Tomb Raider Review – A Scintillating Origin Story

If there is a game character that has populated the fantasies of gamers around the world for time eternal, it is the legendary tomb raider, Lara Croft. Be it the ‘proportionally’ designed Lara, the challenging elements of game play, the seemingly impossible acrobatics or the enthralling action sequences, the Tomb Raider series has had everything for everyone.

So, when a reboot of the franchise was announced, it definitely rang a bell somewhere in the center of my heart. More than that, the game was to revolve around the origin of my virtual ladylove, Miss Croft, and that mattered more than anything. Now, after a few hours of ending the game, I am overwhelmed with a lot of feelings, with peace and satisfaction being the primary ones.

The Birth, Journey and Transition of Lara Croft

Not a survivor yet, are you?!

Essentially, this reboot of Tomb Raider series revolves around Lara Croft and her birth as an explorer, a survivor and the tomb raider we know her to be. The story traces Lara’s life back to when she was just a young academician, someone who was trying to get a grip in this field. On her maiden voyage, her ship crashes into a remote island somewhere near Japan. However, this is no ordinary island as it packs a plethora of secrets, a pack of cultists and untamed natural hazards. It is thus that Lara emerges from her cocoon and learns to survive, adapt and fight back.

Learning to hunt. Without missing.

Over the game, you will witness the believable journey of Lara from a young, naïve student to the adventurer and the Lara of the first Tomb Raider game. Unsurprisingly, this is the USP of the game. You are thrown into this brutal world and you first handedly guide her through the challenges that this island throws towards you. The controls, locales, challenges and animations are all harmoniously coordinated, giving you an accurate depiction of the franchise. The satisfaction I attained with every hazard outmaneuvered was way more than the little quirks that came my way through the game.
For instance, while Lara’s journey through the game is well plotted, the overall narratives and certain twists in the game are too plebian. I felt that those twists were actually quite predictable and the narrative got boring with time. It seemed that all other characters were thrown in just for the heck of it and they did not bring much to the table. However, with all said and done, Lara’s maiden voyage and her transformation into a stronger individual beat all these odds and triumph as the most valuable aspects of the game.

You are such a weak character. Here, let me hold you up.

Lara and the Environment Go Hand-in-Hand

Over the game, I found the growth of Lara and the game going parallel. With time, she learns how to fight, how to survive and how to use the basic bow she finds in the beginning of the game. Similarly, the game evolves and she is presented with tougher challenges, like enemies with guns, smarter predators and rougher terrains. As she explores more, her XP meter increases and the game becomes harder.
The combat is definitely another aspect where the game scores well. Other than the new weapons you find by defeating tougher enemies with sheer firepower, you are rewarded for every silent kill and sneaking around. The choice throughout the game is yours, take a power packed rampage through the enemies or just sneak behind them and stick an arrow in their throat. For me, it was all about balancing between these two. While sneaking made me feel like a ninja, a berserk rampage definitely quenched my thirst for action.

I am a ballerina, I dance around cliffs and ledges.

Apart from the weapons and enemies, the game’s truly enjoyable moments are those which you spend alone with the environment. These quiet moments, where you engage with different aspects of the environment and reach seemingly distant places, are the ones which shone in my experience. It felt amazing when I moved through grass, went through waterfalls, danced around cliffs and leapt to ledges far, far away. All this was made pleasurable by the wonderful, bug-free controls and seamless coordination.

In our talk of story, character growth, combat and controls, it would be a gross misjudgment if I do not cover the visual beauty of the game. The PC version, as always, has better graphics than the consoles. The island, level design, cut-scenes and definitely Lara, my love, look outstandingly beautiful. In fact, I would go as far as to say that she looks like an angel. Or maybe, it could just be my heart talking.

Beautiful island is beautiful!

A Worthy Prequel

I would say that this iteration of Tomb Raider serves as a worthy prequel to the whole franchise. It is well executed, Lara’s story builds up well, the island throws some brilliant challenges and all other components function like a German machine. Only a couple of problems, like poor narrative, inadequate character development for NPCs and a forgetful multiplayer (so forgetful that I did not mention it anywhere above), are holding it back from a perfect score.

Looking at the whole game, I would happily rate it at 9.0 out of 10, just for Lara. If you think that’s a fair score, please acknowledge my love for Lara and give us a shout in the comments section below. If not, don’t hesitate in telling us what you think about the game. Till I get to hear from you, I am admiring what needs to be admired, in all her 1080p glory!


Summary

A reboot installment of the Tomb Raider franchise

9
  • Jon

    Have you guys ever thought of reviewing limbo (limbo.org)? One of the best indie games I’ve ever played, I reckon.

    Don’t know if this was the right place to post requests….

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