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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grappling with mediocrity, 2 April 2013
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
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This review is from: Tomb Raider (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
After three relatively successful titles on next-gen consoles;Anniversary, Legend and Underworld, Crystal Dynamics has done what many in the video game publishing world have been offering up lately, a reboot. Is it a radical overhaul or does some of the mystique of old win out?

The opening is very effective in helping transition the change in theme, Lara Croft is now much less of a sex symbol and much more of a feisty, strong woman who will fall between pillar and post (literally), to keep her friends safe. Briefly, the story puts Lara on a trip with her expedition crew mates aboard the Endurance, where most of the crew seem generally content. This changes when they get to the island of Yamatai, where survival and discovery of are of utmost importance. The story is one of the highlights with a diverse cast of characters, where trinkets and notes can be found throughout the game to further enhance the story. Cutscenes were never embedded in Tomb Raider's past, particularly on last-gen consoles but take on a much bigger role in the game here. This isn't surprising given the technological advances since that time but it all works well together as a package.

On the other hand, one of the main criticisms that could be levied at the game is the constant "holding hands" approach. Moreover, quick time events are implemented into some cutscences which is frustrating as it is lazy on the part of the developers. It's not the first time it's been done and won't be the last, but it's entirely based on timing as opposed to skill, which if failed results in you having to try again. It is limited in it's incorporation thankfully, but is still relatively unnecessary and an annoyance because of its inclusion.

This is not "classic" Tomb Raider and that is apparent not long from the outset. Everything is now done for the player from the jumps to the "survival hints" which essentially tell you what to do. Square Enix more recently has used this method of gameplay in their other titles such as Hitman Absolution and Sleeping Dogs. In theory, it makes the game much less frustrating and a game that you are much more likely to see through to the end. However, at it's worst it does take the challenge out of the game and what you have is a watered down experience.

Unfortunately, that is the case here from the easy combat even on "hard" to the puzzles which aren't really anything of the sort. There are tombs to raid but they're far more in the mould of Assassin's Creed than they are the Tomb Raider's of yesteryear. Even that would be a stretch as these sections can be completed in mere minutes with little difficulty or sense of reward other than a ton of XP. Leveling up is a big part of the game, for upgrading weapons and skills. Again, this is distinctly not Tomb Raider but it does work in making the game even easier when difficulty was already soft to begin with.

The biggest target for criticism would be the multiplayer which is a new addittion which seemed "tacked on" to the loyal fan base. The fan base is largely correct as the multiuplayer is functional which believe it or not is a positive as some publishers can't even get that right, the now defunct THQ springs to mind. There are four basic multiplayer modes; Team Deathmatch, Free for All, Rescue and Cry for Help. The last two despite their titles are pretty much capture the flag variants with one team looking for supplies, whilst the other team is looking to stop them. The music is bad in multiplayer, for some reason with a reoccurring Spitfire noise which drones throughout the mode being of particular nuisance. In addition, grinding achievements were added which include having to "prestige" three times in order to obtain every character and a certain achievement. This is completely unnecessary and may have been engineered to deliberately wind you up...or perhaps not, but deeply flawed design nevertheless.

Graphics 9 Beautiful vistas and environments, it all looks the part.
Sound 8 Decent and a good story, the multiplayer is another tale though with cheap and tiresome one liners with a bland and grating orchestral soundtrack.
Gameplay 6 Super easy and lacking ambition it does not go back to its roots, even if that was admittedly unlikely.
Lifespan 7 The single player quest is probably around 8-10 hours which is standard. The multiplayer is upwards of 20-30 hours but loses its attraction long before.

Tomb Raider is not a bad game, far from it. Whilst the criticism has been scathing throughout this review, there are positives such as the story and while it is super easy the combat does work effectively. It's perhaps expecting too much from this reset, as always in video games it now seems to be more about evolution rather than revolution. For Tomb Raider fans of old this serves up a disappointment but for newcomers to the series there will be lots to like and certainly a foundation platform for further iterations. 7/10.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Apr 2013 19:41:27 BDT
JonP says:
A very fair review.

As far as the single player game goes I completely agree (not tried the multiplayer yet) - it is very well done and fun to play, BUT compared to the older games it's far too easy.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Apr 2013 09:25:08 BDT
Thank you for the feedback. It's good to know that I'm not the only one that thinks that things have been watered down in this newest version.
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Location: Lossiemouth, Scotland, UK

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