2013-07-18_00010The new, younger Lara Croft, before she became the legend. How she began and what made her into such a tomb raiding bad ass. This would be the first attempt at rebooting Tomb Raider since it’s creation so many years ago. So wot did frosty think of the new Lara? Find out below.

I picked this up in the steam summer sale recently, having played all of the tomb raider games previously, I was walking into this with some very skeptical opinions on the new gruntier, dirtier, girlier version of Lara. From the very beginning I felt divided on how good this game is, the presentation and visual quality are top notch, the island you explore and the vistas in it are breathtaking at times. However there were some rather disappointing “features” that held it back.

The first and most unforgivable for me was the “Mash E to do stuff” prompt, which seems to be commonplace among every level. There are several versions of this, mash to open a door, mash to turn a switch, mash to break somebodies neck etc. For all it’s movie like quality to presentation, it seems a strangely honest admission. Mashing a button is about all the thought you need for these activities, while presumably you should be drooling at the screen and believing this is gameplay.

The other problem was killing….wow there is a lot of killing in this game. Seriously, the body count in this game is outrageous. It feels so unnatural that for one moment an innocent young woman desperately fights off a potential murdering rapist, spends a total of three seconds dealing with the fact she kills him and then proceeds to murder quite literally, everything on the island. I must have killed about two hundred or more guys by the end.

It just screams console kiddie porn, the myriad ways you can die horribly while not completing a quick time event. The massive ridiculous body count, the “mash to gameplay” moments. There are still a handful of puzzles to solve, but they are very few and relatively simple affairs, You probably won’t have to tax your brain cells to figure out what to do for more than thirty seconds before you’re back to killing something. The controls on the PC work fine though, it doesn’t feel like a lazy port, they put real effort into making sure they work and feel right, something that should never be underestimated sadly.

Lara moves fluidly, dodging, ducking, leaping and climbing, there is real effort in her physical movement and you feel every knock as she falls or grasps out for survival. The combat itself is exciting if somewhat predictably “run straight at you” most of the time. The  selection of weapons you find/upgrade are enjoyable, although you do have to overlook the way you somehow find gun mods laying around a seemingly sticks and stones island population.

The way the island has a WW2 history and a tribal background, as well as the more recent shipwrecked feral population, feels legitimately interesting. I actually enjoyed learning and understanding what happened there, how things developed and why they were so. There are of course elements of the supernatural, but it mostly tries to stay grounded. Discovering all the collectible relics was fun, I liked inspecting them and trying to discover fakes.

I was so disgusted with the idea of multiplayer in a tomb raider game I didn’t even look at that option I’m afraid. The game world itself is beautiful to explore, from the interior caves and rather tame handful of “tombs” you can discover, to the wide open landscapes and cliff top vistas. Much was made about Lara moaning and groaning as she survives fall after agonizing fall, this never really seemed out of place or overdone to me. Lara was struggling and in pain, if you can manage that sort of hardship without making any noise you’re probably dead.

As I said at the beginning I was divided when playing this, for all the fun and freedom you get to explore there is a “mash” prompt or a horde of enemies to butcher which somehow detracts from it. If you can laugh off the weak sauce attempt to add gravity to the army of animals and people Lara single handedly slaughters, there is a reasonably fun game to enjoy. It’s not as clever as it is pretty though and if you were hoping for more brain challenge than eye candy, you may be left unsatisfied. This isn’t Lara Crofts best outing, but it also isn’t her worst.