Every time a developer announces a reboot of an iconic gaming series, the gaming universe reacts one of two ways. The first reaction is a collective groan, which usually morphs into a snowball of bad press following the game around until release. Sometimes those fears are justified, other times not so much. The second reaction is immediate excitement, the kind that manifests itself as a buzz saw of positive momentum pushing a game towards its release date. Again, this reaction is justified at times, unwarranted at others. Tomb Raider fell into the latter category, and subsequently proved itself to be worth the wait when it was released last generation. The repackaging of the 2013 title is even better.
Let’s get one thing clear. If you have played the last gen version of Tomb Raider, then you aren’t getting very much new here. Besides the visuals, which are admittedly spectacular, there isn’t a real reason to purchase this game again. The DLC that is included is basically some weapon add-ons, 1 extra optional tomb, and some multiplayer DLC. The multiplayer for this game is very ordinary, and no one really plays it at all. So considering the fact that the extras don’t amount to much, I can’t say this game is worth revisiting unless you REALLY want to play the superior looking version. With that said, if you are someone like me who against better judgement DIDN’T play Tomb Raider last year? Pay close attention to the rest of this review.
Tomb Raider has constantly been compared to the Uncharted series, and after finally playing it I can verify that those comparisons are legit. In my mind, it is a compliment of the highest order. Tomb Raider’s cast of characters doesn’t compare favorably, but the story itself is just as good. Lara is fantastic, and watching her grow into the kick ass heroine she’s known to be was fascinating. Lara went through a lot in this game, and watching her fears gradually dissipate felt rewarding. I liked feeling like I was helping her realize her potential. I have seen complaints about how she seemingly transformed from scared girl to bad ass almost instantly. However, due to her circumstances, I can understand how that abrupt shift in mentality makes sense. I can say that I figured out what was going on really quickly, yet somehow it didn’t ruin the story for me. I attribute that to good writing and exceptional pacing. The set pieces were spaced really well, there was just enough combat to satisfy me, and the moments of peace allowed me to really appreciate the world that was created. The ending left things open for a sequel, and I was told by Real that the final combat sequence was a nod to long time Lara Croft fans. I won’t spoil though.
About that world. Boy is it breathtaking! I haven’t played every PS4 game thus far, but it’s easily the best looking game in my collection. The only game I’ve seen that compares is Battlefield 4. That’s great company. This game doesn’t wait long to get to the point either. From beginning to end, this game is a visual marvel. I liked the variety in environments. Lush jungles, cliff sides, shanty towns, a beach…..and all look great. Not only does it look great, it handles like a dream. The butter smooth frame rate gives everyone’s movements a realism that’s very impressive. The voice acting is well done all around, but Lara and Reyes stood out to me personally. The soundtrack fits the game well, heightening the mood when necessary and pulling back at the right moments. The weapons sound great, especially the shotgun and rocket launcher.
The game controls really well.. Lara is very responsive to the controller, although the quick time events can be finicky when you’re playing on hard difficulty. The touch pad has a few uses. Nothing essential, but it does simplify some functions such as lighting torches. I did like the light bar flashing orange and red when a torch is lit. It creates a nice effect in a dark room. Combat is fluid, and you can easily dispatch your foes once you master your arsenal. The aforementioned voice controls would have been great, but they almost work too well. Background noise can trigger the commands, including the talking in the actual game if your tv is loud enough. Also, if you are in party chat you can easily activate commands by talking to friends, or them talking to you. You can bring up the map, switch weapons, and even pause the game with simple voice commands.
So you’re telling me you don’t deliver to this island?
One complaint I have, albeit a minor one, is I wish there were more of the optional tombs. Heck, I wish there were more puzzles in general. The tombs were very well done. They almost always had puzzles that were easy to solve, yet difficult to execute. It was a nice diversion from the action heavy game play, and I would have loved to have seen it implemented more. With that said, I loved the feel of the set pieces also. They seemed to pop up at the right time, and they weren’t always easy to get through. One in particular gave me a lot of trouble, and resulted in me watching Lara slide into a spike throat first repeatedly. Speaking of which, the death scenes in this game are very gruesome. That caught me by surprise for some reason.
If you haven’t played the Tomb Raider reboot, buy this version right now. If you have played it already, I wouldn’t recommend it but I would encourage you to at least try to see it in action. This was an excellent game to introduce people to the legendary Lara Croft. It was also an excellent reboot to a beloved series that had seen better days. This is exactly how you bring a series into the present without disrespecting its heralded past. I can only hope that we are treated to more of Lara’s adventures in the near future, because this first helping has only increased my appetite for more.