Our girl Lara has been on a crazy journey, hasn't she? Starting out as a pixelated female version of Indiana Jones, Lara Croft was introduced to us in 1996 on the PC, and brought an interesting twist to normal adventure games. Expansive 3D caves, winding passages, thought provoking puzzles, all mixed with the dangers of wild creatures; Tomb Raider was the quintessential adventure. Now after countless sequels, spin offs, and reiterations, we have found our dear Lara in her newest re-rebirth as a young, unexperienced adventurer on the quest, not only for riches, but for survival.
The new Tomb Raider feels familiar… yet, new and improved for the broader audience. You don't start at a cavern, or tomb, looking for a lost artifact or treasure, and go on your merry way. Our young, green Lara is found stranded on an island after her ship was destroyed, leaving her on a journey to collect her crew and friends, and somehow escape the tumultuous island. What began as an excavation of the lost treasure of Himiko, turns into a deadly fight for survival.
Story: As explained a bit above, Lara and her crew are on the search for a lost treasure of Himiko, and set them on a course to the island of Yamatai. The island, like the mystery of the Sun Queen itself, is unpredictable and volatile, as letters and documents are found all through the land. Traders, scientist, and soldiers all experiencing the terrifying might of the island, and their inability to leave.
Through your trek across the island, Lara must find her friend Sam, who has been kidnapped by a group of cultist who became obsessed with Himiko, and her mysterious powers. Lara fights through the small militia as she tries to save her friends, although losing some along the way. The countless deaths start to wear down our young adventurer, turning her into a hardened badass. Through countless attempts of escaping, even after a failed aerial rescue, Lara doesn't lose hope, and still carries on to thwart the curse of the Sun Queen, and to finally escape the island once and for all.
While it isn't far-fetched for Tomb Raiders standards (see Legends use of King Arthur), it seemed a bit off for how realistic Crystal Dynamics wanted to make the new reboot feel. For a game that builds on the actual character of Lara Croft, and showing us how she became the thrill seeking adrenaline junkie, they still place her in an overly superstitious journey.
The quiet before the storm.
Gameplay: The game play derives a lot from Naughty Dog's Uncharted series, which is not a bad thing at all. The guns in the title are smooth and precise, each with their own perks over the other. I enjoyed the stealth aspect of the game, and relied heavily on the bow and silenced pistol (which later turns to pistols), as they both give you accuracy while remaining hidden. Some parts of the game require a louder approach, in which the shotgun proves to be quite effective. Armored enemies, which can be incredibly deadly if not careful, are easily disposed of with a few shotgun blasts to the chest, until you finish them off with a nice pick axe to the skull.
The overall exploration of the title is impressive, and gives a lot of variety to the player. Much like the later Tomb Raider titles (Legend and Anniversary to be precise), the game features a lot of rock climbing and physics based puzzles. I found myself using the environment a lot when trying to pick off unsuspecting hunters, and was amazed how seamless I went from tree to tree.
Hectic, but glorious.
Multiplayer: Here is where I was not impressed with the title. I gave the multiplayer a few matches before ultimately quitting in both anger and confusion. It felt tacked on, and completely unnecessary, and wished they would have left it out to begin with. While it shared the same mechanics of the single player portion, the only reason I would attempt it again is for the trophies.
Graphics: For being a remastered version of a last generation title, the changes they did make were impressive. While it already was a great looking title, the extra effects were a nice touch for the new consoles. Extra rain effect, better lighting, as well as 60 fps (with the occasional drops) made it a worthy replay in my book.
Not large, but definitely noticeable.
Sound: The soundtrack and effects are all relatively great, and especially fitting to the grandiose scale of some of the areas. The one aspect that got under my skin was Lara's voice. The accent sounded… off, in my opinion, almost as if fake. I do have to give the actress credit for conveying such emotion in the character, and all of the panting and screaming that must have strained her throat.
Overall: I would say the game is definitely worth the play through. I averaged about 12 hours of gameplay in one playthrough, which included all of the tombs explored, as well as two skill trees maxed out. You can continue your gameplay well after you have completed the main story if you wish to collect everything in the title, which can add an addition 6-7 hours of gameplay. Whether you have an Xbox One or a Playstation 4 (which I played on), it is a nice game for your collection until more titles come out in the following months.