A survivor is born and a gritty new look to go with it. Can this reboot revitalize one of gaming’s most iconic heroines?
The New Origins of Lara Croft
At the start we see a young Lara Croft, who’s fresh out of university and her crew on an expedition to find the legendary Sun Queen. The crew warns her that the island she believes it to be on is in the middle of the Dragon’s Triangle which is off the coast of Japan. Sure enough as they enter a storm comes and rips the ship apart near a mysterious island. Here Lara finds herself scared and alone as she has to find the rest of her crew. As she searches for them she finds out this there’s more to this island then meets the eye. The stories in the past games were heavy on the supernatural along with fighting all sorts of monsters and animals. Here on the island there is an insane cult of men bent on sacrificing women. Lara finds herself pushed to edge time and time again by this cult as she is forced to do the unspeakable just to survive. Some articles have come up with comparisons to the movie
“Decent” and there is a couple of nods to the movie as you go. As the story progresses so does Lara’s personality and she is no longer the the girl at the start of the game. We start to see the beginnings of the fearless heroine we once knew. The story is just over several hours to complete. I completed it on normal and collected everything there was to collect. Normal difficulty was a little to easy. If you are an experienced gamer I recommend playing on hard.
The Lara Croft we knew who skillfully flipped and scaled walls with ease and climbed up ledges with a graceful handstand is not this Lara. Not yet at least. Much of the gameplay takes after Uncharted where almost everything you approach falls apart as Lara scrambles to catch something. Also like uncharted there are some big set pieces to look forward to. The beginning is heavy with QTEs but as the game progresses there’s less and less of them. The game takes place entirely on the island which opens up in a linear fashion. You will pick up new weapons and gadgets that are necessary for you to reach new areas. All weapons and gadgets are upgradable with parts you salvage from crates, chests and fallen enemies. With the new weapons and gadgets you can go back to anywhere you’ve been before in the island either by walking or fast travelling at the camps and use them to get to areas you couldn’t get before. As the island opens up some areas will give you shortcuts back to older places for ease of travel.
Puzzles and platforming mostly take place in the tombs on the island. Most tombs are accessible as you find them however there are a few that require you to find a new gadget to enter. Unfortunately there are only a several tombs and are all optional and not needed to beat in order to progress in the game. That being said the tombs aren’t even that difficult and a little bit of a disappointing. Also I was expecting to perhaps face some crazy monsters there but alas the tombs were indeed empty. In the older games I distinctly remember having to run from many ferocious creatures and animals. Only wolves to worry about so unfortunately no crazy dinosaurs to fight in this one.
Lara no longer auto-aims at her targets. She used to be able to take her dual pistols and fire at two separate targets. This also made it easy for Lara to jump and flip over enemies gracefully while locked on and firing. Crystal Dynamics went with Uncharted and Grand Theft Auto route of free-aiming. Lara doesn’t have the ability to melee attack enemies right away while she is timid but when she breaks free of her shell becomes a brutal killer. Speaking of deaths, Lara can die in some pretty gruesome ways. If you’re a fan of the dead space series you might want to die a few times just to see some of the ways she can die. One thing that bothered me a little is that Lara auto-hides when enemies are near. Maybe I’m just used to having a button to crouch and another to go into cover. Lara wont stick to the walls but she’ll lean up against it if you’re hiding from enemies. The weird thing is in Multiplayer there is a crouch button and in addition to that you can also run while in single player Lara can’t run. Speaking of multiplayer lets just get on with it.
I feel the same way about multiplayer being attached to every game. I feel like its all just tacked on. Like with Uncharted, Assassin’s creed and with the new God of War. I would be completely happy if they didn’t have multiplayer and just focused on having more single player content. Alright so there’s 4 modes in multiplayer. Your standard Team Death Match and Free-For-All along with two team tactical game modes. One called Rescue and Cry for help. Rescue is where Survivors have to run and grab medical supplies and the Solarii have to stop them. Cry for help is where the Solarii have to stop the survivors from capturing areas. The game modes are ok and I have no grip with them. The gameplay however is very glitchy. Players would be lagging all over the place which made it more difficult to play. The camera is also a little glitchy and doesn’t move as smoothly as I’d like. As I mentioned before they did add a the ability to crouch and run which was kind of nice but what I really wanted was to be able to take cover behind a wall. Maybe I’m just spoiled but when a standard is set in multiplayer it’s kind of hard to go back. Just when I think I’ve finished the match it frooze on me and did so several times leaving me on a black screen but I could still hear people talking on their mic. Maybe I just had a really bad experience. I’ll give a try a few more times but probably wont play much more of it if it doesn’t improve. If you’re going to pick up this game you’ll most likely pick it up for the single player mode anyways.
Lara and her entire world has gone through a make-over. Lara’s new presentation is more realistic. No longer is the focus on how big they made her boobs and how skimpy her clothes are. Lara now sports a smaller cup size
with pants a double tank tops. Her facial features are now more realistic and so is the rest of the world. The scenery is stunning with great views of the ocean and mountains. If you love that kind of thing you might want to stop for a second and take it in when reaching a nice high point. It gets even better if you get it for PC as AMD added it’s TressFX Hair Tech in this game. It will physically calculate each strand of hair in real-time as she moves and as the wind affects it. It will get dirty and be washed clean and shiny in the rain. Check how stunning this new tech is in the video below.
The models in this game are well done and look great. There is really only one cinematic and the all the in game models are used through the set huge set pieces as it integrates really well between QTEs or just running for your life and then continuing to move on to your next area. The voice acting is top notch and I love sneaking up on all the enemies listening to them banter about how they want to leave and such. The animation really helps bring lara to life as Crystal Dynamics has taken some notes from Uncharted again as she walks near walls she’ll touch them or if she’s near fire she’ll react to it as well. As I mentioned before it is nice that when hiding from enemies Lara will lean up against the wall. I still want a button for it though. The start menu is actually really nice as it makes any time you pause look like an official marketing poster.
- If you like those bonuses they’ve got artwork of charaters and scenery along with the 3rd character models to look at. There are also some making of videos with the final days of production that are nice to watch. Makes me appreciate the work they put into the game much more.
- Good story
- Lara’s makeover looks more realistic and great
- Graphics are great and even better on PC with TressFX Hair
- Gameplay is an improvement over past iterations
- As the island opens up you are able to go back and use new weapons and gadgets to get to places you could not get before.
- MULTIPLAYER not needed
- No crouch or cover buttons
- Story could be a little longer
- The second biggest part of her image, the dual pistols are only seen once throughout the game probably leading into how she will play in future games.
The Old Guy in Me Says
If you liked the big movie style set pieces of Uncharted, the gruesome deaths of Dead Space, crazy cults like Resident Evil 4, the gadget upgrading and use to open up new areas like Arkham City, or even just an old school Tomb Raider fan I think you should really give this game a shot. It’s story may be short but for a guy like me who doesn’t have much time to play games or to play all the games coming out then this one is a nice short one to put several hours on. Ever since seeing the footage of this reboot from E3 I’ve been really looking forward to this game and it indeed lived up to my expectations and even got me hoping that they continue this franchise as I can’t wait to see what adventures Lara could go on next.