Toreador Rating – 9/10
Having played Shadow of the Tomb Raider at release last year, and in my youth varying versions of the series on the PS2, I was excited to snatch up a copy of Tomb Raider (2013) for free via a STEAM ‘Weekend Offer’. It did not disappoint!
Tomb Raider reimagines the emergence of Lara Croft into her role as ‘raider of tombs’. Set in the Dragon’s Triangle, an area in the pacific with ‘mystical’ Bermuda-like qualities, we begin the story as a young and inspirited archaeological graduate on expedition, but it is soon discovered that life as an explorer can be arduous and extremely dangerous! Stranded on an island with impervious storms (and outstanding beauty) Croft must use her knowledge to determine the cause of the curse and quickly master the skills of survival in order to save those on the island from the impending doom…
The story for the game has been well written and developed. I was often excited to see how the plot for next chapter continued and found there to be enough vary in combat, puzzles, and emotive pulls, to keep one engaged throughout the story-mode playthrough.
When pitted against the castaways and cultist followers of island madman ‘Mathias’, or the samurai ‘Oni’ protectors of ‘Himiko the Sun Queen’, the adrenaline surged! As the giant Oni, or a bombardment of what seems like hundreds of cultists, come toward you it requires quick thinking, in terms of weapon choice and combat tactic, to defeat the onslaught of foe, and my heart was frequently fast-bumping once battle was over.
The puzzles found in-game were also admirably deployed and well-integrated into the storyline. For example, to complete an ‘optional tomb’ one would have to go through a process of steps to reach, say, an obscurely located cavern. So, in true Indiana, or indeed Lara, style, it may be necessary to roll a rock into a wall, leverage weights, or set afire obstacles, to reveal a ledge that allows you to climb into the chamber where treasure awaits. The logical process much reminded me of a video I recently viewed of crows completing similar puzzles for their treats, and while I got much enjoyment from the tests (as I believe the crows do too) personally an increase in difficulty would be appreciated. It is fun spending time figuring out complex systems and I often feel these sections of games are short-lived. That being said, the puzzles included are well thought out and representative of real-life dilemmas that one may encounter whilst on expedition of unknown areas.
This was all rounded off by an emotive script that gave an enhanced immersive experience. Whether fear or anger at enemies, sadness or grief at loss, or horror and awe at the insanities founds lurking in the depths of the caves, this game will have you covered. It is also worth mentioning here that this was the first title within the Tomb Raider series to gain a mature title. And I mention that because it shows. There were genuinely some moments that freaked me out (much to my delight); they weren’t regular in occurrence, and I wouldn’t genre this game under ‘horror’, but gruesome enough for it’s mature rating? Certainly!
Overall Tomb Raider offers the wannabe explorer, the enthused survivalist, the keen archaeologist, and the avid Croft fan, a near perfectly whole experience. The game’s gripping story and expertly designed gameplay, alongside spectacular visual effects and a musical score with notable ability at increasing suspense, make it a difficult task to remove oneself from the beautifully portrayed pacific location and re-enter the study, bedroom, or wherever else one’s computer may be set-up. So, if life’s seeming a bit dull and you’re seeking an excitement, I would highly recommend escapism with our number one adventurer! Traverse exciting new terrains, find interesting and historic artifacts, refine that bow aim… be Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.