I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve held a lifelong disdain towards the Tomb Raider franchise. At the time, I hated the fact that it played a major role in gamers adopting the PlayStation One in droves, which did not sit well with my Nintendo fanboy self. I also just thought that the few experiences I had with a few of the games in the series didn’t strike me as anything interesting or special. The last time I tried to play a Tomb Raider game was Legend on the Xbox 360, which I grew bored of after an hour of playing the demo.
Regardless of the validity of my claims against the Lara of yesteryear, they don’t apply here. The new Tomb Raider is awesome.
In this second attempt at a reboot, Crystal Dynamics draws heavily from the Uncharted playbook, from the heavier emphasis on gunplay to action-movie-style setpieces that provide many of the game’s most jaw-dropping moments. Even during more quiet segments, such as Lara crawling through a narrow tunnel, the action is framed in a way to bring drama to the screen.
From there, it takes many of those core concepts from the Uncharted series and makes them its own. The bow and arrow is finely tuned and intelligently upgraded throughout to make it your go-to weapon all the way through. You’re given all sorts of great tools and setpieces to make traversing awesome. Even the puzzle-solving elements of the game have been streamlined in a way that makes sense within the context of this new world, are easier to solve while still feeling satisfying to work though.
Tomb Raider isn’t just a great reboot. It’s one of the best action games to date with enough nods to the source material to satisfy that crowd. Despite my dislike of the series going in, this is the video game equivalent of Rachel Leigh Cook coming down the stairs with her new look in She’s All That.