Crystal Dynamic's reboot of the Tomb Raider series is a success.
It's actually risky to reboot an iconic character. Not only do you need to bring fresh ideas, but to make sure that he character still has those traits that make the character memorable in the first place. Ninja Theory's Devil May Cry tried to reboot the Character of Dante with mixed results. Now Crystal Dynamics attempts to reboot Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.
For the first time in 17 years, Lara feels like a real person. She is unsure of herself, cares for others, and feels pain as the events of the game pans out. Very few games allow having the character abused as much as Lara has. Past games from the series have Lara escape death, and she doesn't even have a scratch. Not even Nathan Drake gets a cut. You see the damage Lara gets throughout the game. Not only does Lara get through a blender, but we feel her pain as well.
The set pieces are a sight to be seen, it even rivals that of the Uncharted series. From escaping from a burning building to parachuting down a tree infested mountain side. Her will to survive allows her to come back stronger than ever. By the end of the game, Lara Croft has never been this bad ass. There is not a lot of weapons to choose from, but the weapons you do get you will use. There is not a weapon you will not use. There are ways to upgrade your weapons and deal out more damage.
Finding salvage and weapon parts will maximize your weapons. Finding relics, journals, and GPS caches will give you experience to upgrade yourself, by the end of the game, you can deal melee damage.
The combat is fast and exciting; the game is challenging, but never frustrating. Each fight that comes with it feels hefty and real. Each bullet and arrow that flies passed your head feels earned. It's a thrilling experience that most games strive for. The light stealth is excellent and very satisfying. You can complete full section using only stealth. Cover is the best around. When enemies are nearby, Lara will cover down automatically and it has a sense of realism. No button is needed. The enemies will do the same. They will flank you or rush you and it never feels old.
PLACE HERE AND THERE
As you progress through the game, you will come across tombs. There is not as much as I hoped for, but they do allow a mixture among action and puzzles. There is a focus mode called Survival Instinct, but a part of finding the way point, I hardly used it. The Survival Instinct provides the pieces to the puzzle, not the solution. In the game you can explore the whole island. While the game is leaner, it doesn't feel like it with its many places to find. Moving around is fast and fun while using the pick axe is a blast to do. Lara movies as you would expect someone will do, if she trips her body will have a response to it. Lara Croft's story to protégé to Survivor is an interesting one; it's not about looking for tombs, but her will to survive.
The side characters are not the most fleshed out, but they are interesting. The parallel between Lara and Mathias is interesting and the focus point of the game. As one goes mad with the will to survive, the other finds themselves stronger than ever. What helps this new Lara is the new actress playing her. I hope that we see more of her as Lara in the future. This is a rare game where the guns have power behind them. The game is not the most detailed, but it still looks great.
THE WALLS ARE COMING DOWN
Not every game is perfect, there was this one moment where I died because the platform I was on did not load properly, and another where I got lost and could not find my way out. That happened in my second play through. It was after I met Grim, and I had to start over again. There is a lot of Quick Time Events in the game, but it becomes less so as the game continues. There is a weird save system where the game saves all the time, but you cannot do it manually. Nearly everything you do, the game will save. I would have liked it more if the fire camps was the save point like in Dark Souls.
The biggest problem with Tomb Raider is the lack of Carry Over. After you beat the game, you cannot bring your stats with you into a new game. If this had carry over, then searching for all the little trinkets the game has would have been worth it. Some of the problems are glaring, but they do not detract the overall feel of the game. The length of the game is awesome clocking around ten to 13 hours, more if you decide to find everything. Crystal Dynamics has not only given us a refreshing take on Lara Croft and Tomb Raider, but a fantastic Action Adventure game. It's too soon to tell, but I can see this being in my Game of the Year list by the end of the year. A worthy entry to the series.