The storyline of the game finds a young British girl straight out of college heading into her first adventure of many after shipwrecking on a mysterious island on Lara's first job. The island is full of dangers from both human enemies and nature, and Lara will have to learn to believe in herself to save her friends and eventually escape the island alive. The plot of the game is eerily reminiscent of 2012's Far Cry 3, but there are several key differences as Lara learns not only to hunt, kill and survive on the island, but the young explorer must accept her destiny as an explorer and spelunker. Many times throughout the game's campaign, Lara will be faced with tough decisions and dangerous threats that will leave the young raider with more than a few scratches, and as the character evolves, you will feel yourself changing along with her. There are plenty of different characters in the world of Tomb Raider, but all are simply outshined by the phenomenal performance portrayed by Camilla Luddington.
Tomb Raider gets off to a slow start, but the action picks up shortly into the game's single player campaign and will have you hooked after a few scripted sequences. Lara will feel incredibly emotional after her first kill of the game, but soon, that all leaves, and you'll be earning new weapons, upgrading existing ones and leveling up Lara with new skills in order to become a deadly hand-to-hand fighter, assassin and deadly accurate with a variety of firearms and bow. When you get stuck in the game, Lara can utilize Survival Instincts in order to get a clue of where to go next or how to solve a puzzle in the area. Once you've completed the game, you can head back to the island in order to search it for rare valuables and other important items that you may have missed the first time around. Exploring the island with Lara's newfound abilities never seems to get old, and there is plenty to see and do once you've mastered the excellent combat and exploration features of the game. One glaring problem with the game is the boring multiplayer added to the game. Laying traps and shooting bows and guns just doesn't hold the same magic it does in the single player experience, and Team Deathmatch, Free-for-All and two poorly imbalanced objective modes don't stay fun for very long.
Obviously, Tomb Raider is the best looking game the series has spawned, but in addition to the being the best Lara Croft has ever looked, the game has an environment that feels alive and looks amazing. Climbing high above the island in the mountains and looking out to sea can be breathtaking, and the dark, dreary corridors full of rats, dirt and plenty of insanely tense moments are made even more special by the superb graphics, animations and soundtrack from BAFTA award-winner Jason Graves. Lara Croft's voice acting is superb here as well, and the only real drawback in presentation is a forgettable cast of supporting characters. Still, Lara is the star of this show, and Tomb Raider is easily the best action adventure title of the year so far. There was a lot of hype surrounding the release of this new title, and it's nice to play through such a compelling Tomb Raider campaign. Tomb Raider has returned as one of the best franchises around, and this is a must own game!
Tomb Raider is now available from all major retailers for the MSRP of $59.99 and can be purchased for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Tomb Raider is rated M by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence & Strong Language. For more information on the game, check out the official Tomb Raider website.
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360 (reviewed)
Release Date: March 5, 2013