On a magical day, Bailey and I were hanging out making our second visit to GameStop of the day.  It wasn’t Bailey’s home store, which he kept reminding me, but he offered to buy me a game since he had a bunch of credit. So I happily obliged, and took upwards of an hour to make my decision (B: when the store was five minutes from closing…), but after much deliberation I decided to try Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for PS4.

I started this game hoping it would be similar to Uncharted, as I had just finished the series. I had actually played a couple hours of this game on PS3 when it was free on PS+, and I remembered platforming mechanics like Uncharted, so I was excited. How quickly that excitedment turned to… something else, oh my.

Tomb Raider, which was originally released in 2010 was intended to be a reboot to the series, and basically reconstructed Lara Croft’s origin story. The game does indeed explore her first survival adventure as a budding archaeologist.

The story is fairly interesting and does have some supernatural elements, that are akin to the Uncharted series, but it is very much different from Uncharted as a whole. It does very well standing on its own, creating its own vibe.

The story starts after a boat crash strands Lara and her crew mates on this crazy island, where literally everyone wants to kill you. This is a magical island off the coast of Japan, where an old queen named Himiko was in control of the weather. Well she’s angry now and doesn’t let anyone off the island.

So the crazy-ass people who’ve been stuck on the island for a super long time, created their own little cult and are trying to kill you. Fun, right? Basically the story follows Lara trying to rescue her crew mates, figuring out why the island is mean, and her killing soooo many people.

The Definitive Edition is the HD port from the last generation console platform so the environments looks pretty snazzy, even though it’s a minor update. Lara herself looks good, but some of her crew mates and the villains look a little less polished. Some of the mouth animations remind me of Dead Rising. I’d say overall the graphics are good.

In regards to gameplay mechanics it switches up between platforming, puzzle solving and defending yourself against the murderous hordes of people living on the island. To aid these portions of the game, Lara can collect these little bits that she can use to improve and upgrade her assortment of weapons. How an archaeologist is able to construct an MP-4 with an underbarrel grenade launcher, I don’t know, but in this game she can. So I often found myself going out of my way to find the bits so I could upgrade my weapons when I got to another camp.

Another unique feature of this game is the ability to level up Lara’s skills. There are a variety of skills to learn ranging from combat, to hunting, to climbing. After reaching a certain skill level in each category you unlock better skills to upgrade to honestly turn Lara into a mercenary survival machine.

Coming at this game from an unbiased perspective, it really has quite a few enjoyable mechanics, and is a very well-made game, but what makes me dislike it is how the gameplay blends with the narrative. After the initial thrill of the cool features and storyline, it becomes dull and tedious.

First you climb and puzzle your way to a new place, where you’re then bombarded by mobs of people who want to kill you, so you defend yourself. Then you proceed a little farther, enjoy a cutscene, then climb and kill your way to the next cutscene. There’s a lack of variety that keeps the game exciting, and I really just wanted to get to the end of the game, yet the story kept going and going and going.

The story was kind of cool, but it seemed overshadowed by the mechanics, and it seems the devs really spent a lot of time on the mechanics and not so much on the story, so I just wasn’t entertained the whole time.

Again, it’s not a bad game, it just wasn’t for me. It seems that Bailey is really enjoying it so far. I’m not going to play it again, and I’ll probably steer away from the series in the future, who knows?

 

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