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4.5 out of 5 stars
Tomb Raider (Xbox 360)
Platform: Xbox 360Edition: Standard EditionChange
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Well, you reboot the franchise using a company best known for top-selling games such as Deus Ex and its more recent prequel Human Revolution, as well as the infamous Final Fantasy series. Add Rihanna Pratchett as a writer (daughter of fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett - yes, he of the Discworld) and a heavy dose of Uncharted and you get a darker, more adult origin story that puts the player in the shoes (and full-length trousers and sensible strappy top) of a quieter, more introspective young Lara Croft.

All in all, it's a great effort. It's just so easy to get drawn into the game and its world. The areas you explore are nicely varied: from lush forest jungle to abandoned buildings to dirty, muck-filled, claustrophobic passages; there are also mountain villages and one very, very tall radio tower. The enemies are likewise varied, ranging from general pistol carrying cookie-cutter minions to snipers, molotov cocktail throwers and heavies, and they all need a different strategy to defeat. Combat, like climbing, is not terribly difficult, but it's nicely implemented. Lara has to build the weapons she needs, including a bow and arrows. Want to crank up the challenge? Try completing the game using nothing BUT the bow and arrows.

The game does depart quite dramatically from previous releases in several ways. Tackling an established and much-loved title and character comes with a certain amount of risk. How much do you change so that it feels fresh, and at the same time not alienate your core gaming audience whilst simultaneously making the game accessible to those who have never picked up a Tomb Raider game before? This is where the development and writing in the game really shine. This prequel features:

- A younger, less self-assured Lara: forget the wisecracking, gun-toting, short-shorts wearing doyenne of all things artifacty; this is Lara's first ever expedition, and her character is a lovely mix of intelligence, insecurity, youth and a desperation to prove herself to her fellow explorers. She is also superbly voiced by Camilla Luddington, and Lara as a character noticeably evolves over the course of the game. Whilst the layers to her personality are very welcome, Lara's emotional development is occasionally jarring - she goes from drama-filled first kill to mowing down enemies with a rifle in a painfully short time. That said, it's a mechanic used in many games. In Far Cry 3, for example, your character says "I've never shot anyone before" and the NPC you're talking to shrugs and says "Yeah, there's a first time for everything". Such a mechanic is to be expected, and the overall storytelling more than makes up for the first-kill scenario ringing a little hollow.

- Free-running: don't panic, there's still plenty of free-running, jumping-swinging-climbing on stuff to do, but honestly, it's not challenging. The route is practically laid out for you using Square Enix's Survival mode (a variation on what I like to call cheat-o-vision, like Eagle Sight in Assassin's Creed, or Detective Mode in the Batman games, widely acknowledged as making many games too easy) and even if the mechanic itself didn't exist, it's still a pretty obvious route through the game; there's no way you're getting lost on Yamatai Island. The free-running is also very forgiving, occasionally allowing Lara to break the laws of physics to successfully jump gaps.

- Tomb Raiding: Disappointingly enough, the raiding of tombs is entirely optional - successfully solving the tomb's puzzle highlights collectibles on your map and give you some XP, but to be brutally honest, you could skip the tombs entirely and you wouldn't lose out. Additionally, the puzzles in the tombs are criminally simple to solve. I was hoping for some mind-bending puzzling and platforming action; alas, it was not to be.

- Quick-time events: these are also pretty forgiving. The level-up system is also run-of-the-mill - upgrades to weapons are mainly limited to damage and ammo capacity increase, upgrades to Lara are mainly reduced damage or larger carrying capacity, and so on.

- Survival: Lara is alone and injured and has to survive. There are nods to survival horror in the game (several times Lara has to escape the clutches of some of the insane island residents) but this isn't a scary game. There are also some spectacular death scenes in the style of Dead Space, should you fail a QTE or hit an obstacle during some of the more intense sequences (I won't say more because spoilers).

Those are the main differences, and whilst they may not paint a flattering image of the game as a whole, I'll add this proviso - despite its occasional shortcomings, the game itself is incredibly fun to play. The storyline is typical of a Tomb Raider game - human enemies, but a supernatural flavour to it all. The free-running itself is smooth and good looking and Lara herself is far more realistic in both body shape and attitude, which is a refreshing change.

Yamatai also looks beautiful - on console as well as on PC. Yes, you're going to get better graphics with a PC (when do you not?) but having played on PC and 360, the 360 graphics are certainly still good-looking.

What Tomb Raider doesn't do is innovate; none of its mechanics are new, and it borrows heavily and unapologetically from the Uncharted series. If you're looking for a never-had-before experience, and have played any free-running games like Assassin's Creed, Sleeping Dogs, etc, then look elsewhere.

What Tomb Raider does do, and does very well indeed, is tackle the origin story of one of the most famous video game characters in videogame history (indeed, she's probably the most famous female protagonist the industry has ever seen) in a compelling, mature and well-designed package. Rather than a standalone title in its own right, the game feels like one giant "setting the scene" for future Tomb Raider titles - laying the groundwork for a sequel, maybe even a trilogy.

If this game were a novel, it would be a thumping good holiday read - enjoyable, memorable in places but nothing too taxing on the intellect. I don't say that to its detriment - I really enjoyed playing Tomb Raider and, like a holiday read, I will be picking it back up from the shelf and enjoying it again in future.

It's a game that knows what it is, and it shines for it.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2013
Took me back to when games were fun, played it though twice, has everythng you want in an adventure game, oh the fun of using the bow and flaming arrows to take out the baddies is pure joy, im gonna try to complete it just using the bow.
Usually the controls on games like this are a bit dodgy but not here, every button you touch does what it says on the tin. I have been gaming since Alex Kidd on the master system so over 30 years, this game would be in my top 5,one gripe and that is I wish it was longer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2014
I haven't played any Tomb Raider games prior to this, but having enjoyed it so much I recently brought the triple pack to the older Xbox games. I loved this that much.

Things I liked were the female main character - who was not a stereotype, was not sexualized, has clear and changing motives and personality, and was very fun to play as. The graphics were beautiful too. The open world play of the game I found really enjoyable as I like games that let you roam free sometimes instead of sticking to the main plot and as this is set on an island it made sense. With the open world, amazing things like seagulls flying in the air you can interact with (and shoot) and small challenges and collectibles are scattered and hidden which adds to the complexity.The plot itself was very compelling as you want to unravel the mysteries of the island. The upgrades as you go along tie in too as her survival instincts grow stronger as it goes along and she collects things to add to weapons and her skills etc. The combat was excellent and felt as real as it could be too I think as she slowly gets better at shooting guns etc. The optional tombs were very fun as I love solving puzzles and I always looked forward to those parts best.

But obviously there were flaws. The game took me 23 hours to finish which isn't very long considering I did all the main plot and option tombs. However there are in game challenges and collectibles around that are fun to do but I didn't focus on them because I decided to go back for them after completing the game. Also, I wasn't a /huge/ fan of the ending as I expected a better boss fight as it felt the same level as prior battles but that didn't ruin the game for me. And my main flaw was that there weren't enough optional tombs and puzzle solving. That was by far the best part of the game for me and I wanted to have more than under 10 to complete.

I would definitely recommend this game, I don't know how it compares to the previous but I really enjoyed it.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
I should start by admitting I've never been a huge fan of Tomb Raider games and this was bought by my wife who did like them in the past as we saw it cheap at another retailer.

This game tells the story of Lara Crofts Origins, from callow young graduate explorer to the bad assed Tomb Raider she would become. It is a Tomb Raider game in it's DNA, there are puzzles, there's fantastic platforming, there are Tombs (albeit mostly optional and short) but there's also a change in focus to a more open feel and something much more akin to a modern third person action adventure like Uncharted (though personally I've found this so good I think Lara has claimed her crown back).

I had low expectations for this and wasn't at all excited but I really cannot recommend it enough. It races along there is constantly something new and fresh to keep you highly engaged and the story is more than good enough and the characters really good. Lara herself is voiced very professionally, spot on. A brilliant game and a bargain at this price.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2013
So first off, let me establish something. This game is not classic tomb raider.

Ok so let's focus on what you get, Gameplay wise this game is excellent a few realism issues aside (weapon damage can be a tad inconsistent) the game features 3 main areas of play, They are:

Exploration, This side of the game has Lara scouting her surroundings looking for "Salvage" to upgrade her weapons and various collectable items that expand on story play or award trophies.

Combat, This is stealth / cover based shooting.

Puzzles, Various tombs usually require the player to solve a puzzle to unlock its secrets

Exploration is easy and fluid, you can run around jump to walls and clamber your way up without any break in immersion. You can use Lara's "Survival Instincts" to highlight nearby objects of interest such as salvage enemies or treasure items. At times exploration can be somewhat slow Climbing walls and ropes can take a rather long time. Very rarely I found that I would make a jump which I had not properly estimated resulting in death. The Acquisition of rope allows Lara to use her Bow and Arrow to launch a rope into certain targets which can then be zipped down. I find it slightly odd that something like that could hope to support the weight of anyone but it's not too great a stretch of the imagination and does not greatly affect immersion. Overall 4/5

Combat, This at times can be a little clunky, without a designated "use cover" button Lara tends to crouch behind nearby objects and occasionally it's hard to tell if you are actually in cover or not. As I said earlier weapon damage can be slightly inconsistent Head shots are not guaranteed kills. There is also a lot of Quick time event style combat moves that can at times be irritating. Minor issues aside combat is good and easy to transition to from exploration. Stealth elements are well executed Sneaking up behind an enemy for a quick kill works well and the bow allows for long ranged kills providing you get a headshot as other areas are not usually instant kills. Some boss fight elements of the game focus heavily on quick time events which are whilst very well executed still quick time events which I personally find a poor way of story progression, especially if you get it wrong first time. Overall 3.5/5

Puzzles, Whilst very pretty and well executed, They are mostly all variations of the "See-Saw" puzzle that need you to find enough of something to weight down one object to raise another. There are a few variations and the use of wind as a force in some of these is very well done. Overall 3/5

So gameplay wise Tomb Raider is great, It does not push any boundaries or bring in ground breaking new developments, It is what it is and it's polished to a mirror shine.

The next part is harder, Story.

Off the bat let's establish something again IT IS NOT TOMB RAIDER. This is not big breasted short shorts Lara Croft who roles solo into tombs dual wielding .45s.

I personally grew to dislike classic Lara's identity as a highly sexualised character whose main attributes were her looks. One of the main things they have tried to do this time round is create a more believable character. So have they done it?

Well new Lara is young and properly proportioned. She is still very attractive but more pretty and sweet than buxom and sexy. She is intelligent, (When finding some treasure items Lara will observe some aspects of its origin and use, she may also observe more aspects upon further investigation).

She is also human, Lara of the old games would not flinch upon being washed up on a deserted island swarming with hostile men, and within the first hour of play we get to see fear in Lara, she is cold and alone.

She has clearly had some survival training (knowing how to skin a deer and shot a bow) but finds it difficult to do in practice (over comming moral issues about it).

One character defining moment is her first kill which she struggles with (Although briefly) I have heard some people complain how Lara goes from having difficulty with one kill to effortlessly burning through dozens of men but I feel Lara's issues with killing are shown to be mental barriers opposed to physical ones and as such after coming to terms with the first kill it's easier to proceed with later ones.

Overall I like these changes, New Lara is much more 3 dimensional she has depth and is not purely defined by he physical attributes. I do however miss the old Lara (tough and capable).

Story, Without spoiling too much The plot revolves around Lara attempting to escape from a deserted island whilst surviving the hostile other inhabitants and dealing with an unknown mystical power that seems set to keep her there.

The plot drives forwards and is expanded upon by items and journal entries found in exploration. The plot is very well written and does a great job of characterising the new Lara and giving us a chance to see and watch as she evolves. The only downside is that the Plot really avoids focus on anyone else other characters are almost all there for the sake of Lara's development. Amongst her allies Lara has an Old friend of her fathers who acts like a mentor who aside from two scenes really didn't appear to be anything special. It would have been nice to see a little more attention paid to the stories of the other characters though they do get some light in journal entries found on the island.

Overall Tomb Raider is excellent and well executed. It is exactly what it tries to be and nothing more, It does not do anything new or innovative, but who said every new game needs to have something new?

The game lacks any real replay value since its key driving point is story. The online section is barely worth mention, it's typical team death match style fighting on small maps anyone not 15 years old and with loads of free time will die... ALOT to players who have had hours to hone their skills.

It does again need to be said that sadly this is not the old Tomb Raider that we knew and die-hard fans will not like the new addition to the franchise. And I can see it, but I think that based on its own merits this game is well deserving of its praise.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2013
Firstly, this game is NOT like the original. In some ways, it's a completely different game all together. There's no silly back-flips, dodgy shorts and her accent is not as upper-class as it has been in previous titles. She is more elegant and feminine and overall more REAL. She has a soul in this game and you are able to really get to know her and her story and why she became the "Tomb Raider". The graphics are STUNNING! A lot of hard work has obviously gone into the art work and is flawless, she looks beautiful. There is a lot more survival based play in the game and this makes it seem more true-to-life than ever before. There are no "medi-packs" but there's a lot of ammo such as arrows lying around which I find convenient.

The only negative comment i'd give this game is it may not be for everyone, especially those that don't like change.
This is a completely new way of playing tomb raider and some people may feel like it has lost some of it's original charm...

In my opinion though, this re-launch has now made the game much more appealing for both new players and old-skool players alike. It has done this by bringing the game-play into a new era which can be both fresh and exciting in 2013.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2013
The latest Tomb Raider game is simply put fantastic, from the graphics to the gameplay.
Firstly the positives:

- Enticing storyline, while playing this game I found myself hooked on the story which compelled me to keep playing.
- Beautiful visuals, incredibly crafted environment and near lifelike characters.
- Enjoyable gameplay, the gameplay in this game is awesome, from the combat to the rock climbing all of it fits together perfectly to provide an exciting adventure full of quicktime events.
- Multiplayer, I'm not a fan personally but the addition gives the players more incentive to play upon completion.
- Collectibles, there are a great many collectibles in this game, as is expected of Tomb Raider, which are surprisingly fun to collect, I found them all within the second day of playing thanks to the in-game maps but well worth the fun exploring.

Now for the downsides:

- Short, this game only took me about 7 hours straight playing to complete which is a shame, I also got the collectibles next day.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2014
A few reviewers have said how this game caught them by surprise, and me too.

I bought it because I fancied a change from my usual racing games. I was initially a tad concerned it looked a bit scary/horror based, but that soon passed.

The game looks beautiful but most importantly it's just so engrossing. Big machine gun fire fights make me cheer out loud, whilst sniping with the bow and arrow kept me grinning to the end.

If you fancy an adventure game, give this a whirl. If anyone could recommend something similar to this I'd be very grateful!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2013
Thoroughly enjoyed this game. Thought the graphics were great, the gameplay was great. I liked the fact that you could upgrade Lara and the weapons. I just wished it lasted longer! Can't wait for the next one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2015
Although I am familar with the Tomb Raider series, I've never really sat down long enough to complete a single game. When I first heard about this game it actually caught my attention, as it tells the origin of the Tomb Raider.

Unlike the other Tomb Raiders, Lara Croft is a typical young woman and is often shown to be vulnerable. On her first expedition she wants to impress everyone but disaster strikes and Lara is forced to fight for survival. Lara evolves from the beginning to the end, but she is put through hell!!! She has to quickly deal with her emotions in order to survive, like her first kill. She knows she hasn't got time to sit around trying to process what just happened, her instincts kick in and she then fights back. Throughout the game she is constantly reminded she is a Croft like her father, yet she doesn't believe it. She is skeptic and looks for facts instead of pursuing stories and myths.

There isn't much bad about this game, except the length could be longer. The island is beautiful, with varied different enviroments to explore. And while Lara doesn't use the full use of her free-running abilities (I suppose that's for later games), or wield the iconic dual pistols, she makes climbing the island look like a piece of cake. Puzzles could have been harder, as they were easy. Combat was excellent, it was kill or be killed. Using a bow and arrow was awesome, but at times sadly guns were needed.

Overall, the game was excellent. Many have reviewed saying this isn't the Tomb Raider we know and love, but failed to realise that actually this is how Lara became the Tomb Raider. Yes she's going to be weaker but this is how she became the legend. It'd be a nice touch in the last game of the series to give a nod and lead Lara onto her next adventure which takes us to the first Tomb Raider game.
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