I recently completed Tomb Raider (XBOX 360), and I couldn’t have enjoyed my experience more. I have played a couple Tomb Raider games in the past on the PlayStation One and Dreamcast, but I was late to the crowd and wasn’t really in love with the games as much as I was with the idea/concept of it. I think SquareEnix picked an excellent time to reboot the series, and I will be anticipating future Tomb Raider games. But what makes this game worth getting?
If the beginning cinematics don’t captivate your attention, I don’t know what will. The story is quickly setup (not rushed) and the water is mesmerizing to look at—that is until you almost drown. After Lara washes ashore and breathes life, in a few short seconds she is knocked out, only to wake up cocooned in a room full of bloody bodies. These successions of events start your admiration for Lara, this character you are controlling, and you really feel like you want her to not have to go through all these struggles and near death experiences. You want her to survive, and you can’t help but feel bad by all the things she has to go through. What pulls this character attachment off is a non-silent Lara, as in when she narrowly escapes a horrifying situation, she will mutter to herself, saying such things as “oh god, oh god, no no no” with a panic lined voice. It simply feels like a real reaction.
There are many significant moments in Lara Croft’s road to survival that build her up to the woman that she is at the end of the game. Having to kill your first person and dealing with your actions/emotions of that event, even if it was in self-defense; the loss of your friends/team to circumstances beyond your control; people doubting you; these events only scratch the surface of the trials Lara has to face on this island she is stranded on. All of these experiences add to your attachment to Lara, but when she isn’t facing a life or death situation she is pursuing her passion: uncovering artifacts.
You may find it surprising when Lara mutters “I hate tombs”, but the impression that is left is Lara realizes you have to explore difficult terrain and puzzling rooms to uncover artifacts and treasures that reveal pieces of history. In this game, you can take your time and explore hidden tombs or other areas of the map for items/collectables, or you can breeze through the main story and come back to it later. Whether you seek out all the items at once or leave them, there is something compelling about finding all the collectables and I am already making my way through the starting area to find all these gems.
The other fun part of this game is leveling up Lara and upgrading her weapons. Of course your first weapons are a bow and the iconic pistol, but you acquire other weapons throughout the story. I focused on leveling my weapons and shooting abilities first, then as I had spare skill points I would invest them in artifact finding and other areas. I personally liked that you could approach this game in a stealthy way or guns-a-blazing, and leveling Lara in whichever way you like to play first is 100% up to you (there are no cutoff skill trees, you can eventually have all areas maxed out). The options are yours!
It will come as no surprise that I highly recommend this game…it is already on my Top 5 games of this year, and I don’t see it moving. If you enjoy the Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed series, you will enjoy Tomb Raider. When I look back on the overall story of the game, there was never a dull moment, no lag, nothing but wanting to see what will happen next. Seeing Lara Craft go from soft explorer to hardened survivor is an experience you will not want to miss.