First of all, this will most likely contain SPOILERS – consider yourself warned.
Secondly, I’m late to the party, I know, but after some time I got around to finish this game, and that in itself is a feat. I finishing games that is. I have an annoying habit to actually quit a game at roughly 70% done, and start over. Don’t ask me why, ’cause I can’t explain it.
Anyway, the game is done, over with. I have buried my climbing axe in the last enemies face and put yet another being into flames. Being this late to the party, sitting here with the thoughts trying to sum up what I have experienced, I see where all the other reviews are coming from concerning the story of Tomb Raider. This re-launch of the franchise wanted to start out with a sensitive, care-alot-for, crying and not such a kick-ass babe.
In short – they failed – HARD!
Now, the story takes us to a crowd looking for treasures, there are some typical stereotypes, the TV producer who is looking for a story to be famous for anything – yes you suspect it from the start and he is a bad guy, you got the jovial and friendly Samoan – who is the one likable guy through all of this, the computer geek/nerd – who of course has a crush on Lara. Sam, who is Lara’s friend and utterly useless in the adventures that is about to start but she’s a friend and got Lara’s back – we get it. The old wizened Scots are one, friend of her dad’s the other that and also father-figure stand-in and of course the father to the one-voiced-typicle-sassy-and-rather-bitchy-black-female-stereotype. How come all black women in computer/console games seems to be done by that one voice? She’s not bad, it is just that they all sound the same. So – shipwreck, cut scenes, crying, discomfort, alone. Lara sets out to survive. This part of the game is in my opinion the best. As ship wrecked she first have to flee from some real nut-job. We later realize that this once intimidating person is just one of the 653,5 villains Lara will; burn, axe, stab, shot, shot with arrow, explode, shoot with flaming arrow, shoot with flaming shotgun pellets, break neck of or otherwise dispose of.
OK, after that we are treated to a few levels of survival, shooting animals, picking some perks, get to know the system, hunt, upgrade your few belongings and venture to find fire since the torch is a great thing for puzzles in the beginning.
And then we are treated to some sideline tomb-raiding. And this is the fun, but weakest part of the game. The tombs are side stories to the main story which is about a cut-scene were Lara is sniffing, taking hesitant steps to get a grip on the horrible solution she is in – and then she kills around a few waves of like 10-30 villains in a map, search for diaries, which tells the story of the island through plenty of interesting people, check for treasures and GPS tags for extra XP and caches. Sometimes there is a tomb, sometimes there are weapons and upgrades. Well, there are but two weapons that you can really live without – the bow. Find the John Rambo bow of Thief, Batman and all other games that has to do with removing walls, scaling impossible to reach scaffolds etc with the mega bow. The axe, later ice-pick climbing axe – from which there is no safe rock to climb (as long as they glow yellow) and few villains can survive – unless of course they have hockey pads except in the head where you try to hit them, then they take some damn many shots to down. Better to strangle/break their necks with your bow. Did I just lost you? No, no – I’m sure – it still says TOMB RAIDER in the menu. This is the game. Hence, the nice writing, which is partly good and creative but not ground-breaking, doesn’t play well with the, er, game-play. In one second you follow weak Lara who is then turning into She-Hulk, Dexter Morgan, kick-ass babe who kills villains with the same disdain as she scavenge the islands fauna for everything breathing to gun parts out of.
OK, let’s try to break it down a bit into the score segment.
Graphics – 21. Tomb Raider looks great. The graphics are really nice and the island is looking good and the environment is one of the true benefits of this game. Many levels are nicely done where graphics and ingenuity plays well together. A few minor bugs with the camera acting up is distracting and that this is a console game from the ground. Still, smartly done and overall good-looking.
Sound -20 The sound is good, characters are good, the voice actors help to bring life to the game. This game follows a trend of making the chatter between enemies and stand around people intriguing. The islands winds and environmental effects are OK. Can sound a bit too over the top at times, and sometimes a stifle to still, but generally it really works bringing out the environment of the island and making it a really vivid place.
Game-play/Story – 20 A mixed bag really. The story is good, the diaries etc are a nice touch, still a bit “we have seen it before”. The entire story is decent, not ground-breaking but fresh enough to be engaging. I had hoped for more, and I’m not sure if I would have scored it better had the diaries and the story been even harder connected to the gameplay part. The gameplay is also a mixed bag. It is really nice to explore the island, scavenge and getting perks and upgrade weapons to solve questions and combat in new ways. Well, the combat not so much actually. Around 30% into the game, you see where it is going and it is getting stale. Enemies aren’t much of a threat as much as they are an inconvenience and that’s partly due to that the shooting part of the game sucks. OK, that was harsh – but it isn’t good and clunky. The bow is the only fun weapon and they should have made that one even more your go to weapon than it is. After some perks you have a multitude of ammo for your guns and the few times I completely ran dry of ONE weapon was scarce – for all weapons – only when you in one part of the game was left with only axe and bow. The exploring is fun, but can be frustrating and repetitive and sometimes – guess what – too short. You have these tombs and want to explore and do the puzzle thing, but they are quite easy and not overly challenging, the game is refusing to let go of your hand.
Controls/Quality – 18 The controls are sometimes a bit confusing and the sequences with Quick Time Events are really too many and not really adding that much. It is mostly part to press a number of keys in the right order. You also have some “playable” cut-scenes where you suddenly see Lara running towards the camera, and the controls don’t work as you play it. Back becomes forth and forth backwards etc. Thank you for making dying not the worst thing in the game. Still, this bit could have used some more work. I’m playing this with mouse and keyboard as usual, and it works. There are definitely worse games but it is far from as easy flowing as the Batman games, Dishonored etc. The menu is for one part a typical controller menu made into mouse hell and have to use keyboard since it is moving around and being “3D” cool. Really annoying. The game is however well-made. No weird crashes or bugs. This is a late version of course, but still. No real game breaking bugs, be there are few annoying ones. At occasion I jumped somewhere where the game didn’t want me to be, I got stuck hanging in an animation of falling and flailing for control but couldn’t get anywhere. Also, the camera got stuck and started to stutter in some of the climb scenes which lead to Lara jumping right into the blue instead to the next cliff-face and continue to easily climb towards adventures.
Total score: 79 In the end, I had fun playing Tomb Raider. There are some annoying design decisions that takes away from the total score and could have been made into making this a really great game. As it is, if you like adventure games with a story that is good – but mostly – it is good the entire way through and like exploring – you should get this. I didn’t go back to explore the entire island and was happy to leave the game with 90% explored. There simply wasn’t enough satisfaction to get everything. The diaries had too little impact in the game and where too scattered to make the entire story come to light. While you play it is important to scavenge and explore to get enough material to upgrade and build cool and better things to survive, but towards the end – you can’t really be bothered – you are too cool. And that is the biggest let down – the game play really distracts from the story, no it seems the game play was made in one part of the house and the story someplace else and they met just to meld it together into a game without checking how well it fit. I was actually looking for a different game where I used my brain more and my trigger finger less. I have Battlefield 4 going here so compared to that, this isn’t the shooter you are looking for but tend to get.