Tomb Raider: From the Very Beginning

I still remember my excitement when I used to play one of the most interesting games of the childhood – Tomb Raider. Yes, sure, nowadays it looks more like a joke but back in the days things used to be different – so used to be the graphics. But with the modern technologies and creative thinking developers from Crystal Dynamics have managed to create a totally different product, a perfect evolution of Tomb Raider as a game and as a character. The next Tomb Raider tells us a story about young and ambitious Lara Croft who is not a Tomb Raider yet and is only on her way to become one. A lot like in Star Wars saga, we are going to find out how things have gone that way.

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In the newest Tomb Raider you are not going to play as a tough woman who knows how to kick enemies’ backs and how to survive the lava streams. Just on the contrary: this time you will start your journey as a young and inexperienced girl who can only imagine to become as good as Angelina Jolie in a movie. This time you will be involved in exploring Japanese mysteries of the ancient Yamatai kingdom. Once upon a time it was ruled by Pimiko who not only was a pretty empress but also practiced dark magic. Well, long story short – your expedition gets inside the Dragon Triangle which works the very same way the other popular Triangle does (yes, I am talking about the one on Bermuda). Your team gets separated on two different groups and while you’re trying to make your way back home you start to realize that after all the island is not uninhabited.

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This time (and Tomb Raider developers do deserve some credit for the amazing idea) you will face the familiar enemy that comes under the name “Russians.” Well, time has passed and those Russians are not Russians in their actual meaning and happen to control a Cult that still worships Pimiko. And, of course, this Cult will turn into the center of all your troubles. Together with lost civilizations, tombs and treasures, a simple journey to the forgotten lands will turn into a real madness for the young Tomb Rider aka Lara Croft. And while Lara, whom we know, will look death in the eyes with her own eyes wide open, her younger “version” is not ready for this kind of challenge because she is scared.

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Hungry, alone and armed with a handmade bow Lara makes her way through the night forest, rescues herself from the hungry wolves and hides from the coldblooded people who, for some crazy reason, kill anyone they see. Right now she is not Tomb Raider, the one and only we’ve loved for so many years: she can barely aim and shoot with her bow and it is almost impossible to see her doing some acrobatic tricks without slipping on every stone. And you know why? Because now she is not a professional tomb raider, she is just a girl trying to survive the cruel reality she’s gotten into.

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But the best thing is that with every shot and every jump Lara gets stronger and slowly but confidently turns into the woman we knew. With every next shot she stops screaming every time she kills an enemy and bends over to loot the body, with every next jump she forgets about meters of danger below and just keeps on moving because she has too. These moments of transformation create an amazing feeling of excitement and satisfaction because now you know a lot more about her character than you used to know before. It is like getting to know that Darth Vader used to be Anakin Skywalker in his childhood.

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Tomb Raider series of games has always been known for breathtaking puzzles and tricky climbing. Well, this one is not an exception and you will have more than enough of those during the game. And while, sometimes, Tomb Rider puzzles are pretty easy to solve and some fans might get furious about the lack of challenge, I would like to remind you one thing: we are talking about young Lara Croft, the one who doesn’t even know yet that she will be a gorgeous Tomb Raider someday somehow. So, she is not ready to solve complicated puzzles so far. And even despite the fact that she is able to take down tons of enemies being a very inexperienced shooter, I am willing to give this fact to the most important and well known instinct – Survival.

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As for the graphics – it’s just amazing. Tomb Raider is filled with the atmospheric things starting with the ancient ruins, broken temples and up to forests and dangerous rocky hills full of predators and other creepy enemies. All that and even more won’t let you feel bored in any possible situation. And what boring can be in a girl fighting for her life in a mysterious Dragon Triangle controlled by crazy Russians? Sure, the game is not perfect and there are a few things that make it only 9 out of 10 and not a top winner.

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First of all – DLC characters and AI enemies. They seem to be very “bright” and interesting in the first part of the game but with time they get predictable, boring and static, so to speak. People come, people go and for some reason Lara doesn’t show any interest in their further destiny and right now I am not talking about enemies; I am talking about the other part of the group that also came to the island and that also was supposed to survive (well, at least because of the fact that they appeared in a group). However, this is not likely to happen which is kind of sad. Or is it? I haven’t felt a thing and, I bet, you won’t either.

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From the very starting point Tomb Raider was supposed to be a game with an open world and, technically, it is one. However, you won’t have any particular interest in coming back to the previous area unless you really need to or your next objective forces you to come back. And it’s not about the world around – it’s about the challenge and excitement: you can’t feel shocked every time you jump over the very same canyon or kill the very same wolf.

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To my own surprise – Tomb Raider can also boast with the Multiplayer. Well, correct me if I’m wrong but third person games of a kind have never been known for great multiplayers. Tomb Raider from this perspective looks OK, but nothing more. And while the exciting challenge to see 10 or 20 Laras running all over the map and trying to survive looks great, I won’t get too excited about it. Beside, you will need to be Level 60 in order to feel yourself comfortable in multiplayer.

But even these minor downfalls won’t spoil you all the fun you are going to get from playing Tomb Raider. From time to time you will get a feeling that this is the already phenomenal Far Cry 3 or a well-known Uncharted but only from time to time. By all means, Tomb Raider 2013 is the best game about Lara Croft that had been released for the past 10 years and I am pretty sure it will remain one for a pretty long time. So, if you are feeling adventures – this is the righteous game to get on your PC or console.

Author: Oleg Repetskiy

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