Lara Croft returns but before she was known as the “relic hunter” she had to become one! As we take a step back in time to explore Lara’s origins, we also take a step forward in what is perhaps the most vibrant Tomb Raider title to date. Published by Square Enix, Tomb Raider is the fifth title developed by Crystal Dynamics in the Tomb Raider franchise.
Tomb Raider opens with a visually stunning and gripping cinematic introduction. We see Lara setting out on her first expedition aboard the ship Endurance in search for the lost Japanese kingdom of Yamatai, home to the legendary shaman queen Himiko, also known as the ‘Sun Queen’. Lara and her crew find themselves shipwrecked while venturing into the Dragon’s Triangle in search for Yamatai. Lara gets separated from her crew and to make things worst she is captured by an unknown stranger. Her will to live however takes over and she escapes from captivity but the fight for survival has just begun; she will have to find the rest of her crew members all this while facing some brutal situations and unforgiving environments.
With stunning backdrops, each location doesn’t just look amazing but gives players the opportunity to explore. Open world locations gives players the room to collect salvage that can be used to upgrade Lara’s weapons. Hunting activities and action sequences while engaging enemies, will earn players some XP points. These experience points gives Lara a chance to better her survival instincts which are divided into the following three categories; Survivor Skills, Hunter Skills, and Brawler Skills. Experience points earned will fill out Lara’s XP shield to unlock one of the skills. Players will also discover ancient tombs, relics and diary entries that help you piece together the story behind the mysteries surrounding the island. The game throws action sequences from Lara sliding down ropes to climbing up rock walls with a pickaxe. The game features some impressive AI, enemies are aggressive; flanking Lara, trying to flush her out with grenades or moving to a different location for a better firing position at our heroin. Lara will also immediately crouch down and start sneaking if there are unaware enemies nearby and will also take cover without any interaction from the player.
As Lara faces each situation; from killing her first deer to taking another human live, we see the transition from young women into fearsome fighter. We actually see the development of her character changing throughout the game from traumatized reactions to more courageous actions for example; shouting to her enemies, “I’m coming for you!”. Tomb Raider encourages players to face off in combat either in a non-stealth or stealth gaming experience. Sneak up to enemies and drive an axe through their neck or use a bow to silently take out enemies from a distant. Players can also decide to pull out their shotgun or assault rifle for a more forceful way to get the attention of your foes. Each weapon also comes with individual upgrades. The upgrade system allows for modifications such an increased clip size, damage, range and adding parts such as a silencer when collecting salvage of course. Multiplayer gives players the opportunity to play as members of Lara’s crew taking on scavengers. The scavengers are some of the various enemies players encountered in single-player. Whether trying to hunt down medical supplies, capture radio towers or defeat your opponent with a higher team kill count, multiplayer ultimately has nothing unique to offer players and feels more like an unnecessary add on. The single-player experience however will not disappoint and will keep you far more entertained.
If you found Naughty Dog’s action-adventure Uncharted to be one of your favourites, you will not want to miss out on the newly rebooted Tomb Raider from Crystal Dynamics. Like Uncharted, Tomb Raider features very similar gameplay. The storyline was interesting with brilliantly voiced characters throughout the game. Graphically; this is by far the most amazing title I have seen this year. Tomb Raider was beautifully executed with phenomenal cinematic experiences and exceptional gameplay. From start to finish, I loved it.
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Crystal Dynamics