COLUMN: Aaron’s Backstage Pass: Tomb Raider PS3 Review

Updated: 03/05/2013 9:03 AM KSTP.com By: Hannah Anderson

Lara Croft is back and in is in the most exciting and action packed “Tomb Raider” game yet. I have played all of the previous “Tomb Raider” games and this is by far the best and most thrilling game yet.

Last week I received a review copy of “Tomb Raider” from Square-Enix and I have not been able to put it down. “Tomb Raider” is truly amazing and the action does not stop for one minute. There is something going on every second and I loved it.

“Tomb Raider” is a reimagining of the original story. You play as Lara Croft who is an archeologist and an explorer. She is looking for an island named “Yamatai” where a legendary treasure is located. As Lara and her crew are sailing to find the island, the ship crashes and everyone on board is thrown off the ship. 

Lara manages to swim to a nearby island and there she discovers that some of the crew members have also made it onshore. After finding a few of the crew members Lara is knocked out. She wakes up and she is tied up and is hanging from the ceiling in a cave. She must figure out how to escape, who did this to her, are there any other survivors and where is she.

I really thought that the story was great and was very thrilling. The story is about survival and I really liked how you get to learn more about Lara Croft and that you get to see the character transform as you play the game. 

Lara is left with nothing but her bare hands and along her adventure she finds weapons that will help her survive the island. One of the first weapons that you find is a bow and arrow. You can use this bow to hunt and to protect yourself from wild animals like wolves and also other threats that you will encounter. 

Lara can also learn new skills that will help her survive as well. As you play you gain experience points for accomplishing different tasks such as discovering a new area or killing a wolf. If you get enough experience points you can get a survival point and this can be used to upgrade your skills like hunting.

You can also upgrade your weapons by salvaging different things. When you defeat an enemy you can search them and get scavenge points. You can also find salvage points in crates that are hidden in different areas. 

I really thought that the graphics were amazing and very stunning. The game and in game movies looked exactly the same and that really impressed me. Everything was so detailed and you really do feel like you are exploring caves. At times I almost felt a little claustrophobic. 

The controls are great and it is very easy to control Lara. As you encounter new things in the game little tutorials pop up and they tell you what buttons you need to push to do a certain task. 

I thought that this was very helpful and I also feel that other players will feel the same way.

There are also many times in the game where an icon button will appear and you will need to push that button in order to continue on your journey. For example you can sneak up on enemies and attack them. When you are behind them, the triangle button will appear above their head. If you push it you will strangle them with your bow. Once the sequence starts the square button icon appears and you need to tap it and you will continue strangling the enemy until they are defeated.

There are so many different things that Lara has to do in this epic adventure. There are tons of items and collectibles that Lara must find and they are scattered throughout the game. There are relics and documents that explain and tell you more about the story of the game and also the history of the island. There are multiple tombs that Lara must explore and there are also lots of challenging puzzles that need to be solved.

I really liked the fact that there were lots of hidden things that you must find because I think that adds a lot to a game and it makes me want to go back and play it again to try and find everything that I missed the first time I played through it.

As you play you will come across different campsites.  At the campsites you can upgrade your skills and weapons.  One really nice and helpful feature is that you can quickly jump from campsite to campsite so you don’t have to run all the way through the island to get to a specific location.

If you press the select button while you are play you can bring up a menu where you can see many different things. You can see all of the items, relics, documents, etc... that you have found. You can also see how many of that particular item is hidden in that area on the island.

You can see what skills and weapons you have upgraded and what the upgrades do in case you forgot. Plus the map of the island is also shown and you can see where you are located on the island. Your objectives are also show here, so you know what you need to do.

One very helpful thing that you can find during your quest is a treasure map and this will show you where everything is located on your map. Things that you have already found are black and the items that still need to be discovered are grey. I thought that this great and that it will help a lot of people find everything in the game.

I think that one of the most important and a very helpful feature in “Tomb Raider” is your objective beacon. If you are unsure of where you need to go or if you want to know if you can use something, you push the L2 button and the item or area will light up. That will indicate that you need to go there or you can use that item. A little diamond will also appear on the screen and will show you where you need to go. 

I really thought that this was great. There were times where I would be side tracked with a tomb and then I would forget where I needed to go, so I would use the objective beacon and get back on track.

You can also play multiplayer which I think is a lot of fun. You can choose from four different games. There is a “Team DeathMatch” where you have to try and defeat as many people from the other team as you can in ten minutes. 

There is a “Rescue” game where you have to eliminate the other team and keep them from collecting your medical supplies. There is a “Free For All” where you have to try and eliminate as many players as you can in a certain time limit and then there is another game called “Cry for Help” where you have to try and activate radio transmitters and not let the other team steal the transmitter batteries.

You also gain experience points for doing different things in each match. As you get more experience points your rank goes up and you can unlock different characters and weapons.  You can also get salvage points in each level and you can use those points to upgrade your weapons.

I thought the multiplayer games were a lot of fun and I can see myself spending a lot of time playing all of the different modes.  I know that a lot of people will also like the multiplayer games because they are very competitive and the maps are very well designed. 

Another thing that I really liked about playing online is that it seemed like the games connected very quickly.  I didn’t have to wait long for a game to start and there seemed to be a lot of people online playing.

I really enjoyed Square-Enix’s “Tomb Raider” a lot and I think it will be without a doubt one of the best games of 2013. I can easily see it winning best game of the year. The graphics and story are amazing and spectacular. The controls are very easy to learn and with all of the puzzles and collectables in the game, people will be playing “Tomb Raider” for hours. I do want to mention that it is rated “M” for blood, gore and violence, so it is not for kids.

I think that this is the biggest and most epic adventure yet in the “Tomb Raider” series and I can’t wait to play through it again.

*“The copy was provided by Square Enix for review purposes”

Aaron Chalich is a columnist for KSTP.com blogging about the latest entertainment news.