TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 24 March 2013
The newest release of Tomb Raider boasts an origin tale for heroine Lara Croft, leaving her a far (but refreshing) cry from the kick-ass large-breasted sex symbol she had been famed for. The story begins with a fresh faced twenty-one year old Lara, newly graduated from university and intending to make her mark in the archaeological field.
Bookish, headstrong, and still quite green, Lara has her ideal first expedition marked out on the lost island of Yamatai in Japan, and with a slightly cautious and alarmed crew, sets out for her first adventure. Lara's determination that their ship, The Endurance, goes through the Dragon's Triangle, leads them into the eye of a brutal storm that leaves the ship stranded on on a beach in Yamatai thick with several other shipwrecks.
Separated from the expedition, badly wounded and terrified, the recently graduated archaeologist, Lara Croft finds no option but to fight for survival when unknown assailants attempt to kill her without mercy. It soon becomes evident that although they have managed to reach the island, the storms that cloud the skies prevent anyone from ever departing. A complex story of mystical powers and a sun queen begin to unravel as Lara tries to desperately solve the mystery of Himiko's curse and why the storms prevent survivors from leaving the island.
The gameplay is a mix of combat (very little melee, mostly gun heavy, although there is also archery to toy with), puzzle solving (all very easy though), and logical thinking. The game follows every closely with Naughty Dog's "Uncharted" series, although the maps in this game are more 'sandbox' (you don't just get forced to always follow a linear path).
Unlike the previous games, in this game, you get to 'build' Lara from scratch by gaining experience points hunting enemies and animals, solving puzzles and finding collectables (journals that expand on pieces of the story, for instance). Once Lara has gained enough experience, you can choose from three lists of skills she can expand on which help her progression as a better marksman, or make her a little more tolerance to being bashed about when falling while climbing. In addition, Lara can also salvage scrap from looting supply boxes, dead bodies, or looting animals she's killed. The salvage accumulates and once she has a decent collection of it, she can upgrade her weapons or tools so that they can help her further explore.
Although this is called "Tomb Raider", in actuality, there are very few actual "tombs" that Lara gets to explore and raid (perhaps one or two per map). The lack of tombs and exploring hidden treasures was very disappointing for the game, I thought, as each tomb was relatively tiny and fast to complete, involving very little climbing or problem solving at all. In fact, most of the logic puzzles in the game were far easier than I had expected and took no more than a minute or so of thinking to get past (people who hate having to look online for walkthroughs and solutions when getting stuck on levels will no doubt love this though).
All in all, the game was enjoyable, but it could have been better. It's a good starting point, it's going in the right direction, but it still needs a few tweaks in the gameplay and definitely more to explore.
As with most games in the same genre, this game also has a multiplayer option available if you have the internet hooked up to your PS3. Multiplayer isn't too much different than any other action game, various modes of play and various things to unlock although it has no modes that are special to new players (no tutorial or ranking for lower levels). Being thrown to the level 50 players as a level one is quite a challenge, and you'll spend more time loading and respawning than you will playing, making it quite a disappointing introduction into the multiplayer part of the game.
Overall, the game is worth buying, but it is over far too quickly. I received it on Wednesday afternoon, and a few nights worth of playing it is all it took to complete (completed it Saturday night). Completing it in a few nights includes the 100% completion of all collectables (in fact, about six hours of gameplay was dedicated to looking for collectables alone, which felt like more than I'd spent getting through the campaign). It was definitely not as epic as I expected it to be.
I definitely found the new build of Lara Croft a much more realistic looking one than the previous version the developers had always chosen for her. She is no longer a scantily clad buxom lass leaping from ledge to ledge. Her figure is more athletic (less busty), her face is more childlike, and her hair is not unrealistically long. An interesting feature added into the game is that the further you progress through the levels/maps, Lara's entire image changes more and more each time. As the game begins, Lara appears to us pristine with perfect skin, pretty, and hair in perfect place, yet as the game goes on, you find more and more dirt smudges and bruises showing, bloodied wounds, and eventually you start seeing deep-looking scars on her skin that really give her new look character. One can't help that due to the scars she was covered with by the end of the game, that her outfit in future games will be full cover and less cleavage than ever before!
The only thing I think that really irked me about the whole game though I have to admit was the voice acting. Other than the very few American characters, the rest of the voice actors were clearly over-acting and forcing their accents to be even thicker than they would normally be resulting in each line of dialogue to be cringe worthy and distracting. The actress who portrayed Lara I felt was a bit of a poor choice; some people found her tone a little whiny and pathetic and I can understand where this comes from, as every time she falls, bumps herself or gets hit, she cries out, screams or yells, and it gets old rather fast when you hear it over and over again. As far as her dialogue went, I found every line coming out sounding unnatural and forced, as if she were reading from a piece of paper; found it every hard to warm to her...she sounded almost as if she were in a trance.
All in all, a good game that has potential, and is definitely a step in the right direction. From what I hear, the developers are already working on the sequel game for PS4, and hopefully, "Tomb Raider" will be raiding more tombs next time around.