By TheSheepHerder 30 Comments
If there’s one thing Square Enix has done lately, it’s reviving old and forgotten franchises. Now with Crystal Dynamics and Rhianna Pratchett at the helm, Tomb Raider retells the origins of the highly influential video game heroine Lara Croft, sending her to the discover what lies in the mysterious, and dangerous, kingdom of Yamatai.
Sammy: Honestly? I was never interested in the Tomb Raider series and assumed Lara Croft was just your generic serious female protagonist who's unstoppable. This however changed when the reboot was announced a few years back. Truth be told, Tomb Raider was an absolute experience.
The writer Rhianna Pratchett introduced us to a young inexperienced Lara Croft who just came out of college. Her goal is to discover the lost kingdom Yamatai while on the ship Endurance with her friends who are filming a reality show. The Endurance crashes onto the island that's off the coast of Japan where Lara is left stranded without her friends.
Sheepie: I found Croft's first adventure to be both exciting and lacking in some parts. In short, with her expedition stranded on the mysterious island of Yamatai, Lara must learn to become more resourceful and braver than she ever has been in her life.
I have one big problem though: While the game attempts to paint Lara as someone reluctant to take another person’s life, the combat and skill system does the complete opposite, encouraging players to go for more brutal kills in order to gain more XP. This disparity kind of bothered me, as well as Lara’s supporting cast, which weren’t exactly unlikable but lacked any sort of depth to make them interesting.
Even so I really enjoyed going through TR’s plot. I loved what Pratchett did with Lara’s transition from young and terrified archaeologist to strong and brave woman, and to add to that Camilla Ludington delivers an excellent performance as Croft.
Sammy: I pre-purchased Tomb Raider two weeks before Christmas on Steam. Right away when midnight hit on March 5th I tried to play but unfortunately many Steam users suffered problems until later on in the morning. Afterwards, it ran really smoothly. My only complaint would be the button mashing. On the PC it's a bit confusing to know which buttons are which however, it makes the adrenaline rush through your body while you hope Lara will be alright. You may even find yourself panting after fast pace events and then being relieved that the worse is behind.
Reading this right now, the non players of Tomb Raider probably see similarities to Uncharted. Coming out of someone who's a major Uncharted fan, I can assure you that Tomb Raider has always stand on its two feet and before both of the series existed there's been Indiana Jones which is the father of both series.
It feels not only Lara has been on a voyage but the gamers as well. Throughout the game I've felt fear, sorrow and wanting to comfort Lara while she's trying to find her way off the island. It's extremely horrifying in the beginning where she's in what appears to be bondage to only moments later be sliding on a waterfall in a dark cave where she must dodge boulders and kick away an enemy who tries to kill her. That's when the button mashing begins.
Sheepie: Crystal Dynamics didn’t exactly reinvent third person shooter/adventure games with this, but they certainly managed to keep things interesting with a mix of arrow shooting and puzzle solving. The combat/stealth mechanics and skill system isn’t anything to write home about, but they work together nicely and using the recurve bow to dispatch enemies was a lot of fun.
The puzzles and Uncharted-style climbing and set pieces are pretty fantastic, and the game does a nice job of revolving camera angles without becoming too much of a nuisance. The tombs could’ve been a lot better with more than one puzzle to solve, but still these side missions are well executed, and certainly add to the game’s replayability.
Sheepie: Tomb Raider is a really good looking game, and Yamatai’s environments are impressive and the developers have done a great job in making sure each area doesn’t feel like a rehash of an earlier one. The character models are decent and Lara’s mo-cap and animations are very impressive. There’s also TressFX, a feature that attempts to render Lara’s hair strand by strand, and while it isn’t perfect, it’s something that looks really amazing during cutscenes, and hopefully in the future it’s properly optimized for next-gen consoles and PCs.
Sammy: Absolutely beautiful. Since I played on PC I had the option to higher the graphics for Lara's hair but choose not to do this since my RAM is fairly low and raising the graphics would of caused major lag. Looking back at the first Tomb Raider to this Lara has bloomed into a beautiful flower. I like how her chest size is more proportioned with her body and how she looks a bit more normal. Due to her new appearance and sensitive yet strong willed personality I've developed a 'girl crush' on her.
Sheepie: The sound effects aren’t anything special and while the game rehashes a lot of the weapon SFX, the voice acting and score manages to overshadow these shortcomings. Graves’ score really adds to the tension, and the voice work from Ludington is convincing and nicely done, and I could say the same for the supporting cast as well.
Sammy: Honestly, while playing adventure games I never tend to focus on the music but, that could be considered as a compliment as the composer blended in the melodies very well with the background. The soundtrack for Tomb Raider was composed by Jason Graves.
Sammy: I was very pleased with Tomb Raider and like the direction Square Enix is heading. I do however find it so ironic that Enix handles series such as Tomb Raider, Deus Ex and Hitman better than Final Fantasy which has been declining in quality for the past decade. There should be a sequel to the reboot as at the end Lara discovers that she's an adventurer at heart and it was hinted in the GPS caches. Overall, I give this 4.5/5 stars.
Sheepie: Even though I felt the supporting cast and story could have been better, there’s no denying that Crystal Dynamics and Rhianna Pratchett have done the Tomb Raider franchise justice with this reboot. It’s definitely worth a shot if you love a good third person action game or if you’re a fan of Tomb Raider and it will be very interesting to see what Square Enix will do with a potential sequel.
Thanks for taking the time to read our review, folks! :D