Tomb Raider: A Reboot Done Right
When I first found out about the new Tomb Raider reboot, my curiosity was piqued. I haven't played a Tomb Raider since Last Revelation. Even then, I hardly got anywhere in the old ones because I was a kid who sucked at puzzle games. I've always wanted to revisit the series however and this reboot seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Whether or not to get it had been bouncing around in my mind for some time, but after I saw the preorder bonuses for picking the game up on Steam, as well as the trailer and some gameplay footage, I went all in. It's been a long while since I've made such a good purchasing decision.
I was pleasantly surprised by Tomb Raider's soundtrack. While there are no pieces of music that will get permanently stuck in your head, the music is used in a way that creates some amazing atmosphere. It is what background music should be. It doesn't make itself too noticeable, but it helps make the scenes and the gameplay feel more cinematic.
The voice acting in Tomb Raider ranged from being very good to being so-so. Alex's and Reyes' voice actors didn't really do it for me, but Lara's, Sam's, and Roth's voice actors were all superb. Especially Lara. The voice actress they got for her has an accent that is in between an English and an American accent, making it sound quite memorable.Croft has had quite a few voice actresses in her time; I hope this one sticks around for any and all sequels.
One gripe I will admit I had with the voice acting was their pronunciation of the name Himiko. Since these characters are well educated in East Asian cultures and languages, you would think they would make sure that they did a semi-decent job of pronouncing a very simple sounding Japanese name.
This game had a lot going for it visually. The graphics themselves were pretty good, save for the fire effects looking a bit strange. The textures looked well made, late into a console's lifespan sort of graphics.
In terms of character and environment design, Tomb Raider had it going on. All of the characters have very memorable designs. Whether it's Lara's new look, the villain Mathias, or the sassy Scottish Grim, all of the characters are visually distinct.
Regarding the environments, it was hard not to be amazed at how beautiful the developers made the natural world of a video game look. When you've moved Lara onto an extremely high platform and take a look at the world around you, it's pretty impressive. Each area of Tomb Raider stood out as something unique and fresh.
In some ways, this is one of the strongest points of the game and yet one of its weakest points. For me, everything about this game felt like a very well made action movie. The pacing is great, the plot is interesting, and the way the camera worked in Tomb Raider during a lot of the scenes made it seem very movie-like.
The main criticism I would lobby against the writing in Tomb Raider is the dialogue ranged from well written to awkward and corny. It didn't help that some of the voice acting was sub-par, making some line delivery feel very stale and lacking in emotion.
Something that struck me interesting about Tomb Raider's writing was that, as Katy stated in her review, the developer's intention was to make you want to save Lara, as if she's incapable of it on her own. Adding to that was the controversy over an edited version of one of the scenes in the game which seemed to imply sexual assault (although the actual version in game was nothing of the sort.)
You'd think that with the intention of creating an emotional attachment in which you want to save Lara would possibly seem a bit sexist. However, I feel like the way this game actually plays feels like it's trying very hard to not be sexist to women. All of your enemies in this game, save for Himiko, are men. All the women outside of the main cast have been killed off by ritual sacrifice.
Lara, unlike the other women who came to the island before her, survives and completely messes those crazy cultist dudes' shiz up. Without going too far into it, Tomb Raider definitely felt like it was made to create a bad ass female character who overcomes her weaknesses and doesn't succumb to the usual cliches of the female action hero. I do want to point out, also, that her signature weapon is a bow and arrow; she kills dudes with a shaft and a tip, just saying.
I was amazed by how fun Tomb Raider is. I went in with no real expectations, but came out absolutely loving this game. Not because of the sound, graphics, or story, but because the game is a blast to play.
The combat is interesting and can be quite challenging, making it all the more rewarding when you finally clear the area. The puzzles range from fairly easy to some that will take you a good ten minutes to figure out. This provides the right level of challenge and frustration to avoid being either boring or frustrating.
The exploring in Tomb Raider is exhilarating. There's a real sense of excitement and danger when you clear a jump only to barely make it by grabbing onto the ledge. This adrenaline rush feeling came over me the most during middle point of the game where Lara has to escape a burning palace. In that scene, the sound, the scenery, the camera angles, etc. all come together and create a perfect example of what a game should be.
Tomb Raider has some very repetitive elements to it; Tomb Raider's formula boils down to fire fights, sneaking around, climbing, jumping, and solving puzzles. However, the way this is executed in game is spectacular and none of the game's flaws come from that.
The biggest flaws in Tomb Raider come from some relatively minor things. As Katy pointed out in her review, it was pretty frustrating to have to sit through the cinematics over and over if you failed an area. One particularly jarring example of this was when I wasn't sure what button to press and when to press it during the scene where Lara is assaulted by one of the Russian brothers. I had to see Lara get graphically strangled about five or six times before getting it right.
Another point I agree with Katy on is that at times, it felt like which button to press, either E or F, wasn't exactly clear. However, I don't really have a problem with the keyboard itself and do prefer it over a gamepad. That boils down to different strokes for different folks, though.
This is an area that I cannot comment on yet. I haven't had a chance to play the multiplayer part of the game. Unless it's extremely terrible, though, I don't think it would take away from the quality of the Tomb Raider reboot.
This game is the bee's knees and the cat's pajamas simultaneously. If you want a game that sucks you into the action and keeps you on the edge of your seat, Tomb Raider is the one for you. It has some minor flaws that prevent it from being a perfect game, but I would definitely rate it a high 9 out of 10.