So the other day I wrote a post about Xbox One’s exclusivity for the upcoming Tomb Raider game, which incidentally it turns out is not going to be a long term exclusivity deal, which is fairly typical I guess. But, writing that article got me thinking about the last Tomb Raider game which rebooted the series, and although I’d poked around in a little before, I’d never fully explored despite enjoying the experience.
I downloaded the title on Steam again yesterday, and have been having a lot of fun with it. It’s certainly a very directed experience, with the first hour or two of the game in particular, you’re railroaded along a single track whilst Lara is subjected to all manner of ordeals. It’s very cinematic though, and it just about carries it off without feeling too constrictive. It’s when areas of the map open up a little more, allowing for the possibility to explore them and uncover secrets, that the game comes into its own though. The story is engaging enough, at least for the parts I’ve seen, and I think the portrayal of Lara Croft is a strong one, and one that’s very relatable.
Having said that, this really is a very Unchartered type of game, where the cinematic scope of the game will often overrule the gameplay part of it. To the point where even things like running or walking are dictated by the moment in the story, or where you think you’re doing something incredibly cool, only to realise the game has transitioned into a cutscene. It’s entertaining and cinematic enough, but can definitely feel a bit on rails at points.
Personally though, I love the small maps you get to explore at your leisure at certain points in the game. The ability to fast travel between them using campfires adds to the ease of chasing collectibles and loot in areas you’ve completed the story elements in. There are some RPG elements in the game too, with skill unlocks and weapon upgrades available, but at this point it remains to be seen whether they’re very much the kind of upgrades where you’ll have all of them in the end anyway, and you’re just picking the order in which you get them, or they actually represent some sort of meaningful choice.
All things considered, I’m really enjoying the game at the moment, and may even stick it out until the end. Provided that the story holds up at least, all that prescribed story telling can get pretty tedious if you’re hating every second of it.