“This is going to hurt.” That is probably one of the very first things you will have going through your head right from the start of the game when you begin playing the reboot of Tomb Raider by developer Crystal Dynamics. Yes, Lara Croft is looking pretty good, although some of her assets have been realized with something more normal and not video game amplified. Lara So if you’re one of those purists who are angry that she has been redrawn, fret not, the game has a whole lot to offer. Because you are now playing as a reimagined and young Lara Croft, you will hit rock bottom and then work your way up to the woman we have all grown to love.
You start off the game by becoming shipwrecked on a rather sweet looking island named Yamatai. Obviously you were not alone on that ship because you were out doing some expedition work with a rather narcissistic asshole named Dr. James Whitman, and some others that actually aren’t around to make your life hell. Quickly you find out that although you made it off of the ship, this island has some nastiness on it. Greeted by a punch to the face, you awake to find yourself swinging upside down within a room piled full of cadavers in a scene that appears to have ripped directly from the DOOM games. It’s ugly, and you need to get yourself out of this situation only to fall hard and having yourself cleanly impaled by a rusty piece of rebar. Good times because as you progress through the game, you will get yourself some more of this gore, as the scenes get better as you move along. This is a no holds barred reboot and you are going to see every last bloody and muddy drop of it. Gore may be too strong of a word here, but you’re going to see stuff that is needed for the game and we promise that it makes sense to have it.
Gore aside, the game is beautiful and Crystal Dynamics did a fantastic job. You can tell they put a lot of hard work in the game and it shows. The environments that you can explore have the feel that it was a very large team to get the world right. Each area you encounter will have multiple areas for you to explore outside of the main story path. With a game coming in at around 15 hours or so if you do most of the side events, you are not going to be disappointed when it comes to content. As you explore and move along the island, you will be confronted with many events for a lack of a better term. Whether it being fighting off an attacker from the main island cult characters, wolves, or jumping from one bridge to another, the camera will near seamlessly move itself around to a better angle giving you a sense of great intensity at that very moment. This is especially useful when you are forced to jump down a hill to escape, erm..., an “event”, in which in the middle of our first jump the camera will move around to the front. Now facing Lara, you need to move fast and navigate what is coming at you only for it to swing back around to behind her so you can continue through your path forward.
As you navigate through the island, besides running from your pursuers, there are also hidden tombs from when the island was occupied by it’s inhabitants way back in the day so to speak. So besides having the fun in the outside, you can also have your environmental puzzles that we have all grown to love in the Tomb Raider series. From swinging platforms and rock wall climbing and jumping, the tombs you will encounter are perfectly made to make you think about how to get from point A to point B without being over the top in design. True you may wonder why such a setup is there on the island in the cave itself, but it is presented to you in a way that fits in with the storyline and the island inhabitants. Besides finding the treasures at the end, you will also find notes from a few various individuals discussing why they were there before and what is leading them forward. All perfectly a part of the storyline in the game, that as you can tell so far, we are keeping kind of hidden. We don’t want to ruin it for you.
In order for Lara to make her way through this personal growing experience you are now part of, the progression system in the game works out nicely as well. Your skills are gained in a fairly thought out plan and given as needed with some room for customization in between. Lara’s physical abilities are split between Survivor, Hunter, and Brawler, which allows you to apply skill points to various abilities within each subclass. So if you think you will be doing more hand to hand like combat, then you’ll want to increase your Brawler abilities over Hunter. Of course, Survivor is going to be a plus because in general, that’s what is going to help in keeping you alive. The other ability section comes into play with weaponry and even those are split into the types of weapons you’ll find on the island: Bow, Climbing Axe, Pistol, Shotgun, and Assault Rifle. You have the same idea and concept here in which you can upgrade your weapons by using the loot, think of things like nuts and bolts, you found by scavenging from dead enemies, loot piles, and other in game challenges. The Bow is going to be key in the game, and its arrows are wonderfully used when it comes to doing take-down and final kill blows.
There will be firefights and there will be a lot of death. Hopefully more on their side than yours. At times it felt like it was a bit distracting from the game because it happened in areas that you just wanted to take your time and explore. Because you’re on an island with a bit of mystery surrounding it, you are going to experience all forms of weather. Day, night, wind, rain, and snow will all be thrown at you in this island, that as we said before, has been beautifully rendered. Tomb Raider is not what you’re going to expect when it comes to this Franchise and that is a good thing. Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have something to be very proud of and you can tell they took care of making sure this is going to be a start of something really good.
4 out of 5 Widows