Sunday, 12 May 2013

Tomb Raider

Having ploughed on after my initial few hours playing Tomb Raider, I managed to clock this great game last week! Here is my view on it, which in short is: "awesome value, looking forward to an improved sequel" XD

As soon as you start playing Tomb Raider, you are stunned by the sublime graphics. Everything from the magnificent vistas to the subtle fire effects are done beautifully. Lara looks amazing and how she gradually gets roughed up as the game progresses is really well done. 

Cleverly crafted pixels abound in the violence as well, which is somewhat biblical. Among the more gruesome ways to get Lara killed is getting impaled through head or rather sickeningly crushed by rocks. There seems to be an amazing variety of death scenes and they are all disgustingly well done, kudos to the development team for the amazing effort, you should all be locked up ;) 

Just to note that the sound effects for these scenes and in fact the whole game are done very well. There is a satisfying attention to detail and throughout the music of the game makes for a good backdrop.  However it can be a bit annoying at times, making situations feel more urgent then they are. All part of the game I suppose!

As I mentioned before, the voice acting is superb in this game. Lara in particular is fantastically well done by Camilla Luddington. Over the course of the game you really hear her develop from a terrified girl to a fiery Boudica figure feared by all.

The supporting cast are all fairly interesting as well, although the villain is very stereotypical madman. Plot in this game is very thin and fairly predictable, nevertheless it is still enjoyable. The documents you can collect provide a really great insight into the history of the island. Hearing the authors read out their stories is surprisingly enjoyable and empathic.

Where the game really falls down is the mediocre combat. On normal mode the game is very simple, Lara is simply a wrecking ball. Enemies are very repetitive and even "boss" fights aren't that interesting.   Once you unlock some of the finishing moves, they can be very satisfying. To keep things more challenging and fun, try to headshot/stealth kill as many enemies as possible. The extra XP from doing so is also very welcome :)

Speaking of which, developing and upgrading both Lara's skills and weapons is done through a simple system of Experience Points and Salvage/Weapon Parts. As you go through the game, the system expands and you get a real sense Lara is becoming cold blooded and really deadly. All in all the whole system is implemented really well and adds an interesting role playing element to the game.

Playing through Tomb Raider, I was very much reminded of the gameplay of Assassin's Creed. The "Survival Instincts" mechanism which highlights your goals and enemies reminded me a lot of Eagle Vision. What could have differentiated the game better would have been better use of "Survival aspects". Lara never actually has to eat or sleep beyond the start of the game. It would have been nice to have had MGS3 style stamina gauge included.

Platforming is a big aspect and it is simple and fun. The reset mechanism for when you die works very well, putting you right back into the thick of the action. However the "optional tombs" are amazingly short lived. Aside from the frustrating and repetitive trek to the puzzle chamber, you can finish them in next to no time at all. However they are an interesting change of pace and some of the puzzles are fiendish.

In conclusion, I enjoyed playing the game but it isn't special. You get a fantastic amount of quality time out of the single player game as well as there being multiplayer (although I haven't tried it yet). A fun first entry in the rebooted series, I look forward to raiding tombs again with Lara Croft on the PS4! XD

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