Tomb Raider PC Review: A Real Hero is Reborn
Then there’s multiplayer. I won’t say that Tomb Raider’s multiplayer is bad, because it isn’t. It’s not too far removed from Uncharted 3, except with a greater emphasis on weapons like the bow, the ability to set traps for your opponents, and dynamic levels with a lot of verticality and moving implements. On paper, all that’s fine, but in practice, I found the mode less than especially engaging. The increased vertical nature of multiplayer means a lot of getting killed from people you didn’t know were there, and it seems as though the learning curve takes a bit of getting used to if you want to avoid getting ruthlessly sniped by silent arrows all game.
That said, Crystal Dynamics has tried some cool things with multiplayer, especially in allowing users to set lots of traps. It comes with a number of modes, including one in which a teammate carries food supplies from across the map while others cover her in a capture-the-flag style, standard deathmatch, and other fairly standard additions. You can unlock new weapons to customize your loadout, but ultimately it feels a lot like Uncharted but not as good — which is weird, given that most of Tomb Raider feels like Uncharted but much better.
The real trouble with Tomb Raider’s multiplayer is that it doesn’t feel like it fits the dynamic of the rest of the game, and is therefore unnecessary. It’s a mode that smacks greatly of being tossed in because That’s What You Do These Days, and it’s a shame that Square, CD and Eidos Montreal felt the need to smash it onto the disc next to a truly inspired single-player experience. While single player does such a phenomenal job of often making the gameplay feel extremely fluid, movement in multipalyer is choppy and disorienting, and fighting with any sort of accuracy feels difficult to achieve. Tomb Raider doesn’t much need its multiplayer, and while it doesn’t detract severely from the overall package, I’m doubtful it’s really going to catch fire among players.
Regardless, Tomb Raider is a phenomenal experience, with only a few missteps over the course of a lengthy, beautiful game. I was lucky enough to play it on PC and with an AMD Radeon HD 7870 card, which meant that I experienced none of the graphical issues NVIDIA players have been experiencing. On High and Ultra settings, Tomb Raider is stunning, and cranking up the settings on Lara’s hair adds another layer of graphical excellence. It seems the game can handle really high settings as well as really low ones, but with a decent card under the hood, I found myself snapping screenshots of vast shipwrecks and smoky landscapes quite often.
I’m sad that Tomb Raider is over. It’s a game I wish I could go back and start over again fresh to experience for the first time all over again. It’s guilty of keeping me up late and monopolizing quite a bit of my time (around 15 hours with doing a lot of searching for extraneous junk). More than that, though, it’s a powerful step forward for the character of Lara Croft and maybe for game heroes in a broader sense. Lara feels like a hero much more than most other protagonists do, because she earns it. And the great part of playing through Tomb Raider is that I felt like I earned it, too.
- Fast, fluid gameplay that transitions from stealth to exploration to combat seamlessly
- Huge number of intense (maybe even slightly ridiculous) set pieces, every single one of which is a load of fun
- Darker narrative and violent tone work beautifully
- Lots to find and do, with smart environmental puzzles
- Fluid cover-based combat shows how cover-based combat should be done
- Character progression fits the story and gives you more abilities and strategies without making you feel like a superhero
- Gorgeous on high settings on PC
- Lara Croft stands above most game protagonists with this new adventure
- Quality mix of stealth, exploration and combat throughout
- Almost too many set pieces and violent moments, such that they get a little ridiculous
- Puzzles are almost all on the easy side, and consist of one note
- Contains roughly 1 billion collectibles, most of which are kind of dumb
- Multiplayer feels stiff and tacked-on, especially considering the strengths of the single-player experience
- Survival elements quickly fall by the wayside after the opening hour or so
Final Score: 92/100
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