OK, I’m going to admit something, for a long time I have never fully played a Tomb Raider game. It’s true, I tried the first level of Tomb Raider 2, was promptly killed by a tiger and that was that. Oh, and I managed to convince my 8 year old brother that the butler in the tutorial level, had a gun in his tea pot, and was going to kill him. You know, the usual. Then Tomb Raider (2013) came along and (eventually) I played it. So did it change my mind about the Tomb Raider series?
Yes. Yes, it did. In short, it got me hook, line and sinker. By allowing me to experience Lara’s first adventure, I was able to get attached to this young survivor. On the surface, the story seems a little simple. A group of archaeologists/adventurers/media students are trying to find the mythical island of Yamatai, home of the Sun Queen. They end up getting shipwrecked on the island and have to fight to survive. What strengthens the plot is Lara’s character arc. At the beginning, she doubts herself and relies wholly on Roth, the father figure, but as the game progresses she becomes more independent and assumes more of a leader role. One of my favourite moments in the game is when Lara overcome her fear, battles through various enemies and climbs a decrepit radio tower to send an SOS. It really feels like a turning point for Lara, one from being a victim to being a survivor.
I would like to point out that the antagonist of the game is a little weak, as a character. a rather cliched villain but they don’t detract from the rest of the game. As for the supporting cast, you don’t get to spend much time with them, for various reasons, but if you take the time to find various collectables, these will definitely fill you in. That being said, despite not being on screen for most of the game, these characters still help deliver some emotive moments.
Onto gameplay, which has a fantastic balance of stealth and action. You have the option of approaching enemies guns blazing or going for a more sneaky approach with bow and arrow. Aside from the main story, there aren’t any side quests however you can hunt for salvage to upgrade your weapons, explore tombs and seek out various types of collectables. I actually like that the developers haven’t tried to pad out the game with filler things but rather allow the story and characters to shine. The only downside is that there isn’t a lot of replayability in the game once you player it and collected everything.
A brief word on the multiplayer. I tried it but unfortunately there are alot of people playing it anymore and those that are tend to be way higher leveled, leaving the matches slightly imbalanced. Still what I did play was somewhat enjoyable, with varied game modes and locations. I think if I had played the game earlier, I may have invested more time in the multiplayer.
The only thing left to talk about is the graphics and unfortunately these pictures on this review do not do the game justice. Tomb Raider (2013) is probably one of the most gorgeous games I’ve played. Like the rest of the game, you can tell a lot of love and care has gone into it. Combine that with the gameplay and music, you get a game that feels like you a playing a part in an action film.
Overall, I loved Tomb Raider. It defied my expectations and kept me playing right to the very end. It got me to connect with Lara and actually care about what she was going through. It was incredibly satisfying finishing this game, knowing this was the start of Lara’s journey to become the Tomb Raider. I highly recommend Tomb Raider and yes, I will be playing the sequel.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some tombs to raid.
All images were taken from Tomb Raider’s Steam store page.