Sunday, 31 August 2014

Review No. 73 Tomb Raider - PC (18+)

Strong points: 
Great graphics
Amazing animation
Nicely paced story
Lots of customisation and upgrades
Lots of collectibles
Quick time events are nicely spaced and needed
Good, likeable characters
Brilliant voice acting
The development of Lara's character is great
Big open world

Weak points:
Some weapons are more situational than others
The second half of story is much better than the first
Quick time events and animations, may stop you doing something if it's in-line with the story
Confusing storyline
The death sequences are quite gruesome and unnecessary
The tombs are quite simple
Emotional story and player's own actions don't quite match up
Some crashes and bugs

In-depth review:

Release Dates:
World Wide: 5th March, 2013
Japan: 25th April, 2013

Controls: these are the defaults and are fully customizable
Move: WASD
Walk: ctrl
Jump: space
Wall Scramble: press space twice when facing a wall
Roll/Dodge/Drop: shift
Survival Instinct: Q
Interact/Climb (with axe): E
Map/Objectives: Tab
Light/Extinguish Torch: E/shift
Aim: right mouse button
Primary Fire: left mouse button
Alternate Fire: middle mouse button
Melee/Finisher: F
Shoulder Swap: C
Zoom: Z
Reload: R
Select Weapon: 1/2/3/4/scroll mouse wheel

This is the reboot of the popular Tomb Raider series and retells the storyline behind Lara Croft and how she turned into the Tomb Raider. Trapped on an island after a storm wrecks her ship, the story is about her trying to get off the island while meeting the islands... Odd inhabitants and the development of her character from a frail girl who always needs help to a strong young woman who everyone needs help from. And the story, while slightly cliché, really got me hooked into it and I found myself playing the game for six hours straight. 

One thing that helps the story is the animation. From trips and falls when Lara is hurt to squeezing through gaps and flying through the air, the animation is really exceptional and the graphics only help, with lifelike people and brilliant textures and lighting. The amount of times where I've just had to stop and look around and intake this gorgeous landscape is too numerous to count. However, one thing which was not needed was the gruesome death scenes with Lara getting crushed by boulders or impaled by poles. 

However, this is where one of the bugs appear. Whether it was actually the game or just the specs of my laptop (I was playing on high graphics) but little lines kept appearing in cut-scenes which lessened the immersion a bit. Also, if you went of the game at any time for checking the internet etc. the game would crash. But as these were the only two bugs I've encountered with one not very noticeable and one easily remedied (the game autosaves frequently so you won't lose much progress) by just loading the game up again. 

Anyway, back to the gameplay. The gameplay is a mix between stealth, exploration, action and QTE's with more focus on the latter two. For the most part the game tasks you with getting to a place, killing some enemies and then moving on. To kill enemies, you have a bow (in later stages of the game you get access to other weapons) and your wits. The bow can kill enemies silently as can sneak attacks but if an enemy manages to raise an alarm then get ready for a fight. 

The back drops to these fights vary from a snowy mountaintop and a shipwreck to a shanty town and a temple and with things blowing up everywhere, you really get a feel of being in an action movie although the cut-scenes and Lara's diary entries do add some emotion to the proceedings. 

However, the emotion is detracted somewhat with the player's actions as while in the story Lara has trouble killing anything and takes a lot of encouragement to do free running, the player is told to kill without mercy and through Lara off cliffs to progress.

With everything being spoken, it's a good thing that the voice acting is so good with all the characters being distinctly different from each other and this really helps when the storyline is so confusing, with magic storms, evil cults and deadly guardians all thrown in to the mix. While the pacing is good throughout the story, the second half is definitely better although not by much. 

Finally, the amount of collectibles and optional tombs there are will keep you playing for hours and the multiplayer will add even more. 

Conclusion: overall this is a fantastic reboot to the series and I can't wait to play the sequel (when it gets released outside of Xbox that is). 

Rating: 90%

Thanks for reading, Satamer

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