Tomb Raider – video review
Time for our weekly vodcast. This week for the the first time we bring review of the game: Tomb Raider.
For YouTube version you can view @ Youtube also
For the giveaway, leave the comment below or in YouTube comments.
Transcript of video review:
Tomb Raider reinvents a series which had been going downhill for quite some time and had been rigorously prototyped to get the right feel out of the series for many years now and in the end emerges as a technically astound master piece. Crystal Dynamics hard work is impossible to deny on this title with close attention to everything from keeping the spirit of adventure to creating a believable atmosphere has been finely tuned to perfection by them.
The games story outlines Lara Croft’s first adventure which made her choose archeology as her profession. She with a team of rag tag group of friends is out to find a mystical island near Japan where once a Sun Queen ruled the island. They do eventually reach there but get shipwrecked and separated there. The game wastes no time in throwing you in the face of danger. Now its up to Lara to not only fight for her own survival but also that of her rest of the crew. The game’s story slowly unveils the truth about the survivors or scavengers on the island but what the game never covers is the relation or role of most of the crew members that Lara is supposed to care about. This is where the Tomb Raider comic book comes in which is part of “Survival Edition”, and I think it is an essential read as it reveals the history of how Lara’s crew come about, their motives and explains how the crew interacts with each other in the game. In short the comic book gives them a very much required back story which is otherwise missing in the game.
Coming back to the actual game, you will find Lara in some of the most intense situations that Tomb Raider series has ever thrown in to. The origin story sets the stage for an inexperienced lara. She is hungry, she is alone, she is scared and she is desperate. Unlike other games which just tell you about these emotions or show you a movie clip about it, Tomb Raider’s success is based on the fact that the game pushes you through those emotions and makes you feel the pain whether its re-bars going through Lara’s ribs or she is closing her open wounds via a heated metal arrow or falling down trees. These are just painful scenes that are not solitary cutscene but continue throughout the game making you really feel the pain that Lara is going through and as a consequence her every success gives you a real feeling of accomplishment making it truly a well thought out adventure.
Tomb Raider world is crafted as an open world but the game will seldom force you into back tracking or force you to figure out any other way which is again a unique game design. You are free to explore a lot using a big island setting but still keep the original feel of the linear games which keep the game more focused on story. The camp sites act as a way to fast travel around already visited locations of the island, but doing so is purely optional. You will eventually unlock new items, new skills, new upgrades and weapons. And if you really want 100% completion then you need to travel back and complete those areas which were inaccessible before because you didn’t have appropriate upgrades or items at that time. e.g. rope arrows will let you make rope bridges, fire arrows will allow you to put on fire fish nets hanging in air and bring the salvage items to ground. The salvage can be used to again upgrade your weapons. So, the whole open world approach increases the gameplay hours over an already incredibly well designed and lengthy game.
The game controls work well both with a controller or a mouse an keyboard combination but sometime to keep the cinematic feel your free look camera might be restricted which works better with a controller but not with mouse; but those are such small moments when camera gets locked that its an ignorable flaw.
The game graphics are beautiful and although colors may be not as saturated as other games, but do set the right tone of despair and life-or-death struggle that the game constantly pits you in. The most beautiful thing about the game’s graphics do remain “TressFX” hair. Console gamers will sadly never get to experience it, but PC gamers are sure to enjoy the most realistic hair design in any game ever. TressFX allows Lara’s each hair strand to stand out and flow silky smooth that it would appear more like a an AD of shampoo.
The animations of the game are some of the most organic I have seen. Assassins Creed 3 also featured such an animation system which adapts to world around e.g. how foot work on branches of trees was quite different than walking in the street. Same way Lara Croft adapts to environment around her. How she tries to place her hand on walls while passing on mountain pathways to balance herself. Or how she bends her body to pass through the rocks. How picking up a can will slightly make her body bend towards that side to indicate the weight of item she picked up. These are all very subtle things but that is what made the game more believable and a truly AAA effort.
The game features a beautiful balance of adventure, rock climbing, secret tomb raiding, quick time cinematic events, survival runs and combat that you will feel satisfied after every encounter. The bow has really suited Lara well, a new weapon to the series but the 80% of your time will be spent using the bow as it is not only cool to snipe enemies using it but also shooting ropes to pull things, make bridges, or putting things on fire.
The game for the first time featured a multiplayer mode too but its pretty standard team vs team affair which does uses some of the landscape climbing features but is mostly about just about shooting each other which is pretty much standard multiplayer affair. The game was good enough to get away without any multiplayer mode but they still put it there and its just a cherry on the top even though its nothing innovative as the rest of the game.
Tomb Raider is living proof that Lara is far from dead. Crystal Dynamics have made a beautiful master piece and even though people may consider me as a Lara fan boy but I truly feel as a professional that it would be a crime to pick any pick flaws in this game. Whether its the basic human emotions of fear, hope and will of survival shown on Lara’s face, or the most optimum use of destructible environment as dynamic playable level design, in just every aspect this truly is an exceptional title which will remain in our minds for many years to come. It not only sets a new standard for just adventure games but also sets a new benchmark in quality to target in all the AAA video games. This is truly an unmissable experience.