Every story has a beginning. Every person has a moment that defines who they are. The question is how will you let such events change you? That is the focus of Tomb Raider. What starts as a journey to find a missing island, turns into an ordeal that shapes Lara Croft from a green archeologist into a fearless adventurer.
All Stories Have a Beginning
Lara Croft has ventured all over the world in search of ancient treasures. She has been to Nevada, Egypt, Atlantis, Tibet and the Arctic Sea. She has fought beings with power beyond that of mortal understanding. But what makes a person capable of such feats? Where does one get the strength of will to keep going against odds that would make a lesser, and arguably saner, person run? To understand that, you have to see Lara’s beginning and what shaped her. It all started on a ship where Lara convinced an expedition to journey into the Dragon’s Teeth. This resulted in the ship sinking and the crew getting stuck on an island. Lara awakens to find herself upside down and tied up in a cavern. She soon gets free by setting herself on fire and falling very far to the ground which pierces her side with a spike. Then things get worse.
Through the game you see Lara turn from a relatively normal girl to someone who can kill, traverse dangerous landscapes and use a bow and arrow with the expertise of a veteran. All this happens in an attempt to save her friends from the crazy cult that infests the island. While you traverse the island you see Lara develop as a person and you begin to really care about her. Her cohorts on the other hand don’t get as developed, which makes it hard to actually care about them as much as you care about Lara, especially when they seem to get picked off at alarming rates. While adventuring from one place to the next you will find a number of collectibles such as GPS caches, artifacts, and journals. The last two range from several thousand years ago to World War II. All of these items help enhance the story and actually making it worth actually collecting everything (something I actually did).
The only thing I would have to say is poor about this whole thing is that the story did not have any surprises. What was going to happen next was felt forecasted through the game. I am not saying that I did not enjoy the story. I was just not surprised by what happened next
Survive or Die
Lara quickly learns that she cannot be a pacifist if she wants to survive the island. After escaping from what we have all seen in the demo Lara creates the first of many base camps (which are very convenient fast travel locations) and sleeps off her first injuries. Once awake she ventures forth and finds the game's signature weapon, a long bow, and begins hunting the local wildlife for food. This makes a great tutorial for how to use the bow while in a zero risk environment. Future tutorials are not as zero risk but the game slows down the first time you need to do something in order to give you ample time to not die. It only does this once per task, but it keeps gameplay flowing while also giving you some wiggle room to learn. Lara's growth is measured by here earning experience which provide talents that can be spent between three trees, survival, hunter, and brawler. And this brings me to something I really liked, if you are diligent you can and will fill all these trees to make the ultimate survivor. There is no "I wish I could have that ability too".
Eventually Lara obtains four different weapons, the bow, a pistol, a rifle and a shotgun. All of these are upgradable using salvage you find through the island and from hunting animals (how animal remains are used to upgrade an assault rifle I don't know) or with weapon parts that are found in crates around the isle. This allows you, for example, to make weapons more accurate, do more damage, or hold more ammo. Just like with the talents you have the opportunity to fully upgrade all weapons. In order to prevent you from being too powerful tp early in the game each weapon has specific parts you don't get until it is scripted, for example the compound bow. This keeps the games difficulty flowing at a steady pace without a too easy or too hard feel to it.
This whole ordeal started in the search of the ancient island of Yamatai, which at least they found. Too bad they did not expect it to be populated by crazy cultists that want them all dead. Now, in order to rescue her friends, Lara must fight people that have her outnumbered and out armed. She must climb mountains to reach inaccessible places. While exploring this island you will find ancient tombs that each have their own puzzle to solve in order to get some sort of random ancient artifact, she is an archaeologist after all. The island makes for a great backdrop and provides a number of different environments to explore. It was a great idea and props to the designers for it.
A Survivor is Born
All in all this is a truly fun game. Jumping puzzles are fun, combat is smooth and the story while not surprising is good. If you have never played a Tomb Raider game (guilty) this is a great entry to start with. Lara is not just some random adventurer, she is an actual person. Thanks to this entrance I am looking forward to the continued life of this series. When they said a survivor is born they were not just talking about Lara Croft, but the Tomb Raider series itself.