Tomb Raider explores a new path

Lara Croft’s pain is our gain

The “Tomb Raider” franchise has had a history of being an entertaining, yet shallow game series. Lara Croft was always the perfectly-pixelated, quippy, do-no-wrong protagonist.  While this might have been acceptable for the PS1 era, the gaming community these days want a cinematic adventure, complete with a flawed hero.

Lara Croft in this “Tomb Raider” prequel/reboot-of-sorts is that hero. Within the first couple minutes, she shipwrecks, falls off a cliff, and is impaled in the stomach in the fall.  This trend continues throughout the game, showing the hardening of the adventurer seen in the earlier games.

“Tomb Raider’s” gameplay is much improved from the run-and-gun shooting, mixed with puzzle-solving of the past.  The puzzles are still there, but the aiming system is refined for this generation’s third-person standards.  There is also an above-average amount of quick-time events, but it helps to keep the player on edge instead of replacing it with more cut-scenes.

Taking cues from recent games, such as “Assassin’s Creed III” or “Far Cry 3,”  “Tomb Raider” adds hunting and gathering to the series.  This allows Lara to upgrade certain items, as well as adding wolves and other predators to the enemies she will have to face.  It also has an open-world feel without feeling exhausting, where Lara can raid optional tombs, and collect treasure.

Although the gameplay is certainly entertaining, it would mean nothing without the story.  Lara’s struggle to survive on the mysterious island she’s shipwrecked on is full of nermerous twists and turns, leading Lara not knowing who to trust after a while.  The main story campaign is the reason to play “Tomb Raider.”

A multiplayer mode is also available, but feels like a last-minute addition.  It has the typical deathmatch modes, and, while serviceable enough, won’t keep players engaged past a week.

This is certainly not your older brother’s “Tomb Raider.”  The series takes on a much-needed mature tone, with deeper story and gameplay options. While the multiplayer may feel tacked on, it doesn’t take away from the overall experience of “Tomb Raider.”

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1 Comment on "Tomb Raider explores a new path"

  1. I’m calling this now, Game of the Year 2013. Crystal Dynamics took the best mechanics from the greatest recent games: Uncharted, Assassins Creed, Far Cry, Resident Evil, and made a gaming experience unlike anything I’ve played in quite some time.

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