omb Raider 2013 is… well, the game you played back in 1996, but Tomb Raider is also the title of the latest installment in the series which is intended to take you not only back to the beginning of Lara’s adventures, but prior to that, as we see her going from amateur to a hardened survivor.
However, it’s an odd choice of title. It’s clearly a reboot, but you can’t call it Tomb Raider: Reboot, so how about Tomb Raider: Reborn? Well, she’s not a foetus with you having to spend 20 years or so until she’s formed into the girl we know in the gaming world. Tomb Raider: Revitalised? Or take a pointer from Apple and call it The New Tomb Raider? No, clearly someone in the development team has a love for Peter Gabriel as they’ve gone with a straight forward Tomb Raider again, which could be argued as being similar to the time the musician released eponymous albums with no change to the title, but then that wasn’t two albums with a break of 17 years, it was a run of four sequential albums. And I’m waffling.
Tell you what – I’m going to call it Tomb Raider 2013.
Tomb Raider 2013 Clip 1 – New Beginnings (720p HD)
Anyway, Lara starts off on the ship Endurance, helmed by Conrad Roth. Alas, there’s a violent storm, the ship splits in two and she ends up stranded on an isolated tropical island in the middle of nowhere. Well… the Bermuda Triangle, which is pretty much the same thing, but thankfully there’s no Barry Manilow to sing about it.
Lara will have a bit of difficulty trying to find the ship’s other survivors initially, however, she awakes to find herself hanging upside down by a rope after someone’s strung her up there. But who? And why? Meh, mere details. It doesn’t take long to get back down to Terra Firma and on your way.
Tomb Raider 2013 Clip 2 – Escape to the surface (720p HD)
Some of the basics, which I’ll describe in random order:
As you move about, you no longer have to duck under low beams as Lara will automatically do this, as well as automatically doing a lot of things… but more on that later. She can also ‘wall scramble’ which is press A to jump onto a wall, then again when you land on it to scramble up it, in order to reach higher ledges and rooftops. As always, she can climb in a straight-forward way that you know from all manner of games. When leaping across a gap, Lara will sometimes only grab onto it with one hand, at which point you’ll be instructed to press X to ensure she latches on with the other one.
There are various collectibles around the environment such as relics, documents and GPS Caches. Unlockable extras include videos, concept artwork and character models.
Most areas also have one or two challenges, requiring you to find a number of hidden objects and then perform an action with them, which will give you XP once complete. In addition, there are seven optional challenge Tombs. Again, XP is the reward of the day but obviously these aren’t imperative to completing the single-player game.
Tomb Raider 2013 Clip 3 – Example climbing footage (720p HD)
You’ll progress through nine Survivor Upgrades, such as Animal Instinct (keen observation allows you to spot hard-to-find animals and food sources) and Advanced Salvaging (thoroughly search crates and caches to find extra salvage – which can sometimes include weapon parts for those which require 2 or 3 sections to put together), and weapons is what you have none of at the start, but the first one you’ll possess is a bow to go with your arrows, as well as those casually scattered about the place in exactly the same way that real arrows aren’t. Shortly after picking this up, our heroine is hungry so one of your earliest tasks is to go after some deer and kill one to eat. In fact, even if you don’t want to eat an animal you find, just kill it anyway and XP is yours for the taking as well. Just make sure the RSPCA don’t find out.
I like the way you can adjust the in-game HUD to place it at the extreme edges of the screen in order to maximise your gaming environment, for those who have an HD screen with zero overscan.
And, while I just go for single-player games, multiplayer fans will be pleased to note there are three types of games for multiplayer, played in five different maps. Many things available for the single-player campaign, are also added into multiplayer. In each game, there are two enemy teams: Four survivors and four scavengers, and they either try to eliminate the opposite team or attempt to bring medical supplies to certain points in the map. The player can also set traps or activate special features, according to the map the game is set in.
Tomb Raider 2013 Clip 4 – Deer hunting (720p HD)
Overall, Lara Croft is rebooted but not quite suited for this 2013 entry. This feels less like a Tomb Raider game and more like the Resident Evil game which was released late last year, where you were held by the hand as to what button to press to, say, light a piece of wood with your burning torch, or to waggle the left stick to dissuade a baddie from grabbing at your leg, as they try to trap you. Okay, I can’t blame Resident Evil 6 for that as Tomb Raider Legend was doing the same back in 2006, as was 2008’s The Bourne Conspiracy, but when I play a game I want to play it, I don’t want CGI sequences to take over all the time. If I wanted to watch a load of CGI I would’ve gone to the cinema.
In fact, like RE6 game and the similarly-recent Hitman Absolution (which, like this outing for Lara Croft was also released by Square Enix), it’s continuing a worrying trend of games that take over from what the user is meant to do and replacing it with CGI sequences.
And the more I delve into this, the more I think it’s going to behave normally and then… yes, CGI comes along again. Very frustrating!
The original Tomb Raider style was like carrying out a set of gymnastics to fantastic effect whilst solving curious puzzles, whereas this just has none of that charm. Or content. I’d much rather be leaping about, all guns blazing. I know the earlier games were criticised for following too linear a path, causing 2009’s underworld to veer off that a little, allowing you to go your own way a bit more, but then you’d just get lost by doing that, so back to linear we go.
Tomb Raider 2013 Clip 5 – Bow & Arrow vs Wolves (720p HD)
There’s also an over-abundance of checkpoints, so if you die it doesn’t really matter because you won’t have any real distance to travel to get back to where you were. On a similar note, however, once you establish base camp in a location (denoted by an ever-burning log fire) and come across another one, you can effectively teleport between them. This seems a bit odd, at first, but I can see the point as it saves you having to wade through long periods of forest you’ve already been through in order to get from A to B.
Recent checkpoints aren’t something you’ll have to worry about while walking on narrow trees across canyons. They also pose no problem as you can literally jump onto them and Lara will balance perfectly well as you tiptoe across.
The visuals are very good, but far too much of it is set in the dark so you don’t really get to see it. And the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound creates the right atmosphere, but aside from gunfire, other weaponry and snarling wolves, there’s not a lot to get massively excited about.
Still, at least it’s not 2003’s Angel of Darkness, which was about as much fun as doing the ironing.
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Standard Price: £31.99 (Xbox 360, PS3); £24.99 (PC)
- Players: 1, online multiplayer: 2-8
- HDTV options: 720p/1080i/1080p
- Features: voice, game content download, leaderboard
- Languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch.
- Subtitles: English only