2013 saw a lot of big game releases across all consoles. However seeing as I’d purchased the Wii U on launch, I thought I’d focus the majority of my gaming spending on games for this console. Of course there were exceptions and my 3DS also was very spoilt. But it meant that I missed out on some huge Xbox360 and PS3 games. The Last of Us, Bio Shock Infinite, Dead Space 3, Metal Gear Revengence, Beyond 2 Souls. All games that if I would have bought from launch if it weren’t for my affection for Nintendo, and saving as much as possible for my upcoming wedding.
Well as I do each festive season, I put up a Christmas list which consisted of the back catalogue of games I’d missed out in the year. As I mentioned in one of the previous Geekly Reviews, I got spoilt and got a lot of the backlog of games bought for me.
I now also own a PS4, and to sound like a broken record, I’m still saving for this wedding (very close now) so my 2014 won’t likely feature too many new games either, so it’s going to be spent backtracking on the Christmas haul from my parents.
Well as the title says, I was late to the party, but I finally completed Tomb Raider. And I’ve got to say I was very impressed with it.
The first compliment to the game I have to make is of Lara Croft as a whole. Her animation when involved in climbing walls, or opening chests with the pickaxe, just in general they’ve really captured her actions well in this game. And the character in general is played out fantastically. You really want to ensure that Lara is safe in the game; you become invested in making sure she is safe as she is initially portrayed as vulnerable. This is before we know Lara as the tomb raiding, shoot anything bad ass, this is the tale of a young adventurer who would previously never of thought to take someone’s life to save her own or her companions. Survival isn’t something she was anticipating as the Endurance approached its destination, but as she adapts to all these new challenges the way the character portrays it is amazing. The very first thing that happens when she is freed from the opening scene and falling onto that spike… All I could think of is “Was that my fault? Should I have angled further left or something?” I felt bad that she took this injury no more than 1 minute into the game. And from then all I wanted to do was ensure she was protected.
The first area and perhaps 45 minutes is QTE after QTE, it’s not tedious though and the pace of the game actually creates a good atmosphere where you are relieved to complete the QTE’s successfully to progress on. Once you’re done with this then you’re finally introduced to the island ahead of you and free to explore the areas collecting scrap, plants, hunt for more experience and of course progress with the game.
The island itself is one giant adventure playground, especially the mountain village area. There are numerous areas to explore with walls to climb, ropes to swing down or climb up and ledges to jump across. As fun as it is though if you enjoy collecting achievements or collectables in general, this is certainly one of the more annoying areas to get everything. I actually waited till I completed the story of the game and have since been going back to each area to gather the collectibles; it’s a lot easier once you’ve discovered the map for each area.
The levelling up mechanic is also very painless and in fact you’re rewarded more the more you explore. You’ll find more salvage; more weapon upgrades and get more opportunity to get skill points to increase your attributes while hunting for all the collectibles. With the updates to your attributes it also makes the combat a lot of fun. Close combat with a pick axe or specific finishers with weapons are very satisfying, even more so given that you have that protective vibe for Lara constantly, so seeing her put a pick axe into someone’s head that was trying to harm her feels somewhat satisfying. The weapon of choice however without a doubt is the bow. I loved the stealthy approach taking enemies from afar out with a head shot. Of course it’s not too useful when in close combat with people who are armoured and carrying a rather large shield but that’s when you bring out the shotgun. By the end of the game Lara Croft is a one woman militia with more fire power than a small nation.
All in all this is one example where I can accept and applaud a reboot. The term is used so much now in movies and gaming, but this instance the reboot was very welcome and worked very well. It was a refreshing reintroduction to a grittier but also more vulnerable Lara Croft and I enjoyed the action and story from start to finish, I never found myself rushing through something to get past it like I do in certain games, I genuinely just enjoyed the ride.
I’m aware that there is a definitive version due for PS4 soon, and in a way I kind of wished that I hadn’t got this on Xbox360 but waited for the PS4 version, but I genuinely have no doubts I’d double dip on this game and pick it up for PS4 eventually when the price is knocked down a little. If you haven’t played it on PS3/Xbox360 but do own a PS4/Xbone then I cannot recommend picking up the definitive version of this game for your new console. It’s a truly brilliant welcome back to Lara Croft, and I’m just hoping Crystal Dynamics can serve up more of the same for a sequel.