Lara Croft is one of the most iconic female heroines in videogame history, it has been sometime since we last saw the female heroine on our screens. In this new adaption to the franchise, will this be the one adventure Lara Croft will never forget?
Lara is a young 21-year old inexperienced archaeologist and is on her first adventure, she mysteriously ends up shipwrecked on an abandoned island off the shores of Japan. With only her mental stamina and will to survive, she must find out what the island hides and uncover the truth.
We have seen Lara go through a lot of tomb raiding and exploration in previous titles, but in this title we see her go through mental pain and endurance. Tomb Raider is a reboot to the franchise and is an origin story for Lara, reworking the character we remember from the classic PSone and PC titles. Square-Enix and Crystal Dynamics wanted to up the ante with this title and make it a compelling and thrilling to experience.
This title in the series has come a long way from its previous games in the series. The developer has made a great attempt at kickstarting its new take on Lara, the art direction is fantastic and shows off the true heroine adventurer we know and love. Lara must adapt and survive on the island, using her survival instincts to become the hardened adventurer we know.
The game starts as Lara and her team head out on an expedition to the Dragon's Triangle off the coast of Japan. The ship is quickly marooned on a mysterious island during a freak storm, triggering a perilous journey of survival. The ship’s captain is injured and the rest of the crew have been captured and scattered. Lara finally wakes up and finds herself upside down hanging in a cocoon wrap and must break loose. Falling to the bottom of a pit she gets impaled by a spike and must remove it.
This is where the first gameplay mechanic comes into play, as you have to remove the spike with QTE buttons. Once the spike is removed then things get interesting, as you come across the first puzzle in the game. Using Lara’s “Survival Instinct” sight to see interactive elements in the world, which sign-posts puzzle solutions, salvage caches and other hidden collectibles in the world. The first hour of the game sees you hunting deer, learning to use Lara's bow and understanding the fundamentals of survival.
The Survival Instinct also allows you to see a navigation point in case you get stuck. During your time exploring the island you will come across camp sites. These upgrade hubs let you unlock new perks, craft new weapon mods and fast travel across the island. You will earn experience bonuses by discovering new areas around the island. You also earn experience by killing enemies, hunting and by completing challenges.
Now this wouldn’t be a Tomb Raider game without the tombs now would it? You will come across plenty of secret tombs to explore and will be rewarded with loot. You can loot fallen enemies for ammo and also salvage, which allows you to upgrade your weapons. Camp sites in the game world allows you to fast travel across the map at either day or night and to be able to sit down and take thought of the events. The enemy AI is some of the best I've seen in a long time, they act differently and have their own way of taking Lara down.
There has been one controversial point in the game that people will come across, and it has caused a slight uproar with the press and also the community. Lara comes across a group of island savages and these people are protecting the island for some reason, then all of a sudden our protagonist gets caught by the leader of the of the group of savages. She tries to get away from his grasp and then head butts him and then gets tripped up, this leaves Lara struggling to keep calm and takes the gun and points it towards the leader and shoots him. Lara feels the effects of her first kill and this brings her through a lot of pain and shock. From been a young student just out of university and to go through this pain one minute, where she is an innocent explorer on her first expedition, then the next she's a killer. It has a profound impact on her psyche, but later she shrugs off the pain and becomes a killer, and when she is on a killing spree the body count starts to rise.
Exploration is key in Tomb Raider, with the ability to fully explore the island and to be able to take down its inhabitants. Each area acts like a hub, full of multiple paths and solutions to each hurdle. There are hidden secrets to explore around every turn. Once Lara gains new equipment this unlocks different routes around the island. For example, the climbing axe lets Lara scale sheer cliffs to reach high areas of the island. Exploring secret areas can uncover hidden relics that earn you extra experience. When looking at relics Lara will tell you more information about it and also you can turn the relic around and if anything interesting is on the relic the controller will vibrate and will require further inspection - a mechanic similar to L.A. Noire's evidence system.
Originally, Tomb Raider was a single player experience, but Crystal Dynamics and its sister studio Eidos Montreal (the team that brought you Deus Ex: Human Revolution) has worked on the multiplayer. Multiplayer pits two teams of four against each other, one team plays as the scavenger’s and the other team plays as the survivors. There are four multiplayer modes, such as Team Deathmatch, with each having their own experience. Multiplayer is rather appalling in some respects, and it can get boring after a while it’s complicated with load outs, levelling and skill unlocks. Sadly though, this gets boring in no time. I would be surprised if anybody will still be playing the multiplayer in a few months time.
This reboot is gritty and brutal, casting Lara in a new, grittier light and you will see Lara in a different perspective than we originally know her by. Tomb Raider feels similar to the Uncharted series, and has really made a welcome return to consoles. With a British composer and a young British actress Square-Enix and Crystal Dynamics have made one excellent adventure for both new and old fans of the series to enjoy. Tomb Raider is a beautiful experience and will keep your heart pumping with excitement.