Review: Tomb Raider (2013)

Not only is Tomb Raider one of the greatest video games you'll ever play, it's one of the greatest reboots ever made, including movies.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]omb Raider is phenonmenal. It’s one of the great reboots I’ve ever seen, and that includes movie reboots. It’s like how you felt when Christopher Nolan took over the Batman franchise. You were horrified at Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin, you lost all hope for Batman, then along came Nolan and he gave it the much needed reboot that it had been just thriving for and you fell in love with it again.

The same applies here. I used to love Lara Croft’s games as a kid but as years progressed the games seemed to have gone stale, don’t get me wrong, they weren’t atrocious but neither were they that good. I lost interest in the whole Lara Croft story. Then along came Rhianna Pratchett who rewrote the entire story for Lara and gave us that insight into how she became the survivor she is. And boy are we treated to an amazing piece of story.

It’s one of the best origin stories I’ve ever seen. I hold it as high as Nolan’s Batman Begins – it’s that good. The writing, the story, the characters, the gameplay and the action are all works of art.

You play as Lara Croft, a young, recent graduate archaeologist who embarks on a trip to discover the location of Yamatai, a lost kingdom just off the coast of Japan. Along with Dr. James Whitman, another archaeologist who is leading the expedition, the crew head deep into what’s known as the Dragon’s Triangle and get entangled in a vicious storm and they crash land on an isolated island, all separated from each other. Lara has to fight her way through the island to locate her friends and escape the island.

The story is great, it really gives a deep understanding of the background of Lara and the kind of person she is and to the person she eventually has to become. We see some great scenes where Lara is so incredibly weak that it’s hard for us to even imagine that she can become a true hardcore survivor. The story is also very well laid out, there are many moments in the game where you think that you’re coming to the end but then something happens that sends you off on another journey to another part of the island. It’s incredibly detailed and complex.

Camilla’s performance as Lara Croft is strongly emotional and moving.

Emotion is strong in this as well and it’s all down to the performance of Camilla Luddington who is so convincing as Lara Croft. When you hear Camilla’s voice work it’s hard not to be moved, you can really feel the sense of determination in her that makes you want to never put the controller down. You can feel the sense of pain and suffering she sustains throughout the game as well and by the end of the game you totally believe that she is a completely different woman. Camilla’s performance goes down in history as one of the strongest ever.

The gameplay of Tomb Raider is unlike anything I’ve played before. It’s tense, it’s gripping, it’s action packed. One of the most amazing parts is where you’re captured in a bear-like trap and you can’t move, you’re only able to use your bow and arrow. As you struggle to get free you see a pack of wolves pacing towards you but you lose them in a row of bushes in front of you. With no way to escape you have to use your eyes and ears to either spot them or hear them move and shoot them dead before they jump out the bush and try to kill you.

It’s an incredible use of the gamer’s own ability. Firing the bow aside, you have no other controls to use other than yourself. You have to use your eyes and ears, you have to watch and listen carefully where they might be. It incredibly tense and gripping, there’s no way you can do this part of the mission whilst thinking about something else. The only real control you need is your concentration. It’s genius.

Tomb Raider - Wolf Attack
Having to battle off wolves as you are trapped is a great use of the gamer’s own ability.

One down point to this though, is that it doesn’t last all that long. This part was my favourite but it lasted only for around a minute or so and you never come across it in the game again which is a crying shame. I wish it would’ve carried on a little longer, with more wolves involved or they could’ve returned to it later on in the game.

You also have the fast paced action styles, where you have to mash a certain combination of buttons together to either fight off an attacker or escape the carnage happening around you. It’s incredible fast paced and it adds to the excitement of the scene. Never did I feel like I didn’t have enough control of the Lara, I could go where I wanted, when I wanted.

You’re also given a great amount of weapons and they aren’t just weapons placed there for you for no reason, they’re always there for a reason. What’s more amazing as well is how the developers have made you want to use the bow and arrow more than your other guns. Many times I felt myself using the bow and arrow more than the guns as it’s more exciting kill compared to a couple of shots with the guns.

Tomb Raider’s visuals are stunning beautiful, it’s clear that great attention has been paid to every single object in the world. Each part of the island you experience you’ll find everything that you could possibly think of. The writings on cave walls, the tombs, the forests. Everything is gorgeous.

The game has a lot of other features too. There are plenty of explorable tombs which you can go back to when you complete the main story of the game. Or, if you prefer to save time, you can explore the tombs straight away when you’re near one. Whilst doing the story mode you’ll get notifications saying that there is a tomb nearby and you can either go and find it, explore it and go back to the original story or come back to that area later on and explore more in depth then. There are also other collectables you can find too, exploring the vast landscapes of the island whilst you’re at it.

The addition of multiplayer for the very first time in the series is great as you can compete with your friends, or against them, amongst the incredibly environments of Tomb Raider. With Team Deathmatch, you’ll play as a team and compete against another team as you try and gain as many kills you can for your team. In Private Rescue, along with a team, you must transport medical supplies to a specific point on the map whilst the other team must kill a certain number of players. And in Cry for Help, you’ll explore the island to find batteries for defended radio beacons whilst being hunted by the opposing team. Each mode isn’t just a random game, it all fits into the Tomb Raider world perfectly. There’s so much to do, you’ll be online with your friends for hours.

All in all, Tomb Raider is a phenomenal game. I’ve never been that hooked on a story of a game since GTA IV. It’s what all games should look to achieve when attempting any kind of reboot.

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