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Tomb Raider Review- Does the reboot cut it?

Updated on March 11, 2013

Lara is back!

It is finally here and if you're anything like me, you'll have been waiting for some time for the latest instalment of Lara Croft's adventures to hit the shelves. My copy arrived on Monday and I have been spending the week getting to know the young version of Lara as she struggles through a series of extreme cases of bad luck on one of her first expeditions.

Young Lara has a lot to learn.

As this is a prequel to the other Tomb Raider games, we see Lara's character at her most innocent. She is young and tentative and exclaims on a number of occasions that she "hates tombs" and climbing. Although this is probably meant as a mildly comical nod to the fact that we already know her fate and just how many tombs and ledges she will evidently explore, I found it a little tiring after about the fourth time of hearing her say it. This is a game where we see Lara before she becomes hardened - an innocent teenager of a girl who shivers in the cold and waivers before defending herself against dangerous killers. I do like the fact that we see Lara develop and grow as a character but I find that I cannot completely connect to her character because of the contradictions the game displays about her.

On the one hand, she shows fear, disgust and hesitation in the cut scenes where she must carry out undesirable tasks, but on the other the game play seems to veer heavily towards open combat situations where Lara's character effortlessly sees off henchman after henchman with a body count to rival Solid Snake or Private Martin. I find this part of the story unbelievable. If I was drawn in to the fact that Lara is having difficulties with hardship I was numbed out by the body count in the combat situations. It also seems completely impossible to pass through most of the areas through stealth tactics. At least if Lara was sneaking around I would have thought it more believable.

The Tomb Raider feel or lack of...

I must admit, however, that this game does not at all feel like a normal Tomb Raider game and I'm not certain that this is a good thing. There are additions which may please some gamers like the ability to upgrade weapons and buy skills but I think this makes it too similar to other games I have played.

There is also a distinct lack of puzzles and Lara spends a lot of time meeting up with other members of her group in different situations. I must say I was longing for a little more of the old Lara, exploring on her own, figuring out how to pass through booby-trapped areas and ancient ruins. There are artefacts to find but it doesn't feel quite as special. There are no more medipacks to find as Lara now heals after time, even in combat, much more like the Call of Duty games.

This games feels like so many of the other games I have played: it is now a mixture of many popular games with the Lara Croft character at the helm. I found myself reminiscing back to my days playing Heavy Rain (not necessarily a good thing) with the timed button presses in action scenes and back to my days playing Call of Duty and Resident Evil during other aspects of the game play. I also got to the point where I felt like throwing the controller out of the window after seeing Lara impaled so many times on trees or river debris in action scenes that are practically impossible to get through without repeating them several times.

And the puzzles.... where are my puzzles?

So, is it any good?

Well, I have very mixed feelings about this. I'm not a complete die-hard but I was disappointed with the game as it didn't provide what I expected. I think that the series has "sold out", if you will, by trying to cater for a different type of gamer to normal. The massive popularity of games like Call of Duty is most likely the draw and gamers who enjoy a high body count with a smattering of puzzles and searching for goodies will be pleased with this.

Lara herself is a bit more normal to look at but, in all honesty, I'm a girl and it has never bothered me how she looked or what she wore. I always just enjoyed the games so much that these details were minor. I must admit that the graphics are beautiful, however, and there are plenty of places to explore in the environment making this a game with about 8-12 hours game play depending on how fast or thorough you might be.

Would I buy the game again? Yes. Do I love it? Yes, but I don't think it should be called Tomb Raider.

For the die-hard fans out there: my mother (a proper Tomb Raider die-hard) checked it out and decided within 20 minutes that she didn't like it. She thought it was "just like all those other games" and turned her nose up.

Verdict: 8 out of 10 but it will definitely disappoint those looking for a similar game to any other Tomb Raider title.


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