BADGP Reviews: Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider (Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal, Square Enix)

Review by Derek Buzan

If you are looking for a typical one night stand with a video game that is brain-numbingly easy with no story, then Lara Croft is not your girl. Tomb Raider is a reboot of an already famous series that started back in the old PlayStation days, but this game brings a more dirty and realistic reality to the franchise.

The game starts you right off in the thick of things, with your boat breaking in half and being kidnapped on shore. Even in the opening moments, you are already thinking, “How am I going to get myself out of this mess?” I don’t want to ruin the story for you folks, but it plays off the formula of an Uncharted game, just with a lot less humor.  The story takes place on an unknown eastern Island, with a dark and mysterious history, steeped in legends and myths. With the whole Island covered in wooded areas filled with old ruins and snowcapped mountains, the setting never gets old, with new environments around every corner.

Tomb Raider’s gameplay is very easily understandable and you will be running off and up cliffs while shooting enemies in no time. If you have played an action game in the past you are already prepared for the formula: multiple guns that you find and then use, and maybe some upgrades if you’re lucky. Fortunately, Tomb Raider has that plus more. In the game you will have to search and explore the levels to find parts for certain weapons. When you find all the parts you unlock a better weapon than the previous version along with a few more upgrades to choose from. Some players will not like this because all they want to do is go through the story, but I found this style really refreshing. Adding these side objectives shows the player more environments and puzzles that maybe wouldn’t have been featured in the main progression, but are certainly well worth seeing. And for the dungeon explorers in some of us, the game throws in a couple for you to explore. When I think of dungeons though, I think of Zelda and the complex dungeons that take hours to complete with some extreme puzzles along the way. This is not the case for Tomb Raider. In this game they feel like small puzzles with a nice hefty reward for you to spend on your weapons.

The weapons in this game are pretty standard and won’t blow your socks off. There is a hand gun, rifle, shotgun, and bow and arrow, and that is it. How do they get away with only 4 weapons you ask? With one word: upgrades. In this game you will be upgrading like crazy and may not even fully upgrade everything when you reach the finish line. The only way to accomplish this is by looting and exploring everything. If you want to be 100%, then you will have to beat the game 100%. If you think exploring will be a pain, have no fear, for the controls make it rather simple and easy to do. With Assassin’s Creed-style climbing and forgiving platforming, it will be hard to ragequit due to exploration. For instance, when jumping to a rock area you can whip out your climbing axe to hook yourself on there. This is done by just pressing an action button. The window on this is huge, so if you are worried about whipping out your axe at the right moment, you will most likely make it. If you don’t make, then enjoy the death screen, for it is super violent and realistic, just like Mother Nature wanted it to be.

The graphics on this game are pretty outstanding. They are not up with Final Fantasy products, but there is no need for complaining. The framerate is solid, and there are few awkward moments to be found outside of some platforming moments, such as the times when Lara Croft acts like she is Superman and leaps over great distances to her next platform. Other than those minor problems, Tomb Raider is one of my top choices for the best looking games of this year so far.

This game took an amazing formula from the Uncharted series and pushed the envelope even more. You can easily tell that much time and effort was slaved away over this game to make it what it is. This is a game that I can easily, easily recommend to a friend (note the easily twice). With 11 hours into the game and only 70% of it completed on easy. This game has the bang for the buck, and if you are looking for a new epic game, then look no further: Lara Croft is your girl.

Pros:

+ Great story line

+ Lots of upgrades

+ Lots to explore

+ Realistic action/explorer

+ Many intense moments

Cons:

– Lots of upgrades?

– Not many weapons

BADGP:  9.5 out of 10

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