Two big games came out in the beginning of March, God of War: Ascension and Tomb Raider. I’m going to be honest with you, I expected God of War to be the juggernaut, and Tomb Raider to just be a fun play for a few hours, looks like I may have been a little off on this one.
To get ready for Tomb Raider, I had GameFly send me the Tomb Raider Trilogy, so I could play through Legend, Anniversary, and Under World before Tomb Raider got here. Having those games fresh in my head, I can tell you this reboot is absolutely NOTHING like the old Tomb Raider games.
So, did Crystal Dynamics drop the ball with this reboot, or did they do something amazing with a game icon? Lets find out.
Not Safe For Work ~ Nudity
Systems: Xbox 360, PC, Playstation 3 [Reviewed]
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Release: March 5th, 2013
HELLO!!! Don’t worry, I’m not pulling some sort of bait and switch or gimmick here, I just wanted you to meet the new Lara Croft. That’s Camilla Luddington, the new voice and model of Lara. Now that I have your attention, lets get to the review (don’t worry, more on Camilla later).
The first thing to note about Tomb Raider is that it’s a reboot. The toony Lara Croft that sporadically started doing ridicules somersaults when you rolled a few times in a row is gone. Tomb Raider is a gritty, realistic game. Sure, you’ll make some pretty far-fetched jumps, and some of the punishment you take wouldn’t cut it in the real world, but this game couldn’t get farther from the original Tomb Raider as far as style goes. You spend time hunting wildlife, searching for salvage boxes (to level up weapons), and exploring new regions and all the while it feels pure and fluid, not boring like parts in previous games. There were times in old Tomb Raider games where I actually wanted to turn the game off, simply because it was getting too boring running back and forth in the same areas trying to get pointless relics, thankfully, this reboot fixed that.
The story is excellent, period. I found myself thinking “OK, next save point then I’m quitting, I’ve got a few things I’ve got to do”. The save point would come, but guess what, I couldn’t stop playing. It was pretty much like that from beginning to end, at not one point did I ever actually want to stop playing this game. Crystal Dynamics set out to tell us a tale of Lara in her early 20s, before she was a dominant dual-pistol wielding gaming Goddess, and they accomplished this task with flying colors.
You see Lara very vulnerable, very unsure of herself and scared. You actually watch her grow as the game goes on, learning new techniques with her bow and equipment, but more so in how she reacts to what’s going on. You start off scared, crying, and feeling very alone when you get separated from the crew, but by the end, you’re a confident survivor willing to do whatever it takes to make it off the island. I love it when a game thinks enough about the gamer to want to keep us involved and interested in what happens next. Sure graphics, modes, trophies, etc… can make us happy, but a great story that keeps us wondering what is going to happen next is the foundation of a great game, and Tomb Raider has it.
As you progress through the game you gain XP and “salvage” by finding boxes, documents, and GPS caches. This, along with the story, makes you feel like you’re progressing and actually doing something with your time, which is nice. As you may expect, most of the cooler weapon add-ons comes later in the game. I actually have a issue with how they setup the weapon upgrade system, at least with the time it takes anyway. I completed the entire game and realized I hadn’t fully upgraded one single weapon fully. I didn’t run through it skipping crap either, at some parts I really took my time and searched hard. I actually finished my first play through with over 80% complete, so this let me know they were a bit hard on us here. I hate when the game is over and I have to go back and unlock a weapon, what’s the point, the game is over. Make us get relics or treasures, not something that is actually useful in the game!
The game play and controls work great in Tomb Raider. So many times in previous games I’d go to jump to a ledge only to watch Lara jump the wrong direction and fall to her death, that’s a thing of the past now. This game was built on a great foundation, the combat and controls never feel clunky or frustrating. Every single button on the PS3 controller is used, and they did a great job in making them user friendly. This isn’t a hard game to get the hang of, and once you learn how which direction is associated with which weapon, it becomes very enjoyable.
There’s a great mix of open world, direct path, and interactive cut scenes in this game. Often times the game would start a QTE mid cut scene, I’d be taking a drink and not ready for the game to begin so I died a few times, but that’s a good thing because often times the visuals were so good, you went from cut scene to in-game play without even noticing the transition. There were plenty of times this happened in the game, but they were always welcome because it was a nice game changer. Whether it be controlling Lara as she’s being taken by the rapids of a river, falling down the side of a mountain, or just trying to hang on to a ledge for dear life, it was always fun to play. I actually wish more games would implement this QTE method in their games, as variety, as long as it’s done right, can really eliminate a game from getting boring.
When I first got Tomb Raider home, I actually played the multiplayer for the first few days before starting the single player. I’ve read the other reviews on this, and most of them all say the online game isn’t good, some saying “online multiplayer is the weakest part of Tomb Raider”. Guess what, when you have a single player this good, the online portion doesn’t have to dominate, of course it’s going to be “weaker.” I’m having tons of fun playing Tomb raider online with friends, and I own God of War: Ascension too, so that right there should tell you something about this game. You’ve got 60 levels to work with, prestige, load outs, unlocks, rewards, lots of characters from the single player to choose from, etc… there’s more to it than I think most are giving it credit for. The game is worth having for the single player alone, so when you add online to it, that’s a freakin bonus, people need to settle down and get off Lara’s tits about this (I wanted to say nuts there, but it wouldn’t have made sense).
I love how the hunting aspect of the game carried over into the online game. In the 10+ hours I say I’ve spent online, rarely have a I ran into a kid running around holding R1 shooting everything, it doesn’t necessarily work that way in this game. My weapon of choice is the Bow. Yeah you read that right, I’m a hard core Robin Hood up in this game. Bows are one hit kills unless the other player is wearing the arrow armor (which they usually never are), and there is something very satisfy about sneaking around, finding a nice high spot to settle in, then stalking an online player down and shooting an arrow through his head for an instant kill. Now don’t get your panties in a bunch, there is no auto-locking targets, and it takes skill to do this.
Once you master the bow, find some nice spots on the the map to settle into, you can be a dominate force online with nothing but a stick and some string. With the exception of the “shopaholic” trophy (requires you to prestige 3 times), the multiplayer has some very achievable trophies, so all you out there that like to complain about multiplayer trophies being too hard, there’s only one in this game that is going to make you upset, the rest are nicely done.
2013 looks to be a good year for us gamers. We’ve got God of War: Ascension, Injustice: Gods Among Us, The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, and Grand Theft Auto V to name a few, and I can say, Tomb Raider has set the standard in Q1. An extremely well made single player campaign paired with a fun and rewarding multiplayer game has kicked the year off right. If you’re a Tomb Raider fan, or someone who loves good adventure games, this is a mandatory pickup, you can’t afford to miss Tomb Raider.
As for some T&A, you’re not going to see any in this game. Of course there are some scenes that are kinda hot as far as Lara’s shirt getting ripped, and some nice closeups on her chest at times, but there’s nothing that is going to make you start gaming with one hand in this one. Lara’s voice is incredibly sexy, and like I said, there are a few nice scenes that make you break a smile, but not much else on that front.
OK, so remember when I you showed you the nude chick in the beginning? I know you do. Well, that’s Camilla Luddington, and she’s the new voice and model actor that plays Lara Croft. I can tell you that her voice is super sexy, she’s from England and sounds perfect for this role. After completing the game, you earn a few video unlocks that show her doing mocap, they’re not bad. There’s also a decently sized interview with her going over what it was like taking over as the Legend that is Lara Croft, and she seems really excited and honored to have been cast as Lara. While her chest may not be as big as previous Laras, I can honestly tell you her voice acting and genuine effort was fantastic. I can’t let you go empty handed, so here’s a few more entertaining pics of Camilla.