Review: Tomb Raider Overall Gameplay [Photo]
A surprising spin on an old classic
This Tomb Raider is a reboot of the PlayStation 1 classic; Crystal Dynamics seems to have finally got the system right. With Uncharted completely taking over the PlayStation market with its success, Tomb Raider needed to revamp its style to become the #1 action-adventure game again. While borrowing a few elements from Uncharted as well as adding some other pieces, such as survivor instincts, XP upgrades, and a limited but upgrade-able arsenal of weapons, this Tomb Raider game has definitely made its mark.
The game opens with Lara Croft, the young college student edition, on a vessel immediately thrown into distress. Similarly to Uncharted, you are thrown right into the action but the difference is you are on the side line. Using in-game graphics for the cinematic helps them blend with the gameplay but at the same time it’s like a tease since we were not able to take control until after most of the chaos had passed. The first act consists of Lara being dragged to some sort of cannibalism hideout filled with crosses, candles, and people hung by their feet. We never actually see the person’s face, just an arm or voice that you are trying to evade, so the first scene comes with some confusion. As you are trying to evade your pursuer you are also presented with puzzles and obstacles in true Lara Croft fashion. A refreshing part of this game was that the “puzzles” you faced were blended in very well. No need to step on an old Japanese Monkey head to open up a wooden stone door, just basic survivor skills that is the underlying theme of the game. This game repeatedly foreshadows Lara’s “instinct” and “will to survive”.
My favorite concept was the “Arcade” aspect the game. They insert a lot of quick time events or “QTE” segments, made famous by the God of War series, which were a welcome change of pace from just pressing forward and backward for 12 hours. For example, as you are scurrying up a wall you have to repeatedly press the left and right triggers (on Xbox) to get up the hill, occasionally flicking the left analog stick left and right to evade falling boulders. Too often games stick to solid controls and forget about little opportunities like this that engage the gamer with the main character. I felt like I controlled her legs arms and body movements a lot more closely than you are allowed in other games, which is a huge plus since so many games have the same climbing style.
One of the key things in the game was the survivor instinct mode. By pressing the left button Lara was able to see the world in black and white with gold highlights to outline important structures or people. This is similar to Eagle Vision in Assassin’s Creed and Detective mode in Batman Arkham Asylum but this one was not quite as obvious as the others. When you pressed the bottom the objects lit up and you had to find a connection or path to get to the highlighted destination. This increased the challenge and was in line with many of the puzzles you had to face.
The open world environment was beautiful complete with bunnies and deer running around the woods. Initially you had time in the game to hunt but as you get deeper in the story food isn’t needed any more and nobody seems to sleep. I just found it a bit confusing that you have the option to hunt but get no gain, (save a few XP) to actually do it. However if you spot a deer you can pause and try your best Katniss impression, but sorry teenagers or killer wasps aren’t on the island.
Tomb Raider offers skill points after receiving enough XP to fill the bar. There is no actual level tracking so the XP system is a little confusing. Many times I was surprised I had a skill point, I began to assume the system would lose count and just assign me some. The Tomb Raider logo does appear with every kill and salvage (Tomb Raider’s form of currency for weapon upgrades). So a complete bar meant a skill point reward. The reward options had three categories, survivor, hunter, and brawler. Naturally you fill up your hunter and brawler bars to get more health, ammunition, and XP from kills. As I began finishing these categories I revisited the survivor and realized a lot of the skills do not apply. Most of the skills in the survivor category included, spotting secret treasure (for 5 XP a find), finding animal hangouts (even though food isn’t required and a killed animal offers 10 XP), and others similar to how Lara sees the elements around her. I wanted to purchase them but I just couldn’t figure out a reason why I would need to.
With enough salvage Lara is able to purchase upgrades for her weapons, these upgrades range from increased ammo, to fire arrows that release napalm on impact. The weapon upgrades were useful but expensive. Most of the upgrades cost 300-400 salvage points and you would only receive 10 or 15 per random box and looted enemy. I believe the salvage and skill points were purposefully stingy just to make the game more challenging. Which isn’t a bad move but can be frustrating because most of the time you are fighting easy enemies but with horrible tools.
Last but not least what will a Tomb Raider game need to have…? Wait for it… That’s it TOMBS! In the reboot Tombs are scattered through the island giving gamers a chance to go exploring through side missions. The Tombs were big but not crucial to the game. A successful tomb raid would result in simply 1 Skill point for the 15 minutes it took to get down there. They aren’t as in depth as others games but I chose to stay on the story path since upgrading my animal instinct wasn’t that high on my priorities list.
After first ripping open the package, all the way to the 75% I must say I enjoyed the opening scene of Tomb Raider. It is not the stiff robot holding two guns we remember and they have put time and effort into the graphics, animations, and game-play systems. I believe this game has enough to be a must play for any gamer. It has enough guns for the shooter fans and enough distractions in the open world environment for the in-depth searcher gamers.
Overall I give this game an 8, for the enjoyment, graphics, and play style. It is not a 10 because of the slightly farfetched story line (she breaks free from her captures at least 5 times, and I mean like tied to a pole left for dead 5 times). It requires almost ten chest shots to kill certain enemies and some aspects of the game seem to just be filler so that the game lasts longer.
Since this Tomb Raider is a reboot anybody is able to pick it up and play whether it’s your first video game or you’ve been in love with Tomb Raider since the movies. I recommend it and since the gaming environment has been a bit slow it is definitely a premiere release.