Tomb Raider will always hold a special place in my heart. When I was about 10 I broke my arm and spent a little bit of time in the hospital getting it all sorted, as a sort of “Sucks that your arm broke” present, my dad got me the original Tomb Raider and I’ve been a fan (Sort of) ever since (Kinda) So how did this reboot hold up? Meh, it had its moments.
I know Tomb Raider as that series that was really awesome from the starting gun and has gotten progressively worse with every single instalment. This latest Tomb Raider game I had seen almost zero press for and besides that literal clusterfuck of opinions about that scene where Lara almost apparently gets raped (Spoilers: No she doesn’t) I had no idea what I was getting into.
Character development is key
The game starts off well enough, after your ship crashes on a mysterious island, scattering your crew and leaving you stranded with no gear. You slowly have to gather equipment and food for survival while making your way back to the others and making sense of where the hell you are. The first few hours really are the best this game has to offer, they are brilliantly paced as you’ll spend time exploring the island, fighting the occasional generic bad guy and uncovering what is the start of the mystery of the island. Unfortunately it all starts going downhill and fast.
It’s almost like the developers ran out of faith in their own product about 5 hours in. Before you know it you’ll just be going from gunfight to gunfight, fighting wave after wave of cannon fodder. It’s good that they want to add a little action to this series. But this is ridiculous. It got so tedious towards the end that i was actually swearing at the TV whenever i had to spend the next half an hour doing the exact same thing I’d 15 times in a row.
How do these gunfights play? Ever played Uncharted? Well, pretty much that.
I swear, Lara could get off this island by building a bridge of the bodies of people she’s killed. I seem to remember the original Tomb Raider having a great sense of action and it only had 4 people to kill across the entire game. This reboot doesn’t achieve that with hundreds of enemies. What’s hilarious is that it tries to portray one of the generic enemies as the leader of the pack by virtue of the fact that he has a beard. That’s their idea of character development. Having a beard.
No replay value
The first time Lara kills someone they play it off as a huge moral breakdown, Lara can hardly believe how easy it was to kill someone. I was thinking they would be setting up Lara to become a cold blooded killer Jason Brody style. But no, it’s never mentioned again and she seems to have no moral qualms about mowing down the entire population after that.
Maybe all this is why I liked the early sections of the game so much? The game was too busy trying to explain the mechanics of the game and telling a story that it wasn’t trying to be the same 3rd person shooter you’ve played so many times. And I like that. The game needed more moments where it allows the player to just explore the island and raid tombs and take in the scenery. It’s a shame once that’s all done, you’ll be playing a boring game right till the end.
Lara has an entourage of people with her but I can’t remember any of their names or what they did. Actually I get the feeling their only purpose was to pad out the skin options in multiplayer. That would certainly explain why they are so badly written and their being in the game feels like an absolute afterthought. It’s not all bad, that nerdy stereotype character has some funny shirts. So there is that.
Something about story?
The game also has a feature it calls “Survival vision” where pressing a button will light up important items and enemies in your area. Is Eidos asking that this feature come as standard? Because it’s showing up in a lot of their games. Regardless, it’s done very well here. It’s not so useful “Detective Vision” style that you’ll leave it on all the time and the entire game’s art direction goes out the window. And it’s not useless enough that you use it once in the tutorial and never again.
The story isn’t particularly interesting, but I think it fits. It boils down to this; Lara goes to mysterious island, island is not all that it seems, weird shit starts happening. The mysterious island hiding a dark secret has been done to death but It’s the exact kind of story this game needs. An easy to digest non-confusing adventure you’d expect to find in a cheap paperback novel in the bargain bin. Just don’t start looking for any kind of logic on this island, you’ll give yourself a nosebleed. If you’ve been paying any attention whatsoever you’ll figure out exactly what’s going to happen within the first 2 hours, I know I did. The story isn’t played out for some shocking twist ending and that’s why it’s so strange that Lara as a character is so slow to put the pieces together. Her inner monologue will be coming to realisations that I made hours ago. It feels weird and it makes Lara come off as really stupid.
Gets boring pretty quickly
Is it too much to ask that Tomb Raider be about you know…raiding tombs? The optional “puzzle” tombs were the most enjoyable part of the game. I put puzzle in quotation marks because they are so mind numbingly easy as well as being very few and far between that you’ll breeze through them in minutes. Not a single one was challenging even in the slightest. Still, it was nice to see some old school platforming. That being said, they feel more like token gesture to the fans than any game defining feature. This game isn’t a puzzle platformer. It isn’t even trying to be.
What’s that you say, multiplayer? I played a few games. It’s the exact same thing you’ve seen in about 50 other games. You’ll grind XP to unlock weapons to change your loadout. You’ll choose from the standard match types like deathmatch and free-for-all. You’ll run into people as soon as you spawn and run the same loop of map over and over ad nauseam because the maps are too small. And you’ll know within the first game if the MP is for you. Or if you’re like me, you’ll play it for about an hour and forget it ever existed. And judging by the length of time it took me to get a game, I’m thinking most people are.
Is this what Tomb Raider has become, a series that is content playing second banana to the Uncharted series? I get the feeling that’s what it took to convince Square to throw their money at turning this series into a triple A game. I couldn’t blame, this series was a dud and taking notes and towards the end just lifting entire sections directly from U3 seems logical. But who cares, right? The next TR game will undoubtedly be next gen and then maybe it’ll try some new things. Maybe Lara in a bikini and riding a motorcycle, how awesome would that be?
Due to recent cutbacks at Square my review copy arrived before my bribe money did. So I give this game a 6/10
Until next time,
Dr Ruffle B. Berg