Tomb Raider Impressions – Return Of A Legend

It’s safe to say that I’ve been looking forward to Crystal Dynamics’ reboot of the popular Tomb Raider franchise since it was first announced a few years ago.  Interestingly enough, going in I’ve had very little experience with Lara Croft and her previous exploits.  I guess you could say that makes me a perfect candidate for this reboot.

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As I’m now about halfway through the game, I’m enjoying every minute and so far am floored with the overall product.  Lara is back and she’s better than she’s ever been.

It’s my hope that people won’t write this off as just another Uncharted because not only would they be missing a great game, but they’d be doing a big disservice to themself.  Sure, the two games have similarities being an action platformer with treasure hunting leads, solving puzzles, high body counts, and a supernatural element in play but that’s really where things end.  The big difference is the tone.  You won’t find Lara firing off one liners or acting smug and heroic like certain other action stars.  Unlike other games, Lara begins her journey mostly against her will as the ships she’s on is caught in a large storm and wrecked on a remote island in the Devil’s Triangle.  With no experience to help guide her she essentially needs to learn on the fly and fight to survive.  The tone and themes are handled well and believable, making you feel for what Lara is going through.  There are also moments that took me by surprise featuring a more tense almost horror like vibe.  There’s some darker material as well that I didn’t know this game would venture into.  It’s refreshing.

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An element that I really enjoy is the fact that there are certain areas that you can’t access until you find/create a certain tool or item.  It’s almost like the game is trying to add a Metroidvania element to the gameplay and I really like it.  With new items being added to your inventory, places open up around the island allowing you to collect hidden items, purchase new skills, and upgrade items as well.  There’s certainly a lot of content to keep you going including optional Tombs to explore.  Not as plentiful as I figured, they are around to find and solve featuring one large puzzle to solve.

Combat feels good and interestingly enough, ammo is very easy to come across so I’ve never felt stressed about using my hand gun for example.  I half expected the game to make ammo a bit scarce to drive up the tension.  Even though Lara gains access to firearms, I still can’t pull myself away from using the bow as it’s extremely satisfying to use.  It’s easy to fire and you can even pick the arrows back up after using them.  It’s also great for staying stealthy.

I was initially worried about quick time events especially after E3 two years ago showing off a very heavy QTE segment.  Thankfully, they don’t get in the way too much and are not a big a part of the game as I figured.  Yes, they are in there, but I find them to be not that intrusive to the experience.

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As for multiplayer, well, I don’t have too much to say on that front.  I’ve put in enough time into it and frankly, it’s well made but doesn’t too much to really stand out from the pack.  It’s a nice diversion here and there but I feel like other games do it better.  It’s not a main reason why you’d buy this game but a nice addition to the core game.

I really don’t have any complaints at this point in the game.  I’m loving everything Crystal Dynamics has created and put in front of me and I can’t wait to dive back in.  I hope the second half of the game holds more of the same.  Definitely worth a look if you haven’t already.

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