Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tomb Raider 2013 (PC)

Reviewed on PC, available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC

The controversial game heroin returns to set the record straight

The Tomb Raider franchise is one that has never interested me. I remember playing a few of the former games briefly, and getting bored fast. The games were increasingly bland, and the franchise seemed to be dead after the release of its successor series, Uncharted. So how does this reboot fair against a skeptical fan base that has moved on?

Let's start with our protagonist, Lara Croft, who is a budding archaeologist following in her family's footsteps. After a tragic shipwreck, her and the rest of the crew are stranded on a mysterious island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Its quickly made apparent that the island has a very strong "Lost" feel, where there is a lot going on that cannot be explained with logic.

Make no mistake - this game is dark
After a few cut scenes, we learn that the island is inhabited by a legion of fanatic cultists. They are deadly, they are unpredictable, and they are scared of something.. greater.. on the island. Lara, previously unskilled in any survival techniques, gradually learns how to maintain and defend herself from the danger that hides around every corner. Her weapon of choice is the Bow and Arrow, and although a handful of other weapons are included in the game, her Bow remains her primary weapon.

Hunting provides Lara with experience to improve her skills

The island itself is detailed greatly, with tons of historically accurate features. Caverns are dark and wet, cliffs are narrow and frail, forests are lush and eerie. Ancient Japanese cities, medieval galleons and frigates, World War II bunkers and tanks, and industrial science facilities are common sights on the island. Lara can find collectible items and analyze them, giving some insight as to what may have transpired over the course of centuries. There is a ton to discover in each of the many playgrounds the game provides.

Gameplay - 8/10
Exploration and platforming take front in center, and are easily the most enjoyable and rewarding part of the entire game. Combat is smooth and often satisfying, although it gets repetitive. Weapons, except the bow, are largely uninteresting. The skill tree is functional, although mostly bland in choices. The A.I. can be interesting, but far from surprising. Most of the flaws are easily overshadowed by how fun the game can be.

Design - 12/10 (Extra Credit)
I cannot stress enough the amount of detail put into every ounce of this game. The environment is detailed to the max without being a chain of hallways that many games resort to. Tons of historical accuracy is woven beautifully into the game's fictional lore. This is an experience sought out by many, many game developers, but achieved by few.

Replay - 6/10
There are a lot of collectibles to be had, but don't serve much purpose post-game unless you are achievement hunting. Some players may desire a second play through, but one was enough for me after the plot came to a close. There's a multiplayer, but I have no intentions of ever playing it, personally.

Final - 26/30 Nearly Legendary
The pros far outweigh the cons in this high-quality reboot. Having made a full 180 on my expected experience, I now eagerly await the next installment. This game isn't perfect, but is still leaps and bounds above all other competitors of the genre. I highly recommend this game to former fans and skeptics alike.

Recommended Buying Price: No more than 40$

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