"Lara's Bad Trip"
Tomb Raider, the 2013 reboot of one of gaming's leading ladies' history, is the perfect example of a game that does too much. The first mainline game in the series to be released since Square Enix purchased Eidos and developer Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider marks a lot of other first for the series: mature settings, a realistic Lara Croft, and the most controversial; multiplayer. While the game is great and definitely worth playing, there are ultimately a few factors that bring down the lasting memory of the experience as a whole.
Taking the iconic Lara Croft to her college years, Tomb Raider is the story of her origins, placing Lara on her first expedition to the lost kingdom of Yamatai on a ship called the Endurance. A storm destroys the boat and the crew is stranded on an isolated island in the Dragon's Triangle. Unlike the Lara Croft we all know, things don't go so smoothly for her; she struggles to survive. Over the course of the game, Lara explores the mysterious island and meets up with the crew of the expedition as they try to fight a force that seems to want them stranded on the island forever.
Compared to other games in the series, Tomb Raider is pretty straight-forward. The exploration mechanics are simple, easy to grasp, and you won't be holding a few buttons just to keep a grip on a ledge as in previous installments. Lara is able to upgrade her abilities through experience gained from killing enemies in combat, exploring tombs, and hunting animals; likewise, her weapons are upgraded through salvage gained from looting enemy bodies and opening treasure chests. Combat here is more involved, with a variety of dodges and two of the upgrade skill trees being dedicated to making Lara become even more lethal to the island's hostiles. Of special note is the Crossbow, which has multiple types of ammunition and can eventually be used to create rope bridges.
All of these changes make a Tomb Raider game that is playable without using a strategy guide. I was rarely stuck while playing, and the story made so many twists that it was hard to put the game down. The game encourages going back to areas previously traveled through, Its Arhkam Asylum-esque detection mode highlights things in the environment that can be manipulated and a ton of collectibles that don't intrude on actual gameplay. A bit of challenge is there for those looking for it, through an adjustable combat difficulty and optional tombs, which contain puzzles that lead to objects that grant high amounts of XP.
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