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Developer: Crystal Dynamics (Singleplayer)/ Eidos Montreal (Multiplayer)
Publisher: Square Enix
North American Release Date: March 5th,2013
European Release Date: March 5th,2013
Trophies: 1 | 2 | 7 | 41
Trophy Guide: Tomb Raider Trophy Guide by: DaveyHasselhoff
The classic adventure franchise is back with a whole new grittier look, a younger more realistic Lara Croft, and some new ingredients to the formula that made Tomb Raider a household name. Does the series finally evolve into something that can compete with the other major franchises of the genre, or are we to learn that you can't teach an old buxom adventurer new tricks?
Right away from the opening cut scene you are well aware that this isn't the Tomb Raider you are used to seeing, and the moment you take control of the young Lara Croft you'll quickly come to realization that the clunky controls and horrible camera angles that have always plagued the series, have gone extinct like an ancient civilization. The game slowly eases you into these new styles by having a tutorial that gets you acclimated to the new Lara. Quickly you're sprinting from sudden death, leaping up mountain passes, and doing what you can to survive. The game then points you to it's combat mechanics by introducing the hunt for food and need to eat. The game's now trademark bow becomes your first weapon as Lara seeks the necessities to make it through the ordeal set in front of her.
From there on out the game introduces you new weapons, new gadgets, and the games other unique features in a way that doesn't overwhelm you but is relevant to the roadblock presented. Along with combat, there are collectibles in the form of relics (because what is a Tomb Raider game without treasure?) documents, and GPS (global positioning system, for those of you who are Amish, or from a dead civilization in need of raiding) caches. Mixed in with those collectibles are hidden maps that reveal the locations if those nasty little evasive buggers, and challenges that can come in the form of burning effigies to blowing up a bunch of leftover landmines. All these tasks, along with your standard shooting people in the heads (or smashing heads, if that's what you're into, you cheeky bugger) add up to experience points that unlock "Survival Skills" which are broken into three categories - survivor, for foraging, climbing, and surviving (duh!), hunter which makes you better with those ranged weapons, and brawler which is full of melee and dodge skills.
The games choice of currency is simply known as "salvage." This can be found form shooting deer, looted from the corpse of your enemy, or found in treasure boxes and secret tombs of the games island environment. Salvage is used for upgrading your gear, mostly your weapons, to make the things you have better. Eventually you will also need to find blueprints for your weapons as well to unlock further advancements, but rarely do you have to go far out of your way to find them, as the game often seems to give them to you just when you have the salvage burning a hole in your pocket.
All of these newly learned skills will have some form of use at some point or another, as Lara finds survival gear, upgrades to her current equipment and the remnants of her expedition, the game play is steady and strong, whether you are fighting the bizarre cultists , or the mystical undead warriors that have made sure that nobody has escaped the island, you'll have the tools available to handle the situation.
This time Lara ends up shipwrecked on fabled island of Yamatai in the Dragon's Triangle in Japanese waters, which ironically enough - is the place that her colleagues were looking for in the first place. Quickly, our heroine is separated from her friends on a strange island; and it's up to Lara to find a way back, but also figure out how to overcome her own human need to survive the harrowing ordeal. Immediately the environment lets you know that whatever is going on in this island, it isn't exactly what the crew of the Endurance had in mind or could have ever anticipated in their wildest dreams.
Rule 132 of Henchman training: Check around every corner of cover.
You'll soon discover that Yamatai itself has it's own tale to tell, and that there is a lot more than meets the eye as you discover the island is full of it's own strange set of survivors. This group isn't your usual volleyball befriending, coconut radio type castaway's either, but they seem to have a major tie in to the strange ritual killings and some cult-like mentality toward the island's ruins and culture. What proceeds is Lara finding danger's at every possible turn and finding out that nature and man isn't the only enemies out there - but there is a supernatural element that might just be the most dangerous of all.
Joining Lara Croft are a cast of characters that would fill up the range of the global spectrum. Sam Nishimura is Lara's best friend and the main reason Yamatai is the destination of the stories plot as she is a descendant of Yamatai's last queen, Himiko. Roth is a friend of Lara's father and is the closest thing to a strong father figure that Lara has in her life, since her father died. The rest are a lot of characters that feel quite cookie cutter, from the socially awkward computer expert, the laid back Samoan with a heart of gold, the sassy ex-cop who is threatened by Lara's influence on the group, to the made-for-TV archeologist who's desire for fame is something he'd put above all else.
The games exposition unfolds in one of three ways primarily. First being, through typical advancement of tasks and adjoining cut scenes being the meat and potatoes of the storytelling.The second is through interacting with the characters themselves as you either talk to them, or they throw in a bit of flavor text and exposition on the character as they accompany you. The third and most unique idea - that sadly gets abandoned at around the halfway point of the game - is threw various digital videos found from Sam's camcorder that let you see a bit further into the characters themselves, their motives, and in some cases, their secrets. It's a nice mix that doesn't rely more heavily on one or the other, and due to exceptional writing, and top-notch voice over work, all make the story's flow one of it's strongest points.
The highly questioned new element to the series is the addition of a competitive multiplayer mode. The game's multiplayer is a mix of your standard competitive modes that have become standard this generation with one side being Survivors and the other being Solari. Free For All is your basic deathmatch mode, with Team Deathmatch being, you guessed it, your standard team deathmatch mode. Rescue is a variation of capture the flag, with the Survivors having to seek medical supplies and bring them back to their camp as the Solari does their best to stop the opposition from getting said supplies. Lastly, there is Cry For Help, which has the Survivors trying to capture hold points to send out radio messages, as the Solari try to kill the Survivors and steal the batteries they are using to try and turn on the radios from the corpses.
All the modes except for Free For All, are best 2 out of 3 by default (can be raised to best of 5 or 7) and have the sides alternating between Survivors and Solari. There are slight differences between the two sides aside from the obvious cosmetic differences. There are slight changes in the weapons both use, with one side getting better automatic weapons, or bows sooner, where as the other gets better handguns or a slight more useful version of a perk sooner, but I am getting slightly ahead of myself.
Joining up with the game's multiplayer modes are both experience points and salvage from the game's story mode. Experience levels you up, unlocking new weapons (which are given to you automatically), upgrades for those weapons (which are unlocked using salvage) new character skins (which must also be bought with salvage), Those experience points are awarded for not only your standard kills, but for achieving certain "Trials", some repeatable and some not, such as killing three enemies in a row, or winning a round without dying. For the less adapt out there, there is also rewards called "Setbacks" which reward you for basically sucking, with options such as killing yourself, or being the first or last player to die in a round. So regardless of whether or not you're the best of the round, or the guy who's unable to shoot his own foot - you have a plethora of ways to earn xp.
If Platinum is in your future, expect to see this screen quite a lot, except with y'know - PS3 buttons.
It's not as if there is anything truly groundbreaking going on with the multiplayer here. There are some traps you could use, and the environmental ropes add a unique drop-in and get out aspect, but their usefulness is small compared to the firearms which are your main weapons. What you basically have is a serviceable experience that is decent enough to not feel as if it was just tossed on. My only really major complaint is that there are only 5 default maps, and they start to feel a bit repetitive due to a lack of variation. It's not as if there's an online pass, so you can't exactly complain too much about it's addition being overly forced. The only discerning part is that for the completionist out there you're going to have to throw in a few hours to reach level 60, and might have some trouble with a few of the more unique trophies like getting mounted turret kills or winning each game mode. In no way is the multiplayer the game's strength, but at the same time it doesn't have any major fault that makes it ruin the total experience by being bad.
Never has a Tomb Raider game looked as good as this one. After only a few moments of eye candy you'll find the new look for this reboot is something that Lara Croft has needed for a long time. Visually the Crystal Engine does a beautiful job of showcasing the major contrasting elements as the island visuals varies in it's environmental effects. Whether it be rain, slow, sand, or waves - you will find no problems with the environmental effects blending seamlessly into their respective environments. It would be quite possible to make a disjointed mess of things when you have World War II relics, Japanese artifacts, and variety of modern shipwrecked items all on one island, but never does it feel as if you're looking at something that doesn't look like it belongs.
You may say you hate tombs Lara, but who else makes derelict look so chic?
The sounds of the game are solid to amazing as well. Each weapon sounds different, the voice actor for the main characters are topnotch (with the actors themselves doing the motion capture work as well, you get the total experience from the performance work) and the sounds of enemies being shot, sloshing into puddles, or sliding down a rope all sound the way you expect them to. Like pretty much every game in the genre, you'll get used to what your enemies are going to say after the hundredth encounter and eventually tune out, but that isn't something you could honestly avoid at this point.
Lara's control scheme has never been tighter and she handles better than you could have hoped for. Whether the game has you climbing a mountain, dodge rolling an incoming shotgun toting foe, or sniping a foe in mid conversation, the controls take very little getting used to and you quickly find every action becoming second nature. All the weapons handle differently enough, with your machine gun jumping as you hold down the trigger, your magnum that kicks like a mule after each shot, or shakiness of a bow string that is held too long - whatever you play style, each weapon handles as you would expect and reacts equally on par. Gone are the days of Tomb Raider platforming hell, and the clunky combat that felt like it's 10 years old, and everything feels smooth and updated to the high standards one expects from the genre.
The game has some of the most generous checkpoints that I've ever experienced, and on the rare occasion you do have a technical misstep, you can reload a checkpoint that will set you back no more than 2-3 minutes back of where you were. I personally only experienced one minor graphical error on a ship in which the clipping made it impossible to see to my right side. I just reloaded a checkpoint and did the two minutes of catch-up and the error was gone. There have been reports of some serious errors, but it appears that they are extremely rare and have been patched since the game has been out for a bit.
Trophies for Tomb Raider are a mixed bag of a little bit of everything. You have some missable trophies that can force you to play another play through (I personally had one that I had to go back and redo). But for the most part the trophies want you to do nearly everything in the singleplayer such as get "X" amount kills with every weapon, collect all the games collectibles (which are some of the least annoying collectibles out there, and thanks to the game's strong design, actually are an entertaining distraction at times) and upgrading all your weapons to max. Rarely is the singleplayer side of things a chore, and even the missed trophies will only take a couple hours of dedicated focus to knock out on a second play through.
The multiplayer trophies on the other hand are probably what are going to keep the elusive platinum from most people's hands. Whether it's having to win in every mode, or getting one of the many gimmicky kill trophies, this is likely going to take the bulk of your serious efforts to knock out. Thanks to a recent patch, you at least won't have to gain 238 levels of multiplayer to achieve the excessively grind filled Shopaholic as it will only take one prestige to unlock all the characters instead of three. This will still be the more difficult part to your road to Platinum, but even for a multiplayer casual like me, it wasn't too difficult and with a bit of grinding or boosting is definitely achievable for anybody dedicated enough to try.
Crystal Dynamics has set up a new standard for how you reboot a franchise. Tomb Raider has suffered for a long while of being a dangerously old series that was resting on the laurels of past glories instead of making the necessary advances required to maintain the iconic status the franchise deserves in the pantheon of video game history. After being surpassed by Uncharted as the premiere adventure franchise, it appears that the teacher has now learned from the student, and made the necessary steps to reclaim it's spot as an elite franchise and perhaps even challenge Nathan Drake for role of top treasure hunter. Tomb Raider's singleplayer is a brilliant new take on the origin story of Lara Croft, and has finally given the character the depth, setting, controls, she has been in desperate need of for an entire generation and a half. The experience has a few minor flaws, but nothing that will detract the majority of people from walking away from the game leaving unsatisfied or like expectations were not met.
The multiplayer isn't anything special, and is going to scare a lot of people away from a game that many feel doesn't need the competitive aspect. It's sad that many people will miss out on an amazing singleplayer experience because of such trepidations, but it's something that is expected with so many other company's throwing in multiplayer and leaving a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths. Most will have no problem though separating the two, and seeing that you don't have to do both to feel like you've got your money's worth.
Lara Croft is back, and hopefully this depiction of gaming's most prominent female will continue to evolve, and build off of the amazing footholds that Tomb Raider has set in place. I personally feel that she can climb to all new heights with where she goes from here, and am sold on the franchise reclaiming it's spot in the upper echelon of gaming's great franchises.
The best offering of the series' existence in every major way. Everything you've had qualms with has been rehashed, redone, and revamped to make this reboot, the rebound the franchise deserves.
The origin story of Lara that pushes her out of being just a video game sex symbol, and shows how Lara became the bad ass we all know her as.
Nothing overly special, but relevant to the game's format at least. If you give it a spin, you'll discover a serviceable standard approach to multiplayer with a Tomb Raider feel.
Graphics, sound, control are all tight, minor flaws here and there don't take away from the experience thanks to a fair and consistent checkpoint system.
Overall: 9/10 Brilliant