Tomb Raider - Review

Author: Mattia "Zave" Ravanelli
Date: 2020-07-30 17:10:59
Lara Croft and Tomb Raider are the two perfect examples to calculate the flow of the generation that is closing. Centuries seem to have passed since the last appearance of the series created by Toby Gard over sixteen years ago and in fact four years separate this Tomb Raider from Underworld, dated December 2008. That was the last exponent of a second phase of the life of the English archaeologist , christened by Tomb Raider Legend in 2006 and enriched, with a lot of craft, by Tomb Raider Anniversary only a year later. Three games in three years: it looked like a rebirth for Lara, accompanied to the altar (or rather, in the shops) by a new development team, Crystal Dynamics. Rather, it was a willing but not entirely convincing attempt to revitalize a name, a figure and a style of play which, to put it bluntly, seemed to have been short of breath for quite some time. Perhaps even some time before the half-disaster of Angel of Darkness (2003). Today, after having successfully explored the world of digital distribution with Guardian of Light and when the world is finally preparing to embrace a new host of fighters (PlayStation 4 and upcoming Xbox, to keep quiet of a Wii U already available), Square Enix try the coup by focusing on the used second hand: relaunch Tomb Raider, to better face the near future, with strong foundations on which to build a third phase of Miss Croft's adventures.

The safe used is that of the ideas adopted by Noah Huges (director of the game) and his team who, put aside a bit of pride, do not go so much for the subtle and rethink Tomb Raider as a modern action game. Impossible to blame them: this is not a period to experiment, even more so if in the operating room there is the body that is not exactly agonizing, but not particularly vital, of a series that can no longer afford missteps. Three years after the official announcement of yet another "reset" for Tomb Raider, therefore, all that remains is to understand whether being derivatives could make sense, given the caliber of the name and the expectations of the public.

The bow is the representative weapon of Tomb Raider. And wait to see the second evolution, the final one ...

Tomb Raider hides nothing: the first twenty minutes of the game are enough to guess where it will go and how the whole experience will be marked. Pounding rhythm, sumptuous attention to the "editing" (intended as a sequence of events and game phases), fascinating scenography and little desire to go for the subtle. Uncharted? And Uncharted either, not because the title of Naughty Dog has been able to elaborate who knows what new ideas and solutions, but more than anything else because it represents the archetype of the action game of this generation. Marked by a direction that sneaks heavily into the fabric of the game, supporting the action of animated scenes and interactive events that push the player right there, where the development team wanted him to go, but which in the meantime guarantee an adrenaline and ability to maintain the attention that few equals have in today's market. And now I am no longer talking about Nathan Drake's travels, but about exploring the mysterious island that plays the role of co-protagonist in the events narrated by the game.

The two elements around which this new Tomb Raider is built are still the recurring ones in its history: exploration and action ... and if the first has been revised and modified to adapt to the new style of play, the second has undergone a fundamental cure steroid-based. Rifles, machine guns, pistols, grenade launchers and the much publicized bow are the weapons Lara can count on to emerge victorious from the numerous clashes with the worrying people that occupy the mysterious island. Wandering between beaches, caves, forests and villages it is possible and right to come across the so-called "materials", which then allow you to upgrade the weapons mentioned above. A simple but effective device to connect the two souls of the game: only by exploring the best you can recover enough materials to continue to enhance and enhance the weapons, if not even to make them evolve into more powerful and fascinating versions, often completely optional ( ergo: if you recover the "parts" of weapons useful for assembling the new ones, well, otherwise you can proceed without ever bumping into the muzzle).

Automatic coverage works very well, but you are never safe for too long.

The lead-based phase of Tomb Raider is simple but galvanizing and adapts to the style and needs of the game. The artificial intelligence of the enemies is not exactly the most advanced we have seen in the world of video games: the damned beasts focus everything on the quantity, rather than on the quality of the attacks. If you want to justify the thing in a poetic way, you could rely on the plot, which speaks of an army of blues characterized by little flicker and intelligence to be demonstrated. Which, however, does not explain how it is possible to organize stealth-like phases in which a soldier does not notice that, two meters away, one of his companions has just been murdered by Lara and abandoned in a dark-but-not - unfortunately blood pool. The choice of Crystal Dynamics, however, appears clear: do not weigh down the game rhythm with particularly demanding mechanics. The gunfights must ignite the scenes and quickly leave room for a new section of exploration and study of the environment, and then return soon to demand their tribute of bodies flying after an explosion even more bombastic than that of ten minutes before . You can understandably turn up your nose a bit in the face of raids, rifle and bow in hand, which (especially in the first half of the game) resolve too easily, but if what matters in the end must be the overall result and the whole experience ... then Tomb Raider behaves well and with intelligence. But, in order not to make a mistake, I underline it further: those looking for a precise and rigorous shooter will not find it in these parts.

The polygonal complexity, the excellent lights and the chromatic choices make Tomb Raider a joy for the eyes.

Less heated discussions, however, when it comes to environments and exploration: Tomb Raider offers a truly exciting micro universe of gameplay. The island hosts various environments, including three or four macro-zones in which to spend joyfully tens of minutes in search not only of materials to enhance weapons, but also in an attempt to complete the many, small, secondary missions. Nothing that distorts the main mechanisms, on the contrary ... we don't even speak of alternative ideas, but only of "collect / set on fire / destroy a certain number of elements". They are just excuses to study more carefully the structure of the levels, made with experience and good taste by the American team.