[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he folks at EIDOS Canada, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics got together to take a page out of Lucas Films Star Wars by doing the whole Prequel, essentially rebooting the whole Laura Croft adventures. This is a very tricky thing to do because you risk destroying an entire franchise this way if you don’t do it right.
It’s like the latest Rambo movie… Part 5 really? Then you go see it and you are like… WOW that was better than the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th one. I’m happy to report that Tomb Raider A Survivor is Born carries the weight well. In fact, it was the best title that I’ve played this year.
I liked it so much I actually played it through a second time on hard mode. Oddly, hard mode took me a day less, and seemed easier. The adventure starts you off crashing into an island. The island is the home of the evil Sun Queen, and she is upset because her spirit is trapped on the island.
I’m not going to go into full detail and ruin the story line and what happens, but it is really a very good plot, and they lay the story out well as you get further into the game.
The best tip I can give you is to break open every box you can to get scrap, kill every chicken, boar, wolf, rat, rabbit and bird you can find, they give you scrap, and experience points. The faster you level up, the easier the game is, the more options you have, and the more upgrades you can put on your weapons. This also means don’t skip any tombs, even if the puzzles are harder, it is usually a combination of timed jumps, and burning stuff that completes the puzzles. None of them are particularly difficult and you can always hit Q which will highlight the things in the room that are important/involved in solving the puzzle.
The tombs are a nice break from the raw carnage that is Laura Croft. She starts off with a bow, and gets a handgun, assault rifle, shotgun, and an axe. Each weapon has a number of addons you earn as you play the missions out, solve the tomb puzzles, and open up crates of scrap (some have weapon upgrades in them).
There is a parachute scene that is pretty narly, a billion zip lines that are a ton of fun, and of course the sneaky arrow snipes that take out guys without alerting their buddies a few feet ahead of them. Each level is a maze of burning buildings, ledges that are falling down off cliffs as you are running on them, and anything else that you can dream that is stressful thrown into the mix. There are uncontrolled drops down waterfalls, and rivers, shooting barbed wire laden fences as you wash down the river before you hit them… it’s crazy. It’s fun.
The reason I played it through a second time is because when I finished it the first time I missed the characters. The character development is good enough that you have a sense of loss when the game is finished, and I can’t say that happens to me very often. Generally it is when I read a series of books through… or perhaps do a marathon of a good television show like Breaking Bad.
All in all I have to give Tomb Raider A Survivor is Born 5 out of 5 stars. I’m also going to name it Game of the Year. Good job to Square Enix and all the people at Eidos, and Crystal Dynamics. You really made a great game.