The new Tomb Raider has landed and it’s made a big splash in the process. Lara Croft has been rebooted and given a new origins story but it’s always a hit or miss affair when you take a well-known and beloved character like Lara Croft and remake her. Fans are not too forgiving if you get a reboot wrong. The fact that the last Tomb Raider games have been rather lacking in luster adds more pressure to the expectation from a new game in the franchise. In this case it’s good that we’re in a period where fans will give a franchise another chance to reboot if it’s been mucking up a little – it’s a clean slate of sorts really. With Rhianna Pratchett having written the story and created the new Lara Croft’s personality things are already looking up. Developer, Crystal Dynamics also doesn’t go wrong with the game mechanics.
The visuals and game mechanics are powered by a modified Crystal Engine and they are stunning. Lara gets grimier and more bloodied as she makes her way through the breath-yanking island, surviving. The island is alive with vibrant fauna and flora and the weather conditions are wonderfully temperamental. The atmosphere is rich and heavy throughout. The island is a character in itself and exploring it is fun and scary all at once. The dangers are real but once in a while Lara makes it to the top of a ledge and the view is spectacular. Tomb Raider’s resounding theme is survival and Lara has to learn to do whatever it takes to survive and to save her comrades. She hunts and kills deer on the island and defends herself against wolves. This is somewhat reminiscent of Far Cry 3 and the bow she acquires is a low-tech version of Prophet’s bow in Crysis 3. This is actually one of the strong points of the game, the fact that it doesn’t try to recreate the action-adventure genre. It takes elements from Uncharted, Arkham Asylum and other games and blends them seamlessly to tell its unique story. The control scheme is a reiteration of what you’re familiar with and works comfortably well on the Xbox 360 controller whether you're shimmying across a ledge, sneaking up on a bad guy or find yourself in a gunfight.
There’s a multiplayer option tagged onto the single-player experience but it doesn’t stand out as much as the main campaign, which proves to be very addictive. The multiplayer option does give you something to do when friends pop over or you’re looking for extra value for your money through some prolonged play. It's the sort of add-on that you wouldn't mind investing a few forgettable hours in purely because after the 12 or so hours it takes you to complete the main campaign you’ll want to stick around a little longer. I think Crystal Dynamics added it as an afterthought and only because people have come to expect some form of a multilayer mode with the release of AAA title.