Biggest Games Of 2013: Tomb Raider

Developer: Crystal Dynamics         Release Date: March 5th         Format: 360, PS3 After a...

Barry O Halloran

Contributor

Tomb Raider

Developer: Crystal Dynamics         Release Date: March 5th         Format: 360, PS3

After a long and lonely exodus, Lara Craft is back. But this time, she’s not the adventurous heroine of old, she’s merely a frightened survivor fighting for her life on a mysterious Island. Developer Crystal Dynamics stunning reboot is one of the most anticipated games of the year, and from the trailers we’ve seen – it’s of little wonder why.

Much has been made about the new ‘Uncharted’ inspired direction that is being taken by the team at Crystal Dynamics but there’s more than enough classic Tomb Raider adventuring to keep fans of the franchise happy. Striking a balance between game play and story will be the biggest challenge Tomb Raider faces. Rival games such as Far Cry 3 have shown us just how good an open world adventure game can be so Tomb Raider will need to match or even exceed most peoples expectations. It’s been a long time since we’ve stepped into Lara’s world. Let’s hope it’s not too late.

Why It Could Be Amazing:

Developer Crystal Dynamics have been talking up Lara’s journey ever since the game was announced two years ago. Lara wasn’t always a dual wielding bad-ass so it’s going to be exciting to see how that transformation happens as we play. Origin stories are all the rage now, and this new reboot seems to be the Batman Begins of the Tomb Raider franchise. I can’t say I’m disappointed.

The fact that we can upgrade Lara is a tantalizing prospect. Every kill (animal or human) matters and it’s cool to think that we can mould her character in different ways. The bow and arrow gameplay looks impressive and the game seems to have come on leaps and bounds since I played it a few months ago. The island itself creates endless possibilities so hopefully exploration will be much more than a time consuming side quest. Graphically, it’s up there with any game coming out this year.

Like it or not, this is a more believable Lara Croft. There’s no unlimited back flips or multi-kill frenzies – this a more raw and emotional character with a complex set of feelings – coming to terms with her own morality. We will see Lara break down, tortured by the decisions she must make to survive. We’ll see her haunted by her own actions and the actions of those who hunt her. We’ll feel for her like she’s a more than a video game character. A character that grows with us as we struggle through the same hardships.  And in the end, we’ll see her rise, ready to become the hero she was born to be. Well that’s the plan anyway.

Why It Could Be Terrible:

Tomb Raider in name this may be, but it’s definitely not like any other game in the series. This is Lara’s most cinematic (read scripted) game yet as set pieces and quick time events play a huge roll. More recent footage has shown Lara dodge and narrowly escape in typical Hollywood movie fashion so it’s not going to be as harrowing a tale as we were led to believe. I just hope Lara doesn’t become a ruthless killing machine by the end of the game.

Obviously, Crystal Dynamics need to strike a balance between fun and tedious. Nobody wants to have to stop exploring just so Lara can eat some deer or nip to the island’s port-a-loo. We’re not looking for simulation style immersion, but similarly, there’s no point discarding the survival aspect of the game either. That’s the biggest challenge Tomb Raider faces.

The announcement of multiplayer has annoyed some fans and I can’t say I blame them. It’s not needed, unless it’s offering something wholly original which is isn’t – apart from the game mode ‘Cry for Help’, which is said to put a strong emphasis on discovery and collection. That could justify the decision to include multiplayer if done right.

Potential Rating: 4.5/5

Lara’s return will either be a roaring success or a mixed bag. Tomb Raider is one of the most iconic characters in video game history so I can’t see this reboot being a failure. The mysterious island setting just screams exploration, so hopefully it will be worth discovering its secrets.

The heavy emphasis on climbing might have worked well for Assassins Creed but this new realistic Lara Croft shouldn’t be scaling walls like Spiderman. I want to see clever map design and various trails and especially no back tracking. I’m still not convinced that Crystal Dynamics can fully integrate the psychological aspect of the game but if they manage it, we’ll be looking at our first contender for game of the year.

Tomb Raider is out March 5th

The rest of the series: Biggest Games Of 2013