Tomb Raider Review (PS3)

Tomb Raider, like many other AAA games in the past few years, is a behind the camera third person shooter but with mchanics similar to Uncharterd (2006). Instead of Nathan Drake, we have Lara Croft. She debuted on the Playstation in Tomb Raider (1995). At this point they should call it Tomb Raider Classic, since this reboot is the same name. Now that her past is replaced, we focus on a newly repacked Lara Croft.

This is a prequel to every Tomb Raider game that was released, if that matters. The story isn’t anything to write home about. Lara and her crew are shipwrecked on an uncharted island near Japan on pursuit to find… something. The crew is separated, but after many trials and tribulations, they reunite. Lara needs to traverse through the island’s complex construes. On her nice ventures through the beautiful landscapes and breath taking visuals, she will need to kill several men part of an island tribe. The leader of the group, Mathias, kidnaps crew member, Sam , and it’s up to Lara Croft to rescue her while watching all of her other friends die.

This reboot of Tomb Raider is brutally gory, and it’s the first in the series to receive an M rating. At one point in the game, Lara falls into a rapid river slide in a downward path similar to Mario sliding on a secret slide in Super 64 (1996). But there branches of trees scattered throughout the slide. If you hit any of them, the game immediately cuts to a cut scene of a branch impaled straight through Lara’s neck. Ouch. Also, at a point when Lara is falling through the sky with a parachute, if you barely even tough a tree branch, the game will cut to the branch implaed through Lara’s chest. The Croft’s might have had bad luck with branches. I remembered how Gears of War (2005) won gamers over with it’s quick cut-scenes of death sequences, such as the sequel’s giant bodily worm mush falling on Marcus Fenix with an up-close shot of his skull being crushed. Tomb Raider has several rushing sequences, like things falling behind you as you run, and the typical press a certain button on the controller so you can climb up the edge of a cliff.

We’ve seen it all in Tomb Raider, but it does everything in a refreshing way. The controls on the Playstation 3 are responsive and fluid. Lara’s aerobic-style of movement is nice to control and I’ve never felt like I had a problem with the way Lara moves. At some points, the game automatically crouches, telling the gamer they shouldn’t just rush in and shoot. Although, sometimes I just do. The music changes to a low-tone and ominous as a cue for Lara to take out her bow as she overhears men from the tribe are talking about some nonsense. If you shoot an arrow close to an enemy, or if they clearly see where the arrow came from, you’re in trouble. Hiding and waiting for enemies to cluelessly started wondering around again like in The Last of Us (2013) doesn’t work in this game, If you shoot an arrow away from them, they will become startled and start to move. The game’s levels are all in a straight path, and sometimes stealth elements aren’t necessary. Quick headshots with a bow and arrow and handgun were my kill methods of choice 75 percent of the time. It wasn’t until the last level when I started spamming my shotgun on the sword-wielding enemies. The game even graciously gives you a grenade bow and arrow shooter at one point.

Beyond the shooting and rushing, there are nice cooldown moments that challenges the gamer’s wits in creative ways. In one sequence, Lara uses her bow and arrow with a rope attached to it to to latch on and pull a hanging ovalled barrel towards you. After pulling it back, the moves back and forth like a pendulum, hitting anything in it’s path. Opening windows in the building causes strong wind to flow inside, making the pendulum move with greater force, smashing into pillars, and eventually the needed bell.

My biggest disappoint about Tomb Raider was the island isn’t as open-world as it seems. There are several paths, each leading to a campfire site where you will need to save the game and upgrade your skills. Each campfire is convincingly placed and easy to spot. Sometimes, Lara will write in her journal while sitting next to the fire. You hear her voice in her head with a dreamy tone. This gives a better insight on what was going on through Lara’s mind as we were playing. There are only ten journals in the game with several you receive at the beginning. I wish there were more Lara journals, but instead you can find voice recording of every important character in the game. You can also find hidden relics, which don’t really do anything except be cool to look at. You can also move away from the main story and complete Tombs.

After completing the main story of Tomb Raider, I never went back and played it. Multiplayer was fun for a while, but it didn’t engage me enough to want to keep playing it. Playing through more Tombs in the future might be fun to do, but with more games to play, Tomb Raider will need to wait another day to be played again. Perhaps when Tomb Raider 2 is announced, since I’m late on playing video games.

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