Lara Croft The Indestructible Woman AKA: The Tomb Raider Review
Warning: There are spoilers in this review.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph; how much punishment can one woman take? I thought Nathan Drake went through a lot in his series, but bloody hell. The British Army should strap Lara Croft to their tanks to protect them from I.E.Ds. To say Crystal Dynamics went a little over-board with the abuse towards Lara is like saying using a machete is a little over-board when slicing bread. So it’s a reboot and while I think all reboots are crap – alongside most sequels and prequels – it’s hard not to find – at least – some parts of Tomb Raider entertaining. Therefore, as a metaphorical banner to hang over this review – unless I whip something up in paint – everything I don’t talk about I probably liked.
Even though Lara’s story arc is more straightforward to begin with, it does start to bend into an interesting and empathetic curve. However, the issue between Lara’s personal development and the rest of the game is what truly destroys Tomb Raider for me. Let me expand; Tomb Raider begins on the ship ironically named: The Endurance as it is hit by a seemingly random storm which breaks the poor thing in two, forcing Lara to make an Indiana Jones style leap of faith to reach the other side. Unfortunately for our young explore, she doesn’t make the jump and ends up filling her lungs with sea water which, for those of you who don’t know, isn’t a great thing. After washing up on shore, getting Chris Browned in the head, being captured and hung in a cocoon, we – at last – get to play the cockin’ game. However, I say: “get to play the cockin’ game” with a teaspoon of salt as the first hour is basically nothing more than QTEs, which I can’t stand. I get the same pleasure and excitement from re-heating a roast in the microwave as I do with QTEs, but – apparently – this was the only way for the developers to create the foundation of Lara’s character arc. Once the first hour is tossed to the side, the island opens somewhat, as now, you have to battle your way through to regroup with your buddies. And, those chums of yours are so stereotypical; it’s like a 90s sit-com.
Let’s do the support cast rundown shall we? The angry black woman who is a strong independent black woman that can only express that independence by being unbelievably aggressive; the tall burly Native-American who speaks at a laboured pace and in backwards-metaphors, the nerdy white guy with glasses who – for some strange reason – I felt a connection towards? The best friend whose job is to get captured and be the main motivation for the protagonist. The father figure who is there to constantly remind the protagonist about her past and die, the angry Scotsman who is Scottish and therefore angry; and lastly the twat. The guy who everyone knows is a twat, we know he’s a twat, he knows he’s a twat; but the game drags out his ‘surprising’ betrayal until the last quarter. In fact, there are a few instances where the game seemed to be lagging behind me in the deduction process; as I figured out key events way before Lara and her ever-thinning top ever did. Even though Lara is slow witted at times, because her overall character is pretty good, the rest of the cast seem non-existent; like Lara is talking to life-sized cardboard cut-outs of unbelievable clichés. Lastly, if Roth said: “You’re a Croft” one more time, I would have knocked his teeth out.
As for gameplay, you won’t find yourself making your way through tombs – unless you find the hidden one scattered round the island – but you will find a few puzzles and a massive amount of cover-based combat. I’m in two minds about the combat because on one hand; it’s an overused, played out system which, seems exceedingly out of place with Lara’s narrative. But on the other hand, it’s nice to have Lara automatically crouch down when close to cover, without the need of pressing a button that sticks her arse to it…. The weapons are pretty standard and can be upgraded which, apart from adding more ammo, don’t seem to do much. The bow and arrow is by far the best weapon and come to think of it, there has been a pretty heavy emphasis on this outdated tool in games as of late. Far Cry 3, Crysis 3 and Tomb Raider all seem to have a strange lust for a stick with a strand of string tied to it.
While I honestly believe that there isn’t any need for a reboot – especially when the predictable second and third installments are on their way – it’s alright. It’s a welcome break from the wave of gravel voiced blokes talking with their fists. Yeah Lara does – towards the end – completely change her principles and personality, but I guess when you’ve jumped into a river of blood and most likely contracted AIDS, you’re going to go a bit barmy.