Tomb Raider / Version Played: PS3
Crystal Dynamics / Square Enix / Playstation 3 – Xbox 360 – PC / March 5th / $89RRP
Tomb Raider explores the origin story of Lara Croft and her ascent from a frightened young woman to a hardened survivor. Lara travels on the ship Endurance commanded by Conrad Roth. When the ship is struck by a violent storm and split in two, Lara and many other survivors are stranded on an isolated tropical island in the Dragon’s Triangle. Lara has to find food and water to survive, fighting off the more dangerous animal inhabitants and trying to trace the other survivors. But a darker threat awaits as she is forced to harden herself against killing people in order to fight a group of malevolent mercenaries who seek to kill her and her companions. Whilst the story and the gameplay don’t really stay true to each other throughout the whole game the story still keeps you wanting to know what is going to happen to Lara.
The graphics in Tomb Raider are simply amazing. There are so many different locations throughout the whole game and you never feel like you’ve seen the same place twice. I found myself thinking that a cutscene hadn’t finished yet several times, just based on how good the actual gameplay looks. You will find yourself stopping and taking in the stunning sights several times throughout the game.
The frame rate on the PS3 held up for 95% of the game. There were a few times that the game dipped a little bit but I don’t ever feel like the experience was bought done because to it. The acting throughout the entire game made the characters a lot more believable and was definitely some of the best acting i’ve seen in a video game in recent memory. The game hardly ever stops to load unless you die which is a huge feat.
From the moment you pick up the bow for the first time, you know you’re in for a real treat. The game slowly introduces you into the basics of combat and the game is constantly building on this until the last encounter. It really keeps things fresh throughout the entire game. The game had incredibly pacing. I found that the balance of set pieces, exploring tombs, combat and puzzles were perfect. The puzzles, even though they are few and far between are a real treat. They are constantly challenging and different and make you feel a real sense of accomplishment once you figure out how to complete them.
If you go into this game thinking you’re going to be playing a puzzle/exploration game then you’re going to be disappointed. These are small parts of the game and work extremely well to break up the combat but the combat is the absolute star of the game. This is nothing to be upset about however as the combat is extremely enjoyable. Whether you’re gunning people down at close range or going for multiple head shots with the bow, you’ll always get a sense of satisfaction. The controls are really well executed as well, so you’ll become a pro at managing your weapons and various combat skills in no time.
The upgrade system works in a way where you build up XP through killing and completion missions. Through this XP you earn skill points which can be distributed into different skills which will determine the style which you play. You also collect salvage from animals, corpses and boxes which is used to upgrade weapons. These weapons are constantly being upgraded from different parts that you find as well which really keeps the game from ever feeling repetitive.
After you’ve finished the main story, you can go back and finish the tombs you didn’t find or collect relics, diaries etc. Alternatively, you can try out the multiplayer. It brings the same amazing combat into a few unique multiplayer modes and the usual death matches modes. it won’t be something that you’ll spend months playing but its definitely fun for a few hours.
Tomb Raider is the game i’ve been waiting for this generation. Everything about it is amazing and anybody with a 360, PS3 or PC needs to play it. If you’re new to the series then you’ll definitely have a blast with this reboot and if you’re a series veteran, you’ll still love it but most likely for different reasons than usual. It’s still early in the year but this is going to be hard to top.