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Tomb Raider – Xbox 360

Tomb Raider – Xbox 360

TombRaider2013Platform: Xbox 360

Developer: Crystal Dynamics

Publisher: Square Enix

Genre: Action/Adventure

Release Date: March 5, 2013 (One of the best days of my life)

Nerd Rating: 10 out of 10

There’s something about Tomb Raider in the gaming community that we just don’t want to let go. Ever since those very first wolf-infested caves from the first game, Lara Croft has been a household name, a video game icon, a mold for future video game protagonists. Lara Croft is also very old, and the first five Tomb Raiders are considered classics. So it was only a matter of time before LC was re-invented for a new generation of gamers.

Back in 1996, my father bought one of the original copies of Tomb Raider for the PC, which is now in my possession thanks to him. Many years later, I received a huge poster of Game Informer‘s Lara Croft: Reborn magazine cover, which immediately was hung on the wall above my bed. When my dear old dad saw it, the first words out of his mouth were, “That doesn’t look like Angelina Jolie…” to which I replied, “That’s because she’s not, that’s actually the new version of Lara Croft.” He thought for a moment, looked at the poster again and said, “Wait, that’s not a real person?!”

IMG_0219

It was then that it really hit me: this was not my father’s Tomb Raider.

We no longer have a hard-faced, ruthless artifact scavenger, but an inexperienced yet ambitious and resourceful young woman looking for adventure in her life. Everything has been changed but yet it’s the same. The new Tomb Raider was our salvation from cheap reboots and unsatisfying treasure hunting (I’m looking right at you, Tomb Raider: Legend). Tomb Raider (2013) has rescued Lara Croft’s fragile reputation and now I’m going to tell you why.

First of all, Tomb Raider is very suspenseful, heart-busting entertainment. It never falls flat, it’s very tight, fast, and I can’t think of a single thing I disliked about it. There’s never a quiet moment and it keeps you on your toes, much like how a survival adventure game should.

One of the things that makes Tomb Raider so much fun is it’s easy to follow gameplay. It’s very simple, concise, and clean. It’s a very cinematic experience, too; the camera angle is always adjusting to the right place, well-written cut scenes, and atmospheric gameplay transition seamlessly into one another to provide a very intimate experience between game and player.

The game starts out with a theatrical trailer-like introduction, narrated by our prolific protagonist, Lara Croft, a 21-year old college grad on a ship named Endurance, embarking on her first journey as an archaeologist. Unfortunately, the Endurance meets with a terrifying fate, running head-on into a storm and collapsing, leaving its crew to struggle for survival on a nearby island called Yamati, off the coast of Japan.  Lara is separated from the rest, leaving her vulnerable to whatever travesties inhabit Yamati.

Well hello there, Nightmare Fuel!

Well hello there, Nightmare Fuel!

Luckily, Lara can acquire a small arsenal of weapons that can continue to be upgraded while progressing through the game. Near the end of the first half of the game, Lara will have an M-16, a handgun, a shotgun, and a bow and arrow (which kind of gives LC a likeness to Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, doesn’t it?). Weapons can be upgraded by collecting salvage and other various rifle, shotgun parts, etc. Lara can also earn skill points that can be used to master the categories of: Hunter, Brawler, and Survivor, which contain perks like pain tolerance, better aim, etc. All of these upgrades can be “purchased” at campfires sprinkled through all of the different areas on the map. Once a new campfire is discovered, it becomes registered on Lara’s map and becomes a point of fast travel to painlessly revisit other areas, in case there was something that was missed before.

All about that base(camp). Lara's safe spot for upgrades.

All about that base(camp). Lara’s safe spot for upgrades.

Very akin to its predecessors, Tomb Raider contains a lot of platforming, and it executes it in such a way that it gives you the illusion that you’re right there with Lara, scaling that rock formation or jumping across wide gaps. The platforming also integrates random quick-time events, where, if you’re not paying attention, Lara will die in some gruesome way to force you to start over again. Tomb Raider auto-saves frequently and is gracious with its checkpoints, but still requires you to stay alert.

I literally exclaimed 'Wee!' out loud a few times whilst playing TR.

I literally exclaimed ‘Wee!’ out loud a few times whilst playing Tomb Raider.

I’d like to also mention that in other articles I’ve read, there have been complaints about how Tomb Raider is more focused on combat and has more First Person Shooter elements than exploration or actual tomb raiding and puzzle-solving. To that, I must say that I wholeheartedly disagree. Weaponry and combat have always been part of the franchise, the only difference is that the percentage of humans as enemies has greatly increased. Instead of fighting of lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), Lara is facing sadistic, brain-washed cult members, which, when exploring an ancient civilization that has been lost for decades, those cult followers are very plausible to come across. In fact, our beloved Lara has had way more weapons in her inventory in past games than she has in this game. Also, Lara’s weapons are frequently used in certain parts of platforming and puzzle solving.

Pictured here: Lara's large variety of weapons in Tomb Raider 2.

Pictured here: Lara’s large variety of weapons in Tomb Raider 2.

However, I can see how Crystal Dynamics tried to go mainstream (or whatever you want to call it in this situation) with Tomb Raider by making the tombs optional, which is reasonable since stealing those precious artifacts isn’t necessary to story progression. Every tomb harbors some sort of elaborate puzzle, so if you’re not into that sort of thing, then you don’t need to bother with them. Still, there are some puzzles that need to be solved in order to progress to the next area. All games do that, of course, but what sets Tomb Raider apart is its ‘Survival Instinct’ mode, where certain elements are highlighted that clue you in on what needs to be done. The game also has its educational tidbits about ancient Japanese history. There are artifacts scattered all around that have fascinating stories and facts surrounding them. So, even if you choose not to raid the tombs, Lara’s archaeological background still makes its way into the game.

Voila! You're a little bit smarter than you were three seconds ago!

Voila! You’re a little bit smarter than you were three seconds ago!

Which brings me to the character of Lara herself. It’s a lot of pressure to re-invent a character that is loved so much, and with that being said, I believe that Crystal Dynamics did a damn good job. Lara is intelligent, resourceful, and relateable, and it’s very easy to get attached to her character. It’s exciting to see the beginnings of such a classic character and be able to trace those beginnings to the woman that she will someday become. The lovely Camilla Luddington also does a remarkable job lending her voice and bringing Lara to life for us once again. You can also always get a feel of a character by the way they interact with secondary characters, and Lara’s relationship with the crew of the Endurance is strong, making you root for them as a team, hoping to see them escape that forsaken island.

With pitch-perfect gameplay, beautiful graphics, great character and story with high-caliber entertainment, I will outright say that Tomb Raider is a flawless reboot, greatly surpassing the franchises recent releases. Lara Croft has once again dug her boot into the world of gaming and will continue to be there for a very long time.

TombRaider-2013-3-18-13-22-10-755

Another Baconeer also reviewed this game, so you don’t have to just take my word for how awesome Tomb Raider is! Read The Watchman’s review right here!

Written by Sarus Vakarian

Sarus is an alien princess training under the best of the MemeLords in a town that is South of Southern Canada. She hates Mass Effect, Invader Zim, Tomb Raider, South Park, and heavy metal. Sarus currently has two Hellhounds under her care. She thoroughly enjoys harassing Butch Hartman on Twitter, and occasionally sits and drinks alcohol on the Girls Got Game Twitch streams with NerdyFriend.
Feel free to add her on Steam under the name: Commander Lara, and on Xbox Live: Not Lara.
Twitter and Instagram: Sarusvakarian

 
 

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One Comment

  1. Haha, “This was not my father’s Tomb Raider.” Excellent! I’ve actually never played any Tomb Raider games, but this one looks very enticing.

     

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