Quick Review – Tomb Raider (2013)

Over the years, both companies that have had control of the Tomb Raider franchise have tried to give Lara a backstory. The Last Revelation showed Lara as a teen raiding tombs, all the way up to Legend, which starts us off in an airplane with young Lara and her mother. For so long has Lara has been portrayed as the rich, refined Brit who lives in a big mansion that Crystal Dynamics felt it was time to clean the slate. Enter Lara, reborn.

I beat TR in about 4 days. The story was really good, though I felt like it tried to ask too many questions it couldn’t possibly answer. It nailed down this new Lara’s origins story well, though, so that was good. Left it wide open for new adventures with a new Lara.

The gameplay was incredible. Crystal D packed a surprising amount of variety into what would otherwise be a very linear game. The weapon and gear upgrades were well-paced and creative, and the puzzles were cool. On top of that, the variety in locations! There were so many substantially different places to explore. You look at the Far Cry games also set on an island, and look at TR, and the variety in art direction is astounding. It wasn’t just jungle after jungle, but sandy desert-type areas, broken-down abandoned WWII bunkers and facilities and contraptions, shanty towns, frozen mountaintops and rocky caves. So much on one island.

I wanted a little more from the survival aspect, but it was okay. Lara definitely went through some painful and horrible experiences (getting stabbed through the belly with a metal rod wasn’t the best way to start her fight for survival, and swimming through a river of blood later?!), but it wasn’t as dynamic as I was expecting. Much like the Uncharted games, Lara acquires painful wounds that require major treatment during cutscenes, only to get shot many times later during gunfights and not break a sweat? I was hoping for something along the lines of Metal Gear Solid 3‘s “Survival Viewer”, where you actually had to treat your wounds, dig bullets out, etc. Overall, the lack of dynamic wounds didn’t detract from the game, though, and I still appreciated the little details Crystal D paid attention to. The aforementioned rod wound was a tiny detail that was constantly eating at Lara, and throughout the game you’ll notice her clutching that wound almost subconsciously when it bothers her, during gameplay and cutscenes. It’s a detail that sticks with her for the entire game, and I’m glad they factored that into Lara’s fight for survival.

Definitely want to give this another playthrough, although I’ll probably wait until after I upgrade my graphics card. This game put a little bit of a strain on my 5770. I mean, it handled it well overall, and the only things I really couldn’t do at a decent framerate were fancy hair, tessellation, and anti-aliasing. The game still looked amazing, either way.

Okay, 2013. We’re off to a great start with one GOTY contender here. What’s next?

  
  
 

Here are the few screenshots I took throughout:

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~ by The Retro Gamer on March 12, 2013.

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