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Tomb Raider Review

Finally, the long awaited return of Lara Croft is here, but is that a good thing? The “Tomb Raider” franchise is know for its buxom star, puzzles, crazy level design and the horrendous camera controls, yet every time a new “Tomb Raider” comes out it’s toted as new and improved when it is not. So, let’s see if this one can live up to the “Tomb Raider” legend.

“Tomb Raider” starts off with Lara on her first expedition, searching for the Japanese kingdom of Yamatai.  It is home to the “Sun Queen,” a legendary shaman queen named Himiko, who just so happens to be related to Lara’s best friend Sam. After a freak storm leaves Lara and her crew stranded on a strange Island in the Dragon’s Triangle she must figure out a way to rescue her friends from savage island inhabitants, and stop whatever is causing the freak storms that are keeping them from leaving the island.

The graphics are fantastic, a lot better than I thought they were going to be. When you look over the sides of cliff ledges into the sprawling vistas and mountaintops, it’s awe inspiring. Crystal Dynamics did a fantastic job choosing Camilla Luddington as there new model and voice of Lara Croft. She is beautiful and natural looking without all the ridiculousness of previous incarnations.

The gameplay is pretty easy and intuitive. Unlike the previous titles where you would go to jump one way and, because of the camera controls, you would jump a completely different way…and die. This time around you have complete control of the camera (except when climbing ladders) so you can no longer blame the camera for your sucking. The guns handle pretty good, they are standard shooter controls, and with skill leveling and weapons upgrade feature things like recoil, reload time and damage can improve you odds of getting those quick kills. Also, I like that you don’t buy new weapons but find upgrade-able parts while scavenging. The only weapon I had an issue with was the assault rifle; when trying to zoom in for a head shot the rifle would always obscure what I was trying to hit, so I quickly learned to stop using it. My weapon of choice, however, was the bow and pistol. Unfortunately, a rather annoying, practically game-killing glitch was allowed to make it’s way past the QA stage; it’s now lovingly referred to as the Rope Ascender Glitch.

The story is pretty long by action game standards, about 12 to 15 hours. I am currently at 12 hours and I am towards the end of the third act as I write this, and I am loving it. I thought it was going to be a cheesy gimmick “see what made Lara, Lara”, but the fact is writer Rhianna Pratchett and Crystal Dynamics did a fantastic job crafting Lara Croft’s origins. What I like even more is that fact the mystery of the island and the “Sun Queen” are based on actual lore. I am hoping that you can either play the game again like “Dead Space 3’s” New Game+ or just allow you to roam free on the island like “Far Cry 3,” because I want to find all of those tombs.

Multiplayer, in my opinion, needs a lot of work, although if you’re a fan of the way “Halo” and “COD’s” multiplayer plays (laggy and glitchy), then you’ll feel right at home. You have four different game types: Team Deathmatch, Rescue, Cry for Help and Free for All. Each of these were laggy in their own right, but by far Rescue was the worst. What was cool was that the level had a trap you could set to ensnare the enemy.  This was really helpful when running around shooting someone that just would’t die when, BAM! They’re caught in a trap with nowhere to go.

In Rescue mode, survivors need to bring medical supplies to various areas on the map, while scavengers have to reach a kill count. As a survivor, if you’re down a bleed-out clock will appear and you can be rescue by a teammate, however if a scavenger is close by they can perform a melee finisher to stomp out the clock.

In Cry of Help, you have to activate radio towers to send out a distress signal and keep the scavengers from stealing your batteries. Team Deathmatch is of course two teams trying to kill each other, while Free for All is every man and woman for themselves. Although, once you get the hang of the the lag just like with “Halo” and “COD” it does become fun. I just can’t see someone playing it enough to reach level 60, and to those of you that do reach level 60, kuddos.

This is what Tomb Raider was always supposed to be. Graphically the game is beautiful, the open world is a great feature as Lara’s exploration should not be limited, and the story and new mythos is fantastic. I have high hopes for the franchise now and cannot wait to see where we are taken to next.

Final Verdict for Tomb Raider:

4 out of 5

note that the score would have been a 4.5 out of 5 if not for the game killing glitch that you need to glitch to get past the glitch. Here is a video by LarryBundyJr explaining one of the ways to get past the Rope Ascender glitch.