Tomb RaiderTomb Raider is a 2013 action-adventure video game published by Square Enix. Tomb Raider is the fifth title developed by Crystal Dynamics in the Tomb Raider franchise. As the first entry in a new Tomb Raider continuity, the game is a reboot that emphasises the reconstructed origins of the culturally influential lead character Lara Croft. Tomb Raider was released on 5 March 2013 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
After the release of Tomb Raider: Underworld in 2008, Crystal Dynamics began development of Tomb Raider soon after. Rather than a sequel, the team decided to completely reboot the series, establishing the origins of Lara Croft for the second time, following Tomb Raider: Legend. Tomb Raider is set on Yamatai, an island from which Lara Croft must save her friends and escape while being hunted down by a malevolent cult. Gameplay elements focus more on survival, although exploration is used within the game when exploring the island and various optional tombs. It is also the first game in the series to have multiplayer and the first game to be published by Square Enix, after the latter's acquisition of Eidos Interactive in 2009. Camilla Luddington was announced to voice and perform as Lara Croft in 2010, replacing Keeley Hawes.
After a delayed release from late 2012 to March 2013, the game received much anticipation and hype. Tomb Raider received critical acclaim upon release, with critics praising the graphics, the gameplay, Luddington's performance as Lara, and Lara's characterization and development, although the addition of the multiplayer mode was criticised. Tomb Raider sold one million copies within 48 hours of its release, and has sold more than 4 million copies overall. An updated version, Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition, will be released in January 2014 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One containing all features and DLC.
Tomb Raider PlotThe game begins with Lara setting out on her first expedition aboard the ship Endurance, with the intention of finding the lost kingdom of Yamatai. By her suggestion and against Whitman's advice, the expedition ventures into the Dragon's Triangle, east of Japan. The ship is struck by a violent storm and split in two, leaving the survivors stranded on an isolated island. Lara is separated from the others when she is captured by a strange, savage man and trapped in his cave home. She manages to escape while her captor is killed as the cave collapses around them. As Lara tries to locate the other survivors, she finds more evidence that the island is inhabited, complete with strange carvings, dead bodies, and ritual sacrifices of animals. She eventually finds her friend Sam and a man called Mathias, who claims to be a teacher who was shipwrecked on the island. As Sam tells Mathias the legends of Himiko, Lara passes out; when she wakes, Mathias and Sam are nowhere in sight.
When Lara finally reunites with the other survivors, Whitman decides to break off from the main party with Lara and search for Roth, who is still missing, while the rest of the group (Reyes, Jonah, Alex and Grim) set out to find Sam and Mathias. As Lara and Whitman explore, they discover that the island's inhabitants are worshipping Himiko, confirming that the island is Yamatai. Upon discovering a shrine erected in Himiko's name, they are captured by the islanders and taken to a settlement along with several other survivors from the Endurance. When the survivors attempt an escape, the captors turn on them. Lara is separated from Whitman and tries to hide, but is found by Vladimir, one of the leaders of the inhabitants. Vladimir attacks Lara, but she fights back and is forced to kill him to save her own life. She fights off the remainder of the inhabitants as she desperately works her way up the mountainside to meet up with Roth. Eventually, Lara locates the injured Roth, and using his equipment, she sets off for a communications relay at the very top of the mountain, in hopes of contacting the outside world and calling for aid.
After successfully hailing a plane that was searching for the Endurance and setting a signal fire for them to follow, Lara witnesses a fierce storm materialise out of a clear sky and strike the plane down, accompanied by a mysterious voice saying "No one leaves" in Japanese. Feeling responsible for the fate of the pilots, Lara is powerless to stop the island's inhabitants from killing them. Lara is contacted by Alex and Reyes, who reveal that Sam has been kidnapped by the islanders, a violent cult known as the Solarii Brotherhood. Lara, who is closest to Sam's position, tries to rescue her, but is foiled by Mathias - now revealed to be the leader of the Solarii - who orders her killed. Lara is saved by the intervention of strange samurai-like creatures—referred to by the islanders as 'Oni', demons in Japanese folklore—and taken to an ancient monastery in the mountains. Escaping again, Lara stumbles onto a ritual chamber, where she learns that a "fire ritual" was used to choose the Sun Queen's successor as part of a ceremony called the "Ascension". A terrified Sam manages to contact Lara and informs her that the Solarii intend to put her through the fire ritual, which will burn her to death if it is unsuccessful. Lara makes for the Solarii fortress, meeting up with Grim, but the Solarii capture the latter and threaten to murder him unless she surrenders. Grim attempts to overpower them, but eventually sacrifices himself so Lara can escape. Roth then arrives, and with his support, Lara is able to infiltrate the palace, where she witnesses Mathias putting Sam through the fire ritual. Lara tries to save Sam, but she is overpowered by Mathias and his men. The ritual continues, but Sam is not harmed by the flames, which are extinguished by a great gust of wind, marking her as the rightful successor to the Sun Queen's throne.
Lara narrowly escapes captivity once again and doubles back to help her friends, whose attempts to reach Sam have resulted in their capture. Aided by Whitman—who has managed to negotiate some degree of freedom with the Solarii—Lara returns to the palace to rescue Sam as Roth commandeers a helicopter to get them out. Having witnessed the storm that forced the search plane to crash, Lara sends Sam to escape by land and tries to force the pilot to land as a second storm brews up, striking the helicopter and forcing them to crash. Lara is nearly killed in the accident and is revived by Roth. However, Mathias and the Solarii arrive, and Roth takes a fatal blow meant for Lara. While mourning over Roth, Lara accepts that the storms are not natural, but are somehow connected to the Sun Queen and designed to prevent anyone from leaving the island. She meets up with the other survivors, who have evaded the Solarii long enough to secure a boat for escaping the island, provided that it can be repaired. They are joined by Whitman, who claims to have escaped, though Lara begins to suspect him of working with the cultists. Lara heads for the wreck of the Endurance to meet up with Alex, who had previously gone there to salvage the tools needed to repair the boat. She finds him trapped under wreckage and, as she attempts to free him, they come under attack by the Solarii. Alex decides to trigger an explosion and sacrifice himself so that Lara can escape with the tools.
Finding an account of a World War II-era Japanese military and Nazi scientific expedition to the island that sought a way to harness the power of the storms as a weapon, Lara decides to explore an ancient tomb on the coast, where she finds the remains of a high-ranking samurai who had committed seppuku. It is revealed, in a message he left, that he was the general of the Queen's Stormguard, the Oni that defend the monastery, and that the Queen's successor took her own life rather than receive the Sun Queen's power, leaving the Sun Queen trapped in her body after death, and her rage has manifested as the storms. Lara realises that the Ascension is not a ceremony to crown a new queen, but rather a ritual that transfers the original Sun Queen's soul into a new body, and that the process will destroy the host's soul. Himiko's spirit wants to escape its current body, and Mathias plans to offer Sam as a new host. Lara returns to the survivors on the beach to find that Whitman has betrayed them, abducting Sam and handing her over to Mathias. Lara, Jonah and Reyes give chase, heading up a river to the monastery, with Lara arriving just in time to see Whitman killed by the Oni. After fighting her way through the Queen's guards, Lara arrives at the top of the monastery in time to see Mathias start the Ascension ritual. She works her way to Mathias, confronting Solarii and guards alike. Lara kills Mathias when she shoots him from the roof of the monastery using (Lara Croft's iconic) two pistols, before destroying Himiko's remains to save Sam. With the storms dispersed, Lara, Sam, Reyes and Jonah leave the island and are picked up by a cargo ship. As she and her friends sail home, Lara decides that there are many more myths to be found and resolves to uncover them, stating that she isn't returning home just yet.
Tomb Raider GameplayTomb Raider is presented in third-person perspective, and the player takes control of the lead character, Lara Croft: the game uses an interconnected hub-and-spoke model that combines action-adventure, exploration, and survival mechanics. Lara can traverse between the camps and across the island using footpaths, improvised or already-available ziplines and climbable tracks. Many of Lara's moves are carried over from the previous games created by Crystal Dynamics, with some tweaks added, such as incorporating elements of stealth gameplay. Quick Time Events are scattered at regular intervals throughout the game, often appearing at crucial or fast-moving points in the game's plot, such as two early ones where Lara has to extract a shard of metal from her side, then later escape a collapsing cave. The combat of the game borrows multiple elements from the Uncharted series, with the player having the ability to free-aim Lara's bow and the guns she salvages, engage in close-quarter combat and perform stealth kills. Added to Lara's abilities is Survival Instinct, a mode where enemies, collectables and objects pivotal to environmental puzzles will be highlighted for the player. The game also incorporates RPG elements: as the player progresses through the game, they earn experience points from performing certain actions and completing in-game challenges linked with hunting, exploring and combat: this enables Lara Croft's skills and abilities to be upgraded in specific ways, such as giving her more storage capacity for arrows and ammunition. Players can also upgrade and customize weapons using salvage collected across the island. There is also a character progression mechanic in the game: better items, weapons and equipment is gained as the player progresses, though the appearance of most of these items is closely linked to events in the story. Karl Stewart said that the game's campaign lasts between 12 and 15 hours. Along with the main story, players will have the chance to do multiple side quests, explore the island, revisit locations, and search for challenge tombs.
The game had sold more than 1 million copies in less than forty-eight hours of its release. In the United Kingdom, Tomb Raider debuted at number one on the charts, and became the biggest UK title launch in 2013, surpassing the sales of Aliens: Colonial Marines, before being overtaken by Grand Theft Auto V. Tomb Raider set a new record for the franchise, more than doubling the debut sales of Tomb Raider: Legend. Furthermore, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Tomb Raider set new week one records as the fastest-selling individual formats of any Tomb Raider title so far, a record which was previously held by Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. Tomb Raider also topped the charts in France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United States. In the United States, Tomb Raider was the second best-selling title of March, excluding digital download sales, only behind BioShock Infinite. In Japan, Tomb Raider debuted at number four with 35.250 units sold. On 26 March 2013, Square Enix announced that the game sold 3.4 million copies worldwide at retail, but has failed to reach predicted sales targets. However, on 29 March 2013, Crystal Dynamics defended Tomb Raider's sales, stating the reboot had the "most successful launch" of any game this year in addition to setting a new record for highest sales in the franchise's history. On 22 August 2013, Darrell Gallagher, head of product development and studios for Square Enix, announced on Gamasutra that the game sold more than 4 million copies worldwide.
GameRankings (X360) 87.41%
Metacritic (PS3) 87/100
Game Informer 9.25/10
GamesRadar 4.5/5 stars
Joystiq 4/5 stars
Official PlayStation Magazine (UK) 8/10
Digital Spy 5/5 stars
The Guardian 4/5 stars
Tomb Raider received critical acclaim upon release, with most critics agreeing that it was a solid and long-overdue reboot for the franchise. In a 'world exclusive' review, GamesMaster magazine gave the game a score of 90%, as well as the "GamesMaster Gold award" (awarded to games that manage a score of 90% or above). The editor regarded the quality of the visuals, the length and depth of the gameplay, and the "spectacular" last third of the game as the highlights. The summary said "sitting back exhausted we were left with just one question dribbling forth from our gaping jaws. How on earth are they going to top this in the sequel? Because of one thing there can be no doubt. Lara is back." IGN's Keza MacDonald also spoke extremely positively, stating that they felt the game was "exciting" and "beautifully presented", included "great characterization" and "more depth than you would expect". They gave the game an overall score of 9.1 out of 10, the highest score they have given a game in the series since Tomb Raider, describing it as "amazing" and concluding that the game "did justice" to both the character and franchise. Ryan Taljonick of GamesRadar lauded the location's setting and environment, and expressed that "not one area ever feels like a rehash of another". Taljonick also felt that the game had great pacing, and that it is "unrivaled by any other game in the genre". Furthermore, the reviewer considered Lara's character development as "an integral part" of the whole game's experience, and concluded that Tomb Raider "is a fantastic game and an excellent origin story for one of gaming's original treasure seekers". Australian TV show, Good Game, praised the game with both hosts rating it 10/10, making it only the eighth game out of the show's seven-year run to do so. Giant Bomb gave the game four stars out of five, stating that "Tomb Raider's tone is somewhat at odds with its action, but the reborn Lara Croft seems primed for a successful new adventuring career".
One of the major criticisms of the game stemmed from a disparity between the emotional thrust of the story and the actions of the player, with GameTrailers' Justin Speer pointing out that while the story attempted to characterise Lara Croft as vulnerable and uncomfortable with killing, the player was encouraged to engage enemies aggressively and use brutal tactics to earn more experience points. Speer felt that this paradoxical approach ultimately let the game down as it undermined Lara's character to the point where he found it difficult to identify with her at all. IGN's Keza MacDonald also highlighted the issue, but was less critical of it than Speer, pointing out that both Lara and the player had to adapt quickly to killing in order to survive. However, Game Informer's Matt Miller noted that the game offered the player several options for progressing through its combat situations, and that the player could avoid open conflict entirely if they chose to do so. He also praised the behaviour and presence of the enemies for the way they felt like they had actual tasks to perform on the island, rather than being clusters of polygons whose only function was to be killed by the player in order for them to progress. While on the subject of character development, GamesRadar's Ryan Taljonick expressed that the supporting characters were underdeveloped relative to Lara Croft, describing them as "pretty generic characters who, while rarely annoying, just aren't memorable".
While many reviews applauded the single-player campaign, the multiplayer mode bore the brunt of the game's criticism, with MacDonald, Speer and Miller all finding fault with it, describing it as lackluster and stating that the difference between the developer's vision for the game mode and the finished product made it difficult to enjoy.
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