Sunday, 21 July 2013

Tomb Raider Reborn: Game review

This may seem slightly premature as I'm only about a tenth of the way through the game but I am already
hooked which is rare for any game. Usually I get a day or so in, hit a snag or a tricky bit and put the game down for a while or I come home from work and I am too tired to play but this one... this one had me the moment the first title screen started rolling.

I have never really played any Lara Croft games before. I was a teenager at the time the first one came out on the PS1 and like any teenage boy I spent more time marvelling at her form than at the game itself - that and I didn't have a console to play on!

Any way, despite the reviews of my peers I didn't really get into it. I am not very good at judging distances for jumps and have loathed platform games in the past much preferring real time strategy like Dune II or Sudden Strike and flight sims like European Air War or Reach for the skies.

I thought I would give the franchise a shot though with Lara Croft; Angel of Darkness but in all honesty I didn't get very far and became stuck trying to jump from a house to another part of the street, became bored and played something else.

I was fairly surprised when I was in Game and saw Tomb Raider: Underworld and Tomb Raider; Reborn and looking at the back of the boxes decided to give the cut down pre-owned games a shot. Underworld I'll review else where but Reborn has blown me away!

The cinematic game footage is pretty sharp and dramatic, the graphics are so convincing it is like watching a movie. There is a lot of cinematic moments through the game which in previous games was quite annoying with stop starts just interrupting your flow but in this game they act as moments when you can catch your breath and they are seamless, often only a minute in length and even interactive.

The plot is that you are looking for a legendary Japanese island and seat of the Sun queen when your ship is sunk by a mysterious storm. Having been washed up on an island and kidnapped by some guy you now have to get back to your crew and get off this rock but things aren't what they seem. Imagine the imagery and basics of Lost but ten times better. The "Others" in this case are very much out to kill you and capture you so you need to be on your toes because they don't hold back at all. Daubings on the wall say eerie things like None shall leave and the bodies of World War Two Japanese, 16th Century Portuguese ships and modern vessels and planes litter the landscape as a testament to that.

To make things even more interesting you aren't the seasoned warrior that Lara has become in later games rather you are the girl fresh out of university learning how to survive, how to kill and put what you have learnt into practise. You earn skill points for actions that can be invested into skills allowing you to find your way around, survive, fight and gain precious salvage. Salvage is used to upgrade your weapons making them more accurate, have better magazine capacity and do more damage. .

However you do start the first level and a bit you don't have a weapon at all and rely on your wits before finding a modified Longbow, which in my opinion is the best weapon in the game so far, although the pistol has a higher rate of fire the bow is good for stealthy kills and distractions.

This game has something for everyone in it. If you are into shut'em'ups you can play it gung-ho and hammer through or you can go stealthy in a  Hitman style.

There are still lots of jumps and exploring to do that have kept from the original series but it isn't a dominant force. In fact I find the jumps, scrambles, climbing axes and rolling into cover a lot easier to do than on other games so if you are think; Ugh not another platform jumper

Then do think again. It isn't like that

I feel driven to save Lara, to find out what is going on on the island and get us off it. The cinematics make it feel like a movie and I've really found myself rooting for the lead character .

At one point Lara had her feet caught in a beer trap and there were wolves coming out of the undergrowth and armed with a pistol I had to take one shot at each - my heart was racing with adrenaline. I spend much of the game fearful and curious of what is going on. It is real entertainment.

If you have never played Tomb Raider before, as was the case with me, I would strongly suggest you start with this one. As a reboot to the popular series I can only hope that any further games are made in the same mold as so far this has been a fantastic experience.

Definitely my favourite game of the moment ***** out of 5!

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