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Tomb Raider
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon March 6, 2013
I've never spent much time playing the "Tomb Raider" series, but this reboot did all the right things, and it drew me right in. This modern take on the famous franchise takes inspiration from many great sources- my first impression, oddly enough, was of "Resident Evil 4" (a classic so significant, it's still influencing the gaming landscape). The early goings of "Tomb Raider" have a distinctly "survival horror" vibe that is masterfully conveyed, interspersed with just the right amounts of Quick Time Events, cinematic showpieces, character development, story telling, and gameplay tutorials. Additionally, it reminded me of the fantastic island of the TV show, "Lost" (complete with freaky natives and bunkers!).

The most striking comparison, of course, is that of the "Uncharted" series. "Tomb Raider" obviously existed long before "Uncharted", but it's equally obvious that it drew inspiration from the mechanics of climbing, combat, and cinematic storytelling of one of this generation's most successful series. And I'm not complaining at all- I wish there were more games like "Uncharted"! For the most part, "Tomb Raider" does a fantastic job implementing these elements, resulting in a game that is a blast to play and easy to pick up. Everything is very responsive, the settings are visually vibrant and interesting, and the island is begging for more thorough searching. The inclusion of TONS of unlockables is a genius notion, including documents (which help to further unfurl the mystery of the island), artifacts, and salvage (for weapon and gear upgrades), and it means crazy amounts of replay value... plus the online multiplayer aspect, if that strikes your fancy.

The only thing holding "Tomb Raider" back from five stars is that when pitted up against the unrivaled production values of "Uncharted", it falls a shade short. The characters are noticeably lacking compared to the likes of Nathan, Sully, and Elena, and the presentation just seems a bit "off". There's such an emphasis placed on (literal and figurative) darkness and grittiness, I oftentimes had difficulty seeing what was going on around my character, and it actually had something of a demoralizing effect (particlarly when compared to the bright, tropical locales of "Uncharted"). That's not to say that "Tomb Raider" is a bad game- it's not. In reality, it's a very good game- it's just not among my top favorites.

Final note (MINOR spoilers follow): The producers of this game must be huge fans of the movie "The Descent", for there are many nods to the horror film, including Lara's affinity for the climbing axe, the "bone scramble" toward daylight in the opening moments, and the slow emergence from the red pool of ichor in "the pit". Additionally, Lara's psychological transformation closely mirrors that of "The Descent"'s protagonist. It was an excellent source to draw inspiration from, and the developers of "Tomb Raider" did a fine job of subtly paying homage to it.
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150 of 180 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2013
After being forced into a corner of mediocrity and shameless attempts and polygonal "sex appeal" the Tomb Raider franchise is finally given the chance to start anew with a fresh look at the beginnings of series protagonist Lara Croft.

To keep a long story short, this series reboot showcases Lara's transformation from an inexperienced young woman in search of adventure into a strong and unstoppable survivor. This isn't the unrealistically large-breasted Angelina Jolie look-alike who runs around in short-shorts with her belly button on display to appeal to lonely fanboys. This is Tomb Raider matured and honed to perfection. Adventure, danger, suspense, terror. And all centered around a well-rounded character (yes, Lara is finally a real character now).

Visually Tomb Raider is magnificent. Sure, there's a lot of browns and grays in many settings, but when the game opens up to the island the graphics showcase the wonderful designs crafted with such care at Crystal Dynamics.

Voice acting is great. Lara's portrayal (in both voice and motion-capture) is ahead of previous games by leaps and bounds. Sound design and music are generally excellent.

Finally, we have gameplay. Tomb Raider offers a welcome mixture of shooting, platforming, sneaking, and cinematic quick time events (QTE's). Many gamers dislike QTE's, and I understand why, but I personally welcome them when they are placed sensibly within the game. Tomb Raider gets it right, using these events to keep you on the edge of your seat. One wrong move and Lara dies, sometimes rather graphically.

On the whole developer Crystal Dynamics and publisher Square Enix have crafted a gem of a game that can be enjoyed by a new generation as well as series veterans. Tomb Raider is a force to be reckoned with once again, and I pity the next big action-adventure game that tries to do better.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2013
Tomb Raider: The Final Hours - Xbox 360 version

Visual effects: 10/10
Voice acting: 10/10
Musical score: 11/10 (outstanding!)
Brutality and Gore: LOTS (probably too much for some people)
Humor: 1/10
Xbox controller usage: 10/10
Frame rate: 10/10
Software stability: 10/10 (zero crashes)
Cut scenes: 10/10 (seamless)
Load pauses: NONE (amazing!)
Boot/splash time: FAST
Internet DRM: No
Worth the $60 price: Absolutely
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2013
I GOT IT! Sorry I had to get that out of the way. So, back in 2012 I was entralled by the trailer for the new Tomb Raider. The graphics, the story and even the new lara were amazing. I have done this review in a few parts. Each item will be discussed in what I hope will be a fair amount of detail. Here goes!

The Play Arts Kai figure!
http://www.amazon.com/Square-Enix-Tomb-Raider-Action/product-reviews/B00A8ZD6HQ/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1 (I have reviewed the figure on amazon already. (I made sure to keep it detailed and nice)

The Box, Endurance Tin.
Great qaulity, great paint and some pretty cool little details. The hinges for teh tin are broken(NEVER ACTUALLY THERE)
Its about ten to eleven inches in length, and maybe six to seven inches in width. the same for its height and depth.
The game figure and everything else fits in there nicely.

The Sound-track.
Ten songs from the game. Most are pretty great, Warning, they rip as unknown artist and song name. Everytime.
It comes in a simple, albeit pretty card-board casing. Eh.
I need to point out that the sound-track is a SCORE. All instruments.

Little Art Book.
Great pictures, thirty eight pages total. All in colour. It covers mainly just concept art of enviroments. There is a minor bio on Lara and Enixs new version of her origens. Also, there are a few concepts of the other crew members.

Poster.
Cool picture of Lara. Seen on the steel casing cover. Its pretty big. Not much else to say though.
The back comes with a map that wont help in-game. Maybe for a general idea as to what area has what type of enviroment.

Lara Picture Card.
Again its a piece of paper with Laras face. Feels very Hunger Games-y. I love the picture.

The Game(SO FAR)
The story starts you out as a ship-wrecked Lara. You are taken hostege by crazy cave people and hung upside down. After a pretty intense fight to escape the cave Lara is free(ISH).
You will go through a VERY strict pathway that will act as your basic walkthrough. Its fine enough.
After a little bit you meet the cast again. Not much there, Sam is sweet, the others are pretty untrustworthy. To me at least.
A heap ton of action will happen right in the begininnig. It will hook you pretty quickly. Great!

I will update this review as I go through the game.
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39 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2013
I am the type of gamer that is pretty loyal to my favorite game franchises - Gears of War, Bioshock, Mass Effect, Tomb Raider - and I tend to overlook a lot of problems with them because I love the stories, characters, feel. You know what to expect when you put one in and sit down to play. That being said, I feel that this effort in the Tomb Raider series was a bit unexpected for me. And even though it was fun to play, it didn't deliver all that I love about the previous Tomb Raider games.

I will start by listing what I didn't like about the game (these are in no particular order). MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS:

-It was very short. I rented this one instead of buying it and had 95% game completion in 10 days and finished it in 12 on Normal. I am a mother of 2, work a part-time job, help my daughter with homework, do house work, cook meals etc. I only play a couple hours of XBOX a night after my kids go to bed. To have 95% of the game completed in that amount of time means the game is very short. No joke.

-There wasn't enough of the puzzle aspects to the game. One thing I LOVED about the previous Tomb Raiders is when you are in a massive tomb or space and you can see all the levels of the ruins and you have to figure out how to traverse the space. A lot of climbing, jumping, puzzling over how to get where you need to go. This one was missing that. There were large spaces but they didn't have the same feel and certainly didn't have the challenge to them that previous Tomb Raiders did.

-The tombs were a joke. Come on. Seriously.

-I absolutely HATED the sequences when you had to push the Y button to prevent being killed or escape an enemy. You know, the ones where it is like you are watching a video and then the Y flashes on the screen and you have to hit it at the right time. Those are the times I died the most. Over and over again. I couldn't seem to get the timing down my first time through, although now I'm getting better at it since I'm playing it my second time. There were just too many of these sequences and the sliding sequences as well.

~~SPOILERS~~
-I thought that the glimpses of the Oni were pretty terrifying. I DREADED the time when I would have to defeat them because I knew I would. Then, in the final battle there is...ONE of them. Seriously. ONE. I do not like boss battles. I typically struggle with them. But I was seriously let down on this one. To build up the tension so much, starting with being in the monastery and seeing them dragging the big club, hearing the sounds they make then hearing the Solarii discussing how they kill people and how deadly they are and finally to thinking I would have to confront one on the bridge and having it blown off, postponing the moment of battle. All of this raised the tension and really filled me with trepidation at the thought of having to fight them. But there was ONE. I didn't even die in the battle. Not once. I kept thinking, "Was that it? That couldn't be it!" But that was it.

-This is a minor dislike but I thought that some of the scenes were just so disgustingly gory and gross. All the blood and bones and rotting deer and people. Turned my stomach at times. I'm sensitive though so maybe that was just me. But I really though it was much grittier and gorier than other Tomb Raider games.

-Finally, and this isn't really a big one, but there were so many times when I was like "Do not leave her alone!" "Stay together!" But then if the survivors of the Endeavor always stayed together then there wouldn't be much of a story, right? ;)

Now, what I liked about the game (in no particular order):

-It was fun. Just overall, I enjoyed playing it. It wasn't difficult but it was worth playing through. I didn't get bored. I wished there was more sometimes and kept waiting for something more to happen. But when I looked and was 60%+ through the game, I realized that was it. I stopped waiting for the game to start and just played.

-I like her various weapons, particularly the bow.

Ah, I'm really trying to say something else that I liked but I guess that is it...

Multiplayer:

I do not typically enjoy multiplayer games. I am not great against other players. Now, Horde mode in Gears of War is my type of multiplayer. I can handle computer baddies but I'm just not fast enough or skilled enough to take on people who play multiplayer all day every day. I get about 2-3 hours a night AT MOST to play. That being said, I did like what I did play of the multiplayer. Of course, I kept being killed pretty much instantly after respawning which wasn't very fun. But I like how there are three rounds and you alternate between being the survivors trying to get medical supplies and Solarii trying to kill the survivors and preventing them from taking your medical supplies. There are traps that you can set to trip other players up and high-powered special weapons you can find in the level. Pretty cool. If I owned the game, I could see myself playing a little more of that.

I don't like it when game achievements require you to play player v. player. That typically means that a gamer such as myself will not be able to get all the achievements from a game. That is always a bummer.

Overall, a game that wasn't very challenging but was moderately fun to play.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2013
Square Enix has been pushing the envelope lately. Last year's Sleeping Dogs blended Grand Theft Auto-style driving and shooting and classic "True Crime" grit with elements of classic martial arts films, and Hitman: Absolution dropped players into the shoes of Agent 47 for the fifth time with stealthy gusto.

And then came Tomb Raider. Having a video game series spawn nine direct sequels is no small feat. But to hear it told on the internet and in a couple of magazines months before its release, this would have easily been one to pass on. Lara Croft is young, naive, fragile and vulnerable, not the dual-gun wielding, ass-kicking bombshell she has been for nine games and two movies now. Let me reassure you, there is plenty to love here.

After being shipwrecked in southern Japan, Lara Croft is knocked unconscious and taken prisoner by the indigenous tribe. Her crewmates are lost. She is alone. When the dust settles and Lara opens her eyes, she finds herself bound upside down, hanging from the ceiling with several corpses. In the first five minutes of play, she escapes her bats nest, falls a good thirty feet to the ground and lands on a broken femur, which pierces her through the side. From that scene, I was hooked. Even through the stumbling and near-misses that Lara experiences in the first 10% of her journey, I found myself unable to leave her side. Her struggle through the hardship makes a bond with the player that few games can match.

The first and foremost part of this game is survival. Lara will occasionally get hungry if you aren't keeping on top of things. Fortunately, food caches are so frequent in the game and wild animals are everywhere, so this shouldn't be an issue. Stealth can be a key factor, too. A couple of stealth kills can save you a good 10 minutes of combat in the late game.

There are some areas where the game falters. Combat is repetitive as hell, and the game doesn't reward diversity in combat like Devil May Cry, nore does it really nudge you into any particular tactics. Bullets and arrows kill things, and dynamite hurts when it blows you up. That's really all there is to it here.

The multiplayer portion of the game seems unnecessary, and unless you're a bored fanatic of Call of Duty, you won't find much to please you here. Most of the DLC available now revolves around online multiplayer (weapons & maps), which seems like an oversight in a primarily single-player game, and the modes aren't very diverse. As good as the single player game was, I feel like it could have been that much better had Tomb Raider not shipped with online multiplayer.

The game's setting is a small string of islands in the Dragon's Triangle in southern Japan. The tombs are diverse, from the dark underground tunnels to the World War II testing facilities to the makeshift shantytown. The optional ones don't exactly jump out at you: the game alerts you when you're near the entrance to one, and you can either continue on with the story or search for that hidden entrance. The rewards for completing tombs are just as you'd expect: a fancy ancient relic, some insight into the island's history, or both. Just as rewarding are some of the death sequences. Should you lead Lara Croft down the wrong path she will die, sometimes in an amazingly gory fashion that would make LIMBO proud.

Tomb Raider sounds amazing. Every bit of it. The voice acting was fantastic. Lara's every gasp, whimper and grunt seem unique, as if SEE had captured dozens of hours of Camilla Luddington falling down the stairs. Her dialogue is hilarious at times. After opening a sarcophagus near the middle of the game and reaping her putrid reward, Lara blurts out "I hate tombs!" The other crewmates and villains have equally great voice acting, but the standouts are the samoan Jonah Miava (voiced by Earl Baylon) and the cult leader Mathias (voiced by Robert Craighead). Just as important, the musical score is astounding. Jason Graves (composer for the Dead Space series, Alpha Protocol and F.3.A.R.) brings the story home with a mix of tribal drums and chilling strings.

After beating the game tonight, I came away only slightly disappointed. The final boss fight turned out to be misleading, and the final sequence of the game was a QTE. Unless you're a completionist or an avid fan of mediocre online shooters, you can be done with Tomb Raider in as little as 10-12 hours. For those who take the time to explore, though, it can be extremely rewarding.
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37 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2013
I played a few of the Tomb Raider games and really didn't get into them much, i'm not sure if it's because I was playing as a girl? Not to sound sexist, or i just preferred Indiana Jones, and Drakes Fortune over her. I really enjoyed the Uncharted games and could probably go through them again. I think this game is actually better in different ways. Graphically I do find it to be better, and Square Enix have always been known for great graphics and atmosphere. One of my favorites being Just Cause 2. The game mechanics are smooth as silk, the aiming and shooting accuracy are much better than Drakes Fortune, along with the controls. Not to discredit those games, but this game seems more plausible (for a game), and has more of a humanistic side to it. You really feel what Lara is going through, and it has a lot more emotional in a survival sense. This game is more staying alive then just searching for things and shooting people. Although there is a lot of that as well. The hunting is great, even when your just doing nothing you can simply shoot rabbits, deer, birds and wolves to gain skill points. And find salvage to upgrade simple things like a knife or axe. Even though i'm somewhere in the middle of the game, i don't see my opinion going anywhere but up, but it's already as far as it can go.

This game, much like Drake, Resident Evil, Dead Space etc. is "extremely" engrossing, and just a joy to play. Without having some of the tedious tasks that the for mentioned games have. Yes there are many quick time events, but they are easy, and not nearly as frequently annoying as say Resident Evil 6. Save points are all over the place, and the autosave does more than enough so that you don't have to continuously repeat a task over and over. And the game is "fairly" easy. On another note when i say Mature i mean it, this isn't the innocent Lara portrayed in the other games, or even the movies. The is the rated R version. There is LOTS of violence, cursing, and other elements that make the game for adults. Which is great. It's about time we have an adult platforming adventure game, without going so overboard it's not enjoyable. Well this is the game. The graphics as i said are just amazing, i have it on PC, so i could test out my rig, then got it for 360, to enjoy sitting on the couch in front of the big screen with surround sound. Both look amazing, but of course the PC has higher resolution, and the detailing while amazing, can make it, well, almost unrealistic looking. Also platformers are much more fun on consoles IMO. I use my rig for FPS mostly. So pick this game up, there is plenty of gameplay time, and even downloadable content to keep you busy for many hours. I rarely buy "new" games, i always get used or wait till the price comes down. But Tomb Raider is definitely worth it. The only other game i plan on purchasing "new" is Bioshock Infinite, which looks also to be amazing.

Other perks
Using the bow, climbing, scaling cliffs, weapon upgrades, the thrill of the kill, the will to survive, and oh yeah. This is one of the hottest versions of Lara to date. You're just wanting a scene to watch her bathe, even though she's a bunch of pixels and polygons. HA. Maybe that will come later, or we'll have the Naked Raider DLC. Either way, incredible game, which i'll probably go through again, sometime in the summer. ;o) Play on!!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2013
I just beat the game and I am happy. There is a point at the end where all fans of the series will go "Hell Yeah that's the Lara I know!" Fans of the past will not be disappointed with this 'prequel'.

The entire feel of the game is dark and brutal. Definitely not for kids under the age of 18 but I am sure most parents nowadays aren't concerned about ratings. Most kids are accustomed to Grand Theft Auto and Gears of War and desensitized to the violence contained in Tomb Raider. For the parents who are conscience, be warned. Tomb Raider is bloody and graphic. It isn't as clean as the older games.

There is a justifiable reason for this Tomb Raider to contain so much brutality. This is the back story behind all of Lara Croft's typical confident demeanor and grace in the earlier games. This story really puts her though hell and lets you guide her though survival. Anyone conquering that many obstacles would feel like they can take on the world the way the original game portrays Lara Croft.

It contains a lot of the same elements of the originals; puzzles, animal attacks, secret passages, etc. It is definitely a Tomb Raider game. I have read that a lot of people compare this to Uncharted Series. I would only agree that it follows with the updated mechanics and graphics of the game. For those who have played the originals, we know Uncharted borrowed a lot from the Tomb Raider franchise first. This Game is truly the way I would expect Tomb Raider to be in this age regardless of the existence of Uncharted. It is a fun and entertaining game that feels like a movie.

I have two suggestions to potential buyers. Purchase a 5.1 surround sound system with it if you don't have one and play the game in a dark room. Even my cheap system didn't disappoint. Playing with both suggestions really makes the game world come alive and I think made the experience much better for me. I really hated being in the woods at night because of the wolves. You feel legitimately hunted by them.

Stop and just look around once in a while, the landscape is often beautiful and detailed when you are outside. At one point, I stood next to a waterfall and was amazed.
I will play the game again and I think most people will see the replay value. I didn't try multiplayer but the Campaign was enough to get me to come back.
Hope this helps. Enjoy!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 6, 2013
This is the most fun I've had in a while. There have been some fantastic games to come out lately, but even some of the best lacked focus in some areas. An example: Far Cry 3. I love that game...it has fantastic gameplay, an engaging story (and great acting), and a huge open world filled with fun stuff to do. But, probably because it's open world, unless you followed the story, it could lack focus. And although I had fun doing everything I did in that game, there were times when my attention "wandered" because there was just so much to do.

Tomb Raider is a great example of a focused game. It does what it does really, really well. In fact, I haven't seen a game like this since the last Uncharted...and I'd argue that, while Uncharted 2 is my second favorite game of all-time, TR is better than U3 was...yes, it's that good. And, in many ways, it reminds me of the Uncharted series. Very linear but done in a supremely focused way that allows for excellent story-telling. The gameplay isn't quite as refined as Uncharted, but it's still pretty darn good.

It's one of the best looking games on the 360, and it's just plain fun. The acting is excellent, the writing (despite what one joker said in his review) is great, and the pacing is really well-done.

When they first started talking about this "reboot", somehow the term "survival horror" got thrown around, and consequently I had zero interest. I hate survival horror games. Fortunately, that's not remotely how I would describe this game. Basically, I'll say this...if you liked Uncharted, you'll like this. Similar kind of story-telling, similar kind of action gameplay, similar exploration and collection, but adds an upgrade system. If you didn't like Uncharted, well...you may not find this to your liking. As for me, I'm enjoying every minute of it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2013
Do you remember Lara Croft? That femme fatale from a certain adventure series? You know, the buxom beauty that has a starring role in nine games, two films, and countless other media? She's the one with Barbie's warped proportions, Batman's agility and cunning, and whose confidence and grit are as palpable as her impressive dimensions? If you do remember, then you certainly haven't played the latest Tomb Raider series reboot by Crystal Dynamics. After playing this game, you will have forgotten everything you know about the old Lara Croft.

This new and younger Lara is vulnerable and uncertain of herself. She cries and shows genuine sorrow when she loses a friend. She laments killing animals that she hunts for sustenance. Her every physical action painfully reflects her lack of experience, her desperation and dread at the seemingly insurmountable odds laid before her. Yet she perseveres through her story, dealing with the physical pain and emotional anguish, and grows all the better for it. Lara goes on a tremendous journey, and takes us right along for the ride.

Story

The story starts off proper on the expedition ship Endurance where Lara is accompanied by a diverse group of fellow adventurers. Most of Lara's cohorts are forgettable, but the main ones the story centers around are Samantha one of Lara's closest friends, Dr. Whitman, a renowned archeologist, and Roth, a Croft family friend. Keep an eye on the interaction between Lara and Roth, as it's one of the main vehicles of Lara's development in the story and guaranteed to tug at the heart strings.

They are all on the hunt for the lost city of Yamatai, whose long-dead shaman queen Himiko is said to have held mystical and malevolent powers over the land. Lara convinces the group to set course for the Dragon's Triangle (which I would assume is the twice-removed eastern cousin of the Bermuda triangle). Worst. Decision. Ever. The ship is caught in an unusually savage storm, and is strewn about on the banks of the legendary island. Lara herself is conveniently split from the rest of the group, and has to make do with her wits and modest survival skills. Within the first hour, Lara is kidnapped, hung upside down, suffers through a debilitating injury, and just barely escapes death from her psychotic captor. Lara, from that point on, is shell-shocked and hurting. All she is trying to do is find her friends and get them and herself to safety.

The introduction of the Solarii cult (they worship Himiko) sets in place a decent protagonist and some savage enemies for Lara to deal with. The enemies (whether they are the cult, wolves, or...something else entirely) are appropriately fierce and their mannerisms and spoken word convey malicious intent. Lara will be tested throughout her time on the island, and story does not hold back from vividly showing every ordeal that Lara (and the player) has to go through.

Giving out anything about the story beyond this point would be a disservice to you all. You'll just have to experience the rest of the story for yourself. It's interesting all the way through to the end, and lays the groundwork for what looks to be a very bright future for this reboot of the Tomb Raider series.

Gameplay

Keeping with the "all hope is lost" theme, Lara's controls and actions are similarly affected. Her every move is careful and measured, even her running animation. It's a far cry from the rigid and robotic movements that she is known for in her prior games. Crystal Dynamics did a great job with her animations, as they really convey a sense of reality with whatever action Lara is doing. She will struggle when traversing ledges, her legs will flail when she leaps between rock faces, and will virtually fall flat on her face if she jumps from too high a height (as opposed to other games where the player magically does a parkour-like front roll).

Even when Lara is in close-quarters fights, she will not try to block sword swings and other attacks, but instead will scramble out of the way, and with the right upgrades, she will be able to perform some slick counters and finishers. Lara hunches down automatically when she detects danger anywhere near her. This reduction in her profile helps in taking cover behind any structures or barriers. No player input is needed at all, which I like. So when you see Lara crouching down of her own accord, Achtung, Spawners!

There are only four weapons in the single-player game (shotgun, assault rifle, pistol, and the bow) which can be individually upgraded, provided you have enough experience points to cash in. The fifth "weapon" is the utility axe mainly used for climbing rock walls, which can also be upgraded and used in certain reversals and attacks as well. The weapons all sound decent, and the gunplay is satisfying, considering the limited set that we are provided with.

The island itself is mountainous, and there is not really any variation in the setting, aside from some snowy locations here and there. Yet every area is unique in how it looks and feels. There are optional tombs that you can access in the different areas, and each one has its own theme. The puzzles are appropriately difficult but should not be very hard to figure out for the average gamer.

Campfires are set as rest locations where the Lara can buy upgrades for her weapons, fast-travel, and also purchase perks that help in hunting, treasure collecting, and fighting. The upgrades for weapons can only be purchased with salvage that can be found in boxes, enemies, and yes, animals around the environment.

Perk/Ability upgrades can be purchased by gaining experience points. This can be accomplished by hunting down animals, completing tomb puzzles, killing enemies in certain ways (headshots, etc.), gaining story progression, and finding the various types of hidden collectibles that every environment is saturated with (GPS markers, challenge items, idols, documents, etc.). Hitting up collectibles will also unlock galleries and character models in the Extras menu, besides giving you experience points. So there's some added incentive there. Also, it is possible to fully upgrade your weapons and abilities in one play-through, if you are so dedicated.

Graphics

This game looks fantastic. Crystal Dynamics has invested three years into the game and it shows. The vistas are beautiful and the graphical effects are pleasing to the eyes. Each location conveys a definite theme and does much to solidify the reality of the island (the sun glaring through the clouds, the moon reflecting light down among the mountain mists etc.).

NPCs are fittingly rendered, and the animations are smooth all around. Just don't expect Crysis level NPC details, going into the game. Flora and fauna are done well. Especially the chickens and crabs. Don't even ask.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer in Tomb Raider feels clunky and much like an afterthought. There are very few maps included, and you get to choose to be either a Scavenger or a Survivor. Each side has its own buyable characters and perks (once again, gained with XP from playing matches, accomplishing goals, killing the enemy team, and so on). There are a few game types like standard deathmatch and control point matches, but that's about it. Nothing at all comparable to the multiplayer in the Uncharted series (which is divine, btw). Tomb Raider's multiplayer plays like Uncharted with stilts on and its eyes covered. Play with caution.

Meh. At least the multiplayer component is there to amuse you for a little once you have completed the main game, which I will mention that you will be revisiting a lot, just to get all of various types of collectibles.

Issues

No major issues to speak of in single-player. Multiplayer, however, is another story.

For the achievement and trophy hounds out there, be prepared for some disappointment. About a third of the achievements/trophies are tied to various multiplayer accomplishments. It's almost as if Crystal Dynamics really want you to at least try out the mode...almost...

Notable Extras

Unlockable art galleries and character models are included in the Extras menu. They give some decent insight into the character and world creation process.

The soundtrack for the game is good and complements Lara's journey quite well. You won't be humming the soundtrack anytime soon, but it does what it sets out to do.

Overall

Tomb Raider is the multi-platform answer to Uncharted 2. Lara's strife and struggle throughout the game is beautifully conveyed to the player and you can feel her desperation and hopelessness like no other game character in recent memory. I'll forgive the lackluster multiplayer component (next time just leave it out Crystal Dynamics. Do you hear me!?) All in all, the story, gameplay, graphics, and soundtrack all converge to make this game the ultimate version of Tomb Raider to play. If this is what the developer set out to do, they have accomplished it. In spades.

Score: 9.0/10

Reviewed by: Karam Elahi

Version reviewed: Xbox 360

Publisher: Square Enix

Developer: Crystal Dynamics

Genre: Third Person Action-Adventure

Release Date: March 5, 2013 (US)

ESRB: Mature

Time played: Single player - 18 hours (93% completion), multiplayer - 3 hours

[...]
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