Tomb Raider Review

Tomb Raider Review

Developer: Crystal Dynamics | Publisher: Square Enix

Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Reviewed by: Brady Ruiters 

Gamers have always known Lara Croft to be a strong, tomb raiding, battle hardened British woman. However, we have never really seen Lara before she became that woman. Thankfully Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have given us an opportunity to see exactly what happened to mould her into what she is today.

Tomb Raider Review

Tomb Raider follows the story of Lara Croft, not the iconic woman, but more the inexperienced young lady who will become the Lara we know so well. The game opens up with Lara aboard a ship by the name of the Endurance. However, it is not long before the ship sails straight into a storm and is torn apart. Most of crew seem to make it to safety but Lara ends up separated from the group, gets knocked out and is taken captive. Lara will have to do whatever it takes to survive the various dangers of the island, uncover the sinister plans of the island’s inhabitants and ultimately find a way home. The story is enjoyable and has many ups and downs to experience. There are scary, sad and even some funny moments. The supporting characters aren’t very well developed so they can somewhat forgettable. Lara’s story will however, keep the player glued to their screen to see what the young lass might have to endure next. She becomes stronger as the game progresses and ultimately substantially more hardened. She gets shot at, thrown around, burnt and beaten. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this adventure alone was enough to mould her into the Lara we’ve known for so long. There was one thing that I found a little odd when it came to the narrative though; Lara’s first kill is a dramatic scene which traumatises her but shortly after that scene, she kills with no hesitation or emotional trauma. I can understand that in a situation such as hers, she’ll have to adapt quickly but it just seemed a little unrealistic. Other than that moment, the game is paced perfectly.

In previous Tomb Raider games, combat would usually consist of Lara jumping around in circles to avoid being attacked while firing off her dual handguns. Thankfully that is not the case this time around. Combat is great and can be done using a number of different weapons. The game plays very much like a third-person shooter during combat but thankfully it isn’t the run-of-the-mill cover-based shooter. Lara is still able to survive encounters when not taking cover by scrambling low to avoid getting shot; scrambling also helps players close the distance between Lara and an enemy without taking too much damage. However, not all encounters have to end in a shootout; Lara is able to practice some finesse by utilising close-quarter stealth attacks or attacking from a distance with the bow. Being a Tomb Raider game, climbing and exploring is a big part of the gameplay. Navigating the environment is a breeze and making giant leaps from one ledge to another is exhilarating. This is especially true when leaping to a climbable wall with nothing to support Lara but a climbing axe.

Tomb Raider Review

Nearly every action performed will reward the player with XP; after enough XP is collected, a skill point is earned. These skill points can be used to purchase abilities for Lara to use during the adventure. The upgrades include finding more salvage, climbing faster and better weapon handling. Weapons can also be upgraded by finding salvage and using it to purchase enhancements to improve handling or to add alternate firing modes. The upgrade system is really easy to use and always leave the player wondering which upgrade to purchase next.

Tomb Raider isn’t completely linear and gives the player some freedom to explore while rewarding them with opportunities to earn XP and salvage. There are also a number of artefacts and documents to be found, contributing to the story of the island’s past inhabitants.

Lara also has a Survival Instincts ability which can be activated by pushing a button; it turns the screen grey but highlights important objects such as climbable walls, explosive barrels, collectables and lanterns. This comes in handy when trying to find all the collectables on the island and is especially useful when fighting enemies taking cover in low light areas.

The game also features some optional tombs which can be raided for loot. However, getting to said loot requires the completion of a puzzle. These tombs are a nice break from the gunfights and puzzles aren’t too complicated either so players won’t be getting stuck on a single puzzle for hours, trying to find a solution.

Tomb Raider Review

There was a game-breaking glitch that I encountered during the second half of the game. After exploring a little too far and climbing something I shouldn’t have been able to climb, the story progressed past a point where I was supposed to get an important item in order to navigate the area, thus resulting in me being permanently stuck and forced to start the game over. It’s a frustrating occurrence and I sincerely hope that a patch is released very soon to fix this issue.

To increase replayability, the developers have added multiplayer to Tomb Raider. To be honest, it feels rather tacked on and the game probably could’ve have done without it. It does nothing new in terms of multiplayer, including Deathmatch and Objective-like match types. It can be fun for a few matches but this ultimately wears off thereafter.

Tomb Raider looks beautiful, during both cutscenes and in-game. Character models are incredibly detailed and it’s possible to see the emotions on the characters’ faces during the tense moments in the narrative. The same can be said for the environments as they are a joy to explore and navigate, with excellent lighting and textures contributing to the experience. Animation is also extremely realistic, making pretty much any movement by Lara look natural; this coupled with brilliant camera work makes it a pleasurable, somewhat cinematic experience.

Audio is definitely on par with the visuals in Tomb Raider as I felt that they really complimented each other. All sound effects sound as you would imagine them to sound; from gunshots to sharp objects piercing flesh, players will not find much fault here. Scoring also seems truly well done as the music in-game changes to suit the appropriate mood; this is especially true during the early parts of the game where Lara seems to have the odds stacked against her. The voice acting is very well done and Camilla Luddington does a fine job of voicing the young Lara. Her performance certainly makes you feel for Lara and what she is going through; the emotions, the vulnerability, the essence is captured so well and is in fact, truly believable.

Tomb Raider Review

Tomb Raider is a wonderful game that really captures the origin story of Lara Croft perfectly. It also doesn’t hurt that the game is really fun to play and Lara’s story is compelling enough to keep the player pushing on to see what might happen next. However, like all games, this one isn’t perfect and takes a bit of a knock due to its tacked on multiplayer, which wasn’t really necessary and a game breaking glitch that I have encountered. Other than those things, the game is fine example of what an origin story should be like and I think that it would be a great addition to a gamer’s collection.

The Breakdown:
Story: 9/10
Gameplay: 9.5/10
Multiplayer: 7.5/10
Graphics: 9.5/10
Sound: 9.5/10

Reviewed predominantly on the PlayStation 3.

Known as Brady Ruiters by day and GuitarDemon by night (Well, on the PSN mostly…) Professional, creative and frank, a self-proclaimed gaming journalist moulded by a passion and fascination for gaming and music, and in turn, taking a crack at shaping the rest of the world with the very same obsession. That, however, remains a trying task.

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The Verdict


The Good: – Great gameplay
– Interesting origin story

The Bad: – Tacked on multiplayer
– Game breaking glitch

  • Trebzz

    The MP sucks we all agree on this but otherwise great game and great review :) so tell me how last week Wednesday go? Since we are on this topic which is not really on topic but its fine lol.

    • Darryl Linington

      Less multiplayer could have equaled a longer story, larger map and better visuals. I rate that when they do a sequel they should skip the mp and focus on the core gameplay.

      • Trebzz

        Yeah i tried it for like 10 mins the other day and was WTF is this crap and never went back to the MP and never will :/ bring on God of War now

        • Brady GuitarDemon Ruiters

          I tried to play it for as long a possible but meh, wasn’t really anything special. About to pop God of War into my PS3 :)

          • Trebzz

            Review tomorrow thanks

          • Brady GuitarDemon Ruiters

            Wait..what? 0_0

      • Brady GuitarDemon Ruiters

        I agree. Although I felt that the visuals were fantastic. They need to drop the MP though, it’s a common mistake with games that could do just fine without it. Probably wouldn’t change much though since the MP portion of the game was developed by a separate studio.

    • Brady GuitarDemon Ruiters

      Man, so many times to say this. I suppose I could say that you could read up but hey, I’m feeling generous with my keyboard XD

      Wednesday was everything I didn’t expect. I got all nervous for nothing. I just met with the regional manager and filled out some forms. Now..I wait 😐

      • Trebzz

        Well then you will be the most experienced guy at BT if that’s how they choose to hire any a********* no wonder the service sucks at times if they just hire anyone o.O

        • Brady GuitarDemon Ruiters

          I hope you’re right man. I don’t really want to wait anymore.

  • Riaan van Rooyen

    Happy with your review , the game is incredible , multi sux but you gave it a score it deserves, and I too am interested to know how it went on Wednesday last week, are you Oprah rich yet!?

    • Brady GuitarDemon Ruiters

      The game is refreshing and I love an origin story. Honestly, I think that everyone does. Pity about the multiplayer and the game-breaking glitch though, it knocked down the score a little but it at least made it to a 9, which I think is fair.

      And Wednesday was just a quick meet with the regional manager and filling out of forms. I hope they get back to me soon.

  • CataclysmicDawn

    Awesome stuff dude, how did you find the apparent “gory death” scenes? Did they feel like too much or did they feel like they worked well?

    Also, Wednesday, how did it go?

    • Brady GuitarDemon Ruiters

      The gory death scenes seemed appropriate. I figured that being in an untamed wilderness such as the island featured in the game, anything could go wrong..horribly wrong. The death scenes also seemed realistic and not too over the top.

      Wednesday was pretty chilled hey. Met the regional manager, filled out some forms and now I’m waiting to hear back from them. It’s killing me man.

      • CataclysmicDawn

        That’s good, I heard a lot of comments on how people find the death scenes disturbing and such, but I know how people can be so I’m glad to hear they’re not unrealistically extreme.

        Well, good luck! Hopefully they don’t hire some random asshat with no gaming XP.

        • Darryl Linington

          Brady hit the branch through the throat… Wait, that’s not right. The bolder on the spleen? I think he definitely has a crushing point. Hahaha! They are not that bad; however they do fit the whole survival on a remote island theme rather well.

  • McFancypants HD 3.0

    Excellent review, bru.

    I haven’t finished it, yet — having a boat load of fun with the exploring, and what not. Also, I haven’t even given the MP a go.

    Another thing, how’d Wednesday go?

    • Brady GuitarDemon Ruiters

      I’m having a great time with it too, but alas, God of War: Ascension arrived today so my attention will be diverted until further notice.

      And Wednesday went well, there wasn’t really an interview per se but I met the regional manager and he gave me some forms to fill out. It’s just the waiting that’s killing me now :/

  • Lydon

    Most People I’ve spoken to are Saying that This is more Like an uncharted game(Gunfight’s, cover, cimbing action) rather than a Tomb Raider Game(Platforming Puzzles, animal attacks and so on), any truth to that?

    • McFancypants HD 3.0

      I’ve only played Golden Abyss, so I can’t compare it to the other Uncharted games, but Tomb Raider has platforming, puzzles, animal attacks (nothing major, though)…ya know, that kinda thing.

      It’s hella fun.

    • Brady GuitarDemon Ruiters

      I suppose it’s similar to Uncharted. But all the Tomb Raider staples are here; lots of platforming and terrain navigation, puzzles and animal attacks. Puzzles probably aren’t as tricky as before but they aren’t that easy that they feel like a waste of time. There are gunfights and cover but cover isn’t that necessary all the time.

  • Albertus

    I must say that this is looks very much like an Uncharted clone. I can’t really identify this iteration with the classic Tomb Raider series.

  • Tomahawk “Lightning” Jones

    MP is cheesy and glitchy. But I like my pizza as such.

  • xdvd

    The only similarities with Uncharted is the gunfights and some of the platforming. Taking cover is not important though and is not needed for survival. Shooting mechanics is also far better than Uncharted. It is also a far more deeper game than Uncharted as the game is structered like an open world area ripe for exploration complete with fast travel tents, and not linear stages like Uncharted. At times it feels like Castlevania as you need to revisit areas to access collectables that were previously inaccesible due to not having the correct gadget or weapon previously. Puzzles are also more physics based compared to Uncharted’s logic based puzzles.Otherwise the game has some animal attacks, hunting animals for xp and some optional tombs to raid. Awesome review of an awesome game.

  • Sahil Lala

    Still haven’t tried the MP on this