One of the most famous and enduring video gaming icons of all time, Lara Croft or ‘Tomb Raider’ has been given a significant overhaul in this iteration. An action adventure game in which you explore, run, jump, shoot and gather treasures, Tomb Raider is the most exciting and involving release we’ve played this year.
Without wishing to give too much away, the first hour or so of the game is spent guiding Lara into a better spot than her original landing area and getting a bit of background on how she ended up on the expedition in the first place.
The whole time, we’re treated to all sorts of ladylike moans and gasps as Lara struggles along very much in the ‘Die Hard’ reluctant hero mould.
It’s an appealing attitude for the main character in an action title, much more likely to engender empathy than portraying the usual gruff, bloodthirsty and taciturn grunt, but being a Lara Croft game, the developer also ensures that there are plenty of camera angles positioned so you simply can’t avoid looking straight down at Lara’s cleavage.
That’s my excuse, anyhow.
The game is graphically quite splendid, for the most part, although there are some errant elements.
Lara’s ponytail seems to have a life of its own a lot of the time and the water effects still don’t rival anything like those in Far Cry 3, for instance. However, dramatic backdrops with dynamic scenery such as gorgeous waterfalls or mist-shrouded mountains and dynamic weather and special effects give the game an extraordinary atmosphere.
Every time you pause the game, no matter when, the resultant image on your TV screen looks like a beautiful, carefully hand-crafted screenshot.
In game, this attention to detail persists. Much of the incidental scenery is breathtaking and breakable, strongly increasing that essential sense of credibility to aid in player immersion.
Often, you can then use this to your advantage in the game, such as shooting out pesky searchlights to increase your chances or exploiting cover.
The voice acting in the game sounds very natural, though it’s a pity that the facial animation isn’t up to the job of conveying all that good work.
You hear Lara sounding very much like she’s struggling, really under the pump, but what you see is a plasticky, unexpressive face that just isn’t reflecting the expressed emotion.
Making up for this, however, is the superb orchestral soundtrack.