Tomb Raider 2013
Released: March 5th, 2013
Talk about a hidden gem, at least one to me. As a kid, I was a Nintendo 64 player and by my teenage years, not only had I moved onto the Nintendo GameCube, but the 4th and 5th original timeline Tomb Raider games were not exactly the classics that would tempt me to somehow find the money to get a PlayStation 2 and those games.
I was going to spend the weekend at my friend’s place. I usually bring something along. I saw this was on amazon and picked it up fast. So fast that by the time I was in his Living Room, it still had its cellophane wrapping. Despite both of us having no real past with the franchise, we were both happy. Plus, this game is a complete reboot of the timeline, so logically it’s a good jumping on point.
Firstly (and starting with a point which should not be the main one), the customisation of things such as weapons, like arrows, is deep as hell. While organising the briefcase to a huge degree, people like me and many of my friends, will lose hours to it. This was also a plus point of the criminally underrated Alien: Isolation.
Second and perhaps (just perhaps mind you) more importantly is the story. Oh yeah, spoilers ahead for a game from two console generations ago.
When Lara struggles for hours with the shipwreck (and your crew mates just stand still like the NPCs they are, - bit jarring) and makes contact with her rescuers (climbing up a vertical mast - religious allegory aplenty), I felt genuine relief for Lara. I would think this will be the experience which most all have.
There is something of a training section at the front of the game. It’s not like it is stand out noticeable and is not exactly an all-time classic (although nothing in the game is quite as exciting as a well-executed stealth kill). It does build toward your first kill about an hour into the game. You feel Lara’s regret at its necessity when she first kills an animal (I had to keep reminding myself ‘this shot and animal’s not real’).
Of course, soon after she is killing humans left, right and centre. It is a bit worrying that she feels nothing about becoming a serial killer. But I’m sure that is more an unintended glitch with the story and it does not take me out of it. Nor does it make me want to put the controller down. For as unsatisfying as this exact comment is, it is what it is. It does not matter too much beyond character building.
Spoilers: by the end of the reboot trilogy, Lara has a kill list about a kilometre long, so by keeping glitch in mind, you are somewhat ruining three entire games, but only for yourselves.
For a game called Tomb Raider, in a franchise named Tomb Raider, there is not exactly an emphasis on the raiding of tombs. Don’t get me wrong, it still exists here, and it is corrected somewhat in the remaining two instalments of the trilogy where they are both optional side quests and necessary parts of the main quest. I enjoy the fact none of them have enemies (other than gravity), they would somewhat draw you out of the tomb.
I’d thoroughly recommend them to almost everyone, especially as when you get to the end and can reap the rewards (which are mostly quite good and feel like actual rewards rather than just spending ages to be rewarded with a slightly re skinned piece of equipment such as an aesthetically different quiver). Overall, incredibly enjoyable and I buy the idea that all the vastly different tombs on one island would be a little odd. This is not too noticeable and as I said, is both optional here and redressed in the sequels so a worthy part of the game, albeit a bit flawed but not in any serious way.
Back in the late 1990s, even as a non-PlayStation kid, you could not move far without hearing about Tomb Raider or Lara Croft herself. I never really got this at the time. I understand it was something of a response to the hegemonic male gaze in gaming and broader popular culture before the original games came out. This game is not exactly the heights of amazing that was Perfect Dark or The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. But my God, it is a well-built game and beyond worth your time.
It is so good it made me day one buy each of the sequels. I think it is also included in its Game of the Year guise on Xbox Game Pass, with that being the bargain it is, sweet Caroline, you practically owe it to yourself to give this beautiful game a go.
It’s sequels? Well, they are for other reviews ….
Oh, one more thing. I keep seeing memes of Lara holding herself from this trilogy where she’s saying ‘I used to be such a badass’. It’s like all the low hanging criticism of Star Trek Discovery as the show ‘Cry Hard’. I think it is completely unjustified at best. Anyone that young, seeing a good number of their friends and ship mates die (not to mention having to learn to kill without remorse to survive too). And who at great lengths has to save the survivors is nothing short of a badass in my book. Such criticism just seems so unwarranted and is likely… well I also want to keep this positive. But suffice to say, I don’t hold a very high opinion of people saying this.
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