Pros: Graphics, Settings, Gameplay, controls, length.
Pros: Graphics, Settings, Gameplay, controls, length.
Pros: Good graphics, good gameplay, combat is excellent.
Cons: Not much to do once completed.
Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix bring forth a new imagining of the iconic Lara Croft to the Tomb Raider franchise. A game that, thanks to it's complete overhaul from the ground up, from game mechanics to cinematics, has been compared over and over again to Naughty Dog's popular Playstation 3 Uncharted franchise in many a fan war but is also a franchise itself that has been around much, much, longer. I'm a firm believer in judging a game by it's own merits, not by the merits of others before it, or by comparing it to other similar titles. This isn't Uncharted. This is Tomb Raider. And that is how this review will judge this game.
The real question, no doubt if you are reading this review, is how good is it?
The games presentation is excellent work. From the the graphics and audio right down to the menus and extras. Graphically, Tomb Raider is right up there with some of the very best titles on PC. It's not great so much on a tehcnical level like say Crysis, but the art direction along with the amazing attention to detail to both Lara Croft and the environments make this a game that truly has you in awe for pretty much the whole play through. The addition of TressFX is a love or hate feature for some, but personally I love it. While it's not quite as perfect as you would wish it to be it's certainly a step in the right direction for more realistic looking hair in video games. It's hard to not fall in love with how pretty this game looks. The audio really draws you in too. A nice musical score aswell as good weapon effects that give depth and feeling to each kill make you feel like a true survivor in the kingdom of Yamatai. The menus are nicely drawn too, easy to navigate, and even allow you to recreate some nice desktop wallpapers with much ease with a quick bit of work in an image editor thanks to the way they render an in-game image in the background. There's also some nice extras in there which you unlock as you go along, such as concept art, etc.
The story is well written and well paced. Exceptionally so. It never really feels intruding though it can be a little stop-start to begin with as the story begins to weave and as some of the earlier game mechanics are introduced. Once the game gets going however the pacing is excellent. Action sequences never feel too long or too short and there is also a nice dose of puzzling to go along with it all too. Unfortunately there is not quite the level of puzzling old school fans would expect from a Tomb Raider title, and a lot of the tombs in question are nothing more than mini puzzles of their own to complete. Really the idea is to think of the entire island as one large tomb but let's be straight here. The new Tomb Raider is more action oriented than puzzle oriented. I would say probably around 70/30 in favour of action from my own play through. Most of the puzzling comes from traversing the island, but the reality is that it isn't hard to navigate thanks to a mechanic called Survival Instinct. I believe overall this is the games one major flaw because while it's easy to say "hey don't use it" you will. Why? Because it's right there at the touch of a button. It really does make the game, and it's puzzles overall, far too easy.
Combat is outstanding. One of Tomb Raiders biggest flaws in the entire franchise has always been the way it has handled combat. Not anymore. Inspired heavily by Uncharted and Gears of War in this area Lara will take out her enemies at range with her bow (or other weapons such as Shotguns and Assault Rifles) from a close up third person view and also at melee range with her Climbing Tool. You have to unlock the melee combat as you go along, which gives you the feeling that Lara is developing her combat ability, and natural survival instincts, as the story goes on. Different combat mechanics are also unlocked such as stuns, and finishers, which can be performed with her Climbing Tool aswell as with some other weapons, including her Bow and other ranged weapons. Weapons are upgradeable as you go through the game and you have a nice choice of skills to upgrade aswell giving you a nice choice of how to approach the game, aswell as giving you fresh ways to approach the game as you progress. It never gets dull.
Multiplayer, unfortunately, is probably the games weakest link. While there are upgrading options and several game modes to play, it just feels tacked on as an afterthought. The combat, while great in single player, just doesn't quite fit into the multiplayer. There is currently DLC in the works to flesh out the multiplayer more, but truth be told that really this isn't what Tomb Raider is about, and it shows. Some people will have fun with it, it can be entertaining, but I just cannot see it lasting too long once the novelty wears off. In my honest opinion I feel Crystal Dynamics should have put the extra time and effort into the, already great, single player to make it even more spectacular.
Performance, at the time or writing, is pretty good. The game was run with a R7950 and HD6870, on AMD Catalyst 13.2 Drivers, in 1920x1080 resolution. Even with TressFX enabled the game runs smoothly at maximum in-game settings on the R7950, though it needed disabling when played with the HD6870 as the HD6000 series card just couldn't handle it, and there was no sign of slowdown or stuttering.
To conclude this review, and multiplayer aside, Tomb Raider is an outstanding title, worthy of any gamers attention. It looks great and plays great on consoles but looks especially delicious on PC.
Graphics: An outstanding looking game, regardless of what platform it is on. PC really gives something special though. Especially if your graphics card can handle TressFX. 9.5/10
Audio: Moody, atmospheric and cinematic. The audio keeps you sucked in and never seems to feel out of place. 9/10
Gameplay: Really well paced with a good sense of progression. Not as many puzzles as a fan would like, but they're there if you look for them and combat is excellent and exciting. 9/10
Longevity: While you can run around the island to complete any challenges upon completion the lack of enemies to kill makes it a rather dull affair. Multiplayer is forgettable. 7/10
Overall: A great action adventure title, but it isn't quite Tomb Raider. An exceptional game none the less however. 9/10
Played on: AMD 965 Black Edition @4ghz, 8gb Corsair Vengeance, R7950 3gb / HD6870 1gb, Acer GD245HQ 24" 1920x1080 Monitor, Sherwood AX4103 Amplifier, Eltax Monitor Speakers.
|Platform||Windows Vista Windows 7 Windows XP|
|Title||Tomb Raider [Download]|
|CatalogNumberList - CatalogNumberListElement||41017Tomb Raider2|
|ProductGroup||Digital Video Games|