When Tomb Raider was first announced, I was immediately excited. Tomb Raider was one of those first generation PlayStation games that really made the system the best in its class. With a Crystal Dynamics developed, Square Enix published gritty reboot, I thought it was all Tomb Raider could've been with greatly reduced hardware limitations. With a fresh new take, all new game mechanics, and wonderfully rendered environments and characters, it was everything I thought it could be.
Let's dig right into the meat of it - how does Tomb Raider play? Unsurprisingly, a lot like Uncharted. Is it better than Uncharted? In some ways, it is. Oh, and this review is going to sort of be like an Uncharted VS Tomb Raider thing simply because it's the closest game I can compare it to.
Platforming has always been one of the key focus points of the Tomb Raider franchise, and it was utilized very well in this game. As expected, you could climb walls, grab ledges, go down zip lines and it all works very well. None of it's too frustrating, although there are times when you'd just straight up when you swear you were leaning to the right. It happens sometimes, but not game breaking. This aspect of the game is very similar to Uncharted, though you have more freedom with Tomb Raider.
What I love about it is that you actually get that tingly feeling at the bottom of your feet every time Lara's in a high place, and trust me, the game gives you plenty of opportunities to to do just that.
Combat is solid. For someone who hasn't killed before, Lara Croft can pull off headshot after headshot with any weapon with a little bit of practice. Each weapon has a place and time of use when the fighting starts, though for a big chunk of the game, the pistol seems like the least useful weapon since you can pop heads off with the bow and arrow or the rifle. For melee, I find it quite ridiculous how Lara can dodge practically every physical attack thrown at her and counter-attack with the same arrow to the knee/face move every single time.
Fighting isn't necessarily confined to those two aspects, though. There is certainly enough variety to keep you entertained - fire bows, grenade launchers, incendiary shells and stealth kills, too. Lara has finishers and stealth kills that will scare the ever-loving daylights out of Nathan Drake.
Overall combat, I'd give the edge for variety and brutality and fun to Tomb Raider, especially the gunplay. For fisticuffs, I still liked Uncharted's mechanics a little better. For difficulty, I'd easily give it to Uncharted. Even at Tomb Raider's highest difficulty setting, the game still didn't feel hard enough.
Upgrading stuff is pretty straightforward. I like how you can upgrade your weapon by finding salvage and finding parts. It makes sense, in its own weird make-an-entirely-new-shotgun-out-of-an-old-shotgun-and-spare-parts kind of way. It really gives that survivor vibe to the whole game. By the end of the campaign, Lara will be armed with the most badass rickety armory this side of Fallout 3.
Like any good adventure game in an open platform, puzzles play a very big role in exploration, progression and secret unlocking. I found most, if not all, puzzles to be way too easy. The Batman: Arkham Asylum-like "Survival Instincts" ability made solutions feel like they were spoon-fed to you, but you'd still feel pretty clever after figuring out how they all fit together.
Can't be a Tomb Raider game without some treasures and tombs to raid, yeah? Secrets are plenty and the game doesn't make them frustrating to find, which is good. Who has time to search every nook and cranny of a game environment anyhow?
TL;DR: The game is really fun, and it feels like Uncharted only different.
Tomb Raider has got to be one of the best looking games on consoles from this generation. Outdoor environments were lush and alive, especially when there's water and rain around. The indoor environments were less impressive but the scale and grandeur and age of various locations gave a very distinct feel for each. Lara Croft was especially amazing. Not only is her character model spectacular, but her design is great, as well. You can't deny that Lara Croft of old was a highly sexualized character. This Lara Croft was sexy and appealing without over-sexualizing the character.
If you were running the game on a PC on an AMD GPU, you could enable Tress FX and the experience would be surreal.
And as good as the graphics were, the sound was just as amazing. Sound effects were visceral and real. Even the gunfire sounded authentic. Ambient music really set a very eerie tone, almost giving it a survival horror vibe, and it'd keep you on the edge of your seat.
Camilla Luddington did a fantastic job as Lara Croft. Her performance was just outstanding! Heh, almost as good as Nolan North. Her script was tight, too. Unfortunately, we can't say that about the rest of the characters. Almost everyone is a stereotype and due to their limited screen times, are one dimensional. You got the big islander guy, the sniveling scientist, the hard ass black lady, the hipster. Only Roth and Lara are fleshed out nicely.
And that makes you feel bad every time Lara dies. Plus, the death scenes are just intense! Mortal Kombat's got nothing on Lara Croft.
TL;DR: This game is visually and audibly astounding. Lara's awesome.
Tomb Raider is a prequel to the original PS1 Tomb Raider. It's sort of like a soft reboot in a way. The game sees a young Lara Croft, already a feisty archeologist, discover that the world isn't as normal as she would like to believe. This adventure gives her the teeth and the fire in her belly to start going all over the world discovering secrets that she once thought were merely myth. This game is where Lara Croft truly becomes Lara Croft. Sounds simple enough, eh? It's not exactly an origin story, though; there's a whole other plot that revolves around Lara's growth. In fact, it's what forces Lara to come out of her shell and go down the path of a mass murderer.
The plot is just tops.
Granted that the MP isn't the focus of this game, it still doesn't make it any less disappointing. The multiplayer is, by far, the weakest aspect of an otherwise stellar game. With all the lagging, the game is damn near unplayable. Everybody teleports erratically and hit detection is weird. I swear I was stabbing some guy in the face repeatedly and he gets no damage. Next thing I know, he was halfway across the map in an instant, shooting arrows at me. Ugh. If you want GOOD multiplayer, go play Uncharted instead.
Since about 30% of the trophies of this game are on multiplayer, it doesn't seem likely that I'll get the platinum on this game any time soon.
Despite the MP sucking hard, the single player campaign is fun, engaging and highly immersive. I would be shocked if there isn't a sequel. C'mon, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix, give it to us.
Screenshots are from: Tomb Raider forums