Tomb Raider is a reboot, revealing the origin adventures of Lara Croft. On an expedition to uncover the secrets of Queen Himiko, her ship is suddenly hit by a massive storm, stranding her and the crew on an island. Lara quickly finds herself facing off against wild animals, savages, ancient tombs, and even a bit of the supernatural. Lara evolves throughout the game, giving her character a truly engaging arc. Her crew is interesting, but they aren’t as fleshed out as I would have liked them to be. Despite this, the story is a nonstop, intense, action thrill ride I haven’t experienced since Uncharted 2.
The island serves as a central hub for you to explore. And like a Metroid game, much of it is locked until you gain new equipment through story progression. Camps allow you to backtrack and explore old areas as well as serve as a place to acquire skills via experience and upgrading weapons via scraps. Along with finding scraps, there are various tombs, journals, artifacts, and other collectables hidden throughout the game. Combat starts off simplistic and gets more engaging as you gain new ways to kill from the impressive bow to the powerhouse shotgun. The key to this game is the mechanics themselves: fun, addictive, and easy to handle. Multiplayer though, is a missed opportunity, albeit interesting for a bit.
To those yearning for next-gen consoles, Tomb Raider proves there is still life left in this generation. Shadowy forests, sunken ships, and ancient tombs show off the impressive graphics and incredible scope of the game. Even the inclusion of fire being a central tool to the game shows off its unique individuality. The pacing from exploring to combat is well designed, never making one heavier than the other. And to top it off, the music and sound design perfectly meld this Lost-like island into reality.
I’ll openly admittedly I disliked the Tomb Raider franchise before this game. The character and idea was cool, sure, but the mechanics were terrible. Tomb Raider addresses these issues by blending the new Lara with some of my favorite games like Uncharted, Resident Evil 4, and even the show Lost. It may not be the Tomb Raider you expect, but it’s definitely a worthy reboot of the franchise and for the better.
Score: 5/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on March 8, 2013 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.