Tomb Raider made quite the splash last year when it was rebooted. While it wasn’t exactly a downtrodden series, it wasn’t as big of a draw as it had once been. So rather than continuing the work they’ve been doing, developer Crystal Dynamics began a new continuation with the re-telling of Lara Croft’s origins. What they delivered was an outstanding story and a fresh take on a strong female lead. So, why not give the reboot a smaller reboot on the newer generation of consoles?
What Is It?
Tomb Raider puts you into the boots of a young Lara Croft. She’s not too far removed from school and is incredibly ambitious on learning more about the lost kingdom of the Yamatai. With her theories of what may have happened to the people, she’s able to secure funding for an expedition to the area where the kingdom is believed to have existed.
She’s accompanied by a fairly loyal crew, led by close family friend and mentor Conrad Roth. When their ship crash lands on an island, the crew is scattered and Lara’s survival skills are put to the test. Helped by the remote guidance of Roth and the sheer will to survive, Lara finds the island to be far more dangerous than anticipated.
The Definitive Edition doesn’t bother tweaking anything with the story, but it was never much of a necessity. The story is still strong and worthy of the great character Lara Croft has been and continues to be.
Unfortunately though, revisiting some of the early parts of the game that set up Lara’s struggles didn’t have the same impact as they once did. I can’t entirely blame the game for that, considering it’s a desensitized situation, but key scenes did seem a bit too dramatic either way. It will stop early enough, as the story progresses nearly as much as Lara’s character does.
Why Should I Care?
From the Definitive Edition standpoint, it’s a noticeably prettier game. I never felt that the Xbox 360 version of the game was lacking in any way. That looked great enough, but the Definitive Edition on Xbox One makes it look that much better. There are a few more things that you’ll find visually appealing about the game, but DLC is the primary attraction. There is an additional hidden tomb, the only types of tombs you’re actually raiding in the game, but that would be the only significant change in single player. You’ll have all of the released DLC, so you can enjoy weapons and whatnot while you’re playing multiplayer.
That’s fine, but back to how great it looks. The title is dead on, as the graphics truly are more definitive. It’s easier to appreciate the detail and the lighting of the environments. Character models look great too, but Lara must have gotten some special attention as she’s a clear standout.
As for the game itself, it’s one of the best Tomb Raider offerings in the franchise. Crystal Dynamics made a wise choice to revisit Lara Croft’s origins and provides us with a believable character that you can get behind. Her character development is great and finds a nice balance that fits existing fans of the franchise and newcomers. To some, the enormous focus on Lara might leave some to desire more action. Don’t get me wrong; you’ll get plenty of action in the game, even to some supernatural extents.
However, because it’s more about the character than what she does, there might not be as much of a familiar adventure to series’ long time fans. That said, you can’t fault the game for accomplishing what it was clearly going for (character), but you can make the safe assumption that with those elements out of the way, the sequel can be far more adventurous.
There are some common elements found throughout the story, which is to be expected. Of course the crew ends up crash landing and there are far more mysterious things about the island than they believed. But, it works. There are some difficult situations and some interesting twists throughout that will keep you engaged.What works so well is that Lara isn’t the ass-kicker that we’re accustomed to seeing. She can noticeably hold her own, but she isn’t immediately unstoppable as she’s still very green. It’s a nice change of pace that balances the gameplay and strengthens the story.
Of course, with voice control being what all the cool kids are doing these days (kind of), you’ll be able to use voice gestures to pull up your map, change weapons and pause the game. This applies to both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions, if you have the camera accessory for the latter. I found the gestures to be quite accurate, though they don’t do much beyond equipping the weapon. You can’t use the gestures to fire or aim. The Kinect on Xbox One will offer some gesture controls to examine relics with your hand and alter your view by leaning left or right. Both of these felt completely useless as using the controller was a far quicker and controllable action.
Multiplayer makes its required return, but don’t expect to spend much time there unless you want to make certain you’re squeezing out all $60 for the game. Oh, on that topic.
What Makes It Worth My Time and Money?
If you somehow skipped past this one in the previous generation of consoles (or PC), then Tomb Raider is absolutely worth picking up now. If you did already play the game, it might rub you the wrong way to see the game with a $60 price tag. It’s a bit of a steep price to pay, sure, but it’s still a fantastic game worthy of every bit of praise it receives.
If dropping $60 is really pushing it for you, I recommend trading in your previous version, should you still have it. But either way, Tomb Raider is certainly a game worth revisiting on this newer generation of consoles.