I have started this game several times over the last couple of years and one thing or another has pulled me away from it before I could finish it. That all changed recently when I decided to fill the gap before the new God of War released by playing Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider back to back. Today I'm here to talk about all of the ways Tomb Raider is amazing, and one way it isn't!
To start with the most basic element of any game, the core gameplay loop. In Tomb Raider you can break the game down into three main sections, exploring the world, raiding side tombs, and fighting enemies. Firstly the exploration of the world has struck a very good balance between a large, daunting, open world at the same time as providing enough incentive to go around a explore. This may just be because I have not been playing any games like this for quite a few months, but I was incredibly impressed with the freedom you have to climb around the world. There were very few occasions when I wanted to try and climb something and couldn't. The carrot on the end of the exploration stick is the looting of nuts and bolts that serve as the games currency and allows you to upgrade your weapons to have. This is on top of XP system that allows you to level up and earn any of the perks available to you at your current level. My only criticism of the perk system is that you are barred from unlocking the second tier of any of the three perk trees until you have reached a certain level. I would have preferred individual progression in each perk tree, on several occasions I was simply unlocking a perk in a tree I had no use for in order to get closer to unlocking the next set of perks I did want in the tree I wanted!
The second major part of Tomb Raider is the actual raiding of tombs, this is a far smaller part of the game that either I was expecting or the title indicates. Never the less there are seven optional tombs for you to raid as the game progresses, these vary from relatively simply to warranting a good head scratch and 15 minutes of your time to progress through. One issue of these side tombs is the rewards, they are usually rather underwhelming typically giving some nuts and bolts for weapon upgrading as well as a treasure map to the collectables in the local area.
The third part of the pie making up your time with Tomb Raider is combat. The main thing to note with the combat is that there are only 4 weapons in the game, however you can increase the capabilities of these weapons via two methods, firstly is increasing a specific facet of the weapon using nuts and bolts as I said before. The other method is finding 4 parts of a new weapon out in the environment by opening chests etc. once all four parts have been acquired then you get a whole new aesthetic to the weapon and all of the stats have been increased. I really like the feel of the combat in Tomb Raider, I played on the normal difficulty which meant that I could still take out all regular enemies with one head shot, either from a bow, pistol or rifle, the shotgun just deals a lot of damage generally. There isn't a vast variety of enemies in the game, the order in which you take your foes to their next life will more depend on their positioning, the AI governing them is decent and some will rush towards you with a shotgun while other will sit on high ground and rain arrows and grenades upon your head. My only criticism of the combat is that it felt to much like it was repeating time after time, for example after you have climbed some cliffs, explored for some loot, you would get a zone of the map that has a lot of enemies that you have to slowly make your way through. I would have liked more options in terms of being able to stealthy take out all the enemies, or in fact sneaking past the enemies all together. Many of the combat engagements involved starting with a small cutscene in which all the enemies saw you and started shooting at you, then the game would hand control back to you and you are left to carve your way through the area.
That covers all the fundamental points that comprise the game, I may have criticise several elements of the game, but I truly did love my time with the game. There are obvious comparisons drawn between Tomb Raider and the Uncharted series, my two penneth worth on the matter is that they are actually very different games. Though if I would have to say that the diversity of gameplay and different aspects that comprise the game lead me to conclude that I had more fun with Tomb Raider than I have with the Uncharted games, even if the visuals and to an extent the story, are superior in the Uncharted series.
I rate Tomb Raider, 9/10
Thank you very much for reading,
Friends of The Games Critic:
My name is Ed, I write everything here, covering all kinds of games, but I only play them on the PS4!