Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tomb Raider Review

NOTE: I'm going back to my old way of reviews, because I just wasn't able to say everything I wanted to say with the Pro/Con system.

Gameplay (7.5/10) - The gameplay of TR is bascially a combination of Uncharted and Metroid. What TR does well, is bring gameplay elements of classic action-adventure games like Metroid and Zelda, such as gaining new items throughout the journey, back-tracking, and item stacking, into the Uncharted formula of 3rd-person shooting, platforming, and searching for treasures. The end result works very well. Crystal Dynamics managed to implement such foreign elements into the formula without any of it feeling tacked on. TR also provides some interesting gameplay scenarios that force the player into to use their wits as well as reaction time. Unfortunately, what TR does very well begins to wear thin after the game's halfway point. Unique gameplay elements such as using a rope arrow to bring a balcony down or using a shotgun to open new paths are only used around the times when they are introduced and then forgotten an hour later. It's a shame that the unique elements were forgotten so quickly; as eventually the game just gets into a groove of gameplay once all of the weapons are obtained and just sticks there for the rest of the game.  Some more layered gameplay and diversity there-of would've pushed TR further. Overall, TR starts off much stronger than it finished in the gameplay department.

Graphics (6.5/10) - TR's art direction does a lot for this score, because on a technical level, TR is not very impressive at all. The regular frame-rate of the game is pretty bad, and only seems to remain steady when Lara is still. The character models are also pretty unimpressive outside of Lara's, which even has a fair amount of jaggies itself. Lip-sync isn't very impressive either. What does impress visually in TR is the art direction and the amount of visual "stuff" Crystal Dynamics managed to get into the environments. TR lacks any open spaces and each area feels organic and rich with rubble and foilage, thus making for a very convincing setting. One complaint I have is that most of the games environments are filled with wreckage or mangled nature; so, basically, it's not very pretty. Impressively detailed, but not pretty.

Sound (6.5/10) - TR's soundtrack is intense and does a great job of creating the survival-horror vibe the game has. The voice acting ranged from good to great. Nothing really impressive here, but nothing bad either.

Story (5/10) - TR has a story and characters, but I really couldn't feel for any of them. Many fall under stereotypes or typical tropes that you see in adventure movies. There is a story though, and the game does a decent job of keeping interest, but it's just not a very interesting story. I have two main gripes with the story in TR: 1) despite the fact that there is a spiritual element to the game's plot, the developers to very little with it. Putting in some type of dragon, ghosts, or something fantastical would have helped keep the story interesting, as well as keep the ending from feeling so out of place. 2) Lara's character arc falls flat. This game was supposed to be about how Lara came to grow as a survivor and warrior, but she feels no different at the end of the game than she did at the beginning, which was a big letdown.

Replay Value (8/10) - There is a lot to explore on the island, which is really huge in size. There are treasures and documents to find, as well as some secret tombs. The length of the story mode was surprisingly long too.

Satisfaction (6/10) - Overall, I'll probably forget about my experience with TR in a few weeks. The game is fun while it lasts, and it brought some nice additions to the Uncharted formula, which had been becoming the staple in the genre. But, regardless, nothing TR does is particularly impressive. A few years ago it would've been. But with so-so graphics and a poor story backing up the decent gameplay, the end result just wasn't very satisfying.


The score I should give it - (8/10): At the end of the day, TR is better than Uncharted. It's graphics may not be as good, and it's story may pale in comparison, but TR brings some much need content to the gameplay of the Uncharted series, which had really begun to show it's age. The long campaign and great replay value in addition to a multiplayer mode also help TR as a good complete product.

The score I want to give it - (6/10): I didn't notice it until the end of the game, but it was TR's poor story that hurt it the most. There was little drive to keep playing except for seeing where the gameplay would go, and when the story wrapped up, it was very unsatisfying. Uncharted's gameplay may not be as complex as TR's, but it has a lot more heart and soul put into its story and gameplay scenarios than TR does. And, in the end, it's that heart and soul that sticks with a player after all is said and done. As a result, I'll remember my time with Uncharted 2 much longer than my time with TR.

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