“Tomb Raider” (Square Enix)Written by Michael Siebenaler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
This successful reboot elevates the Tomb Raider game series to a higher level with stronger emotional elements, expanded gameplay opportunities, and an extensive multiplayer mode. Game developers Crystal Dynamics continue their quality work in this game series and use actual elements as a base for the story, which retains the learning experiences (geography, history, etc.). After a quick initial setup of the PlayStation 3 game, players get three save slots and choose the difficulty (easy, normal or hard) for this Lara Croft origin experience.
Players already know this young adventurer can survive the elements, which set the tone for her expedition group as they are stranded on a mysterious island. The endless activities match very well with the tension filled plot, which is well paced and gives players a nice variety. Lara’s activities include salvaging, hunting, puzzles, traversing, climbing, exploring, zip lining, fighting, evading, archery, melee pushing, shooting, and, of course, tomb raiding. The only notable combat snafu is environmental objects occasionally block the view when using the zoom option when the objects (e.g. trees) are located well behind Lara. Players make upgrades at various base camps (only at safe times) and can thankfully travel fast through the large environments as they progress.
Developers incorporate quick time events (QTEs), action cues (hit specific button similar to “God of War” games), and even music cues plus players can always press the L2 button to analyze the environment for clues to progress. Certain challenges also give players clues (e.g. reappearing items, etc.) in addition to the environment analysis. Great rumble (controller vibrates) options, slow motion, and challenging boss fights enhance the high octane gameplay even more. The reactions are truly impressive and include special dialogue when panning to view certain environment areas. Human enemies usually approach Lara at a fast and furious pace, which can be an advantage (e.g. take note of explosive barrels, then quickly lure them to that spot). Surprises, unpredictable situations, and multiple actions create an amazing framework that engages and entertains on a high level.
The multiplayer mode features a casual or regular difficulty with up to 8 players total in entertaining skirmishes that include rescue, team deathmatch, cry for help, and free for all. Crystal Dynamics enhances familiar series gameplay while pushing the PlayStation 3 to its limit with amazing visual effects, lighting, and camerawork. Add-on content and PlayStation Home options also available. Highly recommended and also available in The Final Hours edition and Survival/Collector’s edition (****, also on PC and Xbox 360, rated M for intense violence, strong language, and blood/gore).