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Posted by Kark-Jocke on Dec 26th, 2012
This is what: [Jon Cato Lorentzen] have said about the game
It's all about survival in the latest Tomb Raider. I have barely played for ten minutes and already poor Lara been burned, impaled by a pole, nearly drowned and been on the verge of freezing to death. She screams, groans and trembles, the brutal start is an awakening for both the young Lara, but also for the traditional Tomb Raider player who quickly learns that this is a different and far more brutal Tomb Raider experience than we have been accustomed to earlier.
Survival is a common topic among action games currently. One should survive zombie apocalypses, deadly virus or psychotic pirates in vacation paradise. The major trend in games these days are pale and fatalistic game worlds where they must rely on their primal instincts to survive. Perhaps it is our own safe community that compels us to awaken our primal basic needs through the game? A kind of longing for a life with real dangers, a need to feel that you live?
Crystal Dynamics has wound back the clock and reset icon Lara Croft. In place of the experienced and confident tit model with a pistol in each hand, we are introduced to a young and inexperienced archaeologist germinate who must use all his instincts for survival. It starts idyllic enough on a boat where Lara is part of an archaeological expedition, but the boat breaks down in a storm, and Lara and crew washed ashore on an island populated by psychotic cult members and wildlife.
The game's first minute set the tone, Lara immediately taken prisoner and must escape from the cave with the use of ingenuity and a few tap-instantly-button-on-screen sequences. Once out of the cave she fires up her first campfire to find the heat, and the fight for survival begins. I find a bow on a corpse in the woods, and can hunt animals - or villains.
The island seems divided into different areas that are related to each other through times or corridors. There is thus no large open game world that Far Cry 3, but a series of closed areas to explore. In return, these are full of details and discoveries. Taxes and items to collect are everywhere. Scrap metal can be collected to upgrade weapons and equipment. Animals can be shot and skinned to get experience points. Experience points result that one can buy new skills, which steadies aim, that we find more treasures in chests, dirty tricks in the melee, and so on.
Tomb Raider has embraced the reward carousel that characterize many modern games. There are X number of lights to shoot at levels X number of GPS transmitters to find X number of banners you can light the fire, X number of documents to collect, and so on. As the 100-percent-hunter I am, I feel very craving for exploring levels carefully to not miss any discoveries.
A key focus has also been introduced to help me find out. It works like detective vision in Batman games, or focus button in Hitman: Absolution. The surroundings are gray, and things that are of interest lit up. Personally, I think this button destroys little empathy for the game, it's far more fun to find things on your own than having to resort to a screen that gets the objects to light up
The main characters seem well designed, and the many between sequences of dialogue never feels intrusive or unnatural. Lara's development seems far more thoughtful than some brutal transition from American party boy cold killing machine for our hero in Far Cry 3 Lara has a vulnerable side, excellent voice acting and good animation can convey a protagonist who is forced to adapt to the realities on the island. I believe in her.
Moreover, it should be noted that the island has personality and a level of detail that almost make it a separate character in the game. Here is war ruins of World War II and even older ruins from Asian islanders. Panda and forests, bunkers and caves. Each area has its own atmosphere and the history behind the mysterious island communicated well via the environment.
After an hour enemies start in earnest to emerge. Combat is straightforward, the game has a sort of dynamic cover system that allows Lara popping down automatically if she is near the coverage. The combination of sneaking up and use bow to kill the guards and would gunfights with gun works fine. Lara is slow to operate when aiming with the gun, which means that you should plan a little when you are fighting, and not just run around enemies while firing wildly.
Fighting was no point for me. Tomb Raider seems to be at its best when exploring. Large open areas full of cliffs to climb on and abysses one should skip the Tomb Raider at its best. The graphics are brilliant and detailed, and I enjoy myself while I explore mountain villages, hidden underground stamps and woodlands.
After two and a half hours of Tomb Raider I'm ready for more. Lara's new adventure is far more personal and ambitious than previous games with game icon. The immediate danger is that her journey is too linear and bound - with a few open areas to explore and many narrow corridor levels with enemies to shoot, but the first few hours of the game seems to have found an optimal balance between exploration and action.