This is a great shame because during gameplay some of the dialogue is superb. Listening to the island’s inhabitants will reveal secrets to their backgrounds. There are also some surprising moments where Lara will interact with them behind cover, asking them questions and trying to negotiate out of situations.
The introduction of cover-based combat is something fans of the series were most worried about. Many feared that an Uncharted copycat was on its way - looking at the marketing of the game you can understand why.
So, you’ll be glad to hear that Tomb Raider 2013's combat is pretty good. It has some interesting takes on tired formulas, such as enemies with shields. Instead of being frustrating they’re pretty easy to defeat when you work out how; they just offer another time management element in the heat of a battle.
Enemies are varied and continue to be so as the game goes on. You have to deal with them all in different ways and taking on a variety of enemies types can offer some satisfying moments.
Tomb Raider seems to mimic Uncharted and Gears of War in terms of cover-based shooting, you’ll soon realise that it’s not the case. In fact there’s no button to enter and hide behind cover at all. Lara automatically pushes herself up against concrete, walls and corners without the need of the gamer's prompt.
At first this can be a little jarring but, believe me, the absence of this aspect of control only adds to the experience. You’ll never feel completely safe behind cover and very rarely stick in one place. It's easier to move from one place to the next without it feeling automatic too. It feels a little frantic and unpredictable without it actually being so, and that just adds to the feeling of controlling a mass murderer learning her trade.
In terms of weaponry, there’s not a huge amount to choose from and this is actually refreshing. New weapons get introduced slowly and you’re never sitting wondering which of the 12 different assault rifles is the best. Instead you’re stuck with one and have to focus on modifying it to fit your needs. Your guns feel more personal because of this. They’re not just a series of number and letters, you’ve crafted them.
Enemy AI is pretty impressive too. Your foes constantly scream dialogue in reaction to how you're playing. “Quick, she’s reloading!” is shouted to command a rush of melee-based enemies as you fumble with your magazine clips. They also get scared and constantly question how one woman can take so many of their group down.
Tomb Raider is brutal in its violence. The game contains some of the most gruesome scenes I have ever witnessed in a videogame. Be warned, some of Lara’s death scenes are downright sickening. However, they’re always in context. It never feels forced. This isn’t violence for the sake of it and you even have a choice on how violent you make Lara herself.
It has to be noted that Tomb Raider has introduced a multiplayer mode to accompany its single-player experience, but at the time of writing (before the game’s release) I have yet to test it fully. So, instead of giving you a quick paragraph on what I have played, I’ll be talking about that separately in the near future.
One word that I would use to describe Tomb Raider is ‘Confident’. The game knows what it wants to do, and achieves it. It seamlessly pulls off things that many other games have tried and failed.
But its biggest achievement is not the free-roaming gameplay, not the ludicrously beautiful graphics or the gripping story. It’s the fact that it has taken a character that I had fallen out of love with a long time ago and given her a whole new lease of life.
Tomb Raider franchise, and it’s one that will recapture those that it has left behind.
Why didn’t they do this sooner?
+ Great Visuals
+ Fantastic exploration
+ Gripping story
- Minor animation issues
- Below par voice-acting
SPOnG Score: 9/10
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Closing date:30 Jun 2013