Home Reviews Games Review: Tomb Raider – In a word, brutal

Lara Croft is back in the best Tomb Raider ever.  This reboot of the series sees Lara at her most vulnerable to begin with, but as the brutality of situation increases, Ms Croft shows her mettle.  Tomb Raider is one of the best games I have played in a long time.

The new Tomb Raider is a brutal game; there are literally rivers of blood and more gore than even the new God of War: Ascension is throwing at the players.

A young Lara finds herself washed up on a mysterious island following a stormy shipwreck in the Dragons Triangle.  Attempting to reunite with here shipmates, she finds that her entire archaeology group is being hunted by the island’s nonindigenous (as well as some impressive locals) inhabitants.

As can only happen in movies and videogames, it turns out that this island is indeed the one the group had been searching for, the long lost civilisation of Yamati, the location of which provided some argumentative discussion on the ship prior to disastrous the storm.

Developer Crystal Dynamics, under the direction of Square Enix, have crafted a fantastic game here.  The story is fantastical and the bad guys are impossible to believe, but if you can suspend reality at that plane, then you can witness a young resourceful individual who shakes off fear, knuckles down to the task at hand and out does Nathan Drake from Uncharted.  Lara's story here however is tough, this is one girl that has endurance and grit, she will need it as the horrors and dangers of the island are ever present.
This is indeed a cross platform version of Uncharted, but goes beyond that.  The level designers for Tomb Raider deserve applause.  For the most part Lara is clambering around teetering island set pieces, amongst shanty-built constructs, the obligatory ancient temples and snowy vistas.  


Within these spectacular levels, hidden crawl spaces, rusty machinery and, of course, optional secret tomb entrances.  There is a genuine feeling that Lara can travel wherever she feels like, yet the game nudges the player forward in subtle ways.  Unlike a game like Uncharted, this traversal is not always obvious, and indeed there are surprising moments where failure IS an option.  Sure they are Quick Time Events, but it means you need to be on your toes whilst making your way around the map.

Another lesson we hope the folks at Naughty Dog take on when developing the next Uncharted or The Last Of Us is with Tomb Raider’s combat system.  Enemies take cover - though not to well - or come at Lara at surprising speed, dodging as they go.  
Cover for Lara is automatic, and the gun-play is satisfying.  Lara doesn’t wield a vast array of weapons, but each are useful, particularly the current video game favourite [I’ve been playing lots of Crysis 3 also] in the bow.  Each piece of equipment can be upgraded, as can Lara's skill set at camps.  Lara’s bow helps in battles as well as traversal, and in particular in the puzzle elements of the game.

It wouldn’t be a “Tomb Raider” without the puzzles, and whilst there is a smattering throughout the main game, they come unto themselves in the optional “tombs”.  “I hate Tombs” says Lara the first time she goes in, but ultimately these self-contained puzzlers are very satisfying.  Using elements, timing and physics, none are too brain taxing, but there is a sense of fulfilment when completed.

Elements of Far Cry 3, Uncharted and even the overlooked older game, 2009’s X Men Origins Wolverine are all injected into this game.  Any game that crosses a time poor reviewers desk, where he feels compelled to simply ‘explore’ has hit the secret sauce recipe.  This is the tastiest Tomb Raider game ever, and holds its head high amongst all current games on the shelves.


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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.






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