Looking back – Tomb Raider

After finishing my Arkham Origins playthough, I found myself with a third-person adventure craving. So I looked back at other games I didn’t finish in the past. Immediately realising that it was time to finish Tomb Raider.

This is the 2013 reboot, not the original.

It’s worth mentioning that I have a real strong love for the original series, particularly Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider 2. It was the first game I ever saw on a Playstation at my cousin’s house, and Tomb Raider 2 was one of the first games we got when we had a home PC.

I’ve played and replayed them several times, and love them to bits. From putting the butler in the freezer over and over, to trying to uncover the myth of making Lara topless. I’ve spent hours with this series, different consoles (Saturn, Playstation, Xbox), different remakes etc, and I love it.

Tomb Raider in 2013 was something different, something “darker” and more grounded (kind of).

I bought it, played it and hit what must have been the verge of the end of Act 2. I remember it well enough, but I just lost the will to continue. So stopped, and never came back to it.

Much like my Arkham Origins play through, I decided it was time to right that wrong, and see how it holds up in 2020 at the same time.

Good news. Tomb Raider is great.

 

The gritty reboot

It seems to me like the early 2010’s were rife with the words “gritty”, “darker” and “reboot”. I could be wrong, but that’s certainly some of the vocabulary that was thrown around when Tomb Raider was released. People seemed to welcome the release, and it did well enough to create a trilogy (I’ll play those, too!) over the years.

Created by Crystal Dynamics this was Lara Croft’s origin story. Which, if you ask me, landed really well.

Playing it in 2020, after seeing the genre of third-person action/adventure games really blossom (looking at you Uncharted!), it would be easy to look at it and say that it doesn’t hold-up. But it totally does.

The movement and controls feel super-loose, and a bit floaty, which was off-putting, but everything was responsive enough to make-up for that. I’m hopeful that this is refined over the trilogy because it was arguably the most jarring element of playing the game.

No T-rex’s in sight here. But there’s a lot of killing, some gore (those scenes that happen when you get skewed by objects in rivers etc, are brutal).

Lara is surviving. Or at least she is initially.

Dealing with the fact that she needs to do what it takes to survive, save her friends and escape Yamatai. It starts of as a great exposition piece, and shows how she goes from teeneage girl, to survivalist/killer. Tomb Raider soon becomes a video game, though. After that first shocking kill, you’re good to go. Murdering swathes of bad guys without so much as a flinch.

It’s a tough balancing act. It starts of weighted and serious. It ends up like an action movie, and honestly, if you take it for what it is, it’s excellent.

 

Looks good, sounds good

When Tomb Raider leans into the cinematic, it shines. Set pieces with camera angles setting the scene. Hanging from edges, jumping massive gaps. It’s all shown-off in the best possible way. Honestly, considering this is a game from 2013, I genuninely said “woah” out loud a couple of times.

There were moments where the camera was cutting and moving like it was The Bourne Identity, which was a little hard to follow, but for the most part, scenes are really well set-up and displayed. Better than a lot of current games……

Running at 1080p at a very consistent 60 frames per second, Tomb Raider was smooth as butter. And it looked fantastic.

On top of the visuals, you’re treated with some great voice acting, environmental sounds and a great score. Everything on display in Tomb Raider is triple-A if you ask me.

Crystal Dynamics came out swinging with Tomb Raider, and thet landed the punch.

I would say that the dialogue was a little ropey on occasion, but nothing so bad it was game-ruining. Just a little hard to listen to, on occasion.

Lots of emotion nicely conveyed through voices, music and motion capture. Tomb Raider presents itself better than some games that have come out since (looking at you Jedi: Fallen Order….).

 

Overall experience

Playing old games and being objective about them is hard. Things have moved on so much, and you have to remember that there were limits back then, that aren’t there anymore. Tastes and trends have changed, and systems might not work quite like you would expect 7 years on.

Tomb Raider doesn’t seem to particularly suffer from these things though. Controls aside, it’s aged remarkably well.

The XP system worked nicely, although the campfires for saving and upgrading were a little annoying (I never needed to fast travel to them). I got my weapons upgraded and developed my skills. It worked without being over-complicated.

Tombs were lovely little puzzles that I really enjoyed. In fact, these puzzles are what I love most about the Tomb Raider series. I never felt too stretched that I needed help, but I definitely found myself trying things and thinking things through. The perfect belance of effort and satisfaction!

Traversing and climbing things. Using my rope arrows etc to get about, was very satisfying.

2013 feels like an age ago, particularly after this year….But it’s not so long that Tomb Raider as become obsolete. It’s an excellent, thoroughly playable game and a great reboot of a beloved franchise.

I had an absolute blast, and I’m really pleased to have given it another go. Finishing the main story and as much side content as I could find along the way, took me about 14 hours.

Hopefully the movement and shooting controls are tightened-up in the next of the trilogy “Rise of the Tomb Raider” . I’m following Lara into her next adventure soon, and honestly, coming off Tomb Raider, I couldn’t be more keen to get stuck-in.

If you haven’t played it, you can get it really cheap on CDKeys or in a Steam sale etc, and it’s worth committing the time to.

I’m so pleased I went back to give it a go!

Tomb Raider

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