For the past 17 years, fans have known Lara Croft to be an adventurer who never wavers. She doesn't worry about the obstacles she will face or the enemies who will appear. For those 17 years, she's been portrayed as a mature woman with large... guns. We know about her family's past, especially the emphasis about her father, the great archaeologist. Lara follows in his footsteps, battling mortals and immortals alike. But we never knew the true beginning of Lara Croft before she was the tomb raider extraordinaire.
The reinvention of the Tomb Raider series gives us a Lara who is fresh out of college. Teaming up with her best friend Sam, the pair head out with friends of Lara's father, set for adventure and glory. Lara's gut feeling sends the ship and crew into the "Dragons Triangle" to find the long lost Japanese kingdom of Yamati. Ruled thousands of years ago by the shaman Sun Queen, this find could propel Lara into the history books alongside her father, but when a horrendous storm crashes them into the rocky outskirts of a mysterious island, the find turns into a fight for their very lives.
Where most games allow this turn of events to change the character and make them less human, Square Enix did the exact opposite. They made her even more human. She feels bad whenever she has to take a life, but that doesn't stop her or even make her hesitant. She feels even more connected to her friends as she has to rescue them at every turn. Unfortunately she has to rescue them so many times that eventually you just start asking "Y U NO AVOID CAPTURE???"
Another strength/weakness combo is the use of QTE (quick time events). Grabbing ledges after you jump is a great use of it, dodging and countering attacks are good, but constantly needing to pry apart a door lock by mashing X or burning through ropes to grab some salvage can be excessively annoying.
The game literally takes the option to approach a situation away from you. For instance, there is no player controlled sneaking. If there are enemies near you, expect to automatically crouch and hide behind cover. That's great that it wants to protect you, but shouldn't you fail or succeed on your own without the game reveling in it's desire to make you dance like a puppet? This is where a lot of games have headed, so really it's not that much of a surprise, but it is rather disappointing.
Outside of combat and the storyline, the sideline puzzles and exploration are where the game shines. Discovering a tomb and making your way through the challenging traps and figuring out the sometimes painfully difficult puzzles are rewarding with a sense of accomplishment, which is great because the actual reward is a bit ridiculous. Discover a several thousand year old tomb untouched by human hands in centuries, find gun upgrades inside a sealed chest full of gold. Not kidding. Open a thousand year old chest inside a tomb, find handgun and rifle parts.
One of the bigger detractors from the game is the added on multiplayer. It's not not fun but it's not exactly God's gift to multiplayer. The mode is quite basic. Either get enough kills on the savages side, or get enough medkits back to base on the survivor side. The game goes best of 3 rounds per match and it really boils down to who has the better team and who gets the least amount of lag. There is a lot of lag in this game unfortunately. The framerate slows considerably, removing any hope of killing the guy who's just around the corner. It feels badly tacked on, but can be a bit of fun if not played religiously. One thing that is absurd however, is that you can't play as Lara until you reach level 60. Play Tomb Raider multiplayer as.... not Lara. Bit of a disappointment there.
- Lighting and environment are well executed
- Graphics are some of the best of any current gen games
- Combat controls are fluid and tight
- Characters are believable
- Voice acting is well done
- Storyline is entertaining
- Beautiful settings and visuals
- Intriguing and difficult puzzles
- Additional tomb side quests
- Lack of control during some cinematics
- Overuse of QTE
- Multiple instances of wave after wave of enemies
- Tomb rewards
- Too much hand holding
- Tacked on multiplayer