Tomb Raider Review: A game that both action-adventure fans and female gamers can enjoy

Tomb Raider

Lara Croft is back and she’s more grounded than ever. Gone are the big boobs, short shorts, and her sex symbol status. Don’t worry, she still has her British accent and good looks, and she still raids tombs. I believe what Crystal Dynamics has done here is create the first video game female protagonist that many females can now be proud of (Let’s be honest, I doubt the female gamer community can all agree on Lollipop Chainsaw or Bayonetta, or even Lara before the reboot). She has been empowering before, but now she doesn’t need the help from her body to do so.

As for gamers in general, we’re given a very fun and immersive game that’s able to combine a lot of different elements from different games into one complete package. This is by far my favorite Tomb Raider game to date, as it can easily rival the likes of recent games like Uncharted 3 and Far Cry 3.

With the success of the first Tomb Raider game back in 1996, original developer Core Design was tasked with creating a new Tomb Raider game almost every year. That, however, changed when The Angel of Darkness was released with low sales. Crystal Dynamics took over and relaunched the Tomb Raider series with Legends. A new contender, Uncharted, quickly became a huge hit and brought third-person action-adventure games to new heights, eclipsing the Tomb Raider series. Now Crystal Dynamics is back with a reboot as they rebuild Lara from the ground up.

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In terms of certain gameplay elements and story premise, the game is similar to Far Cry 3. You start off as a naive person seeking adventure on an island that turns out to be a very dangerous place filled with evil men. Also taking a page from Far Cry 3 and other games is the fast travel, hunting animals, upgrading weapons and upgrading skills feature. As for Uncharted, Tomb Raider has followed in their footsteps by bringing us cinematic action experiences that rival Hollywood’s big-action sequences. It’s okay though, since Uncharted took inspiration from Tomb Raider first.

Not once does the game try to sell Lara Croft as a sex symbol. She goes around killing bad guys and trying to save her expedition team. The camera never gets perverted, and Lara’s outfit from beginning to end is the same, so you won’t have one of her wearing a bikini…unless they release a DLC for it (which wouldn’t be a smart idea). Even the rips and tears on her clothes are strategically placed as to not make her look sexy.

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There was a big hoopla over the “attempted rape” scene that was shown during an E3 demo. Some gamers were concerned that this would make Lara a victim and somehow this would be the sole reason for her being empowered. You can rest easy knowing that that’s the only time you’ll be seeing that, and that her becoming a warrior stems from her wanting to find and save her team, since it was her idea to go to the island in the first place.

Lara has a lot of abilities up her sleeve…er tank top. She can sneak, perform stealth kills, dodge, counter, duck, roll, jump, shoot, climb, and many more. The game is contextual as it knows when to have Lara hide and seek cover towards walls and objects, and when to have her sneak around to avoid enemy detection (you won’t need to press a button to have her sneak around). Once she gets caught, she’ll automatically get into action mode.

My favorite moves are the dodge and counter skills. Almost any third-person game that includes this is automatically cool in my book. The feeling of dodging a person’s attack and humiliating them by countering with your own is boss.

Tomb Raider Gameplay 1

I didn’t know this before, but I found it cool that Lara’s search for the lost kingdom of Yamatai and its Queen, Himiko, is based on history. Of course, the developers put their own spin on it, but it’s still fascinating. So if you get a chance, collecting and reading the documents found throughout the island can be rewarding.

My only concern about the game is that even though the developers are trying to make Lara’s journey more personal, her interactions with her shipmates are limited. You also don’t get much in backstory other than by reading documents and journals left by inhabitants on the island. In Far Cry 3, I’m more concerned about saving my friends, but in Tomb Raider, I’m more concerned about saving Lara Croft. It’s weird how that works.

The Tomb Raider reboot not only redefines Lara as a character, but it also redefines the series as a whole. The game has borrowed a lot of elements from different games, but that’s not a bad thing, since the game does it so well. It may not be groundbreaking, but it’s one hell of a ride as you control Lara from a scared explorer into a determined warrior searching for answers.

Grade: A

Tomb Raider is available for Xbox 360, PC, and PC. If you have a good enough Radeon graphics card, you’ll get to witness the awesome power of realistic hair! It’s also available at Redbox kiosks for $2.00 a day for PS3 and Xbox 360.

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John Nguyen
John Nguyen 10488 posts

Assassin, scoundrel, head honcho.