Tomb Raider Review

When it comes to exploring ancient tombs and deserted islands, Lara Croft is one of the first characters that come to mind. Tomb Raider tries to tell the story of Lara Croft once again, and maybe even tell us a new one, while showing us some things we never saw before.

Lara’s Journey

Tomb Raider follows the story of Lara Croft, a young academic set to reveal the secrets of Yamatai – an island which has rumored to be the resting place of Himiko, the sun queen. On her way to the island, Lara’s ship gets caught in a storm and crashes on the island. When Lara wakes up, she realizes she’d been separated from the rest of the crew and needs to find them. But when she ventures into the island, she finds out she’s not alone.

Throughout the game, we can see how Lara becomes more and more like the badass explorer we all know and love, and less like the scared girl she was at the beginning of the game.  As for the other characters though… not so much of a development. Most of the other characters are just there to move the plot and feel just useless. You just don’t have a “connection” with them as much as with Lara.

All in all, the story was fun to watch and play. The story had a great ending, and left me wanting more of the Tomb Raider world.

Exploring the Island

Tomb Raiding? Not so Much

One of the main promises of the Tomb Raider series is exploring tombs and finding treasures. This game is not an exception. The game has many secret tombs and places to explore. When you enter a tomb, you need to solve a puzzle before claiming your reward. The puzzles are mostly fun, some of them can get a bit frustrating, but the puzzles are not the main problem. The problem is the rewards. Most of the rewards just aren’t worth the hassle to get to them. When I saw a tomb by the side of the road, I was happy to explore it, but when I finished the game I didn’t feel encourage enough to go and search for all the other tombs which I missed.

Another problem with the exploration element was the map, it just wasn’t a good map. I didn’t even know it existed until the second half of the game. It was confusing, didn’t have almost any useful waypoints, and just not helpful in general.

But Wait, There’s More

Exploration isn’t the only thing Tomb Raider has to offer, another aspect of the game is combat. Throughout the game Lara needs to fight her way to find her friends. At first, the game present you with stealth, but as it progresses, stealth becomes less and less an option, eventually you’ll have to ditch stealth for regular combat. It almost feels like the game does not want you to be stealthy at all, which is a shame, I think the game would be even more fun to play with more stealth. On the other hand, the main combat of the game feels great, there is a variety of weapons, but not too much, and each one has great upgrades which can be acquired by collecting weapon parts and salvage which can be found at tombs and crates.

The combat also reflects the character progression of Lara: at the start of the game all you have is weak weapons, and so is Lara, weak and helpless. As you progress in the game your weapons become more and more strong, like how Lara becomes more and more strong and tough.

Tomb Raider’s health bar is an invisible health bar, which means you don’t know how much health is left exactly. This mechanic makes you to play riskier and have more fun. Also, the health regeneration is fast, that’s also push you to play riskier.

New Abilities – New Ways to Play

Like almost every RPG, Tomb Raider has a skill tree. When you rest at a campfire, you presented with the option to learn new skills and upgrade your weapons. You can buy new skills using skill points, which you earn by exploring tombs and killing enemies, but to upgrade your weapons you will need salvage, which is gathered by looting enemies and crates.

Almost Every skill feels unique and interesting, and the skill tree is big enough so everyone can find a skill that interests them, but it’s not too big to get lost in. Every skill is categorized to one of three categories: Survivor – which focuses mainly on exploration and looting, Hunter – which focuses on Lara’s ranged combat, and Brawler – which focuses on melee combat and health. The categorization of the skills helps you find the skills that most interests you and is easy to navigate and control.

 On the weapon side, every weapon has its own unique set of upgrades, which allow you to focus on one weapon if you want, or just upgrade all of them. You can unlock new skills to buy by finding weapon parts, which can be found in tombs and crates.

Every skill and upgrade change the way you play, and just feel good to use.

Less Than the Sum of its Parts

When you enter Tomb Raider’s multiplayer mode, you might have to wait a bit to join a game. When you do join a game, it’s just not fun like the single player. Without the main elements of the game, the multiplayer just feels like a bad third person shooter.

The multiplayer also has its own skill tree, different from the main game, which skills can be bought on with different skill points. The skills might feel unfair to player who are new to the multiplayer mode.

All in all, the multiplayer mode isn’t very fun and, in my opinion, should not exist.

Verdict

Tomb Raider is a very fun game to play. The soundtrack fits perfectly to the theme of the game, the combat feels great, and the graphics are good too.

Although the game isn’t flawless and could use some improvements, it’s fun to play and I recommended it very much.

Tomb Raider can be bought on Steam here.

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