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.
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.
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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.
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.