I’ll say it right now. I’m not a Tomb Raider fan. Yes I watched the Angelina Jolie movies, and my first real mobile game was Tomb Raider on the Nokia Engage, it just never clicked. The whole Indiana Jones archeology explorer thing was never appealing to me, and archeology never translated well into games.
Sure there was a rich lore and deep storyline, but it just never stuck, which is why I’m super happy to say this game blew everything out of the water.
Tomb Raider is a reboot, and it tells Lara’s origin story. So here’s the plot. Lara and friends are on the ship ‘Endurance’, looking for the lost kingdom of Yamatai. Lara’s guts and instincts lead them right to it, but a mystical force shipwrecks them and prevents everyone from leaving the island.
So they’re stranded on an island with insane, savage inhabitants, with no way to escape.
The graphics are consistent throughout the game. They’re not impressive for this day and age, but they are very consistent. It blends cut scenes, movements and gameplay sequences seamlessly, making a clean, immersive experience. It stands out here and the immersion is a quality many other games today don’t strive towards, and I’m really impressed with it.
Apart from the opening cut scene, most if not all of the cutscenes are in-game graphics, maybe with a touch of color correcting here and there. The game also takes you through different scenes. You’ll climb white snowy mountains, crawl through sewers and trek through beautiful rainforests. And despite the different environments and feels, the game designers made a great effort to make sure everything felt part of the game, part of the world.
No scene felt out of place, and it did a good job of immersing me and giving me that “exploring” feel. Lara would recount events, or rationalize her experiences when I’m scrolling through menus or during downtime, adding to the immersion.
I could also see the developers effort to make the game appropriately realistic. The screen would react to the environment as dirt would cover the screen when I get too close to explosions, blood splatters when I stab things and raindrops during a storm. Sometimes they feel so real I get the urge to wipe my screen.
The sound is this game is pretty good. If you can, play this on headphones. The crashing of waves, the soundscape of a living forest, and the dangerous, dead silence of night draws me ever deeper into the game. The mood of each scene is heard, I feel scared when they want me to, excited when I should, and everything in between, because of the good sound.
The score for the game is well done. None of the tracks stay in my head, but they made me feel what was intended. The tribal drums put a rushed sense of danger into combats, and the strings brought the mood of the scene across, elation or despair or the other moods they wanted to bring across.
Camilla Luddington, who does the voice acting and mo-cap for Lara, is sick. Her voice acting is superb, the pain and anguish of the scenes are brought out well, and the emotion in her acting is amazing. Love it. The dialogue was good, and the other characters reacted well to each other.
Tomb Raider is a third person shooter with a good mix of shooting, puzzle sequences, platforming, and QTEs. This game took me roughly 10 hours to complete. The pacing was good throughout the game, and each unique story segment tied in well with the overall picture and overarching plot line, progressing at a speed where you don’t feel too rushed, or slow enough to be bored with what you’re doing.
Controls aren’t too difficult, and they hold your hand through most of it. You might be unprepared at a jump QTE in the middle of a cutscene, or some other thing that requires quick reaction timing, but it’s part of what the game does, and it keeps you on your toes even during the cut scenes.
The game isn’t really difficult. AI is predictable, and you have enough health to soak about 10 or so shots, and you heal after hiding in cover for a while. There are many loot chests across the island, and more from every one you kill, so you’ll never ever be short of ammo. They could’ve added more tension to the game if ammo was more scarce, but that’s a minor point. It just felt easy, but I guess that’s not to stress the newer players. Or just because I was playing on Normal.
Lara’s tools and weapons are neatly packaged. They’re spaced out and introduced slowly so that by the end of the game, you are used to each move and familiar with her whole arsenal. Upgrading is also easy. Collecting scraps allows you to pimp your weapons at the next campsite. You will get only about half of everything upgraded by the end so you’ve got some collecting to do post game if you wanted to, on top of the hidden items and artifacts you missed during the play through.
There were some minor issues I had with the game. They tried to build suspense with a mysterious traitor/bad guy with one of the main characters. That didn’t work for me. Some of the side characters were just red shirts, aka put in to die, and they felt flat and not laid out fully. Yes, this is Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, but more work into the rest of the cast would have strengthened the story even more. And I really have no idea why the islanders would try to kill Lara, but ALWAYS keep her alive when they capture her. Also, there were loose ends which were left unexplained to me at the end of the game. Not cool.
Otherwise, This game was an emotional roller coaster. I felt for Lara, I hurt with her, I cried with her. I saw her grow, and I grew together with her. This game takes you through an amazing ride and leaves you full and satisfied at the end.
Tomb Raider is a story first, game second. With solid unintrusive game mechanics, it never pulls you away from the story it wants to tell you, and nudges you on, as a player, to experience every bit of the tomb raider world for yourself. I really love games like this, that pulls you out of reality, inviting you to their world of action and adventure.
It’s really an experience, and this game is every bit of an adventure you expect it to be.