I’m saying it now. Tomb Raider is game of the year. I apologize to your precious Bioshock Infinite (I have yet to play it), which I’m sure is amazing and has a very cerebral story. But I can’t imagine the overall gameplay is as exciting and fun as Lara’s latest. Now, if you haven’t heard this is a reboot of Ms. Croft; a prequel as it were. I’ve heard the game compared to the Uncharted series. I can’t confirm that since I’m an Xbox. I’ve also heard it said that it’s not Lara Croft and not a Tomb Raider game. Rubbish, I say. It’s full on Tomb Raider. All the beats are there, they are just presented in a different way. Lets’ break it down shall we.
When the first designs were presented to the public, the designers made a big deal of the fact that our gal Lara had been sexed down. Gone were the short shorts, revealing evening gowns and sexy diving suits. Lara’s busty, hourglass figure now replaced with a more realistic shape. Although that may be true, Lara is still one tasty biscuit and the game doesn’t skip chances to showcase the fact. Camera angles and cut scenes still portray the girl as one foxy explorer.
One thing needs to be noted though. I’m not sure if the game developers are into abusing women or what, but damn does Lara take a beating. She must have an adamantium skeleton like Wolverine cause no one could survive the shit she goes through. Plus the death scenes are some brutal stuff and the camera does not flinch. It’s a bit over the top at times.
Platforming and Collecting
Maybe the key element of the TR games is here in spades. As you explore the island and its various environments you will jump, climb, swing and crawl through it all. Although the game seems to present them to you in a linear fashion you will find yourself returning to past areas explored, quite possibly, multiple times. In nearly every area there are places you cannot access until you’ve gotten the proper equipment to gain entry. These environments change as the game progresses as well, so that even though you may be returning to an area once explored, it’s changed slightly so the repetitiveness is dulled slightly. One reason to revisit areas is relic hunting. Once again Lara sets her sights upon lost and forgotten relics which she puts under the microscope once found that shed light upon the islands history. I found, unlike other games, that collecting said items was not a chore, but a pleasure.
What would the game be without hidden tombs to unearth? Yet, these tombs are not the large complex puzzles of games past. They are much smaller, some might say simpler, tombs. Typically containing some expected platforming and a single puzzle to work out in order to advance through it. I don’t mind this simplicity. Shouldn’t the first tombs Lara explores be simpler?
TR games have always had some rather crazy elements. Besides exotic wildlife Lara has encountered giant spiders, dinosaurs, krakens, undead and nagas just to name a few. She’s been all around the world exploring lost kingdoms and mythical locales hunting down weapons of the gods and more. This game is no different. Although you are not overloaded with fantastical enemies this time around, a creature of legend is still an inhabitant of the island and yes, expect to do battle.
So yeah, it’s all there. It’s straight up Tomb Raider so shut your mouth. If you’re big on achievements, or trophies if you’re a Playstation, going for them is fun and not overly challenging (when it comes to single player). It’s made somewhat easier when you locate maps which reveal items and tomb locations but it still takes some work to figure out how to get to them within the environments. The game may start out a bit slow but hot damn once the rollercoster crests the first hill you are in for a thrill ride.
Now, lets address the multiplayer. It seems like a tacked on accessory nowadays and thats the feeling I get here. There are a handful of modes and they are somewhat interesting but not overly fun. Supposedly all of the DLC the game is getting is also multiplayer. This is a missed opportunity. Other areas of the island could be opened up and more tombs to plunder. But nope, just more maps. If you are into opening up new weapons, abilities and skins as you level in multiplayer than you should dig it. But it pales compared to the single player in this gamer’s opinion.
If you are looking for a solid adventure game, you can’t go wrong with Tomb Raider. It had been some time since a game infected my every thought and refused to be put down. Now the Ettin that is the Two-Headed Nerd has instructed me to rate games thusly: Buy it, Rent it or Leave it. I give Tomb Raider a solid BUY IT.
A big thanks goes out to Poopbird, AKA Mike Groves, whom I met at C2E2 this year and chatted with me about the game. He too felt the game eclipses the sun that is Bioshock Infinate and graciously gave his permission to use his Tomb Raider artwork for the review. Visit his website and check out his stuff.
Wooly Toots is just a man. A man like any other. Although there is not a corner of geekdom that has escaped his eye, he doesn’t always like what he sees. He is uncomfortable with the term “love slave.”