Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Format: PC, OSX, PS4 (Reviewed), XBone, PS3, 360
Released: March 5, 2013
Tomb Raider has always been considered an influential series in video gaming. It was a pioneer in action game mechanics. I remember as a child, playing the first Tomb Raider, that I had a sense of tangible power over my character’s movement and behavior. The gunplay was fun, with assisted targeting that worked alongside my own input. Also, it featured a female protagonist, and I don’t remember playing a female character like that before, let alone one so powerful and physically adept. In a sense, this made it ahead of its time. It then squandered this credit by giving the above mentioned female a set of enormous tits and a teenie tiny uniform. This was of course exploited by horny kids like myself, who downloaded patches to relieve her of her clothing entirely…
This character’s name was Lara Croft, and seventeen years later, she’s just as powerful (and just as shallow) as she’s ever been.
Let me start by mentioning that it took me getting through about half of the game to give it a real chance. Aesthetically, it is brilliant and cinematic. Everything in the visual department looks great and the environmental audio is very passable. The “cinematic” quality is also why I hated the front 50% so much. It seems like a series of animated shorts broken up by quick time events. I fucking LOATHE quicktime events. A QTE is a blatant admission that a developer would have liked to have given you a mechanic to achieve something in a game, but was too lazy to figure it out in a logical way. The quicktime events never end in the game, but the other mechanics do catch up enough to keep you invested and having a bit of fun.
The story is a terrible throwaway mess, with unlikable, useless friendly characters, and tough, overacted enemies. The strange thing is that it seems like the writers really tried to hash out something interesting, with a lot of reading material spread throughout the game. However, as you get deeper into the story, the sheer number of characters and motivations for them becomes a convoluted mess. Lara is the only character in the game capable of getting anything done, so the others seem like a complete waste. Lara is also inhuman, taking numerous internal injuries throughout the game and falls that would turn any real person into two bowls of boot soup. The voice acting is also atrocious to the point of being a little embarrassing at times.
So where does it earn its stay? Well, the simple fact is that it remains true to the original game’s major strength – simple mechanics done very well. The shooting is fun and responsive, the platforming seems truly death-defying, and finding knick-knacks around the maps can actually turn out to be a lot of fun. The quicktime events seem to get a little more organic also, with timed events happening during your actual movement in-game, not dictated by where a cutaway is placing you.
None of this offers any real depth, but it is a good time, and I found it oddly rewarding in the most brainless sense. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just is.
The game is a decent 12 hour romp for people who want what amounts to a quality hack-n-slasher or run-n-gun. There are plenty of chest-high walls, so old Gears of War references come to mind… Again, not a bad thing. Its probably quite cheap, being 3 years old, so a $20 purchase is well worth it for those who need some brainless, competent action.
Conclusion: I don’t have much to say because there just isn’t much here. Lara is as powerful and kickass as ever, but she still lacks any substance under that cleavage, which ends up sort of feeling like a tongue-in-cheek joke.
6/10 Good enough