Video Games

Beauty and the Best

Mar 2013

Tomb Raider (2013) Xbox360 Review


By special request, we here at AllGoodThings have been asked to talk about the new Tomb Raider, developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix in March 2013 to critical acclaim. Most simply, Tomb Raider is what you would get if Uncharted and FarCry 3 had a lovechild, which, heck yeah, sounds awesome. In it you'll get a huge world to explore as the titular video game heroine Lara Croft on her first college-aged adventure.

You uncover the mysterious past of Yamatai, an east island featuring ancient kingdoms, twentieth century wartime, and modern settlements. You’ll interact with locals and - egads! - did Lara really just choke that guy with her bow and arrow? Yeah, the New Tomb Raider may not be the light-hearted adventure that some of you have come to love, but that shouldn't dissuade anyone from playing this game, and here's why.

Of course you will find your mandatory platforming in this installment and the controls are very responsive. Those of you who have been following my reviews, however, already know that I love castletroids and in a sense this game is a castletroid. You will gain new abilities and gather new equipment throughout your adventure, which encourages you to go back to previously explored areas where you will find new options have opened.

The adventure theme replaces a lot of the puzzle elements found in previous Tomb Raider games, but it also improves the combat dramatically over those. As I said prior, your main weapon is no longer Lara's signature twin pistols, although they do eventually appear in the game. Instead, you'll mostly find that you'll be using your bow an arrow to silently, efficiently, and often brutally take down enemies or wildlife throughout the island.

This brutality comes back to you as well. Every death scene is extremely graphic, especially for Lara. I've seen her break her neck, be impaled, and, well, I don't want to ruin all the surprises for you. Suffice it to say, this is not a game suitable for children and
not for the same reason the original wasn't suitable for children. (Don't pretend you don't know what I mean.)

Crystal Dynamics has really gone to great lengths to craft a believable protagonist. Gone are the snappy one-liners and aloof attitude that was so cool in the 90s. And I'm all right with that. I'm not 13 years old anymore and I want to play as characters I can connect with. In short, the writing in this game is superb - at least for Lara. She seems like an exceptional, but not unbelievably so, woman you would meet at your local college campus which gives this game a good grounding in reality.

This reality is then enhanced further by the wonderfully rendered graphics. I played on the Xbox360, which made me stop at times just to look around at the forest (I’ve watched videos of the PC version that looks even better). For years I wondered what it would be like when games would allow me to run through believable jungles and forests and it's wonderful that we're finally here for this 15-20 hour adventure.

Finally, there is a full multiplayer suite to keep you coming back to Yamatai for years to come. Square Enix has really been on a roll this generation with this and other games, such as Deus Ex: Human Revloution and Just Cause 2 before it, two of my favorites from the past 5 years. So if you have an Xbox360, Playstation3, or a Windows compatible PC then you have to ask yourself is all this content worth sixty dollars? For me, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.”

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