the origin story starts off with Lara and a crew setting out to find a lost treasure, when they get wrapped up in a freak storm and end up stranded on an island, which is filled with a group of Yamatai’s hostile inhabitants. And she must find a way to get off the island and save the crew, which includes her friend Sam, who is taken as a sacrifice to appease their god. We have aspects of LOST, Indiana Jones, and perhaps a little of Japanese revenge films all mixed up in the story. This is a younger Lara, and learns a little about her self and what she is willing to do to protect herself and save her friends, and the consequences of her decisions.

And of course we need to talk about more than just the story, let’s get into the gameplay. I am happy to say that I did finish this game, and actually ended up finishing it at about 80% complete, will need to go back and try to get a few more achievements before I put this one away. Well we have some amazing set pieces throughout this game, and even a few where you kind of sit back and just look at the environment and just take it all in. As you explore the island, you get a nice mix of scenery, that along with a great score, just make you enjoy the whole experience more.

There are many quick time events throughout the movie, so you always have to be a little prepared to try out your timing skills when it comes to button mashing. Once again, very reminiscent of Uncharted. You start off the game with no weapons, and must do what you can to survive, but along the way you do get things going with a bow, which is basically your go to weapon for most of the game. But you also pick up some fire power with a few different types of gun, and your trusty axe pick, that is like your version of a Swiss Army knife. All the weapons are upgradable during the game, and end up being pretty kick ass by the end of it.

The fighting/shooting system was really easy to figure out, as the left directional pad, was your way of choosing your weapon and you had the trigger to unleash hell on your enemies. I have one small complaint, the whole dodge system that is used in a few boss battles or heavy armored enemies. For example, you have these guys with these huge riot shield, and to defeat them, you let them get real close and hit the dodge button and as you move away, there is your chance to shoot a few shots at them. It’s cool the first few times, but after that it loses a little something, and that pretty much sums up your boss battles. The very last bad guy you face, has a rather quick fight, which involves some button mashing, but is a nice nod to the original series.

There is a multiplayer aspect included in this game, but the only reason I think you will want to play it, is for getting a few achievements in this game. I don’t think anyone is expecting to play anything more than the single player. And much like me and my friends playing the original, I think this is one of those games that will entertain even those not playing, just being a spectator. And to add to the spectator enjoyment, there are some rather gruesome outcomes when a wrong turn or missed time button mash occur, there is a reason this one is rated M. After seeing/watching her get injured, covered in blood, sweat, dirt and who knows what else, you may want to take a shower to feel clean, and I don’t mean in a sexual way, but hey, to each his own I guess. You can get a few examples of this, if you do a YouTube search, for those that don’t want to experience it yourself, but I would suggest playing the game and come across them yourself.

And I have to say I really enjoyed this experience of playing this game and can easily see this being one of my favorite games of the year. It has sold over 3.4 million copies of the game since it came out, but for some reason Square Enix considers it to be a failure. There may be a good reason for them to say that, but I would say that the overall consensus on the game is a positive one, currently sitting at a 86% on Metacritic.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to play it and are a little worried about spending the money on it, keep an eye out for sales that I am sure are going to pop up here and there, to help bump the overall sales figures. And if you are going to spend your Microsoft points on anything for this game, I would say stick to just buying the tombs, for me, no reason to buy the multiplayer maps, not worth it. Like I said earlier, the last game I finished was Uncharted 2, and there is a reason I wanted to finish this one, quite simply I got sucked into the story and the world and wanted to see how it ends, or I guess how it all got started.

Pics and info from Tomb Raider Wiki and Tomb Raider official site.


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