10:00 am EDT, March 27, 2013

Hypable Game Review: ‘Tomb Raider’ aims high, hits just below the mark

Tomb Raider had a lot to prove with its reboot. Most of the time, it worked hard to. Thankfully, the specks of dirt on the shiny arrow weren’t enough to bring down this fantastic action game.

This reboot of Tomb Raider marks a major departure from the formula of the original series. Fortunately, this departure is greatly appreciated. There are only so many times that we can stand having to shoot at undead leopards in 500-year-old Aztec caverns.

Lara Croft’s origin story is told from the perspective of Final Fantasy industry giant Square Enix. As a result, what’s first apparent of this game is its rebranding. Lara’s character model is different. Her weapons are different. Most importantly, we feel for Lara and her desperate struggle to survive on an island full of crazies armed with fire arrows.

Lara is displayed in a more detailed light than ever before. The game’s graphics display dirt and grime with intense clarity. Her wounds are real, and bleed as she suffers through them. Yeah. This game is that visually detailed.

Fire arrow Lara Croft

Islands are a fun playground for these types of survivalist origin tales. Shipwrecked, Lara is pushed to real human boundaries that have large consequences. Witnessing things like her first kill or her watching as a friend is ruthlessly murdered by a mercenary are both visceral and real.

Gameplay surprisingly takes second wheel to the visuals and humanity tale. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its own appeal. The AI is smart, and the platforming looks nice.

Unfortunately, one of the above mentioned ‘specks of dirt’ was the generic, “been there, done that” feeling to nearly everything relating to gameplay. The weapon upgrade system added a much needed layer of depth to the gameplay, despite how fruitless it was come the end of Lara’s story

One last ‘speck’ was the B-plot. The archetypal characters literally killed us. If we can pick out who’s going to betray the group from the get-go, it’s clear where the storywriters didn’t have time to focus.

And yes, Tomb Raider has a distinct Uncharted feel. While we could play “chicken or the egg?” all day, it’s safe to say that this version of Tomb Raider would not exist if Naughty Dog’s masterpiece series never came to be.

The specks of dirt are there, but so are the gleaming, silver moments. Overall, Tomb Raider is a well polished venture that successfully delves into the depths of Lara Croft’s psyche.

Grade: B+

Tomb Raider released for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC on March 5 worldwide. The game sells for about $60 ($42, off of Amazon). The game itself takes about 12-15 hours to complete.

*Note: We chose not to play the multiplayer, therefore, it did not affect our review in any fashion.

Image sources: Square Enix

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