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Tomb Raider Review PDF Print E-mail
Written by Adam Kerr   
09 03 2013

ImageI think it's safe to say that this March is quite possible the busiest in gaming history. With the highly anticipated BioShock Infinite and God of War: Ascension on the way, added to a list of other excitable titles (especially Activision's version of The Walking Dead), it's certainly a month where money should be spent wisely. Of all the excitement of the games coming to us this month one has already set the bar. That game is Tomb Raider. Of course we all know of Lara Croft and her previous expedition from the original gaming series and succession of terribly produced films. She is quite possibly the most iconic woman in video game history. Rather than build on the old foundations, Crystal Dynamics takes Tomb Raider right to the start, following one of her earliest expeditions. An expedition that leaves the lonesome player and the young Lara Croft right in the centre of the haunting "Dragon's Triangle"...


Gameplay

Crystal Dynamics, it's safe to say, have usually been known for having quite a weak combat system in some of their games and in Tomb Raider it's... better, but could certainly be improved. First and most importantly the AI seems somewhat idiotic at times. Some just stand and watch you "silently" kill their comrades yet or, my personal favourite, you can hide behind some chicken-wired fencing and you become invisible to everybody. On top of this, there are a lot of annoying mini games where you have to aimlessly mash buttons, which soon becomes repetitive and really doesn't allow the games combat system to flow well. The lack of flow in combat is really disappointing simply because the in-game weapons are very well done. Various types of guns work well when necessary, put this in with a very cleverly made bow and arrow system and it makes for interesting shootouts with the AI when they feel like working. I must say however, the large variation of weapons (bow, guns etc) mean you can play the game to a style which accommodates you. If you want to run, machine gun spraying everywhere, you can! If you want to sneak up and choke people to death silently, you can do that as well!

Away from the combat, this Tomb Raider game follows a trend of it's predecessors. Climbing walls, whizzing down zip-lines are all part of this Lara Croft adventure. In the opening part of the game, especially in the tutorial, there is a lot of emphasis on hunting to get food. Admittedly, I got quite excited at this idea. The thought of having to kill wandering animals as a means of survival sounded quite interesting and somewhat challenging. In the end, other than gaining a few animal skins and pelts to craft new gear (the most of which you find lingering anyway), hunting seems rather pointless. Tomb Raider does have a new RPG-style element implemented into the game. You earn skill points by completing missions and slaying foes and, obviously, you spend these skill points to improve Lara's abilities such as aim, strength, ability to retrieve more ammunition when scavanging from boxes and dead corpses.

Story

As with a lot of games recently, Tomb Raider sets out to make you depressed and give you a conscience over everything. That being said, it does follow the plot of any Tomb Raider related storyline you could expect. Explore tombs, fight baddies, save someone(s), beat the boss. It's quite generic really and at times, the tasks are mundane and pointless, but let's be honest, nobody plays Tomb Raider for the story so an average story isn't going to upset the apple cart.

Multiplayer

Well. Well. I can't even begin to describe how poor and rushed this is. Clearly, they had a last minute brainstorm to include a multiplayer mode (similar to that of Uncharted 3) and my word is it awful. Tacky animations which look terrible. I don't know what it is with games recently, but similarly to Dead Space 3, Tomb Raider has clearly rushed together a cheap multiplayer mode in a bid to sell more. Who even plays these games for the multiplayer anyway?

Graphics

Graphically, this game is indeed an achievement. It looks incredible. From seeing parts of the tropical island in the distance up to the most basic trees, the game is a joy to look at. There is still the odd graphical glitch where Lara appears to be standing inside a wall, but it's very rare to see and certainly does not turn off the game's charming beauty. Lara, as has always been the case in the series, is quite the, ahem, blossoming young woman and there is certainly some emphasis on her... let's say "features". The makers also do a good job of modelling each bad guy differently, as opposed to keeping them generic, thus not making feel like you've killed the same poor bloke hundreds of times.

Overall

Despite some of the flaws and irritation within the gameplay, Tomb Raider is certainly a good game. The experience is gripping enough to keep you engaged without the slightly broken AI bothering you, not to mention climbing up dilapidated stone walls. The multiplayer is poor but it was never wanted, is hardly used and is literally a waste of everyone's time. Graphically, the game is a masterpiece, it really does help to balance out the negatives and at times you simply sit back and enjoy looking at the incredible world around you.

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