|System: Xbox 360*, PS3, PC|
|Dev: Crystal Dynamics|
|Pub: Square Enix|
|Release: March 5, 2013|
|Players: 1 Player, Online 2-8|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore Intense Violence Strong Language|
Whether swinging, using zip-lines, parachuting, or climbing steep cliff faces, it’s undeniable just how beautiful this game is. The environments are presented in a crisp and stunning manner; rolling jungles, ancient temples, ship-littered beachfronts, and World War II bunkers are all brought to life with extreme detail and painstaking realism. What emerges is an island with a character all its own, steeped in multiple eras of history which are represented by several architectural styles stacked on top of each other like layers of a cake. As you explore the island, you gain an understanding of the history that has transpired over the many tumultuous years. Additionally, the character models are insanely detailed and seem to continually evolve throughout the game with each gunshot, cut, scrape, and impalement suffered by the crew. In short, there is a lot to see.
Lending ambience to the already excellent visuals, the weather and environmental effects during gameplay are excellent additions. Sloshing around in an underground cave causes water droplets on the screen, wind effects in narrow canyons visibly blow debris through your path and obscure your vision, and blistering snow makes it difficult to maneuver and see atop steep mountains.
Visual hiccups are few and far between, though there are a few bouts of screen tearing and the occasional animation skip. Overall, though, the game does an outstanding job of transitioning between cutscenes and gameplay. Honestly, if I hadn’t been looking for visual issues, I probably would not have noticed them due to the frantic onscreen action and dramatic events unfolding in front of my eyes.
Completing the package, the audio delivers on all fronts. The disheveled survivors are brought to life by a cast of brilliantly character-invested actors. Weapons sound as they should, and you can even hear the tension of your bowstring each time you draw it back. Add to that the sometimes somber and always intricate orchestral score and you have a Hollywood-level production value soundscape on your hands. The signature three-key piano tones will be playing in your head long after the credits roll on this one.
Tomb Raider delivers an evenly paced, action-packed, evolutionary tale that explains the genesis of one of gaming’s most beloved heroines. Along the way, we are treated to top-shelf visuals, a soundscape that rivals a Hollywood blockbuster, and gameplay that is both thoroughly engaging and aesthetically varied. It may not be perfect, but it delivers a must-play gaming experience for action adventure fans everywhere. Welcome back, Lara, you've been missed.
Date: February 25, 2013