Tomb Raider has been part of our gaming culture for quite some time. The first game came out nearly twenty years ago. Since then the franchise has taken quite a nose dive in terms of quality.The majority of the games aren’t that good. Since then, Nathan Drake has taken over most of the treasure hunting and adventuring in the Uncharted franchise. No one has really cared about Lara Croft or Tomb Raider for the most part of 10 years, even though they still put out more than six games in that time. The only one that really made an impact was 2013’s reboot, Tomb Raider.
Tomb Raider is a lot of fun, the game does the important things right. Controlling Lara is great, she moves in a very fluid and realistic way. If you jump off a high cliff or building she’ll stumble as she lands while continuing the forward momentum. Which in turns makes a large portion of the game a joy to play. Square Enix made a vital decision in creating an open world for the players to explore and run around in. Another important aspect of the game is the upgrading your skills and equipment. Some games shoehorn these role-playing aspects into their games, but with Tomb Raider it makes sense since you’re controlling a young Lara Croft who is growing with experience every time you do something new in the game.
For the most part, this game is great. But it relies too heavily on gimmicks that it constantly repeats throughout the game. For instance, every time it seems Lara is about to fall to her death she lands on that one wooden plank that somehow doesn’t fall apart, even though every other plank around it are getting ripped apart. I understand if it happens once, maybe twice, but I lost count on how many times Lara survives a deadly fall. It spoils the feeling of immersion. There has to be countless of ways Lara could escape a building or tomb other than miraculously surviving a deadly fall. Or in one instance, somehow finding a parachute in a plane (or was it a helicopter) that looked incredibly old and decrepit.
Lara is 21 in this game, has never killed anyone before or used any weapons previously. Yet she somehow is able to beat seasoned warriors and mercenaries in one on one combat and in huge gun battles. I know this is a video game. I know this point might seem nit-picky to some people, but the developers made such a big fuss about Lara’s first kill and how it impacts her, yet 5 minutes later she’s killing with no remorse and with the efficiency of an elite soldier. By the end of the game she has killed hundreds. Which is probably more people than those mercenaries killed. I feel as though the developers missed a huge opportunity to make this game stand out, to make it more unique than Uncharted. Instead they took the easy route and turned Lara Croft into Rambo. Lara’s first kill means nothing if we don’t see her being negatively impacted by it.
But even with these issues it’s hard to deny that those segments where Lara some how survives aren’t fun. Those set pieces are entertaining. Fighting an onslaught of continuous enemies and gunning them down makes you feel like you achieved something by surviving. Getting a head shot with my bow and arrow on a guy who is zip lining down a cliff is incredibly satisfying. All these things I just complained about doesn’t take the fun out of the game, they just seem out of place in a game that tells the story of how Lara Croft came to be, how she became a bad ass. Instead of gradually building her up into that amazing adventurer, we find out she turns into a skilled killer and bad ass instantly after her first kill.
I still highly recommend this game. Microsoft did a great job securing exclusive rights for it because this new Tomb Raider has the potential to compete with the Uncharted franchise and more competition is a good thing. I also recommend reading this article on the original development of Tomb Raider and how it all fell apart for Core Design. Shows some insight on how hellish game development can be and how something with so much potential can be ruined.
So if you haven’t yet, grab this game, it’s worth it.