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Tomb Raider (PC DVD)
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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2013
Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics had to do something, despite being utterly brilliant the last proper "Tomb Raider" outing for Lara Croft "Tomb Raider: Underworld" took around 7 months to reach the sales targets the companies were hoping for after a 2 month Christmas period which lead to 30 CD staff having to be laid off, so a reboot of some sort was always on the cards due to the perceived apathy towards the series. The result, Tomb Raider 2013 is both an amazing success and a disappointment and letdown.

I have LOVED Tomb Raider games from the very first one (and yes that even includes Angel of Darkness, although that was more "enjoyed" than "loved") it is no word of a lie to say they are my favourite games ever. I love the sense of discovery, exploration, secret passages, finding exciting tomb machines and puzzles and working out how to solve them and how to navigate Lara to the next tomb room... unfortunately most of that is lacking in the current Tomb Raider game.

However, let's get the good out of the way first... and there is A LOT to like about the new game. If you have a PC that can pull it off, Tomb Raider is jaw-droppingly beautiful there has never been a better looking TR game or with a few exceptions any other game for that matter. The voice acting is also exemplary across the board, and whilst the script does fall in cliché at times during the latter part of the game, Lara has never felt more real as a character. Lara is also much more fluidly animated, seamlessly moving from one action to another in a very natural way which is a joy to watch. Also improved beyond recognition is the 3rd person cover shooting. The shooting mechanic was always a "tacked on" element in previous games, now Lara will automatically crouch behind cover when it is nearby, headshots, bodyshots and legshots all cause the enemy to be injured in a different way and enemies stagger and react to weapon impacts much more believably.

But this is where we now get to the flipside of the coin and where things start to falter...

Tomb Raider used to be a puzzle-plaformer (that was its true genre) which used to get lumped under the action/adventure genre umbrella... well it's not any more. The cover shooting mechanic is now one of the main elements in the game combined with very simple plaforming to get around the island. By about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the game the shooting was becoming very tiresome, you'd be standing on a cliff about to slide down a rope and could see barrels and other environmental items laid out in a conveniently "there's going to be some shooting coming up so we're giving you cover" kind of way and as if on cue the moment you reach the ground the script kicks in and you find yourself in YET ANOTHER firefight, there was way WAY too much cover fire fights in the game.

and talking of scripts another thing there were way way WAY too many of were scripted events weather they were Quick Time Events or other scripted corridor moments in a trend to make the game more "cinematic". QTEs are a truly hideous inheritance from the console generation. I understand the appeal for developers as they are not as passive as a cut scene and to some minimal extent allow the player to still feel involved in a sequence of events that are outside the normal in-game actions for a character, or as an easy (lazy) way to transition from one area of the game to a completly different area without having to design a "linking environment", but they always leave me cold, they end up either being overtly simple (you are running over a collapsing series of bridges in a spectacular sequence, but in actual fact all you are doing if holding down the "w" key to run forward and occasionally pressing space in a HUGE window of opportunity) or amazingly frustrating (steering Lara left and right down a river constantly getting impaled on metal poles and having to start the whole sequence over from the start a dozen times so by the end of it you're actually more frustrated than exhilarated). In effect the game is playing itself and you're just there for the odd random unnecessary single button press. I despise them.

There has been a trend over the last year or two which has been acknowledged both by the gaming press and by the game designers themselves of "dumbing down" or "watering down" the gaming experience and difficulty, with games becoming more expensive to produce and a need for more people to buy the games to finance them they want to appeal to a wider audience base which now includes the "casual gamer", this is no clearer than in the lack of TOMBS in TOMB Raider a game about raiding TOMBS. There are now a total of just SEVEN tombs in the whole game, all of which are optional and can be bypassed and to call them true Tombs with a capital "T" in the "Tomb Raider" sense is laughable, they all consist of only two rooms, the first room contains a single physics based puzzle which you need to solve to get to the second room which is basically a place for a "treasure chest" which contains a map of where all the collectable diary entries and GPS cache cylinders are located. Each puzzle is woefully simple to solve and I completed each "tomb" in under 5 minutes... so that's 35 minutes max out of a 12 hour game actually in a tomb using your brain to solve a puzzle.

All of the rest of the platforming in Tomb Raider is of the non-puzzle variety, and whilst the game will have you shimmying across ledges and jumping across gaps you are always led by the nose and left in no doubt where you need to go next, 90% of the time it's always obvious how you're meant to get to a certain location and on the occasions you find that you can't it's not because you need to work out your route or solve a problem and actually use your brain for once to get there, it's because the game has deliberately locked you out from progressing because it hasn't given you the climbing axe you need, or the rope arrow you need or the shotgun that can get through blocked doors... so for much of the platforming you're just "going through the motions".

Ultimately at the end after 12 hours Tomb Raider left me feeling like I had won a hollow victory, like I had been led by the hand through the entire game, and however beautiful and cinematic the journey might have been I had not been challenged once and had done nothing that gave me in any way a sense of accomplishment. Despite all it's characterisation and beauty I still think Legend/Anniversary and Underworld are the better Crystal Dynamics Tomb Raider games.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2013
Personally I've always seen Tomb raider as more of a puzzle game than an out and out shooter yes there has always been combat within the games and was expecting it in this one. Up until now I've always been a casual observer of the TR gsmes really rather than a big participant in them as I haven't played all the games or completed any of them to be fair. However I do enjoy this game. My only problem is with the action sequences or QTE's as I think most people call them especially the falling ledges ones aer rather numerous and hard to do when you only have 1 hand on the controls as I have because of my drisability Personally I think these would have been better done as Cutscenes in the game if these must be in Graphically I have to say is probably one of the best looking games I've ever played. I've always seen Lara as moer of a clever girl that prefers to face a puzzle not so much an action Hero and I think the game should have reflected that more in the game. I will say that the story and Voice acting like the graphics were 1st class though and Camilla Luddington deserves a lot of cerdit in bringing this new Lara to life. If they do plan on making a new TR movie I hope they consider her for the role as I don't think she'd let them down but I digress all in all a good game just needs more puzzle less QTE to be perfect.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2013
I am THE fan of Tomb Raider games and have played them all. I was so looking forward to this latest one, especially after a life-time of waiting - so it seemed. But oh dear...

I have been playing it for days now and have gone some way into the story, enough to know it is not going to improve. Tomb Raider was about brains, using your intelligence to solve puzzles, whilst outwitting an occasional bear or monster. This new Tomb Raider is nothing more than a "shoot-em up". Time was when Lara would saunter along to a tomb, find a puzzle, have a sit down so she could get out her flask and sandwiches for time to think about it, then after a bit of working it out - solve the clever puzzle and on to the next one. A game of brains not brawn.

I am sorry to say that there are, after hours of playing and killing scores of baddies, not one puzzle. There are NO properly hidden or even slightly tricky doors, as everything is "sign-posted" for the player. Lara just shoots and keeps on shooting until the end.

I remember an earlier game where she was in Venice and the bodies there quickly piled up, that was bad enough. All this shooting constantly is boring.

So before you buy, bear in mind this is another Call of Duty or Max Payne with the main character's sex changed to resemble a female.
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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2013
So, I think the last time I played a Tomb Raider game must have been...phwoar...10 years ago.

I do however, recall Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider 2 being 2 games in just a half-dozen or so that introduced me into gaming back in the mid-90s. There are scenes from both games that will live with me forever. The first icey cave your run into and the wolves attack. The first swan-dive. The first Raptor. The first T-Rex. Running around in the jungles of India killing Tigers etc (was that TR 3 maybe?). Venice and the wooden boats. Ahh. Memories.

I still have a Voodoo graphics card box up in my attic that has, I think, Tomb Raider 2 on the cover (Lara stood on a rock with a waterfall behind her if I recall). I confess to missing out on the "newer" versions of Tomb Raider, those made for the latest generation of consoles etc, but, Lara has always held a nostalgic place in my heart.

And now, she's finally back.

So, has Crystal Dynamics delivered? Is Tomb Raider worthy of Lara's icon? Has the wait been worth it?

Yes. Yes it has.

Now, it's easy to get sucked into reviewing a game with 5 stars on the day of its' release. You're excited. You over-react.

So, realistically, I'm giving this game 4 stars.

I'm not going to delve into the game's story, due to spoilers of course, but also because you can get a synopsis of the game's intro by reading a wikipedia page, can't you?

One thing that bugs me, is people complaining that Lara is more realistic. She's more relateable. They want her to be some sort of badass that just goes on killing sprees. Right. Okay. Good for you?

This is a PREQUEL. Lara is 21. This is her first adventure. Her origins story. This is the first time she's ever fought for her life. The first time she's had to kill.

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GRAPHICS
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Now. Graphically, on the PC, this game is truly, TRULY stunning. At 1920x1080, everything on Ultra, this game will test your machine as much as, say, Battlefield 3.

Granted I play on a custom-built laptop, but my specs are:

Intel i7 3840QM @ 2.8ghz Quad Core
16GB DDR3 RAM @1600mhz
Nvidia GTX 680m 4GB DDR5.
Crucial V4 256gb SSD.

I have everything on Ultra, AA off, teselation off, and I get 40(lowest I saw)-70fps.

Battlefield 3 gets 70fps with lows of about 30, so yes, the new Tomb Raider is relatively taxing once you wack up the detail.

I tried all the settings on low, just to see how it looked, and it still looks pretty darn great.

The level of detail of the characters, particularly Lara, the environment (except the water, that for some reason is toned down and barely ripples when you walk through it...disappointing I guess. It moves and sways of course, but the surface is..."flat" and doesn't really react to collisions on objects or Lara herself), is fantastic.

Artistically, Crystal Dynamics have gone for a darker, grittier feel, and it shows everywhere. Lara gets covered in mud mixed with blood that washes off in the rain. Early on, she gets pretty badly injured and you constantly see and hear her pain and struggling.

Her infalted air-bags are gone, kind of, but Lara looks like a young woman perfectly portioned with curves in the right places. Hot-pants are now cargo pants, and her vest covers her belly finally. She's still very, very sexy, so retains her sex symbol status in gaming, but she's far more realistic now.

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AUDIO
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Crystal Dynamics have truly hit the jackpot with Camilla Ludington. Not only did she do all the motion capture, she is the new voice of Lara.

Quintisentially British as always, with this being an Origin story and Lara's first adventure at just 21, her performance and that of all cast members is superb.

Lara is alot more vocal in this entry, and will constantly be making noise of exersion when she jumps or grabs a ledge, will shout with pain, will tremble in confined spaces or when she faces any form of environmental danger.

Trees sway, birds chirp, wolves howl in the distance. You're in the wild, alone with nothing but Lara's wits and inner drive to survive.

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GAMEPLAY
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Standard 3rd Person action here. Camera behind. The usual Tomb Raider controls with some new aspects thrown in. Ledges where you slip require you to hit a certain key in the allocated time or Lara will fall and, inevitably, die due to the sheer drop below her.

Combat is completely revamped. No more hopping around with 2 pistols on auto-lock and infinite ammo. This is far more realistic, and stays in 3rd person throughout.

Uncharted and Gears of War comes to mind when you're firing, but hey, how else can you do action in a 3rd person game?

The bow and arrow add an element of stealth to the game, which is actually the prefered way for Lara to move around. She can now crouch and hide behind objects. Choke foes to death from behind. Arrows can be used as distractions, but rather worryingly, arrows seem to be available a bit too much. To the point where just an hour or so in, I was thinking "why are there so many arrows around here?" Get into a gunfight and Lara for sure can hold her own, BUT, she's very fragile, even on normal difficulty.

As expected in games these days, the "entry level" thugs at the start are your typical selection of only-wearing-a-shirt-for-protection bad guys with AKs. Easy to taunt and trick. These do get replaced with heavy-armour wearing foes with shotguns and LMGs later on, with some riot shields thrown in as well to mix up your tactics mid-fight, and for the most part the AI holds its' own. They'll spot you if you're not hiding properly, yet don't have eagle vision either to make it unfair.

Lara can eaves-drop on foes and some humorous dialogue can be heard, as you crouch in the shadows (aka behind a low brick wall in the bushes).

Weapons can be upgraded through parts you find in the world, to repair your bow, your AK47, your shotgun etc, from the rusted pirates' version to a shinier, more accurate and damaging version (standard stuff in gaming).

These upgrades are done at "camps" you find in each area of the island, where you can rest up, catch your breath, fast-travel and perform said upgrades.

Collectibles throughout the world give you an incentive to re-visit areas (often with different weather too) and gain XP to give yourself new moves and better upgrades etc, so the camp quick-travel is always useful.

In my opinion, there are too many Quick Time Events causing button mashing, but the I've never been a fan of them. Also, a few too many "cutscenes" where you have no control of the awesome moments.

Some of the QTEs are exhilirating, such as using your shotgun to blow away wooden obstacles as you crash down raging rivers (and these parts of the game REQUIRE weapon upgrades before you acces them).

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CONCLUSION
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After a long write with not enough detail no doubt, I can honestly say this is the one, latest game in the series that is worth a purchase, just because it gives you an insight into who Lara is and how she became the legend.

It's darker, it's gritier, it's rated 18, and it's a well-told, emotional ride.

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ANNOYANCES
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I have only 2 so far.

First off, there is a bug that is kind of irritating.

When you grab a ledge or have a button to hit, it shows you which button to hit, otherwise you fall and die, or the object crushes you etc. Well...it usually shows you what button to hit, but not always. You die. Reload, try again, and there's the button you have to hit on the screen. Weird. But it does it numerous times, which is annoying, but hardly game-breaking.

Also, Lara's attitude changes FAR too quickly from scared woman to killing machine.

Her first kill (ie, ever), is a dramatic moment that will live long in a gamer's memory. It's horrifying. It's partly a rape scene. Lara's emotions are so relateable after she kills her first person. She breaks down. She's on her knees, dropping the gun in horror at what she has done.

It's a powerful, unforgetable moment.

...but then 5 minutes later, she's slaying men left and right.

It's not that the scene was bad or unrequired, it just seems they pushed the moment so hard but then showed no emotion about it from then on.

This is a problem in games these days, and it's just story-telling being badly done. Far Cry 3 did it. Jason Brody is a teenager. Never fired a gun. Kills someone for the first time, it's horrific for him, sure, but again, 5 minutes later, he's using an AK47 like he's a trained killer.

I kind of wish developers would ease us into being so proficient with weapons in a better way, especially when it's obvious the character has had no training at all.

It's a nitpick some will agree and disagree on I guess.

It's not a 4. It's not a 5. It's a 4.5.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The iconic game of the 1990s, Tomb Raider gets a complete reboot in today's immersive HD graphics with a substantially enhanced storyline and vastly smoother gameplay. However, at only 15 hours playing time, it's a bit short.

I loved Tomb Raider I, can't remember much about Tomb Raider II and III, and absolutely adored The Last Revelation. After that, Legend and Angel of Darkness were ok, but by the time we reached Underworld the graphics were so far behind other games that it was like a retro experience.

Tomb Raider 2013 aka Definitive Edition completely reboots the series with a strong story driven plot, graphics that approach a high-end animated feature, impressive interactions with the environment, and, for the first time, a story-line that makes sense from beginning to end.

Thinking back to the very first Tomb Raider, it was always a bit odd that someone had left health packs lying around a deserted tomb (and this carried on right up to Underworld), that everything ran out of bullets except pistols, which never did (this was eventually abandoned), and that weapons and ammunition were left liberally lying around for Lara to acquire. Of course, with the then-iconic but now low-res graphics of the original games, this was just one of the conventions of first-person shooters that we always accepted. Or how about this? Lara Croft is supposed to be an archaeologist, but she casually smashes any kind of ancient pot she finds, just to see if it might contain a health pack or some treasure. Oh, and the guns aim themselves.

The new Tomb Raider is a masterpiece of thinking things through. We're on an island rather like Lost or that long-forgotten and little lamented series Bermuda Triangle. Ships get wrecked, planes and helicopters crash. What's more, a lunatic has been organising his own private army as he attempts some shocking occult ritual. Once you've accepted the premise, everything else fits into place. There's a valid reason for ammunition left lying around in some places, and, in other places, it just isn't there. Lara gradually finds bits to upgrade her weapons. There are no health packs. If she takes too much damage, she dies. Otherwise, she can recover. She even has to eat (though this gets forgotten later in the story). And, although she's only a beginner archaeologist, she really does have a reverence for what she finds, and there's quite a lot of educational value in the the relics themselves.

If this sounds all too worthy, it isn't. There's plenty of fighting for survival, you have to aim every shot, and the short cuts scenes when the bad guys get you are truly stomach curdling.

Story wise, this is a really solid adventure, though, to my mind, it doesn't have quite the apocalyptic ominousness of The Last Revelation. A lot of work has been put into interactions with the other characters, though this means that so many clues are left that you've worked out what's going on long before Lara has (though, to be fair, she is fighting for her survival). The graphics are simply amazing, though the times when rain falls on 'the lens' may feel a little overdone. We have day and night, thunderstorms (lots of them), mist, fog, slimy water, fire, and all kinds of other things which behave in the game rather like they would in real life. It all looks and feels like you're almost there.

There are just a couple of downsides. The story is quite short. Serious gamers will be through it in a flash. Also, there's far too much help. This may be there to make it accessible for a new generation of Tomb Raider fans, but, apart from one or two GPS caches and a couple of the tombs, you should never be really stuck in the way that the first four games could hold you back. By comparison, the fights are really difficult. Ok, I had accidentally knocked the settings onto 'difficult' the first time I played through, but even if you put it on easy, the combat is significantly more challenging than the puzzles. Likewise, in certain scenes you have to do little more than press the button when it tells you to.

The other thing is that the Tombs themselves are strictly optional. You can play right the way to the end without entering even one of them. Thankfully you can go back and finish them all up afterwards, as well as finding the GPS caches and taking on a variety of challenges, but by that point you have nothing riding on it. A lot of the things you've got to go through in the storyline are tomb-like, but the makers have clearly decided to differentiate 'tombs', which are physical puzzle based optional explorations, from the main story, whose difficulties are mainly finding your way around and fighting off the bad guys. This gives the game an ever so slightly bitty feel.

With all that said, this is an amazing, brilliant, utterly immersive game which is graphically further ahead of its predecessor Underworld than Underworld is ahead of the original game.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2013
Although this is a Square Enix game the reputation of them making what was originally great games into very much a load of dung and looked ten times as worse, has thankfully not rubbed off on this installment of Lara. To summaries the game, it is about a much younger and less confident Lara finding her place in life. Basically, hanging from a roof or dangling in the middle of a strange and bloody room. After a storm that destroyed her ship, Lara and the crew are left stranded on an island and she has to protect them and herself from mad people who have been marooned there as well, basically the average day at the airport check in. As I have stated earlier, this is a very beautiful game, graphically, and Square Enix has done a very good job on the environment and character design. Lara now looks even more like a real life model and her motions are for the most part realistic. Animation is very well done and rather realistic. But, and this is a very big but, the areas that Tomb Raider that took me out of the immersion was partly the game play and the story line. The main story is really good I do not doubt that but the niggling story arc is what takes me out of that world. An example is when Lara kills a deer and she is very emotional about taking a life, another example is when she has to kill a guy lying there trapped. In both scenarios, Lara starts it by apologising to the deer before delivering the final blow. After that cutscene, when I killed the next 15 deers, 20 rabbits and 30 crows, Lara just shrugs it off. So for those that really want a deep story, it is there but there are little things that if you do pay attention to, can take you out of the experience. Next problem is the game play. I like the puzzles, it actually makes me think of the solution rather than force the solution down my throat. The problem is the cover based shooting. You do do quite a bit of cover based shooting, the other option is to come out of cover, but if you go on any other difficulty other than easy, Lara swiftly becomes recommissioned as a sieve.So for those who thought that the combat would be very deep and innovative, well it is about as innovative as a sponge. But I still like it. The star rating system doesn't really mean much it just means that I enjoyed it. For those who want to know whether they may like it will have to play the game themselves and I suggest that people do.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2013
I haven't enjoyed a game so much in a long time. I was a fan of the original Tomb Raider games, and while this isn't quite in the same vein it's still an incredible game. Where to start?

First of all, if you're not a fan that's okay. There are a few subtle references to Lara's later character, but just enough to give old-school player a buzz.

The characters in the story were very engaging and realistic. There's lots of emotion which can be felt through the game and everything from expressions and voice acting to how a character moves helps to build on their personality. Lara's character really develops, starting as a scared little girl that she is and gradually turning into a hardcore survivor, as she's better known. The events of this game really show how she became such a beast!

I have gotten used to the movement style in the Assassin's Creed and Batman games - essentially, free run and hope for the best. Tomb Raider has maintained something like the old movement system, though much smoother. You have to time jumps and dodges just right, and you have to put in a bit more; such as having to grab onto an edge before you slip if you fall a bit short. It's not exactly a revolutionary system, but it requires a bit more thought and care. There are also periodic "escape runs" such as when escaping from a falling building or a crumbling cave, which I found very enjoyable because they give you a real thrill.

Also, you DO NOT want to let Lara die. Generally it's not bad if she's killed in combat, but some of the death animations are really brutal, too brutal for my liking. I suppose it's an incentive to keep her alive, but I felt that some of the impaling deaths, for example, were over the top. However the other adult theme in the story is bad language. There's a fair bit of it, but I felt it was justified in a way. The atmosphere creates a tension which is heightened by the language - it makes it seem more harsh and gritty. Plus the added thrill when in a combat situation we see Lara's Croft side showing through: "Oh s***, she's got a machine gun!" "That's right! Run, you bas***ds!"

The visuals were very good through out the game. There are spooky caves and tombs which can be REALLY creepy, but some of the open air wrecks and ruins are really pretty in their own way. One area in particular is hundreds of scrapped planes and ships knocked together to make giant towers way above the tree line. They're really ramshackle, but for some reason it's beautiful - look at me, getting soppy. Rest assured, great visuals which really help with creating the desired atmosphere.

Puzzle solving was a major aspect of the old games, and it's returned. The main story has a few interactive puzzles scattered along the way, none very difficult. The more challenging ones are in the tombs, which can be accessed at breaks in the main story. I thought this was a very good idea - it frees up the storyline so as not to slow down gameplay, but there's the added challenge to those who want it. My experience so far is that they're not quite as tough as some of the puzzles in the original games, but they're generally enough to make you chew them over a bit.

One thing that I really enjoy in a game is an upgrade system; it gives me the feeling that I'm actively being rewarded for my exploits. And Tomb Raider has a very good one. XP points are gained by killing enemies, exploring area, looting salvage, etc. and when you have enough you can buy skills in whichever area you feel most comfortable, like combat or agility. By looting enemies and finding stashes around the map, you can collect salvage for upgrading weapons. The system is very flexible and it is entirely up to the player.

I haven't spent much time on the multiplayer, but it seems to be pretty standard. Level up system by gaining XP, weapon upgrades as you go along, get more characters at higher levels. The usual. There are different gaming modes, but essentially boils down to mostly Survivor vs Solarii team matches. It's pretty fun, but personally I found it a bit bit hard to get into because everyone else is far more superior for having played longer.

This game is brilliant. I was engaged the whole way through and loved the way it played. It was a reminder of all the hours I spent on Tomb Raider years ago, whilst still being a great game in its own right. This is how reboots should be made, and I can't wait for the next instalment!

PS. PC gamers, this ran really well (better than I expected) on my rig: Intel Pentium G630 2.7GHz CPU, 8GB RAM and GTX 560 Ti running Windows 8.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Tomb Raider is a fresh reboot of the series of the same name, discarding the continuity built up over the previous eight games in favour of a fresh take on the premise and the central character of Lara Croft. Croft was very much a child of the 1990s: ballsy, confident, arrogant and a bit cartoonish. Her fresh incarnation is younger, constantly doubting herself and doesn't know how to chamber a round, let alone how to dive around dual-wielding pistols and shooting tigers. This is, much as it pains me to say it, a 'gritty and more realistic take on the character'.

Tomb Raider is a curious hybrid of several game types. It's a third-person action game with a linear story, but which keeps the map open, allowing you to revisit previous areas to find more resources and new locations, once you have unlocked new equipment later in the game which allows you scale previously-inaccessible cliffs and blast open hitherto-invulnerable blockades. It isn't an open-world game - the island is portrayed as an interlocking series of explorable zones, not a wide-open space like the recent Far Cry 3 - but it throws in enough nods at an open world structure to make for an interesting hybrid. The semi-open-world structure makes for a curious incompatibility with the game's storyline, however, which is almost always urgently demanding you rush to the next objective and complete the next mission. This urgency is diminished when Lara decides to spend 2 hours painstakingly combing a forest for GPS trackers and magic mushrooms. Doing these side-objectives is important as it gives you more experience points which you can use to improve Lara's abilities, and also gives you more salvage to upgrade your weapons and equipment with.

Lara is a fairly athletic character, able to scale vertical walls with the help of an improvised pickaxe, jump large distances and shimmy all over the place on rope bridges, some of which you create yourself by using a bow and rope-arrows. The game signposts where you can use these tools - literally by using a special view mode which highlights all usable objects in an area in bright yellow - but it can be fun seeing your destination and working out how to get there using the tools at your disposal. Tomb Raider is at its best when you have control for long periods and are given objectives without being hand-held through the whole thing. This is best exemplified by the optional tombs, which Lara has to explore (or 'raid', if you will) through her own ingenuity. Unfortunately, these tombs tend to revolve around one puzzle each and most of them about about 50 feet across in size, making them more like the 'dungeons' from Skyrim that consist of one winding passage and two rooms than substantial locations in their own right. Still, the idea is good.
There is also quite a lot of combat, initially against animals (though, sadly, not tigers) and later on against human opponents. The gaming media has gone rather overboard in praising the scene in which Lara overcomes her first human opponent, kills him and then expresses realistic feelings of shock, panic and revulsion at having to do such a thing. All of this is effective in the moment, but undercut by Lara blowing away hordes of attacking nutcases literally a minute later without any qualms at all. By the endgame, in which Lara has to taken on an entire army of attackers in a temple forecourt spanning multiple levels and featuring tons of explosive barrels you can detonate to obliterate half a dozen foes at a time, this moral disconnect between story and gameplay has become absurd. Entertaining, certainly, but the game's musings on the desensitisation of killing and possible symptoms of PTSD ultimately feel like a sop to critics of videogame violence more than any real desire to explore the issues in depth (something else it shares with Far Cry 3).

When the game stops wangsting about this stuff, it's often excellent. The freeform stuff is very good. Unfortunately, the main storyline is corncheese. It starts off trying to be grim and gritty and realistic, but by the end it's become an out-and-out fantasy involving undead creatures and spirit beings. Major story beats are transmitted through either cut scenes or particularly tedious Quick Time Events. The game's use of QTEs is obnoxious and over-the-top, taking over from the proper gameplay all too often. So do cut scenes, which are not differentiated from the gameplay either, often with the camera retaining its standard position over Lara's sholder, meaning (particularly in the first hour or so) that sometimes they end and the player has no way of knowing they're back in control until they die. Also, the game's moment of victory is in a cut scene rather than through player agency, which is a completely unfathomable decision. The less said about the supporting cast - Lara's fellow castaways who are only around to get rescued or provide awful dialogue about why Lara's next plan is going to fail despite her last three working fine and saving all their live - the better as well. From a technical standpoint, the graphics are excellent (despite the odd glitch), the controls are smooth, responsive and fully customisable (and you can remap the Enter key, which is awesome and inexplicably rare these days) and overall the game is fun to play.

The problems prevent Tomb Raider (****) from achieving its full potential. The game's curious mixture of Far Cry freeform jungle stuff (including hunting and skinning animals), Prince of Persia style puzzle-solving using the equipment available, enjoyable combat (including one of the best and most natural cover systems I've seen in a game) and tons of bonus objectives all makes for an excellent gaming experience. But that experience is undercut by the game wrestling control away from you all too-often for indifferently-written cut scenes and repetitive Quick Time Events. When the game lets you play it how you want to, rather than how it wants to, it's superb.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2013
I been pc gaming for 25 years I love games, I love the ideas and atmosphere they invoke.I love to show mates how to improvise for a great take down of a creature. I really liked the original Tomb raider for its ease of play and fluid build up of difficulty.
Dont get me wrong the graphics are beautiful and in parts its visually entertaining. It cinematic style is on par with many of the current crop of games. there are many things to commend.
However it is totally ruined and I mean ruined by it set piece fight ambushes where you "fight" a big wolf or a mad bloke or what ever. There is no skill needed for these encounters they cant be avoided in most cases. You cant run you cant use a weapon or improvise in any way you just have to hits keys in order. This is not only frustrating, it boring really boring. It takes no skill I'm sure there are a few people I wont call them gamers who like this mindless rubbish in their games. For me it just is stupidity its self to see a game with a good story line and atmosphere made boring by silly ideas which should never of appeared in the final game. It doesn't need it and makes the game unplayable with all enjoyment sucked out of it. Another minor point is Laura being winey after a fight in an unconfident manner which is just slows down the game and is just ends up plain annoying.
I for one like many of my friends wont be buying the add ons or any sequels. avoid
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2014
The game is what I would expect but the crap that goes along with it is mind blowing. You have to register it through a third party STEAM. After spending half my life filling in endless form on their site I was ready to play. It prompts you to play online with other people ...............Not interested..........It guides you to visit their site to see latest games.............not interested. Then I had to re-register it and go through a load of crap again..... In the end I took the game and all of the add on crap from steam off my computer so to sum up, a waste of money ..........shame I was looking forward to it.
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